The Chelsea Ceramic Guild: Sculpting an NYC Pottery Community

The Chelsea Ceramic Guild, a pottery studio on West 19th Street in Manhattan, has been a community space for ceramics enthusiasts for over two decades. While the studio itself has not changed too much, continuing to offer working space and lessons, the neighborhood has. High rents have driven out some of the quirkier elements of the area and, particularly as the art market struggles to right itself after an economic downtown that was dearly felt in buyers’ wallets, that change can be felt within the Guild. Just this month, the Guild’s adjoining gallery space, which has been selling art made by Guild members and others since the late 1980s, closed for financial reasons.

However, according to Fred Rose, who owns and manages the organization, the studio half of the Guild has not suffered at all. Lessons continue to fill up, and, at the weekly Saturday open workshop hours, artists and students continue to come in, to work on their projects and to see each other.

Click through for a look into the Guild’s Saturday world—and why it matters to the city’s ceramics community.

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NYC Chocolate Show: How Sweet It Is

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Chocolate makers from Japan to Sweden, Ecuador to Brooklyn came together to celebrate (and sell) the sweet stuff for four days from November 11-14 at the 13th annual Chocolate Show. Packed with people, the exhibit hall was a chocoholic’s dreams come true. You could sample for hours and then buy what you like for more indulgence at home.

Wander the aisles named “Bittersweet Chocolate Boulevard” and “Cocoa Bean Street” and taste from table to table. Or you could stop in the café area for free espresso care of Café Bustelo, a sponsor of the show.

The holidays are around the corner which means culinary indulgence is too. Gorging on food is half the fun of the season. With a wait in line for up to a half hour and ticket prices at $30 per person New Yorkers looked ready to celebrate, even if it means gaining a few pounds.

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Waiting to Meet a Legend……

Anthony Martinez, 52 arrived at J&R Music World at 4pm to wait in line to meet the renowned producer Quincy Jones. This meet and greet session for fans was promoting Jones’s new book entitled “Q on Producing,” and his new CD, “Soul Bossa Nostra.” Martinez came to the store to get his copy of the new book autographed. Meeting a legend like Quincy Jones is a once in a lifetime event. At 77, Jones is still going strong collaborating with some of today’s hottest artist like Ludicris, Robin Thicke and Snoop Doggy Dogg on his new CD.

Mr. Martinez is a musician himself. He plays the bass guitar.

View the slide show to see pictures from the perspective of Anthony Martinez as he waits to meet a legend.

Click here to watch the slide show.

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New York City Construction Gets An Art Lesson

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New York is a city of perpetual construction. Whether it’s fixing up old buildings or creating new ones, it’s hard to pass a block without seeing some sort of construction being worked on.

But just because one day the completed project will hopefully be eye catching, doesn’t mean the people in the area also need to suffer the months of unsightly mess, noise and destruction that goes with it.

For the residents and passerbys of London Terrace Gardens on 425 W. 25th St., those typical images of construction have been transformed into a display worthy of the Museum of Modern Art.

Check out the slide show to see just how ArtBridge, an non-profit urban arts organization, is bringing a small slice of high culture to Chelsea’s long-standing scaffolding.

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Books and Friends Find a Haven in Fort Greene

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The Greenlight Bookstore, located in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, is an independent bookstore with a neighborhood focus that offers small time authors the opportunity to launch their books in a more intimate and casual environment. For that reason, entrepreneurs and authors Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito approached Greenlight Bookstore founder Jessica Stockton to launch there their new book titled “Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented.”

Last Tuesday night, the event attracted more than fifty people, dessert lovers among them, and casual visitors to the bookstore, most of them looking for new sweet recipes to diversify their menus.

Fort Greene residents and other Brooklyn residents find in this bookstore a place where they not only can acquire books, many of them independent publications, but a friendly venue for gathering and to have casual discussions about art, culture and other community topics of interest to them.

And younger people also find a meeting space there. Every Saturday morning Greenlight Bookstore holds an event called “Readings for All Ages,” which has become very popular among kids and parents in the neighborhood.

Greenlight Bookstore at 686 Fulton Street in Brooklyn, NY. www.greenlightbookstore.com

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The Writing on the Wall: Graffiti’s Innocuous Presence

Graffiti, one of the most controversial forms of modern “art,” is rampant in large cities such as New York. While at one point in time graffiti seemed like a strong indicator that the neighborhood was going down hill, now many don’t seem to mind it at all.

Though graffiti has historically been known as vandalism, there have been massive movements in the last 10 years to remove the stigma of this urban art form. Websites such as 12ozProphet have spawned from the graffiti movement in celebration and support of the art form.

