02/16/17 3:09pm
Pamela Colman Smith tarot cards

Pamela Colman Smith in the early 1910s and eight cards from a 1st edition Rider-Waite deck, originally published in 1909 (photos via Wikipedia and The World of Playing Cards)

If you’ve ever seen a tarot deck, it was most likely illustrated or inspired by the drawings of Pamela Colman Smith, an England-born, Jamaica-raised, Brooklyn-educated artist. She graduated from Pratt Institute in 1897 and became a theater designer who was once hugely influential in the world of esoterica but has been all but forgotten today.

For those of you not in touch: tarot cards are an expanded, occult version of playing cards used to tell fortunes and perform other rituals. They’re believed to have originated in Europe in the late 14th century, and have since become a canvass for a variety of non-traditional illustration themes, including Lisa Frank tarot and Twin Peaks tarot. (more…)

01/20/17 10:52am
Look familiar? That's because it's every bar in Brooklyn. Photo by Maria McClure

Look familiar? That’s because it’s every bar in Brooklyn. Photo by Maria McClure

What makes a Brooklyn bar?

Is it the wood? Is is the draft list that features only craft beer and local breweries? Is it the bartender, whose surly, I’ve-seen-it-all disposition seems out of sync with his youth? And which of these things explains why you find yourself so hopelessly drawn through the door, night after night, to pull up a stool at your neighborhood joint and order the same thing you can’t nearly afford?

These questions form the partial premise of [PORTO], a new play by Kate Benson running at the Bushwick Starr through Feb. 4, as part of the Exponential Theater Festival. “A neighborhood bar in a gentrifying outpost of a major American City,” reads the play’s tagline. “I know this will end badly, but for now, it tastes really good.”

The “city” turns out to be a borough: The narrator eventually admits that we are in fact in Brooklyn, albeit only once, as if the city name could be supplanted were the show picked up for a run in Portland or Chicago. But Brooklyn is an easy sell for [PORTO]; the bar is a cliché so self-serious that it almost feels new again.

“Edison lights glowing,” Benson narrates. “Serious food. Serious beer. Serious booze. … You know the place.” (more…)

01/19/17 1:38pm
Hey NYC, here are 9 artist opportunities (with deadlines) you should know about

Just one of the light-filled studio spaces awarded to 17 Sharpe-Walentas artists per year. via website

In case you thought Trump wasn’t going to come for the artists, think again. The president elect’s proposed sweeping cuts include a total elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, which means we’ll need to rely more than ever on funding and support from local arts organizations and cultural groups. And each other, obviously.

Lucky for us, we live in New York City. No matter your medium, there’s a nonprofit somewhere in NYC with the resources and mission to help you flex your creativity and get your art out into the world. We’ve rounded up nine artist opportunities for 2017 — with deadlines! — to help keep you accountable, motivated, and compensated in dollars as well as exposure bucks.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but we focused on opportunities with hard deadlines and obvious perks so you don’t feel like you’re art-ing into the void. Which you aren’t, by the way. So check out the opportunities below and see which one speaks to you. (Make sure to read them all, since some include multiple art forms: (more…)

01/06/17 2:04pm
Tele-vision explores spiritual displacement, which we're all feeling after the election. Photo by Shige Moriya

Tele-vision explores spiritual displacement, which we’re all feeling after the election. Photo by Shige Moriya

The underground theater scene in New York City has come a long way in its renown. In 2016 even the posh Charles Isherwood found himself at “downtown” performance work in the Lower East Side. Brooklyn isn’t a theater desert for emerging voices seeking venues, and critics are just as keen to catch new musicals at the Bushwick Starr as they are to see Kevin Spacey do Shakespeare at BAM.

One young theater festival in Brooklyn continues to “[celebrate] the increasing growth and importance of Brooklyn venues and local artists” with a multi-week festival that aggregates locally-made works of theater across a range of participating venues in the borough. The Exponential Festival kicks off tonight (Jan. 6) for its second year and features over 25 shows in just four weeks and change, with a roster that champions emerging artists as much as those mid-career.

