Art/Music

Pop-Up Memorial at 50 Kent Wants You to “Say Their Names”

A “Say Their Names” memorial is on display at the Williamsburg waterfront (Photo courtesy of Joyce Kam)

A “Say Their Names” memorial for victims of police brutality has popped up on the fence of 50 Kent park in Williamsburg.

Portland was home to the first “Say Their Names” memorial earlier this year and inspired similar displays throughout the country. A 50 Kent version features 187 portraits accented by bouquets of flowers.

“I wanted to put up the installation to continue bringing awareness to the injustices towards the black community,” said Joyce Kam, who organized the 50 Kent memorial.

(Photo courtesy of Joyce Kam)

Following the news of the memorials for victims of police brutality that have popped up in Dallas, Santa Barbara and Seattle, Kam says that she felt moved to act locally in Brooklyn. Continue reading

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Greenpoint Film Festival Will Host a Drive-In Edition This August

The Greenpoint Film Festival is happening this year! (Image courtesy of Greenpoint film Festival)

Summer movies in city parks seem like a distant memory, but several new drive-in theaters have made communal viewing possible in the wake of COVID-19. Now, Greenpoint Film Festival is latching onto the drive-in trend for the 9th annual Greenpoint Film Festival, which will screen 35 films between August 1st – 9th.

Films well be shown in the parking lot on Meserole Avenue and Jewel Street, hosted by Broadway Stages, and The Foundry LIC. The eight day event will showcase eight feature films and 27 short films. Special Guest Speakers and socially distant gatherings, which abide by state and city health stipulations, will also take place.

 

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This year we’ll be screening 35 films from filmmakers local and beyond.

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The line-up includes an opening night screening of the official Chuck Berry documentary Chuck Berry, the world premiere of before/during/after written by and starring Orange is the New Black’s Finnerty Steeves, the NYC isolation thriller Locked Alone, the U.S. premiere of wild grizzlies documentary Bear-like, feature documentary Microplastic Madness that follows Brooklyn kids as they face the global plastic pollution crisis, and short film American Marriage from Academy Award-winning Call Me By Your Name writer James Ivory. The full program is viewable on the Greenpoint Film Festival website, where tickets are also now on sale, starting at $20 per car.

Car ownership, or even a rental, won’t be necessary for those who want to attend the festival. Organizers have arranged for a row of parked, stationary cars to be available for those who need a vehicle seat. A dedicated cleaning crew will be appointed to consistently reset and clean between, before and after each movie screening.

In lieu of a traditional concession stand, Wilson Rivas Catering will provide food trucks. Bathrooms will be located outside the lot with a dedicated cleaning team servicing them regularly. Filmmakers and celebrity guests will be invited to participate in a drive-through green “red” carpet. Frontline workers are also invited to contact the festival organizers for complimentary tickets. Continue reading

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Greenpoint Design Firm, Pink Sparrow, Creates Parklets to Help Restaurants

Pink Sparrow’s parklet prototype for 21 Greenpoint.

Dining al fresco can be a competitive pastime for New Yorkers who want to score prime sidewalk seating in the warmer months. Now, sitting outside is the only way to enjoy a restaurant or bar, a challenge for businesses that previously did not have substantial outdoor space, a familiar New York conundrum.

Learning about the open streets program that would allow restaurants to open for outdoor service, Greenpoint-based experiential design firm Pink Sparrow (24 Greenpoint Ave.), wanted to fabricate a solution. Locals may recognize their work from experiential booths at the Expo Center, but the company which relies on in-person events had all business trickle off this March, meaning they had more capacity to redefine what they do.

“We wanted to use our skills and expertise to reimagine what a post-pandemic world looks like, and really focus on starting to reopen and building community,” says Pink Sparrow’s marketing associate Maggie Balcerzak. Before Phase 2 started,  Pink Sparrow communicated with the city to learn what businesses would need to open, and how they could develop compliant products. 

Pink Sparrow’s parklet outside of Magazine Bar

Ideas started to roll, and Pink Sparrow created a prototype of its new parklet for 21 Greenpoint (21 Greenpoint Ave.), which is across the street from their 20,000-square-foot workshop. They’ve also outfitted Magazine Bar (130 Franklin St.) with planters and benches, the backs of which have reflectors for street traffic, to keep Magazine guests safe. They’re also cushioning businesses from needing to close. Continue reading

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Williamsburg Mural Depicts 2020’s Chaotic Headlines, So Far

A mural painted last week in Williamsburg on the choas of 2020.

President Donald Trump with devil horns holding the bible, an NYPD car in flames and a shackled American flag with a white power symbol are some of the interpreted 2020 headline moments depicted in a new hand-painted mural in Williamsburg that debuted last week.

