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The emergence of the “Williamsburg scene” as we understand it was something of an electrical lightning storm. From the point of view of a native New Yorker, meaning myself, it seemed to come from nowhere—crackling and illuminating the darkness of the post-Giuliani, post-fun NYC—then disintegrating into an opaque smog of gentrification, rent hikes, and artisanal hat and ice cream stores, the kind that now crowd Bedford Avenue. As “Brooklyn” became a commoditized product, sold at Urban Outfitters and recreated everywhere from industrial East Berlin to the repurposed Woodstock Foundries of Cape Town, South Africa, what originally made the area so special seems to have disappeared.
Music venue National Sawdust, formerly OMW workshop, slated to open this fall, hopes to revive, even temporarily, the thrill of ‘90s and early 2000’s Williamsburg, a time when anything felt possible and artistic collaboration ruled supreme. The space will offer a rare outlet for musicians of lesser appreciated art forms, from opera to experimental jazz, the opportunity to study, practice, perform, and receive mentorship through an in-venue, non-profit program.
Unlike the gritty DIY rock venues that made Williamsburg possible, and were recently displaced from their long-time homes along Kent Avenue, National Sawdust hopes to find an appropriate balance between “new” and “old” Brooklyn that’s sustainable. One of the driving forces behind the space is upstart architect Peter Zuspan, a young, Atlanta-raised NYC transplant, classically trained opera singer, and founding principal of experimental architecture firm Bureau V.[…]