Art in Odd Places arrives on 14th St.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, the eighth annual Art in Odd Places (AiOP) festival kicked off on East 14th Street, with about a dozen artists and performers taking over the entrance and sidewalk in front of Campos Plaza.

The festival is scheduled to run through October 15 and features a total of 112 visual and performance art projects taking place between Avenue C and the Hudson River. Its creator is teaching artist Ed Woodham, who this year chose the theme “Model” for the festival, with 14th Street taking on the role of the world’s longest runway.

At the opening event, much to the delight, amusement, indifference — or in a few cases horror — of passerby, the festival’s costumed participants danced, played music, created portraits, or, depending on the act, either interacted with event goers or completely ignored them.

Two-man act Brian and Ryan (last names Black and Bulis respectively) were the latter sort, as they were far too busy communicating with one another on their plastic cup phones and towering helmets.

Interfaith minister Rev. Lainie Love Dalby, who was also wearing a hat taller than she was, was the former type of performer as she offered blessings to passersby.

Dalby, who’s also known as the “Lady Gaga of Consciousness and Spirituality,” explained, “I mix the sacred and pop culture in my work.”

The blessings included a bit more touching than one might expect on the street from a smiling stranger, as well as a splash of rose and jasmine scented essential oils, but interestingly no one seemed put off by the intimate ritual.

In fact, Stuyvesant Town resident Irmgard Taylor, who attended AiOP after reading about the event in T&V, seemed delighted at having received a blessing on the street.

“This is wild,” she said. “A lady gave me a blessing and then she sang, looking at me.”

Taylor added that even though she lives across the street, she’d never stepped foot in Campos Plaza before.

“I can’t believe I’ve never been in this place,” she said. “This is such a neighborhood thing.”

A Peter Cooper Village resident, Council Member Dan Garodnick, also stopped by for a while after picking up his son Asher from daycare.

The father and son seemed especially interested in watching a group of dancers, who normally do their “B-boy” style routines on the subway, performing on the sidewalk.

“We just stumbled upon this,” Garodnick said, “but this is really one of those quirky New York events that makes the city great.”

Interestingly, the dancers’ group, called Acidic Soul, wasn’t even supposed to be part of the event. The scheduled artists were actually two Kansas City men who designed the robes worn by the performers, and they were originally planning to wear the robes themselves. However, when the duo spotted Acidic Soul’s members dancing at Grand Central station on Thursday, they asked them to join forces.

“They look much better than we do,” said Dylan Mortimer, one of the artists on the project called “Safety Robes.”

The garments were actually choir robes made from the orange material used in vests worn by safety workers, and depending on how they’re worn and where, could make the wearer look like he’s either directing traffic or giving a blessing.

Another one of the artists making her way around Campos Plaza was Lulu Lolo, whose art project was “The Gentleman of 14th Street.” Clad in a tux and top hat and even sporting an upturned mustache, Lolo said she was inspired by the defunct tradition of tipping one’s hat. Having had interacted with a number of people that way since the event began, the performer (an AiOP old hat herself) said people seemed to appreciate the old-fashioned gesture.

“People have been taken by surprise,” she said. “Everyone’s so into their technology, but people want to be acknowledged.”

Along with Lolo, other performers milling around included Jerome Porsperger, who was conducting a symphony that only those who donned a pair of headphones could hear, a dancer under a tent-like blanket moving to live music and a masked woman painted green who was letting a few giggling girls write on her body.

While strolling through the odd art in her normal place, DeReese Huff, president of the Campos Plaza Tenants Association, remarked, “It’s a great thing they’re doing here.

“It’s a little weird,” she added, “but it’s great. As you can see the tenants are loving it.”

For more information about Art in Odd Places, visit artinoddplaces.org or for real-time schedule information, see the event’s Twitter feed @artinoddplaces.

Advertisements

ST ‘purse snatcher’ arrested

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

On Friday, 25-year-old Jonathan Fernandez was arrested for allegedly snatching a woman’s purse in front of 447 East 14th Street. Police collared him after ST/PCV security officers saw him entering Stuy Town a second time.

