With indoor movie theaters and even Broadway not reopening in New York for the foreseeable future, Greenpoint will have a drive-in cinema just in time for summer.
Skyline Drive-In NYC (1 oak St.) held a test-run on Tuesday night with the screening of the live-action version of “Aladdin.” Dozens of cars were spotted queuing along West Street at sunset to enter the large lot at the site of the former Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse. Continue reading →
In a time where public health and artists’ careers are at risk, Masks In The Wild boldly and resourcefully looks to uplift each of these vital entities. A grassroots project that provides aid to artists who want to create and distribute free masks to loved ones, healthcare workers, and those in need, Masks In The Wild is timely and, per its permit, an “essential business” aimed at removing the fear and stigma surrounding our new normal of mandatory mask-wearing in public. Through its mission, artists are commissioned to create, and the public benefits via the sharing of secure and free resources.
Launched by Wallplay and 25 Kent, Masks In The Wild symbolizes the innovative and community-centered ethos of Brooklyn creatives. All New York City artists are welcome to apply for a commission online, and to learn more, here is our Thursday Spotlight interview with Wallplay founder Laura O’Reilly.
Greenpointers: Your main work is with Wallplay, which based in the neighborhood. Can you explain the scope of your work there for those who may be unfamiliar? How has the company evolved in your time of leadership?
Laura O’Reilly: Wallplay is a hyperlocal platform that programs and operates vacant spaces with commercial pop-ups and art exhibitions until landlords secure permanent tenants. I founded the company with my best friend and cousin Alessandra DeBenedetti in 2013. Currently, Wallplay operates 14 spaces throughout New York City. In the summer of 2019 we partnered with 25 Kent to transform their ground floor spaces into “community hubs.” We strive for our spaces to be powered by the local community by facilitating the ability for locals to apply to program the spaces that inhabit their neighborhood.
Talk to us about the genesis of Masks in the Wild — are you an artist yourself and/or did you want to utilize our creative community to its fullest potential?
I grew up in Manhattan in the performing arts community and the thing that has always stood out to me is the electricity in the street. You may see a man naked in a trench coat one minute and the most beautiful sax performance behind a piece of street art the next. Masks In The Wild was born out of a desire to help artists connect in a safe and essential way while bringing that same magic to the street that makes New York, New York. Instead of sterile medical masks artists can help create a new emotional response and bring a smile to New Yorkers who have been isolating. It’s been a traumatic experience for many. Art heals and we need to connect to art now more than ever.
As a holdout on what has become one of Bedford Avenue’s most inundated corporate retail stretches, Spoonbill & Sugartown recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in Williamsburg. The store has served as a community space for readings and as an outlet for second-hand literature, as well as contemporary books of various genres including art and design.
The GoFundMe campaign launched on April 13th and has a goal of $150,000 to save the brick-and-mortar location; Spoonbill’s website remains open for orders.
Difficult times have often been a catalyst for resilient arts. As such, it will be interesting to see what is created after this enormously trying period. But already, Brooklynites are coming together to creatively express what we have lost: they’re making stages out of their balconies and serenading the community, snapping portraits of those in quarantine, and — in this Thursday Spotlight’s case — paying tribute to a lost neighbor.
Here, actor and illustrator Tony Wolf discusses his cartoon in The New York Times that was published earlier this month and pays homage to the life of Carmine Notaro, the late owner of the beloved Carmine’s Original Pizza. Learn about his process and reflections in our interview!
Greenpointers: To rewind a bit, what was your relationship to Carmine(‘s), as a pizzeria and/or neighborhood figure?
Tony Wolf: Shortly after I moved to Greenpoint in1996, I discovered Carmine’s Pizza, since my apartment was just a block and a half from it. I instantly loved the pizza and the vibe of the place. Over time, Carmine came to recognize me as a familiar face, as I’m sure he did with so many people and customers. He had a quietly reassuring, welcoming presence, and I noticed how many hours a day he worked. We talked occasionally and became friendly. I personally saw him extend such kindness to the homeless of the area, and witnessed the manner in which he treated all his customers.
