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As Frieze New York settles on Randall’s Island, some of the more intrepid art worlders found themselves exploring another outlying neighborhood. Guests including Liz Goldwin, Naomi Watts, Jake Gyllenhaal and Mariska Hargitay flocked to Brooklyn’s industrial outpost, Red Hook, for a “Village Fête,” on May 4, hosted in part by Bob Colacello, Liv Tyler, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, at the Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation.
The brainchild of artist Dustin Yellin, Pioneer Works is named for the “Pioneer Iron Works,” a three-story, 19th-century red-brick factory now converted to facilitate a gallery, event spaces and studios for everything from 3D printing and digital animation, to Dorit Chrysler’s New York Theremin Society, to Yellin’s magazine Intercourse. As the artist imaginatively describes it, Pioneer Works is “a nursery for innovation, an alpine highway to the horizon of the imagination.
“I could go into how I got the idea for this place, but I don’t want to upset my mother,” Yellin confessed to the crowd, which ranged from Jemima Kirke, Karen Elson, Derek Blasberg and Jefferson Hack, to Fab Five Freddy, Mike D and Ariel Pink, to Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, to, of course, Yellin’s beloved mother. A family-style, locally-sourced dinner was served up by The Fat Radish, the Lower East Side staple that plans to run a seasonal café on site in the Pioneer Works courtyard, which features its own bar, Yellin’s prized 1952 Airstream Trailer, and several fire pits. The barbecue pit was used to prepare the feast’s main event: a 1,000 lb. grass-fed, ginger-colored cow named Philip. (Those ducking outside for phone calls or cigarette breaks could still see – and smell – some of the meat on a spit.) After dinner and a benefit auction, guests were treated to a set by Ariel Pink, while Mike D and MGMT alternated at the DJ booth.
The early evening start time (cocktails kicked off at 5pm, prompting nightlife impresario André Saraiva to wonder if this was supposed to be a luncheon) was engineered so guests could catch the space at its most idyllic, when the setting sun floods the warehouse with an inimitable golden light. “I know it’s just across the bridge, but the light feels so different here,” Visionaire founder and long-time Red Hook resident Cecilia Dean observed. “Maybe it’s just because you can see the sky?”
Yellin made headlines in 2011 when he scooped up the 24,000 sq. ft. facility for $3.7 million. The space hit a setback, however, when Hurricane Sandy hit, taking a particular toll on Red Hook. Now however the area seems to be rebounding at a fast clip. Artists Urs Fischer and Dan Colen both have massive studios not far from Pioneer Works, while the nearby Still House Group has been a reliable bastion of young art stars, including Isaac Brest, Nick Darmstaedter and Brendan Lynch. Even Jeffrey Deitch is rumored to be checking out spaces in the area. Deitch was spotted bobbing appreciatively to Ariel Pink’s set. “Look around,” he beamed. “You don’t feel a dynamism like this anywhere else in New York right now.”
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