As the whole city got back into the swing of things, Downtown Brooklyn led the way with a year full of exciting events, public art, and major improvements throughout the neighborhood’s streetscape. Here’s a gallery of some of the highlights, and check out our end of year wrap up video!
The year kicked off with the unveiling of Soft-Firm’s Drive-Thru, a reconfigurable installation incorporating light through rear projection. Inspired by the classic American drive-in movie experience, Drive-Thru served as an outdoor cinema at the Plaza at 300 Ashland, hosting the work of local film makers over its 8-week run.
We rang in the Year of the Tiger on Albee Square with a lion dance performance, family-friendly activities, and giveaways to the neighborhood’s Asian-owned businesses.
In March, we illuminated the life of Lewis H. Latimer, the African-American inventor who inspired Shervone Neckles’ BEACON, an interactive 13’ tall steel and LED sculpture — a project of the Downtown Brooklyn and Dumbo Art Fund — through a virtual seminar. BEACON artist Shervone Neckles; Brooklyn historian and scholar, Prathibha Kanakamedala; Lewis Latimer House Museum Director, Ran Yan; Beam Center Director, Brian Cohen; and Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President, Regina Myer, got together for a virtual conversation exploring Lewis Latimer’s life, work, and activism in Brooklyn.
Our Women’s History Month celebration featured a self-defense class and a live performance from up-and-coming Brooklyn-based lyricist Nappy Nina on Albee Square. Women-owned businesses were also the focus of our Small Business Spotlight series. We highlighted Kizzie Brown-Duah of Privélege, Johanne Brierre of NY Beauty Suites, and Amerrah Brown of Beautiful Amore Skincare.
In April, we celebrated Downtown Brooklyn Car Free Earth Day by closing off Albee Square West from traffic for bike lessons, roller skating, games, beach chairs, and a Zumba class under the early spring sun. Willoughby Walks also came to car-free Willoughby and Pearl Street for two consecutive Wednesdays and featured art, music, ping-pong, and games made by the students of NYU Tisch.
The Make It in Brooklyn: Business Resilience Series launched in April. Made possible with a grant from TD Bank, the series highlights Brooklyn’s entrepreneurial spirit, bringing together Brooklyn-based founders for moderated discussions about how to succeed in today’s marketplace. It launched with a virtual discussion on Building Black Businesses in Brooklyn moderated by Monique T. Marshall, co-founder of the organization Black to Business, and featuring panelists Michelle Cadore (co-founder of DA SPOT NYC and CEO of YES I AM Inc), Keith Forest (marketing and PR strategist at NY Beauty Suites), and Delroy Levy (CEO and founder of Likkle More Jerk.)
Ping-Pong Happy Hours with The Push BK kicked off in May with evenings filled with games and music at Brooklyn Commons Park.
Beloved Dodge YMCA instructor, Natarsha McQueen, met with Zumba students for an hour of dancing and exercising weekly from May until September.
Albee Square Happy Hours rocked the Fulton Mall crowd on Thursday evenings through the end of June.
June marked the start of the Willoughby Plaza Lunchtime Music Series, which saw Brooklyn-based musicians entertain the crowds at Willoughby Plaza every Wednesday through the end of July. Featured musicians included Sasha Papernik and Justin Poindexter, Charlie Burnham, Skye Steele, Gregorio Uribe, Samuel Torres and Sarah Alden, Elifè & Tompkins, Wayne Tucker, John Ellis, and Tamar Korn.
At Brooklyn Commons Park, a diverse range of artists, BQE Strings, Casey Howes & Jacob Warren, Haiti Cultural Exchange, Brooklyn Ballet, Pedro Girudo’s Tango Quartet, Brianna Kalisch & Harold Moeller, and La Manga, created pop-up vignettes for the lunchtime audiences.
Fred Wilson’s Mind Forged Manacles/Manacle Forged Minds public art installation debuted at Columbus Park. The sculpture is composed of layers of decorative ironwork and fencing with statues of African, Latinx, and Native American figures held within. Produced by More Art under the Downtown Brooklyn and Dumbo Art Fund, the installation was the focal point of a series of public performances and programs designed to further activate the installation.
