Art: January 2008 Archives

475 Kent

James and I were at 475 Kent yesterday with others at a protest / vigil as the tenants removed belongings before the building was padlocked. My flickr slideshow of other images is here.

City Councilmember David Yassky was the only elected official I saw in the hour or so we were there. He was good, saying "this is crazy!" and pointing out that the idea of throwing thousands of people in similar situations out of their homes is not an appropriate approach. [Update: In the comments below I am told that "Our State Senator, Assemblyman, a community board member and another community board member were also there. They all spoke at the press conference off to the side of the lockdown."]

Here is the press release from several days ago, and there is a website with a message board too, called

FROM: 475 Kent Tenants Association



The live-work building located at 475 Kent Ave in Brooklyn's coveted waterfront neighborhood of Williamsburg was issued a Vacate Order by the NYC Fire Department on Sunday, January 20th at 7:30PM, the day before Martin Luther King day. Tenants were given until 1:30 in the morning to leave the building on a frigid January night.

475 Kent is a microcosm of New York City's cultural and economic activity with creative professionals generating an estimated $15 million in annual revenue. The vibrant community of 200 working artists - photographers, architects, writers, musicians, sculptors, filmmakers, designers, painters, printmakers, etc. is under attack.

It seems that the D.O B. is intent on making sure people will never be able to return to their spaces until all repairs are made and the building has a residential C of O, a prospect that could take years and millions of dollars. This renders 200 inhabitants most of whom are self-employed, small business entrepreneurs, both homeless and out of work. This building has been consistently and viably supporting creative professionals lives and businesses for ten years. The illegal eviction at 475 Kent comes on the heels of the evacuation of 17-17 Troutman in Ridgewood. That people's livelihoods and homes are being put in complete jeopardy makes one wonder if this is a trend and begs the phrase “follow the money”.

The events on Sunday night were precipitated when the FDNY inspected the basement of 475 Kent Ave. and “discovered” two 10' diameter metal canisters containing grain used for making Matzo. The Matzo bakery has been in the building for more than ten years. The DOB and fire department have inspected 475 Kent Avenue regularly for the past ten years and would have had to be blind if they were not fully aware of the existence of a Matzo bakery and the grain. The presence of the grain resulted in a so-called “hazardous emergency” situation that gave FDNY and DOB license to vacate the building. When some residents and the landlord offered to alleviate the problem and remove the grain from the building on Sunday night the FDNY replied “you are not qualified to move the grain”. They then issued the vacate order.

What ensued was unmitigated chaos under the direction of our friends at the OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANGEMENT starring the New York City Fire Department, Department of Buildings, NYPD, Health Department, Department of Agriculture and the Red Cross. Their only area of competence was at holding closed-door, inter-agency meetings, in which no tenant representative was allowed, every two hours in their brand new location trailer. How many City agencies does it take to unscrew a lightbulb? We'll let you know, we're still counting.

Upon the issue of the vacate order 200 people scrambled to rid 110 spaces of their most crucial belongings. The following day people were given 6 hours access to remove their belongings, tools and equipment, a scenario that for most people who had been in residence for 5 - 10 years with substantial equipment and installations was completely untenable. From there the scene snowballed. On Tuesday January 22, tenants arrived with moving trucks at 10am having been told they would have another 6 hours access to the building. They found all entrances blocked by NYPD and FDNY and no one was allowed upstairs. Finally, at 1pm the leaders of each agency stood on the staircase and delivered their plan to the crowd:

- residents would be allowed into the building six people at a time for one hour, followed by another group of six people each being granted one hour.

Do the math.

No, we'll do it for you. 200/6= 33.3 hours it would take to allow each person ONE hour access to collect their stuff. Then they shut down the elevators, insuring that the task was impossible. People, in a panic that this would be their last chance to save their belongings, began to carry equipment and valuables down ten flights of stairs, creating a real hazard.

