Monday, January 18, 2021

How you can record a virtual 88th birthday greeting for Ray

Ray Alvarez, the proprietor of Ray's Candy Store at 113 Avenue A near Seventh Street, turns 88 on Jan. 25.

Given the pandemic, there won't be any type of in-person celebration as in previous years (a tradition dating to 2007).

So here is the plan instead (and it's meant to be a surprise for Ray) via the b-day organizers ...
Since we can't be together for Ray's Annual Birthday Celebration this year, we're making a virtual video hug for Ray and would love for you to be a part of it! Please click the link below to record your birthday wish (it's easiest to just use your phone) and we'll play them all for Ray! 

We'll collect hugs through Sunday, Jan. 31, so please add yours before then! LET'S SET THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR BIGGEST VIDEO HUG EVER!

P.S. Don't tell Ray…it's a surprise! 
The link to record the video is here

MLK National Day of Service.

In honor of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, the 12th Street Block Association along with Down to Earth Community Garden are working together today ... "to make our block a better place to live by doing a street tree clean up, replacing tree guards for our new trees and in preparation for spring planting." 

Volunteers are meeting at the Down to Earth Community Garden on the southwest corner of Avenue B and 12th Street at 1:30 this afternoon.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Week in Grieview

Posts from the past week included... (with a photo early yesterday morning from First Avenue and 14th Street)...

• Residents say dangerous safety conditions at Mariana Bracetti Plaza lead to illegal and hazardous activities (Thursday

• Advocacy group: The city's value engineering study for East River Park does not exist (Monday

• Costume drama: Halloween Adventure is closing next month (Monday

• The debut of Phony Express, a local pandemic-era band who collaborates by phone (Friday

• NYPD looking for suspects in brutal daytime mugging on 3rd Street at 1st Avenue (Thursday

• The iconic motorcycle mural on 6th Street and Avenue A apparently rode off into the sunset (Friday

• This week's NY See panel (Thursday

• Gallery Watch visits the Hole on the Bowery (Wednesday

• Panna II will return, and expand into the former Milon space next door (Wednesday

• Post unveils signage at new 3rd Street location (Friday

• Have you seen the refurbished Cooper Station Post Office? (Tuesday

• The new-look 100 2nd Ave. (Tuesday

• Carving out a retail space at 56 St. Mark's Place (Monday)

• 2021 development watch: 77 E. 3rd St. (Wednesday)

• A quick look inside the Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, opening next month on 1st Avenue (Tuesday

• A deli-grocery for the southwest corner of 14th Street and Avenue A (Monday

• The Schmackary's outpost on Cooper Square isn't reopening (Monday)
---
Follow EVG on Instragram or Twitter for more frequent updates and pics.

Save our compost

An EVG reader shared this photo from the Tompkins Square Greenmarket today.

As you may have read in recent months, the Parks Department wants to evict three composting sites in the coming months — Big Reuse in Long Island City, the Lower East Side Ecology Center and Red Hook Farms. (For background you can read these articles at Politico ... the Queens Daily Eagle ... MSN ... City Limits... and, most recently, Gothamist.)

And the Lower East Side Ecology Center's compost stand at the Greenmarket is trying to rally support for the sites... you can text COMPOST to 21333 for talking points ... and you can find more info via @Saveourcompostnyc. 

Noted

In really random flyers... Derek Berg spotted this one on St. Mark's Place... an invitation to the "wedding celebration" of Lena Dunham and Mayor de Blasio. 🤔  

It takes place on Valentine's Day in Union Square. The RSVP is to Fiona X. Apple at an aol address.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Saturday's parting shot

Thanks to Rainer Turim for this photo outside Key Food on Avenue A... Also! Less than a month now to Valentine's Day.

From the archives: On the phone with Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls



[Sylvain, left, and David Johansen in 2006]

Ed note: Sylvain Sylvain died this week of cancer at age 69. This EVG post first appeared on March 8, 2013.

