04/11/14 12:00pm

Street artists Chris Stain and Billy Mode collaborated with a local youth organization to create a mural for the side of the six-story rental building rising at 267 Pacific Street in Cobble Hill. Instead of leaving an 80-foot-tall blank wall facing Smith Street, developer Tim Quinlan of Quinlan Development Group and Lonicera Partners invited youth arts group Cre8tive YouTH*ink to design an evocative, community-based work to fill the space. Stain and Mode helped 12 young, aspiring artists design and execute the 50′ by 50′ mural at the organization’s Industry City headquarters.

The result, “Sign Language,” depicts a little boy climbing on top of the street sign at Pacific and Smith. The spray painted and stenciled mural is based on a photograph taken by famous street photographer Martha Cooper as part of her “Street Play” series. It’s gradually being installed while the building finishes construction.

Click through the jump to see a rendering of what the piece will look like when it’s completed.

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04/02/14 2:00pm

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A movie making school for kids called Automatic Studios has opened at 30 John Street in the new Made in New York Media Center in Dumbo, DNAinfo reported. Classes will cover script writing, editing and visual effects, among other topics.

The first series of classes for ages 8 to 14 starts later this month. The cost is $600 for nine classes. A week-long summer day camp starts in June and costs $675.

New Dumbo Classes Teach Kids to Make Movies [DNAinfo] GMAP
Photo by Made in New York Media Center

03/31/14 9:00am

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The image of the new Brooklyn has, “with remarkable speed,” almost entirely displaced the image of the old Brooklyn, wrote New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott apropos of Spike Lee’s now notorious rant against gentrification at a Black History Month event in February. In movies, television, books and real life, the old Brooklyn was a melting pot of ethnic communities from which the ambitious fled. The new Brooklyn shares much with Portlandia, said the story.

The tension built into the “Brooklyn” brand is that it’s both a local, artisanal, communal protest against the homogenizing forces of corporate culture and a new way of being bourgeois, and as such participating in the destruction of non-middle-class social space. Its rebellious energies are focused largely on restaurants, retail and real estate.

The story ends by saying the old Brooklyn is not quite gone, and the artists and writers who live in the borough now must write (or make art) about the two Brooklyns.

The Brooklyn of that time, as recalled by Mr. Lethem and Mr. Lee, is a place where a painter and a writer — or a schoolteacher and a musician — could raise their children in relative comfort. It was also a place where such families lived in close, sometimes uncomfortable proximity to people in very different circumstances, where class and race could not be wished away. That Brooklyn still exists and cannot entirely be bought out, built over or exiled to the kingdom of memory. It will be the task of the artists and writers who live there now, native and otherwise, to discover it.

Do you agree?

Whose Brooklyn Is It, Anyway? [NY Times]

03/28/14 2:00pm

Hidden inside a converted rope factory on the Greenpoint waterfront, Succulent Studios is transforming a 3,000-square-foot loft into a sprawling art gallery and events space. On the fifth floor of 67 West Street, owner Sek3 and creative director Daniel Weintraub are wrapping up construction that began on Sunday and planning where to hang art work for their big opening bash Saturday evening. They both envision the space as more than a typical art gallery, and plan to use moveable walls to host events like drawing classes and yoga workshops. Rows of wood-framed windows set into the tall, sloping roof give the space the feeling of “an urban barn,” in Weintraub’s words.

The inspiration for the gallery’s unique name came from Sek3, who collects succulents — “these tough and hardy plants that grow in desert conditions and withstand the elements,” said Weintraub.

Saturday night’s opening party will feature the works of over 30 established and up-and-coming street artists, including Alice Mizrachi, Icy & Sot, Gilf!, Lunar New Year, Greg Lamarche, Hellbent, Daze and SeeOne. There will also be live classical music, “muses” wearing balloon costumes, free Brooklyn Brewery beer and whimsical balloon sculptures by Addi Somekh and Cern. The doors will open at 6:30 and live music will begin at 8 pm. GMAP

Interior images after the jump!

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03/26/14 11:30am

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PLG Arts, a community arts organization that started in 2005, is adding literature to its varied lineup of cultural programming. On Sunday, we attended a PLG Arts recital by cello and guitar duo Duo Anova in the home of PLG Arts Vice President and frequent Brownstoner commenter Bob Marvin.

The neighborhood is full of artists, and PLG Arts has helped welcome them as well as others who simply appreciate art to the neighborhood, said PLG Arts Co-President and musician Rina Kleege at the event. Two buildings at 75 and 99 Ocean Avenue are fondly known in the area as the “jazzy dorms” because of the large number of musicians living there. (more…)

03/13/14 11:30am

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Brooklyn Magazine’s near- but not-quite-comprehensive list of the 100 most influential people in the arts in Brooklyn shows just how sprawling the arts scene is here and how influential it is beyond the borough. From curators at long-standing institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum to upstarts like the executive director of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival and artists and gallerists in the Bushwick scene (Brownstoner founder Jonathan Butler is on the list too), it’s a useful guide to much of what’s happening in the visual arts, performance, music, lit and film here. Above, a mural by California artist Barry McGee in a Fort Greene parking lot. Is there anyone you think should have been included who wasn’t?

