Bird Town

On Saturday, I checked out the birdhouse-making event that was part of Myrtle Avenue Bird Town.  It was awesome!  The artists were on site constructing bird houses and feeders, and when I arrived around 11:30, the tables were packed with kids.

That didn't stop me, though, from sitting down myself to paint a house.  And a handful of adults followed once I started.


While there, I got to see some of the actual bird houses that are a part of the installation.

This (above) is a bat house!  Awesome.

Bird Town on Myrtle Avenue

(image from MARP's blog)

Now this is an awesome public art project- an eclectic collection of bird houses! The houses appear at Myrtle and Carlton (apparently that little traffic triangle is called Person Square Triangle), and at Myrtle and St. Edwards at the entrance to the park.  Plus, the artists will be doing an interactive workshop during the SONYA stroll next weekend!  Rad.

Here is the info from MARP (long, but worthwhile):

The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership and the New York City Parks Public Art Program present Myrtle Avenue Bird Town, a temporary installation by artists Daniel Goers and Jennifer Wong. From May 1st through December 2010, dozens of playful birdhouses will live in trees at the Person Square Triangle (Myrtle and Carlton Avenues) and the northwest corner of Fort Greene Park (Myrtle and St. Edwards). An opening reception for the installation will take place on Thursday, May 6th at Sans Souci Restaurant (330 Myrtle Avenue) from 6-8pm, and an open workshop with artists will take place on Saturday, May 15th from 10am-4pm.

Goers and Wong will use recycled materials and experimental building techniques to create a micro-community of birdhouses in two locations along Myrtle Avenue. This colorful and whimsical collection of birdhouses will be the site of an ongoing performance as birds feed, nest, build, and care for offspring in these spaces. This exhibition will attract and engage passers-by to observe Fort Greene’s local bird population and contemplate the ecological relationship between birds and the urban environment. “Bringing public sculpture to Myrtle Avenue is part of the Partnership’s larger public art initiative to invest in the creative capital of the neighborhood and rethink our public spaces with art” says Meredith Phillips Almeida, the Partnership’s Director of Community Development. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, the Partnership will organize educational workshops in the community that will teach children and adults about local bird species and environment awareness. The artists will hold their first community workshop on May 15th from 10am-4pm as part of the South of the Navy Yard Artists Annual Studio Stroll. Participants of all ages can stop by at any point to build their own bird houses and meet the artists.

An opening reception will take place at Sans Souci (330 Myrtle between Carlton and Washington Park), a bar/restaurant featuring Caribbean cuisine, on Thursday, May 6th from 6pm-8pm, and is free and open to the public. Arrive early to take advantage of happy hour specials and light refreshments. The artists will be on hand to discuss their work, their process, and the environmental message behind the piece.  Throughout the duration of the 8-month installation, the artists are documenting the exhibition’s progress and activity on a dedicated website,

The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership’s Public Art Initiative represents a multi-faceted program to establish the avenue as an access point to cultural activities for community members of diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Through efforts to bring public sculpture, art installations, studio art, and creative street furniture elements to the public spaces and sidewalks of the 20-block retail district, the Initiative aims to increase access to art for the entire community, and to support small business by driving foot traffic to the commercial corridor. For more information about the Partnership, visit Parks & Recreation’s temporary public art program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks. Committed to the exhibition of art by emerging and established artists, Parks & Recreation has supported projects ranging from international exhibitions in flagship parks to local, community works in neighborhood parks, playgrounds, and traffic islands.

Great Wall of Brooklyn: Next Artist Chosen

Myrtle Avenue's intriguing Great Wall of Brooklyn will have a new artist - Alev Ozaynak!  Looking forward to the installation... Alev Ozkaynak is an emerging artist who graduated in 2008 with a BFA in Drawing and Art History from the Pratt Institute.  She has participated in a few Brooklyn-based group shows, and her mural for GWOB will be her first major solo art project.  Her artwork is primarily black and white ink drawings that reference the markings of Abstract Expressionism and Japanese ink brush painting.  But upon closer viewing, the viewer’s imagination is triggered, as the forms of natural elements such as flowers, birds, snakes and insects are revealed. For her GWOB project, Alev Ozkaynak will be creating a digital mural based on a new related drawing.

