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Welcome to the Hot Seat, where we interview people involved in real estate, architecture, development and design. Introducing Christopher Allen, Founder and Artistic Director of UnionDocs, a documentary film collective based in Williamsburg. We talked with Allen about UnionDocs’ ongoing collaborative project Living Los Sures, which chronicles the culture, history and stories of Williamsburg’s Southside. You can check out a video installation with some of the project’s short films at the Ildiko Butler Gallery at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. They’ll also screen some of their short films on September 19 at 7 pm, during the Southside Connex street festival in Havermeyer Park.

Brownstoner: What neighborhood do you live in, and how did you end up there?

Christopher Allen: We live in Clinton Hill. We moved there last year after living in Williamsburg since 2002. We found a place that we liked, and rent was going up in our building and it didn’t feel like it was a good deal anymore.

BS: Can you talk about the beginnings of “Living Los Sures”?

CA: We’ve been involved in a restoration project with the New York Public Library to restore and rerelease a film from 1984 called Los Sures by Diego Echeverria. That film we’ve been working with for four years — it’s inspired about 30 documentary projects made by people in our studio. Over 50 people have been involved in creating short documentaries about the neighborhood today over the last four years. We’re also doing a participatory platform where we’ve split the film from 1984 into different shots and we’re splicing in longtime residents of the neighborhood talking about places in the film.

So the project is three parts: the participatory website, called Los Sures Shot by Shot. There are 30 short documentaries, produced by our collaborative fellows. One of the characters from the original documentary, we’re updating her story as she sells her apartment and leaves the neighborhood. It’s an interactive documentary called 89 steps. She’s considering leaving the city and moving out — and the film follows her as she goes through that process, and we learn a little bit of history about the building she’s lived in for 40 years.

That’ll be launched at the New York Film Festival September 27.

After the jump, Christopher talks about gentrification on the Southside, Sternberg Park and how rezoning has shaped the neighborhood.

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Yesterday the restored war memorial in Saratoga Park was unveiled at a moving ceremony with an honor guard and local politicians. The field behind the statue, draped in a gold cloth until the end, was dotted with flags in memory of the 106 locals who died in World War I. After speeches by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Council Member Darlene Mealy and others, the names of the dead were read out loud and Mealy placed a wreath at the foot of the statue. A bugle played taps and the gold cloth was drawn up to reveal it.

It was so hot in the sun we worried someone would faint of heat stroke, but luckily no one did. (more…)

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A tipster sent us this photo of a rendering for luxury condos he found on the recently erected scaffolding over seminal Williamsburg art gallery Pierogi. We are pleased to report it’s art.

Pierogi owns the building and no plans have been filed to replace it with luxury condos or anything else. (Note the names for the fictitious owner and contractor,  “Star Corp.” and “Square Fabrication.”)

The DOB recently approved a permit for the scaffolding. Click through to see the scaffolding on the front of the building.

Update: The owner of Square Fabrication contacted us to say it’s a real company (one that makes photo booths, among other things — not a general contractor) and that the art installation is by Andrew Ohanesian. (more…)

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The Beat Festival is bringing its funky vibes to Green-Wood Cemetery this weekend with site-specific dance performances and evening tours highlighting the musicians, actors and artists buried on the cemetery’s hallowed grounds. Atlas Obscura is leading the tours, which will focus on the tombs of performing artists and conclude in the catacombs.

The performances, called “Crossing Over,” will feature choreography from Elisabet Torres Aguilera, Shige Moriya, Ximena Garnica, Shirel Jones and Sophia Schrank. There are four tours starting at 7:30 each night on Friday and Saturday, and tickets cost $35. Head over to the Beat Festival for tickets and details.

The festival has a full schedule of spoken word, musical and dance events starting this Thursday with a free opening opening night at the Brooklyn Museum, and continuing through the closing party on September 20.

