Home on the stage: Silent Barn opens its doors to artists

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There’s plenty of space in the barn for everyone.

The brand new Bushwick artist collective Silent Barn is making its Brooklyn debut renting workspaces to a theater company, a recording studio, a record exchange, and a handbag manufacturer. In a vacant lot next door, its members are planning a community garden and in a 1972 camper called “Canned Ham,” which will provide overnight accommodations to performers from out of town.

Since pulling the plug on a Queens space with a storied history and sad demise — it closed in September 2011 after building-code violations and a major robbery — Silent Barn members have been meeting weekly to map out a long-term future for the collective, according to Kristen Barry, a Barn member, musician, and artist from White Plains, NY.

“Trying to have a legal [art] space in the City that is financially sustainable is very rare; that’s something we’re trying to offer to artists,” Barry said. “[It’s] a very community-oriented space where ideas will be exchanged.”

Upstairs are several apartments for artists in residence such as Kate Levitt, a drummer from Baltimore who moved in just before New Year’s.

The Silent Barn isn’t a quiet place to call home, but Levitt — who signed on for an upcoming Asia tour with electro-fantasy musician Grimes — says it’s inspiring to live and work around so many artists.

“So many cool things are going on right now — this [apartment] is the coolest thing, and [the Grimes tour] is super cool,” she said as she moved boxes into her fourth-floor walk-up apartment, visibly excited about her new home.

“It’s all happening.”

On Jan. 5, the venue will present an evening of soundscapes in the recently renovated storefront performance space, featuring Alien Whale, a raucous, three-man jam ensemble whose smashing-drums-and-screaming-guitar sets feel like straight catharsis.

Also on the bill is Cloud Becomes Your Hand, whose hardscrabble yet listenable audio environments sound like they were made to accompany a videogame wherein a Calcutta kitchenmaid battles a swarm of robotized locusts, the Indian street-scene still audible in the background. It’s not dance music but it makes for an aural feast.

Fox-Crane-Bear, with longtime Silent Barn resident G. Lucas Crane, and Heat Identity will be perform, as well.

The show marks Silent Barn’s fourth evening of programming in less than a week, a sign the collective plans to continue its tradition of hosting near-nightly performances.

Alien Whale, Cloud Becomes Your Hand, Fox-Crane-Bear, and Lucas Crane at the Silent Barn (603 Bushwick Ave. between Melrose and Jefferson streets, Jan. 5, 8 pm–midnight, $7.

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