Great Wall of Brooklyn Public Meeting

The folks behind the very cool Great Wall of Brooklyn on Myrtle Ave. are holding a public meeting on Tuesday to let people decide what the next installation will be.  Info: Tuesday July 7th – Community Meeting

Fort Greene residents - Vote for Art In Your Hood!

@ Great Wall of Brooklyn 387 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11205

Please join us on Tuesday July 7th from 7:00 - 8:00 pm to select the next artist who will present their fabulous art on the Great Wall of Brooklyn in Fall 2009.

Artists have sent us their proposals and the review panelists, Charlotta Janssen, Chanika Svetvilas and Derrick Adams, have selected three proposals to take to the next round.  But, now it’s your turn to vote for the best art proposal!  Come see the works of: *    Allistar D. Peters & Lucia Jeesun Lee *    Hidemi Takagi *    Alev Ozkaynak

Please join us at the Great Wall of Brooklyn to meet the short-listed artists & the Great Wall of Brooklyn team.  We will have a short presentation by each artist, followed by a voting session open to community members. Voting will continue at this location until Friday July 10th.

The Great Wall of Brooklyn is an independent artist-run public art organization that launched in the historic Fort Greene neighbourhood on May 9, 2009. It features the work of Brooklyn-based and international artists. Located on the side of a four-story building at the corner of Myrtle and Vanderbilt Avenues, The Great Wall introduces large-scale art made in Brooklyn to the community each quarter.

Great Wall of Brooklyn

You may have noticed the giant painting on the side of the Chez Lola building, on Myrtle Avenue.  It's the first in a series of public art works aimed at beautifying the commercial strip, engaging local artists, and creating dialog. Per their website, "The Great Wall of Brooklyn is an independent artist-run public art organization that will be launched in the historic Fort Greene neighborhood in Spring 2009. It will feature the work of Brooklyn-based and international artists. Located on the side of a four-story building at the corner of Myrtle and Vanderbilt Avenues, The Great Wall introduces large-scale art made in Brooklyn to the community each quarter."

Works will include painting, sculpture, projection and light projections.  The official "opening" will take place on Saturday, May 9 from 3-6 pm.  The piece will also be a featured stop on the annual SONYA Stroll, May 16-17 (more on that in a separate post!).

The debut painting, Achtung Baby...Here Comes the Next Great Depression, was created by Charlotta Janssen.  Janssen is the owner of both Chez Ozkar and Chez Lola, and her gorgeous works can be found hanging in both restaurants.  CHB asked her a few questions about the project and her history in the neighborhood:

charlotta 1. What inspired you to start the GWOB project?

This big gray wall really needed some color , something to make an  impression, especially when I got the stats from the DOT: around 15 000 vehicles pass this crossing daily on Myrtle and around  7800 pass this crossing via Clermont. Advertising is the obvious,  but I wondered if this wall could have a different meaning. I  brainstormed with friends as to how to make it an art  entity. This  is my first attempt.

2. What kinds of art do you hope to display on the wall in the future?

Art that has a critical edge, that displays an artist's critical  point of view as well as style, that concerns social commentary 3. How can an interested local artist get involved with this project?

We are currently working on the criteria, hoping to have it by the  launch (5.09.09 3-6 pm). These criteria will then be available via  the website or at Chez Lola

4. Tell us about Achtung Baby - what inspired you, and how did you get the piece installed?

I wanted a strong piece - and this feels strong. I may be stating  the obvious with the next great depression, but it is also a  celeberation of the GREAT depression, getting pushed out of one's  comfort zone into the moment. It is a retro image, but I stil think  you can feel the individuals of this family: Jones' Family Car is  the title of the piece.

