Arts and Entertainment, Profiles

Local Dancers Breathe New Life into Death in “Borrowed Prey: Part II”

December 12, 2013

A long-held taboo becomes a source of transformation in Carrie Ahern’s newest piece, as the dance and performance artist invites her audience along on an odyssey through death, daring to navigate its darkest depths and chart a new course of celebration and connection.

The work is actually a continuation of Ahern’s “Borrowed Prey” project, a diptych whose first part examined the connections between humans and the animals that many of us consume. Performed in New York City in the spring of 2012, “Borrowed Prey: Part I” delved into the “farm to table” process, with Ahern’s own forays into hunting, butchering and slaughtering serving as the main basis for the work. In essence, it centered on human-to-animal empathy framed in the context of death. Ditmas Park-based Ahern continues her probe into death in the project’s second part, but this time with a focus on human-to-human empathy.

“Borrowed Prey: Part II” sprung from a very personal place, as the father of Ahern’s then-boyfriend was dying of Alzheimer’s during the same period that the choreographer was in the early planning stages of the project.

“My biggest feeling was that there just seemed like there needed to be a better way to deal with the end of life,” explains Ahern, who first began mulling over the concepts that would serve as the inspiration for “Borrowed Prey” in 2009. “How we die is now so related to this outsourcing of care to other people, just like what happens with animals. But it is very different in that the animals that we eat are killed at the height of their lives, whereas we now often prolong human life to an extent that poses questions about what is ethical in those terms or not.”

During the creative process that culminated in “Borrowed Prey: Part II,” Ahern discussed these questions at great length with two of her collaborators, Park Slope-based dancer Carolyn Hall and composer Anne Hege, who both perform alongside Ahern in the piece. Much as Ahern had been grappling with how to deal with death because of her up-close encounter with suffering, Hall and Hege had also been going through losses of their own, with the experiences of all three women serving to shape the work in a profound way.

“This piece is very personal for me,” Hege says. “My brother passed away four and a half years ago and I had a really negative hospital experience,” explains Hege, who felt as though life support caused her sibling’s spirit to struggle in a way that might not have happened otherwise. “He was kept on life support because he had opted to be an organ donor and there was really a sense of the power of his body, even with all the machines. He had been declared dead, but he was still so spiritually present. I feel like this piece gets at some of that in a really interesting way.”

Indeed, at the heart of “Borrowed Prey: Part II” is a quest of sorts to recover and reconnect to those life-affirming rituals that have been lost in our modern obsession with staving off death until the last possible moment. The 80-minute, multi-disciplinary performance has been informed by a multitude of influences, including “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying,” Ahern’s training as a hospice volunteer and each performer’s visualization of her own imagined burial process.

“What has been really interesting for me is finding a way to remain emotionally connected but put it into a ritual that honors life rather than grieves for death,” says Hall, whose parents both died shortly before she began working on the project with Ahern. “I think that is actually where this piece journeys for me personally,” Hall explains. “It starts in a place where death is a hard thing to digest to where actually the life that passed is worth celebrating.”

It is Hall who starts off the piece, with a solo that finds her crouched naked on a stark metal table. As she begins to move, eery video images of her shot by collaborator Harrison Owen are projected onto flowing white curtains that surround the performance space.

“The video is a brand new element for me in my work,” Ahern notes. “I think that I wanted there to be a play between what people are actually comfortable looking at – her or the video. Because her solo is a little bit grotesque, as is the video.”

It is striking how vulnerable and alone Hall seems at the beginning of the performance. But as the piece progresses, it moves from a place of isolation to one of interconnectedness, as the performers take the audience along on an evocative journey fraught with emotion that is conveyed through movement and sound.

Long-time collaborators who first worked together 17 years ago, Ahern and Hall share a level of comfort with each other that shines through in their interactions during the piece. At times, one seems like an extension of the other, as they move together in beautiful unison, both dressed in white cotton costumes designed by Naoko Nagata that are reminiscent of burial shrouds.

Throughout the performance, the dancers are constantly navigating a shifting web of tethers that serve as both visual stimuli and a source of sound. Music and movement meld together when the dancers hold onto the strings, as many of them are GameTrack tether controllers that are connected to special pods programmed with sounds composed by Hege. “Depending on how we pull the tethers, that triggers different kinds of sounds and different volumes in different parts of the piece,” explains Hege, who used the open source sound synthesis program ChucK for the project.

The constant shifting of the tethers to different points of the performance space also acts to bring about a sense of expanding connection that eventually envelopes the audience itself, as the piece ends with different spectators being given the strings to hold as the final dance sequence unfolds before them. “When you are tethered to something, it is such a strong metaphor,” Ahern says.

Ahern and Hege plan to further explore these themes of connections and death in future workshops that will focus on community rituals that use movement and sound to support the grieving process.

“I think by people looking at death a little bit more and getting a little bit more connected to it, they may gain a new perspective and see that it is not necessarily so dark and fearful,” Ahern says of her new work. “And I think there is potential for the kind of support that we are currently lacking culturally. Death does happen to a community, so what kind of ritual can we give people to support the grieving process?”

“Borrowed Prey: Part II” runs through Friday, December 13 at Alwan for the Arts. Tickets are available for purchase at Brown Paper Tickets.



Photos by Lori Singlar for the Brooklyn Bugle




From the Web

Arts and Entertainment

Crown Heights Artist Brings Afro-Latina Voice to HBO Show “Habla Women”

April 18, 2013


Kadine Anckle in publicity still from “Habla Women”

For Brooklyn resident Kadine Anckle, her upcoming appearance on the most recent installment of HBO Latino’s “Habla” series is the latest development in a wild and wonderful journey that started far from this bustling borough she now calls home.

Born in Panama City, Panama, Anckle let her imagination soar as a child. But back then she never dreamed that she would one day trade the idyllic, grass-lined walk behind her grandmother’s house in Juan Díaz for the frenetic, people-filled streets of New York City… and a turn in front of the camera.

