Our Mission

Why Not Art celebrates art and artists as we build community support and connection for all. We highlight the joy, creativity and resilience of the arts by showcasing artwork and performances by local artists. We host events and exhibitions that add to the vibrancy of the local community in Gowanus, Brooklyn as well as cross-promoting and championing the broader artistic community. Our goal is to create sustainable economic and social opportunity, open and accessible to all, across Brooklyn and beyond. 

Who We Are

Managing Director and Founder

Grace R. Freedman, Ph.D.

A Brooklyn resident and community advocate for over 25 years, Grace has an extensive background in nonprofit fundraising, community building, and fostering collaboration among diverse groups. With Why Not Art, she has curated or co-created 15 exhibits over the last 2 years. She currently serves on the Gowanus Neighborhood Art Advisory Committee (GNAAC), the Gowanus Improvement District Steering Committee, and she is Co-Chair of Forth on Fourth Avenue (FOFA). 

Select professional experience: Beam Center (Director of Development); Dancewave (Board Chair and Co-Chair of Capital Campaign). Education: Ph.D. and MA, Columbia University, NYC and BA from New College, Sarasota, FL.

Artist and Founder

Michael James Freedman

A successful artist and entrepreneur, Michael took a few years off from fine art to start, run, and then sell Vocabulary.com, an educational technology company. He is now focused on portraits, and his work can be seen at MichaelJamesFreedman.com

Select professional experience: Founder and CEO at Vocabulary.com and Thinkmap.com, Director of Business Development (Razorfish).

Education: Fine Arts and Mathematics, dual BA, New College, Sarasota, FL

Curatorial Assistant and Social Media Manager

Sylvie Freedman

Lifelong Gowanus resident Sylvie was raised in the bright community of Brooklyn and wants to continue to live and work in the borough, creating art and fostering community for other local artists.

Sylvie is a graduate of The New School/Parsons in their Dual Degree BA/BFA program majoring in Fine Arts and Visual Studies with a minor in printmaking. She won highest departmental honors in both Fine Art and Visual Studies. She is a longtime artist, maker, educator and art student having worked at Beam Center and Beam Camp and graduating from Laguardia High School for the Visual Arts in 2017.  She is currently pursuing a Master's degree at Pratt, Brooklyn, NY.

Our Story

When Michael and I had just graduated from college, we had a crazy idea to create Soul to Soul: A Concert in Modern Art— a combination visual art show and performance. Michael would paint a series of paintings inspired by the idea of the blues singer and I would perform classic songs by Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and other greats. It would be a one-night-only event, free and open to all.

We wrote and won (!) several grants, produced the show, invited local musicians, and did the 1990s version of viral marketing: wheat-pasted posters all around town. We hoped to get a nice crowd, but through word-of-mouth and early local press, we were stunned that literally hundreds of people showed up to the show.

Everyone had a blast and it was the most diverse crowd New College’s Ringling Mansion had probably ever seen. There were barefoot college students, tony old-money art collectors from Sarasota, friends of the Blues band and everyone in-between. The legendary Ahmet Ertegun from Atlantic Records even showed up! After the show, Michael and I packed up and moved to Brooklyn.

Now, 30 years later, we want to recapture that multidisciplinary energy and excitement in Why Not Art. We hope you will come to one of our art shows or events and spread the word about our project! — Grace R. Freedman