For more on this project, see here.
by April Greene
In the 1920s, pioneer filmmaker D.W. Griffith wrote, “The future of the motion picture lies, I believe, in the amateur film movement.” Eighty-odd years later, fledgling website YouTube, devoted entirely to amateur moviemaking, would become one of the top five most visited websites in the world, captivate 15 million people a month, and sell for nearly $2 billion.
In January 2007, Galapagos Art Space founder and director Robert Elmes said, “Artists are the canaries in New York Cityâ€™s gold mine. When they canâ€™t sustain a life here, and they have to move out, we know thereâ€™s a problem.” Six months later, his venerable institution would give notice that it was being priced out of its native Williamsburg and would have to relocate.
Neither of these two prescient art connoisseurs owned a crystal ball — experts in their fields know their territory and can make good predictions about its future. But that didnâ€™t stop me from fits of disbelief when I read the New York Timesâ€™ May 30 article on Galapagosâ€™ planned 2008 move to Dumbo.
Established in 1998 in an anonymous North 6th Street warehouse owned by a steel company, the venue has grown over the last ten years into a citywide hotspot for theater, live music, film, DJs and dancing, art openings and festivals, and even weddings. “Creative neighborhoods always need a social focal point,” Elmes told me last winter, on a mellow Friday evening at Fabianeâ€™s cafe. “A place to go with your friends and come up with weird plans late at night.” Galapagos had certainly become such a place for Williamsburg, a fixture easily taken for granted. Though the move is certainly not all bad news — the Dumbo space will net Elmes about twice the square footage for about half the rent, and is slated to be the cityâ€™s first cultural venue certified “green” by the United States Green Building Council â€“ it is a poignant and ironic turn of events for an organization that played a major role in beautifying a neighborhood previously bedraggled with meat-processing plants and tenement housing to be itself hustled out by the rent increases it helped to spur.
Galapagos’ soon-to-be-abandoned location in Williamsburg Brooklyn,
while new 29-story construction looms over the neighborhood.
– photo by Anya Szykitka
Anyone with even half an eye open in Brooklyn these days (or Harlem, or Chelseaâ€¦) knows that social focal points like Galapagos, and the creative neighborhoods that house them, are being threatened now more than ever by the unchecked encroachment of other industries.
“The tragedy for New York is that its reputation is no longer Cutting-Edge, Creative, Exciting, Sexy — now itâ€™s just Expensive,” Elmes said. “Bloomberg called the city a ‘luxury product.’ It’s no longer the automatic Oz for young artists to come to, because they know they’ll have to land here with some bank and hit the ground running just to break even. Now they might go instead to Portland or Austin or Providence. The best people won’t do their work part time, they won’t give it up to do some financial industry day job, and they won’t pay all kinds of money just to look at our skyscrapers if they can’t also do their art. General consensus is that we’ll always attract the best and brightest young people, but in reality, we have to find ways to keep earning them.”
So how to earn the interest of the artists who chip in a purported $13 billion a year to the city’s economy (and whose creative capital is largely responsible for driving up real estate prices in the first place) when they can no longer make rent and the venues that could have hosted their work are forced out of business by development? In Elmes’ opinion, go straight for the infrastructure.
“Reception has been good,” he said of his interactions with Community Board 1, which represents Williamsburg. Elmes worked with the board on the concept of expanding the 421-A program, a bill approved by City Council last December which gives tax exemptions to developers of residential properties who earmark 20 percent of their units for “affordable housing.” Elmes would like to see the bill widened to include similar breaks for developers who devote space to cultural centers on the ground floors of their buildings. “Every block could be like, ‘deli, bank, art space,’” he explained. Elmes will likely continue pursuing 421-A expansion with Community Board 2, which represents Dumbo. And the neighborhood has already seen some success with 421-A-style ventures: according to the press release on Galapagos’ website regarding the move, Dumbo real estate company Two Trees Management has been incorporating new business and residential developments with cultural institutions there for the last decade, profitably.
But even if artists are theoretically able to scrape together enough square footage to live and work here in the future, another potential wrinkle in the works is Brooklyn’s rapidly changing clientele. The continuing construction of scores of high-end apartments throughout the borough means thousands of new residents are waiting invisibly in the wings.
