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Encore at Organic Modernism, Design Fest in NoHo

Organic ModernismDaniel Maurer

Organic Modernism cleared out its store on Avenue A last month and announced it was closed, but now it’s stocked and selling again. Today, Inanc Uyar, a manager at the Williamsburg-based mini chain, told The Local that the store would be open for just another two weeks before calling it quits once and for all. In the meantime, furniture is 10 to 15 percent off.

OM’s initial closing followed the shuttering of three vintage furniture stores in NoHo, but for at least four days this month there will be no shortage of designers selling their wares in that neighborhood. The third annual NoHo Design District will feature over 100 local and international designers promoting their experimental art, furniture prototypes, “glass stalactites dripping off candelabras” and more beginning on May 18, according to a press release. Read more…

Charlie Frick on Tripping The Light-Box Fantastic

Screen shot 2012-01-28 at 11.01.18 PM EVO poster showing Mr. Frick.

Charlie Frick was a rock n’ roll writer and photographer for The East Village Other. He was a network television cameraman and in more recent years has become an independent media consultant. An original light box is among the artifacts he rescued from EVO’s last office in the Law Commune at 640 Broadway. Writing in 1979 for an Alternative Media Syndicate publication (hence at least one instance of “alternative” language), he described the “controlled artistic anarchy” of psychedelic design.

Tripping the Lightbox Fantastic

For more on “Blowing Minds: The East Village Other, the Rise of Underground Comix and the Alternative Press, 1965-72,” read about the exhibition here, and read more from EVO’s editors, writers, artists, and associates here.

Steven Heller’s Dada

Screen shot 2012-01-15 at 10.51.44 AMDesign Observer Steve Heller as a SVA student.

Robert Hughes once described the weekly paste-up night at The East Village Other as “a Dada experience.” The year was 1970 and while none of us who were toiling into the wee hours of the morning at one of America’s oldest underground papers (founded in 1965) knew what he was talking about, we nevertheless assumed that to get Time’s then newly appointed art critic to spend some of his first weeknights in America with us, we were doing something weird and perhaps even important. “Dada was the German anti-art political-art movement of the 1920s,” he explained in his cool Australian accent. “And this is the closest thing I’ve come to seeing it recreated today. I’m really grateful for the chance to be here.”

Yet he needn’t have been so grateful. He was as welcome as any other artist, writer, musician, hanger-on and at that moment, detective Frank Serpico, the most famous whistle-blowing cop in America, was stationed at the local Ninth Precinct and would came around periodically in his various undercover costumes to schmooze with the EVO staffers. Paste-up night was open to anybody who drifted up to the dark loft above Bill Graham’s Fillmore East, a former Loews Theater turned rock palace on Second Avenue and Sixth Street, just next door to Ratner’s famous dairy restaurant, in a neighborhood that in the Thirties was the heart of New York’s Yiddish Theater. At that time it was the East Coast hippie capital.

Beginning at seven or eight o’clock at night and lasting until dawn, the regular and transient layout staff took the jumble of counterculture journalism and anti-establishment diatribe that was the paper’s editorial meat and threw it helter skelter onto layouts that were pretty anarchic. Anyone could join in whether they had graphic design experience or not, yet many of the gadfly layout artists were too stoned to complete their pages which were finished on the long subway ride to the printer deep inside Brooklyn. Read more…

Watch What Happens When Teens Tear Up Wedding Dresses for Fashion

Lyn Pentecost, Executive Director of The Lower Eastside Girls Club, came across what some fashion lovers might consider the ultimate Craigslist find: 50 never-worn vintage wedding gowns, each with its original price tag. Looking to purchase one or two last fall, Ms. Pentecost contacted the seller (a lawyer representing the estate of a wealthy woman) who told her it was an all-or-nothing deal— 50 dresses for $2,500. She declined at first, only to hear back from the lawyer a few months later with an offer of $500 for the entire lot.

Within weeks, two boxes arrived on her doorstep stuffed with mint-condition gowns—garments that a group of teenage girls have since ripped, cut, and spray painted, putting an individual, modern twist on fifties style. Read more…

Five Questions With | Vera Balyura

Vera BalyuraAllison Hertzberg Vera Balyura at the ivories.

There’s no stopping Vera Balyura, the East Village designer and all around driving force behind the indie jewelry line VeraMeat. Vera graduated from high school at fourteen, becoming a model shortly thereafter, and then let the cosmos (and some stylist friends) steer her into becoming a jewelry designer.

The next time you’re looking for a gift, you might take a look at the VeraMeat collection, which its creator says has something for everyone: Want a Hatchet Loving Centaur Pirate pendant? Got it. Need a delicate bracelet with spinal detail? Done. But, if you’re not quite ready to dive into the whimsy, there are tons of other options. My favorite is part of the new collection, is this nautical two finger ring, which was made with recycled metals.

I visited Vera’s East Village studio on a brisk Saturday to discuss the future, inspiration, and how her brain works.


How do you come up with designs? For example, the dinosaur eating fried chicken ring, how does something like that pop into your head?


I just have that kind of brain. It’s something I would want for myself so I make it for others hoping they’ll appreciate it. The name VeraMeat, for example, came to me while walking under a bridge in Brooklyn. It made me laugh so I stuck with it.


Describe the VeraMeat style and consumer?


I’m happy to say that my customer can’t be so easily defined. We’ve had an old man buy VeraMeat, looking to add a good luck charm to his porch, super fashionable women looking to wear jewelry that says something about who they are, and men who aren’t afraid to stand out of the crowd. The diversity makes me thrilled.


How does the East Village inspire you?


I’m a big fan of graffiti and there’s a ton of it in the East Village. I love that NY allows the streets to be embellished by its people. Ten years ago, at 15 years old I moved to the East Village and really felt at home. I’ve never stopped feeling that way. There is so much magic here, it’s just consistent inspiration on every street corner and in every face you see.


What are your favorite spots in the East Village?


Well, I love Vera’s, the bar that is right next to my studio. It has amazing Italian food ,though not as good as my Italian boyfriend Paolo can make, hah. For a bit of dancing, St. Dymphna’s is fun, plus there’s a great chocolate shop right across the street. For boots, I like Cloak & Dagger, and they also happen to sell VeraMeat!


What does the future hold for VeraMeat?


We are looking to open a flagship store this year in Manhattan. We’re also reworking our website and facebook page, and as always, coming up with amazing new designs inspired by my bat dog Fred.

Allison Hertzberg is owner and head designer at Accessories by ASH.