Culture

Sunday: ZineFriends Zine Fest

ZineFest in Greenpoint, BK
ZineFest in Greenpoint, BK

While you’re bopping around this weekend’s Greenpoint Open Studios stop by ZineFriends at Tender Trap at 66 Greenpoint Ave. on Sunday.

“Dude, sounds cool,” you say. “Who’s all gonna be there?”

“Some real cool dudes are gonna be there,” I say. “Andrew Jeffrey Wright, Desert Island Comics, Killer Acid, Wizard Skull…” Continue reading

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Weekend Music: Greasy Migas Are the Best Migas (4/29 – 5/1)

taco2It’s music and food pairings at Weekend Music today. Where to find the best local wursts, feijoada, and gumbo, all with live bands to accompany the food.

Plus country rock, funk, and best bets at the WFMU Record Fair, below. Continue reading

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Get Yo’ Art On: Greenpoint Open Studios is This Weekend!

Greenpoint Open Studios 2016Greenpoint Open Studios (GOS) kicks off tonight and goes all weekend (April 29-May 1), celebrating Greenpoint’s rich pool of artistic talent. From paintings to sculptures, video to photography, weaving and textiles to ceramics and more, there are seasoned artists to honor and emerging artists to be discovered among more than 350 who will open up their studio spaces to the public.

GOS2014_Visitors_670pxIt’s an uncurated free event that allows visitors to get a glimpse of the process and space where artwork is created while engaging directly with its creators. Brooklyn has a long-standing reputation for being a hotbed of creativity and GOS is going to represent its northernmost tip in true Greenpoint fashion—by keepin’ it real—providing an open platform for showcasing the various expressions of our creative community’s imagination and skills.

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A History of Greenpoint in Twenty-Five Buildings: The Old Meserole Mansion

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Until the 1960s, New York had very little sense of the importance of historic preservation. It allowed the majestic Pennsylvania Station to be demolished in a tragic act of architectural homicide. The same was true in Greenpoint. In 1919, a similar local crime against posterity was committed with the demolition of the sprawling colonial Meserole family mansion.

The old wood-frame house covered a few lots at 1000 Lorimer Street between Norman and Meserole, but the structure actually pre-dated any streets in Greenpoint. It was an imposing edifice, set back off the street and surrounded in later years by wide lawns. The first part of the house was built in 1790, but as the family amassed considerable wealth over generations, the house grew to 13 rooms.

The original building was three stories high with a piazza. Later, a two-story extension was built on the west side of the house, and a single-floor extension was added to that western wing. A sitting room at the center of the house had all the original colonial hand-hewn boards, but other parts of the house were remodeled far more comfortably and elegantly.

Screen shot 2016-03-23 at 9.33.25 PMThe house was constructed at a time when Greenpoint was an isolated farming hamlet. Peter Meserole not only built the structure himself, but he even had to manufacture his own wooden “nails” to join the sections of wood together.

If the house was impressive, then the grounds were even more so. Once the house was surrounded by the famed Meserole orchard, which in its heyday produced hundreds of boxes of apples and cherries that were exported to Europe. The orchard was also famed for the many songbirds, which rid it of insects that ate the valuable fruit. The orchard extended east to Leonard Street, west to the river, south to Norman Avenue, and north to Calyer Street. Manhattan Avenue was once even called Orchard Avenue, so famous were the Meserole groves. There was a kind of clearing in the orchard with a fine view of 23rd Street in Manhattan in the far distance.

Adrian Meserole, Peter’s son, born in 1822, was the last occupant of the house. He was lonely as a young boy, because there were only five families in all of Greenpoint and only one boy his age. There was no local church or school, so he had to walk to Bushwick, unlocking the gates of the farms he passed on his way to school.

Adrian and his nine siblings were raised tending the orchard and harvesting its abundant fruit. The orchard was such a beautiful spot that it was compared to the Garden of Eden, which is perhaps the reason why the area came to be known as “ The Garden Spot” of Brooklyn. Meserole was old enough to recall his parents’ stories of slaves who cleared lumber in Greenpoint before the revolution.

