By Billy McEntee

About Billy McEntee

Billy McEntee has been fortunate to work for arts non-profits in Boston, Denver, Berkeley, and now New York. His writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Brooklyn Magazine, Indiewire, HowlRound, Eclectica Magazine, and others. He's usually getting wine at Dandelion or eating cookies at Archestratus.

Thursday Spotlight: Meena Hasan and “Post-Colonial Legacy”

Courtesy of LAUNCHF18

Meena Hasan’s newest show at LAUNCH F18 is, what she brilliantly and comically calls, a “kaleidoscopic onion.” To understand that, one must first understand her vivid works that stem from diverse compositions and series but are now in giddy and ponderous conversation with each other in one show. She shares this LAUNCH F18 exhibition with the Tommy Kha, who, alongside Meena, is exploring imperialism through a contemporary lens. To learn more about Meena and her work that “investigates and reveals Asian American experiences,” read on, follow her Instagram, and visit “Other Echoes Inhabit The Garden” at LAUNCH F18!

Greenpointers: You’re a Greenpointer yourself, I hear! How has the neighborhood treated you. Any favorite spots?

Meena Hasan: Yes, I’ve been in Greenpoint for about six years and I love it. I am hesitant to tell too much, since one of the greatest characteristics of Greenpoint is that the best spots feel secret, tucked away and well supported by local patrons. Northside Bakery has amazing Polish food – schnitzels and stuffed cabage are my go to. I am always on the hunt for good curry and am lucky to have a legit take-out Indian food spot nearby, Moharani, run by Bangladeshis. They use all the right spices and do not water down their food like most places. I also discovered the Lite Bites lunch hour, they have insanely tasty Trinidadian curries and rotis during the week, but you have to hit it before 2pm to get the choicest morsels. Possibly the best hot sauce I’ve ever had too (in the US). Not to get all romantic about it, but the distinct flavors really do unveil themselves slowly on your tongue, in your throat and belly, like a raga, and trying to decipher their recipe is great fun.

Your current show at LAUNCH F18 Gallery in Tribeca deals with “post-colonial legacy,” the press release says. Can you dive into the works you contributed to this exhibition?

This show, titled “Other Echoes Inhabit The Garden” unfolded over time. I like to think of it as a kaleidoscopic onion of distinct shapes and ideas reflecting each other across and through the room. Each of the works that I included is from a different series that I have been working on for the past few years and it’s fantastic to see them all hanging out together. Included are a first-person perspective or PoV painting as I call the series of putting on gold bangles, a small paper sculpture of my grandmother’s earrings, a portrait of my mother’s nape and a large hanging paper piece that investigates and transforms a Chintz pattern (a calico textile made in South Asia for the British). Also included are two small gouaches on cardboard that were made as meditations in between the making of the above pieces.

The show was an experiment in many ways, a chance to juxtapose the many distinctions not only within my pieces but also those in contrast to Tommy’s works, with the hope that they would converse, open up and find meaning through their interaction, that they would “echo” in other words. This could be like any group show, but in our case it was particularly significant given our shared desire to investigate and reveal Asian American experiences through our works. Tommy and I, like all children of immigrants, and honestly like the majority of individuals in the world, have inherited the post-colonial legacies of our families. The show seeks to pay respect to this inheritance and, particularly, the matriarchs who have shaped and raised us, whose influence pervades the works and, of course, our daily lives as well. Continue reading

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Greenpoint Open Studios: Official 2019 Schedule

It all starts tonight: Greenpoint Open Studios is here! Over the next three days, hundreds of local artists will open their homes, workspaces, and studios to expose their craft and showcase their work. Join us for a weekend of community and art, get your steps in walking from studio to studio, and — as always — support local artists!

For a full rundown of the weekend’s festivities, see our exciting schedule of events below:

GOS 2019 Launch Party
TONIGHT, Friday June 7
7:30 PM–Midnight

Greenpoint Open Studios 2019 will launch at Brooklyn Bazar (150 Greenpoint Avenue) with music, dancing, full bar with frozen cocktail specials, and creative activities like live painting, art installations, video projections, and more. FREE swag bag full of art supplies for registered artists and the first 100 visitors courtesy of Blick Art Materials will be provided. All are welcome, and the event is free — just register here.

Greenpoint Open Studios 2019
Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9
Noon–6 PM

For one weekend, 300+ local artists and designers open up their Greenpoint, Brooklyn studios to the public to showcase work in a variety of mediums. From paintings, sculptures, film, photography, weaving/textiles, to ceramics, and more, there are seasoned artists to be visited and emerging artists to be discovered in the northernmost tip of Brooklyn. Map out your journey with our online guide!

