New Museum Hosts Ideas City Festival

Organized by the New Museum in Manhattan, last week’s Ideas City Festival explored the modern ways of improving old-style cities.

This year’s festival was the second in what the New Museum would like to see as a biennial event. The theme of the conference, “Untapped Capital” focused on how cities can make use of underused, overlooked or even discounted resources.

Ideas City Festival New York

Ideas City Festival New York

The festival began with the conference, and then moved on to workshops in an historic school building. The four-day event ended with an all-day street fair where over 120 organizations showed off their own unique way of making today’s mega-cities more user friendly.

The conference itself was held in the Cooper Union Great Hall. The keynote speaker was Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab. Participants enjoyed a wide ranging list of panel discussions focusing on city issues such as waste, play, and youth. There was also a meeting of the minds of several current and former mayors.

The final event of the festival was a series of performances on Saturday night. One of the performances featured giant white orbs designed by the New York company Snarkitecture.

If you missed the festival you can still enjoy at least one exhibit which will be on display until July 7: Adhocracy features 25 technology-based projects. This remnant of the festival will be located in a storefront annex adjacent to the museum. This exhibit nicely restates the theme of the festival: despite the fact that our cities look pretty much how they did even 100 years ago, the way the residents use their cities is something that is constantly changing.

Bloomberg Wants to Amend New York’s Homeless Right to Shelter

Homeless in New York

Homeless in New York

In New York City, if you are homeless, you are entitled by law to be housed by the City, no matter where you are from, even if it is outside the country. This situation has led to a phenomenon wherein many people, as much as 25% of the estimated 48,500 living in shelters in the city, are not native New Yorkers.

In a recent series of fierce articles published in the New York Post, this strange and costly situation was described and critiqued, prompting Mayor Michael Bloomberg to weigh in critically on this thirty-year old policy.

“What is truly ludicrous is a system that allows people from across the country and the world to take advantage like this,” Bloomberg said.  “Until we are able to ask basic, common-sense screening questions, taxpayer dollars will continue to be diverted from those who truly need it.”

The Post articles mentioned “Polish freeloader, Michal Jablonowski, who gushed about free food, phone and medical care he gets at a shelter on The Bowery.”

So if the mayor is not happy with the status quo, why doesn’t he just change it? That is because of a landmark lawsuit which was settled by consent decree in 1981 which required that New York City provide shelter to everyone who asks for it. Questions cannot be asked.

The lawsuit began in 1979 when Robert Hayes, an Irish-American lawyer raised on Long Island represented an Irish American short-order cook, Robert Callahan, and two other homeless men.

“Callahan v. Carey became a legal landmark,” Joel Blau writes in his book The Visible Poor: Homelessness in the United States.  “Robert Callahan was an Irish short-order cook who had lost his job four years earlier, been evicted from his apartment, drunk too much and ended up on the Bowery.  Together with two other homeless men…(Callahan) represented the category of all homeless men in this legal action.”

When the lawsuit was filed at the end of the 70s The Bowery was home to many of the city’s thousands of homeless men, only about 10 percent of which sought shelter, even on the coldest of winter nights. A large percentage of these men were mentally disabled, and the shelters were not considered safe places to go.

Homeless advocates were thrilled when the lawsuit was settled and New York, city and state, was required to find shelter for all those requesting it, no questions asked.

As a result of the outcome of the lawsuit Hayes was called “crusader” by the New York Times in 1987. He helped found the Coalition for the Homeless during the early 80s, an organization that still works on behalf of the homeless.

According to the CFH: “The landmark victory in the 1979 lawsuit Callahan v. Carey paved the way for further legal victories that ensured the right to shelter for homeless men, women, children, and families in New York City.”

Bloomberg believes, along with the New York Post, that New York does not have the resources to house every person seeking shelter, no matter where they come from or what their situation is. With a fragile economy, overworked budget, and an upcoming election, fighting this apparent excess could ring true with overtaxed, worried voters.

Bowery Mural Says Happy Birthday to Martha Cooper

Martha Cooper Graffiti Wall

Photographer Martha Cooper woke up to a nice birthday surprise this past Saturday when she spied the Bowery Graffiti Wall with her nickname “Marty” boldly colored across the overwritten and blackened wall.

