At the opening reception of the court art show at NAC (left-right): Colleen McMahon, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Artists Elizabeth Williams, Aggie Kenny and Jane Rosenberg, and Federal Judge Loretta Preska (Photos by Jefferson Siegel)
Before the invention of photography, art predominated as the visual representation of record. Today, with the prevalence of cell phone cameras, one unique art medium is still the only way to visually record what transpires in federal courts. Since photography is prohibited in those courts, sketch artists are the public’s eyes to what takes place within the columned walls of Federal Courts.
An exhibition of courtroom illustrations from Manhattan’s Southern District Federal Court is currently on display at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park. Artwork by artists Jane Rosenberg, Elizabeth Williams and Aggie Kenny bring to life some of the most important trials of the last 40 years.
The exhibition is free and open to the public Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. until January 3 at the National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South (East 20th Street between Park Avenue South and Irving Place).
Family members and colleagues of fallen officers at the memorial event (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Gramercy Park Block Association honored the members of the NYPD that have been killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 6. The memorial event at the National Arts Club has become an annual tradition that the organization has been carrying on since 2015.
The event stemmed from the Blue Lives Matter NYC movement started by three members of the NYPD after the murders of Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in December 2014. The goal was to help families of the slain offers in their time of need and GPBA president Arlene Harrison joined with the organization the following year.
“It has now become a nationwide movement, and I have done everything I can to spread the word, by organizing a social media network of over 150 police groups around the country,” Harrison said of Blue Lives Matter.
Harrison explained that the GPBA was formed in 1993 after her 15-year-old son was beaten in Gramercy Park with a mission of protecting the neighborhood by working closely with the police department. The GPBA also organized a relief effort within the 13th Precinct for a number of months after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
A worker secures a tree in Gramercy Park after a snowstorm caused a still undetermined amount of damage in the park and other parks. (Photos courtesy of Gramercy Park Block Associaton)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Unexpected heavy snowfall last Thursday caused damage to trees throughout the neighborhood, resulting in park closures through this week, long after all the snow from the storm had melted.
Arlene Harrison, the president of the Gramercy Park Block Association and park trustee, sent an email to park neighbors on Friday noting that the park would be closed until further notice, and included photos of several downed tree limbs inside the park.
“Park caretakers who have been working here for decades said that it was the worst single hit to the park since they’ve worked here,” said Harrison, who made the decision to padlock the park gates for safety reasons until the debris is cleared. She said that the park could reopen by the end of the week but it had to remain closed until the crew can determine that it’s safe.
She added that the crew was pruning on the western side of the park right before the storm so there was the least amount of damage on that side, but five trees in the park were “ravaged” because of the wind and heavy snow.
Police are looking for a woman believed to have stolen two designer watches valued at $70,000 from a victim who was staying at the Gramercy Park Hotel.
Police said the thief also took the victim’s wallet, containing credit cards from the room at the hotel, which is located at 2 Lexington Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets. The two watches were Nautilus and Bell Ross.
The suspect is a blonde with tattoos on her right shoulder and arm.
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD Crimestoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).
Rev. Tom Pike with Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison and and Gramercy Park executive assistant Alex Nguyen (Photos by Ira Fox)
The Rev. Dr. Thomas Pike, formerly the rector of Calvary-St. George’s, celebrated his 80th birthday on Wednesday, January 10 at the parish house.
At the event, a video tribute in Pike’s honor was shown, made by Alex Nguyen, Matt Veligdan and Kamel Boutros. Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison also made some remarks cheering Pike’s accomplishments as a religious leader and a community one.
“Our community has always counted on you for your wisdom, compassion and support,” she said. “We can’t thank you for all you have done for us and meant to us. We look forward to many more years of leadership and friendship.”
On Christmas Eve, carolers came from far and wide to celebrate the evening at Gramercy Park. Christmas Eve is the one day of the year when the gated park is open to the public, and Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association and park trustee, estimated that there were over 1,000 people in attendance. Some, however, couldn’t fit into the park where police were manning two open gates.
“Everyone eventually got in, but the park was packed and (police) said no one was complaining,” Harrison said. “Everyone seemed very delighted to be there.”
On Tuesday, a former pastor of Epiphany Church, Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, was charged with possessing dozens of images of child pornography.