GOS 2019 Wrap Party
Sunday, June
9
6:30–9 PM

Join local creatives to wind down the art-filled weekend festivities of Greenpoint Open Studios 2019 with food and drinks at One Bedford! We will be spinning records, projecting artwork by GOS 2019 participants, and making fresh watermelon soju cocktails. Register for free here.

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In “Cabin,” A Queer Thriller Takes Over The Bushwick Starr

Tyler Ashley in “Cabin,” photo by Maria Baranova

We’re always voyeurs, as audiences in a theater, but the three-paneled walls we peer through in Cabin only heighten our perverse role. In this titular cabin, men are spied on by more than just the audience.

Is Sean Donovan’s new play a bittersweet romance, a queer thriller, or a haunting look at outsiders in unfamiliar terrain? It boldly marries all three in its intricate constellation — or cobweb — that is now playing through June 8 at The Bushwick Starr.

S meets Paul, then S meets Stewart, and soon the three are escaping the city to galavant and smoke and make love deep in the woods, high in a relative’s getaway home, so elevated it sits above the rolling fog. The home’s clear vistas offer no safety.

Not long into their increasingly regular sojourns, S (Sean Donovan, who also directs) meets a mysterious older townie who develops a strange and off-putting obsession with the three gay men, who together exist in a relatively stable friendship and romance.

Sean Donovan in “Cabin,” photo by Maria Baranova

This is what S regales in a mammoth monologue at the geographical center of Cabin. We learn about the cabin’s history and tchotchkes, we see Stewart (Tyler Ashley) try out a new dance routine with Paul (Brandon Washington), and we then worry for their safety. But how the play’s eerie quality emerges is both jarring and subtle — it happens all at once, and yet it was there all along. Can queer men be safe even in isolated, fortressed havens?

Brandon Washington and Tyler Ashley in “Cabin,” photo by Maria Baranova

To clearly answer that would both spoil and undermine this play, which provides no easy answers. But here’s what this sly and dangerous play does do: it uses those three window panes for more than just peering, as in one mystical touch they become a reflector for the warm vignettes of memories past. It showcases Tyler Ashley’s virtuosic dance and lip sync talents. (For proof, see last year’s Bushwig performance.) And it ends with a lyrical blow so theatrical you’ll be reminded, again and again, how marvelous The Bushwick Starr is, how idiosyncratic its programming, and how mysterious and tender this gem of a play is.

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Brooklyn Film Festival Announces 2019 Lineup and Packages

A still from “Bushwick Beats,” which will bow at the Brooklyn Film Festival this spring.

Film buffs and Brooklynites — unite! Brooklyn Film Festival returns with its 2019 edition, “The Gathering,” which takes place May 31 through June 9 with main venues at the Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Avenue) in Williamsburg and Windmill Studios (300 Kingsland Avenue) in Greenpoint.

This year’s festival is comprised of 133 features and shorts from over 30 countries spread over all continents, except Antarctica. The lineup includes 37 world premieres, 15 USA bows, 29 east coast debuts and 34 first-time screenings in NY.  Individual film tickets will go on sale soon while festival passes are already on sale here. A four-pack pass is just $45.

“We are calling the upcoming festival: The Gathering,” said BFF Executive Director Marco Ursino.  “The theme-statement is essentially a call to all those people who are searching for clarity and intelligent exchanges. On the programming side this year, more than ever before, we wanted to empower all those filmmakers who are thinking and working in critical systems, outside of the box, and against all odds. Understanding that for women the ‘system’ is always critical, and inspired by the acceleration of the women’s movements, this year BFF will feature the largest presence of female directors within a single festival edition to date. I’m also proud to say that four out of our six festival programmers are women and the festival is run mostly by women.”

In each of the six film categories, BFF’s judges will select the Best Film while the festival will select the Spirit Award and the audience the Audience Award winners. Among all the six categories combined, BFF will award one of each of the following: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Composer, Bet Style, Best Editor, Best Cinematographer, Best Screenplay Writer, Best Producer, Best New Director and Best Brooklyn Project. Through the resources of our sponsors, BFF will assign to the winning filmmakers about $50,000 in prizes (products, services and cash). To view the full film line up, which also includes Narrative and Documentary Shorts, Experimental and Animated films, visit here.

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Thursday Spotlight: Deniz Ayaz On the “Unpredictable Nature” of Watercolor and More

Whimsical, precise, and meditative, Deniz Ayaz’s illustrations and watercolors may make you hungry. She often creates tempting portraits, though her skills reach far beyond illustrations of food. Deniz has had works featured in leading outlets including The New York Times, Print Magazine, and more, and below we get to know the Greenpoint artist who dishes not just on her drawings but her favorite places to get baos, ice cream, and more.

