art

Long Island City Graffiti Artists Win Legal Battle With Developer Who Destroyed Their Work

5 Pointz

For years I used to love taking the number seven train through Long Island City just to see the amazing 5 Pointz building and its amazing graffiti. Some called it “The United Nations of Graffiti” because of the international artists who created the art there. Other people dubbed it “the world’s only graffiti museum.” The owner, Jerry Wolkoff, had given the artists’ permission to use the building as a canvas for “aerosol art” and the building was covered in multicolored murals and tags, making it a tourist mecca as artists and fans of graffiti art from around the world traveled to see the former industrial building in Long Island City that artists had decorated for two decades. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Louis Fratino, Embracing Tenderness

Louis in his studio. Photo: Ian Hartsoe

Louis Fratino’s Long Island City studio is part of the Artha Project artist residency program. Among the others in the shared studio space, I am quickly drawn to a long wall jeweled with multiple small paintings that hold snapshots of moments shared between Louis and those close to him.  A gentle stretch from an inversion, a simple sip from a cup, two figures nuzzling in bed, the paintings bolster warmth, solidarity, and peacefulness. His works are clearly intimate in both scale and subject. Each supple figure is cradled safely in its tight frame, yielding both tenderness and eroticism. His painting in progress hangs in the center of a paint speckled circle, warmly haloed by the brush strokes of preceding works. There is an intuitive desire to squeeze the juicy feet and bellies of his adoring figures. The dry and waxy rendering of paint invite a closer look into his inventive mark making techniques that create a diverse textural surface.

Greenpointers: When were you first exposed to art as a child?

Louis Fratino: My first experience with art was probably my amazement with various illustrations in children’s books as a kid. I used to hoard books and try to figure out how they could make the character look the same on each page. I made my own versions of books as a kid. We also lived not so far from Washington D.C., so I was able to go to the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art which was incredible. I always really loved drawing and don’t remember having a defining moment of figuring that out. It was just always something that I did. I would go through multiple reams of printer paper in a weekend. Eventually my parents noticed and heard from my teachers that I was very interested in art. I took art classes in high school where we had a very robust program. The art room was in the old gymnasium where six or seven people could be working on easels at one time. I have always made work about relationships and intimacy and love. In high school I was making paintings about my siblings, and when I was in a relationship I started painting the person I was with.

Dolphin Street, 2017, oil and crayon on canvas, 30 x 24 in. Photo: Greenpointers

Louis: I decided I wanted to study painting my freshman year of college. I was trying to entertain the idea of a dual degree in illustration right up until graduation. I made a manuscript for a children’s book and had done some editorial pieces. I decided it wouldn’t be possible to go all the way and do both at the same time. There are tons of artists who make publications and do things outside of painting when they’re older that I want to do, but I think right now it just demands too much to try to build both of those careers. Illustration in a way feels harder to me sometimes because you don’t get to just generate your own material. And maybe that’s why I’m ultimately a painter.

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Standards Manual in Greenpoint Finds Success in Reissuing Relics

Standard_Manual_Greenpoint_Greenpointers_I.Hartsoe_20
Jesse Reed. Photo by Ian Hartsoe

“We had a hint there might be an interest in this book.”

That hint was raising over $800,000 on Kickstarter to reissue the New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual. But before the online support and incredible demand, this lucrative endeavor began more innocently — with buried treasure.

“We found one of the original manuals in our old office’s basement,” Jesse Reed said of the copy he and his business partner Hamish Smyth discovered and — through enormous fundraising — reissued for public consumption.

New Yorkers love griping about the subway, so it may come as a surprise that this manual elicited such fervid response, but these backers are seeking more than just a handsome coffee table book or conversation starter.

Standards Manual storefront on Franklin Street in Greenpoint. Photo by Ian Hartsoe
Standards Manual storefront on Franklin Street in Greenpoint. Photo by Ian Hartsoe

 

“We knew designers were into it, but once we launched the Kickstarter we found other audiences, and one was people who live in New York City,” Reed said. “They saw the manual and subway signs for the first time as designed objects, and it struck a chord with a lot of people who ride the subway every day. If you were here in the ’70s or earlier, you knew how horrible the signage was, and then you see the manual and how it’s now made.”

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Heather Christian Unleashes a Ravishing Tour de Force in The Bushwick Starr’s “Animal Wisdom”

Heather Christian in her Bushwick Starr show, “Animal Wisdom.” Photo by Maria Baranova.

The richest musical score this season might not be found on Broadway. To add to its allure, it’s created by a “migraine-suffering musician who talks to dead people.”

It’s a bold self-proclamation, but Obie Award winner Heather Christian’s Animal Wisdom is an equally bold work — and one that’s near impossible to pin down. To call it a play lumps it in with traditional narratives, and yet to label it a folksy-Requiem-mass-drama barely trumpets its dynamism, élan, and pure resplendence.