“I’ve always been on a path and never known really what it was or what it is supposed to be, but I certainly recognize that this show is a part of it,” Anckle explains. “I’m really honored and it feels good because it is just me being myself.”

The Brooklynite is one of 18 Latin talents featured on the show, entitled “Habla Women”, which debuts April 18 at 8 pm ET on HBO Latino and will also be available on HBO On Demand and HBO GO. The program, which marks the 10th anniversary of the “Habla” documentary series, is being billed by HBO as a “no-holds-barred installment” that will present a “uniquely Latina view of life by exploring the attitudes, perspectives and accomplishments of 16 exceptional Latin women and two Latinos living in the U.S.” A multitalented creative in her own right, Anckle joins a notable ensemble that includes actress Gina Rodriguez, Olympic boxer Marlen Esparza and chef Daisy Martinez.

As the only Afro-Latina to appear in “Habla Women”, Anckle is grateful she could give voice to an experience that is often overlooked in the United States. “When you take me in at face value, you think, ‘oh, she’s a black woman,’” Anckle notes. “But I was born and lived in Panama until I was 10 years old… I am a Latina and I get that it’s not what you expect, but it certainly is my reality.”

Anckle hopes that by sharing her story with a wider audience via “Habla Women”, she will not only be able to provide an explanation of the Afro-Latina experience for people who haven’t lived it – but also bolster the spirits of those who have. “It is a war cry for all the women who are like me because nobody pays attention to us,” Anckle says. “So many people just don’t know that we exist.”

Panama City, Panama. “La Central” photo by Kadine Anckle.

During her childhood days in Panama, Anckle longed to see faces like her own on television. “If you are growing up and you don’t see anybody that looks like you in any kind of media, then you start to think there is something wrong with you,” she says. When her family relocated to the United States, settling in the suburbs of Pennsylvania, Anckle was greeted by a supportive circle of relatives but still struggled with moments of self-doubt. “If there is a certain definition of what beautiful is and it doesn’t look anything like you… it messes with your self-esteem,” she recalls.

A gorgeous and gregarious woman who exudes confidence and charm, Anckle credits her family with giving her the strength to battle those insecurities and advance forward in the direction of her dreams. “I am my grandmothers’ granddaughter, I am my mother’s child, I am my sisters’ sister, that’s why I am who I am,” she says.

Raised by a mother who drilled the importance of education into her daughters’ heads, Anckle became an accomplished student at the Catholic high school she attended. Though Anckle still felt somewhat out of place, her mother constantly reminded her that all else was secondary to scholastic achievement, often chiding her that “a girl child is nothing without her education.” As she neared the end of high school, Anckle really found her groove and enthusiastically participated in student life – only to be told she couldn’t return for her senior year because her family could no longer afford tuition. It was a devastating moment in her life, but Kadine’s family stepped up to support her once again and she graduated from the public school with an academic record that earned her a scholarship to Pennsylvania State University.

“It’s crazy remembering what each traumatizing event felt like,” Anckle says. “Leaving Panama as a little kid was really traumatizing for me and then learning I was poor… and not finishing my senior year (at Catholic school). It was like the end of the world.”

Lisboa, Portugal. “Saudades” photo by Kadine Anckle.

With every struggle she encountered, however, Anckle’s family was there to reassure her that she would get through it. “We’re very spiritual people and we’re very faithful to that spirituality,” Anckle notes. “As a woman in her thirties, I definitely believe that there is something greater than me and I believe in the strength of the universe,” Anckle adds. “If you believe in yourself and in what you are supposed to be doing, then the entire universe conspires to bring that to you.”

Anckle reiterates this view when reflecting upon her participation in “Habla Women” and the opportunity it has given her to speak about the Afro-Latina experience. “It’s funny because when I went to college, I always believed I was supposed to be a voice,” she says. “I felt a responsibility to tell the truth and to speak on behalf of people who were silenced.” As such, she studied broadcast journalism, but instead of becoming a reporter in Pennsylvania, she wound up moving to New York and working behind the scenes as a television producer, director, writer and voice-over artist. It was through her work that Anckle eventually met Alberto Ferreras, creator and director of the “Habla” series, who reached out to her personally and encouraged her to audition for “Habla Women.”

“Everything has influenced everything and all of these things have brought me to this point,” notes Anckle, whose appearance on “Habla Women” marks her television feature debut. “Right now, I feel honored and blessed to be the person who is getting to speak on behalf of women who nobody even knew existed. What a great, amazing honor that is. Again, the entire universe conspires. It comes together in a way that you would never have expected.”

Ever mindful of how the past shapes the present, Anckle is grateful she moved to Brooklyn a decade ago, as it was here that she found a true sense of belonging. “Brooklyn is the place where I feel I can be 100% me,” explains Anckle, who shares an apartment in Crown Heights with her sister. “It doesn’t matter what kind of craziness I wear, what kind of crazy hairdo I’ve got going on, what kind of crazy comes out of my mouth… I fit in here.”

“Electric Exodus” mixed-media piece by Kadine Anckle.

It has been here in Brooklyn that Anckle has explored the many aspects of her creative talents more fully, even focusing on visual art when she was laid off from her job as a writer at MTV in 2011. “I ended up being at home making weird little art projects,” she explains. This creative outlet led to a three-month stay at the ARTEterra art residency in Portugal and a solo show of her work that Anckle organized in Crown Heights upon her return. “There is just a cool, artistic, free and expressive environment in Brooklyn overall – and especially in Crown Heights, at least in my experience,” Anckle notes.

As Anckle continues to embrace her uniqueness and make her dreams a reality, she hopes she can serve as an example for the many young women who are struggling to do the same. “There are so many girls growing up with complexes,“ Anckle says. “I just want people to understand that you can be beautiful in your own right… and you should never feel that you are not good enough.”

Panamanian Day Parade. Photo by Kadine Anckle.

“I am everything society says that someone like me could never be,” Anckle notes. “I am an Afro-Latina who has done and will continue to do things that defy expectations.”