Greenpointers: You mentioned you’ve lived in the neighborhood for a few years! Any favorite spots? How has Greenpoint treated you?
Deniz Ayaz: I remember the first time I went to Greenpoint. It was a small field trip with my illustration class to Pencil Factory in 2011. Meeting some of my favorite illustrators there was very inspiring and I can say that this neighborhood has always treated me well. I’ve met inspiring people (including my husband), discovered new spots, and never felt like I was not in a concrete jungle. 

Some of favorite spots in the area are Lot Radio for Saturday afternoons, Baoburg for yummy baos in the backyard, Polka Dot for homemade apple pie, Van Leeuwen for coffee ice cream, Maha Rose for soundbath, and Magick City for dancing, which I’ve recently discovered and been amazed by the space and events.

You dabble in a few different mediums: watercolor, ink… any favorites, and why?
I love the fluidity and unpredictable nature of watercolor. In the past, I’ve painted with various mediums including oil, acrylic, and gouache and it was great to experiment with all of them before finding the “one.” I enjoy creating abstract patterns in watercolor and most of the patterns I like tend to be the ones that are less structured.

Nowadays, it’s quite common to see people planning every second of their lives and try to control every little thing. As a result, it becomes hard to enjoy spontaneity. For me, painting with watercolor is a great way to let go, and it’s quite meditating.  Continue reading

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Atlas Obscura’s Ascend Ascend with Janaka Stucky Comes to San Damiano Church

Author Janaka Stucky
On Saturday, May 11, Atlas Obscura will present Ascend Ascend with Janaka Stucky at the San Damiano Mission Catholic Church (85 North 15th Street) in Greenpoint.
Written over the course of 20 days coming in and out of trance states while secluded in the tower of a 100-year-old church, Janaka Stucky‘s new book ASCEND ASCEND is rooted in the Jewish mystical tradition of Hekhalot literature, which chronicles an ascent up the Kabbalistic Tree of Life to witness the “chariot of God.” Equal parts Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain,” this long poem documents the ecstatic destruction of the self through its union with the divine.
Janaka will be presenting this new work in its entirety as an immersive, multidisciplinary performance involving light, scent, and sound to create a visceral interpretation of ritual that invokes mythography across cultural and corporeal boundaries.
Atlas Obscura and Third Man Books will be taking this on a seven-city tour with D.C. up next. The May 11th Brooklyn appearance will kick off the tour with a special appearance from Mark Korven playing an instrument of his own creation, the Apprehension Engine.
Tickets, $38 each, include a copy of Stucky’s book, with an option available to acquire a deluxe, limited-edition only available on this Atlas Obscura tour. Tickets available for purchase here.

ABOUT JANAKA STUCKY
Janaka Stucky is a mystic poet, performer, and founding editor of the award-winning press Black Ocean. In 2015 Jack White’s Third Man Records launched a new publishing imprint, Third Man Books, and chose Janaka’s full-length poetry collection, The Truth Is We Are Perfect, as their inaugural title. He is the author of four poetry collections, is a two-time National Haiku Champion, and has taught or performed in over 60 cities around the world.

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Thursday Spotlight: Sustainable Work Blooms at Greenpoint’s Flower Clvb

Flower Clvb at the Greenpointers Spring Flower Power Market
Our Thursday Spotlights often feature the multitude of painters, ceramists, and cartoonists in our colorful neighborhood. But Greenpoint’s cultural scene reaches far beyond visual artists, and florist Grace McDonald more than proves that with her small business, Flower Clvb. A sustainable, creative medium, floral designs are a vital part of many a celebration, as Grace below outlines. Get to know her work — and favorite flower — below!
Greenpointers: How long have you been in Brooklyn and where is your businesses based out of?
Grace McDonald: I have lived in Brooklyn since 2013 and I am a studio florist based in Greenpoint.

Flowers is such an interesting and lovely medium, how’d you get into this type of artistry?
I come from an arts administration background where my primary duties involve connecting contemporary artists with youth. Floral design combines my love for art, nature, and coordinating as I administer an experience for clients that brings out the full expression of who they are. Working with my hands and in a medium that grows from the earth is deeply satisfying to me.

What kinds of requests would you say make up the bulk of your business?
Most of my clients are brides, however I am beginning to receive more inquiries from companies who are interested in planning a fun team building activity or who need flowers for corporate events.