5. What do you think have been the most successful public art projects in the neighborhood?

SONYA - much respect ... BAM public projects ... Spark and Swoon  (graffitti artists in the hood) ... MARP's window project ... there  is always space for more. 6. You own two very successful restaurants in the neighborhood.  How did you get started?

This is a long and scary tale. In brief I never intended to open a  restaurant, I only decorated, designed and expedited restaurants  till I got fed up with people cutting corners and cutting down on  great ideas for restaurants with atmosphere, they always save on the  decoration - I completely understand business is rough, but I had  all these ideas stuffed in my head.

7. How do you think the current recession will affect artists and the art created?

Very positive and very negative. I think it will make for great art,  but if you need to sell art now, you may not be in luck. Layng low  and painting this GREAT depression away is what I think is the best  to do ... not always doable for some though.

8. How long have you lived in the neighborhood, and what brought you here?

I've been commuting from downtown Manhattan since 1998, wanting to move here since 2000, had a giant space for a great rent, but couldn't stand Manhattan. The moment I lost the lease (2005) - there  was no other place I wanted to be. I do miss going over the bridge  on my bike every day though - the BEST

9. Favorite thing about the neighborhood:

Diversity and characters! Nobody's smooth, everyone has an edge and  a heart and will definitely give you a piece of their mind. So paintworthy. 10. If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?

Oh my, this is the toughest, maybe pistachio? Strange color, yet  edible? A fruity flavored nut?

Great Wall of Brooklyn 387 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205 Tel: 646 290 7253

Public Space Planning Report

This recap is a bit late, as it happened a few weeks ago, but better late than never! The charette was indeed a planning workshop for the cobblestone area on Lafayette at St. James, and the meeting was held in Pratt's architecture school (the cool-looking one with the glowing mid-section on St. James.  The project will be a NYC Greenstreet, supported by the Dept of Parks and Recreation, the Dept of Transportation, Pratt and Councilwoman James.  The Greenstreet program "carves out new landscapes from the left over spaces of our dense system of urban roadways."

In answer to the question of ownership posed in my original post about this area, the space belongs to the city of NY and NOT the buildings it sits in front of.  However, the buildings' residents are still concerned about liability in the space and on the sidewalk that sits in front of it next to Lafayette Ave. (Apparently, who is responsible for the sidewalk and injuries it may cause is a contentious issue.  It was once thought to be the responsibility of the property owner, but recent lawsuits have left the city responsible.  I can see owners having to shovel and salt sidewalks in freezing, snowy weather, but major repair seems as though it should be the city's responsibility.  My two cents.)

During a slideshow presentation, attendees were shown different options regarding how to use and design the space, based on examples from Manhattan.  These included various bench arrangements, different types of greenery and the creation of small "rooms" using benches and planters that allow small groups of people to sit and visit, with some seats in the shade and some in the sun.  The presenters said they hoped to dedicate 30% of the space to gardens and include at least three benches in the new design.

We broke up into small groups and played around with tracing paper over diagrams of the space.  I had to leave for another engagement before the event was finished, so I wasn't able to see what the other groups had come up with (or what the event's conclusion was).  The ideas that my group came up with included: - opening up and extending the existing playground area into the space - dog run - art alley with lighting, here as well as up St. James to create a visual connection up to the main Pratt campus - benches in L-shapes or across from each other to allow for better conversation - invite local groups to host events in the space - for example, Sunday morning coffee with the adjacent church - community garden - recycle cobblestones to create pedestal for sculpture* - special programming, ie. have a debut reception when the sculpture is changed


The event was filled mostly with Pratt reps, current and former students, and reps from Ms. James' office.  There were also a handful of co-op board reps from te buildings adjacent to the space.  They were enthusiastic but also very concerned about potential liability.  Because I left early, I didn't get to meet everyone.  However, I may have been the only regular neighbor there who was not involved with Pratt, Ms. James or the building.  Would more people have come if the outreach had been better?

What do YOU want to see in that space?  Implementation is planned for fall 09.

(And those planters I lamented as being filled with weeds?  They're movable and will likely be taken out of the space for its facelift.)