“Brooklyn is less tidy. Less Broadway bound. More exciting. More accessible,” Theresa Buchheister, one of the festival’s co-founders and curators, told us.

Whether you’re already a seasoned theater-goer or you just promised yourself you’d see more stuff this year, The Exponential Festival is a great way to dip your toes into the wide-ranging world of perennial performance offerings in the borough. Here are our top picks for what not to miss:  (more…)

01/05/17 8:02am
A scene from Looking Back. via FB

A scene from Looking Back. via FB

Much as we try to hide it, many of us are transplants to New York City, first-generation Brooklynites trying to prove we deserve to be here. And for the most part it’s easy to go about our days with our heads down, trying to earn our local’s wings so we can forget all about the cities we left behind.

But memories creep in all the same. Memories of your hometown, your high school and the things you thought were forever. Looking back on the past is never easy; even the best memories from your childhood or your teenage years (and if you have those, wow) come packaged with all of the cringeworthy moments that surrounded them. Lucky for you, there’s a play in Manhattan that’ll set you free from your nostalgia.

“Looking Back, It May Not Have Been Ridgefield High School’s Best Production of Our Town,” a new play by Augie Praley, is an evening-length production that does nothing but reminisce. The playwright, who remains onstage the entire time as a kind of live narrator, takes his audience back to a high school gymnasium at his hometown high school, where generations of Ridgefield families performed Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. There’s no real set or props. And while that doesn’t exactly smack of Broadway production value, a lack of accoutrements ends up throwing the generations of high school memories into high relief.

You can catch the thing running every Sunday night at the PIT (123 E. 24th St.) at 8:30pm, from this Sunday (Jan. 8) through Sunday, Feb. 12. The play features our own Sam Corbin and was directed by Isaac Klein, that Billy Joel impersonator you saw in our video last week. So sure, we’re biased. But of all the reasons to end up in the godforsaken Flatiron stretch of Manhattan, this ranks up there as a good one. (more…)

01/03/17 1:00pm
'Move' your audience to tears of laughter like Cocoon Central Dance Team. via Dance NYC

‘Move’ your audience to tears of laughter like Cocoon Central Dance Team. via Dance NYC

With all the talking pictures and internet memes we’ve got to line our stomachs these days, there isn’t as much of an appetite for Marx Brothers-style physical comedy as there used to be. There isn’t much of an audience, either, outside of the traveling circus and whoever would see another Ace Ventura movie.

But for the past eight years, Triskelion Arts’ Comedy in Dance Festival has sought to provide a space where physical comedians of every sort — dancers, mimes, clowns, and so on — can leap for laughs. And if you’ve got an aptitude for physical antics, you should apply.

“Triskelion Arts believes in the power of funny, especially when it comes to dance,” reads a statement on the application, which is due Jan. 25 at 11:59pm. “We are seeking movement-based work under 15 minutes that tickles a varied adult audience’s collective funny bone.” (more…)

12/14/16 9:06am
Make a splash, like John Ahearn's large-scale sculpture for Coney Art Walls 2016. via website

Make a splash by the boardwalk, like John Ahearn’s sculpture did for Coney Art Walls 2016. via website

Feeling artless these days? You’re not alone — plenty of artists are struggling to pick themselves back up after Trump, Oakland, the tragedy of Aleppo… makes it hard to see why anything is worth anything. But art is important in times like these, and a talented young gun like yourself shouldn’t hold out when opportunities come up to showcase your particular aptitude for creative response.

Lucky for you, opportunity knocks: The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) has an arts initiative, called DOT Art, that commissions artists to produce “temporary site-responsive art in collaboration with community-based organizations,” and they’re currently seeking proposals for good ol’ Coney Island USA. If selected, your sculpture-to-be will get to sit at W. 10th St and Boardwalk for up to 11 months (through beach season!), and you can get up to $12,000 to fund the project!