Last week, I spoke with Sylvain Sylvain, the guitarist of the legendary New York Dolls, and one of the two remaining original band members. I called him to talk about the program he's hosting at noon today on East Village Radio titled "Rock and Roll Hours." 

He talked to me for about 45 minutes from his home in Atlanta, sharing some favorite East Village memories starting when he moved to the neighborhood from Queens in 1967. 

Sylvain, 62, has a lot of stories, from waiting for coffee at Veselka to being the protopunk band who helped pave the way for others on the NYC scene in the 1970s. Here are some excerpts from the conversation. It was more of a conversation than an interview, so it doesn't really follow a Q-and-A format...

First apartment
"It was ... 1967. It was on East Fifth Street between Avenue C and D. It was $57 a month in rent. For the whole damn place! The apartment had a refrigerator. It worked and everything — the light was on. But it didn’t have a door. [Laughs] It was groovy for about a month or two — during the summer. Then I got the hell out of there real quick. Anywhere past Avenue A you were taking your life in your hands. There was a lot of heroin. It was actually cheaper than pot. It was pretty fucking wild."



Gem Spa, which served as the setting for the back cover of the New York Dolls' first album
"It was a corner place in the late 1960s. It wasn’t much of a joint at all. But we felt like the place epitomized the whole East Village scene — this is where we were living. You could stop there and pick up your smokes and get an egg cream and the newspaper or a magazine. I know Johnny [Thunders] used to really love those egg creams. They got hipper as years went on, where they would sell Melody Maker. It became more of a place once the Dolls took pictures in front of it."

Veselka
"There was the Slow Russians. What do they call that place? Veselka? We called it ‘The Slow Russians.’ You’d ask for a cup of coffee at like 2 o’clock in the morning. By the time they served you the coffee it would be like 6 o’clock in the morning! [Laughs] They were real slow! But they had all those soups and it was pretty cheap. They were open all night too."

Peace Eye Bookstore
"Ed Sanders from the Fugs — one of my favorites — had a bookstore right across the street from Tompkins Square Park [at 147 Avenue A]. I worked there for a couple of months until he discovered that I couldn’t really read because I’ve always had dyslexia, and then he fired me right there."

Rent
"It was cheap. You could live on the Avenues. It was a lot safer. The drugs were softer there. There was marijuana — no heroin. If you wanted to live there, it was like $150 to $300 for a month's rent.

"Every summer, me and [David] Johansen, we used to say, 'OK, I haven't seen that person ... that person just came in. She just came in.' We could count them off. They heard their calling from wherever they came from — the Midwest, the West Coast, upstate New York — even from Queens, like me. These people had a calling to come to the city, and the East Village was the only place that they could afford to live. They would go to art school or become musicians. The only band who I remember before us were the Magic Tramps, which was Eric Emerson. He passed away, the poor guy, on heroin too.

Manhattan
"Queens was a few stops away from Manhattan, but it was a lifetime of travel to get to Manhattan.

"Manhattan was the only free place. As bad as it was in Alphabet City, you were free at least. You could wear what you wanted. Some times you took your life in your hands just walking. It was really dangerous. But at least you were free — that was the bottom line."



Shopping and dressing
"[Dolls bassist] Arthur Kane was on First Avenue. He lived right above a bar [now d.b.a.]. It took us like five hours to get dressed. Arthur was wearing this chick’s zebra waistcoat. It was a print, of course. It wasn’t a real zebra. But it took us hours and hours to get dressed — all this just to go shopping at the supermarket.

"When we get to the supermarket — it was below Houston. It was called the Big Apple. We were in the queue there to pay for whatever food we didn’t stuff into our pockets. This mafiosa guy says 'the things you see when you ain’t got a rifle.'

"I would go shopping from Madison Avenue to thrift shops. And you just made it up on your own.

"We'd get everything from the little kids' motorcycle jackets to beat-up blue jeans. It depended where the fuck you got it. We were the most creative — we were like what they call club kids, but when there were no clubs."

