[gowanus + art = agast]

It’s once again coming to that wonderful time of year when the leaves fall into the toxic soup we know and love as the Gowanus Canal, and the artists in the neighborhood open their studios to share their fume-inspired creations. This is the Annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour (AGAST), of which I am a devoted fan. The tour is actually a really cool opportunity not just to see lots of inspired and interesting art — everything from conceptual installations to marble sculpture to a stained-glass studio — but to get inside those weird, funky, fascinating old industrial buildings that dot the landscape. Plus, you will surely consume your fill of Goldfish, mini-KitKats and cheap

The tour will be taking place from 1 to 6 on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21. As usual, I’m going to try and visit as many of the galleries as I can. Hope to see you there!

[not a republic?]

The 423 Smith blog has an exciting post about the Notary District, as it has dubbed the “no man’s land between Park Slope, Red Hook, and Carroll Gardens.” Of course, the Russo Realty signs are a landmark for those of us who regularly use the Smith & 9th St. subway station.

Of course, the times they are a-changin’. Sometime last year, DKNY attempted to get a hold of the fabled Russo for some notarizing action, but there was no response. More ominously, the Dock War boat has been removed, and there are signs of impending construction. For how much longer will Brooklynites delight in the glorious profusion of ineffective marketing that is Russo Realty? (Via Curbed.)

In other neighborhood news, Curbed notes the construction of new housing down where Court St. runs into the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Some of the apartments appear to be practically on the expressway, which would not make for a happy lifestyle. Sometimes you just have to wonder what the developers are smoking.

[the neighbors]

Across the street from the South Korean Mission to the United Nations is a construction site where the new United States Mission to the United Nations is going up to replace the old United States Mission to the United Nations (picture of the entrance showing the seriously dated old architecture).

The new structure is designed by Gwathmey Siegel and Associates Architects, the same folks who brought us the architecturally muddled but kind of cool Astor Place Sculpture for Living, that grand symbol of the death of bohemian East Village. (Sorry, kids: the ongoing eastward migration of hipness has crossed the river, passed through Billyburg and settled on Bushwick — for the moment. If trends continue, hipsters will be living in Middle Village, Queens, by about 2050.)

Emporis has details, the most intresting being that the new structure will be 22 stories, with no windows on the first six floors to make it harder to blow the place up. Friendly. They’ve also got construction pics, including a nice shot showing the temporarily exposed flank of the Ugandan Mission and the Korean Mission across the street, behind the crane. From this photo, you can probably work out that we can peer down into the construction site from our windows.

Of course, there are other ways to get a look. Cryptome, a rather cryptic and moderately creepy website, has an Austrian-domain-hosted page full of pictures of North Korean diplomats and their Mission, towards the bottom of which are a couple of shots of the US Mission construction site, one of which is labeled “The New US Mission to the UN Under Construction at East 45th Street and 1st Avenue, Photographed Through a Vacant, Unlocked Guard Hut.” Nice.

Oh, and on a local note, the cement for the project is being provided by the Gowanus Canal’s own Quadrozzi, in whose trucks I am tempted to try hitching a ride to work.

[agast report]

For all those in search of my AGAST report, don’t worry. It’s on the way, but it’ll take me some time to organize all my notes and write the thing up. If you’re one of the many artists I met on Saturday and Sunday, thanks for stopping by, and I’ll send you an email when I post the article.

[agast again]

It’s comin’ round again: the Annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour, aka AGAST, which I documented in detail last year (1, 2). I don’t know whether I’ll work so hard again this year, but I do intend to make the rounds. As always, I highly recommend this opportunity to see a lot of very good art and explore some of the homes and warehouse spaces scattered around the Gowanus Canal area. (Via 423 Smith.)