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Thursday Spotlight: At HACO, Building Community is as Vital as Building Art

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There are lots of galleries and art spaces in Greenpoint; this is no secret. But HACO is attempting something fresher, bolder, and — most inherently — communal. In today’s Thursday Spotlight, we speak with HACO’s managing director Yoko Suetsugu about her work and pursuits, HACO’s current show Drench, and the art of building community. Located at 31 Grand street and open Wednesdays to Sundays from 1 to 6 PM, HACO is now celebrating its two-year anniversary and will  have a closing party for its current show on Saturday at 5 PM. Catch the show before then, and learn more here!

Greenpointers: Tell me a little about HACO! You’re the managing director; what do you hope this space will accomplish? How long has it been around?

HACO was established on October 31 in 2017. It has been exactly two years since we opened to the public. I believe our philosophy speaks to what we want to accomplish in this space. The word HACO serves as an acronym for:

Human, a place where everyone is welcomed. Anyone around the world can stop by, hang out, share stories and experience this form of communication in person.

Art, a place where art becomes tangible and accessible. Anyone can exchange creativity and inspiration, and share one’s heart through dialogues. By doing so, new forms of art can be created in each conversation.

Core, a place where you can experience the truthfulness, explore the deepness of the essence until reaching the core that could possibly trigger wonders about one’s existence.

Odyssey, a place where you can begin your own journey. You are always a member of our crew, and can always return to share your stories.

This also results in the word HACO, which in Japanese means “box”. HACO is an unprecedented gallery that seeks for unique ways to present art, culture and entertainment for its public.

We invite the viewer to interact with the artist/s and their artwork by creating engaging activities in the space. The gallery activates its space with warm and playful environments. The work is accompanied by DJ’s suave mixes, aroma therapy and other uncommon activities such as, rumba concerts, workshops, pilates classes and performances.

In addition to its regular art expositions, HACO attracts its viewers with more than just a venue to observe art. As its acronym explains, HACO is a multi-dimensional/cultural project space that serves as an empty box with unlimited capacity to hold inspiration and new experiences for its guests. HACO encourages individuals to analyze, converse and grow within its walls, from workshops for stencil-making, paper-mache puppet making and linocut, to pilates classes to rejuvenate oneself.

You’re also an artist with Drench, the current group exhibition. What themes unite the works of you and your three peers for this show?

The theme for Drench brought together four artists: Amanda Nedham (Canada), Benny BonTempo (USA), Josué Guarionex (Puerto Rico), and myself (Japan). We are from different parts of the world but we all reside and work in New York. Drench is a statement based on the way we see society and how we react to it as artists.

We exist within two landscapes, working within the constraints of the status quo while simultaneously imagining alternative realities through the cultivation of new belief systems that are drawn from our personal stories. We all acknowledge the rapidly changing political climate currently taking place and have come up with individual strategies to hold time. All methods reimagine the potential for transformative experiences within the context of the everyday, and use objects as talismans to facilitate these micro transgressions.

Drench suggests a complete and poetic immersion within a new way of looking, inviting the viewer to give themselves in to the manipulations of the sensual experiments created by the artists. Sculpture, painting, projection, and installation all meet in this exhibition, expressing the potential that exists within radical stillness.

This show represents how we can affect the nature of our environment, and attempts to harmonize with our surroundings through art. We all meet at the same place, Drench, where we embrace the notion of hope, even though we all come from different places, and draw from different philosophical approaches.

Prior to leading HACO, what was the trajectory of your artistic career? Was it the dream to always open up a brick and mortar space? 

I moved to NY in the late 90s dreaming of becoming a realistic painter but ended up becoming an abstract metal sculptor. To be honest, I’ve always been driven to make art, but never thought of opening up a space. When the opportunity was presented at the time, my brother, who lives in Tokyo, and I decided to trust each other and dive into this crazy journey together. We are united by our passion for art, and this space is a pure blessing. However, our priority is not to own a space but to make our project come true through art by give and share. 

Are there any upcoming shows you are mapping out with HACO? 

We will also be celebrating HACO’s second year as well as the closing party for Drench on November 9 starting at 5 PM — yay!

What does it mean to be a part of this northern Brooklyn community? 

Purpose.

Theoretically, you could have a space in any borough, any neighborhood. In my case, I somehow had luck with this particular location, which happens to be the center of an aggressively gentrified area — the center of the so-called “hip culture.” However, what HACO strives for is the complete opposite: a small, individualistic, and definitely non-commercial gallery that is far from a “hip” qualification.

What we strive for is an inclusive space where individuals from any background can feel safe and welcomed, giving the selection of artwork a broader audience to interact with, and a space where these artworks can be tangible and experienced in full. Having said that, I feel there is a purpose for us to be here and do what we believe in. It’s not a question of why we are here, but how we want to deliver our message through art, especially in this community.

About Billy McEntee

Billy McEntee has been fortunate to work for arts non-profits in Boston, Denver, Berkeley, and now New York. His writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Vanity Fair, American Theatre, HowlRound, Observer, and others. He’s usually getting wine at Dandelion or eating cookies at Archestratus.





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