The robbery took place in the early hours on September 29 when the victim, a resident of Peter Cooper, told police that she was standing outside the building while talking on the phone. At 12:45 a.m., she said, a man wearing a grey-hooded sweatshirt hit her in the back of the head and grabbed her purse, which contained a wallet, debit card, Kuwaiti and Canadian driver’s licenses, U.S. and Canadian Social Security cards, a touch pad and a Canadian resident card.

The woman told police that she did not get a good look at the person who hit her, but Fernandez was arrested for the robbery last Friday after Stuyvesant Town security examined video of the incident and later recognized him in the area again, 13th Precinct Deputy Inspector Ted Berntsen said.

According to William McClellan, the security chief at ST/PCV, officers saw the suspect enter the property and followed him to 23rd Street, where they confronted him and alerted the 13th Precinct.

“Law enforcement arrested the suspect and charged him with the robbery at PCVST, as well as several other robberies in the neighborhood,” said McClellan in a written statement. “The Public Safety officers involved in this case did an outstanding job and this is a stellar example of the work our department does to help keep the residents of PCVST safe and secure,” he added.

(Editor’s note: This robbery was first noted on the Stuyvesant Town Report blog. On the week of the incident, police wouldn’t disclose information on it, citing the open investigation.)

Letters to the Editor, Oct. 11

Why Obama caved

I’ve just learned that blind people can ride bikes. That’s right. They’re riding blind. They use a technique called “echoing,” which is what bats use to direct their flight so they don’t crash into cave walls, people on bikes or politicians in debates. So  “blind as a bat” is no longer negative or pejorative. Bats are sensitive to sound, and so am I. The President must be sensitive as well. He didn’t want to come out of his cave.

I’m sensitive to the sound of the voice as well as the rhythm. Watching the presidential debates, I was tempted to change the channel. I even checked the TV Guide to see what else was on, but no, I stayed with the debates and Romney’s irritating voice. Never mind what he was saying, things like Obama care is bad but Romney care is good. Impartial fact-checkers have proven these plans are essentially the same, but Romney says his plan was right for states but not for the entire nation. I’m tired of hearing about states’ rights. If it were up to the states, we’d still have slavery. And guess who wouldn’t be Mr. President?

So I wasn’t listening to what Romney was saying (I knew it would be the opposite of what he said yesterday.) but rather to how he said it. He must have been anxious to be seen as “presidential,” whatever that means, but did he have to be so wired, as if he were on some kind of high?

If he were in a street brawl, he’d be the guy to throw the first punch while his opponent was taking off his jacket with his arms trapped behind his back. Mitt’s voice made me want to scratch myself. It made my heart race. Why was he so agitated? Did he spend the night before the debate in Starbucks, sampling everything they make? He was jumpy and relentless as he went on the warpath, and he couldn’t be stopped by the mousy moderator who caved and let Mitt run the show.

Now I can understand why Mitt was quick to criticize the State Department for trying to smooth over the eruption caused by the anti-Islam video that was purportedly the reason behind the Libyan ambassador’s death. It’s because this is Mitt’s nature: He’s quick on the draw, the better to make money on the stockmarket. If you thought George W. Bush was a cowboy, meet quick Mitt.

He makes Bush look like the cowboy in “Brokeback Mountain”. Mitt is more like the quick-fingered Richard Widmark shooting an opponent in the back or pushing a woman in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs. The President, however, looked uncomfortable like he was in a coffin. And I know why. Mitt’s voice, his secret weapon, shot the President down as he cringed behind the lecturn as if he was in the back seat of a car or a box seat at the theater.

If Quick Mitt is elected president by voters blinded by a win-by-any-means mentality, who have nothing to gain and everything to lose, we’re in trouble. There’re no weapons in the White House, but there is a phone that Mitt could use to quickly give a final, fatal order. Or he could spare the generals the sound of his frantic voice and just press that red button on his desk. What a sound that would make!

John Cappelletti, ST

Continue reading