* Yes, a few commenters were correct that there was once a sculpture in the space, and the plan is to bring art back to the front corner.  It will be a rotating sculpture display - sculptures will be changed out regularly

MARP Seeking Artists for New Installation

MARP will continue its very cool Myrtle Windows Gallery Exhibition and has extended a call for artists!  If interested, you must act fast.  The application deadline is Friday, February 13! Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership Seeks Submissions for Our Upcoming Myrtle Windows Gallery Exhibition

Myrtle Windows Gallery (MWG) is an open air art gallery that ‘breaks down the walls’ of the traditional private art gallery to bring two-dimensional art to the public arena via the storefront window, where it is accessible to anyone simply walking down the street. Ten Myrtle Avenue storefronts temporarily transform part of their windows into gallery space for the works of local artists. The initiative helps bring together artists, local businesses, and the community in a dialogue about art in public spaces.

Installation System The installation system serves to create a uniform look that unifies the exhibit, and displays work in a way that does not damage the merchant’s space or the work itself. The system includes a solar shade to provide a clean backdrop for the artwork while maintaining light and view through to the interior of the shop. A cable hanging system allows the artwork to hang in the window in front of the shade. The Partnership will not provide insurance to cover the art during this exhibition; however, the artist has the option to secure his/her own policy to cover theft or damage to the works while installed in the storefronts.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria MWG seeks ten (10) existing two-dimensional works of art (paintings, prints, photographs, collage, mixed media etc.) that can be easily installed in each of ten storefronts windows. Preference will be given to local artists whose work captures or is inspired by urban life. If the artist chooses to offer pieces for sale the Partnership will receive a commission on each sale, to be negotiated with the artist prior to the exhibit. Given that community accessibility is a key component of the mission of this initiative, we hope to exhibit works at a broad range of prices.

Application Process The following materials must be received by Friday, February 13, 2009 at 5pm at: Myrtle Windows Gallery, 472 Myrtle Avenue, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11205 • Complete contact information including name, address, telephone and email address • CD of images of the works to be included in the exhibition, with index listing title, medium and dimensions for each • Narrative description of the collection of works to be included in the exhibition • Current Resume and artist statement

Artists will be notified by February 18, 2009, and installation will take place beginning February 23, 2009.

Click here for photos from our last Myrtle Windows Gallery Exhibition, with works by artist Anne Lafond.

Please email with questions.

Myrtle Ave Holiday Window Painting: TOMORROW

I was finally able to meet one of my contacts at MARP - Jennifer Stokes- in person earlier this week!  She and all the folks at MARP have been going above and beyond with innovative programming in our neighborhood. Tomorrow, artists will paint and decorate the windows of local businesses for the holiday season!  Passers-by will be able to vote for their favorite via text message.  This is a great opportunity to take a stroll, grab some lunch, a cocktail or some hot cocoa, and do some holiday shopping locally.

Here's the complete press release:

Join us this Saturday, 12/6 as local artists bring holiday cheer to Myrtle storefronts using paint and lights!


Myrtle Holiday Windows Contest: A New Spin on a Popular Holiday Tradition

Watch as Local Artists Bring Sixteen Storefront Windows on Myrtle Avenue to Life with Festive Holiday Scenes!

FORT GREENE and CLINTON HILL, BROOKLYN, December 3, 2008 – On Saturday, December 6th from noon to 5pm, seventeen storefronts along Myrtle Avenue spanning from Washington Park to Classon Avenue will come to life with holiday spirit as part of the first annual Myrtle Holiday Windows Contest. The contest will bring local artists to Myrtle to create festive holiday scenes on a portion of each participating merchant's storefront window using paint and holiday lights. Residents and shoppers will be able to vote for their favorite holiday window via text message up until Christmas Day, and the winning artist or team of artists will receive $250 in Myrtle Avenue gift certificates as a prize. Take a stroll down Myrtle this Saturday, and watch the transformation take place! This project is sponsored by the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership (the Partnership) as part of their ongoing effort to bring art to public spaces to draw more people to the retail corridor, and is supported in part by a generous donation from the PrattStore.

