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DUMBO’s art weekend turns a neighborhood into a gallery

Brooklyn Daily
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This weekend, DUMBO’s quiet streets will turn into a playground of giant love letters, blindfolded wrestling, a fluorescent Walt Whitman — and even a 3D universe on the Manhattan Bridge.

It’s all part of the DUMBO Arts Festival, an annual three-day bash of experimental art, music and performance — and this year has more digital frills than ever.

“Whether you’re 3- or 93-years-old, you’re going to find something to love,” said organizer Lisa Kim. “It’s a mixed-media cacophony, with festivals within the festival.”

The event, now in its 15th year, has gone from a homegrown affair to a cutting-edge multimedia bash fit for Brooklyn’s Silicon Alley. The daylong spectacles include more than 100 open studios and 40 provocative acts. Here’s a few you can’t miss:

• “Immersive Surfaces”: DUMBO artist Leo Kuelbs and 20 other visionaries bring the Manhattan Bridge to life with state-of-the-art video mapping. Using 16 projectors stationed in nearby windows, the artists move the bridge’s bricks like piano keys and cast hovering humans across the archway.

“You may never see this kind of thing again,” Kuelbs said. “It’s a metaphor for what’s going on in DUMBO as it becomes a high-tech neighborhood but still retains its traditional rugged charm.”

Manhattan Bridge, Friday–Sunday, 8 pm–midnight.

• “Sweet Stream Love’s River”: NYU-Poly professors Carl Skelton and Luke DuBois project love letters onto the facade of Empire Stores warehouse. Send them a text message and if they approve, your words of love will ripple across the building for all to see.

Main and Water streets, Friday-Sunday, sundown to midnight.

• “Wet Exit”: Manhattan artist Janet Biggs stages an epic kayak battle on the East River with contenders paddling to drum beats and siren-like violins. Biggs said this riverside waltz is a play on chaos and desire in extreme situations. It starts with searchlights on the water and the frenzy fuses with footage from Biggs’s recent Arctic expedition on a large screen.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Amphitheater, Friday and Saturday, 8:30 pm.

• “Battle Royal”: Inspired by the opening of Ralph Ellison’s “The Invisible Man,” Queens artist Shaun Leonardo puts 15 professional wrestlers in a 16-foot-high steel cage until one man is left standing.

“It’s somewhere between spectacle, art performance and literary representa­tion,” Leonardo said. “My hope is that the audience will question what they are seeing.”

Pearl Street Triangle, Saturday, 3 pm.

• “The Dumpster Project”: Mac Premo, a Park Slope artist, premiers his 30-foot Dumpster-cum-artspace with more than 400 objects. Step in and find his life’s curiosities, including a friend’s wisdom teeth, a toy adding machine, his grandma’s makeup case, a Super 8 projector, and a can of imitation chicken.

Faced with moving to a smaller studio, Premo had a choice: he could chuck his beloved items or combine them into a work of art. Visitors can download a mobile app that shows a eulogy he wrote for each item.

Manhattan Bridge Archway, Friday–Sunday, all day

• “I Love You Forever”: DUMBO artist Erin Hudak will install giant silver and gold helium balloons on the water. It’s a tender proclamation with the skyline as a backdrop.

East River waterfront under the Manhattan Bridge.

• And if you’re looking for artist Mark Gagnon’s fluorescent Walt Whitman, the papier-mâché poet is at Washington and Prospect streets.

DUMBO Arts Festival [various locations in the neighborhood Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, (718) 488-8588], Sept. 23, 6–9 pm; Sept. 24, noon–8 pm; Sept. 25, noon–6 pm. For info, visit

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