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Ray Sumser’s Cartoon Universe

Ray Sumser, a Californian artist who recently moved to the East Village, has been working on a series of cartoon projects. His goal: to portray the “most recognizable characters” from popular cartoons. He’s been bringing his art to public spaces like Union Square too.

East Fourth Street to Lose Massive Canvases

ArtUp Murals on East Fourth at BowerySanna Chu ArtUp Murals on East Fourth at Bowery

The neighborhood’s cultural district is about to lose some of its color.

With water-main repairs on Cooper Square just about done, the construction containers that were being used as canvases on East Fourth Street are not long for this world.

“The containers are still needed while the final touches are completed on the project; they should be removed by the end of January,” said a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Design and Construction.

Fourth Arts Block and No Longer Empty first jazzed up the containers with a Skullphone painting in September of last year, and works by H. Veng Smith and other artists followed.

Their disappearance isn’t the only unfortunate byproduct of the construction project’s final phase: a reader commenting on our post about an accident at East Seventh Street noted that crossing Cooper Square has become a harrowing experience.
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The Day | Stream Joey Ramone’s New Album

EAST VILLAGE garden in rainRia Chung

Good morning, East Village.

To kick off your day, dig Joey Ramone’s new posthumous album, currently streaming on Rolling Stone’s site. Pyramid Club and Save the Robots, the legendary after-hours on Avenue B, get shoutouts in a song with the chorus “I’m proud to make my home in New York City.”

Speaking of gritty hangouts, Bowery Boogie has a look at Max Fish’s new Asbury Park outpost. Needless to say, the blog has an opinion about what’s more punk rock, skee ball or pool tables.

Commercial Observer reports that Edward Minskoff, who personally invested over $100 million in equity in his 51 Astor Place office building, is closing in on a deal with its first tenant: “Hult International Business School is in talks to take 51 Astor’s entire second floor, a roughly 55,000-square-foot space. Sources say the school could pay rents that begin in the $60s per square foot but escalate to around $100 per square foot over the life of a long term lease at the roughly 400,000-square-foot property.” Read more…

Here’s What’s New at New Museum

Created with Photos: Tim Schreier

A handful of new exhibits opened at the New Museum last week. Click through our slideshow to preview three of them: Phyllida Barlow’s “Siege” (slides 1 through 4; showing through June 24) is the British sculptor’s first New York solo exhibition. “Five Americans” (slides 5 and 6; through July 1) showcases British filmmaker and photographer Tacita Dean’s portraits of dancer Merce Cunningham, art critic Leo Steinberg, and visual artists Julie Mehretu, Claes Oldenburg, and Cy Twombly. And “The Parade” (slides 7 through 13; through Aug. 26 in the Studio 231 space adjacent the museum) pairs the films of Nathalie Djurberg with bird sculptures that the Swedish claymation artist created from wire, clay, and canvas.

Also showing: “Bodies of Society,” an installation by Ms. Djurberg’s compatriot, Klara Linden, and Ellen Altfest’s “Head and Plant,” collecting the New York artist’s recent oil paintings of male anatomy.

Gallery or Restaurant? The Hole Swirls Both Together

DIOR BEAUTY Celebrates 50 Years of Dior Vernis with Artist Holton RowerDavid X Prutting/ The Hole’s dinner for Dior Vernis.

After blurring the line between art and landscaping, The Hole is now bending the boundaries between art and food. Last night, the Bowery gallery held a dinner party that introduced attendees to the medium of “pour painting,” and this summer, The Local has learned, it will open a pop-up “artist cafe,” cheekily dubbed Hole Foods.

The pop-up cafe is in part the vision of The Hole’s founder, Kathy Grayson, who described herself as an arm-chair restaurant critic and food blogger. “I had never seen an artist-designed restaurant, only restaurants with a few sad paintings on the walls,” she told The Local. “I thought that the artists I represent are all interdisciplinary and are capable of doing not just painting and drawing but sculpture, video, design, installation, furniture, you name it.”

On Wednesday, the Meatball Factory temporarily closed on 14th Street and Second Avenue so that Brooklyn-based artist Joe Grillo could install a mural on its walls, ceilings, and floors. Read more…

Making It | Patti Kelly, Stained-Glass Artist

For every East Village business that’s opening or closing, dozens are quietly making it. Here’s one of them: Kelly Glass Studio and Gallery.

Photos: Vivienne Gucwa

Patti Kelly took a stained-glass making class at All by Hand Studio in Bay Ridge in 1976 and “took to it like a duck to water,” she said. After years of study, she opened her own Kelly Glass Studio and Gallery in Dumbo in 1989, then moved to St. Marks Place in 1992 and eventually settled at 368 East Eighth Street. Her pieces have made their way into the homes of John Leguizamo and Mary Lou Quinlan, and can be seen around the neighborhood – everywhere from a door panel at 243 East Seventh Street to the façade of the Cooper Union clock. We asked her how she’s managed to make it in the East Village for two decades.


