Rotating among three Norwegian artists, with the emphasis placed on Vebjorn Sand's outstanding work, spending time in this gallery has been a remarkable experience. From the first day that we visited, we learned from a proud friend from Norway, that Sand is a well-regarded painter in Norway. We were delighted to have the chance to view additional works by Sand in the back portion of the studio, where he has lived for the past twelve years. We saw some paintings from some of his past exhibitions, as well as several of his father's pieces. Sand started painting at a very young age in Norway and never stopped. Now, his customers are primarily from the Scandinavian countries, so his coveted paintings go back and forth to Norway to appease buyers in both places. In addition to being captivated by Sand's own work, we have also been intrigued by the other Norwegian artist's work.
Babycastles, randomly named in honor of a Japanese pastry, is a gallery and community venue for video game designers. However, according to Todd Anderson, one of the members of the Babycastles collective, Babycastles is about more than just gaming. It is an “incubator” of fresh artistic thought, a place to go with unconventional ideas to be welcomed by individuals who can see those concepts into fruition without red tape and hefty price tags.Using his own story as a case study, Todd told me about how he moved to New York from Chicago in order to pursue digital poetry, a relatively new genre that plays with the interaction between technology and language (for example, using a keyboard to control the delivery of a poem in the same way a conductor guides an orchestra). Todd turned to Babycastles, inquired about hosting a monthly poetry event, and was met with great support. He found a home for his art, and has been invested in Babycastles ever since.Sharing a building with Hack Manhattan, Babycastles hosts a wide variety of events for all ages including concerts, lectures, game launches, and even yoga. The Babycastles team curates exhibitions that spotlight independent video game designers and define their work in the larger context of fine arts. Oftentimes, custom game cabinets are built to accommodate the works on display.Game creators and other artists are invited to apply for the Babycastles residency program, which allows them to take advantage of the bright, sunlit co-working space and receive inspiration from an artistic community where they can freely test their latest ideas. For an application to the program, check the website; new members are admitted regularly.
"People feel comfortable in my gallery. I believe it is the little things that we do that make a difference: incense, music, greeting people when they walk in. Everyone just feels welcome." Robin Rice began her career by studying commercial photography for fifteen years, but ultimately decided that it was not satisfying her real passion. In the 1990's she segued into an area of this medium where she was able to fine-tune her craft and figure out what kind of aesthetic she liked. "I guess you could say that I developed a brand." She continued on, telling me, "My work and the shows that I hang in the gallery all have different imagery, yet somehow everything seems to fit together - like a collage, a collection - but I mix it up a bit." Robin suggested that I go into the back room where I would begin to understand what her concept is. "It almost all tells a story," she said. There are over twenty years of photo collections in the back of the gallery - at all prices.I must recommend that anyone visiting should steal a glimpse of this hidden space. There are stacks of both Robin's work and the work of other artists from previous exhibits. Robin told me that people contact her constantly, either by phone or via email to make specific requests for a certain genre or a category that they would like to have represented in a photograph. She says that this is her forte. "I will do research for hours, even days, trying to come up with a perfect selection to please the customer."When I asked Robin why she chose this particular location on 11th Street, as it is not in an area known for galleries, she explained to me: "I was riding my bike through the neighborhood years ago and just stopped when I came upon this disheveled space - broken windows and all. It had been empty for about a year, but my heart began to pound and I knew it was the perfect space to rent for my gallery." She loved it so much that she also was able to find an apartment a few doors down for several years. Robin went on to explain that the gallery is surrounded by great bars and restaurants that help to keep the traffic flowing into her gallery. And when she isn't open late at night, she still receives phone calls from people who spotted something they saw in the window when strolling by. Yes, this is more a destination area, as it does not get a lot of street traffic, but she said that it is perfect for her this way. "If I am going to be there everyday, then I want to be in a neighborhood that I love. It feels like home when I walk into the gallery."
