Laissez-Faire | In Love & Free Trade

March 10, 2010, 4:32 am
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The Armory Show this past weekend was a dizzy array of commercial art. As with any massive expo, the results were overwhelming (i.e. last year’s photography exhibit, AIPAD). Notably there was a nude painted lady nonchalantly perusing the corridors as a swarm of amateur photographers surrounded her. Apparently she’s an artist who was hired by Armory to walk. And most interestingly were the conversations overheard: A gallerist expressing that he/she was most concerned with the canvases going into “good homes” (Apparently art is a lost puppy.), a person on the phone said, “Baby, we should buy it now but you should come down and take a look at it first”, “$150,000 is kind of a lot of money” (“Yeah, Honey, money might be tight this month with two paychecks going towards this canvas. However, it might be worth it. Let’s sleep on it”).

for more photos, visit Flickr


And we’re back!

It’s been a  few PLUS months since I’ve blogged.

Some highlights from the offline experience:

I attended all of the Flux Factory Going Places (Doing Stuff) tours. I met an African from Greenland who became my French tutor. I published articles for NY Daily News and Filter. I grew my calves while in San Francisco. I saw Charlotte Gainsbourg live. I appeared in a Marie Losier film, Slap the Gondola!, featuring Genesis P-Orridge, Tony Conrad and April March. I moved to Queens. I attended a ChatRoulette party with a side of RuPaul’s Drag Race. AND I started biking 12 miles a day.

Also, it’s Armory Week – which means not only enough art for your heart’s content (and beyond), BUT a plethora of parties.

Tonight’s agenda: TheDangerNacotheque’s 4th Anniversary Party thrown by my friend, Amylu.

Here’s to the beginning – see you there.



First, the sculpture:

142 11th Ave, New York City, New York.

A presentation of memory, iron and glass.
Built by Emma, curated by David Hunt.

7pm through Midnight.

There are locations in this city with a history and energy so powerful
their story can galvanize a community. 142 11th Ave, New York City, New
York is the former site of the world’s most infamous leather bar: The
Eagle’s Nest. From 1970 through March 5th, 2000, the space held nights of
passion, beauty, conflict and controversy.

This is the story of an icon.

This Friday, March 5th, ten years to the day of the closing of The Eagle’s
Nest, you are invited to experience an art installation exploring the
fragility of infamy, the passing of phenomenon and the power that
memories hold. “142 11th Ave, New York City, New York” is an outsized
installation of 88 pieces of  etched glass, wrought iron and an all
encompassing sound composition hosted within the now vacant Eagles Nest.

Absolutely Free

Located at: 142 11th Ave. at the Corner of 21st Street.
Friday, 7pm through Midnight

[ Note: Just to be clear, this is a presentation of a sculpture, not a
party. ]

Next, the performance: SUPERCONDUCTOR:

Honey Space is pleased to present SUPERCONDUCTOR, an installation by
Daphane Park.  Informed by various alternative Western healing
technologies and shamanistic rituals, SUPERCONDUCTOR is composed of a set
of “objects of performance”, an original soundtrack, and a daily, 3-hour
performance by the artist.

Located at: 143 11th Ave. between 21st and 22nd.

Finally, the art auction/party: Swimming Cities.

Swimming Cities is a diverse and evolving collaboration of artists,
builders, and visionaries who come together each year to embark on a
challenging large-scale project. Originally united through our common
friendship and talent by the international artist Swoon, the group traces
its roots back to the DIY raft project on the Mississippi River, the “Miss
Rockaway Armada”.

Taking a new waterway each year, the project creates a vivid community of
artists floating into towns to present an inspiring, interactive
environment that encompasses art, sculpture, music and performance. Each
year the Swimming Cities conceives new rafts and builds them with mostly
found materials in an organic design process. The multi-layered and
uncommon talents of our members inspire us to continuously lookfor new
ways to materialize our style of unique living art.

This fundraising event will fund the building of the next project.

Music by: $mall Change, Matt Shadetek and 2Melo.
56 Walker St., Tribeca : $10 door, 7pm to 1am.

Vandal (Squad) Vendetta
March 20, 2009, 9:54 am
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Vandal Squad

Last night powerHouse Arena in DUMBO hosted a debate between veteran graffiti artists and NYPD officers who booked them decades earlier. The officers are members of the Vandal Squad, a department specializing in vandalism. Joseph Rivera, one of the officers, recently published “Vandal Squad: Inside the New York City Transit Police Department, 1984-2004”, which as its title suggests depicts graffiti from the perspective of New York’s Finest.

Graffiti, a remnant of hip hop, has been its own subculture since the ’60s. The “illegal” aspects are alluring to a lot of artists – the riskier the graf the more “up’s” or fame an artist gets. It was this concept of “permission” (or lack thereof that fueled the dialogue between the officer and artists.

The officers argued that artists are responsible for their own arrests because it’s graffiti’s illegal – and therefore scintillating – nature (“Mona sucks cock”) that drives writers. Without that element, graffiti would be reduced to the less glamorous canvas-and-color topics of other artists, like painters. They further argued that graffiti makes the public feel unsafe and with graf tags covering subway cars, damages public property. They don’t make the law, they just follow it (“We’re not art critics, we’re cops.”).

The artists countered that the lack of safety is a fabrication by manipulative politicians who unnecessarily criminalize graffiti artists, while artists who wheat paste and stencil are given lenience and the “real crooks” remain on the streets. Also graffiti creates cleaning jobs – to which the officers replied is the same as condoning crime for creating police jobs.