How long have you been in the East Village?


I came to the East Village in 1992. First I was at 29 St. Marks Place and there for two years before I moved to a bigger space on Essex between Stanton and Rivington. It was an old Jewish theater. The rent got too high so then I moved to Avenue C between Seventh and Eighth where I was for about 12 years until the rent was too much. I’d started at $1,800 a month and when I left it was $4,500 a month. Five years ago I moved here to East Eighth between Avenues C and D. This space was already an artist’s studio. He was a sculptor who moved to Mexico. Before that it was a hardware store. Read more…

Party On at Gathering of the Tribes

IMG_9997Ruth Spencer Steve Cannon, founder of Gathering of the Tribes.

An eviction notice has been served to Gathering of the Tribes, but the revelry will go on at least until the end of the month.

Steve Cannon, the founder of the eclectic art collective on Third Street, has a bash planned for tonight and Jan. 14. The announcement comes less than a week after the landlord, Lorraine Zhang, told Mr. Cannon he would have to leave his headquarters by Jan. 31.

“I’m not going to stop what I’m doing, I’m going to see how I can fight her,” Mr. Cannon said of his landlord.

Ms. Zhang isn’t backing down either, and it seems likely the litany of complaints that she and Mr. Cannon have against each other (which are long standing) are bound to be aired in court. “I do what I got to do as a landlord to protect my other tenants,” Ms. Zhang said today. “He doesn’t clean up the backyard for weeks after he uses it. He left me no choice. He doesn’t own the property.”

Tonight’s party commemorates the final night of the “Where Am I” exhibit, which takes inspiration from Mr. Cannon’s blindness. The next exhibit, “Zero, Infinity and the Guides” showcases “archetypes present in the inner life” of artist and CUNY student Erin Cormody. “These eight paintings also portray the phases of the moon. Also, she paints the ‘words’ of an internal universal voice, which wants to share the paradox of truth,” according to a press release.

David Yow Talks Art, and Why He Is Done With Music

IMG_2975Angelo Fabara David Yow

Fuse Gallery, behind Lit Lounge, has seen its share of musicians moonlighting as artists. Among others, the space has hosted artwork by the likes of Hank Williams III, Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers, Nick Zinner and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Conrad Keely of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead.

Last night, David Yow held court at an opening reception that drew J.G. Thirlwell, the lead singer of industrial band Foetus, as well as other admirers of Mr. Yow’s bands, The Jesus Lizard and Scratch Acid. Mr. Yow, best known for vocals that alternate between mumbling and shrieking as well as onstage antics that at one point got him arrested for indecent exposure in Cincinnati, was polite and soft-spoken. He was dressed down (or perhaps up — he has been known to favor the shirtless look, after all) in a button-down shirt and spectacles.

When Erik Foss, the owner of Fuse Gallery, bought a painting titled “Go Figure,” depicting an erect penis, Mr. Yow texted his girlfriend, “I have tears in my eyes.” She responded, “I love you. Stop crying.”

The Local sat down with Mr. Yow to talk about his new calling.
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Felipe Baeza: An Artist and Activist Living Without Papers

In the bars and restaurants of the East Village, immigrant workers, many undocumented, toil behind the scenes cooking food, waiting tables, and doing whatever else they can to keep the nightlife abuzz. Felipe Baeza is one of them. He serves food and drinks in a hopping East Village restaurant. For Mr. Baeza, 24, the job was to be a mere stepping stone into an exciting art career, which was to begin three years ago when he graduated with a degree in art from The Cooper Union.

But Mr. Baeza, who as a young boy left Mexico for the United States, doesn’t have a work visa or Social Security number, so he cannot legally work in the U.S. Under current federal law, the jobs he studied to perform are not available to him because of his status.

As Mr. Baeza looks from beyond a bar lined with moist beer bottles and cocktail glasses, he sees his classmates finding success in the art world, at home and abroad. In a word, he is frustrated.

“My options are very limited,” he said. “I couldn’t work in a print shop. I couldn’t even assist an artist.”
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Street Art: “Walk Man” is Toppled, But Flaming Cacti Stand Tall

untitled.jpg One Animus Arts Collective artist constructs a Flaming Cactus Saturday night

The “WALK MAN” that was erected in Tompkins Square Park over the weekend has already been vandalized (DNA Info has the story), but another art installation is still standing. Over the weekend, a group of roughly ten artists calling themselves the Animus Arts Collective transformed fourteen East Village lampposts into “Flaming Cactus” displays.

