Showing posts with label /// New York: Brooklyn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label /// New York: Brooklyn. Show all posts

Friday, July 13

My new apartment

Good morning! That's an overdue hello. Two weeks ago, I moved from a studio in the Village to the entire floor of a three-family house in a quiet Bushwick neighborhood where Brooklyn meets Queens. According to the languages overheard in a nearby Catholic church I pass on my walks, it's also where Ecuador meets Poland. I hadn't been looking for a new apartment, but in New York, when a good deal comes up, you jump--and order used cardboard boxes (.com).

I'd been to this apartment once before for a party. My friend and former WNYC colleague Carolina Miranda, a writer and arts critic who I know and love as the brains behind, lived here with her husband, street artist El Celso. I was so charmed by it -- the room-after-room railroad layout, a so-bad-it's-good mix of 1970s linoleum patterns, chunky door casings painted orange and shellacked like mad, the older Sicilian couple from upstairs who ventured down for the fun -- that months later, when I heard the news and got over my selfish disappointment that she and El Celso were relocating to Los Angeles, I found myself wondering: Hey! Should I move into their place? 

First, I should say that having working with extraordinarily talented Carolina, I knew that the New York art world was about to suffer a huge loss. Who else goes to art shows and combines solid reporting with ridiculous hilarity while writing about the overstimulating architecture of cruise ships, "testosterone art that's also huggy," and a Frida Kahlo-like sculpture that is a carnal strawberry? Los Angeles art world: you scored. In fact, I think we all score. Los Angeles needs more arts coverage, and New York publications need to run it.

So, I moved. I definitely scored. Thank you, C-Monster and El Celso! The Sicilians upstairs who own the building have covered what I fondly called the Linoleum Palace with a new wood floor. I mean, wood-floor-printed vinyl. Same thing! I'm finding all sorts of touches left behind, like rubber fishies strung from the low-hanging chandelier (below) in the dining room that became my bedroom (I added necklaces), and a patch-up job in a kitchen cabinet that puts to use some of El Celso's discarded artwork (bottom). My friend Jill Singer, design writer and co-founder of Sight Unseen, gave me her knock-off Tulip table from IKEA (above) when she found an original. (Who knew that the Saarinen original has the most beautiful silky touch!) Things are coming together. Boxes are collapsed. Internet is installed. I can now find my keys. I just have three more rooms to furnish, or a roommate to find.

I don't normally post filtered photos here. Realism > fantasy. But these pics are conveniently snagged from Instagram, where you can follow me all dreamy and sentimental at lizarnold. More soon. 

P.S. I haven't forgotten about the 10-year-old's posts! Approvals and such.

Wednesday, April 18

Fire bucket

Sometimes when I visit a place for Homebodies, it ends up being so quirky and interesting that I try to sell it to a publication instead of writing about it on my blog. That's what happened here, though what's so fascinating about this home isn't pictured... We'll have to wait and see! I want a fire bucket. eBay has come cool old ones.

UPDATE 5/27/12: Subject revealed! This is at the home of Shantell Martin, whose room I wrote about in a cover story for the Home section of The New York Times.

Thursday, October 20

The film office

Continuing a walk around the apartment of filmmaker Jonas Mekas, above, I peeked behind a swooping red curtain and entered his office. On the desk is a stack of film tins labeled things like "Yoko" and "Dali" and "W.T.C." A portrait of his family hangs on the brick wall; he's the little guy in the front row on the right. Boxes and files and books are piled on endless shelves, and a pale-green monster of a vintage film machine (is this a projector?) sits at the entrance to the room. There's a mattress on the floor, a convenient crash pad.

Monday, October 17

Scribbling with my camera

Last week, filmmaker Jonas Mekas, above, at his dining table in Brooklyn, told me he scribbles with his camera, taking notes on the scene. I loved this idea, since I feel like I do the same for Homebodies, shrugging off some kind offers from pros who'd like to take "better" pictures for me. But that's never been my point, and everyone has something to sell, don't they?

