Animal Haven Animal Shelter Celebrates 50 Years with Brand New Facility

Fifty years ago, a small group of women from Hollis, Queens, got together to rescue cats, and from that ambition Animal Haven was born. Later on the shelter moved to Flushing, and operated out of a small house for many years. Finally, the shelter arrived in Manhattan, where it was located at 251 Centre Street until the organization lost its lease in 2015.

Searching everywhere, Animal Haven got lucky and found a location only two blocks north, at 200 Centre Street. They hired architecture firm ARQ, the same group that designed New York’s ASPCA adoption center, as well as San Francisco’s SPCA and Chicago’s PAWS. ARQ created a beautiful, state-of-the-art adoption center, but it took a full year to build, and in the meantime Animal Haven was no longer able to stay at their old location.

Now the center for homeless animals was itself homeless, but they were able to rise to the occasion. The group put up 80 animals in foster care and rented office space right across the street. Then the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals pitched in, lending Animal Haven their adoption van. During the week, the shelter held adoption events right outside the new facility’s construction site.

Now the shelter is open and running, and business is booming. More workers were hired to handle the increased work load. Director Tiffany Lacey described the new space:

“It’s very light and bright with lots of windows” Lacey said, “and the public that walks by can see them, like window shopping, but for adoption.”

 

Putting a Cute Face on Financial Markets

Tamogotchi by Tomasz Sienicki

Opened in 2012 in Montreal, Canada by art collectors Pierre and Anne-Marie Trahan, Arsenal Contemporary now has a branch in the Bowery.

Not a gallery, Arsenal is more correctly understood as a showcase for the Trahan’s private collection. The couple does also run a commercial gallery plus an artist residence program, as well as an additional Arsenal space in Toronto which they opened in 2014. Loreta Lamargese and Isabelle Kowal are co-directors of the Bowery branch, which opened in February 2017.

“Arsenal is not a gallery, so it gets to be a bit more experimental,” Lamargese said. She stated her wish to a collaborate with curators and local galleries on future programming. “We really want it to be an arts center where there’s always something happening.”

What’s happening now is a display of the latest art project from Ed Fornieles, digital creatures reminiscent of the cute Tamogotchi entities children were crazy for in the 90’s and beyond. At the Bowery’s Arsenal visitors will see three LED screens showing off the cute, blobby cartoon creatures Fornieles has dubbed Finiliar. The creatures change their expressions in concert with the rise and fall of a particular currency. For instance, when the British pound goes up, its very own Finiliar, whose name is Dunop, exudes happiness: he celebrates the pound’s success by raising up a champagne flute in pure joy. But if the pound should putter, as it mostly has since Brexit, we see little Dunop shaking and looking like he is about to burst into tears.

An interesting way to keep track of your favorite currencies.

What might seem a bit trivial, and even silly at first glance is actually an interesting social experiment to see if people might respond more empathetically to the troubles or successes of large financial systems if the fate of the currencies are portrayed by cute cartoons. The crash of a currency could actually lead to the death of a Finiliar. If that would happen, would be people care more?

Fornieles wants to see if giving this abstract financial concept a face in the form of a cute, round animated creature in the style of Japanese anime, will create an added incentive for the world to stand up and take notice of the continued health of things like currencies or companies.

Intrigued? Go check it out at the Bowery’s Arsenal Contemporary, from February 22 to April 23, 2017.

New York Restaurants Support “A Day Without Women”

Women’s March on Washington picture from Wikipedia.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, organizers of the Women’s March on Washington called for “A Day Without Women.” The march on Washington drew about 470,000 participants in DC and more than 4 million people globally. This month’s agenda calls for women to not work, either at home or at their paid jobs, to not shop, unless it is at stores owned by minorities or by women, or small shops, and to wear red. There was also a rally held at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

The “Day Without Women” modeled itself after February’s “Day Without Immigrants,” in which immigrant workers tried to stay home from work and find other ways to demonstrate the importance of immigrants to the overall economy.

The following local eateries joined in the day of remembering the crucial role women play in our economy in particular and society in general.

  • The Wren: This restaurant located at 344 Bowery gave their women workers the day off to go to the rally in Washington Square Park. Male staff member wore red to show their support.
  • Casellula: located in Hell’s Kitchen at 401 West 52nd Street, this wine and cheese café brought in guest servers to fill in for the women taking the day off. The guest servers have promised to donate their tips to Shining Hope For Communities, an NGO that fights gender inequality and overwhelming poverty in Kenya by supporting free education for girls.
  • Annisa: Anita Lo’s Village eatery locate at 13 Barrow Street pledged to donate a percentage of the day’s earnings to “Off the Sidelines, and organization founded by Senator Kirsten Gillebrand to help get more women into public office.

