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Entrance Opens a New Sculpture Park in Red Hook, Brooklyn

Sculpture park intallation view with human-like marble sculptures

A new endeavor by Entrance gallery’s Louis Shannon is bringing contemporary sculpture to the evolving Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook. Conceived as Brooklyn’s outdoor extension of Entrance in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the new 10,000-square-foot permanent space will host seasonal large-scale sculpture exhibitions, along with performances, screenings, community dinners (served with vegetables grown from the soon-to-be-established Entrance garden) and art workshops for its younger neighbors.

For its first summer of programming, one-fifth of Entrance’s sculpture garden is hosting the exhibition “Direct Carving,” which showcases three impressive massive marble sculptures masterfully carved by artist Ian L.C. Swordy. Swordy’s practice engages with the philosophical and physical nature of hand carving, considering the act of carving as adjacent to live performance while confronting the material’s limits and potential. The artist utilizes found, urban detritus alongside the stone, juxtaposing the evident hand with a flawless, polished finish. The outcome is monumental figures that evoke both the ancient world and the simplicity of Modernism forms.

We met with Louis Shannon, the mastermind behind Entrance/Red Hook, to understand how the idea was conceived and what the full program will entail. Shannon founded Entrance seven years ago, first as a space for the neighborhood’s creative community, mixing art with tattoos, fashion and the street and skateboard communities he was originally from. Even with the pandemic, the gallery experienced remarkable growth, renovating the space, which now covers two floors and hosts exhibitions throughout the year.

“I was interested in creating something different from the standard independent gallery programming and the flow of new spaces that I was seeing pop up in New York City,” Shannon told Observer. He was intrigued by large-scale artwork and thought it could be presented outdoors in the city with the same quickness a traditional gallery show might go up. Figuring out how to make that happen seemed like a way to do something impactful in New York City’s cultural landscape—no more having to head out east or upstate to see large sculpture. “I’d never seen anything like it before, so I thought, why not give it everything we’ve got? Our gallery’s ceiling is now the everchanging Red Hook blue sky and clouds rather than spotlights and fluorescents. I grew up inspired by large-scale outdoor installations and expansive sculpture gardens that I was lucky enough to experience around the world from a very young age, and I wanted to share that same feeling and inspiration here.”

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Red Hook has seen a remarkable transformation in recent years, and when asked why this specific neighborhood, Shannon called out the broad network of locals who helped bring the sculpture garden to life: “Red Hook is my home and already has the most awesome self-sustaining community throughout the pockets of cultural happenings here, artist studio systems and the independent restaurants and small businesses that propagate the neighborhood. The amount of friendship, mutual support, and cross-pollination is stunning and has taken care of me and my crew for the years I’ve been here.”

Creating a space that felt impactful and available for both the art world at large and the local community was important to him; he aims to honor what’s already happening culturally in Red Hook, adding that there is no other neighborhood in which he would be able to accomplish something like this on this kind of scale. “Our crane operator, Andrew Logan, who helped us install Ian Swordy‘s incredible marble sculpture is my next-door neighbor and a curator in his own right. Our block has been incredibly supportive in ways I can’t even begin to describe. Hometown Barbecue down the road catered our ground breaking; the Good Fork lent us a big grill. Our fabricator friend Matt helped us balance and re-weld our front gate; he lives a couple of blocks away.” The list of people who contributed to the project, he said, goes on and on.

Sculpture park intallation view with human-like marble sculptures

Louis Shannon is a humble and down-to-earth guy, but he has a family lineage that connects him with at least 100 years of art history: Henri Matisse was his great-great-grandfather on hismother’s side which also had connections to Duchamp and his father, Tom Shannon, is a well-known artist who has worked primarily with monumental and outdoor sculptures that explore themes of magnetism, gravity and other natural forces in pieces that challenge traditional perceptions of art and space. When asked if there was any relation between his father’s work and this project, Shannon replied that he “learned firsthand the logistical undertaking of engineering, fabricating and installing large kinetic sculptures in situ through projects I’ve done helping Tom throughout the world over the last handful of years, and I want to be able to apply the same experience to other artists’ practices. He started his practice in the late sixties alongside the land artists and post-minimalist sculptors, and learning from that era has set the tone for our work today.” They also, he said, have so much fun working together and “it would be a dream to combine forces in New York City soon.”

As Shannon continues to lay the groundwork for Entrance/Red Hook during the sculpture garden’s first summer, he’s also working with visionary landscape architecture team Gagné Whitney to physically shape and set the tone for the entirety of the available sculpture space. He wants to create an environment that is both a comfortable and bucolic garden and a space with the engineering capability to showcase large sculptures safely and beautifully. For now, there’s some performance programming on tap for fall 2024. Then, Shannon said, the gallery will spend the winter working out the nuts and bolts of a full calendar of programming for 2025. The sculpture garden will open each year on the first day of spring and host visitors through the end of autumn.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to show work seasonally in this environment,” he said, “so there is time for people to enjoy long, slow looks at important practices and hopefully pass along something learned and something shared.”

Sculpture park intallation view with human-like marble sculptures

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