The Same Blue Skies

Want for this city and for this world now what I wanted then: peace, justice & understanding

It’s the perfect blue skies that always remind me of that morning eleven years ago now. The skies and the air feel the same and that’s always what takes me back.

Last year was the big 10th anniversary of September 11th 2001 that also marked my ten years in New York that inspired more lengthy reflections. My feelings about the political and emotional circumstances around this day have not changed much since last year and the same feeling are echoed even further back. I’m tired of war and tired of patriotism and ready for real critical reflection, justice and peace. Searching in my old files, I found this piece I wrote about September 11 in 2003:

“On that morning language failed… In those moments of not knowing, not being able to articulate what was going on on a massive scale, I knew that never again could I believe in a narrow idea of “truth.”  No singular narrative could ever capture that, or any experience.  Of course, since then I’ve witnessed many attempts to manipulate these diverse and disparate narratives into one master narrative.  A narrative that believes in an idea of “America” as benevolent while at the same time baying for vengeance…

Remembering September 11th is a reminder to me of how the damage done by violence of any kind is permanent.  Whether that violence is an act of war, abuse, police brutality, or not having food, housing or medical care, or is emotional, physical, sexual, or psychological.  These types and acts of violence are not the same, but the systems that perpetuate them are similar and inter-related…  Because it continues to haunt me I know I need to oppose domination and oppression, and the acts of violence that feed them, everywhere.  I feel I must do this in order for healing to be possible.  Healing is possible, even though the effects of violence stay with us.  I believe this because I feel everyone’s life needs to be about more than just survival.”

Reading this now I still stand behind the politics and emotions expressed in that piece. However, I think, I have found a way to heal by slowly, deliberately and stubbornly building a life in this city. I have worked hard to find health and creativity and to inspire that in others. I still struggle with how best I can help contribute to a city that’s a just and beautiful place to live for all and how I can support and engage my own creativity, but I feel my small daily contributions and actions strive towards these ideals.

My life, and New York City, is obviously so different than it was eleven years ago. I had no idea how to picture myself at 31 at that time. Being an adult seemed impossibly far away with such a looming and intense event in the foreground. Looking back today I can say that the 20 year old me who witnessed those tragic events from my 6th floor dorm room in Union Square would be pleased with the 31 year old I have become looking at two towers of light rising into the sky in remembrance and tribute from Brooklyn.

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GO See Art in Brooklyn This Weekend!

As some of you know, for the past few months I’ve been working on GO, a borough-wide, community-curated open studio event organized by the Brooklyn Museum. After months of planning, preparation and outreach the open studio weekend is upon us! This Saturday and Sunday, September 8th and 9th, over 1,700 artists with studios all over Brooklyn will open their doors to you from 11 am to 7 pm.  I am so excited about GO because it showcases the diversity of artistic talent that Brooklyn has to offer. It also gives viewers the chance to see art in places they never knew artists were working, whether that’s under their nose in their own neighborhood or farther afield.

I’ve been working as the neighborhood coordinator for my beloved neighborhood, Sunset Park, where 160 artists will open their studios! I knew artists worked in the neighborhood, but I’ve been so pleased about just how many artists there are and how many want to participate in GO. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to think about how we can continue to promote art in Sunset Park as a group and our first small step is a Tumblr page, Sunset Park Artists, for participating artists to share images of new work and work in progress. There’s also two fantastic nonprofits, Chashama and the New York Art Residency and Studio Foundation that offer artists affordable studio space, and many artists with studios in these buildings are participating. I’ve also put together a Sunset Park guide of places to eat and hang out before, after or during seeing studios. Why not make a weekend out of coming to Sunset Park? All of these sites give you a little taste of what you will find here in the neighborhood!

To learn more about participating in GO as a viewer and voter, search neighborhoods and explore the profiles participating artists visit gobrooklynart.org. If you want more information about Sunset Park artists stop by the Green Fig Cafe on Saturday or Sunday between 11 and 3 and I’ll give you all the information you need to get out and see art. See you in the studios!

The Summer So Far

Beach life, Fourth of July edition

Robert Moses State Park, July 4

It’s a cliche to say it, but can you believe how fast the summer goes? All around me I see announcements for “the last (your summertime activity here) of the season!” Already? I’m still sorting through my photos from France and there will be a myriad of posts coming soon, but in the meantime, here’s a little review of my summer activity so far. Enjoy and bon week-end!