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Get Your Art On: Greenpoint Gallery Night is This Friday! (10/27)

Greenpoint Gallery Night

Greenpoint Gallery Night is back! From 6-9pm this Friday (October 27), local art galleries and art-friendly spaces will open up their doors for a special evening affair. Participating spaces include: Greenpoint Hill (100 Freeman St), The Yard (33 Nassau Ave), Yashar Gallery (276 Greenpoint Ave), Auxiliary Projects (212R Norman Ave), Owen James Gallery (61 Greenpoint Ave Ste 315), Calico (67 West St #203), Booklyn (37 Greenpoint Ave. 4th Floor Ste E4G), Clay Space 1205 (1205 Manhattan Ave, Ste 241), Point Green (260 Java St), G-Spot @ The Safehouse (120 Franklin St), and more tba!

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Check out the Mary Fisher Home, Greenpoint’s 19th Century Artists’ Colony

Photo by Lucie Levine
Photo by Lucie Levine

Greenpoint’s industrial past is well known, and its emerging identity as an artist’s hub might seem like a 21st century phenomenon, but back in 1888, Greenpoint was sporting its very own artists’ colony. That year, Mary Fisher, of 71 Java Street, opened her home as the Home Hotel Association, a residence for elderly “Brain Workers.” According to the plaque marking the historic site, Fisher defined “Brain Workers” as men and women “who had labored in literature or art or any other brain profession.” The Home operated on Java Street until 1912, when it moved to two separate locations: one in Mount Vernon, NY, and another in Tenafly, New Jersey.

71 Java Street Today
71 Java Street Today

Mary Fisher was an Englishwoman inspired by the old age pensions which support the elderly in the UK. Social Security wasn’t established in the United States until 1935, so there was no public safety net for older people who had retired, or were out of work. In The Story of the Mary Fisher Home, published 1915, Fisher wrote, “I remembered that in Europe, pensions were often accorded to those who, during their lifetimes, had been of some benefit to the nation, and it seemed to me that in this country the people must do what the government failed to do, and I hoped that in time we might have a national fund for this purpose.”

Fisher appealed to notable New Yorkers for their in kind or financial support, and was well received by Fredrick Barnard, then the President of Columbia University. He introduced her to a variety of prominent and charitable New Yorkers, including Mrs. Andrew Carnegie, but not everybody believed that “brain workers” deserved philanthropic support. In fact, upon hearing the appeal, one woman said, “A home for old authors and artists! My! What a company of cranks! What will you do with them?”  Continue reading

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New Latin Wave Festival This Sunday at Brooklyn Bazaar! (10/22)

New Latin Wave

This weekend (Sunday Oct 22nd), the New Latin Wave fest is taking over Brooklyn Bazaar (150 Greenpoint Ave) from 11am-7pm for their second year in a row, bringing a full day of Latinx art and ideas—featuring a book and zine fair, stimulating talks, a juried video art show, a mini-film fest and concerts. Curators, presenters and performers include: Composer Angélica Negrón, La Liga Zine, physicist Cristián Huepe, Rock ‘n’ Lolo, and El Museo del Barrio curator Rocio Aranda-Alvarado. Tickets start at $15, and are available here.
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Benefit Art Sale at the Park Church Co-Op This Saturday! (10/21)

This weekend at the Park Church Co-Op (129 Russell Street), you’re in store for some consciousness-raising, togetherness, performances and an art benefit sale. 100% of proceeds will go to Make the Road NY, a network of courageous folks who stand up for immigrant and working class communities, communities of color, and LGBTQIA people. Raffle items include gift certificates from local businesses, and B’s Bikes (262 Driggs Ave), Van Leeuwen (620 Manhattan Ave) and Drama Club (211 Nassau Ave) have all donated to help the cause. You can follow Sanctuary on Instagram, where they’ll be previewing artworks for sale and the line-up of performance and installation artists. Artists who’ve donated pieces include: Ruby Palmer, Betsy AlwinPaula StuttmanChantelle NortonAmy Talluto, Ed Woodham, Jess Rosen, Diana RodgersThomas Lendvai, Christen Clifford, RA Friedman, Michael HambouzAnna OrtizSharela May BonfieldSejin ParkJohn Boone, and Marcia Cooper.

The event goes from 5-11pm on Saturday, and on Sunday from 1-4pm they’ll have a panel discussion that focuses on actionable ways to work for justice in a current climate of fear, anger and frustration at government policies.  Bring your friends and collect some beautiful art for an excellent cause; enjoy music, performance art, food, and drink!
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Thursday Spotlight: Textile Artist Caroline Z. Hurley

Caroline Z Hurley in her shop, photo by Mitch Boyer
Caroline Z Hurley in her Freeman Street shop, photo by Mitch Boyer

Passion for coziness and a reverence for Dolly Parton sound like the perfect combo in an artist, and Caroline Z. Hurley boasts both of those things. Hurley was originally trained in painting at RISD, but her Greenpoint-based eponymous label (with a shop at 155 Freeman Street) produces textiles for the home using age-old, hands-on processes like block-printing, quilting, and weaving. Greenpointers had the pleasure of catching up with Caroline and hearing more about her artistic process, and how she managed to turn an “accident” into a full-fledged, sustainable manufacturing business. Continue reading

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