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Jeff Koons on His Dream Choo Choo and That Time Lady Gaga ‘Kind of Went Down’ On Him

Koons Cat

“Cat on a Clothesline (Red)” Jeff Koons at FLAG Art Foundation

Last week, when Jeff Koons spoke about an unrealized pet project of his– a giant, actual crane holding up a replica of a “choo choo train”– and casually estimated that it would cost somewhere around $25 million to $50 million to produce, I couldn’t help LOL’ing.

“I never think about failure,” Koons told the crowd at FLAG, where several of his sculptural pieces are on view through May 14 as part of Cecily Brown, Jeff Koons, Charles Ray“I let things resonate and when I’m ready to make a gesture, I just do it.”

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Greenpoint Open Studios is the Local Artist Fest That the G Train Keeps Real

(Flyer via Greenpoint Open Studios)

(Flyer via Greenpoint Open Studios)

While Bushwick Open Studios is fighting back against the bro-vasion of a festival that started out, anyway, as a means of celebrating local artists and the neighborhood where they live and work, Greenpoint Open Studios has remained the nerdy (not actually related) little sister that never had to tell corporate bandits and party promoter tagalongs to beat it. We’re guessing this has something to do with the G train– whatever it is that’s holding back a heavy influx of too many non-art and non-Greenpoint related interests, keep doing what you’re doing.

OK, so there are a fewwww sponsored things going on this year at GOS, but the greedy capitalist overlords in this case are, like, a potato chip maker and Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. (oh, and one advertising interest, but we’ll get to that later). We’d be crazy to hate on free salty snacks and local beer! But remember: it’s all about the art and more than 300 local artists and their often pretty cool studio spaces.

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From the Allen Street Boys to Satan’s Sinners, Street Gangs of the Lower East Side

Clayton Patterson's new book with Jose "Cochise" Quiles, cover photo by Clayton Patterson (Image: Nicole Disser)

Clayton Patterson’s new book with Jose “Cochise” Quiles, cover photo by Clayton Patterson (Image: Nicole Disser)

Last week, Elliot Caldwell was fatally shot outside of Campos Plaza, the NYCHA public housing project where he’d grown up. An EV Grieve commenter noted that the 23-year-old had been arrested in 2013 when the Manhattan DA busted alleged members of the Money Boyz, a coke-dealing gang based out of the East Village housing project. DNAinfo wrote that a woman claiming to be Caldwell’s aunt told reporters: “He was a great father. He changed his life for his son. He just got caught up in a bad situation.”

The NYPD told B+B that the suspect in Caldwell’s shooting is described as a “black male wearing a red hoodie,” who “fled from the scene on foot.” So far there have been no arrests, and police say the investigation is ongoing.

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Seven Badass Things Said By ‘Fuck Paintings’ Artist Betty Tompkins

"Word Paintings" by Betty Tompkins, on view at FLAG (Photo: Nicole Disser)

“Word Paintings” by Betty Tompkins, on view at FLAG (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Since we last caught up with Betty Tompkins– the downtown artist best known for her “Fuck Paintings,” she’s been doing what an established artist should be doing, showing her work at art shows and galleries galore. But for most of her career, as we learned, Tompkins was subject to censorship, sexism, and flat-out rejection not just from gallerists and the art world, but from first- and second-wave feminists too. Nevertheless, Tompkins kept painting nether regions and money shots, all of it sourced from porn. “The problem is, I’m a slut for painting,” she said.

We heard all this and more at “A Woman’s Greatest Weapon is Her Tongue,” a Q&A held in conjunction with Tompkins’s new solo exhibition of “Word Paintings,” which depict some of the “awfully familiar” words used to describe women. (“WOMEN Words Phrases Stories” is on view at the FLAG Art Foundation through May 14).

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Blurry Backpage Girls and Liquor Bottle Swirls: Paintings for Bukowski

"Bather" (2014) by Walter Robinson (Image courtesy of Owen James Gallery)

“Bather” (2014) by Walter Robinson (Image courtesy of Owen James Gallery)

We’ve all seen the “massage girl” advertisements lurking at the back of alternative weeklies and the grainier budget versions of escort ads spamming the nether regions of the internet– signs that a legitimate underworld of body-business is still solidly stuck to the underside of the white market. It’s ever-present, and in some ways unchanging. These familiar “backpage ads” are the source images for art-critic-turned-artist Walter Robinson‘s blurry acrylic renderings on view at There’s a Bluebird in My Heart, a new show opening Friday, April 8 at Owen James Gallery in Greenpoint.

The paintings depicting doe-eyed girls wearing slinky loungewear, long tresses, and pouty demeanors, account for about half the show, while the rest consists of still-lifes of liquor bottles, cigarettes, and pill bottles. “It’s basically a two-artist show,” explained Owen Houhoulis, owner of Owen James. “One is a longtime New York artist and the other is the well-known poet Charles Bukowski.” Really, though, the show is a three-way effort between curator, painter, and the late, great drunken poet, as well as a way for Houhoulis to realize a longtime dream of putting together a curatorial homage to Bukowski.

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This Journey Into Sound and Silence Pays Tribute to John Cage and a ‘Deaf Club’ For Punks

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

If you enter the cordoned-off projection room at LA-based artist Alison O’Daniel‘s newly-opened exhibition, Room Tone at just the right moment (anytime between now and May 8, when the show is on view at Knockdown Center), you’ll bump right into the summer of 1980, when a packed house at one of San Francisco’s weirdest “social experiments” known as the Deaf Club, had gathered for the venue’s very last punk show. The legendary punk club, which had originally functioned as a social club for the deaf since it was founded in the 1930s, came about when the building’s owners decided to rent out some extra space. The deaf social remained while the place became a raucous DIY show space by night, drawing artists, musicians, and underground types like John Waters.

