Thursday Spotlight

Thursday Spotlight: The Generations- and Medium-Spanning Work of Eric Haze

Eric Haze in the Elaine de Kooning studio, East Hampton, NY

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

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Thursday Spotlight: smallhome is Big on Dreams, Creativity, and Style

It feels funny to say we should welcome smallhome (100 Freeman Street) to the neighborhood, even though the brick and mortar storefront has only been around for a few months. But long beyond that period, its steadfast owner, curator, and artist Julia Small has been creating works and home goods at various shops and recognizable markets and pop-ups all over north Brooklyn. And while our Thursday Spotlight series often focuses on the denizens of the Pencil Factory and other kinds of fine artists, it feels important — especially during this tumultuous COVID period — to highlight the artists of many stripes who keep our vital small business scene thriving. Learn more about Julia’s diverse work and career below, and be sure to follow along on Instagram!

Greenpointers: Congrats on smallhome’s opening! How long have you been at 100 Freeman Street, and where were you beforehand?
Julia Small: I moved just down Franklin from Oak street last November. I had been in a pop up space I built out within the kid’s shop Flying Squirrel, and East Williamsburg (across from Artists & Craftsmen, Harefield Road) before that.

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Thursday Spotlight: Alison Clancy and Helping The Flying Dutchman Soar to New Heights

Photo of Alison Clancy by Andrew T. Foster

The press release for Greenpoint creative Alison Clancy’s new performance reads “post-punk mystic meets Wagner in ritualistic dance” — tickle me intrigued! A dancer, singer, and all-around-movement artist (and educator), Alison has worked in institutions big and small, from the Metropolitan Opera and Guggenheim Museum to dive bars and on Reality TV. And while her modern methods may seem to clash with the classical music she performs to, they are perhaps more aligned than one may think: Wagner, and his contemporaries, were the envelope pushers of their day; their charged, erotic, and emotional scores demanded more of their audiences, and performers, than what may have been the norm. As such, Clancy’s dance honors and uplifts these heightened states, creating a unified piece of singular performance. She recently made a prestigious solo debut in the premiere of the Met’s new production of Richard Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) Here, she speaks about this new show, which though sadly cancelled due to the coronavirus will also find a home on screens.

Greenpoiners: You’ve lived in Greenpoint for a number of years. What attracted you to the neighborhood and how has it treated you as a resident and artist? 
Alison Clancy: I moved here for a boyfriend, but I stayed because I love the mellow energy. It feels like a nice downshift from Manhattan, but there are still so many beautiful people and active culture.

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Thursday Spotlight: Alex Russell, the Artist Behind Greenpoint’s First Pictorial Map

Alex Russell with a dog!
If you made it to our recent Love Grows in Brooklyn market, you may have spotted a tall, friendly artist handing out maps like hot cakes. Sure, cartography is nifty and many a Brooklynite fancy themselves lovers of antiques, but this map was more personal to these buyers — some may have been able to even find their homes on it.

Alex Russell was selling his dynamic and delightful map of Greenpoint, the neighborhood’s first official pictorial as inducted by the New York Public Library. Affable and neighborly, Alex has been a Greenpointer for over a decade, carefully observing the ebbs and flows of the neighborhood from his home/studio above Moonlight Mile on Franklin Street. Those years here helped him craft this unique feat, but his time has been marked by more than just art: he took over The Brooklyn Label and, here, explains the many hands who have helped that business evolve. But after years in and out of the food business, he is now turning his attention to another map: he is now commissioned to create the The Great Map of Williamsburg. Learn more about Alex and his work here, and find out how to get your hands on one of his maps!

