Camera Obscura-Vanderbilt Republic-Gowanus Loft-George del Barrio-Brooklyn-NYCPhotos by the Vanderbilt Republic

Gowanus’ Vanderbilt Republic is always up to something new and large scale, like their 2015 lighting of the Smith-9th Street Bridge. Now, they’ve turned their cool loft space into a veritable camera obscura – a modern version of the ancient devices that brought forth the modern camera. This camera obscura turns the whole loft into a dark room, with a hole that allows the outside scene to project (upside down) onto the walls inside. The Smith-9th Street Bridge figures clearly as a recurrent muse for the Vanderbilt Republic, along with the skyline of Gowanus itself, forming incongruous visions atop the loft’s walls, kitchen spaces, doors and more.


Brooklyn-Gowanus-Smith-9th-St-Bridge-Kentile-Floors-Art-Vanderbilt-Republic-Untapped Cities-Nasha Virata The Smith-9th Street Bridge as “Spectrum II” from George Del Barrio, Vanderbilt Republic

From tonight until January 23rd, the Smith-9th Street bridge transforms from its typical concrete structure to a background of colorful pattern. A half-mile wide and 90-feet tall “photographic monument” drenches the bridge as George Del Barrio, of creative agency Vanderbilt Republic, and San Francisco-based Colin Bowring, “Spectrum II” project a beam of lights on the concrete bridge.


JR Inside Out Untapped New York

Our curated events picks for this week: JR’s Inside Out Project arrives in Times Square, Here and There by Maya Lin opening, Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s annual cherry blossom festival.

MONDAY, APRIL 22: For INSIDE OUT NEW YORK CITY, JR and his team invite New Yorkers and visitors to take self-portraits in a specially designed photo booth stationed in Times Square, the site of the world’s first ever photo booth almost 100 years ago. The black-and-white self-portraits will be overlaid on a backdrop designed by JR and printed on the spot as a 3’ x 4’ poster. The posters will either be displayed in Times Square or in the home community of the portrait’s subject. The goal of the project is to allow each portrait-taker to express through his or her face a message to the world. Also check out the Documentary Inside Out: The People’s Art Project at the Tribeca Film Festival. 5:30pm at AMC Loews Village 7, Screen 3, 66 Third Avenue. $11.50. Buy tickets here.

TUESDAY, APRIL 23: Bert Stern: Original Mad Man exhibition. In this exhibition of photographs by Bert Stern, the full sweep of his remarkable career is revealed; from the work that signaled his meteoric rise in the advertising world of the 1950’s through the 1960’s and 70’s when he became the prototype of the fashion photographer as the embodiment of glamour: a legend himself. Groundbreaking images of the great personalities of the world, from Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Marilyn Monroe and Twiggy to Louis Armstrong and Frank Lloyd Wright, made Bert Stern a celebrity in his own right. The release of the documentary Bert Stern: Original Mad Man will coincide with the Staley-Wise exhibition. The film is a particularly American and totally honest story of self-creation, a fall from grace, and reinvention. 11am-5pm. Exhibition on view until May 18. Staley-Wise Gallery, 560 Broadway. FREE.


Richard Serra in his studio Untapped New York

Our curated events picks for this week: Richard Serra exhibition opening at David Zwirner, Gatsby inspired tour of Long Island’s Gold Coast with Sidetour.

MONDAY, APRIL 8: Join Hudson Whiskey for Bourbon & Bluegrass featuring the Long Island Bluegrass Quartet. 7pm at The Flatiron Room, 37 West 26th Street. Enjoy the Hudson Whiskey specials and read about Tuthilltown Spirits, the first Whiskey distillery in New York since Prohibition.

TUESDAY, APRIL 9: MAS Forum: Grand Central Terminal Design for the Next Century. The centennial celebrations of Grand Central Terminal and the City’s proposed up-zoning of East Midtown present an opportune time to re-think the future of Grand Central and its surrounding neighborhood. The zoning proposal is a once in a century opportunity to shape a generation of development in one of our city’s busiest neighborhoods; we must ensure the changes that the City is planning are not only for the buildings themselves, but also for the people who will work in these buildings, ride the subway, walk the streets and admire the skyline. 6-8pm at Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal, East 42nd Street. FREE. Register here.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10: Why I love skyscrapers talk by Christoph Ingenhoven, the founding principal of ingenhoven architects, a Dusseldorf-based firm with an increasingly international practice. His assertively modernist work emphasizes ecological principles in combination with innovative engineering and close attention to the public realm. 6:30-8pm at the National Museum of the American Indian, Alexander Hamilton Customs House, 1 Bowling Green. FREE for members of the Skyscraper Museum; $5 students/seniors; $10 general admission. RSVP at rsvp@skyscraper.org.