“The little girl that walked in the tall grass is a ‘successful’ — for whatever that term means — artist in Brooklyn,” Anckle adds. “I’m sure there are so many people who had it so much harder than me, but I get to speak for us and that makes me very proud.”

From the Web

Arts and Entertainment, Profiles

Local Photographer Offers Portal to Cinema’s Past

December 3, 2012

Photo by Matt Lambros

Though Williamsburg-based photographer Matt Lambros is a cinephile who appreciates everything from indie films to popcorn flicks, these days he finds himself mainly frequenting movie theaters that have long since gone dark as part of his current photo documentation project “After The Final Curtain.”

It all started several years ago when Lambros tagged along with some friends to see a film at Manhattan’s Village East Cinema. Once inside the theater, which was created in the 1920s by Brooklyn’s own Louis N. Jaffe, he was instantly captivated by its magnificent interior ornately designed in the Moorish Revival style.

“I just remember looking up at the chandelier and saying, ‘Oh my God, the architecture in this place is amazing’…. and that got me wondering about any abandoned theaters around,” explains Lambros, who moved to Brooklyn in 2007.

Lambros eventually discovered the Loew’s Kings Theatre in Flatbush, another movie house built in the 1920s that had suffered a very different fate from the Village East Cinema. Shuttered more than two decades ago, the once splendid theater was sliding into ruin and Lambros was able to capture this eerily elegant decay in a series of images that marked the start of his “After The Final Curtain” project.

“I started photographing the Kings Theatre and from there, I started investigating more and kept finding more (abandoned cinemas) and it just branched out,” Lambros says. “Soon, I had enough (photos) and I decided I’d start a blog about it.”

To date, Lambros has photographed a total of 45 shuttered theaters in the Northeast and Midwest. Having recently returned from a shoot in Detroit, he has been continuing to compile a list of potential subjects located all across the United States. “I have plans to go pretty much everywhere in the entire country… it’s just a matter of getting there,” the photographer notes.

Photo by Matt Lambros

Though reticent to speak about how he obtains access to the movie houses, Lambros does say he is careful to not venture into the buildings alone. He often travels with a small group of friends to the abandoned locales, which can pose a challenge to photograph, since there is usually very little natural light streaming into the interior spaces. Thus, Lambros counts a hand-held lantern, a flash and a strobe among his essential tools. The resulting images are stunning, with a touch of surrealism about them, much like the ruined cities seen on movie screens that fascinated Lambros as a child.

The photographer traces his penchant for shooting abandoned buildings back to his childhood, as his grandmother found an unusual pastime for keeping him and his brother entertained while their mother was away at work. She took them on field trips to old barns and other deserted buildings in and around Lambros’ hometown of Beekman in Dutchess County, a family hobby that lasted from the time he was four until he was eight.

“That (experience) stayed with me,” Lambros says of his childhood forays into abandoned structures. “I just liked to look at the way the buildings crumbled, I visually enjoyed it, so this (project) is an extension of that,” the photographer explains.

Photo by Matt Lambros

The purpose of “After The Final Curtain” is two-fold, as Lambros not only wishes to document the vestiges of these once glorious cinemas, but also raise awareness of their existence in hopes that some may be saved and restored. In fact, the Loew’s Kings Theatre is currently being restored to the tune of $70 million, with an opening slated for 2014. “It’s a gorgeous theater and I’m really happy that it is going to be restored,” says Lambros, who notes that this cinema still stands out as his favorite among the ones he has photographed.

“Seeing those beautiful images of these grand spaces… and realizing that these theaters are actually quite nearby – maybe even just a few miles from your home – gives you such a larger sense of the possibility of discovery,” says Dylan Thuras, co-founder of Atlas Obscura, an online compedenium of unusual places that celebrates the spirit of exploration.

Thuras invited Lambros to give a presentation about his photography project this past summer as part of the ongoing Atlas Obscura Speakers Series, whose lectures revolve around the theme of discovery in the modern world. The August engagement was so popular that Lambros is now scheduled to give an encore talk, entitled “The Fall of the American Movie Palace,” which is being held tonight at Gowanus’ arts and event space Observatory that is run by a group of artists and writers including Thuras.

“These photographs provide this absolute portal to another space, another version of New York,” Thuras notes. “People sometimes feel very cynical and jaded and think everything interesting has been discovered or done and I just don’t think that’s true at all. I think there are really a lot of amazing things out there and I’m excited to be able to bring someone like Matt in to show that to folks.”

From the Web

Arts and Entertainment, DUMBO, Features

Creativity Meets Community at the Dumbo Arts Festival

October 1, 2012

The streets of Dumbo were commandeered this past weekend by everyone from fire-wielding welders to a five-year-old puppet master, thanks to the neighborhood’s grand annual tradition known as the Dumbo Arts Festival.

More than 500 artists and 100 programming partners participated in the 16th annual celebration, which once again successfully achieved its mission of shining the spotlight on Brooklyn’s cultural side. The entire neighborhood was transformed into a creative wonderland throughout the duration of the three-day festival, as studios, galleries, storefronts, park space, street corners, building lobbies, bridges and even shipping containers became canvases for artistic expression.

“I thought a lot of the photo pods were really interesting and compelling,” remarked first-time festival attendee Melinda Lin of the shipping containers on Main Street. The containers had been repurposed into tiny photo galleries showcasing images from Papa New Guinea and other areas of the world, as part of the foto/pods 2012 exhibition by United Photo Industries.

Lin, a Manhattan resident, was one of thousands who thronged the streets of Dumbo during the course of the festival, which was held Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“We’ve gotten a lot of people who are Dumbo residents and then a lot of people who have traveled from different boroughs – and even different countries – to come to the festival,” noted Elise Gonzalez, who was selling merchandise for the Dumbo Improvement District at a booth under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Indeed, international visitors abounded, with tourists from Korea to Israel making their way to the neighborhood just to check out the Dumbo Arts Festival.

“I learned about the festival in Time Out and thought it sounded interesting,” said Yael Hurwitz, a tourist from Jerusalem, Israel, who had last visited New York City 20 years ago. “I think it was a really great event,” Hurwitz added, noting that she was especially impressed with the Entasis Dance performance in Main Street Park, which involved dancers positioned themselves around sculptures to become living extensions of the artwork.