The Art of Tattooing on Display at New York’s Historical Society


Eli Jacobi (1898–1984)
Tattoo Artist, ca. 1935
Lithograph
New-York Historical Society Library

The New-York Historical Society is presenting an exhibit to fire up the imagination: Tattooed New York will explore the origin and development of the art of tattooing in New York City.

The exhibit is current and will be open until April 30, 2017. It will focus on the past 300 years of tattooing and the central role New York played in its development.

Over 250 works reaching back to the early 18th century until today will be on display. Included among the works are Native American body art, tattoo craft which was practiced among sailors, circus sideshow culture, and tattooing which took place during the infamous ban of 1961, which drove the practice underground for thirty years. Also exhibited are tattoo pieces reflecting the post-ban renaissance of this unlikely and not well known art form.

“We are proud to present Tattooed New York and offer our visitors an immersive look into the little-known history of modern tattooing,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “At the convergence of history and pop culture, the exhibition will track the evolution of this fascinating form of self-expression and the city’s influence on the phenomenon.”

After the tattoo ban was nullified in 1997 the practice flourished. Today there are more than 270 tattoo studios all over New York. The influence tattoo artists from the city is demonstrated by the many works of artists on display from all over the world, including Denmark, Japan, Mexico, China, Brazil, the UK, and Italy.

Bowery Homeless Call Whole Foods Home

An external shot of the Whole Foods Market. Photo courtesy David Shankbone.

As the rain and cold bombard the Bowery along with the rest of New York, the city’s homeless population is forced indoors. Many of the record numbers of homeless have found shelter in Manhattan’s largest supermarket, The Bowery Whole Foods.

While shoppers are loading their carts with craft beers, artisanal breads and gourmet cheeses, the less fortunate among us are upstairs taking advantage of the dry, sunny café area to spend the day dry and warm. One observer visiting the café saw a man sleeping on the floor in the fetal position, another barely conscious in what appeared to be a drug-induced haze, and others who seemed drunk or mentally ill.

The vagrants found a haven in the Whole Foods Café where there is a microwave and Wi-Fi they can use for free, clean bathrooms available for the cost of a cup of coffee, and if not quite a welcoming, but at least a tolerant attitude towards their presence.

The giant, up-scale supermarket opened in 2007. At 71,000 square-feet Whole Foods is the largest market in Manhattan. It takes up an entire city block between Chrystie and Bowery, and has 600 employees on the payroll. Built to be an accompaniment to the neighborhood’s gentrification, the appearance of the modern-day “Bowery Bums” is perhaps challenging the ability to complete the transition from “home of the downtrodden” to “hipster village.”

“No one wants to have lunch next to a foul-smelling bum, or a drunk or a junkie nodding out next to you. It’s not very appetizing. At the same time, Whole Foods displaced these people. These were the original Bowery denizens,” said Sean Sweeney, head of the Soho Alliance. “Gentrification took place and displaced them. Where are they supposed to go? The de Blasio administration has not done enough to find shelter for these unfortunate people.”

The number of homeless seeking space in the city’s shelters hit an all-time high last year. Those that don’t bother with shelters find warmth in places like Penn Station, other transit hubs, and accommodating locations like Whole Foods.

One employee working upstairs at the barbecue stand said, “The homeless problem gets worse in the winter, but nothing can be done about it.”

Christmas Trees Losing Christmas Spirit?

Tree in Bethlehem. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

Tree in Bethlehem. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

As the true meaning of Christmas continues to be lost in the relentless onslaught of media messages to buy, buy, buy, another tradition has come up for re-evaluation: the Christmas tree.

In at least one place in Manhattan a tree can set an individual or family back about $1,000, including delivery. For the same $1,000 the same family or individual could feed at least 600 homeless people at the Bowery Mission.

Trees in Greenwich Village are commanding the steep price of $77 per foot if the buyer needs help getting it home and installing it. One seller explained the price breakdown: a 13-foot white fir is not a traditional tree, so its harder to get and therefore more expensive, at $750 for the tree; the stand costs $200; delivery and set up is $25; and the three or four men needed to do the legwork charge $20 each.

Not everyone has been sucked into the need to have the tallest, rarest or most “amazing” tree. Many Christmas tree buyers stuck with smaller trees saying things like, “A tree is a tree, and there is no difference.”

This man bought his 6-footer for a more reasonable, affordable, $80. Another couple could be seen dragging their 5-foot tree home themselves, which they acquired for $100, including the stand.

Another shopper noted that back where he is from in Connecticut a tree this size only costs $20.

The Bowery Welcomes Williamsburg Pizza

Yummy Williamsburg Pizza. Photo by  Daniel Zemans

Yummy Williamsburg Pizza. Photo by
Daniel Zemans

Experimental pizza joint Williamsburg Pizza has added a fourth store to its growing empire, at 310 Bowery Blvd. The owner and chef is Nino Coniglio, the winner of 2016’s Pizza Maker of the Year Champion award.

