Cartophilia Gowanus

On view Oct 19 through Nov. 19

What do the inner workings of the brain have to do with the underground ghost streams that lead to the Gowanus Canal? A fair amount – if you visualize them as maps.

“Cartophilia Gowanus” celebrates the love of maps and mapmaking. It features maps of the Gowanus dating back to 1609, maps made in Gowanus by local artists, and map-like circuit boards that have recently been pulled out of the muck of the Gowanus. The show features artist maps, historic and scientific maps, and everything inbetween.

To draw a map is to attempt to organize information in a specifically geographical visual form. Gowanus has been mapped in many ways because of its rich and overlapping history going back to when it was still a tidal creek. The show will feature a small cross section of these maps including sewage maps, underground ghost creek maps, zoning maps, the Canal’s historic mill ponds, and today’s microbial populations, scent maps, and concept drawings of what the area could look like in the future, depending on who you ask. An extensive version of these maps will also be featured as an interactive website.

Additionally, the show will present works by local artists including Nina Katchadorian’s "Manstatten Island," a paper subway map tectonically reconstructed, joining Manhattan and Staten Island, complete with reconfigured subway lines; Katarina Jerinic’s “Sidewalk Drawing,” in which cracks in the sidewalk are collaged together to create a destinationless, meandering path through an imagined city landscape; an Ocean-Centric map drawing by Peter Fend, revealing its flow, draining via Earth’s major basins to the ocean. It also includes a piece by Nene Humphrey that explores the brain mechanisms mapping underlying human emotions, as well one of David Scher’s wry inky imagination scapes, rendered Rorschach-like into a meta-map, among other artists.

The show will also feature three limited edition Gowanus maps: Archie’s Press has created one of his signature minimalistic letterpress maps of the Gowanus neighborhood for this show; Roxy Tea Parlour designed a map that reveals the monsters and dragons lurking under the canal’s surface; and Leah Beeferman’s curious two sided drawing “Gowanus: A Map of History, Fact, and Fantasy" from 2005. 

Historic, scientific and futuristic maps include Eymund Diegel’s map collection originally created for the Hall of Gowanus, dating back to 1776; a scent map by Annie Barrett / Barrett Architecture Studio from 2015; a vision for the future “Gowanus Lowlands: Salt Lot and 6th St Turning Basin” by the MacArthur Award winning SCAPE Landscape Architecture commissioned by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, a BK BioReactor proposal charting the microbes living in the canal by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects; Eymund Diegels’ underground ghost streams renderings; and the famous map from 1767 by B. Ratzer.


Check list 

Peter Fend
Draft Floor Layout / Bypolar Axis, 1999
18 x 24 inches
Not for Sale 

Nene Humphrey
Simple Aggregates, 2003
Monoprint with ink drawing
14 ½ x 18 ½ inches
$900 framed 

David Scher
Insomuch, 2017
Mixed media drawing
24 x 42 inches
$6,500 framed 

Nina Katchadourian
Manstatten Island, 1999
Reconstructed paper maps
30 x 20 inches

Katarina Jerinik
Sidewalk Drawing, 2008
Archival pigment print
34 x 44 inches
edition 2/6
$1,950 framed 

Gowanus Canal Circuit Panels
24 x 11: $750
14 x   9:   $500

Check out the accompanying books. 


Download the press release.