Upon entering Ditra Gallery, I found an enormous frame spread out in the middle of the room. It is here that I met sculptor Khachik Bozoghlian, who was working on reconstructing the swirling vine designs around the edges. He greeted me warmly and explained that along with having his work periodically shown at Ditra Gallery, he helps out Georgi Dimov, the owner, with operations. Georgi appeared shortly afterwards and I immediately saw how perfectly the pair complemented each other: Georgi is quiet and still where Khachik is talkative and frenetic. As we spoke, it became apparent how the business benefited from their relationship.
Georgi hails from Bulgaria where he trained as an artist, and Khachik is originally from Iran. When I visited the gallery in the winter of 2016, Georgi's watercolors covered the walls, showing various cityscapes, including a series on Fordham College. He told me that he is especially drawn to New York as an artist interested in urban landscapes, though he has also created paintings of France, Italy, and Turkey.
Georgi opened Ditra Gallery in 2013 as an eclectic artistic center for photography, sculpture, painting, and any other art forms that he chooses to exhibit. When I asked if there is an underlying principle that ties together the art on display at Ditra, Khachik answered that the gallery shows "anything good." If a piece is "good" enough to put on the wall, he elaborated, then it does not matter the age, origin, or style of the artist.
"We try to have a different sort of relationship with our artists," Georgi said, adding that they always invite the artists to New York for their gallery opening and try to keep them here as long as possible. The two men then started pulling postcards and exhibition announcements from nooks within the gallery, pointing out the names of past artists shown at Ditra. The list included American painter Taylor Marzden Cohen, Russian artist Belerfon Dalakyan, and Taiwanese-American watercolor master Heidy Sumei Chuang. I was impressed with the breadth of artists, both in terms of medium and location. "Some galleries only do one thing," Khachik commented, but Ditra Gallery celebrates the idea of sharing across borders.
All parents throughout New York, locals and tourists alike, should know about the educational and transformative experience of the Children's Museum of Manhattan. The 83rd Street institution, although it opened in 1973, has been at its current location since 1989. It is an extraordinary (not to mention really fun!) resource for both kids and adults.I happened to visit during the week that constitutes winter break for New York schools, and so I witnessed an incredible amount of excitement and enthusiasm on each of the floors. Children as young as a few weeks old were in their mother's arms or being pushed in a stroller while their siblings were running around, checking out the interactive exhibits. Almost every aspect of the museum had something to push, touch, or listen to, giving children a tactile way of learning and remembering.I received an eye-opening tour from David Rios, the Director of Public Programs, who guided me from the fifth floor back to ground level. An exhibit called Playworks, designed for early learning, is located upstairs. For more than ten years, the museum's team worked side by side with child development experts to create a space where little ones can enhance their motor skills and problem-solving abilities. I enjoyed standing on the sidelines and observing children climbing in and out of a large wooden FDNY truck, a NYC bus, and a deli with plastic foods. As David explained, "Some museums have a supermarket, but we're in New York, so we have a deli."I was amazed by how often the museum catered to varying age levels within the same space. For example, in the Movers and Shakers section, older children could learn math and physics by building mini roller coasters while younger siblings could crawl through tunnels and slide down slides. I was delighted to see parents participating with their children: this is definitely a museum where entire families can enjoy themselves, and children's learning is enhanced by parental guidance. Though there are plenty of buttons that encourage children to learn on their own, there is also signage so that parents can provide a further explanation to their kids. The museum is designed so that parents and older children do not feel intimidated or shy about trying out the different exhibits. As David stated so nicely, "This is a fun, non-judgmental environment for all ages to learn."Continuing on, I entered The Lab, where children can read stories, sing songs, and learn more about art and science. All of the writing and sound bites are bilingual, since Spanish-speaking families make up such a significant portion of New York City's population. David told me that The Lab sometimes holds special events, such as a visit from members of Alvin Ailey, who danced with the children in an effort to teach them about movement. The next room took Peek-a-Boo to a whole new level with a digital version of the game and in the following room, I had to laugh out loud as I explored the digestive system, complete with a talking toilet.The grand finale of the tour was the America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far special exhibit that is running from February 2016 - February 2017. The visually compelling exhibit is a multimedia exploration of the diversity of Muslim cultures within the United States and abroad. It is a collaboration between the museum's staff and members of the Muslim community and is an ingenious way of introducing children to topical cultural differences in an age-appropriate way. For example, there is a section where kids can press buttons to smell a variety of fruits and spices, as well as a collection of "Objects and Stories from American Muslim Homes." Some other highlights included a life-size camel, musical instruments, and a virtual reality room that allows visitors to explore the architectural styles of different mosques. I was pleased to find out Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the exhibit. He has stated, "With America to Zanzibar, children will have the chance to learn about Muslim cultures in an engaging and thoughtful way. We only grow stronger when we embrace and celebrate the multitude of cultural backgrounds that make up New York."
The Metropolitan Republican’s Club began its life in 1902 as the Republican Club of the 29th District. It originally met on Madison Avenue before moving to the Croyden Hotel in 1929. The current clubhouse was built in 1930. Past and present members include Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Michael R. Bloomberg, and Rudolph Giuliani.
Taka Tokuyama came to the US from Tokyo in 2004. He began his career in New York working not only in salons, but also as a hair stylist for fashion shows and some leading magazines. In 2011, he decided that it was time to launch his own brand. The first business that he opened was on 83rd Street. He immediately drew customers from the neighborhood, and he is proud to say that many of the celebrities he worked with over the years also frequent the salon. In 2013, he opened another space in the East Village, followed more recently in 2016, with one in Tribeca. Each week, Taka divides his time as evenly as possible, accommodating his clients at all three of his salons.