Activist Alan Ket argued that graffiti doesn’t hurt anyone and subway cars run regardless of the graffiti on them.

“Don’t give me that broken windows crap,” he said.

Although many books have already been written about graffiti by writers and graffiti artists alike, it was only a matter of time before a cop wrote one. Despite the book’s illustrious photos and text, “Vandal Squad” fails to mention “tactic” or incidences of police aggression, without which leaves a spotlessness that is uncharacteristic of graffiti’s sometimes dirty history – like the police brutality case involving a twenties graffiti artist named Michael Stewart, whose controversial arrest and death in 1983 raised serious questions about enforcement tactics used by the NYPD.

Rivera admitted that the book did omit cases of police aggression, which are an inevitable part of the graffiti scene, and that such “tactics” are confidential.

Moderator Stern Rockwell described how he previously witnessed artists being forced by police to chew marker tips.

In response to police brutality, Vandal Squad Lieutenant Ken Chiuli responded that people should file a civil complaint if they feel they’re being mistreated – to which the audience of roughly 80 laughed and scoffed.

However, graffiti legend COPE2 said that in his experience, Rivera has been a “gentleman” despite stories of other officers brutalizing artists.

Rockwell then asked the officers if graffiti has been “fun” for them.

Rivera responded that endangering himself and others to catch vandals is “not fun”, especially inside subway tunnels, where one officer accidentally burnt his boot on a third rail.

Nevertheless, like the subways themselves, graffiti inevitably becomes an interwoven fabric of the city whether the writers are seen as “artists” or “vandals”.

“[Graffiti is] an important part of New York City history, ” Ket said.

P.S. 1 for the pool

Leandro Erlich

The P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City is one of my favorite places. As a former school building, the architecture invokes childhood nostalgia at once dreamy and institutionally spooky – a prime backdrop for a museum or as a friend would, say, “projecting.”

Currently, “Jonathan Horowitz: And/Or”, a higher profile exhibition, features “subversive” pop cultural references mingled with politics, consumerism and celebrity. Including a quote from Jane Fonda about not being a “dime a dozen” blonde bombshell, but rather a citizen with a cause. Otherwise, she’d be “dead like Monroe.”

However, if you’re strapped for time, visit the swimming pool by Leandro Erlich, an extensive installation of a transparent pool and deck ceiling, where visitors can hang out below the transparency in a luminous bungalow “under” the water that makes one feel cradled in an unnaturally dry, non-buoyant – but morale boosting – environment.

Suitcase cabinetry (for liquor, vanity and other vices)
February 24, 2009, 11:15 am
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Vintage suitcases serve a better purpose than harboring moldy clothing and Grandpa’s Yankee card collection. For starters, add light bulbs and an accordion mirror to make a vanity or straps and shelving for a liquor cabinet. Floating along the wall, the suitcase looks like something out of a Dali painting, but in the real world, is mounted using French cleats.

The suitcase cabinets are designed by VanityCase, recently founded by curator and carpenter, Jean Barberis. Barberis scavenges the boroughs (mostly Queens) for vintage suitcases. Each item is one-of-a-kind, can be custom made, and is an exquisite storage solution for stylish urbanites and eccentrics.

Animalania @ Fuse Gallery
February 24, 2009, 12:46 am
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Robin Schwartz

Photo: Robin Schwartz

Lovers of art and living creatures collaborated to deliver, Animalania, an exhibition of quirky vintage animal photographs curated by fashion photographer, Aliya Naumoff. Among the show’s contributing artists are Danielle Levitt, James Iha, Kristin Schaal, Spike Jonze, Karen O and Nick Zinner. All proceeds from the show will be donated to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Awhile ago I wrote a piece about another ASPCA-related event.

Animalania is on display at Fuse Gallery through March 14. The works can also be viewed online here.

Culinary Meanderings in Queens Not So Jolly
February 24, 2009, 12:10 am
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Thailand Center Point

Photo: Taiyo O.

Since it’s highly anticipated opening on Valentine’s Day, Jollibee has been the mecca of Filipino “soul food” in Woodside, Queens. The chain was previously exclusive to California and Nevada, but the new branch in Woodside marks Jollibee’s East Coast debut. Days after its opening, the line of customers still led outside and around the corner. I spoke with the Dining Manager, who said they didn’t close until 3 a.m. on the day of the opening. Some of the people in line, who had been waiting for at least a couple of hours, had commuted about half an hour from Connecticut and Long Island – some for the second time since they weren’t able to get in on a previous day after waiting just as long.

Wandering around Woodside this afternoon, I didn’t see a line outside Jollibee and thought I’d finally be able to try the Chickenjoy customers in line had raved about the previous day. However, as I made my way to the front of the ropes I came to a halt. The line was inside stretching back to the entrance. Disappointingly, I’d have to wait another day.

I ended up dining at Thailand’s Center Point, a deli and take-out restaurant nearby at 63-19 39th Ave. The menu boasts home-style Thai cuisine in a quaint and quirky atmosphere. The owner is a lovely Thai woman who opened the deli about ten years ago and just recently added a restaurant. However, the deli/restaurant’s business has been overshadowed by the well-publicized and established SriPraPhai Thai Restaurant down the street at 64-13 39th Avenue.

In a city of crowds, sometimes the precious commodity is serenity. For an underdog like Thailand’s Center Point, the peace is a perfect break from the hustle n’ bustle of popular restaurants, while dining on great Thai and nixing the curry paste from the grocery list.