Selling Toilet Paper

May 31, 2008

Today was the opening of the “What’s the Hook” exhibit at the Kentler Gallery. The photo I submitted to the show, entitled Keeping the Toilet Paper Safe, was sold before the opening.

Keeping the toilet paper safe

Kentler Gallery
Kentler Gallery: About

What’s the Hook?

May 30, 2008

Last summer, while strolling through Brooklyn, I saw a colorful little card pinned to a wall. I read it, saw the words “photographers wanted” for a “community project,” and was, well, hooked. Soon I was involved with What’s the Hook, a all-volunteer effort to create a photographic time capsule of Red Hook, one of the most rapidly-changing neighborhoods in New York City

Now the project is ready for public viewing. The first selection of What’s the Hook photos have been hung at the Kentler Gallery (also known as the Kentler International Drawing Space), a non-profit artist-run space that exhibits drawings and other works on paper.

If you are in the neighborhood, please stop by one (or more) of the exhibits and see how over 120 people have answered the question, “What’s the Hook?”

*** F O R·I M M E D I A T E·R E L E A S E ***

What’s the Hook?
A Community Photography Project


Kentler International Drawing Space
353 Van Brunt St.
May 24 – May 25
May 29 – June 1
(Noon – 5 pm)

Open Reception – Sat. May 31st, 3-5 pm

Join us at the Kentler International Drawing Space in Red Hook, Brooklyn, for the first of six summer exhibitions of photos taken of the Red Hook community by the Red Hook community.

What’s the Hook? is a community-based photography project designed to document a single week in the life of Red Hook, Brooklyn, one of New York City’s most unique and rapidly changing neighborhoods. Last summer, What’s the Hook? asked people of all backgrounds to submit images captured during the week of August 12th – 19th 2007. Kids at PS #27 and their neighbors at the Senior Center were given single-use cameras. Other people used their own.

In seven ordinary days more than 120 people produced over 1000 extraordinary photos of what Red Hook means to them. Images of all kinds, from all kinds of people.

From the pupusa vendors at the ball fields to the crew of the Crown Princess at the Container Port. Old-timers and newcomers, professionals and amateurs, dog-walkers and drivers, shopkeepers, chefs, artists, vets — even the UPS guy.

What’s the Hook? was created in part to bring the community together to RECORD, REMEMBER and REDEFINE the changing face of Red Hook.


Kentler International May 24, 25
Drawing Space May 29-June 1
353 Van Brunt St. (noon – 5 pm)


Hope & Anchor June 14th – June 29th
347 Van Brunt St.

Mark Van S. Studio June 16th – June 18th
384 Van Brunt St. (projected slide show after dark)

Fairway Market Café June 16th – July 13th
480 Van Brunt St.

The Sovereign Bank June – July (TBA)
498 Columbia St.

Red Hook Public Library June – July (TBA)
7 Wolcott St.

Brooklyn Waterfront
Artist’s Coalition (BWAC) July 26th – Aug. 17th
Beard St. Warehouse
499 Van Brunt St.

What’s the Hook? is sponsored in part by the Greater New York Development Fund of the NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs, administered by the Brooklyn Arts Council.


What’s the Hook card

What’s the Hook? project
Photos for What’s the Hook? exhibit series
Gowans Lounge: What’s the Hook

Memorial Day Surprise

May 26, 2008

The plan was to attend a massive Memorial Day parade in Queens, but the directions I’d received were incomplete and left me stranded in a sketchy neighborhood where there was no sign of a celebration. The store fronts on the street were closed, few people were out, and those I found knew nothing about a parade. Feeling discouraged, it seemed the best recourse would be to return to Brooklyn and head for the beach.

Back onto the train, Brooklyn-bound, I noticed a brightly painted building in the far distance. I’d spotted it before, of course, while traveling through Queens (it was impossible to miss), and had always intended to explore it, but I’d never had the time. On this day, however, time was unlimited. I got off and just followed the colorful splashes of paint until I arrived at the place known as 5 Pointz.

Located in an industrial complex that houses artists’ studios and several garment factories, the building serves as a gallery of aerosol art. With the enthusiastic approval of the building’s owner, graffiti artist Meres One is the curator and absolute ruler, deciding who may paint here, where, and how long their work will remain before it is painted over by another.

Graffiti aficionados from around the world regard 5 Pointz as a mecca, arriving with “black books” of sketches, bags of paint, ladders, and cameras to immortalize the work they hope to produce here. Everything that happens on these walls (and floors, fire escapes, and roofs) is up to Meres, who grants permission to photograph or add to the display.

It was a clear, sunny day, a national holiday, and dozens of graffiti writers were arrayed around the building, spraying the walls with intricate, colorful, sometimes beautiful designs. I circled the enormous building, wishing that I had a better camera with me (I had an unreliable old cheap-y that I’d found in a thrift store for $5.00), admiring the skill and probably annoying the painters with my questions, until I arrived at the main entrance/loading dock.

There, amidst the paint and dumpsters of discarded fabric, a group had gathered for a great American tradition: a Memorial Day barbeque. They greeted me as though I was an expected guest, presented me with food and drink, and urged me to return. And, when I get a new camera, I certainly will.

View from the street

Front of the building

Another section of the front

Painter at work

Painter working on painted sidewalk

Painter working

Tools of the trade

Portrait mural

Finished fairy mural

Completed skull mural with calligraphy

Another side of the building

Mural with calligraphy

Paint over metal doors

Painted metal shutters

Sign at loading dock

Trash bin filled with fabric scraps

Models, photographers and artists enjoy the barbeque

Painters with Meres One

The view from inside

Spraying to prepare a clean “canvas”

The fire escape

Painted lamppost

5 Pointz Official Web site
MySpace: Meres One
NY Times: Museum With (Only) Walls

Faces of DanceAfrica

May 25, 2008

Some people attend the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s annual DanceAfrica festival because they are enjoy the dancing. Others go for the music, films, or the food and crafts that are sold in the African marketplace that is temporarily erected for the duration of the event.

But me, I go to see the people.

They come here to greet summer, to celebrate art and culture, to form a colorful, diverse international community. They come to have a good time, and their excitement and exuberance is contagious. It is, I think, just about impossible to spend time at DanceAfrica without breaking into a grin.

smiley photo
Mother and daughter

Friends shopping in the African Village

Girl with red punch on her nose

Girl drinking red punch

Good friends

Pair in purple

Black like Jesus

Man and his best friend



Author with his first book

NYPD on duty

DanceAfrica at 30
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
Wikipedia: DanceAfrica
Wikipedia: Brooklyn Academy of Music

Feeling a Little Squirrely

May 23, 2008

More from the archives.

This fluffy grey fellow was people-watching on a sunny day in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park.

Grey squirrel

Big Green Faces

May 22, 2008

More from the archives.

I took these photos on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a bastion of hipsterdom. The big green faces are painted on a couple of old wooden doors on Ludlow Street. I have no idea who painted them, or when, or why.



Lower East Side
Wikipedia: Ludlow Street

Bay Ridge Buddies

May 20, 2008

More previously unpublished photos from the Blather archives.

This man and parrot were hanging out on sunny 86th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, when I asked to take their photo. They had the same reaction.

Man & parrot on 86th Street
Somber man and parrot

Man & parrot laughing on 86th Street
Laughing man and parrot

Wikipedia: Bay Ridge

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