The now 96-year-old retired priest of the Catholic Church allegedly had photos of girls as young as eight on his computer performing sex acts with men or posing naked. Additionally, according to an investigation conducted by Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, Byrne even viewed the images in front of many other people at his retirement home, the St. John Vianney Center for Retired Priests in the Bronx.
“People at his residence were subjected to it when they entered his room,” said Clark in a written statement. “Anyone who views child pornography supports horrific child exploitation.”
The monsignor was indicted on 37 counts of possession of an obscene sexual performance by a child and 37 counts of possession of a sexual performance by a child.
The investigation began five months ago after Clark’s office got a complaint about Byrne. The investigation concluded that he allegedly sought out images of young girls (aged 8-14) by using Google and Bing.
If convicted of the top charge, Byrne could face four years in prison and have to register as a sex offender.
Byrne, who worked at Epiphany from 1982-1996, where he retired from, pled not guilty to all the charges on Tuesday. He was arraigned before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary and was released. He is due back in court on January 17.
Police have arrested a Queens woman believed to have been involved in the death of a woman who received a fatal cosmetic butt injection last summer in an unmarked building near Peter Cooper Village.
Allison Spence, 44, has been arrested on charges of manslaughter and unauthorized practice of profession for the injection. Spence, who police said turned herself in, allegedly acted as a nurse during the procedure, for which the suspected doctor has still not been arrested. Police said they have identified the man but haven’t disclosed his name. That man is not a real doctor, according to a story in CBS New York, but police told Town & Village they couldn’t confirm that at this time.
The procedure was performed at a third floor apartment at 319 East 21st Street, between First and Second Avenues on July 15. Later police were summoned in response to Bynum complaining of dizziness and chest pains. She was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, but 12 days later was taken off life support after being pronounced brain dead.
The medical examiner has deemed the death of 31-year-old mother Latesha Bynum, a Harlem resident, a homicide.
A lawyer for Bynum’s family told CBS New York the doctor is a phony who used a Dunkin Donuts as his waiting room, and that a fake nurse greeted her. The attorney also said the doctor had a pattern of injecting unsuspecting women with “silicone poison into his patients’ buttocks and/or thighs.”
Meanwhile, Spence’s sister told the Daily News her sister denied giving any injection, saying she only prepped the patient by massaging her muscles.
A member of The Players Club looks at the Booth statue after laying a wreath on the side. (Photo by Michael Gerbino)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Members of the Players got a unique opportunity on Monday night when Gramercy Park opened its gates for the annual celebration of Edwin Booth’s birthday. The occasion, known as Founder’s Day because of Booth’s role in establishing the club, is one of the park’s oldest traditions and is one of the rare times of year when park-goers are allowed inside after dark.
The celebration for the actor’s 183rd birthday started inside the Players along Gramercy Park, with readings from members about Booth and his contribution to the arts. A group of members also performed a piece of a musical they’ve been working on about Booth’s life. The musical, called “Edwin, The Story of Edwin Booth,” debuted off-Broadway this summer.
Police arrested 25-year-old Dashawn Johnson inside the 30th Street Men’s Shelter at 400 East 30th Street last Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. for an unclassified felony after he failed to register a change of address with the sex offender monitoring unit. Police said that Johnson is a level 2 sex offender after being convicted of sexual abuse in the first degree on March 6, 2007. After he was notified of his duties in 2010 and 2015, he allegedly failed to notify authorities of a change of address within 10 days as required by law. Police said that Johnson has a previous conviction for failure to register on April 25, 2016 in Kings County.
MAN WAVES KNIFE AT STRAPHANGERS
ON Q TRAIN NEAR UNION SQUARE
Q train suspect
Police are looking for a man who allegedly pulled a knife on fellow straphangers on the Q train and waved it around in a threatening manner last Thursday. A 49-year-old woman told police that while she was riding a downtown Q from Union Square at 9:05 a.m. when she saw the man waving a knife and making threats to passengers. The man left the train at Canal Street and fled in an unknown direction. The suspect is described as a 30-year-old black man, 6’0″ tall, 180 lbs. with a bald head and dark complexion. He was last seen wearing a red shirt, gray jogging pants and black sneakers.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are kept strictly confidential.
