I first met Jify Shah back in 2014 when things were looking up for the owner of Cameo Gallery, a venue that became a mainstay in the Williamsburg music scene after it opened in 2009 on North 6th Sreet. It was the beginning of the summer and he’d just opened a restaurant featuring tropical cocktails named for figures in the Brooklyn music scene (“Losing My Edge,” with jalapeño-infused vodka) and food inspired by the stuff he ate as a kid growing up in Curaçao, a small island in the Caribbean.
Only a year later, rumors surfaced about the future of Cameo, which had quickly become one of the last remaining DIY institutions in the area. At first, Jify was hard to reach and clearly unwilling to talk about what was really going on. I was hoping his silence indicated Cameo would remain open for a little bit longer before Williamsburg is entirely overtaken by shadowy LLCs and glittering towers. No such luck. “I never thought it would’ve become what it did,” Jify told us.
Still from Laurie Anderson’s “Heart of a Dog.” (Courtesy of Abramorama/HBO Documentary Films)
I walked into Film Forum in something of a haze, trying to gather my wits before squeezing into a packed theater for the screening of Laurie Anderson’s new film, Heart of a Dog. As soon as I grabbed my ticket and walked into the atrium I saw her, standing there casually, arms folded, her ever-present spiked hair a perfect pewter grey. A wry, all-knowing smile pulled her small face into dignified, criss-crossing lines, completely vulnerable to my open-mouthed gaze. Did she smile at me? Give me an all-knowing nod? Impossible. Well, I remember at least that she looked sad. But how could I remember that? She wasn’t looking directly at me, right?
Are you looking for spooky Halloween-themed shows? Well, you’ve come to the wrong place. Stay tuned for our guide to legit everything worth going to this Hallows’ weekend. But for now, sate yourself with these totally, 100 percent normal show happenings. Well, strictly speaking they’re not “normal” at all, but you can pretend like it’s not Sexy Something Day for just one minute and stuff your ears with tunes instead of candy corn.
From left: Nelson Antonio Espinal, Rob Granata, Ned Shatzer (Photo: Nicole Disser)
A brand new “DIY done-right” venue, as booker Nelson Antonio Espinal calls it, has been operating (at half-capacity anyway) in the J train’s shadow these past few weeks, while most of us probably had no idea. The secretive new operation, aptly called The Gateway, is located just off the Gates Avenue stop on the Bed-Stuy side of Broadway. Late nights, it’s pretty quiet around here, save for a Crown Chicken knockoff, a newish vegan diner called Toad Style, and the twice-a-weekend shows at Bohemian Grove, just north on the Bushwick side of the border.
Stephanie Griffin, collective member and spokesperson for the Silent Barn (Photo: Nicole Disser)
The Silent Barn wasn’t about to wait for CMJ to do its thing before reopening. On October 14, while the music exec’s wet dream (and everyone else’s headache-inducing cluster fuck) raged on, the DIY venue welcomed show-comers back into its space, closed since a fire ripped through one of the upstairs residencies, and left behind an expensive mess a large chunk of the building. It had been less than three weeks since the fire, and after a slew of benefit shows, volunteer efforts, small gestures of support, and around $25,000 in donations, the show-space reconstruction efforts were complete.
Still, the reopening was “bittersweet,” according to Stephanie Griffin, Silent Barn’s spokesperson. “It’s kind of hard to get people to understand that even though we’re open downstairs, everything upstairs is still a mess. It isn’t a public space, so people don’t really see it and don’t really understand the extent of our need to keep fundraising.”
Christopher Stout, founder of Bushwick Art Crit Group, has just opened his gallery in the disputed territory of East Williamsburg, the realization of plans we first heard about in early September. I had a chance to check the place out on Friday, and found that Stout is already keeping good on his pledge to show “subversive art.” The centerpiece of the gallery’s inaugural show, Shepard by Phoenix Lindsey-Hall, is a massive, meticulously crafted porcelain replica of the iconic fence Matthew Shepard (the victim of a notorious hate crime) was bound to before he was tortured and left for dead back in 1998. Not easy-to-swallow material, to say the least.
Kathleen Hanna manhandling a motorcycle on a photo shoot (Courtesy of Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill, and the Fales Library & Special Collections, New York University)
A couple weeks back, Bikini Kill reissued their very first demo tape from 1991, Revolution Girl Style Now, via the band’s own record label. You’re probably about dried up after drooling over those three previously unreleased tracks included on the reissue and all the killer old photos of Kathleen Hanna and the band that emerged across the internet as a nod to the occasion. But get ready to salivate anew, coz we did some time travel of our own and rifled around (as gently as possible) the Kathleen Hanna Papers.
Isabella Bustamente. (Photos: Cassidy Dawn Graves)
With a simple blue sundress and patriotically-colored eye glitter, 25-year-old Isabella Bustamante practically looks like she could be a teen herself. That’s not to say she’s immature, rather quite the opposite. She is the sole founder and director of Teen Art Salon, a new “arts platform that supports, develops, and promotes adolescent artists across North America.” Barely a few months old, Teen Art Salon’s main feature is its open studio space in Long Island City. Shared with a yoga studio that Bustamante’s mother operates, it is free for teens to use.
In many ways, Williamsburg’s newest venue couldn’t be more different from the (mostly) defunct DIY show spaces (bar/art-galleries and dingy old warehouses) that once lined the waterfront area. (Cameo, at least, is still here — for another month and a half, anyway). That’s because National Sawdust is a refined concert hall, a serious non-profit institution with powerful and moneyed supporters plus a leadership of established talent tapped directly from the music and art worlds.
The Silent Barn in Bushwick after a fire destroyed an apartment upstairs (Photo: Nicole Disser)
Last Friday was a typical one at the Silent Barn— Bushwick’s beloved multi-faceted DIY music venue, art gallery, studio space, and artist residency is teeming with activity almost every day and night of the week– Freak Out Fest raged downstairs while a band practiced upstairs. And one resident was in their room when a fire broke out, one that the artist collective believes was caused by an “electrical malfunction.” Thankfully, spokesperson and longtime Silent Barn member Stephanie Griffin told us that no one was hurt. Of the 60 or so people at the show, “everyone got out within two minutes,” she said. But the damage is significant and threatens to upend Silent Barn’s delicate financial situation.