Thursday Spotlight

Thursday Spotlight: Kimia Kline on Leading The Wythe Hotel’s Art Program

Photo of Kimia Kline by Carmen Chan

Since officially kicking off its hotel art program with artist and curator Kimia Kline at the helm, Wythe Hotel has cultivated an impressive permanent collection featuring artists such as Katherine Bradford, Chris Martin, EJ Hauser, Steve DiBenedetto, and Yevgeniya Baras. Along with Rachael Petach, Kimia heads the hotel Residency Program, offering independent artists further opportunities to develop new pieces and share their work with broader audiences. 

The hotel’s permanent collection consists of unique works in each guest room, a tribute to the Brooklyn local creative community and the diversity of talent to be found in the storied neighborhood. The collection primarily focuses on sketchbooks and in-process pieces, emphasizing the alive and fluid creative process. Wythe Hotel’s hope is to foster a connection between its guests and the wider creative community of Brooklyn, and Kimia continues to help foster that. We caught up with the local artist and curator to learn more about her unique work and process.

Greenpointers: Do you live in Brooklyn, and if so where and for how long? 
Kimia Kline: I’ve lived in Fort Greene, Brooklyn for the past six years.
How did you first get connected to this Artist Residency Program, and why did the Wythe feel like a good fit as a venue?
After building the visual art collection in the hotel over the past four years, I was excited to expand our programming to include performance art and new media as well. After lots of conversations regarding how to better serve our creative community and activate the beautiful and unique spaces in the hotel, we came up with the parameters of the residency and put out an open call. We’ve been thrilled with the interest from both artists and audiences and realize what a need there is for this kind of exhibition opportunity in Brooklyn.

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Thursday Spotlight: Mano-A-Mano’s Jill Folino and Wven Villegas

You could call Jill Folino and Wven Villegas handy people — their company, after all, is named Mano-A-Mano. Folino and Villegas have crafted bespoke signs for Citroen and holiday decor for our holiday market — to name just a few recent examples of their work around the nabe — but it is their communally-sustained relationships they seem to prize most. As our interview illuminates, the crafty mavens behind Mano-A-Mano not only support each other but local establishment after local establishment. They see their projects as a way to artfully represent a company’s vision while also planting themselves knee-deep in the ethos of all they collaborate with. Below, we caught up with the two artisans to discuss their creative backgrounds and favorite projects.
Greenpointers: Introduce yourselves!
Jill Folino: I work with a partner, Wven Villegas, and we created Mano-A-Mano. Our work varies from mural and sign painting, sculpture, woodworking, type and creative direction. We model building and anything else we can conjure up. Together we share a tool box of skills that we are constantly juggling.
Do you both reside in Brooklyn?
Wven has lived in Greenpoint for over 13 years, while I was born and raised in Staten Island where I once again currently reside. We work out of a three-car garage we converted into our studio behind my apartment so we have more than ample room to spread our creative wings. It’s also enough space to build some sizable pieces. It’s our creative lab we dubbed “Pop Art Garage.”
Let’s dig into what people might be most familiar with: your work at the Polar Vortex Holiday Market. How’d that come together?
When we were asked by our good friend JD to lend some props for decor at the market, we didn’t hesitate. We love that this market is a platform for artisans and other creatives like ourselves to present their creations. We hope to be vendors at a future market.
The castle was created a few years back for a children’s birthday party, but we gave it an icy makeover, changing it from it’s original cream colored/pink and Disney-esque paint job. The snowman on the other hand, has been around for more than 20 years. He’s been a fixture in our studio, just hanging around changing hats and costumes. We felt it was time for him to get out into the world and get a real job, hehe. The Out Snapped photo booth was his first modeling gig!