Fireworks over manhattan (from Brooklyn)

Fireworks from a Greenpoint roof, July 4

Landing in Iceland with the midnight sun

11:30 pm “sunset” in Iceland, mid-July

Paris et ses nuages vue de haute

Rainy Paris, from le Ciel de Paris, Tour de Montparnasse

Prendre un apéro plus haute que la tour Eiffel... Check!

Cheers! With Byglam in Paris

Reportage direct de Paris: le temps de merde continue

Moody Paris skies, mid-July

Petit dej pour mon dej

Paris may have rain, but also, croissants!

Quiiiiick! Le soleil!!!!

And when Paris is sunny, there’s no where better!

Sète! Quelle belle ville! Merci @clumsy_maria pour la Tournée!

Escape to Sete and the sun in the south of France

Super déjeuner avec les fruits de mer et @clumsy_maria

Seafood feast in Sete with Clumsy Maria

A taste of the sweet life

Pool time in Provence

Beaux couleurs!

Exploring Provence by bike, mid-July

Merci mes amies pour le super soirée!

Back to Paris to wish our friends Au Revoir!

Made it to the farm in time for a beautiful ceremony!

…and directly to upstate New York for a beautiful farm wedding!

Mission of Burma hipster paradise

Mission of Burma, Ted Leo and Wild Flag for free in Prospect Park

It was a lovely beach day!

Back to Robert Moses State Park, early August

Chillin' with @easylovernyc

Corita played a show at Don Pedro’s with Easy Lover (above), Paper Fleet and Space Merchants

Now it's the ladies' turn! Let's go Brooklyn Bombshells!

Brooklyn Bombshells won a rollerderby match at Coney Island!

On a ferris wheel looking out on Coney Island...

… and after Corita rode the Wonder Wheel

Toasting a Brooklyn day well lived!

A toast to a summer well spent!

Punk Rope Games Recap

Team Henri the Depressed French Cat: Peter, Me, Marisha and Brian

For the first time since I was sixteen and used to compete in horse shows, I got up early on a Sunday morning for a sporting event. The event was the fourth annual Punk Rope Games, where teams of punk ropers competed in events like the chicken toss relay, as well as more “traditional” jump rope events, in addition to performing a fight song to show off their skills.

Gang of Genghis Khan conquer the doubles jump

I love punk rope because it combines fitness drills with serious fun, absurdity, music and team spirit. Tim and Shana, who run Punk Rope, are the most giving and energetic people who make the idea of fitness accessible to those who whose first impulse is not to be active.

The “Asian Contagion” team show off their infectious skills during their fight song. Jeremy (in the front) just got a bronze metal in a national jump rope competition!

My bandmate Marisha signed me up to participate in the games and after some brainstorming we opted for the surreal and based our look and name our favorite internet video of the moment of Henri, the depressed French cat.

This being our first games, and the fact we hardly practiced at all, meant that we manged to not score any points. I do think we nailed our 75 second “fight song” routine, which we did to that enduring 90s classic “Jump Around” by House of Pain. The downside of this is that song is now stuck in my head. And the lyrics are way worse than I remember.

Cat moves during our team “fight song” performance

Floor punch!

Concentration during the chicken toss relay

We also managed to heckle and cheer the other teams in bizarre, not quite French accents using odd expressions that proclaimed the superiority of the French culture and lifestyle (you all know I love France and I love to laugh at it too as much as I like to laugh at my own country).

Team Henri the Depressed French Cat

The teams performances and costumes made the event like a mash up between gym class and CHERYL, my favorite arty, off the hook dance party.

“Plague” from team Asian Contagion. She made her rat wig herself!

The eventual champions, Phat Positive, also put together a video to show off their skills even before the games. They have raised the bar for next year, and next year, my teammates and I will be ready.

Phat Positive performing their “fight song”

Phat Positive: 2012 Punk Rope games victors

However, my favorite part of the games was the after party, where we got to revel in the camaraderie that is Punk Rope. Of course, I had to change my clothes and put together  a relaxed, sporty outfit for the occasion.

Punk Rope Games after party outfit. T-shirt and skirt by American Apparel, ASOS “Deny” wedge sneakers. Thanks to Marisha for the photo!

What gets you up early on a Sunday morning?

The final scores. We scored a crying cat!

Thank you to Felicity Hogan for the great shots of Team Henri in action!

Hey, Brooklyn! Let’s GO see art!