In July, DBP and Chilean artist Nelson “Cekis” Rivas, along with his team and volunteers from local organizations began work on street murals as part of Downtown Brooklyn’s expanded Shared Streets network — the most expansive NYC asphalt art project ever. Major streetscape improvements, including expanded pedestrian spaces, new trees and plantings, signature planters, bike corrals, and street furniture, were made as part of the Downtown Brooklyn Public Realm Action Plan, to create safer, greener, and more beautiful public spaces.
Meanwhile, The Plaza at 300 Ashland was graced by Brukwine for yet another immensely popular summertime class.
And every Thursday evening, Mickela Mallozzi brought the fun of her award-winning Bare Feet series to the Plaza for cultural celebrations via dance. We celebrated India with Masala Bhangra, the Middle East with Freedom Dabka Group, Ukraine with Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, and Cuba with Oyu Oro Afro Cuban Dance Ensemble.
August was filled with dancing at Willoughby Plaza and Albee Square. On Wednesday evenings, Salsa Salsa Dance Studio gave salsa, bachata, and merengue lessons to anyone brave enough to learn and practice in front of countless onlookers.
On Thursday nights, the Mobile Mondays crew lit up Albee Square with dance parties featuring only the best throwback hits all spun on vinyl.
Things were more relaxed at Columbus Park, with free lunchtime jazz concerts in partnership with The Jazz Foundation of America and the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office. Crowds were wooed to the sounds of Eric Wyatt, Steve Cromity, Willie Martinez and the NYC Salsa All-Stars, and Patsy Grant and Friends.
At the start of the 2022 Fall semester, St. Francis College welcomed students and faculty to their fantastic new campus at The Wheeler at 181 Livingston Street. “The college made the decision to really prioritize student learning and the student experience, which means we designed the space for students,” said SFC President Miguel Martinez-Saenz.
DBP marked a return to in-person meetings with its November Board Meeting, which was hosted by SFC in their lovely new cafeteria space, offering sweeping views of Downtown Brooklyn. Keynote speaker, New York City Economic Development Corporation CEO Andrew Kimball, joined to reflect on the neighborhood’s great progress and future.
In September, the opening reception of Witnessing by Bradley McCallum from the Downtown Brooklyn and Dumbo Art Fund marked the launch of the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Festival. DBP President Regina Myer joined officials from Conjunction Arts and MoCADA for the public unveiling before a Mark Morris Dance class led into a Soul Summit dance party celebrating all things culture and all things Brooklyn. All while the hoards were lining up to enjoy Jimmy Kimmel’s residency at BAM.
Broadway in the Boros had a joyous return to Downtown Brooklyn, with performances from Broadway favorites Beetlejuice, The Book of Mormon, Chicago, and Little Shop of Horrors on The Plaza at 300 Ashland.
In October, we went all-out for BKLYN BOO!, our annual Albee Square Halloween celebration, which featured a Thriller dance class and performance, face and pumpkin painting, music from The Albee Scares band, and everyone’s favorite Halloween bops mixed by DJ Mike Doelo.
In November, we cheered on the runners at the Mile 8 mark of the NYRR NYC Marathon on The Plaza at 300 Ashland. Coffee Project gave away free chocolate, while Batala New York and the L Train Brass Band made raucous noise. Later that month, we rang in the holidays with our annual holiday season kick-off: DTBK Gets Lit! — a celebration of switching on the neighborhood’s holiday lights — while attendees enjoyed free hot chocolate from Junior’s.
Finally in December, the latest installation as part of the Downtown Brooklyn and Dumbo Art Fund was unveiled: Sherwin Banfeld’s Sky’s the Limit in the County of Kings, a 9-foot tall steel-and-bronze sculpture that pays tribute to and is inspired by the art, life, and legacy of The Notorious B.I.G.
2022 was an eventful year in Downtown Brooklyn, and there’s so much more on the horizon! Look forward to more public art, more amazing free programming for all, and more improvements to the public realm. To stay in-the-know, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on all our socials! See you in 2023.