The arts are represented well on Governors Island, but one special place not to miss is the Brooklyn ARTery. This is where artists from around the world have handmade items on display and for sale, but also where free DIY classes and events are held for all. The group prides itself on having items from local artists and fair trade artisans worldwide. Brooklyn ARTery is in Building 10, an 1878 house built for an officer and his family, on the end of Nolan Park. It is open Saturdays and Sundays, 11 AM to 5 PM, but will stay until 6 if it’s busy. Their online calendar lists special events.
We got the scoop from co-founder Susan Siegel about what she and Brooklyn ARTery are doing this season.
What is the history of Brooklyn ARTery and how did it start? What is your mission?
Susan Siegel and Jocelyn Kirouac opened Brooklyn ARTery, our first shop, in November 2012 on Cortelyou Road in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. We are both local change agents, working to add value to our community. We wanted to offer a much needed gift shop to the area, that features the one-of-a-kind handmade work of local artisans and artisans from around the world. Our mission is to get folks into making and buying handmade things. We also have DIY classes that take place on Governors Island.
Brooklyn ARTery offers one-of-a kind, affordable and fine quality handmade merchandise from local artists and fair trade artisans worldwide. There is something for everyone, from babies to elders. Brooklyn ARTery has two locations in New York City: Ditmas Park, Brooklyn and on Governors Island during the summer. Both locations are spaces where people can meet, shop, learn, create and interact.
What are the activities on Governors Island?
Brooklyn ARTery gift shop is open 11-6 Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day weekend to Sept 27th. Our Drop-in DIY classes take place in front of our shop, under the shade trees, every Saturday from 2-4 pm. Classes include: printmaking, jewelry making, origami, sculpture, puppetry, body care products, purple sushi-making, and more!
We also have Kenly Dillard, our resident caricaturist who is present almost every weekend to draw his unique and top-quality renderings of GI visitors. Also, a few times during the season, we are graced with the presence of Robin Bady, an award-winning story-teller, who spins tales, sings, plays the guitar, and interacts with kids who are entranced by her!
We also offer occasional tastings of our delicious snacks, including chocolate tastings, taffy and more!
Finally, we organize and produce a wonderful Kite Festival on the last weekend day of the season, September 26 or 27th (raindate). Last year was our First Annual, and we hope to have the Second Annual Brooklyn ARTery Kite Festival to say goodbye to our beloved island this September. Last year the festival took place on the Parade Grounds, and we had a raffle, live music, face painting, kite making, or kites to buy. There was over 500 people who participated last year!
Tell me about the products in your pop-up shop, from jewelry to accessories. Is everything made locally?
We sell a variety of handmade goods from handbags and jewelry to reclaimed merchandise, artisanal food, snacks and ice pops, home decor, clocks, cards, housewares, health and beauty products, toys and games, and more! Visit us in Brooklyn or shop online. The products are made in Brooklyn, and also fair trade artists from India, Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, and everywhere!
The ARTery Gallery upstairs features a rotating exhibit of professional artwork from local and international artists. Their work is for sale and the artists in residence are frequently there creating new works while visitors stop by chat and learn about the artist’s technique and motivation.
Why do you like being on Governors Island? What is special?
We love the ferry ride out there that transports us to another world. Nolan Park is so peaceful (sometimes too peaceful)… but as visitors stop by to experience the arts and other things that this side of the island has to offer, we enjoy meeting people who appreciate our unique, curated selection of handmade goods.
What can visitors expect to see at Brooklyn ARTery?
As mentioned, visitors will see items that they wouldn’t see in other gift shops. Our jewelry is one-of-a-kind, and we have things like handbags made out of the seats from Argentinian buses, and messenger bags macramed with soda pop tops from Brazil, hand-carved toys and hand-sewn puppets and stuffed animals, organic and vegan nail polish and body products, chocolate truffles and Liddabit chocolate caramels, butter scotch caramel popcorn, and lots more delicious snacks!
Kevin C. Fitzpatrick has written and edited seven books with ties to New York history, including "The Governors Island Explorer's Guide" and "World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War." Kevin is a licensed sightseeing guide and has been leading walking tours since 1999. He resides in Manhattan.