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An Inside Look at NYC's Incubators: Chashama

 |  NYCEDC

BAT Open Studios

The Brooklyn Army Terminal Atrium. Photo Credit: James Mocko

What's incubating, NYC?

To date, NYCEDC has helped launch 15 startup incubators across New York City's five boroughs. These incubators collectively support over 1,000 jobs and provide affordable working space to innovative and promising entrepreneurs who are building businesses. This Incubator Series provides an inside look into each unique workspace, the companies they house, and how they promote economic growth in New York City. 

Space can be hard to come by in NYC. Even harder to find is space for 'inspiration' in the company of other artists and creatives. That's where chashama's NYC Artist Studio comes in. 

Chashama is an arts not-for-profit that connects New York City artists with affordable workspaces. Since 2007, chashama has hosted its largest subsidized studio program, NYC Artist Studio, at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park. Approximately 50,000 square feet of artist studios is available to more than 90 artists.

Graduates of NYCEDC's Artist as Entrepreneur program can also apply to NYC Artist Studio to display their work, jumpstart their business, and contribute to the cultural fabric of the community.

This weekend, September 19-20, chashama opens its doors to the public. Guests can visit over 80 studios, meet the artists, and explore finished arts and works-in-progress. See full details and RSVP here.

Before touring the Brooklyn Army Terminal buildings, let's learn more about some of the artists working inside of chashama.

chashama Basic Facts

Year Founded: 1995

Number of Artists Currently Working There: 93

Neighborhood: Sunset Park

Closest Transit: N,R train

Major industries represented at chashama: Fine Art, Painting, Sculpture, Mixed Media, Film, Photography

Inside chashama: Artist Lindsey Warren

Media Center Founders

How long have you been an artist?

I could argue that I have been an artist my whole life. I went to a progressive elementary school in Los Angeles that integrated art into every lesson rather than treating it as a separate course. Making art has never felt like a choice but more of a necessity. 

What type of art do you create?

I make 2D objects consisting primarily of oil paintings but also drawings in various media, drawings, photos and occasionally prints. 

What are the main benefits of being part of chashama?

Chashama is a community of artists. Even though I don’t talk to others in the studio every day, the fact that I see and hear them working around me provides motivation and encouragement. Chashama is also very active in promoting artists through events, exhibition opportunities, and seminars that I have been lucky to take advantage of over the past six months that I have been an artist in the Workspace Program.

Best day at chashama so far? 

Before I left for a month-long artist residency, I stretched up a bunch of new canvases so I would be ready to paint again when I returned. Walking into my large studio with all my supplies ready to go upon my return to Brooklyn made me realize how great the opportunity to work there is.

What was your first job in NYC? 

I worked (and still occasionally do) with New York Cares designing and sketching murals for volunteers to paint in schools and parks.

Favorite place near chashama to nosh? 

I always pack my lunch!

Best mode of transportation to get to chashama?

I use all of those methods of transportation! The subway is probably the best method though, for my pre-work relaxation. I'm also still excited and impressed by the Brooklyn Army Terminal Building when I walk there from the subway.

Why be in NYC? 

I love working alone in my studio while still having the option to engage in social and cultural activities when I am not doing so. The opportunities and communities offered by the large, art-saturated city are energizing and encouraging and inspire both the content and aesthetics of my work.

Inside chashama: Artist Ji Yong Kim

How long have you been an artist?

I’ve been working as an artist for about seven years.

What type of art do you create?

Recently, I have been making gouache paintings of Buddhist sculptures displayed in a neutral setting. The Buddhist sculptures are presented in a variety of different ways. Some are shown inside a glass vitrine with exaggerated distortions, or displayed as a sculptural flat image on top of a pedestal. Most of the paintings are very small in scale and highly detailed.

What are the main benefits of being part of chashama?

One of the major benefits has been meeting with other amazing artists of chashama. I’ve enjoyed participating in group critiques with this community of artists. Some of the artists have introduced me to invaluable opportunities in the field of art as well. 

Needless to say, this is all possible because of the amazing studio spaces of chashama. With the generous help of chashama, I can maintain a large studio space that would otherwise be unaffordable.

What would be your ideal day at chashama? 

I would spend the entire day focused on art, tinkering this and that. Most of the time nothing substantial would happen—sometimes I spend hours just thinking about my work.

However, at the end of the day, as I leave my studio looking at the darkened sky, I find comforting assurance that I can come back the next day and keep making art. That would be an ideal day at chashama for me.

What was your first job in NYC? 

I moved to NYC right after college and, like any recent graduate, had difficulty finding a job. I searched for a few months, then money ran low. So I started working as a mail deliverer, which is the same as a bike messenger but through walking only, mostly in and around Korean town on 32nd Street. It taught me how to navigate around Manhattan!

Favorite place near chashama to nosh? 

Chashama is located in Sunset Park, which has great Mexican restaurants. I recommend the burrito lengua in Tacos Matamoros, or a quick snack at Rico’s Tacos. Unfortunately my favorite restaurant, Tacos el Bronco on 4th Ave, is under construction but still maintains great food trucks around Sunset Park.

Another option is to walk over to Chinatown on 8th Ave and find cheap but excellent dumpling soups. But even within Brooklyn Army Terminal where chashama is located, there's Pete’s. On your way home, be sure to stop by Mug’s Café next to the 58th subway station and try the chicken salad pizza!

Best mode of transportation to get to chashma?

I live near chashama and Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, so I will walk or bike. It only takes me 15 minutes. For other artists, the express N train is a very convenient way to get to chashama. 

Why be in NYC? 

New York City has an incredibly vibrant cultural landscape of artists, galleries, and museums. There are amazingly passionate and talented artists working side by side, which I find continuing inspiration from. Innumerable galleries and museums, with their constantly changing exhibitions, keep me amused and delighted. The thoroughly expanded and intertwined art world of NYC also means that you can find more opportunities in the field of art as an artist, art historian, at a gallery, etc.

Both Lindsey and Ji Yong will be participating in this weekend's Open Studios. With free NY Water Taxi Ferry service all weekend long, head on over and get inspired! Join the conversation, September 19 - 20, on Twitter by following @chashama or #BATopenstudios.

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