Every conceivable artistic discipline seemed to be on display during the festival, which offered attendees an extraordinarily comprehensive view of the creative community in Brooklyn and beyond via indoor and outdoor art installations and exhibitions, large-scale projections on store facades and the anchorage of the Manhattan Bridge, and performances that encompassed music, dance, poetry, comedy and even the circus arts going on all throughout the neighborhood.

Festivalgoers also had numerous opportunities to get an up close look at the actual creative process, thanks to events like the Molten Iron Spectacular, which involved the heating and pouring of iron to create souvenir medallions that were then handed out to the crowd. It made for a dramatic spectacle on Plymouth Street, where flames were shooting out of a portable furnace that had been transported from Buffalo, New York for the event.

“We wanted to show the public a little bit about our process,” said sculptor Mike Dominick, who organized the event with fellow members of the Sculptors Guild. “People never get to see what goes on behind the curtain of the foundry and we take that away so you can actually see what happens,” explained Dominick, whose group had returned for the second year to conduct their iron pour at the Dumbo Arts Festival.

Other festival events encouraged attendees to delve into the creative process by trying it out for themselves via interactive exhibitions and art-making activities. At the Monster Drawing Rally hosted by the Dumbo Arts Center, for example, visitors of all ages drew and colored on massive sheets of paper tacked to the gallery walls. And tucked away in the gallery’s side room was a bubble drawing station run by Philadelphia-based artist Tim Eads, a first-time festival participant who taught visitors how to make colorful artwork using bubble solution tinted in a variety of bright hues.

“My work is really about trying to create these childhood fantasies, if you will, so I think of things that I used to love as a kid and just go crazy with that,” explained Eads, who described his art installations as “wacky machines.” One such installation, Traveler, drew a steady stream of curious onlookers to Eads’ bubble making station. Adorned with a feather skirt and comprised of a mannequin stand, fan, lamp parts and a motor, Traveler pumped out bubble after bubble that elicited squeals of glee from various visitors.

“It brings out the kid in everyone,” remarked festivalgoer Natalie Biggs of Flatbush, as she eagerly awaited an opportunity to create her own bubble drawing. Biggs, who had not previously attended the Dumbo Arts Festival, came away impressed with the celebration. “It was an enlightening experience that inspired wonderment and curiosity.”

The festival’s creative environment also sparked impromptu performances from artists who were not part of the official lineup, such as a charming puppet show on Main Street put on by five-year-old Ling Ling “Corn Snake” Ende of Bushwick with the help of Pablo del Hierro, a puppeteer visiting from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“I asked him what should happen between these characters and he told me,” explained del Hierro, a member of the Puerto Rico-based traveling puppet company Poncili who was in town visiting Ende’s family. “Poncili is largely based on having child-directed shows.”

“We’ve been working together in the studio – all of us playing, creating things and making music,” added Adam Ende, Ling Ling’s father and the director of Brooklyn-based Jawbone Puppet Theater. “I came to this festival two years ago to visit and since the spring, I’ve been doing these street shows with my son, so I wanted to come and do them here.”

As the elder Ende packed up props and puppets, his son was reluctant to leave. “The show’s not over!” he called to the crowd. As your Brooklyn Bugle correspondents looked around at all the art and performances going on around us, we couldn’t have agreed more.

Photos 1- 35 by Tim Schreier
Photos by Lori Singlar
Click on image for larger version

Tale of the Tweets: DUMBO Arts Festival

This year’s DUMBO Arts Festival tried to convince folks that hackeysack is art. Yeah, no.

Storified by Brooklyn Bugle · Sun, Sep 30 2012 10:42:43

RT @CaliVegax3: RT @CaliVegax3: #brooklyn #dumbo #arts #festival #awesome #footbag #hackysack #competition @ Dumbo Art Festival Tyre Footbags
Entasis Dance by Eve Bailey at Dumbo Arts Festival. Really great. McCoy
DUMBO Arts Festival #latergram #freesaturday
DUMBO Arts Festival #BrooklynParent @ Dumbo Arts Festival 2012
Fish Heads DUMBO Arts Festival #streetart #streetartislife #dumbo #art #festival #brooklyn #fish #heads #nof
Just posted a photo @ Dumbo Arts Festival 2012
A day of Art & Culture #DumboArtsFestival #dumbo #newyork #arts #festival @ Under The Brooklyn Bridge Massey
Under the Manhattan Bridge at last night’s DUMBO Arts Festival espiritu
Perfect day for this. @ Dumbo Arts Festival 2012 farmer
DUMBO arts festival today at 2 pm right outside the York stop on the F train @Bike_at_W4 @MJenness @i_d_clairez People’s Puppets
Love this at the Dumbo Arts Festival. #brooklyn farmer

From the Web

Arts and Entertainment

NU Hotel Gets Creative With House of Art

June 9, 2012
Richard Beavers and Javier Egipciaco

Richard Beavers and Javier Egipciaco

As the borough’s thriving art scene continues to garner attention from all corners of the globe, the NU Hotel Brooklyn is getting in on the action via a new partnership with the House of Art Gallery.

“The collaboration with the House of Art was a no-brainer for us,” NU Hotel General Manager Javier Egipciaco explained. “We saw an opportunity to connect with the community, as the House of Art is based out of Brooklyn… and the caliber of artists that we’re getting now, we wouldn’t have been able to get without them.”

Seventy-five works of art valued at more than $175,000 are currently on display in the hotel’s fourth-floor guest rooms and sidewalk café and bar, according to the House of Art Gallery owner/curator Richard Beavers. The guest rooms feature works by Anton, D. Lammie Hanson, Dan Ericson and Frank Morrison, while the sidewalk café and bar showcases the paintings of Justin Bua.