Due to the overwhelming interest in graffiti, a company called Graffiti Tours has popped up, offering paying customers a walking tour of various neighborhoods in New York City, like as SOHO, that have been both the inspiration and the canvas for graffiti artists like as BANKSY, COST, and REV. And, if you can’t make one of their tours, they offer self-guided tour maps for just $5.

There are also websites devoted to graffiti writing instruction in various graffiti styles because graffiti is like its own language. Graffiti artists use codes when they tag and, like any language, you can decipher the meaning of the message if you pay close attention to the details.

Man’s interest in leaving a memorial of their existence during a specific time and at a specific place date back to 30,000 BC in the form of prehistoric cave paintings. Lovers carve their initials in the trunks of trees and passers-by write their names in wet cement on city streets all in an effort to memorialize a special time and place in hopes that their presence won’t ever be forgotten.

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Can Art Helps New York’s Homeless and Hungry

Can-not believe it’s art?

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In 1962 Andy Warhol created a series of 32 paintings of Campbell Soup cans. Exhibited in a row resembling a grocery store shelf the work caused controversy and debate across the art world about the ethics and value of pop art.
At the World Financial Center Winter Garden this week, there is no question of the ethics of art on display.  But Warhol’s cans do make an appearance.  For one week only giant can sculptures populate the indoor garden in an exhibition and competition in aid of City Harvest, a charity that has served the hungry and homeless in NYC for over 25 years.

As winter draws in and families stock pile food for the Thanksgiving feast, the Canstruction exhibition raises awareness of the 1.5 million New Yorkers currently living in poverty who wont be eagerly preparing sticky yams next week.  Thanks to City Harvest and Canstruction however these edible sculptures will be coming their way. Days before Thanksgiving the cans are distributed to the homeless and hungry throughout New York.

See for yourself how 25 teams of architects, designers and students from all over the world have interpreted Warhol’s cans for the greater good.

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NYC’s Taxis of Today

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Thousands of times every day and night, they’re waved at, pulled over, slid into, paid for and slammed shut.

Though native New Yorkers tend to take the city’s ubiquitous yellow taxis for granted, they’re as quintessentially NYC as the Statue of Liberty and folded pizza.  But beginning in a few years, the city’s famous cabs will look drastically different.

The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commissioner, Davis Yassky, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced this Monday the three finalists in the competition to become the “Taxi of Tomorrow,” which the TLC website describes as “the first-ever custom-built taxicab specifically designed for New York City.”  The winning design will become New York’s exclusive taxi model for at least 10 years, beginning in the fall of 2014.

In the meantime, thousands of drivers, fleet owners, mechanics and inspectors will continue to earn their living working with the city’s 13,237 licensed taxis of today.

View the slideshow to see some of today’s cabs and the people who drive, rent and repair them at McGuinness Management Corporation, at 330 McGuinness Blvd. in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

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Describing Your NYC Dining Disasters: Our Poll Results

A few weeks ago we asked you, the readers, what you thought of New York City restaurants, and what has been your worst experience.

We’ve recorded the results, and while they’re far from scientific, they do show some interesting things that you might want to think about the next time you decide to go out to eat:

• 66 percent (12 out of 18) said that their worst meal experience came while they were dining out for dinner. Five people said they had a bad brunch experience, and one person had a lousy lunch.

• Every bad experience was either because of bad food (“It is like eating a spoonful of artichoke dip on a piece of white bread,” said one survey-taker) or because of bad service (“I think they forgot our table existed,” said another survey-taker).

• The number one way that people showed the restaurant they didn’t enjoy their meal was by tipping poorly, followed closely by never returning.

• Nearly every person (17 out of 18) said that they only went out rarely to eat in the city, two to four times a week, to the chagrin of every restaurateur in the city.

• The main place that people get their restaurant recommendations from is from friends and family, so next time you have a bad meal, blame mom.

However, despite all the horror stories we heard, people generally seem to like the city’s restaurants. On our one to five scale on how worth it is dining out in the city, no one thought the experience was worthy of a less than three out of five rating. In fact, the majority (11 out of 18) rated the city’s cuisine spots a four out of five, proof that no matter what kind of experience you have, sometimes great food is worth a few disasters.

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In Brooklyn, They Think They Can Dance

Kenya Wilson, 24 and her dance partner, Javi Faison, 20 have been dancing together for three years. “We know there is nowhere else for us to be.” They said of their audition.

By 7:30 Tuesday morning, a line was already wrapped around the
corner of Lafayette Ave and Ashland Pl in Fort Greene. Dancers from as far away as
Nova Scotia gathered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for day two of
auditions for the reality show So You Think You Can Dance.
Try-outs began Monday and will continue until Wednesday.Today’s

hopefuls are here after making it through the first round and all hope
to make it through to what could

be their big break.

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