As of Wednesday, January 23, the grain has been removed from the basement of 475 Kent Avenue, alleviating the immediate “hazardous” condition. Now the tenants have been allowed a final four days, six hours a day, to access the building. On Sunday night, January 27, the building will be padlocked prohibiting all further access for the foreseeable future. Why the building is safe enough to access for four days, but suddenly deemed unsafe again on Monday is a mystery to which DOB, OEM, FDNY has not provided an answer. Although requested repeatedly the DOB has never provided a complete list of the violations on the building. We know one of these violations is an inoperable sprinkler system, a problem that can mitigated with the presence of fire-guards while the system is repaired, allowing continued occupancy of the building.

Since the 1960's New York City's tacit urban renewal policy has been reliant on artist's moving into derelict buildings in less desirable neighborhoods. The city does nothing to bolster or support economic activity in these down and out areas, nor do they do anything to create affordable, legal, usable space for live/work entrepreneurs. 475 Kent is a prime example of this kind of turn-a-blind-eye urban renewal that has been a boon to the City of New York. A decade ago South Williamsburg was a dangerous neighborhood. Once artists take the initiative to live on the edge and restore and renew unused real estate in what were marginal areas the City becomes predatory. The transformation of Williamsburg by the artist community into one of New York City's most desirable neighborhoods encourages the city to move artists out as they calculate the tax revenue of luxury condo developers moving in. No one in any city agency cared about our health and safety ten years ago. Now that our building has become hot property the City is ready to muster all the powers of its many agencies to assist in the muscling of the property from the owners and the tenants. The tenants of 475 Kent Avenue call into question the hypocritical policies being put forth by the agencies of the City of New York. We cannot help but wonder what forces are driving this vacate and why the agencies are suddenly so concerned for out health and safety.

475 Kent Tenant's Association

A group of people from the art / technology / web nexus have put together the Art Wikimarathon to get Wikipedia more useful for art research. Here is my suggestion: Someone needs to write an entry for Nayland Blake.

There's a lack of art/artist info on Wikipedia, and we're often too busy to find the time to contribute. So, we're setting aside one day where a crew of people collectively drop serious knowledge into wikipedia about art. From your favorite notable artwork, artist or exhibition, to our soon-to-be-famous peers. We'll also add structural links to alumni schools and categories like collective art groups, non profit orgs, etc.

The day is Saturday January 26th: an afternoon on the internet quietly enriching the public domain. We imagine groups of 2-4 people around tables across the country, bottomless coffee cups fueling the discussions, fact checking, and troubleshooting. Ideally lots of "oh, that person worked with X, I'll make a page for them, link me up." There will also be a lot of online chatting across coasts. Video chats if bandwidth permits.

Roughly 12-8pm EST (9am-5pm PST) Saturday January 26th


Ann Craven, November Moons (White Black White #2), 2007
Oil on Canvas
22" × 18"
Courtesy of Artist and Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert, New York
Suggested value: $5,000

The Lower East Side Printshop (now located in Hell's Kitchen on West 37th) is holding its 2008 benefit on Wednesday, February 13, 6-9pm. There is a free preview to check out donated works on January 30th from 6-8pm. The lovely painting above by Ann Craven is one of the works you can bid on. View more on the preview page.

Andy Coolquitt

Andy Coolquitt

Lisa Cooley opened her gallery today on the Lower East Side with an impressive two-person show of sculpture by Frank Haines and Andy Coolquitt. It's one of the best debut shows I've seen in a long time.

Click here if you don't see the video above.

Ina Diane Archer, whose collages and videos were singled out by almost everyone who saw them in the show we curated in the fall of 2006, sent me a trailer for her video 1/16th of 100%!?. If you're going to be in Atlanta, go see it as part of

Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970
Part II: January 24 – May 24, Spelman College Museum of
Fine Art, Atlanta, GA.

She describes it thusly:

1/16th of 100%!?, video (23 minutes)
Ina Diane Archer
Writer, director, editor 1993/96

Montage that examines themes of appropriation, miscegenation and minstrelsy through manipulated footage found in Hollywood movies from the 1920s through the 1950s -- including Imitation of Life, Showboat and The Jazz Singer.