Untapped New York events the-listening

Our curated events picks for this week: Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers at MCNY, The Listening fundraiser for the Rockaways, 16mm cartoon screening with The Obscura Society.

MONDAY, JANUARY 21: When World War II broke out, New York was a cosmopolitan, heavily immigrant city, whose people had real stakes in the war and strongly held opinions. Join curator Marci Reaven for a tour of the new exhibition WWII & NYC as she explains the impact of the war on the city, which played a critical role in the national war effort, and how the city was forever changed. 11am at the New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West (between 76th & 77th). $18 members; $30 general public. Buy tickets here.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 22: The Kitchen L.A.B. with Jacob Kassay, Ralph Lemon, Tristan Perich, Lynne Tillman, Eric Dyer and Maggie Hoffman. The Kitchen L.A.B. is a new program devoted to presenting, discussing, and developing interdisciplinary works revolving around themes of common interest to artists in different fields””and, more specifically, considering the meaning and uses of specific words in contemporary art. 7pm at The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street. FREE. RSVP on Facebook.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23: Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers showcases innovative design solutions to better accommodate New York City’s changing, and sometimes surprising, demographics, including a rising number of single people, and will feature a full-sized, flexibly furnished micro-studio apartment of just 325 square feet — a size prohibited in most areas of the city. Visitors to the exhibition will see models and drawings of housing designs by architectural teams commissioned in 2011 by Citizens Housing & Planning Council, in partnership with the Architectural League of New York. The exhibition also presents winning designs from the Bloomberg administration’s recently launched pilot competition to test new housing models, as well as examples set by other cities in the United States and around the world, including Seattle, Providence, Montreal, San Diego, and Tokyo. Museum of the City of New York, 1220 5th Ave. Suggested admission: $10 adults; $6 students/seniors.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 24: The Vanderbilt Republic and Untapped New York proudly present THE LISTENING: Vol. II. A Listening Session & Fundraiser for the Far Rockaway Redevelopment Fund. Arin Maya 8pm, Artist Talk 8.30pm, Helioscope 9pm, Batala NYC 9.30pm. Featuring an installation by Athena Azevedo, Vanessa Gonzalez-Bunster & TJ Volonis, Curated by George Del Barrio. Doors 7pm at Gowanus Loft, 61 9th Street, Brooklyn. $20 advance / pay as you can at the door. Buy tickets here.

Also on Thursday: Paolo Ventura’s luminous and haunting photographs function as architectural relics of the imagination, portraying characters and scenarios that are magical, poignant and strangely familiar. Referencing history, art and the subconscious, Ventura’s “invented worlds,” as he calls them, tell stories — some of which he was told as a child by his father, an author of children’s books, and others imagined by the artist himself. Ventura creates his otherworldly photographs by constructing intricate miniature sets and then photographing them, first with a Polaroid for reference and finally with a Pentax 6 x 7 camera. 6-8pm at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies, Columbia University, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue. FREE. RSVP here.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 25: Join archivist and projectionist, Tom Stathes, for a special screening celebrating the seasons with The Obscura Society. As Winter 2013 draws on, Tom Stathes has curated animated cartoons from the 1920s-1930s for every season of the year. Searching his vast stacks of 16mm animation rarities and Tom has hand-selected a wide array of gems: frolicking Springtime fun and hot Summer calamities for those with a warmer temperament, and breezy, cool Autumn shenanigans as well as snowy Winter escapades for those who relish the cold months. For a glimpse into past visions of the seasons as depicted by the merry-makers of early film animation, come enjoy the latest screening—shown in real 16mm film, with a real projector—a unique experience you’ll be sure to enjoy! 7:30pm at The Observatory, 543 Union Street, Brooklyn. $12. Buy tickets here.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 26: 100 years ago, in 1913, Grand Central Terminal opened its doors to the public and on August 2, 1967, NYC’s recently established Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Terminal as an official NYC landmark. Join LANDMARK WEST! and The Museum of the City of New York as we celebrate the centennial and discover why this impressive structure is so very worthy of that designation. A Landmark designation is not to be taken for granted: if it was not for fierce and unwavering preservation advocacy, NYers and citizens of the world would be deprived of this building’s splendor today. 1-3pm inside the Atrium of 120 Park Avenue (opposite Grand Central). $20 members; $25 non-members. RSVP to landmarkwest@landmarkwest.org, or call 212-496-8110.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 27: During its six-month run, Frej was an unlikely phenomenon: a seventeen-seat New Nordic pop-up serving a $45 tasting menu Monday through Wednesday in a Williamsburg design studio. Aska, its newly expanded replacement, has gained two extra nights of service (Sunday and Thursday), an additional twelve-seat dining room, and a new partner, general manager Eamon Rockey, whose cocktails share a Scandinavian-inspired, herbal sensibility with chef Fredrik Berselius’s cuisine. The prix fixe menu, now $65 for six to eight small-plate courses, integrates plants like yarrow, lichen, and seaweed, focusing on vegetables and often treating protein as a garnish. 6-10pm at Kinfolk Studios, 90 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn. $65. RSVP info@askanyc.com