When I went over for dinner, an impromptu offer that day, I walked into the spacious apartment--books, film reels, tables with work stations, and a smattering of fluorescent orange--and found a crew of people scattered around: a woman at a computer, a German film student in a Batman T-shirt drinking wine at the table, Sebastian, Jonas's son, preparing to cook in the kitchen. "It's like a factory," said Jonas, who was close to Andy Warhol as a friend and creative collaborator. 

Another guy came in. Then another. When I asked them both how they knew Jonas and Sebastian, they shrugged and said, "Lithuanian." Jonas is from Lithuania. 

Sebastian cooked us all delicious pasta. The student, who's studying film theory in Vienna, explained his thesis, about the philosophy of Walter Benjamin he sees in Jonas's films. "Does Jonas see Walter Benjamin in his films?" I asked the student. "I don't know yet!" he said. "We'll see! I got here yesterday." We talked about work, and jobs, and freedom, and creativity, and scribbling, and--yes, thanks, more wine--and photography, and the history of Lithuania, and Palestine.

Before I knew that Jonas had made Sleepless Nights, a film about his lively evenings due to insomnia, I took a few photos around the apartment, excusing myself at the early-bird hour of 10:30 pm. 

Below: a binder of "Pieces + scribbles;" a view of the apartment when you walk in; a cat; a cow that his daughter saved from slaughter, lucky cow; Sebastian holding a kitty, one of two in the place that loves to snuggle in boxes.

Friday, October 14

"STRAY cassettes" and Jonas Mekas

The photo I posted the other day of the night's wreckage was at the Brooklyn home of filmmaker Jonas Mekas, whose blog I've been following since I interviewed him for WNYC. (Arts critic Carolina Miranda and I live-tweeted all eight glorious hours of Andy Warhol's 1964 film Empire; Jonas was the cameraman.) When our interview ended, I felt like I was only at the beginning of my questions with the avant-garde artist, who's also the president and cofounder of Anthology Film Archives in the East Village.

So here we are, months later, 7:30 pm on a Tuesday, impromptu dinner. I'm one of several guests in blue chairs. I'll post more next week, but for those of you in London, you can see Jonas's new film at the BFI London Film Festival, going on now. The film, Sleepless Nights, is about the eating, drinking, singing and dancing that fill his insomniac nights. (How tame. I left that night at 10:30 pm.) Tickets are still available, and Jonas is in attendance.

Below, the kitchen, a cold beer, and my walk to the building.... More next week!

Wednesday, April 6

I miss Homebodies, too...

Greetings! I see I haven't posted in *one month*! So sorry. I miss Homebodies, too, and hanging out on Sundays with strangers, like I did with Mario, above. But there's good news! I'm less than three months away from finishing grad school, and I'll be back regularly when I'm done in June.

I'll be giving a lecture during the final residency, as part of my requirements for graduation, and I think I'm doing it on interior spaces in literature -- what they convey beyond setting. I'm working on an outline now...

More to come soon, here, I hope, but for now I wanted to drop in and say hello. Thanks for reading Homebodies!

Thursday, March 3

Working the Thursdays gig

On Thursdays, I help a professor with her creative writing class at a New York college. It's quite fun -- I'm entertained all afternoon reading her students' fiction. (She's not a native English speaker, so I proofread for grammar and syntax.) I love reporting for duty, because not only is she funny and creative, and not only does she live in a charming Brooklyn brownstone, but she's also a fabulous cook who brings me treats while I'm working! How I wish every job had this kind of service. 

Actually, when I'm at WNYC, hosts sometimes prepare my coffee when I'm not even looking.

Thursday, September 30

One last detail: Mark Phillips is maybe moving

With the big back story to this wall drawing, I somehow forgot to tell you a very important and timely detail: Mark Phillips, who spent about six months recreating Sol LeWitt's Wall Drawing 1211 with colored pencils in his bedroom, may be moving out of his apartment. In need of more space and less noise, Mark has been looking around for a new home -- perhaps one with nice, smooth walls. This much is true: he can't take the beloved replica with him. So what will become of it?
If you listened to the Studio 360 segment that he produced about this project, you know that Sol LeWitt works are accompanied by a certificate. A work isn't authentic unless it's documented. In the podcast, Mark explains what happens in the surprising buying/selling process, as the work can't actually be packed up and shipped to the new owner:

"You pay whoever owns it for the certificate, and then they actually have to paint over their drawing. Only then does the LeWitt estate send over their trained assistants to draw the new version on your wall. Theoretically there's a one-to-one ratio between drawings and certificates."