The pizzeria’s other locations in Williamsburg, the Lower East Side, and at the Barclay’s Center have become synonymous with a broad menu offering a huge selection of wild and crazy toppings. Some possibilities are apple, bacon, and wild mushrooms, but at the new location on the Bowery the menu, at least for now, will be limited to just one kind of pie.

On offer on the Bowery will be either a large or small version of “grandma pie” which comes with aged parmesan cheese and black lava salt. Ashwin Deshmukh, Coniglio’s partner, says that, at least for now, “We want to do one product, and do it really well.”

Folks on the Bowery will most likely not have to wait too long for the menu to grow. Coniglio has already brought out a few new experimental pies since opening: such as “Not Detroit Style” pizza pie which has collapsing dough. Since the new location will not be dealing with wholesale selling customers can expect to see lots more secret menu offerings when the feeling strikes Coniglio.

The new branch is open for lunch and dinner, with delivery to be added at some future date.

Logan Hicks Completes “The Story of My Life” on a SoHo Wall

It has already been a few weeks since Logan Hicks’ mural was completed at Houston Street and the Bowery, but the crowd is still there.

Process shot from the mural Logan Hicks did in Hollywood Florida during Basel. Photo courtesy of Logan Hicks.

Process shot from the mural Logan Hicks did in Hollywood Florida during Basel. Photo courtesy of Logan Hicks.

That’s because the crowd is the mural. This must-see painting depicts a large, realistic looking crowd of people converging on nearby Spring and Greene Streets, all in a bluish hue. Hicks called the piece “Story of My Life,” and it is. The painting explores the “past, present and future here in New York City, telling the story of his life through the people who have touched him.” The artist photographed dozens of his friends and acquaintances on the SoHo corner, and then used those photographs to reconstruct the amazing city scene beautifully rendered on a wall on Houston Street.

Earlier this summer, at the end of July, the painting already suffered erasure after the artist spent three days putting the painting up on the wall. Due to the poor condition of the enclosure, combined with extreme heat and lots of rain, a layer of black paint ended up covering the painting.

The mural was created via the amazing technique of stenciling, which Hicks has mastered way beyond any ordinary ability.

Unfortunately, and despite the employ of a 24/7 security guard by building owner Goldman Properties, the mural has been “tagged,” or more accurately, defaced twice already, but quickly scrubbed clean.

We hope this masterpiece can remain intact and available for the enjoyment of New Yorkers.

Weegee’s Bowery on Display in Jersey City

Rubber stamp used by the photographer Weegee (Arthur Fellig) for signing his pictures.

Rubber stamp used by the photographer Weegee (Arthur Fellig) for signing his pictures.

If you hurry you can still catch an exhibit well worth your time. Until August 5th Jersey City’s Mana Contemporary will be showing the work of Usher Fellig, better known as Weegee, depicting the Bowery when it was deep in its “Skid Row” phase.

Usher Fellig, born in what is now Ukraine in 1899, was an ‘infamous’ New York City press photographer. Usher was changed to Arthur upon his arrival to US shores, but he became Weegee somewhere along the way because of his uncanny ability to arrive at crime scenes within minutes of their occurrence. (Weegee is a misspelling of Ouija, as in the board that connects this world to the “other world.”)

His black and white renderings of urban life are shocking statements about the harsh realities of life in New York during the 30s and 40s of the 20th century.

The exhibit, Weegee’s New York,  focus on the down and out population that gathered in the Bowery, living in the shadow of the Third Avenue El, on the street, in flea-bag hotels, and flop houses which could be had for only 25 cents/night.

The International Center for Photography in New York City was given Weegee’s estate in 1997. In 2015 ICP opened a branch at Mana in Jersey City in 2015 as an expansion of it Manhattan campus. The exhibit, which closes on August 5th, was organized by ICP in honor of the opening of a new branch in the Bowery.

ICP at Mana is open only by advanced appointment. To make an appointment contact: [email protected]
Hours Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays, noon-6 p.m. Admission is free.

ICP Moves to New Downtown Quarters

International Center for Photogrpahy

International Center for Photography

New York’s esteemed International Center of Photography is partnering with downtown’s New Museum as it evacuates it former home in midtown.

Not only is the museum in new digs, but its entire image has been transformed. Not only is it just a few steps from the New Museum, it is in the midst of some of the photography world’s best galleries; over 125 of them on the Lower East Side alone.

“There’s a much more creative community that’s walking around that lends to the energy,” said ICP’s executive director Mark Lubell.

The ICP was founded in 1974 by Cornell Capa. Since that time there has been a game-changing shift in photography, which is a feature of the museum’s first exhibit: “Public, Private, Secret.” The show explores the issues of privacy, surveillance and the effect of an image on self-identity, going back to the time of Sojourner Truth and her intimate 19th century prints.

“We’re getting to now live our lives through image-making and perceiving images, with everything from politics to climate issues to our own self-identity,” Lubell explained.