Telecommunications
"Everyone had a telephone. Of course, we never paid for it. You’d pick a name. My name was Ricky Corvette. I'm pretty sure I still owe Ma Bell a lot of money. Back then, you’d call up and say I just moved into this new place. 'OK, what's your name? Ricky Corvette. OK, Ricky we'll be there next week to put in your phone.' I'm talking about 1970."

Johnny's closet
Johnny Thunders had an apartment on Avenue A. His closet was like — everything would be pressed and dry cleaned. He had a real unique way of dressing and picking this and this and that and putting it all together.

When we were picking names for the band, he called me, well, he called Ricky Corvette, and run names by me. 'What do you think of Johnny Thunder?' I'd was like Yeah, that's pretty cool Johnny. The phone would ring five minutes later. What about Johnny Thunders?

Home
"I did have an apartment in New York until 2010. It was on 69th Street off Broadway. Up until a couple years ago we were doing OK so I could still have an apartment in New York. But then I couldn’t afford it. I first moved to LA, and lived there until 1995 and moved here to Atlanta. It was all because of money. Now Atlanta is getting almost as expensive as New York. Almost. I think Nicaragua, friend, is next."

Starting a band
"A lot of kids come up to me like 'Wow, you came up at a really great time!' Oh, fuck no! When the New York Dolls started in 1970, there was nobody. You couldn't get a contract. It took us years. It took until 1973 until we got signed.

"After we started it was five years until CBGB opened in 1975. The Dolls broke up in 1975. There were no places to play. You had to invent places to play. We were the ones who kind of gave birth to groups like Blondie and the Talking Heads." 

 

 [Photos via Sylvain Sylvain]

There's something about Mary O's



Mary O's, the 11-year-old Irish pub at 32 Avenue A between Second Street and Third Street, is currently closed during the pandemic.

However, proprietor and EV resident Mary O'Halloran remains busy in the kitchen.

As Roger Clark reported at NY1 this week, O'Halloran is making Irish soda bread scones based on her mom's recipe from County Mayo, Ireland, and selling them online. Patrons can also purchase a shepherd's pie, and she will deliver it to one of the city agencies feeding those in need.

Per NY1:
"I'm not making money, absolutely no way, but it creates a vibe with people between the community and my own regular customers," said O’Halloran.
NY1 notes that the tireless O'Halloran is doing all this all the while taking care of her six children, ages 8 through 17.
It's O'Halloran's nature to keep moving and working. Her husband is a longshoreman who is often gone months at a time, so it's a lot to juggle, but she refuses to let Mary O's shut its doors. 
"My gut feeling tells me that I can survive. I just have to keep going, you know?" said O'Halloran, who added, "It's really, really hard, but I can't give up. Do you know what I'm saying? I just can't."
You can order the scones or shepherd's pie via the Mary O's website here.

EVG file photo

The remains of Dinosaur Hill

Dinosaur Hill, the longtime East Village toy store on Ninth Street next to Veselka, is officially closed ... 

EVG contributor Stacie Joy spotted owner Pamela Pier (below left) and "first and last employee" Naomi Machado inside the shop yesterday...
There are some floor pieces and shelves, counters, fixtures, etc, still available for sale. (You can see what's left inside from the storefront window.)  

In addition, whenever the two visit the shop, they'll put out a few freebies, including some books and other smaller items, on the sidewalk.
 
Pier announced her retirement after 37-plus years back in the fall. She is directing patrons to two other like-minded businesses on the block — an.mé and the March Hare.

There's a Book Swap Sunday — this Sunday!

Tomorrow (Sunday!) marks another Book Swap Sunday outside the Tompkins Square Library branch on 10th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B... from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Per the organizers:
Let's share our used books to help us get through this pandemic together. Leave some and take others... Thanks for making these such a wonderful success! And you don't have to donate. Taking is sharing also.
Photo by Kevin Farley

Friday, January 15, 2021

Friday's parting shot

Moving day on Second Avenue at Fifth Street ... photo by Derek Berg...