If you lose the certificate, well...

So, of course, there's no certificate to Mark's work, but he will have to paint over it before he moves (likening his landlord to LeWitt). "And yes," he says, "I do think I'll have another go at this drawing in the new place, especially now that I've mastered the technique and learned a couple secrets from the Sol LeWitt installers. I might try something new, though." Hmmm.

In 1968, when it came time to destroy the first wall drawing at the Paula Cooper Gallery, where the first drawing was exhibited, the task landed in the hands of owner Paula Cooper. But she couldn't bring herself to do it. LeWitt painted over it himself.

Tuesday, September 28

...and Mark's music studio

 In between Mark's living area and bedroom is a great little room he uses as a music studio. Foam that he wouldn't really let me photograph is pushed up into the corners near the ceiling to improve acoustics. He doesn't look as bad as he thinks, and hey, it serves an important function. A Wurlitzer and various keys are lined up along the walls....
OK, a small mention of the foam:

Mark's kitchen--amazing found photos

Mark has a thing for beverages. Above, his Sodastream home-soda maker. It carbonates anything in seconds, so Mark transformed my tap water into a sparkling, cool refreshment. When we worked together, before he left WNYC to freelance, I'd run into him in the kitchen filling his thermos with hot water so he could continuously refill his gourd of yerba mate all afternoon. Guess who's now walking around WNYC with a gourd of mate (with a gigantic this-can't-be-legal smile on her face)? 
Above, the rest of the kitchen. A gigantic Bialetti. Have I mentioned we're in Clinton Hill? Below, sweet vintage mushrooms. Aren't they just...familiar? 
 Across the kitchen on the opposite wall are a series of photos, below. They continue into the living area, of which, for some reason, I don't have pictures, but where there is a well-preserved vintage Eames recliner. Anyway, these photos have a very interesting story. As Mark puts it (see caption below):
"I was working at a professional B&W lab and this fashion photographer found a 6x6 camera at a garage sell with an unwound, undeveloped roll of film. It would be one thing if it was just undeveloped, but being unwound it was extremely unlikely that anything would show up on the film. But he gave it to us to develop just in case. And the images on the film were perfectly exposed and amazing. It seems like it was a roll that was half from a mission (or bootcamp) and half from a leave of absence with his lady. I'm not sure what war it's from (if any) since it seems too new to be WWII and too old to be Vietnam. Perhaps Korea. Anyway, they're so well lit and composed that it's clear this guy knew what he was doing and that's why the fate of these images is so mysterious. Did he lose the camera? Did he get killed? Seems like something must have happened to prevent him from getting the roll developed." 
 Last but not least: stray gourds awaiting yerba mate. And filtered tap water, pre-fizz. 

Monday, September 20

Instructions for installing a Sol LeWitt...

If you listened to Mark Phillips' Studio 360 podcast about his attempt to recreate a Sol LeWitt drawing in his bedroom, you'd know already a bit about the authentic artworks, and how the assistants come and prep the wall, and about significant details like the widths of the pencil markings, and you'd know that Sol LeWitt pieces come, like any purebred, with paperwork. 

Mark, a freelance radio reporter who was a producer at On the Media for four years, showed me some of the instructions for a LeWitt installation as outlined by the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York City. Paula Cooper represents Sol LeWitt. The gallery opened in 1968 with a show that included the artist's first wall drawing. 

As you can see below, the wall must first be painted with a specific primer from Benjamin Moore, a paint manufacturer trusted by top professionals in the art and design worlds (like architect Wayman). Apply the paint with a roller, not a brush, please.
Above, a meditation pillow, and my glass of water. In college, Mark studied Buddhism in Japan. Below, guitars and a keyboard next to the bed. When not gazing out windows, Mark plays keys, does sound design for films, and makes music under the moniker Sono Oto.

