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Open Source: Bringing Brooklynites Together Through Art

By Joshua Grammer

Founded in 2008 by Monika Wuhrer, Open Source seeks to bring the Brooklyn community together through art- by creating conversations, hosting artists and exhibits, and participating in charities and local activities. Wuhrer explains that, "Community is very important in art-making, conversation, and creating social change."

A fire in 2010 destroyed the original space, as well as a large portion of Wuhrer's home. The current space is located on 17th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Street access and large carriage doors make Open Source's gallery easily accessible and inviting. Rising from the ashes, Open Source has burned with a passion since 2010 with a relentless pursuit of artistic culture and beautification of Brooklyn's community.

Open Source has many exhibits and discussions to challenge viewers. Exhibitions have been acclaimed by The Brooklyn Rail, The New York Times, New York Magazine and many other publications. There are also other activities in the studio that include videos and even dancing. There's even a Soap Box Derby down 17th Street, Brooklyn- an annual race that has taken place since 2008. Their current exhibit by Yun-Woo Choi named "Endless, Seamless" has certainly gained the attention of visitors, scaling the entire room and hanging from the ceiling (pictured above).

"It is amazing and gets the attention of anyone walking by the gallery, inviting them to investigate further and enter a conversation about the work, their personal interpretations, and the role art plays in our community", says Wuhrer.

Each year, Open Source hosts an arts-centric Soup Kitchen. Artists, musicians, neighbors and homeless people come to share a meal and talk about the arts. It is open to everyone and serviced by artists involved with the community. Wuhrer says, "This program promotes understanding between community members and generates awareness."

Open Source also works to promote self reflection through its monthly Church of Monika meetings. Different speakers share about views on life and their surroundings. Rather than traditional "church," Wuhrer's idea is to have a town-hall style meeting about the community with varied topics. People from all backgrounds and beliefs come together to learn from and inspire each other.

When asked how she views New York as an art community, Austrian-born Wuhrer says, "New York is such a nexus point of so many different cultures. There's a great community here for artists- not to mention all the amazing institutions where you can see art from around the world from ancient to contemporary!"

With her zeal and creativity, Wuhrer is living out her dream. Open Source continues to grow and now has a staff complete with 2 full-time employees, several interns, 5 teaching artists, and a 10-member Board of Directors. They are constantly working to bring the best talent and exhibitions to Park Slope in order to build a thriving community of artists and art lovers.

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