By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Everybody loves pub crawls. A gallery crawl can be a good thing, too.
Booze breaks can be part of it, if that makes the art more entertaining for you. Or there's always brunch to brighten the day.
With so many artsy areas in Brooklyn to choose from, we decided, for starters, last Saturday to stick with spots that are strolling distance from Downtown B'KLYN.
While anyone with a decent pair of walking shoes will enjoy this crawl, it is especially convenient for residents of the neighborhood's splendid but slightly lonely-looking towers like the Toren and the Oro. If those folks spend their entire weekends on their rooftops, they'll miss out on artistic eye candy in the streets below.
P.S.: If The Boss says okay, we will devise gallery crawls in other neighborhoods in the future.
Warmup: MetroTech Commons
To revv up your engines for the gallery crawl, sit for a bit at MetroTech Commons and take in sculptor Katharina Grosse's mysterious monoliths of multicolored fiberglass-reinforced plastic.
Her open-air mega-sculpture exhibition, which is called “Just Two of Us,” goes well with tea and pastry. La Défense at 2 MetroTech Center and Café Metro at 15 MetroTech Center both put out their outdoor tables on Saturday mornings.
The contemporary Japanese artists Arisa Itami represents show their work at Ouchi Gallery for a week at a time – so there's always something fresh to see at the Downtown Brooklyn venue, whose name means “home” or “house” in Japanese.
We got a look at engagingly whimsical paintings by Megumi Wadano and wistful women depicted by Toru Izumida.
Next up: Shiori Yajima, who paints with a thousand-year-old technique called Nihonga. The paint is crushed mineral pigments combined with liquid adhesive. The second artist exhibiting this week is Atsushi Adachi.
If you're very lucky, the gallery's mascot – a timid teacup chihuahua who's the size of a football and is named Hottie – will come out of hiding.
Location: 170 Tillary St., Suite 105
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday noon-6 p.m., by appointment only on Wednesdays
How does Grumpy Bert, AKA Albert Chau, feel about the exhibit of charming, cheerful paintings on the wall of his Boerum Hill shop?
“It balances me out,” is his deadpan answer.
“Garden Party,” the show at the Grumpster's tchotchke and toy store, is a set of paintings, collages and drawings by soon-to-graduate Pratt students Adrienne Arredondo, Rose Wong and Hannah Xenakis.
The show runs through May 18.
Look closely: the fantasy-land creatures depicted in several of the works are not as innocent as they seem on first glance, which greatly adds to their charm.
Some of the toys Grumpy Bert stocks also aren't so sweet and innocent, but they're hilarious – like little cloth dolls in old-fashioned nuns' habits, holding rulers. Heaven help us.
Location: 82 Bond St.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday noon-ish to 7 p.m., Sunday noon-ish to 6 p.m.
Is it time for lunch yet?
Bijan's at 81 Hoyt St. has a $15 Saturday brunch with a cocktail included.
The raved-about Mile End Delicatessen at 97A Hoyt St. serves beer.
Clover's Fine Art Gallery
Big, entertaining, thought-provoking.
That's the show at Clover's Fine Art Gallery, “I Am Woman,” which runs through May 18.
Our especial favorite among the artists was Laura James. Somebody already bought a witty work of hers called “My Lady,” where women in a well-appointed high-rise apartment with an eye-popping view (which is too naughty to explain in print) have drinks and cheat at cards while slightly surreal things go on around them.
She is also showing guardian angels worthy of adoration and beguiling paintings of the Jamaican countryside that she created to illustrate a children's book.
Other artists in the powerful show are Mona C. Haigler, Roni Sherman Ramos, Calice Fyffe and Carol Montgomery.
The Boerum Hill gallery, which focuses on Caribbean art and artists, belongs to attorney Clover Barrett.
Location: 338 Atlantic Ave.
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (the gallery has a café that opens early on weekdays so people can buy morning coffee), Saturday-Sunday 11 a.m. -6 p.m.
The Micro Museum
Kathleen and William Laziza spent a quarter-century supporting other artists at the Micro Museum, the Boerum Hill non-profit gallery they founded.
Now it's their turn to display their own creations, as a celebration of the mini-museum's 25th anniversary.
The show runs through December.
While Kathleen's paintings are bright and beguiling, the odd objects she has made are the real show-stoppers. They're imaginative, and fun to look at – like a blandly upholstered sofa with old beige telephones implanted in its arms that's called Phone-i-ture (instead of furniture).
Her small decorative assemblages are very cool, too. And there are racks of wildly pretty jackets she designed, covered with faux flowers and leaves. A crew of 45 people wore the floral garb to march in the 2013 Easter Parade in Manhattan.
Location: 123 Smith St.
Hours: Saturday noon-7 p.m.
Note: There is a $2 admission charge.
More lunch options
There are so many food options on Smith Street you could eat all day, of course.
One that seems well-suited to a gallery crawl is Bar Tabac at 128 Smith St., where the wine flows at brunch and the desserts are referred to as “Diet Busters” on the menu. C'est magnifique!
If coffee and a baked good are all you're craving, Roogla at 180 Smith St. will do the trick.
The Invisible Dog Art Center
“The International Weird Collage Show” has a promising name – and it does not disappoint.
You can get lost in its visual enigmas, which are by turns delightful and disturbing.
The show is at the Invisible Dog Art Center, which is one of our favorite gallery names ever, while we're on the subject of names.
The building was a factory where a sight-gag toy was manufactured, a stiff leash and collar that made it look like you were walking an imaginary canine.
The Boerum Hill gallery is also hosting a show by artist and self-described “stuffmaker” Mac Premo called “It's Later Than You Think.” The collage and sculpture works in it are nostalgia-inducing for the over-50 crowd.
Both exhibits, plus a written word-focused exhibit by Shannon Finnegan in the gallery's Glass House, run through May 11.
Location: 51 Bergen St.
Hours: Thursday-Saturday 1 p.m.-7 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art
Shantell Martin has covered an entire gallery's white walls at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MoCADA) with line drawings and words, her signature form of art-making.
Her site-specific installation, called “Are You You,” is mesmerizing. It's going to be there at the museum through July 27.
You'll need to hustle a bit to fit MoCADA into the gallery crawl before the museum's closing time.
It's located in the BAM Cultural District, so it's an ideal spot to end your walk – afterwards you could catch a movie at oh-so-close-by BAM Rose Cinemas.
Location: 80 Hanson Place
Hours: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday noon-7 p.m., Thursday noon-8 p.m., Sunday noon-6 p.m.
Note: There is a $5 admission charge for adults, $4 for seniors and students.