Adrian loved the orchard, but he loved money even more, and he began to sell parts of the orchard off for real estate development. To facilitate his property’s development, he cut a lane through his groves later called “Meserole Avenue.” It became Greenpoint’s first street. Selling off the land made him a rich man, and he died a millionaire. He died 91 years after his birth—only a few feet away from the very spot in the house where he was born.

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Thursday Spotlight: A. Brian McDonald & Sara C. Sun

A. Brian McDonald, Wood Panel , 2013 Collage, Gouache, Pastel (8.5 inches x 11 inches)
A. Brian McDonald, Wood Panel , 2013
Collage, Gouache, Pastel (8.5 inches x 11 inches)

This week we’re spotlighting two neighborhood artists participating in Greenpoint Open Studios this weekend: A. Brian McDonald and Sara C. Sun. Their styles may be different, but their work is equally captivating.

 

Sara C Sun, Night, 2012. Single-channel video, 2:37
Sara C Sun, Night, 2012. Single-Channel video, 2:37

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Greenpoint’s Gorgeous Little Secret: The Karcher Salon & Spa

The Karcher - Greenpoint - Patio
The Karcher’s adorbs back patio.

From the outside, The Karcher is an unassuming, if not extremely charming-looking salon. But inside, past the hair parlor and through the back door the space opens up to a sunny back garden. Owner Nackie Karcher tells me she got married in the garden, and it’s clear why. The space, private and enclosed with climbing vines feels tucked away, a gorgeous little secret. And that’s exactly the vibe of The Karcher salon and spa itself. Continue reading

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A New Local Gallery Offers More Than Art

Gallery AWA
Gallery AWA (via Facebook)

Abhay Wadhwa’s Gallery AWA is a unique addition to our neighborhood. Located on the third floor of the Pencil Factory at 61 Greenpoint Avenue, the gallery is an attempt to reverse the trend in the art world that sees art solely in terms of profits and the bottom line. Abhay has decided not only to show great art, but also to use art as a vehicle to raise social consciousness. He’s decided to curate exhibits that provide great artists from under-represented parts of the world with a venue to show their talent. The art he chooses is not only beautiful, but also socially-engaged. It’s art that makes the viewer aware of the issues that billions of people around the world face on a daily basis. Continue reading

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A History of Greenpoint in Twenty-Five Buildings: Greenpoint’s First House

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It is a shame that the very first colonial building in Greenpoint survived for around two hundred years, but then was demolished in a crime against posterity. The first house in Greenpoint was built in 1645 by the legendary settler Dirck Volcertszen, or as he was known by the Dutch, Dirck the Norseman. The house stood on a hill, long ago leveled, at about the intersection of Franklin and Calyer Street. Dirck, a Scandinavian carpenter by trade, built the house with the help of two countrymen. We do not know the exact size of the house, but it must have consisted of a few rooms. It had four eaves and was built of stone and local wood that once characterized Greenpoint because an early name for the area was Wood Point. Continue reading

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Greenpoint Open Studios 2016 Walking Tour #3: Greenpoint’s Alphabet City

As you know, Greenpoint’s West/East running streets are named in alphabetic order from North to South, starting with “B” for Box Street “A” for Ash Street. This art walk, at less than a mile, takes you criss-crossing through Greenpoint’s “alphabet city” to visit five artists participating in this weekend’s Greenpoint Open Studios.

Walking Tour #3: Greenpoint's Alphabet City
Walking Tour #3: Greenpoint’s Alphabet City

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Jim Testa Q&A: On the Trump & Christie Double Bill, Jersey Bands, and Making Music in North Brooklyn

Jim Testa (far left) with a folk brigade. Photo by Andrew McInerney.

Whether you are fourteen or forty years old, your parents went through some boom years, either the go-go ’80s or the post-war Baby Boomer era.

People were making good money, but some songwriters knew there was a lot going wrong on the social and political scene.

In the ’60s you had Dylan and Arlo Guthrie to point it out. For my generation, it was Henry Rollins and the Dead Kennedys.

Now Jim Testa has appeared as the critical voice for our time. Continue reading

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