The surprise was arranged for Cooper by the Brooklyn Street Art Collective in honor of her 70th birthday. Especially appropriate, since Cooper has been following and photographing graffiti over the years. In addition to Cooper’s name an inscription reads as follows:

“From the Streets of the world, to the 2’s and 5’s, thanks to you our work survives.”

The following street artists and grafittitians contributed to the happy birthday gift:

How & Nosm, Faust, Freedom, Terror 161, Bio, Daze, Lady Pink, Free5, Crash, and Lady Aiko.

The folks at Brooklyn Street Art warn that it is not expected that the mural will be up for very long, as the collective put it, it will probably be available for viewing for “an incredibly short time, possibly only days.”

We suggest you get over there soon and have a gander while the looking is good. Take a few pictures before the whole thing is overwritten by the very street artists whose work Cooper has so devotedly been photographing.

Rag & Bone Opens Facade to Graffiti Artists

Previously on Rag & Bone Wall

Previously on Rag & Bone Wall

The overpriced clothing store that replaced the beloved Café Colonial in the summer of 2010 known as Rag & Bone has offered a free space to graffiti artists as their latest mural project.

Until now the boutique clothing store has been putting up murals done by bone fide artists on their Elizabeth Street façade. R & B’s latest project involves a laissez-faire attitude to who contributes and what they contribute to the wall, a bit of a risky proposition.

Taggers and other vandals, uh, I mean graffiti artists have already put in their two cents, and we’ll just have to wait and see how this experiment turns out. Thank goodness for white paint.

Garis & Hahn Arrives in Its Hot Bowery Location

Garis & Hahn Arrives in the Bowery

Garis & Hahn Arrives in the Bowery

Garis & Hahn Latest Gallery to Open in the Bowery Those lamenting last year’s loss of an art gallery in the Bowery last summer can breathe easy again as a new gallery opens at 263 Bowery. Situated in a condo building which also plays home to Takamichi Hair, and designed by Karl Fischer, Garis & Hahn will be run by two women in their late-twenties, both graduates of Christie’s Education program.

Mary Garis spent her time working on the money side of art at the Mary Boone Gallery before she went partners with Sophie Hahn to open the downtown gallery.

“We’re drawn to the experimental, fresh nature of the Lower East Side,” Ms. Garis said while on a shopping trip to IKEA to furnish her new gallery.

Garis lives just down the street from the gallery, at Bowery and Houston Streets. Hahn lives a bit further away in Battery Park. The partners are excited by the neighborhood’s burgeoning artistic community.

“I feel like this is a good time to start a gallery here,” she said. “There are lots of different kinds of galleries – you have the established ‘Sperone Westwater’ and the thriving, hip ‘The Hole’ and then there are smaller galleries sprinkled all over the area.”

Garis & Hahn opened on Friday, January 11, and will be open on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11am to 7pm. The present exhibit, “After the Fall” will run until February 16.

J.P. Morgan SMid Cap Conference This Week

Today and tomorrow, the J.P. Morgan SMid Cap Conference will take place at the J.P. Morgan Conference Center at 383 Madison Avenue in New York City. Signature Bank, a New York-based full-service commercial bank, recently announced that it will present its corporate story at the conference.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. offers this impressive conference for New York business people. The firm is a leader in investment banking, private equity, financial services and others.

Today, Signature Bank’s President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph J. DePaolo and the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Eric R. Howell plan to present.

The conference will feature approximately 70 small to mid-cap companies across all sectors. Each of the companies that will present will have a 40 minute presentation. This will include a company overview and a question and answer session. Firms who will be present include those in the small business and commercial banking industries, financial transaction processing, private equity and others.

Historic St. Mark’s Making History Now

Winnie Varghese

New York’s oldest site of continuous Christian worship, the Episcopal Saint Mark’s Church-in-the Bowery, is installing its first rector in 23 years, and its first female rector in its long, over 350 year history.

The installation of Reverend Winnie Varghese will take place this Saturday, October 20, at a special service beginning at 11am.

Preaching at the service will be The Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, the first woman ever ordained in the world-wide Anglican Communion. Bishop Coadjutor of New York, the Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche will preside.

