Artist Thomas Burke at work.
On the second floor of a former sheet metal supplier near the quiet northern tip of Greenpoint, artists Jacqueline Pompei and J Grabowski have created a haven for creators and community.
The duo opened POMPEI — a collaborative project space and gallery at 681 Morgan and Norman Avenue — in 2020, and are currently inviting artists and displaying work at the location.
This past week, the Star caught up with Pompei to discuss the process of opening a gallery during the pandemic, as well as the newest installation by artist Thomas Burke.
“This is meant to be a flexible project space, not just a white wall gallery,” Pompei explained. “We wanted a space for the community.”
Pompei and Grabowski run the studio building that POMPEI is located in. Primarily, the building includes studio spaces for local artists. However, when one of the studios was left empty during the pandemic last year, the pair came up with the idea to renovate and restore the rooms to convert them into a gallery.
“We were a bit lucky to just stay focused on one project,” Pompei explained of the renovations. “The pandemic was terrible, but it opened up some new pathways for us. We were lucky to be alive and having a little fun.”
Pompei has lived in Brooklyn for 12 years, and prides herself on her connection to the neighborhood and its artistic community. After a particularly challenging year, she is also proud to say that Greenpoint has remained tough and retains its trademark charm and style.
“We noticed when things were erupting last summer in New York that the Greenpoint community remained strong,” Pompei said. “People were still relying on local businesses, unlike Manhattan, which lost all of its tourism.”
In the past few months, Greenpoint’s artistic community has almost completely returned to form, with many creators making their ways back to the studio space Pompei and Grabowski manage.
POMPEI premiered its first show last October. Burke’s show is titled Appearances
, and features a number of vibrant, diamond-shaped paintings that reflect his time growing up in Las Vegas, as well as his time spent in North Brooklyn.
“We were able to see his detailed, deliberate process,” Pompei explained after watching Burke work in the studio. “J and I learned so much from Tommy’s observation and appreciation of color.”
In a write-up on POMPEI’s website, Pompei and Grabowski offer additional insight into the show.
“On view across two rooms are large scale diamond-shaped paintings on aluminum panels made up of charged irregular symmetries, bold color gradients, and sweeping lines that keep the eye moving,” it reads. “Cultivating a sensation of disorientation, the compositions nearly push the viewer off balance.”
will be on display at POMPEI until May 2. The gallery is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m., and on weekdays by appointment. Pompei and Grabowski are currently planning a summer show at the space as well.