A downed tree on 7th Street

We received several reports of a downed tree across from the site of the fire on Dec. 5 on the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Second Avenue... BigStef shared the top photo... 

There's some speculation that one of the trucks on the scene of the burned-out Middle Collegiate Church may have taken it out. 

And here's another view via Derek Berg...

RIP Sylvain Sylvain

 
As you may have heard, Sylvain Sylvain, co-founder and guitarist of the New York Dolls, died Wednesday of cancer. He was 69. 

An appreciation via Jem Aswad at Variety:
While singer David Johansen was a classic Jaggeresque frontman and Johnny Thunders oozed degenerate charisma and played snarling lead guitar, Sylvain was the group's foundation, bringing textured riffs and rhythmic power that underpinned the songs' melodies and meshed with the bass and drums. The twang of his Gretsch guitar countered Thunders' blistering, distorted leads and gave the group a melodic bedrock.
Sylvain previously lived in the East Village, starting in 1967. 

Johansen is now the only surviving member of the original lineup, seen in the above video with "Stranded in the Jungle" from 1973.

The debut of Phony Express, a local pandemic-era band who collaborates by phone

 

The above audio clip recently arrived in the EVG inbox... featuring a new track called "CBGB" by Phony Express.

And just who is this mystery band? They are local, and here is some background...
"Phony Express is what happens when artists, writers and musicians, who'd normally be making shows live at La MaMa and in our neighborhood watering holes, decide to use our own devices. We've formed an anonymous band inspired by EV Grieve — anonymous, so that listeners may focus on the music itself, not what they find online about the persons performing it; local, sparked by our neighborhood's unique legacy, free and fun. 'CBGB' is the band's debut. No website. Our plan is to collaborate by phone, making music quickly (Phony Express) and upload to Phony Express's YouTube channel."
And EVG will post the new tracks as they become available...

The iconic motorcycle mural on 6th Street and Avenue A apparently rode off into the sunset

The two-part motorcycle mural on the Sixth Street side of 94-96 Avenue A is no more.

On Wednesday, workers removed the sidewalk bridge from the under-renovation (one new floor!) building... and that's when people started noticing what was missing... this photo is from several years ago...
The mural, which the local artist WK created in the mid-1990s when the Sidewalk Cafe was here, survived the restaurant transition in the fall of 2019 to August Laura.

Laura Saniuk-Heinig, one of the proprietors at August Laura, told me at the time that she loved the work and wanted it to remain in place, appreciating its history in the neighborhood.

When asked about the mural yesterday, she replied: "Unfortunately, I do not know anything about the mural. I was shocked once the scaffolding came down [and saw] that the beloved mural was gone too." 

Among others, the mural featured Hugh Mackie, the owner of Sixth Street Specials on Sixth Street just east of Avenue C. 

WK shot the photos to use for the mural in the abandoned lot next to Sixth Street Specials at different times and pieced them together into the finished product. Mackie created the "floor" of the piece with plywood and used whitewash on the wall of the building as a backdrop.

The mural was also used as branding for Sidewalk, which closed in February 2019 after 34 years in business
Penn South Capital paid $9.6 million for the property in March 2019, per public records. Pini Milstein, who retired, was the principal owner of the building as well as the operator of the Sidewalk. 

In April 2019, when some renovations were starting at 94-96 Avenue A, rumors circulated that the panels were going to come down. This is what WK said at the time to EVG contributor Stacie Joy: "I think this old mural project had a good life and probably the wood behind it it is completely dead — not much can be saved."

And from Mackie, who has lived here since 1981: "The mural became a gateway to the heart of the East Village — much like the Gringo mural of Spacely on St Mark's Place. Sidewalk Cafe was a successful restaurant and a perfect meeting place. Nothing is permanent, not even me!"

Post unveils signage at new 3rd Street location

Post has made their new location official ... as noted back in October, the four-plus-year-old cafe was moving on from 42 Avenue B between Third Street and Fourth Street.