Greenpointers: Okay, you made the first pictorial of Greenpoint. That’s awesome! Let’s let you show off to begin: how did this come together, and how did you decide what elements to include?
Alex Russell: When I made the decision to move from Los Angeles to Brooklyn 10 years ago, my first choice was actually Williamsburg. I searched hard for an affordable apartment, but couldn’t find anything in my “starving artist price range.” That’s when someone told me to look just north of Williamsburg in an area called “Greenpoint.” I’ll never forget emerging out of the subway. It was February after a huge snow storm. I wandered through the streets and giant snow drifts. It seemed so desolate and industrial; I fell in love with it immediately. There was art and murals in every nook. I had stumbled into an old, forgotten, Polish, hidden secret. I secured the first apartment I toured, which would remain my home for the next decade. I snagged a server job at a “Mexican Street Food” restaurant called “Papacito’s” (now Esme). And I began my life trying to make it in New York City as an artist. It’s had its ups and downs, its triumphs and failures, but in between every gig I always allow myself time to explore new projects and new mediums in order to expand my skill set. The Great Map of Greenpoint started out as one of those projects.
When I began to create it, I sort of had in mind those tourist posters you find in bars and restaurants in tourist towns. You know the ones: super animated, cartoony, and colorful. I wanted to make one of those, but with the flavors I encountered in Greenpoint. I was spending a lot of time at places like St Vitus, Lulu’s, and Safehouse. The tattoo culture and art were strong. As I filled in the map with my local haunts, it felt akin to another one of my passions: scrapbooking. I’ve always enjoyed creating different kinds of time capsules. This was like that. And there was just something pleasing about the layout of the neighborhood. I liked how removed Greenpoint felt from the rest of the city, even though it’s so close it has (arguably) the best view of the Manhattan skyline. I liked that it was surrounded by water on three sides, like a castle with its moat, and McCarren Park capping it off at the bottom. I liked that the streets went in alphabetical order. But, like a lot of my projects, the map fell by the wayside.
Alex Russell’s pictorial of Greenpoint
In 2017, I opened my first restaurant, Brooklyn Label. Only one block from my apartment and one of my favorite brunch spots under the same name when I first moved in. It was the cornerstone of one of the oldest and most historic buildings in Greenpoint, “The Astral.” It was a dream. But to make a long story short, Brooklyn Label wasn’t for me and I left it to my partner in 2019. At the same time, my wife was going through some of our old things and found the map. She encouraged me to pick it back up and this time, finish it. That’s when I started reaching out to fellow business owners around town and getting everyone excited for the map. As far as I knew from my research, no one had done a map of Greenpoint since the 1980s, which you can find hanging in a few businesses. I wanted to make a map that you could find hanging everywhere, highlighting all of the places that were so special to me. Once I was finished and the map was released, Ian Fowler reached out from the New York Public Library’s Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, saying they would love to induct my map as the first map pictorial of Greenpoint in their archives. They would later partner with me on my next map, The Great Map of Williamsburg.

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Thursday Spotlight: Nicolás Noreña on The Million Underscores_ _, Collaborating with Your Husband, and More

A photo from a summer workshop of “Lapa” by Walter Wlodarczyk.

How to put the experience, creation, and witnessing of experimental theater into words? It’s not easy, which explains why it is such an innovative, textured, and vital art form. As a versatile theatermaker and educator in the city, Nicolás Noreña has often been at the forefront of this hard-to-define scene: he teaches at NYU’s ETW (Experimental Theatre Wing), is the artistic director of Brooklyn-based theater company The Million Underscores_ _, and is currently undertaking the herculean task of breathing new life into LAPA, a play written by the Russian absurdist Daniil Kharms in 1930.

All the while, Noreña builds community with his artists and plays with his husband (alongside other key collaborators). As his career will attest, no venue is too small and no story too untapped to be a transformative piece of theater — the most daring step on the audience’s part is to simply show up. And as Noreña testifies, there are myriad venues to frequent that support new work on our side of the East River. His is a career to follow to participate in some of the boldest theater being made today.

Greenpointers: You’re a multi-hyphenate creative and the artistic director of The Million Underscores_ _. Can you explain what this company values and creates?

Nicolás Noreña: Multi-hyphenate creative! I had to look that one up! (Laughs) I guess..? Technically I’ve never hyphenated I usually say I’m a theater maker. But yes that involves writing, scoring, directing, performing, producing, designing costumes, designing sets, and props building, and I think this is what gives our work a very specific identity — our full engagement with each aspects of performance.

The Million Underscores_ _ has grown over the years from our curiosity about how the different languages of performance and the languages of plastic visual composition interact. We make and perform our work with one foot in the theater and one foot in the visual arts, and that is fun because the visual arts have such deep, millennia-old, detailed conversations about the technicalities of art and the philosophy of what art is and what art can be that sometimes lack in the theater. But the theater has this living breathing thing between people as the material, and it has these spaces ran by communities that are very different from galleries, and have this ephemeral quality that make it so unnecessary and mysterious, so similar to life…so we have one foot on one and one foot on the other, but we come from the theater.

LAPA is our first show in which we are starting with a prewritten play, and this transformed the process from the very beginning.

You and your husband Timothy Scott often collaborate, as with this current project LAPA. I’m curious, if you don’t mind sharing, what it is like to work with your partner and what strengths you think each of you bring to the process?

