queens

battle on… secret walls…

We have contests for anything and everything so drawing shouldn’t be any different, right?  Last night a battle of epic proportions went down in Astoria/Long Island City, Queens.  Hosted by the Paper Factory Hotel (a nice boutique oasis in the middle of a very industrial neighborhood) Secret Walls gathered fifteen New York City artists in a showdown for the ages (and this was just a qualifying round).

What is Secret Walls?  It is an organization that promotes drawing “battles” all over the world.  Simple rules – always and only black on white (it really shows off the competitors true skills) and a 90 minute time limit.  A panel of judges and the audience pick the winners.

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The anticipation builds before the beginning of the war.

And…  WE ARE OFF!

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Amazing works of art begin to appear as the challengers battle in the cold autumn air.  Some of the best street artists in NYC and a couple of newcomers gave it everything including (and in no particular order):  Lamour Supreme, Chris RWK, Miss Zukie, Martha Alicia, Abe Lincoln, Jr., Sasha Fay, Wizard Skull, Scott Liam Walker, Cosbe, Mastro, AdrianKart.

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All and all a fantastic evening and real gathering of talent, right here in Queens 🙂

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so, next time then…

summer’s last gasp…

That fake period of time known as “summer”  (memorial day to labor day) has once again come to an end.  Why do I say fake, well the weather in NYC today says it all.  Real Summer has much more in store and wearing white wouldn’t be the worst sin the next few weeks.

Fake summer and all out of the way.  How to celebrate the end?  a NYC tradition, a street fair!

Yesterday (labor day) 30th Avenue in Astoria set the stage for that last gasp, last bit of fun.  One more memory to tuck into a corner before school, work, grey, rain, wind and eventually ice, snow and sludge creep in.  I conveniently left out that wonderful crisp autumn stuff because it seems to only stick around for a day or two… never quite enough.

What to expect from a NYC street fair?  Well, there are a few certains and many surprises.

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Who’s your daddy being one of the surprises…(for some I am sure this is a literal truth)

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There will be dogs… that is one of the certains, there are always dogs,  in this case both real and fluffy.

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There will be junk  * some one else’s treasures*

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And crafts..if lucky sometimes the crafts actually elevate to the level of art.

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Food,  food from everywhere for every taste.

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The big winner in this line up,  the spinning meat.  I wasn’t the only one that stood mesmerized by the rotating tower of grilling meat.

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And of course there are people, so many wonderful people out and about.

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So, next time then…

 

 

the random files… art on the move and again away we go…

After what seems like forever it is that time again.. headed back out west for a week in Santa Fe.  Refresh the spirit with some good clean air and maybe a hike or two this time out.  We will have to wait and see on that one.  I have been averaging about five miles a day here in the city (according to my phone app) so I don’t want to just give it all up for a week.  🙂

As the theme goes, here you go, art on the move!

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so, next time then…

 

colombia vs. brazil

July 4th wasn’t just a day to celebrate the good old USA.  It was also the day that Brazil met Colombia on the field in a game of futbol.  (That is football to some of us Anglos out there, soccer if you are pure ‘merican).  I had heard that the celebrations had spilled out into the streets when Brazil had won earlier in the week, so we headed to what we thought would be the epicenter.  Broadway and Steinway in Astoria, Queens.

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There were definitely crowds but the Police were also in full force.  Guess they didn’t want a repeat of dancing in the streets, note I said DANCING).  I get that crowds can become rowdy and sometimes violent but I have yet to see anything that comes close to that kind of behavior in any of the neighborhood celebrations.  All I saw was a show of force that far exceeded the need. The NYPD are good at that.

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The police were diverting anyone showing any kind of Brazilian support at Broadway and not allowing them to continue down Steinway past the crowds of Colombian supporters.

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But it seems the police didn’t know where the real action was.  Right there across from our apartment on our own corner,  both groups of supporters were gathered.  Yes, they jeered at each other but it seemed to be all in good fun.  Many were carrying both flags and ALL were dancing to the Samba beat.

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Our neighborhood also has a large Pakistani population,  everyone came out to see what all the fuss was about.

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The drumming and dancing continued on well after dark.  From my bedroom window I could hear shouts of “COLOMBIA” and “BRAZIL”… to the semis we go!

So,  next time then…

 

the random files – on the move again

Random Files back again because we are NYC bound once again…

Perfect canvasses that reach thousands a day.  Art on the move across the city.  

I have been known to break into a full sprint hoping that a light turns red.  More than once I have missed a beauty going by.  I think that is what makes them so much fun, a real hunt  for a prey that can be just about anywhere at any time. Just one more way that street artists make every day living in a city that can sometimes be challenging, a little bit more enjoyable.. an occasional treat drives by and reminds you of why it is worth putting up with all the other stuff.