MAN STOPPED FROM STEALING ICE CREAM BITES INTO OFFICER INSTEAD
Thirty-year-old Thomas McKnight was arrested for robbery last Friday after trying to make off with some ice cream from the Duane Reade at 777 Sixth Avenue. Police said that McKnight took ice cream out of the freezer and put it into his shorts without paying for it. When he passed the register and attempted to leave the store, a loss prevention officer attempted to stop him, at which point McKnight allegedly punched the officer in the face, causing swelling and a scratch to his cheek. Police said that McKnight also bit the officer on the arm, causing a red mark, and allegedly stomped on the officer’s cell phone, causing it to break. McKnight was also charged with petit larceny, criminal mischief and possession of stolen property.
MAN ARRESTED AFTER FIREWORKS
HIT PEDESTRIAN ON FIRST AVENUE
Police arrested 32-year-old Joshua Hernandez for reckless endangerment and possession of fireworks on Independence Day last Monday at 10:05 p.m. inside 275 First Avenue. Police were conducting a floor-by-floor search at the building across from Stuyvesant Town because lit fireworks had been thrown onto the street and in one instance hit a passerby. Hernandez was allegedly on the building’s rooftop with a belt of fireworks and a green torch lighter. Police said he was also allegedly in possession of additional fireworks that were in his pants pocket and a transparent bag containing additional fireworks was found behind him.
PAIR ARRESTED FOR CAR BREAK-INS
Police arrested 22-year-old Shaquille King and a teenager for petit larceny in front of the Senton Hotel at 39 West 27th Street on Independence Day last Monday at 6:26 a.m. King and the teen allegedly entered the front passenger’s side and on the back driver’s side of a car. Police said that the car was unlocked but the doors were closed. The victim said he wasn’t sure if property was taken from the car, but King and the teen allegedly went into another car on the driver’s side and passenger’s side. Police said that a witness has video of the incident and saw the car break-in happen. King and the teen allegedly fled east on 27th Street before they were arrested. The teen’s name is being withheld due to his age.
CABBIE ARRESTED FOR HIT-AND-RUN
Police arrested 26-year-old Jonathan Kwok inside the 13th Precinct last Tuesday at 10:45 a.m. for leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury. Police said that Kwok hit the victim with his cab at West 21st and Sixth Avenue on May 21, causing pain to the victim’s hip and leg. Kwok allegedly drove off before police arrived at the scene.
DUANE READE EMPLOYEE BUSTED FOR THEFT
Police arrested 41-year-old Valencia Parrish for petit larceny inside the Duane Reade at 401 Park Avenue South last Wednesday at 11:07 a.m. The store manager told police that he noticed Parrish’s cash register was short on June 15 at the end of her shift and subsequently realized that her register had been short on other shifts of hers as well. He started watching her on video surveillance last Tuesday. Around 8:44 a.m. that day, he saw Parrish receive payment for store items and she allegedly kept the cash in her right hand while giving the customer change. After the customer left the store, Parrish allegedly put the money inside her shirt near her neck. The manager said that Parrish could be seen on video surveillance taking cash on a number of different occasions.
TRESPASSER ARRESTED IN
VACANT APARTMENT IN GRAMERCY
Police arrested 32-year-old Brian Miller for criminal mischief and criminal trespass in front of 15 East 21st Street last Wednesday at 2:28 p.m. The building manager of 15 East 21st Street told police that he went to check on an apartment in the building that is currently vacant and Miller was allegedly inside the apartment without permission. Police said that Miller fled out of an apartment window down the fire escape and was stopped down the block. The building manager said that there was also damage to a ladder that was inside the apartment.
L&W OYSTER CO. EMPLOYEE
ARRESTED AFTER THEFTS
Police arrested 35-year-old Dustin Robinson inside L&W Oyster Co. at 254 Fifth Avenue last Tuesday at 5:07 p.m. for petit larceny and possession of stolen property. Robinson allegedly took money from the victim’s bag that was inside the location. The victim said that he put a camera in the office because money had gone missing after Robinson was hired the previous Saturday.
WOMAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT
IN UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 23-year-old Ayanna Hull for assault and harassment at the corner of Union Square East and East 14th Street last Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Hull allegedly punched and scratched the victim, causing bruising and cuts to her neck and chest. Police said that the argument was the result of a dispute over a backpack.
