Arts & Culture

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The ‘Magician’ Who Makes Art Appear On East Village Walls

Art by BKFoxx, Katie Reidy (@RARiGRAFiX), and Urban Russian Doll. (Photo courtesy of East Village Walls)

Dive bars, vintage boutiques, and locally owned restaurants have long occupied the East Village’s streets, but one feature of the neighborhood stands out – the art up on its walls. A highland cow for the Year of the Ox and two purple faces fashioned into the likeness of Kobe and Gianna are only some of the images painted on a variety of buildings, with new murals replacing them every few months. More →

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‘Group Sex’ at Ed. Varie’s New Gallery and 4 More LES Art Shows to See

“Group Sex” at Ed. Varie Gallery (Photo: Steve Pierce)

The COVID era has familiarized us with two unwelcome feelings: anxiety and monotony. A good art show, like dinner with friends, has the power to dispel both. Luckily, around the Lower East Side this April, gallerists have slated a number of wonderfully ambitious and provocative exhibitions, guaranteed to invigorate even the most sluggish-feeling New Yorker. The shows listed below require no appointment, are free to attend, and present a great opportunity to witness springtime bloom across the city. Just don’t forget to bring a mask. More →

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The Matchmaking Service That Pairs Visionary Designers With Covid Conundrums

Forsyth Plaza, future home of Chinatown’s night market. (Photo Edward Cheng)

Growing up, Fernando Ortiz used to travel from his home in the South Bronx to his parents’ bodega in Harlem. His native borough is bordered by highways that create an urban heat island: the nonstop, circling traffic traps hot, smoggy air in the community. The environment causes health issues for the borough, like asthma and skin irritations. To reach Harlem, Ortiz would traverse mostly-treeless sidewalks to then cross a bridge: “And I remember [being] like, ‘Oh, my God—there’s a river so close to me!’ I had never seen it, and I couldn’t even get to it,” he recalled. More →

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Could COVID Derail Tani the Refugee Chess Prodigy?

The Adewumi family. From left: Oluwatoyin, Adesina, Tanitoluwa, and Kayode. (Photo by James Pothen).

“I need 400 points more,” says the small boy on the couch. “And I need to go to more tournaments.” 

The strange thing is, everyone is taking Tanitoluwa (“Tani”) Adewumi seriously. He’s not talking about beating his friends at Fortnite or becoming a state sports champion. This 10-year-old is inches away from becoming the youngest chess Grandmaster in history.  More →

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Making the Vest of a Bad Situation: Knitting and Tufting Booms During Covid

Paige Parkin (courtesy of @knitdiaries)

There have been a few trends on social media since quarantine began: banana bread. Whipped coffee. Tie-dye sweatsuits. One that you can’t escape on any Explore page recently? Knitting and tufting. Knitting is more commonly known, but tufting is a more artisanal craft; it’s the art of creating rugs with a tufting gun. And it’s suddenly huge, with a hashtag that has over 206.5 million views on TikTok. 

Leti Ruiz, who has worked at Downtown Yarns for 10 years, says last year was unprecedented. “It’s always up and down, especially because it’s seasonal,” she said of business at the East Village textiles shop. “2020 was kind of unique because that’s when people were knitting the most, all year. There’s always been an interest in knitting and crochet, but I feel like what I saw this year was interest in other crafts, like weaving, tufting, or embroidery.”  More →

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Can Williamsburg’s Record Stores Get Back Into the Groove?

Rough Trade NYC. (Photo: David Hilowitz via Wiki Commons)

Like the plague victim in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, “I’m not dead yet!” is the obstinate cry of independent record stores coping with lockdowns and reduced foot traffic during the Covid-19 pandemic. In Brooklyn’s northwest corner, two Williamsburg record stores have announced the closing of their brick-and-mortar locations, leaving a temporary void of arts and culture in a neighborhood already disappearing under commercial chain stores and high-rise apartments. Rough Trade NYC and Human Head Records both say they have plans to reopen in new locations later in the year, but their vague announcements made me nervous. More →

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Bushwick Collective Aims to Bring Block Party Back to Brooklyn

(Photo by Moiz K. Malik/NOOKLYN)

The Bushwick Collective is well known for putting up murals around the city in collaboration with artists from around the world. But the Brooklyn-based project is perhaps most notorious for the event that started it all in 2011: its annual block party, a celebration combining street art, local vendors, and performances by musicians that draws a crowd of thousands each year. More →

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How New York’s TikTokers Live the #NYCDream, Warts and All

(Photo: Trish Rooney)

Olivia Marcus, a 24-year-old broadcast journalism graduate working at a media agency, had a weird day on TikTok this January. A “day in the life” she posted was reposted to Twitter by a journalist from Rolling Stone, and the hate comments started to flood in. “I spent, like, I’m not joking, 36 hours reading comments being like, I cannot believe these people think the stuff about me,” Olivia said. More →