“I have no idea who they are,” said Elmes. “Have they had kids yet, are they going to have kids? Is the bohemian culture something that genuinely attracted them here, or was it sort of tangential? The only thing we do know is that theyâ€™re going to be more invested than the historically transient residents here — these people are paying a million bucks for their condo.” The newbies could embrace the existing cultural scenes and make them that much richer, or they could stifle them so much as to force Galapagos (and others, like its soon-to-be neighbors Arts at St. Annâ€™s and the Wooster Group), out of town. What if it comes to the latter?
“Berlin,” was Elmesâ€™ answer. “My expectation has always been to be bigger than this. We’re working to partner with venues in Berlin, Mumbai, and Beijing, but if we ever have to fold here, I’d want to be based in Berlin. There’s a historical affinity for arts and culture there, they like Americans, and it freaks them out to see New Yorkers go and tenaciously just start doing stuff. Space is dirt-cheap and everyone wants to be involved. It’s great.”
Certainly good crystal balls are hard to find, and for all we know, ten years from now Galapagos will open the first burlesque-and-hip-hop bar in the heart of Beijing, or it will be operating exclusively online with an audience twice the size of YouTube’s. But if we are to look anywhere for a good prediction — for all of New York City’s arts and artists as well as for this model venue — it should be to an expert who’s kept a lifelong bead on culture, development, and social trends. Our resident expert Robert Elmes says, “We believe that if the work we present is strong, communicative, and effective, we will survive.”
I have a lot of writers on my radar lately. Hudson View Gardens’ series, run by Patricia Eakins carries on. I met Patricia at Amir Parsa’s new project …Roars…, which featured Eakins, Parsa, MÃ³nica de la Torre (the Poetry editor of personal fave, the Brooklyn Rail) and Rodrigo Toscano. Top it off with our own new series of pieces, starting with Lale Davidson’s poem.
The latest blip is from a group of NY Metro area writers reading in Jersey City. A Summer Spoken For will combine spoken word and visual art in a unique way. More on the event in our Events section.
HUDSON COUNTY CULTURAL AFFAIRS PRESENTS
A SUMMER SPOKEN FOR:Â the sound of ground breaking in Poetry, JULY 10 â€“ AUGUST 1, 2007
At the Brennan Gallery, 583 Newark Avenue, Jersey City
Opening Reception & Reading: July 13, 2007, 7-9 PM
Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday 9 AM-5 PM
Featuring poems by four emerging poets from the metropolitan area and the printmaking of artist Edward Fausty,Â A Summer Spoken For: the sound of ground breaking in Poetry combines two art forms that seem to go hand-in-hand but are rarely seen together: Spoken Word and Visual Art.Â The exhibition focuses not on illustrating visually what the poems convey but on capturing the exact visual essence of the text. Poets included are Julian Stockdale, Christine Goodman, Jessica Elizabeth Nadler and Francis R. Hall.Â Selected works by the poets will be printed and typeset by Mr. Fausty and displayed on the walls of the gallery.Â The opening reception will be held on Friday, July 13th at 7 PM features a reading by each poet of the works displayed. The show will feature the sounds of New York Cityâ€™s Mikey IQ.Â The exhibition is on view from July 10th through August 1 at the Brennan Gallery, 583 Newark Avenue, Jersey City.
Christine Goodman has been living and creating art in Jersey City, NJ and NYC for over ten years.Â She has featured at such venues as The Bowery Poetry Club, The Slipper Room, Maxwell’s (Hoboken, NJ), Cornelia Street Cafe, WBAI, Passaic County Community College (NJ), The Orange Bear, The Back Fence, and on the steps of City Hall (Jersey City, NJ). Her second poetry collection, [expletive deleted], was released in November 2006. Christine is also Founder/Director of Art House Productions. She hosts The Art House, Jersey Cityâ€™s longest running poetry series, serves as Executive Producer for The Art House TV Show, airing on Comcast Channel 51 and Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and spearheads JC Fridays, a seasonal, citywide celebration of the arts in Jersey City.
When Julian Stockdale, affectionately called “the Rimbaud of SoHo” by peers and friends, decided to delve into the local poetry scene he tapped historyâ€™s mainline and went straight to theÂ once familiar haunt of Frank O’Hara, Patti Smith and Jim Carroll: St. Mark’s Poetry Project open readings. He has also performed in group shows in Jersey City, New York City and Paris, France.Â Since then he has been perfecting his own voice over poetry rich in vivid imagery and intense, passionate wordplay attempting to make each line a remembered one.Â Julian will be reading his pieces â€œCarbohydrateâ€ and â€œAs I Rewrite Revelationsâ€ on July 13th in collaboration with the sounds of Mikey IQ.
