Possibly the most prevalent aspect of Williamsburg as a cultural institution and modern landmark is the remarkable art scene. Famous for its plentiful art galleries and vivacious local flavor, Williamsburg is home to an eclectic crowd of artists and art appreciators.
The high concentration of venues is one notable part of what makes Williamsburg such a hub for the artistic community. Places like Brooklyn Bowl and The Town Hall are so iconicof Williamsburg that they cannot be ignored. Bands like My Morning Jacket and Fleet Foxes and Danny Brown frequent cramped little rooms and big outdoor spaces throughout the neighborhood because of the crowds they draw. On that note, Arcade Fire (The Reflektors) recently announced a very highly priced show at one of the smaller venues in Williamsburg, which sold out almost immediately. This kind of cultural presence only exists within Williamsburg, and the fact that a band that once sold out Madison Square Garden has chosen a small venue in Williamsburg for their New York show says something about the notoriety of the music scene.
More recent local favorites include places like Public Assembly and the Luna Lounge, places where more underground bands and comedians could put on shows. I interviewed a local resident who noted that venues like Public Assembly and the Town Hall are as significant in defining the “TASTE of Williamsburg” as much as the Brooklyn Flea Market (which itself is a cultural institution.) Other locals made note of venues more suited for “up and coming musicians,” like the Grasslands, 285 Kent, and Skinny Dennis. These are more popular among younger people and the notorious hipster crowd.
Music is not the only aspect of culture that is indicative of the Williamsburg art scene, for film and television have their role as well. As a hub of modern intellectualism in media, such personalities as Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, and Lena Dunham all use Williamsburg as the setting for their films and TV shows. Heidecker starred in an independent film, The Comedy (2012), which took place in Williamsburg and discussed the modern state of the neighborhood and the entitled residents that pushed the art community from their low-rent apartments.
More notably however, actress and writer Lena Dunham has made an important impact on the media’s view of and the representation of modern Williamsburg. As portrayed in her 2010 film, Tiny Furniture, the social and economic pressures of life in Williamsburg are forcing an entire generation of post-college twenty-something’s into a total incapacitation; this vulnerability is also the premise of her show Girls, which is increasing in popularity rapidly.
Williamsburg is also known for it’s iconic street art, so much so that there are many different tours you can take following the street art throughout the neighborhood. Among the ever-present splatterings of paint and graffiti images are detailed murals and works by artists like Willow and Hellbent, who are prevalent in their field. Some like the aforementioned paint large, intricate murals on the sides of buildings and on empty billboards, while some artists like Dain post photo’s edited into a surreal and nearly gruesome display of social commentary, much like the classic street artists Banksy and Shepard Fairey.
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Simpson, Don. “Comedy, The | Review.” Smells Like Screen Spirit RSS. N.p., 28 Nov. 2012. Web.
Vestal, Shannon. “Girls TV Show Pilot Review.” RSS. N.p., 15 Apr. 2012. Web.
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