This past Labor Day weekend in “El Barrio,” East Harlem, the famed Graffiti Hall of Fame became an outdoor artist studio. The weekend was filled with music, paint and lots of street artists working on one of the few protected walls in the city. Founded by Ray Rodriguez (aka “Sting Ray”) in 1980, the walls at The Jackie Robinson Educational Center are not only protected, but also cherished by the community and have become a destination for tour groups as well as a blank canvas for street artists several times a year.
One Museum Mile, a Robert A.M. Stern building, was built to house The Museum for African Art and 100 luxury condos that sit above. While the condo portion of the building vigorously moved forward in sales, the museum’s efforts were stalled and the street level space has remained unfinished. Recent efforts to rethink the project have sprung to life with a new Board, new philosophy, creative Chief Financial Officer and a new name–The Africa Center.
We were pleased to attend “Meet The Africa Center” on September 20th, a colorful one day event at the northern tip of Central Park at 110th Sreet on Fifth Avenue. The event provided visitors a glimpse into what’s in store for the museum, with an anticipated opening date in 2016. The stunning interior space is still unfinished but we were greeted by a colorful ball hanging from the ceiling measuring sixteen feet in diameter.
Leda and the Swan by Fernando Botero
The Marlborough Gallery has a history as significant as the number of artists they represent. Their string of galleries can be found in Madrid, Barcelona, London, Monaco and two in New York. The 57th Street gallery, located at 40 West, has a covered walkway that is a block away from 6 ½ Avenue (yes, you read that right), and it has proven an ideal setting for exhibiting outdoors.
Starting Thursday, The Feast of San Gennaro–the annual event that has taken place in Little Italy every September over the past 88 years–will begin again for two weeks. The Grand Procession will take place on Saturday, September 13th with Mayor Bill de Blasio as Grand Marshal. The three main streets for the Festival are Mulberry, Hester and Grand and the activities will run from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm (midnight on Fridays and Saturdays).
Right on the corner of Grand and Mulberry Streets is the Italian American Museum. This corner of Little Italy is as significant to Italian-American Heritage as the Feast itself. It was on this corner in 1885 that the “Banca Stabile” was founded by Francesco Rosario Stabile. Banca Stabile was much more than a bank to the immigrants.
It has been thirteen years since the attack on 9/11. It was a day so deeply burned in our memories that each one of us individually remembers where we were and what we were doing. Since that day, we have each paid tribute in our own way. This year, The Jefferson Market Library has opened their doors to an exhibit honoring the memories we all shared. The Language of History: A Greenwich Village Artist Remembers 9/11 by artist and local resident Luke Kurtis.
The exhibit features the artists’ language tiles, photography and writings inspired by the families of 9/11, his own memories of that day and the days that followed. Included in the exhibit are some of the Tiles of Remembrance. Later renamed The Tiles for America Project, it was created by Lorrie Veasey at her studio, Our Name Is Mud, next to the empty lot and chain-linked fence on Greenwich Avenue and Seventh Avenue South. This fence became the spontaneous framework for people, both in our community and around the world, to show their feelings in the form of tiles.
If you’ve ever walked the area on 138th and 139th streets between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Frederick Douglass Boulevards, you might have noticed three rows of beautiful townhouses. Perhaps you’ve seen the odd marker, “Private Road, Walk Your Horses,” painted onto the concrete columns that support intricate curled rod-iron gates leading into private parking for said townhouses.
Strivers’ Row got its name from the notable Harlemites who called these stately buildings home. Names like Vertner Tandy, W. C. Handy, Fletcher Henderson, Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, Eubie Blake, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and a host of successful African-American doctors, lawyers and other professionals. They were considered to be the up-and-coming in the African-American community–the Strivers.
On Sunday, October 5th, you’ll have a chance to see the inside and outside of the homes on Strivers Row during their second annual House Tour, “Strivers’ Row and Beyond”. There are several ways to do the tour from self-guided to a walking tour with Harlem author and historian, Michael Henry Adams.