Photo by justinpocta

03/10/14 9:00am

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It’s not exactly news that as neighborhoods gentrify, the artists who jump started the process are priced out. However, it may be the end of the line for some artists priced out of Industry City in Brooklyn, the huge industrial complex in Sunset Park, according to a story in The New York Times.

The Times followed up with some 24 of nearly 50 artists who left the complex more than six months ago after new owners raised rents there. After moving every few years for decades, some are using their living space as studios, changing the art they do to accommodate cramped quarters. Meanwhile, a few artist organizations are working on buying or leasing spaces for artists in Brooklyn in the affordable $250 to $400 a month range. The article noted that affordable space is even difficult to find in areas that are “too remote” such as Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx.

Many reader comments said it’s no longer necessary for artists to live in New York City, thanks to social media, and they should consider alternative locations such as Newburgh, Philadelphia and Buffalo.

“To own in Manhattan, you need an income over $250,000,” said commenter avery_t. “People with an income of $150,000 are getting pushed into Brooklyn. People with an income under $100,000 are getting pushed further into Brooklyn. People with an income of $50,000 are getting pushed out of Brooklyn. Etc.”

Here’s how reader RG of La Jolla, Calif., described the process: “Artists are the worms in the compost heap of redevelopment. Developers are the ones with the pitchforks.”

Do you think the city should give tax breaks or other assistance to artists in Brooklyn or let them move out of the borough?

Rising Rents Leave Sunset Park Artists out in the Cold [NY Times]
Photo by Chris Havens

02/25/14 4:00pm

Irondale Ensemble’s “Color Between the Lines” is a musical playing through this Saturday that weaves together Brooklyn’s history leading up to the Civil War, the lives of the borough’s free African Americans, and the stories of New York’s courageous abolitionists. The performance group collaborated with Weeksville Heritage Center and the Brooklyn Historical Society on the production, which draws material from BHS’ recently opened “In Pursuit of Freedom” exhibit on Brooklyn abolitionists.

The original musical is “set in the tumultuous decade prior to the Civil War and explores the tension between Brooklyn’s phenomenal growth during the nineteenth century due to its intricate ties to slavery, and the moral imperative towards anti-slavery activism by a small group of residents,” according to Irondale Ensemble’s website. Tickets are $25, $15 for students, seniors or BHS members, and $15 for matinees. You can buy tickets here for Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances at the Irondale Center in Fort Greene, or here for a Saturday evening performance at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

02/12/14 4:00pm

Have you ever wanted to host an event inside the old Court Street subway station that’s now the Transit Museum? Now you may finally get your chance with the museum’s new Platform program, which allows people to perform, present, or host a participatory event at the museum for an evening.

The museum is taking proposals for all kinds of programs, including art exhibits, live performances, film screenings, academic presentations or panel discussions. Whether it’s spoken word poetry, comedy or transit-themed art, Platform is meant to be “a new series of cross-disciplinary programs created by the public for the public,” according to the museum.

The first one will take place Thursday, April 10. Requirements for proposals are on the Transit Museum’s Tumblr, and the deadline is February 25 at noon.

Photo by Katie Marcus

02/07/14 4:00pm

If you’re looking for the perfect Valentine’s or birthday gift, Haitian mixed media artist Rejin Leys is teaching a workshop on bookbinding tomorrow in Crown Heights, where you can learn how to assemble a journal, sketchbook or scrapbook. Leys will demonstrate making pamphlets, accordions and diamond books, as well as different techniques for creating art in handmade books.

The workshop is the first of several in “Creativity Unleashed,” a series of artistic workshops led by Haitian artists and organized by Haiti Cultural Exchange. Bookbinding will happen tomorrow from 1 to 3:30 pm at the Haiti Cultural Exchange office in Five Myles Gallery, at 558 St. Johns Place. The class will cost $30, and you can register here.

Image via Rejin Leyes/Facebook

01/15/14 4:00pm

Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership is organizing a series of events next month in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill for Black Artstory Month, celebrating the contributions African Americans  have made within the arts community. There will be 20 free events throughout February, beginning with an opening reception on February 1 at The Emerson featuring performances by Patrick Dougher and DJ Hot Hand.

Storytellers will gather at Splitty on February 13 to talk about travelling and belonging somewhere in How Much Longer Till We’re Home, and several local artists will create a community mural at Hadas Gallery on the 16th. Check out the full schedule of events at Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership.

Image via Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership

01/13/14 4:00pm

Provocative and award-winning artist Kara Walker will transform the Domino Sugar factory into a massive art installation in May, Gothamist reported. Arts nonprofit Creative Time has released details about the project, which will “respond to both the building and its history, exploring a radical range of subject matter and marking a major departure from her practice to date,” according to its website.

Titled “A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby,” the 90,000-square-foot installation will pay “homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World.” Last spring, Creative Time took over Domino to host its spring gala. Creative Time sent Gothamist the images above to illustrate her inspiration for the work.

Kara Walker Is Creating an Installation Inside Domino Sugar Refinery [Gothamist]
Image by Creative Time via Gothamist