Friday, January 2, 2015

Green-Wood Cemetery Visit

Green-Wood Cemetery Entrance
Green-Wood is a famous cemetery in Brooklyn. For me, it is the Pere Lachaise of the United States. It's filled with famous people, historical figures, and beautiful tombstones. Even if you don't know someone buried there, there are reasons to visit. It's a tourist attraction complete with bus tours and trolleys. It is large enough where if you are on foot you may be caught out of breath. If you have your own car, I highly recommend bringing it so you can drive through the cemetery and just park whenever you feel like walking around.
Green-Wood Chapel
Since Green-Wood is a cemetery, first and foremost, be respectful. I have visited the mausoleum and it is well maintained and very clean. There is plenty of room and seating to take a moment to pay respects. There is an area outside where you can burn incense or set up offerings to your ancestors. Funeral services are kept in line with culture and religion.

Upon entering, you will receive a map. Visit the graves of the Morse family, Jean-Michael Basquiat, Leonard Bernstein, the Tiffany family, and more.

One of the many elaborate tombstones.
If you are into letterboxing, Green-Wood is a great location to scavenger hunt.

Look for a letterbox in a tree.
Leave your mark!
Climb the highest natural elevation point in Brooklyn: Battle Hill.

Set aside a good three hours to view the cemetery. It is subway accessible. There is a small bakery deli across the street. Have a picnic. There are a few benches scattered and a nice lake. Watch out for the birds and wild parrots and hold on to your map so you don't get lost.

Green-Wood Cemetery
500 25th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11232

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A New Type of Pumpkin Patch- Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns

Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns is back this year in Old Westbury Gardens in Long Island. I was fortunate enough to see this pumpkin patch last year. It was definitely a fun and new experience. Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns is not your ordinary pumpkin patch. You don't buy these pumpkins, rather you tour the grounds to see all the carved pumpkins. They are serious works of art!

A car is needed to get to Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns since it is pretty far out. At night, the roads are completely dark. Don't speed. It gets extra spooky around Halloween. There will be a long line but the tickets are a timed entrance so that there is a steady crowd control. Expect to walk around for an hour. Bring a jacket because it gets cold and bring a camera. You won't believe your eyes!
Spooky Nights
Pumpkin Carver
Edward Scissorhands
The Legend of Zelda

Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns
71 Old Westbury Road
Old Westbury, NY 11590

Saturday, September 27, 2014

New York Secret: Film Biz Recycling & Prop Shop

Follow the Arrows
The Film Biz Recycling & Prop Shop in Gowanus has got to be one of New York City's best kept secrets. It's a great reason to venture out to Brooklyn.

If you really want to make the trip worthwhile, follow this itineray:

Brunch at Dinosaur BBQ
Some adventure exploring Film Biz Recycling & Prop Shop
Dessert on a rooftop at Ample Hills Creamery

Getting into the Film Biz Recycling & Prop Shop is like making your way to the Wizard of Oz. Ring the doorbell, have them buzz you in, and then follow the arrows and zig zag through the warehouse maze to Film Biz. Once you open those doors, it's like a land of make believe. Let your imagination run free.

Film Biz is really meant for movie sets and theater. It's where you go when you need period pieces and d├ęcor. Cell phones as big as your face? Fake food? Gurneys and IV fluid? They'd have you ready for your film set in no time.

Dessert Food Props
For people like me (and maybe you) who like to putz around and take goofy pictures, it's like a giant playground. Plastic turkey legs. Baby dolls. Shag carpet. A churro stand. Each corner represents a different scenario.

I recommend visiting a few times. Film Biz decorates for the seasons. For Halloween, it's like a miniature haunted house! They also have all sorts of costumes which you can rent or purchase. Care to be a fireman? Corn? Carmen Miranda? A football player? The options might surprise you. Enjoy!

Scary Skeleton
Halloween Display
Halloween Display
Cake Costume

Film Biz Recycling & Prop Shop
540 President Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Amsterdam- Go for Van Gogh

Street Mural
The Netherlands is proud of Vincent Van Gogh. He was Dutch and throughout the city there are many murals and artwork dedicated to him. Since he was Dutch, it is noteworthy to know that the Dutch pronunciation of Gogh sounds more like "hoff". 

Amsterdam is home to the Van Gogh Museum. The Museum houses the largest collection of Van Gogh's works in the world. Here are some helpful tips in visiting the museum.

Plan Ahead: 

The museum closes at 5 PM. If you arrive at 3 PM, it may be too late! The Van Gogh Museum has high traffic at all hours of the day and they close down admission when the museum reaches full capacity.  Go first thing in the morning or buy tickets online for a reserved visiting hour. The line to get in is long regardless. The average wait time  in line is about 45 minutes.

Friday night boasts extended hours. The museum is open late night and has more of a party atmosphere. There is a dj spinning music until 10 PM.

