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Guided Tours of Artist Studios This Weekend (6/2-6/3) for Greenpoint Open Studios!

Visitors inside Colleen Blackard's studio during GOS 2017. Image via Colleen Blackard
Visitors inside Colleen Blackard’s studio during GOS 2017. Image via Colleen Blackard

This year Greenpoint Open Studios promises once again to be a spectacularly art-filled weekend on June 2nd & 3rd, with more than 400 local artists opening up their studios to the public — plus parties, special events and guided tours of artist studios. Greenpoint Open Studios is free and open to the public all weekend (from 12pm-6pm each day), but if you want to get sone one-on-one time with select local artists and have a little help navigating the hundreds of studios, a guided tour is the best way to go. The tours, hosted by Greenpointers art writer Madeline Ehrlich and former art dealer turned realtor Lynn Del Sol, will help you get up close and personal with participating artists and their work, learn about their craft first-hand and ask questions about their practice.

Here’s a rundown of all the tours offered this weekend. Registration is $20, and you can buy tickets in advance or pay cash on-site. The tours include a stop at a local bar with one FREE BEER per participant!

-SATURDAY TOURS-

Greenpoint Open Studios Guided Tour: South Greenpoint
Saturday, June 2nd | 12pm-2pm
Tour starts at 231 Norman Avenue
Artists: Aaron ZulpoShane WalshVincent DermodyKate McQuillenHillary Doyle
Tickets and info here

Greenpoint Open Studios Guided Tour: Careful, This is Art
An exploration of Greenpoint artist studios that push the boundaries of art making and conversation. 
Saturday, June 2nd | 1pm-3pm
Tour starts at 276 Greenpoint Avenue
Artists: Michael ScogginsJake ScharbachBarnaby WhitfieldLaura SplanDouglas Goldberg
Tickets and info here

Greenpoint Open Studios Guided Tour: The Other Side of the BQE
Saturday, June 2nd | 3pm-5pm
Tour starts at 473 Porter Avenue
Artists: Rosalind TallmadgeJeff Kraus, Danielle Orchard, Devra Freelander, Kristina Lee
Tickets and info here

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These Gorgeous Watercolors of Greenpoint Bring Grace to Industry

Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse, watercolor by Sven Johnson
Watercolor of Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse by Sven Johnson

Who would have thought industrial Greenpoint could look so captivatingly elegant? Greenpoint-based artist Sven Johnson is an architectural illustrator and painter who has been living in the neighborhood since 1992. He’ll be showing his latest work, twelve watercolor paintings of Greenpoint at Oslo Coffee (133 Roebling Street) starting this Friday, March 16th.

Watercolor of Greenpoint water tower, by Sven Johnson
Watercolor of Greenpoint water tower, by Sven Johnson

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Starving Greenpoint Artist Seeking Food Via Craigslist

Starving artist Craiglist

Apparently, times are tough out there for at least one local artist. From the above Craigslist post, it’s a little unclear if he is legitimately starving or is merely seeking inspired companionship; but either way, Greenpointers do not let other Greenpointers go hungry! If he is truly in need of food, we would recommend seeking out the North Brooklyn Angels van. Today from 1230-130pm, they will be posted up across the street from the Williamsburgh Library (240 Division Ave), to hand out 200 hot meals. Tomorrow (Wednesday), the Greenpoint Reformed Church (136 Milton Street) will host their weekly community dinner from 6-7pm, and on Thursdays from 8am-11am they give out groceries from their food pantry. And if that’s not enough, a while back we compiled a roundup of local bars and restaurants that serve up free or super cheap food and drinks. So there are plenty of options to avoid truly going hungry in the ‘hood. Or, our long haired artist may simply be on the hunt for a woman who knows her way around the kitchen, a lady who is happy to simultaneously craft the perfect bechamel sauce for a hearty truffle mac n cheese, chop up a pink lettuce salad and pour him a glass of natural wine. In any case, hopefully this local artist will starve no more! Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: The Cosmopolitan Yet Hyperlocal MRToll

Artist Jamie Toll on the rooftop of his bar, Northern Territory. Photo by Ian Hartsoe.

He might be the last cowboy in Brooklyn. Like those adventurers of yesteryear, Jamie Toll (that’s MRToll to you) wandered to a new land seeking adventure and opportunity. An immigrant from Australia, Toll moved to New York in 2003 and quickly rose from local bartender to worldly artist to social justice guru. His work has spanned continents and mediums; his cracked-open, silicone eggs scattered about the US border highlighting the fragility of the immigrant experience caught the attention of the United Nations who employed Toll to travel to El Salvador and Turkey to build community through street art. Alongside his wife, Toll is also crafting a documentary called I Am MigrationBased on their cross-country journey handing out free DNA tests, the film aims to unearth the perceptions of whiteness and blood purity, tackling racism and xenophobia along the way. Meanwhile in Greenpoint, he creates jubilant birds and clay eggs and cartoonish skulls that are peppered around the neighborhood as Easter eggs for residents to discover.