As you can see, the Post sign is now up at the new larger location close by — 217 E. Third St. between Avenue B and Avenue C. (Thanks to George for the photo!)

The last tenant in the retail space was Corlear's NYC, a "Pre-Prohibition style bar executing vintage cocktails." They closed in early 2017.

Post is currently closed for the move... no word yet on an opening date for the new Post — you can keep tabs on their activity via Instagram

Thursday, January 14, 2021

NYPD looking for suspects in brutal daytime mugging on 3rd Street at 1st Avenue

Police are searching for a group of muggers who brazenly attacked a man at 12:40 p.m. yesterday on Third Street just west of First Avenue. 

CBS 2 reports that the 29-year-old victim, who suffered a broken jaw, was a delivery man. 

As the disturbing clip that the NYPD released shows, the suspects surrounded the man, repeatedly punching him while he was on the ground. When he gets up, someone punches him in the face. 

Police say the group took off with the victim's cellphone... Anyone with information that could help in the investigation is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). You may also submit tips online. All calls are strictly confidential.

Grant Shaffer's NY See

Here's the latest NY See panel, East Village-based illustrator Grant Shaffer's observational sketch diary of things that he sees and hears around NYC ... as well as political observations on current events...

Residents say dangerous safety conditions at Mariana Bracetti Plaza lead to illegal and hazardous activities

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

For months, residents of the Mariana Bracetti Plaza public housing development have experienced a wave of crimes taking place inside its hallways, staircases, courtyard, rooftop and playground, thanks to unlocked front doors and broken security system.

I am wondering what kind of activity I will see when I arrive here on Third Street and Avenue C on a sunny Thursday morning. Will there be people doing, buying and selling drugs, using the place as a toilet [NSFW], engaging in sex work, and fencing goods (via stolen Amazon packages from neighboring buildings) as resident and activist Kanielle Hernandez alleges? 

Yes, it turns out — all of those things. Plus, I witness two people attempting to break into an apartment, people using the hallways as an illegal business site, and a steady stream of open-air courtyard and front-step drug purchases…sometimes with a line of people waiting their turn.
 
According to Kanielle, who lives in the building with her son and her grandfather, plus her dog, Denim (you can read about Kanielle’s fight to keep Denim, a pit bull, in this New York Times piece from 2009) finding people passed out or doing drugs in the hallway has become an everyday occurrence. 
Residents say that the locks to the front doors have not worked in more than four months, and lack of security and police presence has made it easy for people to trespass. 
 
I speak to PSA 4 housing officers who arrive to get an early lunch at Rossy’s Bakery, right across the street from the buildings in question. What can be done, I ask them?
 
“Our hands are tied. If you want action, you have to start at the top with the mayor and commissioner. We are being told not to make any arrests,” Officer Leninard and his partner tell me.  
Kanielle, who was born and raised in the building, and former tenant Yvette Maria, whose mother still lives upstairs, show me around the buildings. Kanielle and I then discuss the indignities that the residents have been made to suffer, what she hopes can happen, and about the petition she is starting to effect change.

Speaking about the ongoing lack of repairs and the conditions you detailed, such as drug sales and use, homeless people living in the stairways, people using the building as a toilet, how long has this been happening?
 
I believe this started with the sidewalk bridges. Landlords put up these dark ugly scaffolds as a resolution instead of actual repairs. Then they stay up for years without any actual work being done. But someone is getting paid to have these sidewalk bridges just up with no real purpose. It creates dark hidden places for illegal activity. 

With the sidewalk bridges came more and more and more homeless, drug addicts and alcoholics. The money being spent to have these useless sidewalk bridges up should be used to actually improve the building conditions. 
 
Individuals started coming to our building to use it as a bathroom and get high. Then as they saw they could get away with more and more it just has become a free for all. You find them in your hallway trying to get high or steal packages or sleep. Feels like we are living in an episode of “The Walking Dead” NYC/LES season.
Have you talked to the building’s management (NYCHA) about the situation? 
 