Beastie Boys

"Beastie Boys" by Justin Bua. Photo courtesy of House of Art Gallery

New York City native Bua has flown in from California, where he now resides, to host the presentation “Justin Bua: Art Reflects Urban Life” at the Nu Hotel’s sidewalk café and bar this Saturday, June 9th. The afternoon will kick off with a workshop for teens led by Bua from 2 pm – 4 pm, which will be followed by a slide show and discussion of the artist’s work at 5 pm. Bua will then sign copies of his most recent book “The Legends of Hip Hop.” A reception to celebrate Bua’s work and the new partnership between the NU Hotel and the House of Art will also take place from 6 – 9 pm. All events are free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required for the evening reception. Reservations for the reception can be made by emailing

“Bua is one of the top contemporary artists in the country, so it was only fitting that he be the artist that we feature with this groundbreaking partnership between House of Art Gallery and the NU Hotel Brooklyn,” Beavers noted. “He lives in California now, but his work is inspired and influenced by the Brooklyn culture and the diversity that it offers.”

A former student of Manhattan’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, Bua went on to receive his B.F.A. from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. With a varied background that includes writing graffiti and breakdancing, Bua has carved out a fascinating career with projects in fashion, commercial art, education, television and publishing. His paintings currently on display at the NU Hotel all feature portraits of the famous personalities featured in his book “The Legends of Hip Hop,” including New York City icons such as the Beastie Boys, Jay-Z and Run-D.M.C.

Performers at NU Hotel Brooklyn

Performers at NU Hotel Brooklyn

Bua is the first in a rotating roster of artists that will be showcased in the NU Hotel’s sidewalk café and bar, according to Beavers, who explained that a new exhibition will open every three months. In addition, more art is on the way to decorate the guest rooms on the hotel’s second and third floors, including works by Jamel Shabazz and Danny Simmons.

“The idea was to show the richness and the diversity and the quality of artwork that we have to offer in the borough of Brooklyn,” Beavers said of the work that has been selected for exhibit in the hotel. “I applaud the staff of NU Hotel for understanding the importance of community and providing this lovely hotel as a backdrop for the artwork to be displayed.”

NU Hotel Brooklyn is located at 85 Smith Street, on the corner of Atlantic Avenue.

Source: Cobble Hill Blog

From the Web

Arts and Entertainment, Kids

Urban Folk Art Gallery Shines Spotlight on P.S. 8 Students

May 13, 2012

Creativity has spilled forth from the classrooms of P.S. 8 and found its way onto the walls of the Urban Folk Art Gallery, thanks to the “How’s the Weather?” exhibition that features dozens of landscape paintings and drawings by first-grade students from the Brooklyn Heights elementary school.

The group show marks the end of a 14-week workshop held at P.S. 8 in conjunction with the Manhattan-based teaching arts organization Studio in a School. Teaching artist Belinda Blum collaborated with P.S. 8 teachers Carolyn Saffady, Sjene Kendrick, Mackenzie Field, Sandy Long and Matthew Levy to provide a comprehensive visual arts program shaped by concepts from the students’ first-grade curriculum.

“We thought about what we were teaching in our curriculum and then what naturally lends itself to artistic expression,” Saffady explained.

Science became a focal point of the workshop, as the students learned how to portray different types of weather conditions with pencils and paint. The program progressed from simple pencil sketches to painted landscapes with horizon lines and varied brushstrokes.

“They were studying weather and cloud formations so the teachers and I decided that we were going to make this really about the process of mark making through drawing and painting,” Blum noted.

Blum, who is a Gowanus-based oil painter, has conducted Studio in a School workshops at P.S. 8 since 2006. However, this year marks the first time that her residency has culminated with a group show in a local gallery. The idea came from Saffady, whose boyfriend is Urban Folk Art Gallery co-owner/curator Adam Suerte.

“She is very art-inclined and was just thinking of a way to end it on a great note,” Suerte said, noting that the gallery setting gives the students a “nice context” in which to see their art.

“I think it is amazing that the kids get to see their work outside of the school,” Saffady added. “It is really special for them.”

The young artists seemed truly thrilled to tour the gallery and view their artwork when they stopped by on a class outing last week.

“I’m excited,” said P.S. 8 student Numa Fiorentino, who was accompanied by his mother, Emy Gargiulo. He described his painting as “very rainy and stormy,” an effect he achieved with a technique taught by Blum during the workshop. “She said we could use the back of our brushes to make the rain,” he explained.

“Belinda (Blum) is particularly good with bringing out the best of their skills,” added Gargiulo. “They are starting to be little artists and are really proud of the work.”

Several students enthusiastically spoke about their paintings during a group discussion led by Blum on the morning of their gallery visit. These moments of reflecting and sharing together have been another integral part of the program, as they have given students the opportunity to practice new vocabulary and observe each others’ work. The children also had occasion to express themselves through writing during the workshop, as each penned a short paragraph that is on display alongside their work. This exercise was formulated to help them strengthen their literacy skills and provide them with a channel to describe their creative process.

“It’s amazing – these kids have so much to say,” Blum noted. “They wrote about the process a lot and the choices that they made.”

The gallery exhibition has added yet another layer of learning to the workshop this year, as it has allowed for the students to experience the community beyond their classroom in an innovative and engaging way.

“At this age they’re really trying to understand their community, so it helps them learn that their community expands for them outside their school,” Blum said.

Gallery visitors can even provide the young artists with feedback via a signing book that will be shared with the students at the conclusion of the show. “How’s the Weather?” will be up through May 19th at the Urban Folk Art Gallery located on 101 Smith Street.


Photos by Lori Singlar for the Brooklyn Bugle




From the Web

Food, News

NU Hotel Opens New Café

May 2, 2012

Just as another season of alfresco dining and drinking in the neighborhood is getting underway, a new sidewalk café opened for business yesterday at the NU Hotel Brooklyn.

Encompassing 416 square feet, the outdoor space has seating capacity for 30 patrons. Current hours of operation are from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., with food served until 11 p.m. Though it has yet to be officially named, the new establishment is already serving up a menu of tapas devised by Chef Jehangir Mehta, owner of Manhattan eateries Graffiti and Mehtaphor. Offerings include braised pineapple, lamb and pork belly buns and mustard seed shrimp with cucumber and yogurt sauce. A full lunch and dinner menu will be available later this month.