Carmine sadly passed on April 2; less than a week later, your full page cartoon appeared in The New York Times. Did you immediately know, following the news of Carmine’s passing, that you wanted to create something? Or had you already had some kind of tribute in the works?
I had wanted to do a piece about Carmine as far back as 2014, when I started “Greenpoint of View.” As shown in the comic, I did try to interview him in 2015. Over time, I worked up a pitch, and was thrilled when the Times greenlighted it! The comic was completed in December 2019, and the editors needed to hold it for a few months, since they plan the Food section far in advance. Once Carmine passed away, we quickly made text edits to the last panel.
On Facebook you credit Thomas J. Gryphon with help with the execution. You artistically spearheaded this process, but can you discuss Thomas’ contributions?
Thomas aka Tom has been working with me for about five years now. He also invested me early on, by printing up my first physical minicomics. With my stories, I research, write, illustrate, and hand-letter everything, and Tom does all the coloring, plus lettering corrections via Photoshop, and other formatting work to get it ready for print or online presentation. With the colors, he’ll do a first draft, then I’ll give him notes on that draft, and we’ll trade drafts back and forth until I feel it’s done. If I’m the film writer/director, he’s the cinematographer and lighting designer I collaborate with. Tom also found a way to fit the entire comic on a broadsheet New York Times page, something I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to figure out!
That picture of Carmine napping is so jovial; it really captures the tireless work of our community leaders, no?
Ha, yes! It was really fun to discover that many people had taken affectionate pictures of Carmine napping over the years, and I enjoyed going through instagram to find the ones I wanted to draw in that “napping montage” sequence. Long ago in the entertainment world, the phrase “The hardest working man in show business!” would be used to introduce James Brown and Elton John, and I often thought to myself in the early 2000s, “This guy Carmine must surely be the hardest working man in the pizza business!”, especially given his age.
Your work is such a lovely testament to our small and local businesses during this time. Do you have any words you’d like to share with our neighborhood locales during this difficult moment?
Thanks, that’s very kind of you. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for restaurant owners and workers during this extremely difficult time…and was saddened to hear about places like Cherry Point on Manhattan Avenue having to go out of business. So many wonderful restaurants have gone under; it’s heartbreaking. And we are all, around the nation, extremely grateful for the local businesses and food places that are doing delivery and working so hard to provide those services. The importance of essential workers at this time cannot be overstated.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m just really thankful that I got to tell the story of Carmine Notaro to the world. I’ve always loved the work that Greenpointers does in covering the community, and thanks for taking the time to speak with me. And Carmine’s two sons, Patrick and John, were really helpful with my research, and they gave me some extra information about their dad’s life story.
Depending on how you’re looking at it, the entertainment industry is either in a crisis or renaissance. With no concerts, theaters, or venues to patron, we’re all seeing art that’s meant to be consumed IRL now translated to the digital sphere. But some stories are being created for a medium more native to staying home and listening.
Enter the podcast NEXT STOP, written and created by the neighborhood’s Eric Silver. A product of Greenpoint’s independent podcast collective Multitude, NEXT STOP is a serial podcast that is uniquely not a news program or an interview vehicle but instead a refreshing and — during this COVID period — necessary sit-com-set-to-audio-experiencing. Original episodes about trying to move forward as your friends move on will be released weekly, and the “pilot,” if such a thing exists in podcast land, is now streaming. As this week’s Thursday Spotlight, Eric shares the inspiration behind the series and the neighborhood bakeries, barbers, and buses he owes a thanks to for its creation. Follow the podcast on Instagram here, and enjoy the series!
Greenpointers: Talk a little about the genesis for this episodic podcast; I imagine it started pre-COVID?
