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Your eyes aren’t deceiving you — among the brownstones of Park Slope, you can find a bona fide bunker.
On the sidewalk of President Street near Fifth Avenue sit neat stacks of olive burlap sandbags, an empty window carved out where an M60 would be right at home.
It’s no Vietnam war memorial or unconventional yard decoration, but part of a new exhibition at Prophecies Gallery opening on April 30 featuring artwork by veterans.
Gallery owner Lenny Goodstein spent 12 hours building the bunker with some of the featured artists as a way to draw people in to his new show.
“It’s not just a fun thing, it’s a political statement,” said Goodstein, a Vietnam veteran who lives a few blocks from the gallery. “I’ve met too many homeless vets recently, and I’m not too happy about it. The Veterans Administration is not helping these guys.”
The bunker certainly draws attention — spend a few minutes inside it, and you’re likely to see people taking photos or popping their heads in to get a closer look.
“I love it,” said Ralph, a Park Slope resident who was strolling by after a recent lunch who declined to have his last name printed. “I can only imagine what [the soldiers] must have gone through.”
Ultimately, though, the bunker’s meant to draw you into the gallery, where you’re first greeted by a window installation featuring the artifacts of war — helmets from World War I, II and Vietnam, a Green Beret uniform and a sculpture of a helicopter.
Inside, the walls of the gallery barely show any white, covered with a variety of pieces, from oils to needlepoint to sculpture to photography — some of it abstract, but most of it related to the artist’s experience, such as Domingo Vega’s colorful paintings of battlefields to Tony Velez’s black-and-white photographs of Vietnam War protesters.
“All of it is gut work,” said Goodstein. “It’s all done from emotion.”
Many of the 23 artists, a group that includes male and female veterans who have served in wars from Vietnam up until the present day, are from Brooklyn and the outlying boroughs. Goodstein has received mailed-in submissions from veterans in Kansas, South Carolina and Virginia once word spread about the show, though the gallery is only a little bit bigger than the size of an apartment lobby.
Proceeds from the sale of the artwork will go to the Veterans Quality of Life/Access Network, which helps homeless veterans find shelter and receive benefits — further driving Goodstein’s cause home.
“It feels really good to do that,” said Goodstein. “Some of these guys are still suffering.”
Veterans art show at Prophecies Gallery [665 President St. near Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, (718) 230-3022], Tuesday through Sunday, April 30-May 31, 11 am-7 pm. Opening night party, 4-8 pm.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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