Creating art can oftentimes be a solitary activity. This was especially true for Nadya Gomez, a local graphic designer who was creating her own art mostly for herself. But after a serendipitous post on Nextdoor, she realized others, too, wanted community, connection, and a reason to create.
Thus Greenpoint Art Circle (GAC), was born. In 2019, Nadya and a cohort of neighbors met in person and at parks, and eventually found a way to navigate the current socially distant moment to still keep everyone’s creative juices flowing and hunger for connection satiated. Here, founder Nadya discusses her path toward building a community of fellow artists and how it’s stayed afloat during COVID.
All are welcome to join the GAC here.
Greenpointers: Take us through the origins of Greenpoint Art Circle. When did it begin and why?
Nadya: I started the group in January 2019. It remained unnamed until around six months in when we came up with it. I had been finding more confidence with my own artwork — posting more to Instagram — and thought that it would be really helpful and fun to have a supportive group for artists nearby, especially for people like me who work day jobs and find it challenging to find time and energy to work on personal artwork and projects. I also wanted to be more involved in the community and as a shy person who doesn’t really drink, that can be tough — so it was kind of a way to challenge myself and grow in that way. I made a post about the idea of an accountability group for artists who have day jobs on the Nextdoor app and a lot of people responded, to my surprise. I set a date and time to meet at Grumpy’s Coffee and we had our first monthly meeting.
How has GAC evolved during the pandemic?
Well, from March until July we had our monthly creative check-in meeting via Zoom — previously we would have them in McGolrick Park or at members’ studio spaces in the winter. I also planned a bunch of online events and fun stuff during those month, like several of us did Instagram Live studio tours and talks and we did a few Zoom figure drawing sessions. I think it helped me to stay afloat to have stuff to plan and look forward to and we all had a bit of fun. We went back to the park in July for our meetings and over the summer and fall we had some outings and small gatherings, created signs for BLM protests, did chalk art for the children’s Halloween parade, and put together a fundraiser “Art Stoop Sale” for BLM and COVID-relief efforts. Even though it’s cold now, we still met in the park this past Sunday. There was a lot of interest in the group when I posted about it again on Nextdoor over the summer and a bunch of people joined at that point. I think it’s been a time where very local pursuits have become more relevant and some people have had more time for their interests.
Can you discuss your background, and how that influenced the formation of GAC?
I’ve been an in-house graphic designer for the past 15 years and currently work at a nonprofit. I always drew and journaled here and there, but I didn’t ever think of myself as an artist. I think the most art I did the whole year was during “Inktober” for a few years. Near the end of 2018, I started making and posting digital drawings on my Instagram after resolving to “hide” less on my feed and also as a way to process some of my emotions as a part of my trauma healing work. I think this action sparked my interest in creating a group to support my own practice while connecting with other creators. I studied graphic design in school and had a very positive experience in my program. I loved getting to know people through their work and their interests and the way we inspired one another and shared deeply. I wondered if I could have that kind of thing again with this group. I had also been involved with an activist group a few years before that had ended pretty badly. I thought it could be healing to try to create a group that had a more positive, inclusive dynamic than my old group.
Any projects or art in particular that you are proud of that came out of GAC?
We had an art show for the group’s first year anniversary in January 2020 that was very well attended at a local CBD shop (now closed sadly). It was a whole lot of work, but I’m happy and still kind of shocked that it all came together and of how people pitched in with the planning and the many tasks around it all. I love all the things we’ve managed to do together during this difficult pandemic time; it’s kept me going.
How wide is your distribution list, and how can folks get involved?
There are 130 people on the email list and we also have a group chat via the Geneva Chat app with 44 people in it. They can just DM their email to the Instagram account @greenpoint_art_circle and learn more here to get on the list and group chat.
Thank you for all you do to connect our community of artists
I really didn’t know when I started it that the group would last until now but it’s been a fascinating journey for me and I’ve really enjoyed seeing the ways it’s evolved and the impact of everyone who’s been involved over its lifetime. Creating is every person’s birthright and I’m glad to be involved in something that helps to encourage people to do it.