Back in 2010 when Ashley Zelinskie first moved to Bushwick as a fresh-out-of-school, diploma-wielding artist, the economy was at a low. Fast-forward to the present day—Zelinskie has the freedom to make the art she wants. Sales are up, her gallery has visitors and her day job is no more.
A renaissance woman who is equal parts artist and programmer, in the past few months she and her robots, Wall-E and Eve, have been busy building a Tibetan prayer wheel out of the Dalai Lama’s Tweets and making a binary version of the Mona Lisa.
During the dark days of artmageddon, she had to take a day job sculpting cakes. Worried that she wouldn’t be able to pay the rent on her art studio, Zelinskie saw opportunity where others saw foreclosure. She brokered a deal with her landlord. In return for free rent, she’d help him find tenants for the empty studios in her building. He agreed, and soon Zelinskie was also hosting exhibitions in the building.
Today, all 36 studios are full and Zelinskie has a permanent exhibition space, where the number of visitors is up. More of them are buying, too. “If people who are dressed very nice are coming in with copies of the New York Times under their arm, you know that you’re getting not just the artist crowd, not just the student crowd, but the buying crowd,” says Zelinskie.
Zelinskie isn’t alone. If the number of new galleries opening in Bushwick are any indicator, then the art world could be bouncing back.