“We’re extremely thrilled to have one of the largest sidewalk cafés in Downtown Brooklyn opened for business and look forward to becoming a neighborhood destination spot,” NU Hotel General Manager Javier Egipciaco told us.

In addition to light fare, the sidewalk café also features an extensive selection of cocktails, thanks to the concurrent reopening of the hotel’s revamped bar space. The drink menu will vary by season, with original cocktail recipes concocted by Master Mixologist Milos Zica, principal bartender at Manhattan restaurant Employees Only.

A drink naming contest is currently being held to coincide with the opening of the café. A tequila-based signature cocktail is the focus of the competition, with a $100 bar tab to be awarded as the prize for the winning drink moniker. More details can be found on NU Hotel’s Facebook page.

NU Hotel Brooklyn is located at 85 Smith Street, on the corner of Atlantic Avenue.

Source: Cobble Hill Blog

From the Web

Arts and Entertainment, Profiles

Local Performer Leads Sensorial Journey Through “Farm to Table” Process

April 26, 2012

Dance and performance artist Carrie Ahern brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “you are what you eat” with her current project that delves into the connections between humans and the animals that many of us consume.

“For years, this question about sustainable food had been bothering me,” says Ahern, a Wisconsin native who moved to Brooklyn 17 years ago and currently resides in Ditmas Park. “I just felt so disconnected from going into a grocery store and buying a piece of meat and not really understanding where it came from.”

A growing interest in the origins of her food prompted Ahern to seek hands-on experience in the “farm to table” process back in 2010. The undertaking resulted in a bicoastal journey that involved hunting for Sika deer in the swamplands along the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the autumn of 2010 and then heading to Seattle, Washington a few months later to learn the art of butchering at Rain Shadow Meats. Ahern eventually spent a day slaughtering chickens at Stokesberry Farm in Olympia, Washington before returning to Brooklyn. Here, she has continued to perfect her butchering techniques at Williamsburg-based Marlow & Daughters.

Ahern’s forays into hunting, butchering and slaughtering serve as the main basis for her new work, “Borrowed Prey.” Though Ahern initially set out to better understand her own relationship with the “farm to table” process, the project took on a broader dimension during the course of her research.

“I felt like I really needed to be able to kill an animal if I was going to eat it… I really was so curious about what that experience would be like and if I would be able to eat meat after it,” Ahern notes. “But what ended up happening right away is I realized it is a project about empathy, more than anything. And it is a project about connection.”

The performer is creating “Borrowed Prey” as a diptych, with part one focusing on human-to-animal empathy and part two centering on human-to-human empathy.

Ahern began choreographing the first part of “Borrowed Prey” during her stay in Seattle last year, often walking straight to her studio after a shift spent carving up carcasses at Rain Shadow Meats. There, her roles as researcher and dancer became fascinatingly intertwined, as Ahern explains. “I started making the movement when I started the butchering,” she says. “So it comes directly out of my experience with all the research… putting it in my body and seeing what would come out.”

The result is a stunning work in which Ahern embodies both predator and prey, right down to her costume by Naoko Nagata that pairs a woolly, pointy-eared hood and furry shrug with a butcher’s apron splattered with fake blood. During a rehearsal at Brooklyn Arts Exchange in Park Slope, Ahern skillfully shifted from the limp stillness of a carcass on a butcher’s table to the playful strokes of a cat toying with a mouse to the skittish hops of a scared deer. Her movements were accompanied by a hauntingly beautiful score by composer Anne Hege that eventually gave way to an eerily distorted recording of Ahern reading text by Dr. Temple Grandin.

Grandin, an autistic and renowned animal behavior scientist, played an important role in the creation of Ahern’s new work. The scientist’s published findings serve as the fourth strand of research (along with Ahern’s hands-on studies of hunting, butchering and slaughtering) that informs part one of “Borrowed Prey.”

“Temple Grandin helped to answer some of the questions that we have about us versus animals,” Ahern notes. “Do animals think? Do they feel?”

Ahern hopes to get people thinking about these questions and many more by taking them along on a 55-minute sensorial journey filled with dance, music, spoken word, interactive touch experiments and open dialogue that leads up to the butchering of a lamb at the conclusion of the work.

The setting for Ahern’s upcoming performances will also provide rich stimuli, as the show will take place inside an actual butcher shop – Dickson’s Farmstand Meats – complete with pungent orders, a massive sausage grinder and a hefty butcher block that will serve as the dancer’s stage at times. Ahern plans to add her own touches to the space with the help of set and lighting designer Jay Ryan. Even such simple decorations as rawhide bundles dangling from the ceiling will serve to further Ahern’s examinations on the inescapable cycles of life and death, as she plans to fill them with decomposing flowers.

“Every aspect of the project is trying to get people more connected,” Ahern says. “It’s not that we just don’t ethically understand where our food comes from, it’s also that we’ve lost something in culture because we don’t participate in that process… by having a connection and empathy, there is more of a wholeness to our lives.”

Ahern will be performing part one of “Borrowed Prey” at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in Chelsea Market on select nights from April 26 – May 13. Tickets are available for purchase at Brown Paper Tickets.


Photos by Lori Singlar for the Brooklyn Bugle


From the Web

Arts and Entertainment

An Eclectic Mix at Steampunk 2011

November 1, 2011

Designers conjured up an eclectic array of fashions at the magic-themed Steampunk 2011 event held in the DUMBO Loft on October 23, which attracted a few hundred curious locals and long-time fans of the subculture and its imaginative aesthetic informed by Victorian styles and elements of science fiction and fantasy.

“I’m a science fiction fan from way back and steampunk is just another genre within the genre,” said Park Slope resident Presley Acuna. “This show was a lot of fun last year, so I was inspired to come again. In particular, the fashion part is really adventurous.”