Jessica Elizabeth Nadler is a member of the LouderARTs collaborative poetry collective â€˜synonymUSâ€™.Â She has featured @ the synonymUS homecoming at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Culture Shock, Girls Club LES Grand Opening, SAVE St. Brigid Benefit and chosen as an â€˜Uppercaseâ€™ feature at the Louder Mondays/Bar 13 series. She also both wrote for and performed in the Artist of Tomorrows Festival play â€˜Eve Descendingâ€™. Her poetry has also been anthologized in the forthcoming Penmanship Press publication â€˜HIS RIBâ€™.
Francis R. Hall, also known as Faceboy, has been covered internationally by television networks NBC and the BBC. He has been selected as one of Paper Magazineâ€™s â€œ50 Beautiful Peopleâ€ and hailed as a â€œcritically acclaimed success storyâ€ by Backstage.
NYC-based vocalist/percussionist/one-man bomb squad Mikey IQ Jones presents a frankensteined collusion of mutant soul theatrics, doo-wop harmonies, avant-beatbox & extended vocal technique, kitchen-sink live sampling aesthetics, and onomatopoeic wordplay.
The Brennan Gallery is located in the rotunda of the historic Justice Brennan Court House in Jersey City and managed by the Office of Hudson County Cultural Affairs.Â More information could be found on www.visithudson.orgÂ This is a free event.
Here’s an example of making the art-politics connection from bassist/composer Russell Branca. Below is a description of the project’s next event:
JAZZ MEANS PEACE - A weekly jazz series dedicated to building a permanent alternative peace culture by supporting Peace Organizations and celebrating America’s unique classical musical art form JAZZ.
Tuesday June 19th, Jazz & Poetry
poet Eliot Katz accompanied by:
Jay Elfenbein - viola da gamba
Russell Branca - bass
Mike Pinto - vibes
Diego Voglino - drums
The June 19th event is a benefit for the War Resisters League
Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery@ Bleeker St.
$8 cover + 1 drink minimum
The Jazz Means Peace series is being organized by Russell Branca.
Artists, friends and colleagues:
Join us at the next artHARLEM Artist Get Together
Friday June 22, 6-8 pm
Big Apple Jazz
2236 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd
(btwn 132nd and 133rd streets)
Gina Fuentes Walker
Harlem Open Artist Studio Tour/HOAST
See Sunday’s New York Times, by Allesandra Stanley, “In the Prime of Their Time.”
Women continue to be women even when there’s a younger generation. It’s nice to see this realization has hit the mainstream — in this case, television.
photo Lili Taylor via NY Times: Jim Spellman, Wireimage.com
by Lale Davidson
What do I want most in the world?
I walk with my new husband and two socialite friends through Central Park.Â The fan-shaped Ginkgo leaves are already turning yellow and fluttering down.Â The low grey sky is beginning to let down water.Â Â My hands are cold and tangled in the holes of my coat pocket, a coat my husband has begged me to replace.Â It reflects badly on him, he says.Â I step ahead of them.
Suddenly I hear a ruffling explosion, like a hundred sheets unfurled and snapping in storm wind.Â A flock of pigeons beats the air with feather and bone as they take off at a severe angle straight for my head. I duck and turn, swirling out of my previous orbit.Â They cross over me, their destination the other bank, and descend slowly, whirring all around an old woman I had not seen standing there before, a woman whose hair is much too black, thick and long for her age, a woman who stands there facing me with an enormous plastic bag of crumbs.Â I cannot make out her eyes at that distance, but her chin is up and she seems to be looking straight, not around, not up, or down at the pigeons framing her, but straight across, at me. For a second, with the pigeons graphing the air in even points from high to low, from deep to shallow, the woman is suspended in mid air, like the Magritte painting of floating business men.
What I want most is for this woman who stands amidst the flock of pigeons in Central park, this woman whose face is deeply lined, whose orange-red lipstick stands out across the grays of late fall, I want this woman, whose arthritic hands firmly pat a pigeon nestled in the hollow of her neck, under her matted, frazzled, plastic black hair, this woman who is dressed in so many layers of clothes that she is round
â€“this homeless woman, who has brought a black bag full of crumbs to the birds in the park, this woman who must have picked the garbage for these crumbs, or who has struck up an acquaintance with the cooks of certain restaurants
â€“this woman whose figure has caused a riot of flapping wings
â€“this woman whose eyes are occluded by thick black eyelinerâ€¦
I want this old woman to lift her eyes and say, I bless you.