Monday, September 13

Mark Phillips and his "Sol LeWitt"

Voila, here it is, Mark's replica of Sol LeWitt's Wall Drawing 1211, an installation at Dia Beacon in New York. The shot above was taken by Mark from the head and center of his bed. He elevated the grid a few inches higher than it should be -- there's more space at the bottom than at the top -- so he can gaze at the whole golden thing in its entirety, over the tops of his feet, as he wakes in the morning (as seen below, except the picture was taken at 6 pm). "In the glow of the morning light," he says, "it becomes tones, not individual lines. It's like a sunrise."
Mark explaining. "Some people knit. I drew lines on a wall."
Mark began the project two years ago. It was tedious: holding a ruler against a wall takes quite a bit of stamina. Forty-five minutes in and he was exhausted, though he says he never left a square unfinished. "That would bug me. I wouldn't be able to go to sleep with it facing me."

The entire drawing took about six months to finish. While he was compulsive about finishing individual squares once he began them, he didn't mind the Tetris-like work-in-progress. "It was still beautiful unfinished."

"It's fun having ambient tasks. I've taken up running, since..."

Wednesday, September 8

First day of school! Homework for Homebodies

Happy back-to-school! So...for my next Homebodies would greatly help if, before I expose you to some wonderment, you do some homework and listen to a quick audio segment about the subject's home project--which, as said subject points out, involves colored pencils, the ultimate back-to-school supply. This isn't the DIY you might expect.

Mark Phillips, a reporter and producer for On the Media, and my colleague at WNYC, took on quite a challenge in his bedroom: replicating a pencil drawing by the artist Sol LeWitt. He asked big questions, and so did Studio 360, the radio show that aired his findings: "Is it real, or is it plagiarism?"

Listen to the ten-minute piece below. Photos to come!

Thursday, May 13

Bill Shapiro, Brooklyn

On a recent Sunday, I took the F train to Brooklyn to visit Bill Shapiro, whose book Other People's Rejection Letters hit shelves this week. (On the sweeter side, he also edited the popular Other People's Love Letters.) This new collection of rejection letters ranges from the romantic to the professional; from Jimi Hendrix to moi (I authored two, and contributed a photo). Fittingly, the F train —the FU train—went unexpectedly express once I left Manhattan, leaving me feeling a bit rejected myself when I realized I was completely off-track. A town car and an unplanned tour of Brooklyn later, I was hanging out with Bill and drinking a nerve-calming breakfast smoothie while the birds chirped in the garden and his kids played games on the computer and made butterfly mosaics on the floor. What snafu? I love Brooklyn.

I know Bill pretty well, considering that I'm the third wheel to the Bill-and-Naomi unit. This is what happens when your best friends have cool boyfriends. We do a lot together, i.e., I tag along.

This was my first visit to Bill's new home, and I love it! It's three stories and has shiny wood floors and gorgeous fireplaces and has a warm kitchen painted bird's-egg blue. In the kitchen are smoothies. On the walls are some fantastic pictures: Bill, a longtime editor at Time Inc., was the founding editor of He's got some great shots of Marilyn Monroe, random antique daguerreotypes, old Life covers, and lots of photo paraphernalia. Taking snapshots for Homebodies at the home of such an expert? No sweat.

Below, between the kitchen and the living room, is the mosaic room, and for adults, the office area. The desk: where book-magic and bill-paying happens. The Life poster was designed by Bill's friend Carin Goldberg, the legendary graphic designer behind those Kurt Vonnegut titles, a Madonna album, and a slew of other things (I got sucked into her website. Check it out).
On shelves along the opposite wall are more photographs and cameras. Below, the Feb. 2, 2007 Life cover featuring Sienna Miller during the Factory Girl blitz. I think that's a spring from a sofa cushion. The Marilyn Monroe series was shot by the great Life photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt. She called him over to her house in Santa Monica and vamped in the backyard, says Bill. Bill vamped for me in the reflection of the daguerreotypes. I was admiring the framed faces when he appeared and became superimposed. Creepy!
The charcoal on paper behind the TV is by Tim Clifford, who happens to live a few blocks away. I love this rug. I think Bill said it's from his mom? I'm looking for a flat weave myself. And is that a mini tri-pod on the windowsill, next to the pocket watch? Next up, the kitchen. A preview, with the boy, from the mosaic room.