The request for proposals is part of DOT Art’s Community Commissions Program, which focuses especially on those spaces that are “in need of beautification.” The stretch of W. 10th St. and Boardwalk certainly falls under that category; it’s right around the corner from the Cyclone, but there isn’t much along that strip of road north of the roller coaster. It’s mostly an area people pass through on their way to Luna Park. Oh ho-ho, but not anymore, because now it’ll feature the anti-Trump statue you’ve been dying to find a home for! Or just something nice that get to walk by. Either way. (more…)

11/23/16 2:27pm
Meet the 'Nasty Women' artists trying to topple the patriarchy before Trump's inauguration

They don’t want you to be nasty. via IG user @bir_gi, edited by Sam Corbin

The nation’s artists have gradually been picking themselves back up since the election, aware that they’ve got real work to do in a Trump presidency — but the nation’s women artists are feeling especially nasty. And in NYC, a group of Brooklyn-based women have gone so far as to create a “Nasty Women” arts initiative, “calling all Nasty Women artists” for a group exhibition right here in New York City with the hopes of inspiring similar exhibitions in cities around the world.

Armed with the label Donald Trump once used to insult Hillary Clinton during debate season, the initiative, co-founded by Bushwick ceramics artist Roxanne Jackson and Crown Heights-based curator Jessamyn Fiore, hopes “to demonstrate solidarity among artists who identify with being a Nasty Woman in the face of threats to roll back women’s rights, individual rights, and abortion rights.”

Brokelyn chatted with Jackson about the show’s inception, what exactly makes a “Nasty Woman” artist, and the growing need for political art leading up to a Trump presidency.

“It’s a way to bring people together,” Jackson told Brokelyn. “To let people know that we’re not gonna forget about this, we’re not gonna stop protesting, this is not OK, we don’t agree.” (more…)

11/18/16 9:13am
Dance your ungrabbability onstage. via Triskelion

Dance your ungrabbability onstage. Credit: Sam Polcer / Triskelion Arts

Hey artists, when you’re done tagging the side of that building with tiny hands (nice), listen up: Last week we told you why your art was going to be important in Trump’s America. This week, we’re bringing you news of three organizations fixing to help you make it.

The Brooklyn Arts Council, Triskelion Arts and the Brick Theater are all accepting submissions for their paid (!) artist residencies and festivals in 2017, and the content they’re calling for is either explicitly anti-Trump or just plain woke.

Some creatives barely bat an eye at the prospect of free rehearsal space, a modest stipend, production opportunities and other small affordances. But a Trump presidency is too ripe not to inspire raw creative material, and if mocking him in a comedy marathon isn’t your style then you may as well get the space, time and funding to figure out what is. Check these opportunities out — and note the deadlines, since one is tonight! — then get out there and make bravely, whatever your medium. (more…)

11/11/16 10:36am
Artists, we have to start a pussy riot. via Censorpedia

Artists, we have to start a pussy riot. via Censorpedia

I make art. While I was in college at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts — in the Experimental Theater Wing, no less — an acting teacher asked us to make a list of 10 reasons why Art was essential in the 21st century. Among the reasons I wrote down, many of which have since become less relevant to my professional life in theatre, there was one that has stayed accurate. “Art is the only language left that we can all understand.”

Trump’s win affected everyone here in New York, but it seemed to have an especially curious effect on New York’s artist community. The night of the election, I watched as my artist-heavy news feed grew increasingly grim while the votes were counted. It was probably the internet equivalent of watching Hillary supporters’ faces at the Javits Center.

Eventually, there was mostly silence on my feed. People turned off their phones. People went to bed. People announced they’d be taking a break from the internet for a while. And on Wednesday, statuses were bleak, rambling and hopeless. But by Thursday, there was a shift in the collective voice. By and large, the resounding sentiment of artists has become: Well fuck, okay. Let’s make shit. (more…)