Toll is simultaneously planning, tackling, and executing a number of projects. Before this interview, he said he prefers to delve into just one and discuss its impact as opposed to scanning over many and diluting their effects. And so we discussed his one true love: Brooklyn. (“I’ve never put up art in Manhattan,” he says with pride.) He’s forthright, but don’t mistake this for harshness; Toll exudes compassion, is masterfully warm, and radiates an envious amount of charisma. Maybe it’s the Aussie accent, or the casual way he sipped a whiskey during our interview. He was in his own bar after all — the summer hotspot and winter hideaway Northern Territory, located at 12 Franklin Street. Perched on a barstool, he’s excited yet at ease, and it’s contagious. After getting to know Toll for an hour or so, it’s not hard to feel gravitationally bound to him, even as he tells you that in two years’ time his cozy bar will close. Come March 2020, Northern Territory’s lease won’t be renewed and the building will make way for a high-rise office space. This is just another verse in the dirge of local bars being bought out, but as with cowboys, another adventure is always on the horizon.

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Musical Instruments as Art: Live Performance of Voices of Anxious Objects Feb 9th

Ken Butler - Voices of Anxious Objects

We profiled local artist and musician Ken Butler last year, and he gave us a tour of his incredible studio and even played us a few jams. He also participated in our local artists’ event Greenpoint Open Studios, opening his home and studio doors to the public. For decades he’s been collecting objects off the street and turning them into playable musical instruments, as art. He’s a true character and local legend, so you shouldn’t miss his unique style of performance this Friday, February 9th. He’ll be doing a live video recording and concert for the first time in 20 years.

WHAT: Ken Butler’s Voices of Anxious Objects
WHERE: Scholes Street Studio | 375 Lorimer Street
WHEN: Friday, February 9th, 8pm
COST: FREE

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Video: Timelapase of Greenpoint Ave Mural

Still from documentary short about the mural

By now you’ve surely noticed the 4-story mural on the building on the corner of Greenpoint and Manhattan Avenue. Completed in late October, painted by Swedish artist Ola Kalnins, the mural covers the entire building facade at 903 Manhattan Ave, which is owned by Peter Kirchhausen.

In a neighborhood that seems to be more and more inundated with advertising (hand-painted or otherwise), it’s damn refreshing to see some art for arts sake.

Funded by the Consulate General of Sweden, the creation of this beautiful mural is documented in this short film. Enjoy!

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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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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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From Rooftop Garden to McGolrick Park — Join Historian Geoff Cobb and Artist Martynka Wawrzyniak for Local Lore, Nature, and Art on a Guided Walking Tour! (Sat, 10/7)

Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop, the starting point for Saturday’s tour.

Local artist Martynka Wawrzyniak‘s site-specific sculpture, Ziemia, will take the form of a ceramic sphere atop a meadow garden in McGolrick Park, and she’s having the local community help create it. Ziemia, which means Earth in Polish, will celebrate our neighborhood’s many cultures, become a locus for community programming, and carry personal significance for the participants who help shape it.

Ziemia site in McGolrick Park, via Ziemia Instagram
Ziemia site in McGolrick Park, via Ziemia on Instagram

To underscore the community celebration represented in Martynka’s work, Greenpoint’s (and Greenpointers’) local historian and author, Geoff Cobb, will lead guests on a walking tour Greenpoint from the Kingsland Wildflowers green roof to the Ziemia site in McGolrick Park on Saturday, October 1st. A $15 donation to RSVP includes a two hour guided tour, with talks on some fun local lore, art, and Greenpoint’s natural habitat, and the proceeds will go toward the production of the art piece.

McGolrick Sculpture Installation & Walking Tour With Greenpoint Historian
When: Saturday, September 30, 3pm – 5pm
Where: Kingsland Wildflowers Green Roof | 520 Kingsland Avenue
Who: Greenpoint artist, Martynka Wawrzyniak & Greenpoint historian, Geoff Cobb
$15 donation (proceeds go to the Ziemia art project), RSVP

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Lydia Lunch Performing at the Park Church Co-Op 9/28 to Benefit McGolrick Art Installation

Lydia Lunch at Park Church Co-Op

On Thursday, September 28th, the Park Church Co-Op (129 Russell St) will play host to an evening of experimental jazz headlined by post-punk, avant-garde powerhouse Lydia Lunch. Performances will begin at 8pm with pianist Jesse Lynch, followed by Matt Nelson on tenor saxophone, and a trio set by Moppa Elliott’s Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Lydia Lunch and Michael Foster will headline at 10pm. The evening will close with an experimental group ensemble conducted by Lunch. And, if that wasn’t enough to entice you to check this one out, proceeds will go towards McGolrick Park’s public art project, Ziemia (Polish for “Earth”).
To create Ziemia, artist Martynka Wawrzyniak is creating a native plant meadow and a sculpture made with help from Greenpoint residents. The sculpture will take the form of a ceramic orb, fired out of clay excavated in Greenpoint and glazed with a mix of soil contributed by residents from personally meaningful locations from around the world, which symbolize their identities. Ziemia aims to bridge the divides between the neighborhood’s disparate subcultures, serving as a collective portrait of the community through embodying residents’ personal homelands and migration stories.
Benefit details:
Tickets are $12 in advance, and $15 at the door.
Doors open at 7pm, music ends at 11pm
The Ziemia meadow is located in McGolrick Park adjacent to the Park Church Co-Op, and the deadline to contribute soil to Ziemia is December 15, 2017.
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