Acuna and other intrigued onlookers crowded around the stage for the evening fashion show, which featured a diverse array of styles from four distinct designers. Kristin Costa and No Human Intentions presented elaborate fashions that embraced the steampunk aesthetic, while Alex London and Berít New York veered off into other genres with collections inspired by the Elizabethan era and the Middle Ages.


Alex London dress, Photo by Jessica Weiser

“I’m obsessed with the mystery around Queen Elizabeth I. She was so enigmatic, especially with the veils,” said London of the inspiration behind her Fall/Winter 2012 collection, “God Save the Queen” that was previewed at the show. Veils added a dramatic touch to her stunning pieces, which included full-length gowns and knee-length dresses made from extravagant fabrics such as brocade, jacquard, silk tulle, chantilly lace and velvet in regal hues of gold offset by somber shades of black. Fitted bodices and tailored jackets balanced the full skirts trimmed with lace and tulle, while the veils and dark feathered accessories added a macabre edge. Duality is at the heart of this collection that will be shown in full at New York Fashion Week. “I’ve always loved that with most women, and especially Queen Elizabeth, there is such a deep fragility that comes with the nature of being raised female,” London explained. “They’re so fragile, but they can just completely tear you apart because they’re also so vicious and powerful. It’s an interesting duality.”

Berit New York Fairy Warrior Collection

Fashions from Berít New York, Photo by Knightmare6 Photography

While London’s styles evoked the Elizabethan era, Berít New York explored the Middle Ages with core pieces for men and women from the Autumn/Winter 2011 collection, “Fairy Warriors.” Streamlined capes and tunics in contrasting tones of burgundy and fawn were paired with sleek black leggings and brown vinyl spats resembling leather leg armor. “I wanted it to be very luxurious,” said Brit Frady-Williams, the designer behind the Berít New York label. She used velvet and micro-suede to bring a sumptuous vibe to the collection, which was influenced by medieval times and fantasy fiction. “I always take a historical influence and mix it with sci-fi or fantasy elements, so there is that blend of themes and styles,” explained Frady-Williams, who drew inspiration from the costumes featured in the TV series “Legend of the Seeker” and movie trilogy “The Lord of the Rings.” In addition to the styles from the “Fairy Warriors” collection, Frady-Williams showed some steampunk-inspired pieces like layered skirts and corsets that were created specifically for the event.

“It really was a mix,” the Frady-Williams noted about the range of styles that she and the other designers presented. As the fashion show organizer, Frady-Williams did not dictate that the collections stay strictly within the confines of the steampunk aesthetic. “I didn’t limit the designers,” Frady-Williams explained. “This show was meant to be artsy and thematic.”

Variations on the steampunk theme could also be found at the event’s small market area, where the focus was primarily on jewelry and accessories.


Designer Michelle Harris (left) with sister Janelle LaCoille, Photo by Kathy Malone

At the booth for Once Lost Jewelry, designer Michelle Harris showed off striking pieces made from repurposed antique jewelry and watches. Her signature pieces on display included enchanting pendants made of antique watch cases with shimmering bits of peacock feathers or butterfly wings in place of inner workings. “I’ll go out and hunt for things at antique shops and estate sales and I won’t put a piece together until I find that all the elements mesh really well, so sometimes it takes me a few years to get something perfect,” said the third-generation jeweler, who learned how to cast gold at an early age. Having produced her designs professionally for nearly 12 years, Harris was not even aware of the steampunk genre until about five years ago. “People started coming up to me and saying my stuff was steampunk, so I had to research it,” explained the designer, who started vending at steampunk shows soon after.


La China Loca headwear, Photo by Anastasia Andino

While Harris arrived organically at the steampunk aesthetic, headwear designer Anastasia Andino of La China Loca made a conscious decision to explore the genre after participating in the Steampunk 2010 event held one year ago at the DUMBO Loft. “I actually made a whole line in and around the steampunk aesthetic inspired by last year’s event,” Andino explained. “It was an opportunity to do more interesting, creative and fun pieces that I don’t normally do,” said the designer, who incorporated ruffles, metal bugs, pinwheels and cranks into the specialty line. The steampunk aesthetic has continued to influence Andino’s creations, although she has modified it somewhat to suit the clean lines characteristic of her brand. “I make it my own,” said the designer, whose sleek wool hats on display were punched up by feathers and metal adornments such as dragonflies and spirals.


Lori Nelson(left) with son Boone Campbell, Photo by Kathy Malone

While longtime steampunk fan Acuna was disappointed that there were no ray guns in the mix, event attendees like Park Slope resident Lori Nelson were pleased with the selection. “I like this event because I feel like it is unique, but at the same time, accessible,” Nelson said.

“It’s an event for everybody. You can just be an onlooker and be curious and walk in to see what is going on,” explained Frady-Williams, who has produced annual steampunk happenings for the past four years with organizer Kathy Malone, owner of Clementine Events and founder of the now-defunct Brooklyn Indie Market.

The Steampunk 2011 event also featured a sideshow act by magician Nelson Lugo, a musical performance by Psyche Corporation and a photography booth by Tsirkus Fotografika. The lineup of vendors included 19 Moons, Absynthe Jewelry, Ami Nyitray Designs, Barker’s Herbs & Heirlooms, Dark Side Customs, Izile’s Oddities, Mechanique, Nemesis Jewelry, Sultana Maria Jewelry and The Sideshow Soap Co.

From the Web

Arts and Entertainment

Restaurant Workers Deliver a Creative Banquet to Urban Folk Art Gallery

October 12, 2011

Visitors packed into the Urban Folk Art Gallery on Friday night to feast their eyes on a visual banquet served up by creative talents from the eateries and bars along Brooklyn’s Restaurant Row (aka Smith Street) at the opening party for the “Guest Check” collective exhibition.

“I think it’s great that businesses on this street came together to support the people who serve the community,” said attendee Betsy Wise. A sales associate at the nearby Soula shoe store, Wise stopped by to congratulate her friend Danielle Onesto, one of the 11 artists featured in the show.