Yes, Tim and I collaborate in different capacities, and with each project for The Million Underscores _ _ our way of collaborating changes. This piece we’re directing together which is as intense as it can get in collaboration. You know, working together is challenging and rewarding. I think it’s hard to keep the lines clear especially at home, our bedroom is our costume shop, prop storage, and sleeping area. Our car is filled with materials, more costumes, set pieces, etc. We go out on dinner dates while we plan rehearsal or design wings for the angels in this show. But we have fun doing this together!

Tim and I are very different and usually have nearly the opposite opinion about everything. So it’s always a process, we see one thing, then see the other and make compromises or find things neither of us imagined. I think particularly in this version where we direct together we try to see having different opinions as a way to make the world of the piece larger with more options of legibility.

I like very dramatic shapes and I’m pretty good with seeing a structure, setting the operative logics for a scene and coming up with ideas on the spot. Tim runs deeper and slower. He sees more subtlety, he’s better at directing the actors’ souls and making choices that are mysterious and strong. We’re directing this together because one day we showed up at home after buying the same book by Daniil Kharms. We had never heard of him before!

Photo of husbands Timothy Scott and Nicolás Noreña by Molly Gillis.

Daniil Kharms has a unique style. What has it been like to work with this text?

It’s been a wild ride we’re still on. Daniil Kharms said that he would like language to be so material that if it were to be thrown through a window it should shatter the glass. Now, how to perform that has been our question from day one. In LAPA we are attempting different ways of going at this question.

We are some times using both translations at once which is a very powerful way to make words very substantive (surprise!).

Some of the text is spoken live, some of the text is recorded in tape recorders held by the performers, some text is completely disembodied and just coming from the walls, some text is written in signs for the audience to read. So our version ofLAPA is in some way a journey of language, subject, and object.

We’re also working with an experimental violinist called Marija Kovačević who is scoring the text with noise and sounds and this has elevated the language to another operative level, it brings it closer to music, closer to sound.

There’s no one right path to make a living as an artist in New York. Can you talk about the jobs and opportunities you juggle in your career and what north star you keep in mind to bring inspiration to your work?

Well I think between Tim and I we’ve covered a wide area of jobs that have allowed us to continue working in the theater, including babysitting, retail, hospitality, farming, movie sets, and restaurants.

I currently teach at NYU in the Experimental Theater Wing, which I absolutely love but again it’s an adjunct position and that comes with its own challenges.

However, wether it’s babysitting or teaching at a university, I think my attitude towards these jobs has always been one of gratitude, giving thanks to these jobs for giving me enough money and time that I can maintain my curiosity alive in the studio, and have enough headspace to think about production etc.

It’s not easy, really making art is so much about making space for it in your life.

(Making space for art in my life, that is my North Star.)

The Million Underscores often presents at venues like The Brick, but fringier havens like The Brick have seemed to disappear over the years. Can you in any way eulogize the places you’ve worked, and sing the praises of companies/artist organizations audiences should support?

Well actually I disagree. After I graduated college in 2012 many spaces in downtown Manhattan closed. The Incubator, which used to be Richard Foreman’s Ontological closed to become an after school ballet studio, PS122 closed with promises of a future that played out quite differently… that was sad. As extremely early-career artists our only option then was Dixon Place (bless their souls!), and they’re still operating in downtown Manhattan!

The exodus of the experimental theater scene to Brooklyn has taken some years, but now I think there are some really solid venues in Brooklyn offering space for experimentation, performance, and community building. Beginning with the Brick; now under Theresa Buccheister’s artistic direction it is such a vital, vibrant, and diverse performance venue! There’s also Triskelion, Vital Joint, CPR in the neighborhood, JACK just moved to their new space, Target Margin Theater has an incredible gigantic theater in sunset park where we performed last Summer, Theater Mitu has a theater in Gowanus. And then of course there’s the Bushwick Starr that in some way paved the way for reviewers to take the L train. I think fringe spaces in Brooklyn are having some sort of renaissance, so we all need to support these spaces by going to see their shows, talking about them, chatting with people after, donating money or skills, making new shows for these spaces! This is what keep spaces and communities going!

Oh and of course, The Exponential Festival! It happens every winter and it is what connects all of these spaces. They have presented so many artists, we’ve been part of it twice! It really is very exciting what’s happening.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Come to see the show! We love meeting new people and chatting after the show over some beers. Some Kharms experts are coming and the conversation will be interesting!