In O’Daniel’s film, we see some of the deaf people playing card games, unperturbed as the floors rattle and shake around them, and others wandering through the punk show as if in a dream, continuing to engage in their intimate sign conversations, while the wild noise around them proves to have little power in disrupting their connection. On the flip side, the punk show goes on, too– the presence of the Deaf Club members has no effect on the punk catharsis. I imagined a giant venn diagram– the small sliver in the center being the smidgen of experience that the deaf and hearing people shared in this scene, and the almost whole worlds that remained intact outside where the circles met. As a hearing impaired person, O’Daniel can jump back-and-forth between these two separate circles of experience, just one perspective that makes Room Tone so profoundly brain shifting.

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Introducing Club 157, a Home Gallery With the Occasional Exorcism Workshop

(photo: Cassidy Dawn Graves)

(photo: Cassidy Dawn Graves)

Most people want to keep their personal space and their workspace separate. But for Heather Rae Hatton, the two are one and the same. Her newly-opened East Williamsburg gallery and coworking space Club 157 just happens to also be her loft apartment—talk about a short commute. The fresh-faced gallery has had one show already, and tonight is the opening reception for its first themed group show, “Dreamcatching.”

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Our 19 Fav Moments of Sprang Brayke 2016

"Harem of the Pug" (2015) oil on honeycomb aluminum panel artist: John Gordon Gauld, curator: Shulamit Nazarian. (Photo: Nicole Disser)

“Harem of the Pug” (2015) oil on honeycomb aluminum panel artist: John Gordon Gauld, curator: Shulamit Nazarian. (Photo: Nicole Disser)

One of this weekend’s cheaper alternatives to the Armory Show, Spring/Break, let artists loose on the cavernous, underutilized spaces of an historic post office in Chelsea. Think of Spring/Break as PS1 to the Armory’s Met, or something. Exciting work was straggled throughout the western side of the building, where there were surprises, and surprisingly few yawns, at the top of every balustraded marble staircase and behind each shadowy doorway. What reigned at this fair was humor, pop culture, technology, and an outsider-ish dedication to transforming banal materials or even crafty processes into wows. See our favorite moments, in no particular order, below.

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New Queer Arts Magazine Posture is Trampling ‘Trashy’

Issue #2 Posture Mag launches this weekend (Courtesy of Posture)

Issue #2 Posture Mag launches this weekend (Courtesy of Posture)

Winter Mendelson couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Georgia. “I graduated college and moved here, like, the very next day,” laughed the founder and editor-in-chief of Posture, a fresh-faced queer-centric magazine dedicated to gender, identity, and the arts. “I didn’t have a community there at all– it was like three lesbians and they were all dating each other, so it was kind of torturous.”

Arriving in New York City, she immediately realized things were going to be different. “I was so relieved and excited that there were people like me, like, everywhere. I was like, ‘This is a dream!”  And yet, she realized there was something missing from the scene. “I just felt like there really needed to be a platform that showed all kinds of voices and aesthetics,” she said.

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Five Crazy Things I Learned at the Occult Humanities Conference

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

Yep, this is actually a thing (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Last weekend marked a victory for goths, Tarot freaks, and magic nerds everywhere as the second annual Occult Humanities Conference convened at NYU for a sold-out marathon of lectures with names like “Blues Magic,” “Bohemian Occult Subculture in Britain’s 1890s,” and “The Cut in Ritual Psychoanalysis and Art.” And while, yes, in many ways this was an academic-ish conference, organized by Pam Grossman (founder of the esoterica blog Phantasmaphile) and Jesse Bransford (Chair of the Art & Art Professions Department at NYU), the convening of occultists and occult obsessives still managed to keep it real.

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Art: Bushwick in Time, Part 2 “Elevations: an Exploration in Structure”

Christina Cassone at right, the current "Bushwick in Time" artist in residence (Photo courtesy of The Hollows)

Christina Cassone at right, the current “Bushwick in Time” artist in residence (Photo courtesy of The Hollows)

This Bushwick-based residency at The Hollows, called Bushwick in Time, brings together artists from abroad and close to home for a discussion and creative exploration of the myriad changes happening in this neighborhood.

Read more here.

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Language of the Birds: Occult and Art

Peter Lamborn Wilson, "Leonora and Loplop," 2015  (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Peter Lamborn Wilson, “Leonora and Loplop,” 2015 (Photo: Nicole Disser)

“Ordinary morality is only for ordinary people,” Aleister Crowley once said. That maxim echoes inside the walls of a new exhibit at 80WSELanguage of the Birds: Occult and Art. Even now, when dabbling in the occult has become morally ambiguous rather than universally derided, the work shown at NYU Steinhardt’s gallery is far from ordinary. Spanning the beginning of the last century to the present day, its authors range from avant-garde filmmakers (Kenneth Anger), to spiritual philosophers (Aleister Crowley), to industrial music makers (Genesis Breyer P-Orridge), and “just” plain artists (Kiki Smith). Somehow these varied participants share a similar worldview, which they’ve communicated (at various points in time) through symbols and talismans that have remained fairly static throughout.

Read more here.