I remember the sense of wonder that accompanied my first discovery of Far Rockaway. It was the summer of 2009, and I was in love. She was new to New York, and my wanderings improved for it.

We toyed with Coney Island to escape the hot concrete of New York’s summertime, but finally found the experience to be too crowded by kitsch and commercialism. The idea to explore the end of the blue line was probably hers; the good ideas that summer generally were.

My son was a baby then. And as raw as my emotions were around the divorce that had just finalized, I was likewise new. As a man, father, and artist, my world was changing focus. To anchor myself to those closest to me, I would look for reference points to the life I’d known with them.

One thing I knew about my quiet, beautiful, impossibly sweet child was that he was fascinated by trains. So when the A emerged from the tunnel on that first ride out, cleared the big bend at Rockaway Boulevard & skimmed the sparkling waves of Jamaica Bay, I started to count the days til I could make the trip happen for my boy.

Through regular pilgrimage, I came to favor the left side of the train both coming and going: in the morning we’d watch JFK’s air traffic, and at day’s end, sun-tired and sandy, my child would stretch out across our laps as the setting sun refracted on the bay.

Over the years, the funky beach town at 116th street became a refuge, a place of friendship to connect with nature, peace, and boardwalk beers over Mets games, paradise”¦ I even made a hobby of fantasizing about moving to Far Rockaway full-time: to be in New York, fully connected to mass transit, but next to the beach? Very nice dream. And just so, time’s passage introduced me to many all-year residents, the Queens-leaning strain of irie in them always unmistakable.

I want to be more like that, I’d say to myself.

Today, a visit to Far Rockaway means the hum of generators, mountains of rubble, impossible visions of defaced and listing structures (contents spilling out like drunken vomit), lamposts angled crazily, city streets impassable, deserted”¦ As though our neighbors were targeted by unstoppable forces and lost the war.

BUT THEN YOU REALIZE: the human loss (though very real) was far less than what the epic calamity would suggest. Piles of mattresses, not corpses, big difference. High five, government!

Which also says: the spirit that I fell in love with remains.

And alongside that happy observation came a fascinating notion, or better yet, recognition ”” the peninsula is miles of canvas, opportunity on an incredible scale.

This post is my personal hello to something new and just a little bit scary to me: The Far Rockaway Redevelopment Fund. The Fund will commission artists to create site-specific responses throughout the peninsula (and if fundraising goes well, I’ll also direct support to brilliant ideas).

My hope is to refocus minds on the potential exposed by this devastation ”” I feel a responsibility to my city and son to make the most of this, to try to make things right. And the lure of a beachside art walk would invite New Yorkers to explore a patch of land that I now regard as the most important in all the city: this is what the future looks like if we don’t change course. Maybe there’s even a local economy boost in there? I honestly don’t know. But I know that I can’t not try.

We need to rethink the way we live in this world. Art conjures our greatness, and we’ll have to rise above everything we’ve ever known to move forward. I know this.

The Fund launches this Thursday, at Gowanus Loft, with a show I personally can’t wait to attend: The Listening, an acoustic listening party & fundraiser. We’ll have great art, food, drink, and performance in an epic space: ideal circumstances to come together in awareness of the moment we’re in.

So if you’ve read this far, and live in New York”¦

Untapped New York is proud to be a co-sponsor of The Listening, which has been featured on Flavorpill and The Huffington Post. More details about the event here. Buy tickets here.

Get in touch with George Del Barrio @superbiate and check out his blog. Learn more at The Vanderbilt Republic’s Facebook page.