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Thursday Spotlight: Cameron Stuart and “Police in the Wilderness”

Allison Anderegg, Nicholas Walther, and Cameron Stuart.

The Exponential Festival continues! Today, we speak with playwright Cameron Stuart who, alongside the Bushwig-based theater company Saints of an Unnamed Country, is presenting Police in the Wilderness. Featuringa sci-fi plot, poetry, magical rituals, shredded-up bits of 20th century philosophy, and psychedelic humor — all tangled up along with some genuine end-of-the-world angst — the new play will run at Patch Works Theatre (98 Moore Street) in East Williamsburg, January 22nd – 25th. To get a sense of play, watch the teaser here, and learn more from Cameron in this week’s Thursday Spotlight!

Greenpointers: For those unfamiliar with your theater company Saints of an Unnamed Country, can you explain a little bit about what you do and what your ethos are?

Cameron Stuart: Started in 2012, Saints of an Unnamed Country is a Bushwick-based theater company. We perform original plays in the neighborhood, mostly in non-traditional spaces for theater, like art galleries, museum bookstores, and DIY spaces . Most of the folks involved in Police in the Wilderness are returning collaborators. The Saints’ foundation is an admiration for trees, especially their root systems, and other hidden networks that rely on collaboration between organisms of different sizes and lifespans.

Your new play takes us into something akin to a police state. Was this at all a reflection of current politics, or something more original?
One of the inspirations for Police was an experience I had while camping in the woods with friends, including folk singer Frank Hurricane. A police officer emerged from the woods and started questioning us about our impromptu music jam. This unreal experience left me imagining scenarios where police would need to venture into the woods. But I also reflected on the vulnerability of an officer out in the wilderness, at the very limit of their authority. The theme continues to be relevant today, as various surveillance initiatives continue to expand.
 
How did you hear about Exponential and what attracted you to working with that festival?
In 2016, I opened a DIY performance space with my close friends. Located in Bushwick, The Glove hosted all sorts of different types of performances, including my play Germany, 1933. It was one of The Glove’s first shows and launched our iconic stage design. I’ve known Theresa Buchheister since moving to NYC. She asked me if the Glove would like to participate in the 2017 Exponential Festival. I’ve been involved with the festival ever since, mostly through the Glove, but continuing to curate and admin since the Glove has closed.
Stephanie Beattie
 
This play is also further fleshed out in a book. Tell me about composing this story for these two mediums?
I originally wrote and produced this play in 2010–2011 in Atlanta. I wanted to do it in NYC, but after several years had elapsed, the play needed some revising. Instead of just touching it up, I decided to rewrite it from scratch—purely from memory. The result was a very dense and philosophical look at the original plot that works best on the page. I did revise the original, and then the idea of having the two plays available together after a performance seemed fun and original to me.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Saints showcases the talent of many folks from all sorts of disciplines. We have wonderful actors, set designers, artists and artisans, video designers, and more. And we’ve been supported by a beautiful community in Bushwick over the years. You can learn more about our past here. It is equally wonderful to be part of the beautiful community of the Exponential Festival. Please see all the shows that tickle your fancy. It will be fun!
Tickets can be purchased here.
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Thursday Spotlight: Xalvador Tin-Bradbury is taking down corporate gays