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Thursday Spotlight: Donaldo Prescod on his Films, Brooklyn, and Making an “Entertaining Social Thriller”

Donaldo Prescod, right, at the Bushwick Film Festival
Filmmaker Donaldo Prescod represents the heart of a Brooklyn artists’ work ethic: scrappy with refined taste, industrious with a collaborative attitude. His Bushwick Film Festival-celebrated thriller Black People Are Dangerous brought him greater notoriety in our borough and has propelled him to create more works. Greenpointers talked with Donaldo about his career, aspirations, and — of courses — the best spots to eat in Brooklyn.
Greenpointers: How long have you lived in Brooklyn?
Donaldo Prescod: 11 years.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood bar, park, or restaurant?
That’s tough, I love Fort Greene and I love Bushwick equally for various reasons. You see a lot of seasoned black folks in Fort Greene and you can tell Brooklyn lives in their bones. Bushwick has a grit and grime DIY vibe to it that makes for a better artist. Restaurant: Lil Mo, some of the best Vietnamese food BK has to offer.
Tell us how you got involved with Bushwick Film Festival.
I submitted my film and thanks to the film gods one of the people assigned to watch shorts loved it immensely. As it got passed along to everyone else in the festival they too took a liking to it, no questions asked.

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Thursday Spotlight: The Wizard of Inlet Park, Stacy Levy

Street artists trace the Bushwick Inlet’s underground stream into the surface

Stacy Levy is an internationally known artist who specializes in creating artful, site-specific interventions and engagements with water ecology. This past Saturday, she led an interactive family workshop in Greenpoint, where she and her volunteers mapped the historic Bushwick Inlet directly onto the hardscape using chalk paint: a mixture of chalk powder and water. Greenpointers caught up with Stacy to discuss her activism and the aquatic wonders of our local inlet.  Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Meet Greenpoint Comedian and Actress Mary Houlihan

Full disclosure: Mary Houlihan and I used to carpool. The guest star on “Difficult People” and I would be shuttled to Brookside Middle School by my neighbor’s mom, but it was always a mystery whether or not Mary would join us on a given school day. Hers was the last house on our carpool journey, and — after a few car honks — Mary emerged, or didn’t. I was always grateful for the mornings she did. Even then, she had a stupefyingly offbeat wit — generous but dry, subdued but bonkers. Chipper as we were bitter with her tardiness, Mary would enter the car and chime, “Good morning, friends.”

We once shared a commute; we now share a neighborhood. Houlihan embodies the best parts of Greenpoint in her life and career — she builds community, as with her Three Chickies musical improv series, and maintains a signature self-awareness, even as careers (and neighborhoods) change. I’m happy to have caught up and discussed the comedy scene with the sly wizard behind “Learn To Paint With Mary Houlihan!“.

Greenpointers: How long have you been in Greenpoint?
Mary Houlihan: About six years. When I first moved here I lived off the Myrtle/Willoughby G stop in Bed-Stuy, then I moved to a big building that flooded in Hurricane Sandy after living there for just a month. Then I moved in with my parents in New Jersey. Then I moved to a green house off Calyer Street, then I lived near Grandma Roses, and now I’m in my current location. I’ve moved a lot.

The neighborhood’s treated you well?
It’s treated me well, me likely. It’s quiet. It’s hidden but not insane.

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Thursday Spotlight: Catalina Kulczar on Capturing the Light in Others

Melissa and Aneesha from Catalina’s Let Love Reign series
Catalina Kulczar is the best kind of photographer: selfless. Her portraits illuminate the beauty in others, and her projects — individually crafted and triumphantly executed — are marked by a social justice bent that lets underrepresented voices sing. Her many and diverse photography series have included moving portraits of girls celebrating their quinceañera and portraits, both loving and poignant, of same-sex couples awaiting marriage equality. That last project is the inspiration for a new book she discussed with Greenpointers — a queer-affirming anthology she’s looking to publish with the help of a Kickstarter. We caught up with the local photographer to discuss her passion projects, inspirations, and favorite neighborhood hangouts.
Greenpointers: How long have you lived in Brooklyn?
Catalina Kulczar: I have lived in Brooklyn since 2011 — three years in Fort Greene, then we moved to Greenpoint in summer 2014.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood spot?
I love going to Brooklyn Label. I love how much natural light fills the place year-round, and the staff there is always friendly and welcoming.