The management office is absolutely no help. I call them and they tell me I need to call the police. I call the police they tell me to call my management office. The housing manager we have is the worst we have ever had. Absolutely no help to our building at all. 
 
Why did you decide to film the transgressions?
 
I decided to start recording and posting because I just can’t believe we have such occurrences right outside of our apartment doors. Our home. I walk into my elevator and someone is full-on smoking a cigarette or a blunt. And then get mad at me for being upset and saying something. 
 
I don’t care what you do but do it right. Be conscious of how your decisions impact others. Basic consideration and common sense. Like, for example, walking into a building you don’t live in to pee and then deciding to pee right in front of someone’s door. There are some levels of WTF! I need to get through before I can reach my compassion. Yes, I understand addiction is a disease but it’s time to find some real solutions with long-term positive results. Maybe whatever we accomplish here can be extended to other developments. And li’l by li’l we can make a positive change to our community.
 
Are you concerned about your safety?
 
Yes, I’m always concerned for not just my safety but also the safety of my family, friends and neighbors. Yes, I can just move and be done with the bullshit. But this is my home. I was born and raised in this building. 
 
As kids, we took the stairs freely. We ran around playing freely. And it was a time of heavy poverty and drugs and gangs. But there was a different energy back then. It’s hard to explain but I’m sure a lot of people will understand what I’m trying to say and resonate with it. 

Do you know where the people are coming from? Have you reported what’s been happening downstairs and at some problematic locations nearby, like Third Street and Avenue C, to the police? If so, have they responded? What happens or doesn’t happen?

The people are coming from all over really. Our building has become the headquarters for them. Some bring beach chairs and blankets to sleep in the staircase or roof. Mattresses, CitiBikes and shopping carts full of stuff. 
 
I have been calling 911 and 311 and reporting what’s going on for two years if not longer. They would come back then but as of recent world events there is a big lack of response. Because, to the rest of the world, junkies invading our building is the least of their problems. I get it. I think every building surrounding Third Street and Avenue C has called to complain about that corner. 
 
For months a bunch of homeless addicts lived under the scaffold on Avenue C. They had mattresses and little forts built. And then they would shoot up in broad daylight, with needles in the arms, while people, including kids, walked by. 
How does this make you feel that these kinds of things are happening in your building?
 
Depressed and discouraged. I don’t really go downstairs like I used to. I think about moving out all the time but my grandpa loves it here. He loves to walk around and go to the supermarket, but we have encountered some incidents where he felt frightened by different individuals approaching him for money.
You mentioned starting a newsletter and a petition for change. How has that been going?
 
The newsletter is still in the works but we have written up a petition and it’s available for signatures here
 
What would you like to see happen? How can the community, elected officials and NYCHA help?
 
In all honesty, I would like to see massive change on all levels but for now, I would like to have all the surrounding sidewalk bridges removed. The money being saved by removing the sidewalk bridges should be used to do something to improve the building. Like new elevators or security cameras. We could work with the local precinct to have more police patrol. And a police light on the corner. And a homeless program to redirect individuals to places that can help them. 
 
As for NYCHA, they need to be better involved in their buildings. Not just for tenants but the employees too. Housing workers should not have to clean up human shit and used condoms and drug needles. They definitely don’t get paid enough for that. If we set boundaries, we will see results. 
 
And as for the residents of the building who contribute to the demise of our home and community: Stop it! Stop smoking in the elevators or letting your guest do it. Don’t have your boyfriend selling drugs out of your apartment…tell them to go and deliver. It’s 2021, let’s get it together. 
 
If you don’t want people to notice you, be more discreet. That’s your hustle. No doubt. Do it right. Control your customers. Sloppy business brings attention. 
 
The tenants who do these things stick out. A lot of the residents have lived here for years. And it’s only seven floors. People see and people talk. We need to practice better judgment when it comes to how we choose to contribute to our home, our community. Are your choices impacting us in a good way or bad way? What can you do to be better tenants? 
 
