“New York is a sucked orange.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I believe in New Yorkers. Whether they’ve ever questioned the dream in which they live, I wouldn’t know, because I won’t ever dare ask that question.” -Dylan Thomas
“Everybody ought to have a Lower East Side in their life.” -Irving Berlin
New York. It isn’t a city so much as it is a universe. It is impossible to encapsulate and yet easy to portray in a way that even those who have never set foot can recognize. It breathes life and sucks souls, it breeds great art and crushes dreams. New York is the world boiled down to a few hundred square miles where anyone can feel absolutely at home or as though they are on another planet. New York is a living creature, evolving and shifting with the times. It dies and is reborn again and again.
Rosaire Appel works from her studio in New York. Appel’s recent book Tapes is made entirely with the medium of the title. Because tape creates a straight line, Appel says there was a certain poetic structure to the drawings she made. Differing lengths of parallel lines seem to rhyme at the end. Her current work seems to be manifesting itself from the sounds of the city. “There’s an assumption that all sounds are big sounds or interruptive and ugly, like garbage trucks and things like that, but if you hear them from several blocks away and your ears are open…they echo off different places and they are mixed with things like car horns…they are these notes like little solos happening, maybe a bird call or maybe a child’s voice…it’s like a symphony,” she says. For Appel, the finality of binding a body of work into a book is her way of closing a project. “The for me it is like a little exhibit,” she says. Appel’s books are print on demand which allows her total freedom and control. By uploading her books to Create Space, they are made available instantly through Amazon. Alternatively, Appel offers books sold from her directly with handmade covers and also from Blurb, the print on demand site. In addition to books, Appel digitally creates and exhibits prints. Appel herself prefers the books because not only can they be carried with people, but books are a journey in and of themselves. She comments on social media as a powerful tool for sharing and selling her work. She says she feels that Facebook and Instagram are exceptional platforms for artists. Listen to the interview here.
Colleen Fitzgibbon is a filmmaker who has recently finished two films, a documentary about the sculptor Jonathan Silver and another titled Green Point 2017 which looks at the Newtown Creek Superfund area. She is now working on some narrative scripts which is a first for Fitzgibbon. She is one of the founding artists of Collaborative Projects, Inc. (Colab) in New York City, and is one of the artists responsible for the collaborative conceptual work The Offices of Fend. The Offices was a project in which the artists tried to sell their aesthetic services. For the project, they created the slogan “the artist is an agency for the initiation of function.” Fitzgibbon recalls that their services were rejected a lot, but the concept behind the project was to offer solutions to conventional business problems in the context of conceptual art. Her film LES is being screened at MoMA. The film was shot in the 1970s in the Lower East Side in an area (Avenue D to Avenue A) which was almost completely burned out. The area today is completely transformed with bistros lining the streets where once vacant and burned out buildings stood. Her film Greenpoint 2017 takes a close look at a tidal creek in Brooklyn designated a Superfund site by the EPA. Despite funds being in place for cleanup, the process has not begun. Fitzgibbon recalls with some awe the sheer size of the site that needs to be addressed. Fitzgibbon sits on the board of the Filmmakers’ Co-op. To hear her speak more about New York in the 1970s and other topics she has documented in film, listen to the whole interview.
A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:
New York is too complex to ever be known and yet it is as familiar to us all as our own hearts.
Books to Read
What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Rosaire Appel is reading Book from the Ground by Xu Bing, a book written entirely in emoji. Coleen Fitzgibbon signed up for the New York Times/PBS Book Club. Her first read for the club was Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward.
Opportunities / Open Calls
Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn, New York has an open call for those interested in residency. Eight artists will be chosen. See website for details. There is a $25 application fee. Deadline for applications is March 19.
Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.