Historic South Williamsburg Building, 475 Kent, Hosts an Intimate Art Festival
For the next two Saturdays, the residents of a cultural and architectural icon of South Williamsburg are using the artistry of their loft apartments to better know each other as well as their work at an intimate open house art festival, 475KentFest.
The creative dwellers of the hulking grey former factory are putting their work and workplaces on display--and it is a crucial time. The building was recently sold for some $56 million. As with such events, this prompted some uncertainty among residents. 475KentFest is an organized effort to form a closer community.
475KentFest is a building-wide open house for residents to celebrate the diverse creative community they have created in their iconic factory-turned-artist-lofts.
Taking place on two consecutive Saturdays (March 18 and March 25), the festival invites residents to open their doors to fellow neighbors, as well as invited friends and family, for a glimpse into their spaces, and is aimed at capturing the current state of the community and its energy. If you wish to attend, you'll need to be invited by someone who lives there. If you don't know anyone, don't despair. So Williamsburg will bring you a detailed wrap-up of the festival including photographs and interviews.
475 Kent residents include artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, writers, designers, bakers, entrepreneurs, actors, dancers, fabricators, roof-top gardeners, who hail from countries the world over. The international mix of 475 Kent has included Magnum photographers, award-winning thespians, world-class instrumentalists and singers, best-selling authors, renowned designers, and other creatives of distinction (a partial listing of which can be found at 475kent.com).
If you take the East River Ferry from Schaefer Landing, you have likely glimpsed the grey 11-story facade of nearby 475 Kent Ave. Built nearly a century ago, it comprises more than 100 units and 150,000 square feet of floor space--all of it originally dedicated to the heavy equipment of a La Rosa & Sons Macaroni production facility, which was once the largest pasta factory in North America. When the factory closed, 475 Kent sat mostly empty until the late 1990s, when a small group of artists took over and reshaped the 11 floors into a thriving live/work space.
The first artists that converted the factory floors into lofts renovated them to their visions, which were then shaped and reshaped over the years by a succession of newly-arrived resident artists. The spiritual result is an organic, eclectic interior design example of how pure creativity can positively change a single apartment building. The physical result is a unique mix of architectural and interior design elements where no two units look the same.
The spirit and dedication of the initial residents has persisted some 20 years, making 475 Kent a unique New York City live/work space in the rapidly gentrifying slice of coastal Williamsburg just south of Broadway.
Featured image: courtesy of Randall Bellows III