Welcome to House of Yes, a chaotically colorful arts center shoved haphazardly into an old warehouse in Bushwick. Within its cinderblock walls are clandestine artist residences, a professional costume shop, performance space rigged for aerialists and circus artists, and constant frenetic activity. House of Yes earns income from its ticket sales, fabrication gigs (Make Fun Studio), aerial classes (Sky Box at OM Factory), and the rent that residents artists pay for their single room. Each member of the “household” is a working artist – for many it is their primary occupation (made possible by very cheap rent). For example, a number of the stilt walkers, including one of the founders, make their real money performing at night clubs in Manhattan through a separate, but affiliated enterprise called The Lady Circus. Recently, House of Yes announced a partnership with two area chefs and plans to open a restaurant with a liquor license to establish a more sustainable source of revenue.
The description above is accurate for any of the spaces House of Yes has occupied, though it is important to note that the collective has relocated three times since 2007. Unable to purchase a building, first fire and then rent hikes have forced the group to be adaptable. The good news is, they’re circus artists, so that lifestyle is probably part of the appeal.
To me, the place embodies the crusty vibrancy of the Bushwick art hustle, and while I’m glad I don’t have to live there, it’s a heck of a fun space to visit.