Humans have been making pottery objects for at least 27,000 thousand years—let that sink in for a moment—and the earliest ceramics were either made simply from clay or from a mixture of clay and other materials, like silica. They were then hardened and heated at relatively low temperatures in a fire. Now, flash forward an astounding number of millennia, and we can produce a variety of ceramic products, from bricks to tableware to nuclear fuel uranium oxide pellets.
Recently, we tracked down eight artists based right in our neighborhood who have been making some ceramic magic in their studios.
You may have noticed that Greenpoint now has two new murals—at 1043 and 1077 Manhattan Avenue—thanks to Boston native and muralist Alex Cook, who recently painted both out of love for the neighborhood (and crowd-sourced the funding himself to do it). “While I was working on both of them, I got tons of feedback from the neighbors,” Cook said. “It was universally pretty good.”
At 1043, Cook’s mural depicts a surreal, three dimensional space with a young tree and balancing and floating boulders. Down the block at 1077, a series of heads with broad foreheads and strong jaws seem to be floating in front of the wall, looking passers-by in the eye. “The thing that was compelling to me about these images was the three dimensionality of it and being able to make an image that feels real,” said Cook. “One of the things I love the most as an artist is being able to create a sense of wonder or something mysterious that stops you in your tracks and makes you have a moment of ‘I don’t know everything.'”
Greenpointers recently caught up with Cook to talk about his eighteen year career as a muralist, his creative process, and his love of north Brooklyn.
There’s something about the segment of Driggs Avenue between N 10th and N 11th streets that attracts a different type of business from other blocks in the area.
First came Fushimi, a super-sized, super-shiny sushi joint that boasts the lingering spirit of a 90s lounge bar. Now, on the opposite side of the street there has sprung up a new mega-restaurant called MP Taverna, the fourth in a string of Greek establishments of the same name, spear-headed by celebrity chef Michael Psilakis.
Psilakis has become known for his appearances on a host of cooking shows such as Iron Chef America and Ultimate Recipe Showdown, but his real kudos came about in 2008 when a Michelin star was awarded to Anthos, an upmarket restaurant he started in midtown Manhattan.
Seven years on and Psilakis is bringing his celebrated Greek food to Brooklyn. Less high-end than Anthos, MP Taverna aims to provide a contemporary take on the traditional Greek tavern, with a focus on mezze dishes that can be shared family style.
Next door to MP Taverna is Psilakis’ next venture called ‘The Hall Brooklyn‘, a giant events venue whose recent opening heralded a flashy party, complete with cordoned-off entrance line and bouncers with earpieces. Continue reading →
Then Brooklyn based Sleigh Bells, took the stage amplifying the crowds energy from where Vince left off. Not only did they come out to rock, but they came out to have a good time. This is one band you can clearly see enjoy playing the music they create. Continue reading →
“I’m going to town today to buy me a reputation,” the lean and lovely indie-rocker and Greenpoint resident Abby Payne lilts in the opening of the song “The Gunfighter Meets His Match.” She wrote that unapologetic line in 2011 when she was struggling with the idea of retaining a publicist to promote her name.
“The music business had changed so much, and it seemed like a lawless and kind of wild place where nobody knew what was going on. This Wild West story of good versus evil, of complicated pasts and emotions and dreams, was really a way for me to work through what it means to me to be a musician and an artist.” Continue reading →
One more side effect of North Brooklyn’s rapidly mutating scene is the ramping up of “I was here when…” memories, which are arriving in shorter and tighter cycles. This means that the new, old neighborhoods are now garnering nostalgia with stories from recent history. And, photographs are a trusted way to collect these stories—”Take a picture. It will last longer.”
Two photography exhibitions on view now, Mara Catalán’s “A Place I Once Called Home: Williamsburg” at Picture Farm Productions & Sara Maria Salamone’s “From Ash To Apollo” at GCA Salon, appropriately locate and illustrate newer recollections of these moments. Continue reading →
“Oooh, what’s 603?”, you ask. Well, it’s absolutely not The Silent Barn; let’s just get that straight right now. 603 Bushwick Avenue is the fun house that is the collective of apartments directly above The Silent Barn. And, from noon on May 2nd to noon the next day, 603 served as the venue for a 24-hour endurance live music/reading/fundraising/karaoke/yoga/baptism/food and book drive event. I’m sure I’m missing a few forward slashes, too. Funds were raised for The Justice Committee and the Maryland Food Bank.
Overall, it was one of the most friendly, creative, optimistic, life-embracing, and least pretentious events that I’ve attended in a city that far too often leans toward the cynical or jaded. No corner of the residence was left a blank canvas. To be honest, it was so warm and fuzzy that I didn’t quite know how to handle it. Anyway, I’ll let the pictures paint the rest of the picture. Continue reading →
Greenpoint sits fine with no longer being Brooklyn’s “it” spot, and Bill Hayden’s show at Real Fine Arts seems okay with this, too—perhaps even celebrating the area’s confounding mix of shop and gallery. This particular installation is as comfortable with its sense of fleeting zeitgeist as Greenpoint is with watching the torch pass from Williamsburg to Bushwick as the hip mecca of the moment. Continue reading →
How long have you been here? And, how has the neighborhood changed since then? We all have our stories about the undulating Greenpoint streetscape—people moving in, people moving out, condos and developments covering up the sky, and coffee shops springing up faster than organic dry cleaners. Is it good? Is it bad? Tony Wolf chimes into the discussion with his autobio-comic: Greenpoint of View: The Secret Origin of Midtown Comics.
Seven out of eight rockers agree: “kids are the new rock,” said Collin Cogan, drummer of Washington, DC-based band, The NRIs, as we ate spinach dumplings and jalapeño poppers at Koda in Bushwick. The NRIs were on a mini-tour promoting their album “Playground/The Charm,” a folk-rock record exploring themes of permanence. Their show at the Pine Box Rock Shop on Saturday night was their first set outside of the DC metro area – ever – and they left behind a brood. Between the eight members of the band, they have seven kids and two of the band members are expecting. Cogan’s wife is pregnant with a girl. Continue reading →