Where do you source your flowers from?
During spring, summer and fall, I try to source as much of my flowers as possible from local farms and supplement with beautiful blooms I find on the 28th Street Flower Market. There are also great local blooms at certain wholesalers at the market as well. During the winter months, I primarily buy from the 28th Street Flower Market or from a local wholesaler in New Jersey that is often able to find me blooms that are American-grown, if not local. I have also found the Union Square Greenmarket to have really incredible and affordable local flowers in the summer.

Are there any kinds of projects you love working on?
I love experimenting with challenging large-scale installations. I am always looking for interesting alternatives for installing without floral foam since floral foam is so bad for the environment. There is almost always a foam-free solution, it just might take a little time, creativity, and the hands of a great team.

One more question: what’s your favorite flower?
I absolutely love poppies. I love how hairy the stems are and how their blooms are often covered in little pods when you buy them. They are a flower that surprises you when they emerge from their pods and I think there is something mysterious and whimsical about them.

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Thursday Spotlight: How Litter Inspired the Playful Erik’s Paper Route

Erik’s Paper Route took part in our Spring Market earlier this month!
Hard times makes for progressive art, and boy is Erik Jacobsen having fun with our current political bonanza. His small business, Erik’s Paper Route, takes the litter of candy wrappers and transforms it into something that — all at once — is vibrant, quirky, and pointed. Below, he explains the birth of his company and his hopes for the future, but to see his work in person, join him at the upcoming Greenpoint Open Studios!
Greenpointers: You’ve lived in Greenpoint for a couple years. How has the nabe and community treated you?

The neighborhood felt like home immediately. My downstairs neighbor Jean had, until recently, lived in the same apartment for 50 years, and her love for Greenpoint was infectious. She was the first to welcome me and my fiancé to Brooklyn, and she always insisted on giving us fresh bread every week from a local Polish bakery.  

I’ve met lots of wonderful creatives in the studio space at 108 Bayard who have been incredibly supportive and friendly. It’s inspiring seeing people pursue their passion full heartedly in the fields of fashion, photography and design.

Erik’s Paper Route is such a lovely name. This may seem random, but did you have a paper route as a child?

Sadly no! Having grown up in the Jersey suburbs I did ride my bike constantly as a kid to get around and there was always a freeing feeling associated with it. “Paper route” is a play on words for me as I head in a new direction with a new medium. Paper routes exist to spread the news and Erik’s Paper Route was created out of a need to express my reaction to it.

Can you discuss the origin of your company?

Moving to Brooklyn three years ago was a pivotal moment for me and represented a dream fulfilled. Having lived in DC for 10 years prior, I was surprised by the volume of discarded candy wrappers on the sidewalks and streets of NYC — and I loved it. DC was an amazing city to live in but my old neighborhood didn’t offer me the grit or beautiful chaos I found in Brooklyn. 

Erik’s Paper Route started in January 2018 as a reaction to seeing a lot of perfectly filtered photos and influencer social accounts on Instagram after a long day at my day job. As great as social media can be at giving people a platform to share their work, it can also be overwhelming and make you question, “Am I doing enough creatively?” or “Why am I the only one who hasn’t been to Costa Rica?” It’s all really silly when you think about it but it was a natural response for me. Sometimes you just need to take a break from your phone and that’s when I saw a stack of multi-colored paper staring at me on my desk. I started to rip it up into letters that spelled out the phrase “Stop Comparing Yourself to Everyone Else” and that’s the moment when everything changed for me and this new route began.

Your work has a strong political bent, but also a nostalgic one. Can you discuss how those ideas coalesce?

Everything stems from a loss of innocence I experienced growing up — learning that everything is not what it once may have seemed. A lot of my work relates to repurposing food and candy packaging from my childhood. The sheen of a candy wrapper has lost its luster to me seeing it dirtied on a Brooklyn sidewalk, which I also see as a metaphor. I’m nostalgic for a time where I would buy airheads for 25 cents at my local pool during hot summers — but relating it to my life now — the white mystery airhead flavor represents our current president. A “what’s that airhead gonna do next” type of mentality. I try to imbue a playful and mischievous tone into my work to address serious issues that have become more apparent to me as I’ve gotten older. 

A former art teacher told me that altering one minor component to a project can drastically change the meaning of something entirely. I’ve kept that in my mind as I work. 

If you eat too much sugar you’ll get a cavity and I like to play with the idea that these sweetly package treats should be consumed with care. Don’t believe everything you see just because you saw it online or heard it on the news. 