As Hamlet would say, “This is one of the places you come to the village for.” Walking through the door, a small white pooch runs up to greet you, then leads you back through the racks of coats, pants, hats, and other accessories. As the owner, Hamlet, emphasizes, the inventory here is vintage clothing (not a second-hand shop), that dates from the 1940s to the 80s. The selection is sourced through various vintage collectors from all over the world. Hamlet credits his eye for fashion to his mother, who, he says, was a fashion designer in his home country of Dominican Republic. He is very proud of his collection and iterates that the store is not for “80s party” accoutrement, rather it is a resource for historic elegance and style. And if you stop in, you may even get your picture taken, as Hamlet will often have his customers model his new acquisitions.
Every nook and cranny of this tiny storefront's space is full of an extensive and eclectic collection of musical instruments from around the world. Instruments hang from the ceiling just as haphazardly as they are stacked on top of one another from the floor. Located at this same address for over fifty years, Music Inn has an impressive sitar selection from the 1960's, a rare 100 year old sarinda from Afghanistan, as well as adorable little child guitars and mini pianos. I had a quick throwback moment when I spied an autoharp. Do you remember music class in elementary school back in the 60's?
62 East 4th Street has had a fascinating history. At its inception in 1889, it served as a social hall housing a musician's union known as Astoria Hall, as well as hosting meetings of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. In the 1930's, the ballroom was revamped as a theater and television studio and renamed Fortune Theater until Andy Warhol discovered it and left his legendary stamp here. In 1969, he rented it out to showcase a series of infamous porn films and called it Andy Warhol's Theater: Boys to Adore Galore. Over the years, the Yiddish theater had performances here, and many well known television shows used the space to film. Since 1987, the Duo Center has been here having raised the funds for renovations, and then remaining throughout construction to become home to what is now Duo Multicultural Arts Center and Rod Rogers Dance Company and Studio. Today the building is part of Fourth Arts Block (FAB) and operates as a center for film, dance, art, theater and music and is among New York's designated cultural districts.
Pageant Print Shop’s entirely glass storefront bordered by light blue is instantly eye-catching and proudly displays the treasure within. Inside its bright, buttercream interior, an immense assortment of old prints and maps line every wall and fill neatly-labeled display racks.This sanctuary of beautiful historical pieces was created by Sidney Solomon and Henry Chafetz in 1946. It was originally one of the many second-hand book stores on Fourth Avenue, an area that was then known as “Book Row.” Now under the leadership of Sidney’s daughters, Shirley and Rebecca, Pageant Print Shop primarily sells old prints and is thriving at its current 4th Street location.Having worked with historic pieces her whole life, Shirley knows how to get the best prints. She has amassed her impressive collection from antique book auctions as well as other various sources that she has built up over the years. Rodger, who has been working at Pageant Print Shop for over a decade, told Manhattan Sideways that “what we are looking for are old books with the bindings broken that are really not in very good shape on the outside, but still have good quality prints, maps, or illustrations on the inside.” Although they search for old books based on the contents within, the shop also sells the old bindings for creatives looking to make decoupage and other fun art projects.Pageant Print Shop is definitely a fixture in the East Village, and in the words of Rodger, is “one of those neighborhood jams.” They enjoy “a loyal group of people that have been coming here for eons," tourists looking for something authentically New York City, and neighborhood people walking by. Rodger told us that newcomers are often “surprised that they are able to buy a piece of history,” and return for more of their authentic, beautiful, and historic prints. Pageant Print Shop is unique in its extensive, high quality, and affordable selection. Rodger affirmed that “It’s going to be hard for you to find someone who has this kind of a collection at these kinds of prices - it’s just true.”
After moving to her current location from East 7th Street, Lalita Kumut is pleased with her new address for selling aromatherapy products. On one of our recent visits, we stood by while a delighted group of girls were creating their own fragrances. From the variety of custom blends, soaps, oils and other smell-good body products, to the lovely women who have been in this business for over twenty years, the Fragrance Shop offers a memorable experience for the senses.