Portrait by Danielle Onesto

Onesto, who was celebrating both her birthday and her first public exhibition, said she had never shown in a gallery before because her work is so personal to her. But when a colleague at Robin des Bois mentioned that “Guest Check” would be focused solely on artists who also work on Restaurant Row, Onesto was intrigued enough to show Urban Folk Art Gallery co-owner/co-curator Adam Suerte her ethereal portraits that were selected for the exhibition.

“It’s nice to see people who make art and are supporting themselves by doing the dirty work,” said Onesto, who holds a Master’s degree in art education from Pratt Institute. “Waiting tables and making drinks is how we get by. I’ve worked in restaurants for eight years and everybody is creative.”

Indeed, the pieces on display in “Guest Check” represent an impressive array of artistic talents, whose work encompasses a broad range of mediums.

“When Adam (Suerte) opened the gallery, we started brainstorming and we thought this exhibition would be a great introduction to the talent that works on Smith Street,” said co-curator Robert Bonhomme. Now an established tattoo artist at the adjacent Brooklyn Tattoo shop that Suerte co-owns, Bonhomme previously worked in the service industry as a bartender and manager for 11 years, during which time he organized exhibitions similar to “Guest Check” in Portland, Oregon. By bringing this same concept to the Urban Folk Art Gallery, Bonhomme opened up the opportunity for him and Suerte to delve into the well of creativity located just outside their door.

“They’re right across the street,” noted Pacifico bartender Jarett Gibson, whose acrylic paintings of hauntingly beautiful, bare-limbed trees are included in the exhibition. “After they’re done working, they come over here and have a bite to eat, so I got to know them that way. It’s this symbiotic relationship that I think has really helped to bring a lot of people together.”

Paintings by Jarett Gibson

“I love the concept that they came up with, in terms of having us show what we do outside of the service industry,” added Gibson, who studied fine arts at Cornell University. His recent paintings, which are influenced by Asian woodblock prints, are based on images of Brooklyn trees that the artist photographed during his 40-minute walks to work from his home in Crown Heights. “I started siphoning through them and finding really striking images and breaking them up compositionally… and then went from there,” the artist explained.

“This was the perfect storm,” Gibson noted of the group exhibition. “We’re all here and we’re all excited about it.”

Gibson’s sentiments were shared by many, as the night provided a wonderful opportunity to gather the local creative community together under one roof. “There has been a good turnout,” said artist Chris Kinsler, a part-time barback/bartender at Bar Great Harry, who studied printmaking and photography at Columbia College.

For his work in “Guest Check,” Kinsler utilized stippling to create abstract studies of time and space composed of up to 1,000 dots. “I just start with one dot and keep going until I’m satisfied . It’s more therapeutic for me than anything,” the artist explained.

“I have exhibited before… and I think this (show) is more fun and also successful,” Kinsler noted. “It’s a great concept.”

Paintings by Suzy Fedor

“Lots of customers and friends have come by,” added artist and Boat bartender Suzy Fedor. “I’m very happy about this (exhibition) because the people who I serve all the time get to see that there is something else that I do.”

A Pratt Institute graduate, Fedor said she used a variety of mediums in her artwork on display, including oils, acrylics, polyurethane, shellac, lacquer and spices. With a mesmerizing melange of textures and colors, Fodor’s nature-inspired abstracts seem to have sprung forth from the most fantastical of dreams.

Although Fedor has previously exhibited and sold work in solo shows, she confessed to struggling with the business side of her art. “I can sell you beer and liquor easily, but it’s hard for me to put myself out there (as an artist).”

Co-curator Suerte hopes that “Guest Check” will provide all the artists with greater exposure. “A lot of these people work so much that they don’t have time to be their own salespeople or maybe don’t have the experience to deal with galleries, so we want to get these emerging artists more of an audience.,” Suerte explained.

Photos by Michael Dulle

“It’s pretty amazing… and a little surreal, actually,” said self-taught photographer Michael Dulle of seeing his images in a public show for the first time. His photographs of urban decay capture the nostalgic allure that shines forth from the crumbling corners of the city.

“This (show) is the tangible version of what all of us do in the restaurant business every day, which is exhibit our personalities in front of people,” noted Dulle, who is general manager at The JakeWalk.

“That’s really my soul up there,” Onesto noted of her pen-and-ink portraits, in which blooming flowers, outstretched branches and other elegant elements intertwine to create seemingly celestial beings who radiate with joy. “There is a lot of connectedness,” she explained. “I create commissioned portraits because I love connecting with new people and the real essence of their characters.”

“There is a lot to be said for staying true to yourself and making the art you want to make and not just getting the career, even though that’s very commendable,” Onesto added. “For artists, it’s difficult to find the time and being a server really allows for that kind of flexibility.”

Drawing by Edgartista

This opinion was prevalent among the exhibiting artists, like Edgartista (aka Edgar Gonzalez), who left several jobs to concentrate on his futuristic drawings that meld iconic cityscapes with glimpses of otherworldly visions. A self-taught artist who began drawing seven years ago to liven up his lengthy subway commute, Edgartista eventually surrendered to his creative calling. “Art is the bridge between two different worlds – the one we see and the one we don’t,” explained the artist, who works as a part-time bartender at Chance. “It’s my passion now.”

For Fedor, her job in the service industry actually plays an integral role in her artistic creations. “I do love my (bartending) job because I need people to do my work,” Fedor noted. “I like to fashion myself as a sociologist — I’m here to represent the people who I live amongst.”

As Fedor concluded, “In history, the best way to find out anything about a culture is through the artwork.”

“Guest Check” will be up through October 25th at the Urban Folk Art Gallery located on 101 Smith Street. The exhibition showcases the work of artists Chris Kinsler, Dain Peterson, Danielle Onesto, Edgartista, Jarett Gibson, Kate Sims, Magdalena Marcenaro, Michael Dulle, Renata Marallo, Suzy Fedor and Tamahl Rahaman, representing Bar Great Harry, Bar Tabac, Boat, Chance, Pacifico, Robin des Bois and The JakeWalk.


Photos by Lori Singlar for the Brooklyn Bugle

From the Web