Adrienne Shelly’s new feature Waitress, now playing in major theaters (there is a God) is a beautiful film that brings a smart woman’s perspective on men, relationships, and satisfaction to the lives of three waitresses in a small town in middle America. Walking a line between absurdity and naturalistic treatment that Shelly’s long-term colleague Hal Hartley also explores, the movie is extremely funny and deeply touching.
The film’s lead, a waitress named Jenna, played efficiently by Keri Russell, explores the idea of motherhood and achievement, plus various relationships with three men: her selfish husband, her sweet, two-timing doctor, and her boss (a once-upon-a-time horny, now pie-loving Andy Griffith). Each presents Jenna with a different combination of demands and appreciation — or lack thereof. Add two more man-types, handled by fellow waitresses, played by Shelly and Cheryl Hines, and you have a thorough and intelligent consideration of “what women want” without any high-handedness that such a script could easily succumb to.
The film is beautifully shot, the lighting is especially warm, and the moments that spotlight Shelly are bittersweet to watch: impossible not to enjoy and impossible not to remember that this talent was lost to violence last year.
The film is tied together with a pie (yes, that’s “pie”) theme that epitomizes the fun-loving quality of this film. Would that all chick flicks were so rich and tasty.
image: Adrienne Shelly, from IMDB, by Amy Rachlin
Artists Unite is now hosting the project TransAction. You can read about it and see the first piece of the project here.
See an exhibition of the latest Now:Here:This art spark. Got a comment on it? Make it below.
(Next art spark is this Friday, June 15!)
Artists Unite is pleased to be hosting a new project from writer and visual artist Amir Parsa.
Similar in execution to our project Now:Here:This, the project experiments with simultaneous action, even if the time of that action is extended to being a series of related actions. The project, Riverside Roars and Rooftop Revolutions, is described below by Mr. Parsa:
Riverside Roars & Rooftop Revolutions is a form of gathering comprised of readings, performances, and overall provocative exchanges, along with textual accounts of the goings-on for future reading and publication. Ideally, the event takes place on a rooftop or by a river — although a metaphorical approximation of a rooftop or river is fine in the absence of real versions. The Roars like to usher in an open structure of performative exchanges, in multiple sites — with bodies and breaths — , an unfolding organum, an Unfolding. Thus the name of this new species of gathering, performance, reading, being. It is AN unfolding — as in, a word.
The premier event occurs this Thursday, 6:30 pm at the Rio Gallery on Ft. Washington Ave. between 159th and 160th Streets in Washington Heights. Four writers will read from their own works, and each from a banished writer. Details here.
from Brian Lehrer’s show on WNYC available as an archive/or podcast:
Why the Internet is Bad for Us
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
It seems like everyone loves the internet, but one former technology entrepreneur thinks itâ€™s destructive. Self-described web contrarian Andrew Keen rails against blogs, wikis and web 2.0 in his new book, The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing our Culture.
His guests on the special 16th-anniversary broadcast are an alcoholic, debt-ridden teacher, Mr. Manescu, and Mr. Piscoci, a pensioner best known for playing Santa Claus at childrenâ€™s parties.
An approximate quote from A.O. Scott’s New York Times superb review of what promises to be a great view, “12:08 East of Bucharest,” winner of the prize for best first feature at Cannes last year.
An internship posting, via NYFA:
Acconci Studio (Brooklyn NY)
Vito Acconci is seeking a person to direct the restructuring of his archive. Much of Vito’s work is impeccably organized and archived, however most of the pieces from the late 60â€™s through the mid 80â€™s have never been presented as so-called salable art works. For each piece we need to create a single, complete set of documentation, which can be matted and sold as an inclusive work. Additionally, we need to create a digital database for reference and research. This project is expected to run through May 2008. Qualified candidates will possess a Bachelorâ€™s degree or Masterâ€™s degree (or course work toward a degree) in art history, curatorial studies or library, information science, archival studies. Prior museum, library or archives experience is also highly desirable. Although this position is unpaid, we offer an excellent opportunity to anyone interested in a career in the art world. The internship is also transferable for credit at certain institutions. The position will be a minimum of 3 days per week, with flexible scheduling and the opportunity to stay through the fall if available. If interested please send resume and brief letter to email@example.com
Deadline:Â October 31, 2007.Â Â Â Phoenix Gallery, NY,Â Fellowship Program 2008 Â Â The Phoenix Gallery, celebrating its 49th year will sponsor a 2008 Fellowship Program.Â The Fellowship Benefits: Sponsored membership in Phoenix Gallery in 2008 for one year, a solo exhibition in the gallery, Participation in member group shows,Â Access to the gallery space and resources during membership.Â Please go to http://phoenix-gallery.com/about.shtml and see â€œFellowship Prospectusâ€ for further information.Â Â Phoenix Gallery, 210 eleventh Ave. @25th St., 902, New York, NY 10001.Â 212-226-8711.