Winter in New York can be rough, but at least there’s the Exponential Festival to get us through. Each year, this pageant of the bold and experimental plays in venues big and small throughout north Brooklyn. One such show is worth checking out thanks to the title alone: Bernie Sanders Wants to Take Away my Fire Island Time Share: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. The mind behind the hilarity is comedian and performance artist Xalvador Tin-Bradbury, known as I’m Going to Marry Your Dad. A surrealist comedy that satirizes the influence of neoliberalism in gay culture, Xalvador’s play runs January 8 and 9 at Honey’s, the meadery in Bushwick (93 Scott Avenue). Read more about the play and its creator as part of our Thursday Spotlight series!
Greenpointers: Let’s cut right to it — can one be a Fire Island Gay and a Bernie supporter in the soon-to-be year of our lord, 2020? What if the gays want to have a home in the Pines and a socialist in the White House?
Xalvador Tin-Bradbury: The piece actually has less to do with the politics and more to do with the social conditioning that comes from taking about politics online. I try not to preach political views in my art cus everyone’s mind already seems to be made up…but to answer your question: maybe?
Your show seems to pitch vapid gay culture against the ethics of our neoliberal era. What made you want to write about this?
One day I was on the Facebook echo chamber and Bernie Sanders had posted a video about Medicare for All. Some corporate gay I was friends with had commented “go away” on the post. I laughed so hard and thought, Bernie Sanders wants to take away his Fire Island timeshare.
How does creating from a place of social critique or satire empower your work?
I am such a fan of political Facebook posts, they are so stupid and pointless because they don’t really accomplish anything. People confidently talking about things they actually know nothing about is so beautiful and these are the people who’s stories must be told.
How did you come to learn about/get involved with the Exponential Festival?
I caught a performance of Lily Chambers and Hannah Kallenbach’s show Two Girls One Hot Dog at the Glove (RIP) as part of the Exponential Festival a couple years ago and it was so gross and weird and beautiful — I thought to myself, this is probably something I should be a part of.
Important Q: will Robyn’s latest album be blasted at Honey’s?
I can’t promise any Robyn, but we will have a special rendition of the High High Hopes Pete Buttiegeg dance available on a never ending nightmarish loop.
Did Tony Kushner authorize the rights to your subtitle, and do you care?
We actually had to fight to keep the subtitle in. We thought corporate gays who are scared of socialism is the modern fantasia of national themes. Also, we don’t care.
You’ve been living and working in and around Brooklyn for a number of years as a performance artist. What has this community meant to you? What are you looking forward to in the new year?
Making art with your friends is definitely the secret to happiness. I have some fun projects coming up next year — a lot to do with memes.
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Thursday Spotlight: Ryan William Downey on creating theater that’s “slapstick comedy, abject horror, and pure existential dread”

Photo of Ryan William Downey by Jose Miranda
The experimental theater group Title:Point has been bopping around Brooklyn (and beyond) for well over a decade, and Ryan William Downey has, in many ways, been at the center of its zany, beating heart. As co-Artistc Director of the company, Ryan is a consummate multi-hyphenate theater artist: an actor, playwright, and all-around theatermaker. Now, he prepares for the world premiere of his new play, Sleeping Car Porters, a “pitch black comedy that explores western masculine myth through a phantasmagoria of power, violence, and mystery.” The play comes to The Brick December 5–14, a venue helmed by Theresa Buchheister, a former Thursday Spotlight artist and an actor in the play. (She portrays Billy the Kid, which should be worth the price of admission alone.)

Here, we catch up with Ryan the week of the performances to learn about Title:Point, his playwriting path, and more.

Greenpointers: For those unfamiliar with Title:Point, could you describe that theater company a little? And how did you come to be involved?

Ryan William Downey: Title:Point is the type of theater company that frightens you into laughter. A Title:Point play should be equal parts slapstick comedy, abject horror, and pure existential dread.

I’ve been involved with Title:Point for about a decade, but its history precedes me. It was started by Theresa Buchheister and Samara Naeymi a few years before that. Theresa and I met while working at The Strand bookstore. She invited me to join her writer’s group and from there I joined Title:Point as an actor/writer. Over the years we earned each other’s trust where now we run the company together and have expanded to many other creative endeavors (Exponential Festival, ?!: New Works, Vital Joint, and beginning in January 2020, The Brick).

What was the genesis of Sleeping Car Porters?

I began writing Sleeping Car Porters in 2015, though it took a long time for the ideas to crystallize into something resembling where the play is now. I originally conceived it to be an intimate two-person show that would be easy for us to tour and present in any space. Which is hilarious given where we have ended up. Our production at The Brick has as big a creative team and as ambitious a technical design as any show Title:Point has ever produced.
Poster artwork by Mark Toneff
This piece plays on American myths and Western masculinity, incorporating Billy the Kid. Why use that figure, and is the other main role, Zodiac, an original character?
Billy the Kid and Zodiac are both based, rather loosely, on their historical counterpoints. In this case, Zodiac is some version of the Zodiac Killer who terrorized Northern California in the 60s and 70s. History is a tricky thing with both of them. Folks can’t seem to settle on where Billy the Kid was born or buried, for instance (he has two graves!), and the Zodiac remains un-apprehended or definitively identified so he has become a kind of black hole in the damaged American psyche for the last 50 years. They both provided a jumping off point to delve into the themes I was interested in exploring with this script, how killers become folk heroes or confounding mysteries, how they change in our collective memory over time. Sometimes the more you read on the subject the further you get away from the truth of the thing. Our take on both characters is prismatic and kaleidoscopic in nature. They are at times unrecognizable.