You may have seen some of the lampposts at Astor Place; four similar lampposts, festooned with fluorescent cables to resemble cacti, are located on Governor’s Island.

Officials with the New York City Department of Transportation commissioned the project in order to mark the route of the D.O.T.’s fourth annual Summer Streets program. Read more…

Assembling Art, Page by Page

Assembly LineMeghan Keneally The ‘assembly’ portion of the magazine is literal.

Nearly two dozen people walked past the “For Sale” sign and closed gate of a townhouse on Third Street on Sunday, invited themselves in the unlocked door, and made their way up to the second floor with folders of their work in tow.

When they walked in, it was like a mini reunion of yesteryear’s East Village art world: everyone knew each other, liked each other’s work, and swapped stories about peers of old.

And then they got to work publishing a magazine.

They were all there to put together the 34th issue of “What Happens Next,” an assembly magazine made up of poems, collages and drawings. The event, and the 33 issues prior, have been organized by Eve Packer who started it “just to have a forum” for the work of she and her friends, and anyone else who wanted to jump in.

The magazine is made up of individual work provided by the participants, with each bringing 100 copies of their pieces. The assembly aspect of the magazine is very literal: everyone lines their stack up and they start passing it along, with one person at the end taking charge with a stapler.
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The Day | Outdoor Art

they matchMichelle Rick

Good morning, East Village

The sounds of the citywide free festival Make Music New York could be heard in the East Village yesterday. The Village Beat found a small outdoor concert in Astor Place, hosted by the local live performance venue, Joe’s Pub.

The performance artist Liu Bolin camouflaged himself into the Kenny Scharf mural yesterday near the intersection of Houston Street and Bowery. The Wooster Collective shared photos of the wall’s transformation.

But more outdoor art might be put on hold this week; The Weather Channel predicts several days of off and on thunderstorms, making the jump into summer a wet one.

Old Books Give An Artist A New Canvas

TeoMugShotKhristopher J. Brooks Teofilo Olivieri is an artist who uses discarded hardcover books as a canvas. Below: One of his pieces adorns a copy of James A. Michener’s “Chesapeake.”

As a child, Teofilo Olivieri practiced drawing by sketching comicbook superheroes. Today, Mr. Olivieri uses hardcover books as a distinctive canvas for his art.

Mr. Olivieri, 46, has no formal training in art, but his paintings are becoming popular in the East Village because of their unusual presentation.

“I’ve been very visible in New York City for the past 10 years, but the book covers have gotten the most response of any of the things I’ve worked on in my entire career,” Mr. Olivieri said.

He sells his work near an office building at University Place and East 11th Street but he can also be found at Union Square, along the Bowery and near Sixth Avenue and West Fourth Street.

Mr. Olivieri moved to New York City in 2001 after working as a commercial illustrator in Boston. The Hoboken native moved to Manhattan to focus on creating art from scraps and throw-aways found across the city. “When I was little, I used to sit by the river and look over and dream of me, one day, living in New York,” Mr. Olivieri said.
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Viewfinder | Profiles

Tim Schreier on catching artistic silhouettes in New York City.

Air Walk

“Photography has opened my eyes over the past few years. It makes me look at things in a different and more appreciative way. When I think with my ‘picture-taker head’ I am looking at things from a different perspective and noticing things — like people in profile — that I would otherwise have passed by without giving any thought to them. Here’s a performance artist in Washington Square Park.”
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Galleries Inching Back To East Village

GALLERY.1Mark Riffee There are 23 galleries on Orchard Street between Canal and Houston Streets and 71 total in the Lower East Side.

In the more than three years since to The Times declared, ‘Here comes art,” with the opening of the New Museum space on the Bowery in 2007, the galleries indeed have come to the Lower East Side.

They occupy ground-level storefronts of skinny buildings with wrought-iron fire escapes zigzagging up their front facades on the seven tree-speckled blocks of Orchard Street between Canal and Houston and in the New Museum’s vicinity, too. They teeter on the edge of Houston. When Miguel Abreu opened his eponymous gallery at 36 Orchard Street in 2006, he can remember no more than four or five reputable galleries in the area. By the time the New Museum opened the next year, the Times counted two dozen. Now there are 75.

And the movement is inching northward.

So, East Villagers, is this a cultural revival on the scale of the 1980’s, which spawned the likes of Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Jenny Holzer? It’s hard to ignore the similarities. Like the East Village was, the Lower East Side has become a hotbed of intimate spaces at the bottom of tenement-style buildings run on low budgets by young gallerists eager to be the first to show New York’s freshest talent. The new scene is home to “very idealistic people who believe in the art. And that’s incredibly admirable,” says Pepe Karmel, 55, a professor of art history at NYU and a former art critic for The Times. “There’s really a place for that in the art world.”