Photo via Beat Festival

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Young artists from Brownsville teamed up with local muralist Esteban del Valle to paint a mural about the “prison industrial complex” on the side of a supermarket on Junius Street. The all-male crew of teen artists spent three weeks in July developing the mural’s themes and designing it, and then another three weeks painting the wall with del Valle’s help.

Arts non-profit Groundswell organized the project as part of its Summer Leadership Institute, which brings together young artist and professional muralists to create powerful murals in neighborhoods across the city. This mural “aims to inspire a sense of self-empowerment and agency by engaging youth as agents of social change and active community contributors,” according to Groundswell. The young artists and del Valle will gather to dedicate the mural on August 28 at 2 pm at 417 Junius Street.

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A seven-story condo project with an art gallery is coming to 194 South 3rd Street in South Williamsburg, according to new building applications filed last week. Ismael Levya Architects will design the building, which will have 30 units spread across 20,713 square feet of residential space. The development will include a “non-commercial art gallery” on the cellar and first floors, listed on the permits as a community facility. (more…)

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Williamsburg art collective El Puente Muralistas are exploring the neighborhood’s culture, religion and links to the Caribbean sugar trade in a new mural painted on the Domino Sugar Factory’s northern construction wall. Local residents, teens and elected officials joined the artists in starting the mural, “Past Present Prediction,” Friday afternoon. (more…)

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Dumbo’s Random Access Theatre is performing Shakespeare’s classic Taming of the Shrew every night this weekend in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The free performances will take place tonight, tomorrow and Sunday at 7 pm at Granite Prospect (the stone steps) on Pier 1. You can get more details on BBP’s website and over at Random Access Theatre.

Photo via Random Access Theatre

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Dumbo developer Two Trees has just released a new map of all 19 public art installations and murals in the waterfront neighborhood, making it easier for tourists and locals to discover the area’s hidden charms. The Google Map includes a photo of each piece, a brief description and a link to the artist’s or project’s website. Highlights include murals along the BQE by MOMO, Craig Anthony Miller and DALeast; Tom Fruin’s iconic water tower on Jay Street; and a Superhero-themed photo installation printed along the fence on Anchorage Place. Head over here to check out the map.

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Starting this Friday, Medgar Evers College will kick off its 16th annual Jazzy Jazz Festival, which will bring weekly jazz concerts to southern Crown Heights. Performers in this year’s lineup include MEC Jazz Ensemble & The Strobert Trio, Dr. Mambo & The Experience Ensemble featuring Neil Clarke and Alex Blake, Stanley Banks & Friends featuring Monte Croft, Jeff King Band, and a Caribbean cultural celebration for the school’s poet-in-residence for the jazz series, Nikki Williams. Performances will take place every Friday this summer from 6 to 9 pm along Crown Street next to the college’s new science center, at 1638 Bedford Avenue (pictured).

Photo by Tchassis via Wikimedia Commons

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Artist Mike Perry has painted a new mural on Bergen Street between Franklin and Classon. It says “Crown Heights” and depicts people and buildings among trees and flowers. He lives in Crown Heights, and his studio is located on the block, in the Monti building at 925 Bergen. The colorful wall is the first in an ongoing mural project Perry is curating with Sue Boyle and Benton Brown, the owners of the lot. Thanks to Brooklynian for bringing it to our attention. What do you think of it?

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What better way to celebrate July 4th than to see a free performance of “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” outside at the Old Stone House in Park Slope? The comedic rock musical takes a fun look at the life of populist idol and seventh U.S. President Andrew Jackson, beginning with his early years in Tennessee and continuing through his controversial presidency.

Presented by Piper Theatre and directed by Nigel Williams, the show takes “textbook history and kicks in electricity, dirty deeds, punk rock rawness,” according to the press release. Piper will be putting on free shows Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm from July 3 to July 19.

Performances will take place outside the Old Stone House in Park Slope’s Washington Park at 336 3rd Street between 4th and 5th avenues. You can find out more info here on the Piper Theater website.

Photo by Peter James Zielinski for Piper Theatre