Speak up for the building you live in that you call home. Do your part! Make sure you are contributing to the uprise of our building and community, not the downfall of it. And this should apply to all [public housing] developments. We all deserve to live in a safe and peaceful environment. Projects or no projects — it’s our home! 
You can sign the petition here and Kanielle is actively looking to partner with local elected offices to facilitate repairs and security for the building residents. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Gallery Watch: Moko Moko Doki Doki and Double Happiness at the Hole

Text and photos by Clare Gemima 


Moko Moko Doki Doki and Double Happiness 
at the Hole, 312 Bowery

The Hole, as I have previously relayed, takes the idea of transformation passionately and excels in this. Yes, this highlights the gallery's talented team, but more important, it provides a climactic show for both artist/s and gallery go-ers. 

Whether you enjoy the experience or not, there's no way that you'll be able to forget The Hole's first two shows of 2021. A cacophony of color, form and touch (that thing we've all forgotten about), Misaki Kawai presents Moko Moko Doki Doki filling the main floors in the space, while Double Happiness occupies the back room with luscious wetness and optical illusion from Caroline Larson and Roxanne Jackson. 


Moko Moko Doki Doki sets the tone all the way from the opposite side of Bowery — you can start to spot large mounds of purples and yellows and furry sculptures that will make you skip all the way to the front door. Moko Moko or  "fluffy"  colliding with Doki Doki or "excited heartbeat" literally describes the work perfectly. 


You're immediately made aware that you can pet the sculptures and feel as though you've traveled back in time to kindergarten, where words aren't really necessary anymore, but smiles, giggles, touching and enlivening your immature senses is of utmost importance. 


The sensations in my body and face as soon as I saw the array of fluffy and excited heartbeats were something unique to me — it has been a while since I've been physically affected by artwork. I was grateful to blush and laugh around these sculptures, stroke one and fight the urge not to cuddle the hell out of them all. I was suddenly 6 years old.


Kawai is an internationally renowned artist, most famous for her all-ages, immersive work that is bold and playful. A talented painter and illustrator, her new text-based works lace the walls of the show, presenting an interesting iteration of her G-rated sculptures while staying classically true to her repetitive use of emoji-esque motifs. This is her fourth solo show at The Hole since 2013. 


The darkish vibrance of Moko Moko Doki Doki's walls made the whole gallery look like miniature maze toys or building blocks. It kept you there, simply because it felt like there was so much to see and do, to play with and to pet. 


But in a lime green distance, there was a space I admittedly made a beeline for. Double Happiness took me to a level of speechlessness. Honestly, please do yourself a favor and visit this show. The name for me does not do it justice. I know it sounds corny, but seeing Caroline Larsen and Roxanne Jackson's work really tripled, quadrupled and I will go as far as to say it quintupled my happiness. 


This special two-person exhibition showcases new bodies of oil painting and ceramic sculpture. The two artists engage in ideas like doubling, mirroring, pattern, reinventing/invigorating craft and pushing the limits of historical/ traditional techniques.


Across the room, vases are positioned on mirror-topped plinths that host oil marks in their reflection. The sexy interventional designs of Jackson's vases proliferate as you navigate within Larson's multiplying paintings that surround the exhibition. There is color, design, form, meshing and merging absolutely everywhere. It's as nauseating to walk around the space as it is to stand still in this environment. You totally forget about the literal gestures here — flowers and vases. 


How these artists have conceived Double Happiness is doubly acerbic and commendable. The way Larson's delicious-looking paintings warp and skew and mess you up while you’re walking around delicate vases, so ready to smash (accidentally) proposes an optical challenge definitely worth trying out. 


Moko Moko Doki Doki and Double Happiness will both be showing until Valentine’s day at The Hole.
 

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ 


Clare Gemima is a visual artist from New Zealand. New-ish to the East Village, she spends her time as an artist assistant and gallery go-er, hungry to explore what's happening in her local art world. You can find her work here: claregemima.com