MAN BUSTED FOR THEFT AT WEWORK
Police arrested 37-year-old Nathan Pickett for allegedly swiping multiple paintings from the WeWork office at 115 West 18th Street. Police said that Pickett entered the location last Thursday at 10:03 a.m. using his passcard on his day off.
Expansion of programs at St. George’s and beautification of church planned
Rev. Jacob Smith
By Sabina Mollot
As far as any of the parishioners are concerned, Reverend Jacob Smith, who’s been the priest-in-charge at Calvary-St. George’s for the past three years, has been the church’s leader for all that time.
However, due to certain formalities within the structure of the Episcopal Church, it wasn’t until last month that Smith, who’s been serving the double parish for the past decade, was called as its new rector. Normally, he explained, someone who began as a pastoral assistant, as he did at Calvary, wouldn’t get to become a rector at the same church, so his situation was an exception.
The city’s 199-Episcopal Church network also took the unusual step in seeking the counsel of the Diocese in calling Smith, and he’ll be assisting in the leadership of St. Ann’s, a church for the deaf. The date of his institution has not yet been set.
Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly joined his son, Fox5 anchor Greg Kelly, in a discussion about his life and career at the National Arts Club on Tuesday, May 10.
The pair discussed Kelly’s service as the city’s longest serving police commissioner, but Greg also said that he wanted to highlight parts of his father’s story that people might not know about during the discussion, such as the fact that his father was first in his class at the police academy, receiving a commemorative weapon for the honor.
“Just to illustrate the power of Bloomingdale’s in those days, that was known as the Bloomingdale’s trophy,” Kelly said. “Bloomingdale’s had a lot of juice in those days.”
The event at the Arts Club in Gramercy Park was in promotion of Kelly’s newly released memoir, Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City.
“We rehearsed nothing for this and he has a history of trying to submarine me,” Kelly joked about his relationship with his son before the conversation started.
The Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, which curates an exhibit at the National Arts Club each year featuring works by local artists, said that this year’s was the biggest show yet with around 100 works on display. This year’s show will also be the longest, having kicked off on March 15 and running through March 25 in three out of five of the club’s gallery spaces.
Sixty-six artists and photographers participated this year, mostly from Gramercy and Stuyvesant Town. (Full disclosure: One participant was the person writing this.)
On the night of the opening reception for the show on March 17, Alan Krevis, president of the GNA, figured there were about 300 people in attendance, as he peered over the sea of heads. This is normal for the GNA’s art openings.
A man and woman walking around Gramercy Park were mugged by a man who turned a gun on them before demanding they hand over cash and jewelry.
This was around at 11 p.m. on Sunday night, according to Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison, who shared news of the robbery in an email to neighbors on Tuesday.
The couple, who Harrison said do not live in Manhattan, had just left the nearby Pete’s Tavern after a date when they decided to take a walk around the park. After walking up Irving Place and almost making a full loop around the park, they came across a man who looked lost at the corner of East 21st Street and Gramercy Park West.
The Players at 16 Gramercy Park South (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
While the historic Players Club on Gramercy Park has been struggling for the last few years with controversy over financial mismanagement, changes in administration and over $4 million in debt, the new administration has quietly been working on adjusting course to increase revenue and get programming back on track.
The club did not pay off the debt outright, but President Arthur Makar said that they were able to obtain an $8.5 million loan through a single lender and will be using the money to revitalize the club and increase revenue. The loan came from the Terrapin Lending Company, which issues loans to small businesses.
“We were in debt up to our ears,” Makar said. “Through (club treasurer Michael McCurdy’s) good work, we did something that everyone said was impossible to do: find financing to move us forward.”
Town & Village reported in 2014 that the club was considering selling off artwork to deal with some of the debt, including a valuable John Singer Sargent painting of actor Joseph Jefferson, but Makar said the club luckily did not have to resort to this tactic.
“We’re proud we ended up not having to consider selling the Sargent,” said Michael Barra, chair of the the managing committee and executive committee of the Board of Directors. “If the financing hadn’t come through, we would have been in dire straits but we were even able to lend the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They recently returned it so he’s back in the clubhouse where he’ll be for all time. The club has not and will not be selling any of our artwork. It’s not fiscally prudent.”