Politics is not something I thought of as much growing up. As I got older and went to college in DC I couldn’t help but become hyperaware of what was going on in my backyard. I am extremely fortunate to have grown up in a time where, as a gay man, I’ve seen my rights increased precisely at the times I truly wanted them. When same-sex marriage was legalized in the US in June 2015, I visited the White House that night to see it emblazoned in the colors of the rainbow. That was a moment of great hope and validation to know I was good enough to make my voice a little louder as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. 

With this current administration there’s a lot more at risk, and my artwork is the best route I know of to vocalize my disapproval of Trump. 

Your work is on paper — what instruments do you use for your drawings? Is there a digital component?

I use an X-acto knife to cut all my pieces. Sometimes I’ll get stubborn and won’t change the blade for a couple weeks which causes it to get more blunt and harder to use — but working with my hands and the paper medium has allowed me to release myself from the expectation of perfection. And to be honest, supplies and blades are expensive so I really like to let the tools run their course til I absolutely need something new. I’ll just roll with what I’ve got til my next payday. It’s forced me to not be as wasteful and I love that. There’s no such thing as messing up to me with the medium — only happy accidents — perfection is boring. 

The digital component comes only when I photograph the pieces to create prints. I’d like to experiment with a laser cutter to mass produce my pieces. The idea of creating something I first made organically by hand and then mass producing it is fascinating to me. Time is money. I’m constantly thinking, as a small business, how I can work smarter, not harder. 

Any projects you have coming up? Anything else you’d like to discuss?

I am working on a new series that involves the idea of chance. I love the concept of games like checkers and chess and how the small moves you make can have a huge impact on your end goal. I’ve learned the most successful people have made lots of small moves in the right direction over time, and I want to do the same as it relates conceptually to my work.

I’m moving away from candy and food packaging at the moment and experimenting with new subject matter that involves scenes from everyday life made from paper. I’ve always found inspiration from everyday ordinary things.

Greenpoint has been the perfect home and launch pad for Erik’s Paper Route. I’ll be participating in the Greenpoint Open Studios June 8 and 9 and am looking forward to sharing my work with more people in the community.

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“Wild Animals” Comes to Bushwick Gallery April 26–28

Disconnect, 2018, acrylic and oil on canvas by Katherine McMahon

Paradice Palase (1263 Bushwick Avenue) is gearing up to present “Wild Animals,” a two-person painting show by New York-based artists Katherine McMahon and Kayla Camstra. “Wild Animals” will open this Friday, April 26, with a cocktail reception at the Bushwick Gallery space; the show will run through April 28. Just in time for Earth Day, this show aims to explore, celebrate, and question humanity’s limited and often troubled relationship with the animal kingdom. Plus, a portion of the proceeds from “Wild Animals” will benefit the local animal rescue, In Our Hands Rescue (IOHR) of New York City.

With this show, McMahon and Camstra aim to touch on the idiosyncrasies of animals, and therefore human. By presenting the two simultaneously as valiant hero and self destructive fool, the artists’ aim to illustrate the duality that lives within us all independently and collectively as a society. In varying measures, they try to answer the questions: How are we any different and why do we set our moralities the way we do?

Paradice Palase curates publicly funded exhibitions and accessible programs and workshops to foster community engagement, broaden visibility for artists, and build arts patronage.

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Indie Rockers The Vaughns Play Gold Sounds April 26th

The Vaughns are currently enjoying a nationwide tour
The Vaughns, a band of New Jersey indie rockers, is crossing the Hudson and East Rivers to jam out at Gold Sounds (44 Wilson Avenue) this Friday night. Take the L train (while you still can) to the Morgan Avenue stop for this 7 PM concert on April 26.
The band’s latest music video, “Bring Your Kids to Work Day,” is now available and has already amassed thousands of views. At this Friday’s gig, fans will also have a chance to hear singles including “Santa Cruz,” “Coffee Sundae,” and more. For a full list of dates, please see below or visit the band’s tour page.
When introduced by mutual friends in 2014, David Cacciatore, Anna Lies, Ryan Kenter, and Tom Losito embarked on what would become a friendship, a family, and The Vaughns. Their 2015 EP, tomfoolery, was nominated for three Asbury Park Music Awards and featured on MTV Web series: The Brothers Green. Since 2016, NJ.com has consecutively listed them as an “NJ Band You Need To Hear,” noting that their “dynamic and addictively fun sound is too good to leave out.” With the 2017-2018 release of singles including “Santa Cruz” and “Coffee Sundae” the band received national attention from publications, such as Consequence of SoundNew Noise Magazine, and Atwood Magazine, and have since opened for artists like Japanese Breakfast, Tor Miller, Laura Stevenson, Aaron Carter, and Bad Bad Hats.
Tickets for Friday night are just $10, and more information can be found here.
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