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Thursday Spotlight: “Dave’s Waves Sonic Luncheonette” Lets The Earth Sing and Ring

For two weekends in September (14-16 and 21-23) the Sunview Luncheonette (221 Nassau Avenue) and experimental composer David First team up to present Dave’s Waves Sonic Luncheonette. Below, David gives an overview of what inspired the project, all its previous incarnations, and what to expect during the two weekends.

Greenpointers: How’d the idea for a sonic restaurant come about?

David First: I was asked to participate in an exhibition in Lier, Belgium in 2002. At the time I had begun mucking around in the area of brainwaves and binaural beats because it was something I had already been doing in my music. The “new age” community likes to make a correlation between the alpha brainwave range and the Schumann resonances, so, of course I found a trove of fascinating, fantastical stuff online that I dove into unconditionally. When I decided I wanted to present this work in Lier, the idea of making it a restaurant where you order these different compositional “dishes” from a menu seemed like a fun way to do it. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Gail Stoicheff on Heritage, Recipes, and Paint

Gail Stoicheff has been painting in the nabe for over a decade, crafting quietly epic paintings with sweeping strokes and stunning visuals. For this week’s Thursday Spotlight, we chatted with the local painter to discuss how her heritage affects her work, the decision to pursue grad school, and — most importantly — the recipe she needs to have.

Greenpointers: I see you’re based in Greenpoint. How long have you been here, and do you work out of a local studio?

Gail Stoicheff: On Valentine’s day 2002 I moved to Williamsburg. When they tuned our loft into condos in 2011, I moved to this side of McCarren. My studio is in my apartment, which is tricky since I make large work, but I’ve found I need to have a live/work set-up. There aren’t many options for that in the neighborhood these days, so I make it work. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Chinese Artist Qieer Wang Portrays Mental Illness and More in Her Art

Qieer Wang showing off one of her recently framed works.

Local artist Qieer Wang’s work is incredibly diverse. She dabbles in multimedia, illustrations, film and more, having contributed to the likes of NPR and LennyLetter. We caught up with the Greenpoint illustrator to discuss creating portraits of mental illness, balancing projects, and the limitations of working on a visa.

Greenpointers: Do you live in Brooklyn, and if so for how long?

Qieer Wang: Yes, I’ve lived and worked in Greenpoint for almost two years.

GP: Can you talk about your artistic background, or education, and your influences?

QW: I was educated in illustration for both undergrad and grad school programs. As to being an animator and director, I was inspired from a grad school two-day stop motion workshop in 2015. Afterwards, I started learning techniques and animation principles from online tutorials up until today. I’m drawn to artists like Jan Svankmajer, Hieronymus Bosch, and Lorenzo Mattotti. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Meet Kweighbaye Kotee, Founder and CEO of Bushwick Film Festival

At her core, Kweighbaye Kotee is a community builder: she triumphantly brings together artists and audiences, neighborhood long-timers and newbies alike. Her talents coalesce most notably in the Bushwick Film Festival, her passion project that is celebrating its 11th anniversary October 11–14.  Greenpointers caught up with the local curator and filmmaker to discuss the morphing landscape of film, the partnerships she builds, and the side projects that continue to keep her busy.

Greenpointers: Do you live in Brooklyn, and if so where and for how long?
Kweighbaye Kotee: I have lived in Brooklyn for 14 years. Williamsburg for two and now Bushwick for 12.

GP: Can you talk a little about the genesis of the Bushwick Film Festival? And how many participating volunteers and films are there in the coming festival?
KK: I started the Bushwick Film Festival in 2007, while I was still in school at NYU. Initially, I really just wanted to share my love for indie film with other people in the neighborhood and celebrate filmmakers. Later on, I realized my position in the industry (female, immigrant, a woman of color) and wanted to do more. I began to use the festival as a place to bring people of all backgrounds together to connect through film. I also wanted to use our platform to help diversify the industry. This year, we plan to select about 100 films out of the 1,200+ films that submitted to the festival. Typically we have around 50 volunteers and interns who make it all happen. Continue reading

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