I wrote the first drafts of NEXT STOP more than a year ago, February/March 2019. My roommate had just moved to LA and I had recently left my office job to be a podcaster with Multitude full-time. I poured my uncertainty with my job and life into these scripts and made them as funny as I could. Now that it’s coming out, jokes and affirmations of uncertainty are even more valuable.
It is produced through Multitude Productions — as in, is that your day job and did you create it as content for the company?
Yes! Multitude is a podcast collective and studio. The business has two arms: 1) a podcast collective where a group of podcasters lean on each other for ad sales, show promotion, and other help (we have a great Slack), and 2) the production side where we consult, make shows for clients, and create new original content like NEXT STOP. I’m the Head of Creative, where I shape the structuring, scripting, writing, and live show content.
Let’s talk about the world-building: why these themes, and who did you call on to collaborate with?
Audio fiction is a growing and vibrant genre in podcasting, but there is a looming hole of slice-of-life sitcoms — set in a modern and familiar world with lots of jokes, gags, and exaggerated hijinks.
Luckily, I have collaborators that I work with every day to bring this comedic world to life: Brandon Grugle, our director and post-production guy; Julia Schfini, our assistant director and casting director; and Amanda McLoughlin, Multitude’s CEO and the exec producer.
Do you live in Brooklyn/the nabe, and how has the artistic community treated you? What have your goals been in the city?
I live in North Greenpoint and our studio is right next to Transmitter Park! None of us worked for public radio or received formal training, and we found each other at NYU or while working in the city. When we can come together again, we want our studio to be a place for podcasting to grow and thrive. We hope to do more events and panels and open the studio up for all to record.
What do you hope for the future of NEXT STOP?
The ability to do a second season! We’re a small business funding this ourselves, and it’s a priority to pay artists what they’re worth, so we need to see how this season does before another one is greenlit.
We’re also releasing a massive resource about how to make a fiction podcast for free with Patreon, so I really hope it will be helpful for people diving into the genre.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The first episode of NEXT STOP is out now and continues weekly for 10 episodes! Shoutout Ovenly! Shoutout to Greenpoint Brewery for putting NYC breweries on their back! Shoutout Baddies, the best barber in Greenpoint and I wish I could have gotten my haircut earlier! Shoutout the B43 bus!
Nate Palan is a musician and songwriter who has seized the quarantined moment to help entertain his neighbors from his Greenpoint apartment balcony. With the help of his acoustic guitar and a memorized songbook of covers, the courtyard of Palan’s building transforms into a sort of outdoor concert venue:”It’s the most convenient travel gig I’ve ever had. I can just open up my front door and my stage is right there,” he said.
Two weeks ago, Greenpointers posted footage of Palan’s children’s singalong performance sent in by his neighbors along the northernmost stretch of Greenpoint. As both a part-time children’s music instructor and event performer with his band The Last Nites, the progression to balcony performer during New York’s pause has been natural: “I have a neighbor that lives a couple of floors down whose daughter attends my music classes and she loves the kids’ version, so she said ‘we should do a happy hour for the adults sometime soon.'”
Following the now-routine 7 p.m. ‘thank you’ cheer for health care and essential workers last Sunday night, Palan set-up on his balcony and started an acoustic set with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” followed by timely covers of R.E.M.’s “It’s The End Of The World” and The Ramones’ “I wanna be Sedated.”
Staying creative at home might seem daunting: even in our silenced world, the noise of the news and our worries can defeat any artistic itch we’ve been meaning to scratch. Fortunately, Eckford Street Studio has some at-home remedies. Below, they outline some of their remote initiatives to keep your brush painting and your mind distracted:
Join us for Community Mondays!
We’ll be hosting class Mondays at 3 PM via Zoom while the studio is closed. Click here to download Zoom and set up your account for free!
