BRIC House

Edification value  
Entertainment value  
Should you go?  
Time spent 39 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned Glendora Buell has had a public access TV show, A Chat with Glendora, since 1972.  At over 44 years and 11,600 (!) episodes, it’s the longest running public access show.  She’s 88 years old.  God bless!
Built like a BRIC…um…House.

BRIC House is a flexible arts space including a theater, ballroom, and an exhibition space in an artsy part of downtown Brooklyn (right next door to the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater).

It took a while to figure out what “BRIC” stands for:  Brooklyn Information & Culture.  Or, “stood for.”  According to their website while that’s where the name comes from, officially it doesn’t stand for anything right now.

Anyway, the organization has been around since 1979 under various names–it started out as the Fund for the Borough of Brooklyn, and so in some alternate universe I suppose I visited FFoBB House instead of BRIC House.  In this universe, it only moved into its new space, a shiny refit of the old Strand Theater, in 2013.

BRIC organizes a major free festival every year (Celebrate Brooklyn!) and its BRIC House home base gives it space to put on a whole array of arts programming.

The “museum” space is an airy, high-ceilinged open space that goes down well below street grade but thanks to a large swath of half-height windows is flooded with light.  There’s an informal stair-seat space that BRIC uses for talks and lectures, with the gallery space behind it.

The current show, Public Access/Open Networks celebrates public access TV as the original user-generated video form. It includes a piece by Nam June Paik, so you know its arts bona fides are in place, but looks at a variety of public access shows, extending to the modern day with Youtube videos as the new “public access.” 

“Public Access is the mother of all social media, the original uncurated social art.”

In addition to Glendora Buell above, one standout was a waffle restaurant that doubled as the studio of a talk show–walk in for waffles and you might be a guest, or possibly even the host. And there’s a taste of how different subcultures and interest groups have used public access to gain a voice, though I might’ve liked a bit more focus on that.  Also, no Robin Byrd?  No Wayne’s World?  I question the curatorial judgment.

Almost better than the content was the array of antique tube monitors they scrounged up to show the video on.  It’s been long enough that these bulky, cubical relics are starting to look alien to me.  TV was so much better on one of these fuzzy old behemoths, said no one ever.

BRIC House also houses a cafe, so if you’re in need of an upscale coffee, it’s yet another reason to stop in.  As with a lot of places, whether you should stop in or not is going to depend on what’s on exhibition.  I’m skeptical it’s worth a special trip.  It’s more like if you’re going to BRIC for an event, check out the gallery while you’re there.  Or if you’re seeing a show nearby, or taking a glassblowing course (Brooklyn Glass is right upstairs), visit for a coffee and some art. 

For Reference:

Address 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn
Cost Free
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