Past the glow of the White Castle sign, near the third stop on the L train at the beginning of Kingsland Avenue lies a foreboding campus of miscellaneous old, dark, abandoned buildings: namely, the old Greenpoint Hospital, built in 1914 and closed in 1982, later a homeless men's shelter, and now the subject of community debate and (somewhat stalled?) developer bids to create affordable and senior housing. Most of it is cordoned off with rusty fencing that has become intertwined with tree trunks and tall weeds.
Despite the nearby housing projects, desolate park and darkening sky, we went skulking around outside on Friday night.
We didn't have to break in to see the inside of the Greenpoint Hospital Outpatient Department - the former clinic has been taken over by the community organization St. Nick's Alliance, who have devoted the entire Garden Level of the building to gallery space, retaining much of the original character of the hospital facilities...
...and, in some cases, a liberal coat of new white paint.
In other cases, you could count the multicolored layers of paint like rings in a tree trunk.
Although the night we visited, the space was crawling with artists and North Brooklyn hipsters swigging beer and swilling wine as they nibbled on cheese and ham cubes, there were still plenty of dark corners to explore...
...and the subtle remnants of humanity amidst the institutional vestiges.
I can't think of a better place to hang your art than in the green-tiled shower stall of an abandoned hospital. Of course, for me, the shower stall is the art.
Check out Forgotten NY's post on East Williamsburg and the Greenpoint Hospital complex.
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