I got to take advantage of Wendy’s funder status this week, twice no less. First, we got a preview of Richard Serra’s exhibit at the Met (absolutely do not miss this one), and amazingly, his newest pieces created for this exhibition were my favorites ever (amazing given how much I adored his prior work).
And second, the Cloisters, a gem that uptowners take for granted and that the Met busses funders up to from Fifth Ave. once a year to enjoy. We completely enjoyed the yummy hors d’ouvres, but anyone can come up to marvel at the medieval collection and herb gardens, as well as the reconstructed 12th Century cloister courtyard and the highlight unicorn tapestries.
via WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show (will be available as an archive and podcast): Editor Dan Crowe and contributors Siri Hustvedt and Nicole Krauss explore the creative process, and offer some tricks of the trade in their book How I Write. Everything from tapping your foot to reading the whole book-to-date before diving into the next section. A really enjoyable and inspiring segment.
on the human value of globalization
by Peter Ferko, May 2007
Globalization is hailed as a key progressive element of the 2000â€™s and a great boon to the nations of the globe. The nature of the benefit is typically described in economic terms. I propose that this description is inadequate; that the true value of globalization is in interchange between members of various cultures. This kind of interchange has been occuring in the arts for centuries, and has been a thrust of numerous organizations in the past decades.
This essay elaborates on this concept, and describes a means of bringing to light the non-economic value of such interactions. Like most manifestos, it speaks the language of idealism.
It borrows other vocabulary from the world of business. It postulates a non-economic “trans-action” — an exchange of value between members of different nations in the “global” world.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the nations of the former Soviet Union have been engaged in an evolution of economic systems from Soviet-style communism to capitalism. At the same time, Western European countries have moved more and more under the influence of the multi-national corporate mindset. Latin American nations have been in a continuous cycle of favor/out of favor with the U.S. as the U.S. values not the culture and people but the economic benefit of these nations as trade or strategic partners. China has ended its isolation through snowballing trade. As this evolution progresses, the economic model of capitalism more and more strongly posits one version of value: economic value as determined by the marketplace.
This model, while virtually undisputed in the United States, is of dubious rational evidence. For instance, does our civilization really consider school teachers of less importance than fashion models, or Presidents of less importance than basketball players — as the compensation provided by the marketplace does? Is the top-priority reason for interacting with members of another culture selling a carbonated beverage, sneakers, or blue jeans?
This project considers the alternative: that there is another reason for interaction; another value to globalization beyond that of product sales and the homogenization that globalization is currently tending toward. The challenge considered by the project is that there is no structure for setting the value of such an interaction, nor is there likely to be one given the dominant mindset among nations. Nonetheless, using the arts as an arena to explore an alternative, there is significant evidence that the interaction among members of different countries carries other, non-economic, value. Cultural tourism provides a well-established example of valuing interaction (beyond simple curiosity). The internet provides numerous examples specific to the arts. Blogs receive uncompensated comments from international readers, and online projects attract international participants. Web sites like YouTube receive participation without regard to location or compensation. In the non-virtual world, residencies attract artists who establish lifelong connections with artists, dealers, and collectors internationally.
Sadly, while one of the most exciting aspects of an international artistic exchange is the interaction between the artists about art per se, the only measurable outcome of the exchanges to date is economic, i.e. is the visitor offered an exhibition by a dealer, does work sell, are there grants available to allow further travel, etc.
Unlike the former Soviet nations, where cultural policy was decided by the government and art received some due as having a value to society, in the new economy, art must fend for itself in the same marketplace as everything else, where transactions are based on market value. I pose the following question: What would a different kind of transaction look like? What would be a trans-action — or action across borders — between artists? (more…)