Each week, we’ll ask you to RSVP by Sunday for that Monday’s class so we can share the meeting ID with you, as well as a lesson plan and a list of materials your child will need for the day’s project (don’t worry, we’re sticking to stuff you will likely have lying around the apartment). Activities are designed with students in grades K-5 in mind. Let us know if you’d like to receive a weekly email with more information, or click here to register for next week’s class!
As always, Community Mondays are pay what you wish. If you are able, donations of any amount are greatly appreciated and will go far in helping us keep our non-profit community art studio up and running while our doors are closed. Click here to make a contribution.
Tuesday night Figure Drawing is back!
Join us for Virtual Figure Drawing on Tuesday nights from 8-10pm! Enjoy the same professional models, experienced Eckford Street Studio facilitators, and creative community you’re used to, from the comfort of your own home!
Click here to register, and we will send you log-in information for our Zoom-based art studio! Please RSVP by Tuesday at 5pm to attend that night’s workshop.
With Eckford Street Studio’s doors currently closed, our non-profit studio is in a critical position. We suggest a donation of $22 to participate in Virtual Figure Drawing, to help us continue running programs like this one throughout the duration of the Coronavirus outbreak. Any amount you can give is greatly appreciated, and makes a great deal of difference.
There’s a special nuance that comes with being a New York artist, and by that I mean a true New York artist: one who was not only born and bred here, but — like our great city — is a creature of change and advancement. Eric Haze is one such artist; his work has run the gamut, taking flight in typographic, graffiti, and even apparel-based realms. Recently featured in the show Beyond the Streets, Eric is a celebrated graffiti artist who — even as he approaches his autumn years — is now tackling new styles and concepts. As such, he has temporarily relocated from his Williamsburg studio to the prestigious Elaine de Kooning House in East Hampton where he’s completing a residency and painting faces and people for the first time. Elaine de Kooning painted Eric’s portrait in 1971; half a century later, he’s returning the favor. As we all should during our time away, be it at a renowned residency or while bunkered at home during a virus outbreak, Erik is casting inconsequential deadlines to the wayside to carve out a time made holy for creating, making mistakes, and beginning anew.
Greenpointers: You work in graffiti and started your career through that medium. I grew up in a more digital atmosphere, and I somehow wonder if people’s relationship to graffiti has changed in a less analogue world? I feel like people spend less time, while walking on the street, looking at public art and more time down at their phones. How have you seen the medium evolve?Eric Haze: Graffiti has evolved tremendously, it has now become married to what people consider street art. It’s been the rock and roll of the hiphop generation, and it’s not going anywhere. Obviously the internet has changed things from when I was a kid, once upon a time. If you wanted to know what was going on in New York or on the subways or in the Bronx you had to get on a plane or trains and come and see what is going on. Now the internet has created a level playing field, it’s not always the illegal activity it used to be but graffiti is in theory alive and well. Continue reading →
After getting laid off from her job as a sommelier at a Manhattan restaurant as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Greenpoint resident Amanda Geller turned to her paint brush set and began working on a series of nude paintings of her friends.
“It started out as a joke when I asked my friends in a group chat if they wanted to ‘send me their nudes’ for me to paint,” Geller said. “Now after five days I have had around 30 people send their pictures — some that I don’t even know.”
Prior to mass social distancing and the closure of non-essential businesses, Geller attended weekly figure drawing classes in the neighborhood. “I have received a lot of awesome feedback so far and have had the amazing opportunity to paint women of so many different body types,” she said, adding that she extends the invitation to the greater Greenpoint area.
Many of the women she has painted also work in the hospitality industry and have recently been laid off. “After the quarantine is over I plan to launch an online gallery showing and donate a portion of the proceeds to women in hospitality who have lost work due to the shutdown,” Geller said.
“Mostly the project is something fun during these crazy times that celebrates women and all types of beauty. A woman takes a nude when she is feeling sexy and fucking awesome and I love capturing that in a piece of art that they can show off and feel good about themselves.”
Read more of Greenpointers’ interview with the sommelier-turned-painter: Continue reading →