“I’m honored to be installed as the Rector of this historic, welcoming, progressive, diverse and high-energy church,” Varghese said. “I look forward to continuing to grow with St. Mark’s by embracing its tradition of supporting diversity, arts and social justice and by providing members a welcoming environment to grow spiritually.”

Enjoy Thanksgiving and Beyond in New York During Recovery from the Wrath of Sandy

Tribeca’s Cosmopolitan Hotel

As New Yorkers continue the work needed to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, businesses are pushing forward fast and furious to get life back to normal as quickly as possible. Sandy’s wrath disappointed thousands by forcing the cancellation of one of New York’s crowning jewels for tourism, the NYC Marathon. Thousands of out-of-towners were turned away, and millions in revenue were lost when Mayor Bloomberg made the difficult, but necessary decision to cancel the highly popular race.

Now that the storm is long gone and recovery is in full speed ahead mode, it is time to once again welcome visitors from all over the country, and the world, as the holiday season approaches.  One of New York’s pre-eminent pillars in the tourist trade is the fine collection of Shimmie Horn’s Triumph Hotels. Located in some of New York’s most popular neighborhoods, these hotels offer guests luxury, convenience and style.

One such hotel, located in the Tribeca section of Lower Manhattan, is the Cosmopolitan. Only minutes away from the Bowery, one of Manhattan’s most talked-about places; and smack in between avant-garde SoHo and posh Tribeca, Shimmie Horn’s Cosmopolitan Hotel is the perfect combination of comfort, convenience and calming luxury. With only 130 rooms the Cosmopolitan boasts a private, quiet atmosphere hard to match in any other well-placed hotel.

As New York’s recovery continues a-pace, there is no better time to visit New York and enjoy with the residents there the excitement of the holidays, the beauty of the season, and the joy of overcoming adversity with the spirit of thanksgiving.

“Come Closer” Tells the Tale of Artists on the Bowery

 Curt Hoppe

“Bettie and The Ramones,” oil on canvas by Curt Hoppe

Opening on Wednesday and running through January is an exhibit at the New Museum examining the life of artists who chose to make their home along the infamous Manhattan boulevard known as the Bowery.

During the 60s, 70s and 80s the Bowery was a well-known haven for the homeless and those otherwise seeking the cheapest possible places to live. Flophouses and tumbledown apartment hotels housed the penniless of every stripe, including starving artists.

The exhibit will have on view 40 pieces from 20 Bowery artists who lived in the midst of those impoverished conditions; a reality that is fast fading into the annals of history as the Bowery remakes itself into a hip, high-rent and low tolerance for poverty, district.

“The Bowery was spoken about as a no-man’s-land, a thoroughfare of how people got to the Manhattan Bridge or to the Williamsburg Bridge,” said the show’s curator, Ethan Swan. Swan is also in charge of educational development at the New Museum, which is located at 235 Bowery.

“It was not a place that people thought of staying in much,” he added.

One exception was the artists, who were willing to overlook what others avoided and rented out loft space for dirt-cheap. At first the artists left their surroundings out of their works. That began to change beginning in 1969.

“That is when the artists started to really invite the Bowery into their studios,” Swan explained.

Curt Hoppe is one of the artists who began to fall in love with the Bowery. His work as a painter and photographer is included in the “Come Closer” show.

“If you have to run from the subway to your apartment, that is when you know you are in a good neighborhood,” said Hoppe, who still lives and works in his studio at 98 Bowery, a building that housed many of the era’s well-known artists.

“It has been just a very cool building… there is something special about this building, but I don’t know what it is,” added Hoppe.

Audrey Laurent Named Sales Director of the Bowery Hotel

Audrey Laurent

Last week Sean MacPherson and Richard Born, the owners of the Bowery Hotel, announced the appointment of Audrey Laurent as the new Director of Sales. Laurent comes on board with over 18 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including operating several Manhattan boutique hotels.

For the past ten years Laurent was the Operations director for the Mercer Hotel, and before that she managed daily operations at the Ace and Paramount Hotels.

“We are delighted to welcome Audrey to our team. She has a remarkable, comprehensive hospitality background and is dedicated to the hotel’s design, concept and culture.” said General Manager Kirk Wilson.