The Floorplan:

Despite the large and busy crowd, you should have no problem viewing the works of art. The museum is separated by periods of work and divided through a few floors. There is enough space that you could view Van Gogh's self portraits, The Potato Eaters, The Bedroom, and still life paintings in comfort. Make sure not to miss his early work, sketches, and artifacts. His journal, letters to his brother, and easel with paint have also been preserved and are on view.

De aardappeleters, 1885
Writing and Drawing Tools / Materials

The museum is interactive. There are wall sized prints of Van Gogh's work that serve as an excellent backdrop for picture taking. If you want to test your own art skills and paint in the fashion of Van Gogh (grids), there are computers and overhead projections so that you can see your own drawing come to life. The museum is great for children as it is hands on in some areas. See the paintings through a microscope to check out the technique in stroke and materials. There is much to see and do at the museum.

Photography Credits: Roxwriting and Desmond Chow

Van Gogh Museum
Paulus Potterstraat 7
Museum District Amsterdam

Amsterdam- Borough of Noord

One of the best tips we got from our Amsterdam guidebook was a one sentence description about the free ferry system. The NDSM-Werfveer line is a 15 minute ferry ride that runs every 15 minutes on weekdays. As New Yorkers with the Staten Island Ferry, we were confident that getting on the NDSM-Werfveer was a pretty safe gamble to see and experience something new and very local about Amsterdam.

We followed the signs to the ferry behind Centraal Station. It's a short walk and a clear path with little room for error to get lost. Once we got to the pier, we were greeted with an electronic clock that counted down the minutes until the next ferry arrived.

The boat was comfortable and spacious enough to fit everyone from the crowded dock. The ride was smooth and we saw a nice view of the city and the EYE Film Institute Netherlands. Before we knew it, the ferry had landed on NDSM, the largest shipyard in Amsterdam. The borough of Noord is a growing city of residents, bars, art space, and creative markets.

We were clueless and knew nothing about Noord. What we found was a peaceful and desolate area home to some wild graffiti. There were a few people hanging out, taking pictures, and drinking at a local outdoor bar. We wandered into an empty warehouse that is transformed during the weekends into a giant market. The Noord is a great area to explore if you love something edgy and raw.

Netherland Shipbuilding Company Building
Like A Rocket
Post Industrial
Hanging Out
Across the IJ
Photography Credits: Roxwriting, Desmond Chow

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hello Kitty, Hello Art Pop Up 2012

Hello Kitty, Hello Art!
I was lucky enough to catch the short pop up art show of the book Hello Kitty, Hello Art at Openhouse Gallery Winter 2012. This post is long overdue but in my opinion timeless, especially for those who love pop culture and all things Sanrio.

The show featured works by famous fashion designers like Betsey Johnson and Paul Frank and artists Cat Cult, 64 Colors, and Kendra Binney. It was interactive with giant cutouts of snowmen, ladies dressed in Lolita fashion, and Hello Kitty prancing around. There were Hello Kitty lamps and cute tea pots and dishes. Artists Tim Conlon and Aiko were present to sign copies of Hello Kitty, Hello Art. It was a fun show with bright colors and cute pictures complete with a gift shop.
Hello Lady
Hello Kitty
My favorite images were done by Justin Hager. Here is his spin on Sanrio and samples of his typical artwork.
My Melo D.M.X
Da Bratz - Maru
Hello Kitty, Hello Art

Justin Hager

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kara Walker's Marvelous Sugar Baby

Domino Sugar Factory
If anyone told me there was a giant duck sphinx looking thing made out of sugar in Brooklyn, I probably wouldn't believe them. It sounds ridiculous. Then again, this is Brooklyn and there is a huge buzz about it. The famed Kara Walker did an art installation at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg and sadly, it is closing today. I hope you got a chance to see it.

The exhibit brought out droves of Brooklynites, arts enthusiasts, families, and even power couple Jay Z and Beyonce complete with baby Blue Ivy.

The line to get in was long but went quickly for there was a vast amount of space inside the factory and the line traffic was due to everyone signing mandatory release forms (just in case sugar were to fall on your head).

If These Walls Could Talk
Sugar Machines
Brown Sugar
Brown Sugar and Broken Bones
Front View
Side View
White Sugar
Back Side
The Back
Marvelous Sugar Baby
I stepped in the sugar factory and immediately took a whiff of the the sweet sugary air. It was thick! The building was old, airy, and decrepit. The walls were full of peeled paint and the equipment was stale and retired. The whole building was full of history and tales of a different time and life. And then I was greeted by a great many melting sculptures of brown sugar boys and the one and only Marvelous Sugar Baby which was larger than life. You have to see it to believe it.

A Subtlety
Domino Sugar Factory
South 1st Street @ Kent Avenue
Williamsburg, Brooklyn