The mural, entitled “2020 Now But Not Forever” is on Kent Avenue and Grand Street and is from Overall Murals. A description from the creators  next to the large-scale mural states:

2020 IS NOT OVER AND IT’S ALREADY A BIG PART OF OUR HISTORY.

THE MURAL DEPICTS SOME OF THE CHAOTIC AND UNFORGETTABLE EVENTS WE’VE SEEN AROUND THE WORLD, COUNTRY AND IN NEW YORK.

IN THIS POSTMODERN INFORMATIONAL ERA, NEWS SPREADS FAST. IT’S ALL UNPREDICTABLE BUT WHAT CAN BE PREDICTED ARE OUR ACTIONS AND REACTIONS

DO THE RIGHT THING.

The description of the new mural from Overall Murals.

Also painted in the mural are the Australian wildfires, a tribute to Kobe Bryant, cursory fireworks, sheep wearing masks (except for the black sheep) in response to coronavirus, healthcare heroes and Black Lives Matter.

“The circumstances we’re experiencing must be accepted as they are but as humans we innately feel the need to solve problems and implement change. And in today’s postmodern world, what can we do?,” Overall Murals wrote on social media promoting the work. Continue reading

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Skyline Drive-in Ticket Sales Launch With Movies Scheduled Through July

Skyline Drive-in (1 Oak St.) is open on the Greenpoint waterfront. (Image via @kylemartino)

Skyline Drive-In NYC  (1 oak St.), Greenpoint’s new East River waterfront drive-in cinema has launched ticket sales for screenings of movies scheduled through July 2nd.

The drive-in held a test-run at the end of May and is now open to the public. Screenings through Sunday include “Footloose” (6/17), “Dreamgirls” (6/18), “Anchorman” (6/19), “Grease” (6/20) and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (6/21).

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Greenpoint’s New Drive-In Cinema Includes Seating Area for Pedestrians

Skyline Drive-in is coming to Oak Street on the Greenpoint Waterfront.

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

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Thursday Spotlight: Masks In The Wild Commissions Artists and Promotes Public Health

Photo by Tayler Smith

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 KentMasks 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.

New Yorkers model the distributed masks; see more on Instagram @masksinthewild

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.

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Eckford Street Studio Expands Pay-What-You-Can Virtual Art Classes For All Ages

Eckford Street Studio is offering pay-what-you-can online classes.

Eckford Street Studio (70 Eckford St.) has expanded their pay-what-you-wish programs for artists of all ages with drop-in workshops, month-long courses and other offerings.

The non-profit Greenpoint-based community art space temporarily closed its doors during New York’s pause and has since ramped up online classes; the full list is available here: Continue reading

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Facing Closure After 20 Years, Spoonbill & Sugartown Books Launches Crowdfunding Campaign

Inside Williamsburg’s Spoonbill & Sugartown Books

Longtime Williamsburg bookseller Spoonbill & Sugartown Books (218 Bedford Ave.) is facing permanent closure due to the coronavirus crisis and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to save the store.

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.

 

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In a video update posted this week, owner Miles Bellamy thanked everyone that has supported the campaign so far helping to raise over $34,000 while proclaiming: “This bookstore is going to stay open.”

An excerpt from the GoFundMe campaign explains Spoonbill’s mission and outlook:

Save‌ ‌Our‌ ‌Spoonbill‌ ‌is‌ ‌an‌ ‌initiative‌ ‌for‌ ‌friends‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌us‌ ‌sustain‌ ‌our‌ iconic‌ ‌Williamsburg‌ bookshop during the shutdown of all nonessential small businesses. We‌ ‌humbly‌ ‌ask‌ ‌for‌ ‌your‌ ‌immediate‌ ‌support‌ ‌to‌ ‌ensure‌ ‌our‌ ‌return‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌community‌ ‌we‌ ‌love, so that we can support the ‌extraordinary‌ ‌staff‌ ‌and‌ ‌loyal‌ ‌community‌ ‌who‌ ‌enabled‌ ‌our‌ ‌vision‌ ‌and‌ ‌allowed‌ ‌us‌ ‌to‌ ‌thrive.‌ ‌