The Myrtle Holiday Windows Contest is the newest installment in the innovative Myrtle Windows Gallery program, which brings two-dimensional art traditionally limited to the private gallery to the public arena via the storefront window where it is accessible to anyone walking down the street. The Holiday Windows Contest creatively uses the storefront window as canvass to bring art to the community, holiday cheer to the avenue, and shoppers to Myrtle.

All the painting will take place during five hours beginning at noon this Saturday, December 6th, creating a sort of live art performance where the art-making is as much part of the excitement as the final product! All are invited to come out and watch the holiday magic happen. The following businesses are participating in the contest (listed in order travelling from west to east on Myrtle between Washington Park and Classon Avenue): Fort Greene SNAP (329 Myrtle); Ray's Barber Shop (331 Myrtle); Gnarly Vines (350 Myrtle); Burzh-wa (352 Myrtle); Kinara II (368 Myrtle); The Bakery (154 Vanderbilt); Duncan's Fish Market (385 Myrtle); Kiini Ibura (388 Myrtle); Kapella's (417 Myrtle); Karen's Body Beautiful (436 Myrtle); Jive Turkey (441 Myrtle); Joseph Tyler Salon (456 Myrtle); Barking Brown (468 Myrtle); Zaytoons (472 Myrtle); Optimum Care Rehab (474 Myrtle); Pillow Cafe (505 Myrtle); Square Root Café (584 Myrtle).

Special signage posted in each window will instruct viewers on how to cast a vote for their favorite holiday window via text message. The 'polls' will be open from December 6th through December 25th, when the winner will be announced on our website at The painted windows will be on display through early January.

"We're excited to put our own spin on holiday storefront windows traditionally seen in larger department stores, bringing cheer to Myrtle Avenue in a fun, unique way. We are proud to have professional artists, art students, and even local school teachers and students participating in this project. This is a wonderful expression of not just holiday spirit, but community involvement as well," explains Meredith Phillips Almeida, the Partnership's Director of Community Development. The Partnership hopes this contest will boost foot traffic to Myrtle Avenue during the holiday shopping season, and is encouraging residents to support the area's small businesses by shopping local during these tough economic times.

Public Art on Myrtle

Noticed that many of the storefronts on Myrtle are featuring large paintings?  It's all part of a month-long public art installation!  I like how the art hangs in both the street's newer, fancier establishments as well as storefronts like the laundromat.  A very cool way to tie the avenue together!

(photo by MARP)

For the next month, three blocks of Myrtle Avenue will play host to the artwork of Fort Greene-based artist Anne LaFond as the first exhibit in our new Myrtle Windows Gallery program. Myrtle Windows Gallery aims to create an open-air art gallery that ‘breaks down the walls’ of the traditional private art gallery to bring two-dimensional art to the public arena via the storefront window, where it is accessible to anyone simply walking down the street.

LaFond’s paintings touch on issues of social justice and consciousness like the effects of violence and the New York working class experience. Paintings in the “Subway Series” exhibit are dynamic and colorful depictions of everyday people on their daily commute on the New York City subway with a focus on how they interact with each other and the daily news.

The paintings will be on display until November 17, 2008 in the following ten storefronts, all located within three blocks on Myrtle Avenue between Hall Street and Clinton Avenue: Anima (458 Myrtle); Five Spot Supper Club (459 Myrtle); Joseph Tyler Salon (456 Myrtle); Karen’s Body Beautiful (436 Myrtle); Karrot Health Food (431 Myrtle); Miracles Unisex Barber Shop (473A Myrtle); Move with Grace Dance & Yoga Studio (469 Myrtle); Optimum Care Rehab (474 Myrtle); Thai 101 Restaurant (455A Myrtle); Three Stars Laundromat (439 Myrtle). The paintings are all available for sale by the artist, with a printed guide to the gallery and pricing inside each participating storefront.