I see Art Fag City wrote about this show (which opens tomorrow) and David Choi's work. Since she said she didn't know anything about Michael Behle's work, I asked James to take photos of the three works we own, since everyone who visits our apartment asks about them. We don't know titles for these. They all date from the late 1990s / early 2000s and are quite different from the recent work we've seen.


image from google maps of 195 Bowery can report that DCKT Contemporary will reopen at its new location on the Lower East Side, just east of Jen Bekman and just south of the New Museum, around the 3rd week of March. The first show will be a solo exhibition by Josh Azzarella, his first in NYC.

Bonus points for those that can guess which art publication's style I'm imitating above.

The next installment of OTO is this Friday.



On January 11, from 7pm to 10 pm, OTO is pleased to present “I Want to Make Some Tamales”, a cooking lesson by Elaine Tin Nyo

Hands-on cooking lesson 7-8:30
Open public feeding 8:30 until the tamales run out

Enrollment is limited for the cooking lesson. Please contact to reserve your place (materials fee: $5).

Elaine Tin Nyo is a conceptual artist with a computer and kitchen in Harlem, New York and a locker in Chelsea filled with dance shoes.

Elaine’s works explore the structures of sensual experience and social interaction. Her primary subjects have been social structures such as dinners, classrooms and ballroom dance. Her photographs, recipes, videos, installations and performances have been presented by BlindSpot, Deitch Projects, Thread Waxing Space, The New Museum, Creative Time, Bronx Museum, Fargfabriken, Neueberger Museum, Leslie Tonkonow Projects, Chez Bushwick, and French Culinary Institute.

OTO is located at 60 North 6th Street (2nd floor) Brooklyn, NY, 11211
L train to Bedford Avenue
3 Blocks west on North 6th - just shy of Kent



I was woozy with a bad cold today, but the one show that really cut through the fog of my brain was Joyce Pensato at Friedrich Petzel Gallery. Look for James to write more about the show soon.

I love this sweet little piece. When I first walked into the room, I just heard some muffled sounds and didn't know where they were coming from. Check out B. Blagojević's review in the ArtCal Zine.

Click here if you don't see the video above.

I added this to my flickr feed a couple of weeks ago, but now it's getting some comments so I thought I should post it here too. Visit ArtCal for the minimal info that was provided by the gallery. I love the fact that no one asked us to sign a legal release before entering the space! Click here if the slideshow above doesn't work for you.


I Surround Myself With The Stuff I Like, 2007
acrylic, ink, found earring on paper
30 × 22.25 inches


Free Advice, 2007
acrylic, silicone and assemblage on paper
30 × 22.25 inches


detail of Free Advice, 2007

I've been following Andrew's work for a long time, and l loved these assemblage / sculptural paintings he's showing in the project space at Derek Eller. This is the last week of the show, so go brave the cold.

Andrew also runs a gallery in the front window of his studio in Greenpoint, called Arts Tropical.







I'm going to start posting some images by me, or the artists/galleries of work I liked in Miami. First up: some of my photos of Bank's booth at Pulse Miami, which consisted entirely of Bari Ziperstein's work. It was more like a gallery show than a typical "hey we've got stuff for sale" presentation so popular at such events. Here is a paragraph from her statement that relates to this work:

My current work continues this investigation of America’s consumer society and its material surplus and waste. Over the past year, I have created a series of small collages that deconstruct idealized domestic scenes that were culled from home décor magazines from the 1950s through the present, including the popular commercial publications Better Homes & Gardens and Architectural Digest. I transform posh interiors into absurd but highly structured environments by laying in paper cut-outs of stark white architectural beams that protrude, contort and escape out of everyday functional objects, such as chairs, tables, chandeliers and dishware. These works on paper function as studies for sculptural interventions on a grand scale.

Bonus photo of Bari and a slightly sunburned James:


This page is an archive of entries in the Art category from January 2008.

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