‌Spoonbill‌ ‌has‌ ‌earned‌ ‌an‌ ‌international‌ ‌reputation‌ ‌for‌ ‌its‌ ‌eclectic‌ ‌range‌ ‌of‌ ‌new‌ ‌and‌ ‌second-hand‌ ‌books, ‌ ‌and‌ ‌for‌ ‌providing‌ ‌an‌ ‌arena‌ ‌for‌ ‌discovery‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌sharing‌ ‌of‌ ‌knowledge ‌. We‌ ‌opened‌ ‌our‌ ‌shop‌ ‌in‌ ‌Williamsburg, ‌ Brooklyn‌ ‌in‌ ‌1999‌ ‌with‌ ‌$20,000‌ ‌and‌ ‌a ‌singular‌ ‌mission:‌ ‌to‌ ‌cultivate‌ ‌passion‌ ‌for‌ ‌art‌ ‌and‌ ‌books‌ ‌by‌ ‌providing‌‌ ‌an inspirational physical space‌ ‌for‌ ‌people‌ ‌to‌ ‌merge‌ ‌with‌ ‌our books.‌‌ ‌‌Our‌ ‌strong‌ ‌suit‌ ‌is‌ ‌face–to-face,‌ ‌brick‌ ‌and‌ ‌mortar‌ ‌retail.‌ ‌‌Our‌ ‌approach‌ ‌is‌ ‌to‌ ‌“read‌ ‌books‌ ‌and‌ ‌prosper”.‌ ‌Our‌ ‌success‌ ‌comes‌ ‌from‌ ‌how‌ ‌deeply‌ ‌we‌ ‌engage‌ ‌-‌ ‌with‌ ‌our‌ ‌books‌ ‌and‌ ‌our‌ ‌staff,‌ ‌and‌ ‌our‌ ‌writers‌ ‌and‌ ‌readers.‌ ‌And‌ ‌now‌ ‌more‌ ‌than‌ ‌ever,‌ ‌books‌ are ‌essential‌ ‌to‌ ‌rebuilding‌ ‌our‌ ‌community.‌ ‌

Over‌ ‌the‌ ‌course‌ ‌of‌ ‌twenty‌ ‌years, ‌ ‌we’ve‌ ‌made‌ ‌a‌ ‌difference‌ ‌in‌ ‌many‌ ‌lives‌ ‌by‌ ‌helping‌ ‌artists‌ ‌become‌ ‌artists, ‌ ‌thinkers‌ ‌become‌ ‌thinkers‌ ‌and‌ ‌dreamers‌ ‌feed‌ ‌their‌ ‌dreams. ‌ ‌We’ve ‌created‌ ‌jobs, ‌ ‌supported‌ ‌small‌ ‌and‌ ‌big‌ ‌publishers‌ ‌alike‌ ‌and‌ ‌brought‌ ‌joy‌ ‌to‌ ‌those‌ ‌who’ve‌ ‌stepped‌ ‌through‌ ‌our‌ ‌doors. ‌ ‌But‌ ‌now‌ ‌we’re‌ ‌faced‌ ‌with‌ ‌our‌ ‌greatest‌ ‌challenge: ‌ ‌to‌ ‌keep‌ ‌the‌ ‌books‌ ‌flowing‌ ‌despite‌ ‌the‌ ‌pandemic. ‌ ‌ ‌

While we‌ ‌continue‌ ‌to‌ ‌work‌ ‌tirelessly‌ ‌from‌ ‌home‌ ‌to‌ ‌seek‌ ‌solutions,‌ ‌we‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌face‌ ‌the‌ ‌reality,‌ ‌that‌ ‌without‌ ‌your‌ ‌help,‌ ‌we‌ ‌will‌ ‌not‌ ‌make‌ ‌it.‌ ‌‌We’ve‌ ‌applied‌ ‌for‌ ‌government‌ ‌assistance‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌form‌ ‌of‌ ‌small‌ ‌business‌ ‌loans,‌ ‌but‌ ‌it‌ ‌won’t‌ ‌be‌ ‌enough,‌ ‌and‌ ‌it‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌too‌ ‌late.‌ ‌‌Your‌ ‌contribution‌ ‌will‌ ‌keep‌ ‌us‌ ‌from‌ ‌closing‌ ‌by‌ ‌providing‌ ‌the‌ ‌cash-flow‌ ‌to‌ ‌maintain‌ ‌operations‌‌ ‌during‌ ‌the‌ ‌shutdown‌ ‌(rent,‌ ‌insurance,‌ ‌utilities)‌,‌‌ ‌to‌ ‌hire‌ ‌back‌ ‌our‌ ‌employees‌ ‌‌and‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌our‌ ‌re-opening‌ ‌our‌ ‌victory.‌‌ ‌‌If‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌give,‌ ‌we‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌deeply‌ ‌grateful. ‌ ‌No‌ ‌donation‌ ‌is‌ ‌too‌ ‌small…or‌ ‌too‌ ‌big. ‌ ‌And‌ ‌please‌ ‌let‌ ‌other‌ ‌lovers‌ ‌of‌ ‌reading‌ ‌know‌ ‌about‌ ‌this‌ ‌campaign. ‌ ‌‌Sharing‌ ‌this‌ ‌page‌ ‌will‌ ‌make‌ ‌a‌ ‌meaningful‌ ‌difference.

 

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Thursday Spotlight: Tony Wolf on His Carmine’s Pizza Cartoon Tribute

Tony Wolf’s cartoon tribute to Carmine’s Original Pizza in The New York Times
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!
Tony Wolf’s work in print in the NY Times
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.
Tony Wolf and Greenpoint of View
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.
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