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So,  next time then…

the random files – peace process

Street art can be about nothing in particular or it can pay homage to a cultural icon or idea.  For many the very reason to put it out on the street is the message,  reaching the masses, creating change.  It is not by accident that street art and politics intersected in a huge way with Shepherd Fairey’s iconic rendering of Barack Obama.  

One of the common themes: Peace

That elusive belief that humans will someday overcome their biological need to be on top and learn to live harmoniously.   Personally I think as long as the method of creating peace involves using death on any level it is just a pipe dream.  But I have to give credit to the people out there with a voice, or a brush.. or a spray can who will continue to fight for peace. (see,  there it is in a nutshell, we say “fight” for peace…)

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One of those artists is Case of the Ma’Claim Crew from Germany.  His hands raised in the universal gesture have been found on walls all over the world, including outside of the Ministry of the Interior in Cairo.

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Commercial fashion statement?  Or true dream,  who knows.  

We lost one of the biggest voices in the dream this year.  Known on the street as JC2 or Army of One,  Jeff Campion saw the worst and still dreamed of peace.  I hope he has found his now.

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So, next time then…

the amusements…

Time to introduce the blog to another one of my series,  The Astoria Amusements.  

Queens is the largest borough in NYC and has the second highest population.  Many communities in Queens have their own distinct flavor, history and culture.  Astoria is no exception.  Always known for a large Greek population in recent years the area has grown to include groups from all over the world.  Steinway Street truly is Main Street U.S.A.  or at least the one envisioned in the Great American Experiment, a mixture of peoples from every corner of the globe.  

Along Steinway and a few other area streets are a remnant from the past still hanging on.  What American kid doesn’t remember the kiddie rides that used to line the area around the front of grocery stores and other retail establishments?  While they can still be found, their numbers have dwindled drastically over the years.  

A picture of Astoria through these “amusements” shows us the past, the present and a real window into the future.  

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To catch up on past additions to this series : 

mickey and the man

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I would encourage anyone coming to NYC to take the time to get out of Manhattan.  Take the R train to Broadway/Steinway or take the N/Q train to 30th or Astoria Blvd.  Astoria deserves to be explored.  Come with an empty stomach as the diversity of exciting food choices can’t be beat anywhere else in the city.  It will also show you how “real” nyers live.  A neighborhood with a heart and an identity of its own. 

So, next time then…

a little scott joplin…

A small neighborhood gathering with really good music, free food and beer thrown in and a chance encounter with a Rock Star.  That is how I spent a day this holiday weekend. 

The Event: the annual Scott Joplin Concert and BBQ at St. Michaels Cemetery in East Elmhurst, Queens.

 The Band: The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra.

The Rock Star:  that part comes later and down below.

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Local Queens Council Member, Costa Constantinides chatting up the press before the start of the show.

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The line for the BBQ (hamburgers and hotdogs).

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Yup,  that’s him…..

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Rock Stars eat hotdogs, at least Ric Ocasek does.  

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And yes,  that is his wife, Paulina Porizkova.  

The orchestra was brilliant and the skies held off just long enough,

The view from Astoria Blvd on the way home.

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Just in the knick of time.

So, next time then…

 

the way back…

I had read that they would be running a special nostalgia “train of many colors” out to the 50th World’s Fair Celebration on Sunday. So we set off determined to find the train.  I love when the universe is in on the plan, because we had no more than stepped off of the N at Queensboro Plaza when it pulled in.  Reactions were mixed.  I was like a kid in a candy store because I didn’t grow up in NYC.  I don’t remember cars with handles instead of bars. My husband has been riding the subway way too long so the shine is off the apple for him, he wasn’t nearly as thrilled.  

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Some of the funnier moments:  The man who complained to the Conductor about having to ride an old car. The Conductor told him a newer one would be along next if he wanted to step off and wait.  The British couple who went on and on about how London was so progressive and NYC was backward and these subway cars were proof.  The train geek who chewed the ear off of the Conductor for stop after stop in a voice that could fill Shea Stadium… who then complained about the annoying kids asking the Conductor questions.

And to the people who got on and off as part of their every day existence who didn’t even lift their heads from their phones to notice they had taken a step back in time,  I hope you take the time to savor the small moments some day.  They are what make life worth living, they fill in the picture with all the colors, sounds, smells and sparks that make it complete.

 

64 again..

Big doings in Flushing Meadows Park today, another one of those anniversaries.  If you remember last month the son and I spent a day waiting in line with masses of our NY neighbors trying to get a peak inside the NY State Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair.  If you missed it, here is a link:  https://bytegirlphotography.com/2014/04/22/it-was-50-years-ago-today

Today the masses were once again in attendance at the Fair Ground celebrating 50 years since Opening Day.  I love walking through events like this and taking photographs,  but as always I come away thinking there are way too many people in NYC.  

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And just how did we get to the park today?  Come back tomorrow for the pictures and story.