Talk a little about your work and trajectory: we get a lot of creatives in our Thursday Spotlight series, but it’s rare we get to speak with a playwright!

I’ve been writing drama in one form or another since I was a teenager but most of the work we have produced in the last decade has been collaboratively written. A typical Title:Point show may have two to ten writers on it, depending on the development process. I wanted to write Sleeping Car Porters all by my lonesome to get back in the practice of climbing the mountain and telling the story. I am working on a play that operates like a slasher film and have several screenplays in development, mostly working in the horror genre for the foreseeable future.

What has your partnership been like with Theresa?

Theresa drags me into every bad idea she’s ever had and I just keep hopping in the hand basket headed straight to hell. We can out-argue any creative team in the American theater. Don’t believe a single word Theresa says about me.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to say that the creative team behind this production have been invaluable to its coming into existence. In most cases the parts were written with the actors in mind and the technical team has exceeded all of my expectations profoundly. I am so proud of the strange thing we have built together. If it’s a failure it’s my fault because they have given the production everything it needs to be successful. I love them all to death.
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Thursday Spotlight: At HACO, Community Is as Vital as Art

There are lots of galleries and art spaces in Greenpoint; this is no secret. But HACO is attempting something fresher, bolder, and — most inherently — communal. In today’s Thursday Spotlight, we speak with HACO’s managing director Yoko Suetsugu about her work and pursuits, HACO’s current show Drench, and the art of building community. Located at 31 Grand street and open Wednesdays to Sundays from 1 to 6 PM, HACO is now celebrating its two-year anniversary and will  have a closing party for its current show on Saturday at 5 PM. Catch the show before then, and learn more here! Continue reading

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A Very Halloween Thursday Spotlight: Meet the Founder of FEARnyc

New York City’s scariest film festival, FEARnyc, will conclude its 2019 festival tonight at Film Noir Cinema (122 Meserole Ave) with a tingly, sensational, and sneakily immersive screening. But who’s the man behind the madness? Get to know festival founder, advocate, and horror film fanatic John Capo in this week’s Thursday Spotlight. And remember, if you’re looking to join the spooky fun, Greenpointers get a 20% discount on tonight’s Halloween Night Tingler Event with code GREENPOINTERS20. 

Greenpointers: I see that this is your third FEARnyc; how long have you been affiliated with Film Noir Cinema?
John Capo: I founded the festival in 2016 but we took 2018 off to reassess our model. This is our first year at Film Noir Cinema! We were previously in Manhattan but we moved to Greenpoint this year because I love the neighborhood’s vibrant community. We love Greenpoint.
Are all of the film entries original ones? I love that you are spotlighting underrepresented groups in your programming.
We’ve had over 60 films, events, and other activities over the past eight days. Most of them are premieres although we did show some retrospectives including the 35th anniversary screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Fritz Lang’s M, a program of surreal short films by David Lynch, and the premiere of the new 4K restoration of George A.Romero and Dario Argento’s Two Evil Eyes. We always spotlight underrepresented groups in our programming. That’s a big part of our mission. This year we focused on queer horror with a discussion on queer themes and characters in horror films curated by The New York Times‘ Erik Piepenburg and the world premiere of the LGBT thriller Hurricane Aaron. We also had films centering on the Native American and Latinx communities.
Now in its fourth year, how do you think FEARnyc has evolved?
We’ve matured just as horror filmmaking has matured. Almost all of our films this year focused on the horrors of real life, whether that’s the dark underbelly of Instagram culture, beauty obsession, conversion therapy, Grindr hookups gone deadly. We even had a film about a mass shooting. I know these topics sound dark, but they really show that horror filmmakers are focusing on relevant issues and moving away from the stereotypical “let’s kill a bunch of pretty girls” tropes that have defined the genre.
Tonight’s the Tingler event! What can audiences expect?
It’s going to be insane. So when The Tingler came out in 1959 its producer William Castle knew that even thought it was a Vincent Price movie it wasn’t the greatest film so he marketed it by staging all these gimmicks in the theater. Buzzers on seats to jolt people, fainting audience members being carried out on stretchers, a monster jumping off the screen and into the theater. We’re recreating that experience at Film Noir Cinema just like it happened in the ’50s. We have showings tonight at 7pm and 9pm. People can get tickets in advance at FEARnyc.com or at the door.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Just a big thank you to the people of Greenpoint for embracing our festival and to all our filmmakers who’ve come from everywhere from Brooklyn to LA to Germany who’ve made this experience incredible.
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