Like their predecessors, the participants of this new scene put authenticity above all else. Mr. Abreu, 48, chose his Orchard Street location because adding to the Chelsea “super-market,” land of the “homogenous white cube,” wouldn’t allow any potential for distinction. In the Lower East Side, collectors and gallery-goers can expect to “discover something” and engage in “some kind of conversation with the work,” says Mr. Abreu Read more…

After 23 Years, A Gallery Returns

Ronald Sosinski, 62, is the director of The Proposition art gallery at 2 Extra Place and an East Village resident for more than 20 years. He and his business partner, Ellen Donahue, opened E.M. Donahue Gallery for Contemporary Art on East 11th Street between Avenues A and B in 1985 and followed the art scene to SoHo in 1987 and to Chelsea in 2002, where the space was renamed The Proposition. After more than 20 years away from the East Village, Mr. Sosinski and Ms. Donahue reopened the gallery on Extra Place (First Street just off of Bowery) in 2010. Mr. Sosinski discusses The Proposition’s current show and the gallery’s new location.

NYU Journalism’s Mark Riffee reports.

“A Step Back into the Future” is on display until May 1. The show features mid-20th century furniture by James Mont, custom wallpaper by Este Lewis, and a sculpture by Mickalene Thomas.

From Local Artists, Help for Japan

Mariko Osanai cupped her cell phone away from her mouth and whispered “Just one second, I’m on the phone with my sister in Japan – there’s been another big earthquake, and they’re having a blackout. Can you believe it?” She shook her head, visibly upset, and stepped outside Dlala salon on Avenue A to smoke a cigarette, taking deep drags and pacing as she listened to the news.

Weeks after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, Ms. Osanai, like many other Japanese living in the East Village, continues to spend much of her time on the phone, reaching out to friends and relatives from the hard-hit coastal regions.

But for Ms. Osanai and a handful of Japanese East Villagers, making phone calls is not enough. A group of local Japanese artists have designed a logo – emblazoned with the words “Love Save Japan” in capital letters – to draw attention to the crisis in Japan and which has already helped raise thousands of dollars for the relief effort.
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From De La Vega, A Digital Dream

Artist James De La VegaBernardo After closing his museum store on St. Marks Place in September, the artist James De La Vega says that he is moving toward a “digital experience” for his work and that he is no longer selling his art. Below: Some of Mr. De La Vega’s work.
Artist James De La Vega
Artist James De La Vega
Artist James De La Vega

When last we heard from James De La Vega, he had just closed his museum store on St. Marks Place and was answering questions about why someone was threatening the proprietor who replaced him.

Now, four months removed from the East Village, the iconic street artist told The Local earlier today that he is moving into a new “digital experience,” and that he is no longer selling art.

“America’s moving in a bad direction, in a deeper sense than economics. Right now, we have to focus on building trustful relationships with people,” said Mr. De La Vega. “There’s no interest in selling anything. I’m not doing that now. We are committed to a more powerful message, one that was given to me.” Mr. De La Vega said he’s instead been giving away his art – which is frequently adorned with his slogan “Become Your Dream” – as gifts.

As for plans for another New York store, he said, “We have too many enemies out there. There is no store. For all of 2011, De La Vega will totally be a digital experience. De La Vega will explain his work in a language that you will understand.”

His message, he said, still resonates with his followers. “The De La Vega message is a bigger thing. People are identifying with this concept as a form of fighting,” he said. “It reminds people that they can be powerful and they go out there and create. They don’t have to live within the uniform that life imposes on them.”

He and his team are in “a total planning process. Right now, I’m building a powerful team to continue into our next phase. There’s a story going on.”

A Dreamer Departs St. Marks Place

De La VegaSuzanne Rozdeba James De La Vega.

The closing of the De La Vega Museum on St. Marks Place isn’t the last the city will see of James De La Vega. He said he is going to make a New York City comeback, just not in the East Village.

“There will be another museum in New York City,” said Mr. De La Vega, whose colorful and comfortably claustrophobic museum was filled with the street art and inspiring messages that made him famous. “I don’t know yet what neighborhood, but the ones that make sense to me are Latin neighborhoods. My stepfather shared the culture of Puerto Rico with me. I have an interest to build those people up, listen to their stories, their powerlessness and frustrations.”

He also has plans to write a book filled with his observations on corruption, gentrification, poverty and love, he said.

Mr. De La Vega, 38, said he has his reasons for saying goodbye to the museum after five years in the East Village.

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