I’m really excited to tell you about a great, new project that I’m involved in. The Brooklyn Museum, my favorite museum in the world, has launched GO, a community-curated, open studio event.  During GO, Brooklyn-based artists are asked to open their studios to the community on September 8–9, 2012. Community members registered as voters will visit studios and nominate artists for inclusion in a group exhibition to open at the Museum on Target First Saturday, December 1, 2012.

GO brings together so many of my favorite things: contemporary art, the Brooklyn art scene, social media, and the cultural life of the borough. Knowing that Brooklyn is a huge borough with 71 square miles and 67 different neighborhoods, the Brooklyn Museum is working with 22 neighborhood coordinators to help get the word out. I’m serving as a neighborhood coordinator for my favorite Brooklyn neighborhood, Sunset Park. If you see a redhead taking up posters or distributing GO postcards along 5th avenue or down in the industrial waterfront, that just might be me! You can meet the different coordinators, learn about art highlights in different neighborhoods, and learn more about the GO project on the very lively GO tumblr.

If you are artist with a studio in Brooklyn you have until June 29 to register to participate in the open studio weekend. You can find out more  and register on the GO website. If you don’t have a studio, but want to go see art in Brooklyn on September 8th and 9th, mark your calendar! Registration for voters opens August 1st.

Brighton Beach Memoirs

I want to feel the sand beneath my feet

June is always a fickle month. It’s not quite summer, but I’m already itching to go to the beach, to feel the sand between my toes, the sun on my back, and to spend long lazy days by the ocean or on the board walk, letting my cares drift away.

Down on the boardwalk

For a June birthday celebration we wove a nautical theme into a Saturday afternoon with clams at Randazzo’s Clam Bar in Sheepshead Bay (offering fried seafood that is, reportedly “the pride of Sheepshead Bay”), a walk along the board walk at Brighton Beach and a stop at Ruby’s Bar in Coney Island. In honor of all things sea worthy I pulled out my old favorite LL Bean tote bag and paired it with a very matching Built by Wendy dress.

This was the perfect outfit to show off my new Ellips shoes from designer Priscille Demanche’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection. She had a 4 day sale on my birthday and when I emailed her and said that I was offering myself a pair of her sandals as a gift she gave me free shipping all the way from France! What a darling! And hurry, she has organized a sale to benefit a charity of your choice on her past season collections just until Friday the 15th. Up to 60% off and a donation to a good cause! Shop your shoes at the Ellips site here (don’t hesitate to email Priscille if you are ordering from outside of France) and vote on which association should benefit here.

See you on the beach and the boardwalk this summer!

Thanks to my friend Heather Donahue for the lovely photographs!

En Fleur!

Cardigan: Brooklyn Industries, Blouse: Jennifer Glasgow, Belt: H&M, Pants: Zara, Shoes: Soda (from Modcloth). Photo by Christian

There’s a few weeks in April and May that are fleetingly perfect. The sun is out, the breeze blows, you can wear stylish layers, but not overheat, and still not freeze if you happen to forget your jacket. Flowers pop and everywhere you look there is renewed energy, color and vigor. This past weekend was an oportune time to pay a spring visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens where, thanks to a strangely warm spring, the cherry trees and lilacs are in full bloom several weeks early.

Azaleas at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

In planning my outfit I wanted to dress to match the colors I knew would be in full effect and also dress to around comfortably. Azaleas, lilacs, cherry trees, tulips, and peonies are all in bloom right now…  I knew the color palate would be pink, fuchsia, lavender, magenta and rose, so I put together the hot colors of the season: tangerine and bright pink, with the print of the season: floral. It was the perfect time to introduce my new shirt by Canadian designer Jennifer Glasgow that I bought in Montreal. With transparent tangerine and floral prints its on trend and timeless. Also, do you like how my pants disappear into the azalea bushes? Finally, did you know you can check out the status of the cherry blossoms at BBG on their bloom map?

Photo by Christian

I love the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in any season, but in early spring it is over the top with color and flowers. It’s wonderful for a weekend morning wander with friends and as a word to the wise, if you get there between 10 am and noon on Saturday entry is free! What is your favorite thing to do in spring?

Walking among the cherry blossoms

Lilacs are on of my favorite flowers. Couldn't you just smell them all day?

Cherry blossoms and blue sky. I tend to take the same photos every year at the Botanic Gardens.

Celebrating under the cherry trees. Photo by Christian

Tulips at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden