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Art This Week: Grotesque Femininity and Basquiat’s Travels

Margot Bergman,Bea, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 50 x 40 inches (127 x 101.6 cm) (image via Anton Kern Gallery)

Family Album
Opening Wednesday, June 26 at Anton Kern Gallery, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through August 16.

Margot Bergman’s paintings draw you in, both with their rich colors and their appeal that’s grotesque, realistic, and dreamlike all at once. It makes sense, then, that she paints “imagined people,” abiding by only the rules of her brain when bringing brush to canvas. A selection of her curious, feminine creations will be on view at Anton Kern Gallery starting this Wednesday; Bergman usually only exhibits paintings, but Family Album will also include an array of “theatrical photographs” taken by the artist, featuring subjects posing with portions of Bergman’s collection of dolls and figurines.

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The 37th Mermaid Parade Was a Sight to Sea

This past weekend marked the longest day of the year–and also the wildest. Sea creatures of all stripes and scales glittered under the Coney Island sun on Saturday as the 37th annual Mermaid Parade made its way down Surf Avenue, with Arlo and Nora Guthrie serving as King and Queen Neptune. Watch our video to see the seahorses, pirates, and the utterly unclassifiable.

Video by Roberto Bosoms.

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Think Strays Are Cute? ‘The Cat Rescuers’ Will Give You Paws

Latonya “Sassee” Walker (images courtesy of “The Cat Rescuers”)

For four years, New York film directors Rob Fruchtman and Steven Lawrence followed cat rescuers as these unsung heroes went about the uphill battle of feeding, adopting, trapping and neutering Brooklyn’s exploding population of street cats. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the resulting documentary, The Cat Rescuers, starts its national theatrical run at the IFC Center on July 5. More →

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After Popping Up in Clubs and Venues, Kichin Opens a Restaurant Of Its Own

(photo: Mary Kang)

If you were near the Marcy J back in 2015, or more recently at music venue Baby’s All Right, you might have eaten food made by the folks at Kichin. You could have taken a rice ball or Korean fried chicken to go, or snacked on homemade curry at a party thrown by the musician Yaeji. Kichin has served at many places, but now they have a storefront of their own again on Myrtle Avenue, steps from the Central M.

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Performance Picks: More Pride Shows and a Comedic Art Opening

THURSDAY

(image via Failure A Queer Workshop / Facebook)

Failure Pride: Idols
Thursday, June 20 at Club Cumming, 8 pm: $10

Queer culture is full of idols: pop icons like Madonna and Lady Gaga, classic stars of the stage like Barbra, drag queens of all sorts, activists like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, the list goes on. Plus, we needn’t forget American Idol, which must at least count for something here. Tonight, the recurring performance series Failure: A Queer Workshop, hosted by Ragamuffin, La Llorona, and Le Petit Dumdum, will present a conversation on idols in all their forms, featuring guest performers Cher Noble, Lu Reyes, Agave Lamour, and Jojo Soul.

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Massive Street Art Show Immerses You in a Time Before It Was Selfie Bait

Shepard Fairey

A new exhibition in Williamsburg wants people to know that there’s more to street art than “selfie backdrops”– and it’s taking up a block-long, two-story loft to do so. Beyond the Streets is an exhibition on the history of street art, displaying works new, old and never-before-seen, by street artists and the fellow creatives who were inspired by them. Artists range from New York favorites like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Fab 5 Freddy to anonymous and international stars like the Guerilla Girls and Felipe Pantone. More →

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‘Son of an Immigrant’ Packs Up Corner Store That Gave NYC a Taste of Mexico

“Everything I ever had from here was spectacular,” a customer said to Guillaume Guevara, founder and owner of Miscelanea, the East Village corner store that became the go-to place for homesick Mexicans as well as New Yorkers in search of a more contemporary Mexican experience, free of luchador masks and sombreros. But on Tuesday, after a four-year run, it was in its final stretch: closeout sale day.

Guevara, a Mexico City native, thanked the woman as he busily tended to the other customers who, like lost ants, kept streaming into the bodega located on 63 E 4th St. They snatched the remaining $1 and $3 items from the shelves of the 450-square-foot store as they lamented it was closing, all in one beat.

Thirty minutes before locking the doors, Guevara exchanged bills with a customer, took swigs of his Mexican Coke—made with sugar in lieu of corn syrup—and nodded as yet another person expressed their disbelief. “We’ve known for about a month,” he said, probably for the hundredth time. To the inquisitive, he cited the rising costs of rent, payroll, taxes and garbage removal as the main culprits. In recent years, even the price of avocado—which they spread on just about everything—went up.

“But what about you?” the 37-year-old said, flipping the focus back to the customers’ lives. “What do you do?”

He came out from behind the counter to open the near-empty fridge and offer me a refreshment. “It’s on me,” Guevara said, making me choose between glass bottles of luridly-colored Jarritos or a non-alcoholic grape soda called Sangría. My brain jumped back to childhood memories of sipping the fizzy drinks during family vacations in Acapulco or during languid waits at nondescript rural highway stops. I accepted a Sangría.

In strict terms, miscelanea (or miscelánea—with an accent over the á—since we’re speaking in strict terms) translates to miscellaneous. But for anybody raised south of the border, the word is emotionally charged. Misceláneas—delis, corner stores or bodegas—aren’t just the last step of a supply chain, they’re places that are intimately tied to how Mexicans experience food and culture as they go about their daily activities.

In New York City, Miscelanea was the sole purveyor of this market/takeout food experience, Guevara assured. “Even if it’s hard to believe, we were the only miscelánea,” he said, although he agreed he couldn’t be 100 percent sure.

“You can go to Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx and find a store that self-describes as a Mexican corner store. But then you’ll find that the person taking your order is Ecuadorian, the products Venezuelan or Colombian, the food Dominican or Puerto Rican and yes, maybe they sell some authentic chips or Mexican food, but that doesn’t make the place Mexican. Even if it’s hard to believe, a place like that didn’t exist,” he told B+B later over the phone.

Bedford + Bowery, one of many outlets that wrote about the deli’s opening back in 2015, called it “the perfect place to go if you want a bit of Mexico in New York, but can’t handle any more Frida Kahlo meets donkeys meets sombreros meets lone cactus.”

Guevara knew how to make heads turn, offering kids’ sundries side by side with face masks made of Tulum-sourced clay and cookbooks by celebrity Mexican chefs. One time he announced he would give 10 percent of the returns of his hats and beanies brand, Son of an Immigrant, to the ACLU, in support of the nonprofit’s work defending migrants rights. Last year, he started accepting payment in Mexican pesos.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Guevara said. “People always want a reason, they want you to tell them what exactly went wrong. But this isn’t as if I ruined a Rum and Coke drink because I went too hard on the rum. It’s hard to pinpoint what happened.”

In the end, he said, the expenses exceeded the revenue. But he was proud of what Miscelanea accomplished. “There were sales, there were fans, noise, business and all that. I see this as a triumph,” he said. More than 300 reviews on Yelp gave the upmarket grocery a five-star rating.

He also expressed sadness. “For the partners, family, my employees, suppliers, clients; the people who believed in us and who believed in me,” he said on his way to pick up his three-year-old from school. After doing that, he and his wife had a farewell celebration date at Casa Enrique, a Mexican hotspot in Long Island City. “You should go if you haven’t,” he mentioned.

In Miscelanea’s last beating moments, the counter, fridge and wooden shelves displayed a motley assortment of “Mexico is the Shit” jackets, cooking wooden mixers, dried epazote herbs and chillies of the mulato and ancho varieties, traditional Mexican popsicles and other popular sweets, bottled grasshoppers (chapulines), Oaxacan cheese, corn to prepare pozole soup as well as tortilla-ready corn in masa, one lime squeezer, and hats and beanies from Guevara’s Son of an Immigrant brand. A propped-up white book with the serendipitous title Las cosas pasan por algo, o no (Things Happen for a Reason, or Not). A small basket even offered half-a-dozen units of the first aid antibiotic Vitacilina, whose advertising jingleVitacilina… ¡ah qué buena medicina!” was so popular in the country it’s forever engraved in the collective memory of its people.

A woman trailed in and asked about the wooden bench situated at the store’s entrance. On a lucky day, clients would find a spot on the bench to sit and enjoy their tender and juicy meat or scrambled-egg tortas. “Oh, you want it? Take it!” he said, as he wiped it dry from the day’s rain, “I had it custom made.” Guevara sold it for under $20 and helped the woman load it into a van.

The retail entrepreneur has called New York City his home for more than a decade. But now he has plans to fly with his family back to Mexico City, where he hasn’t lived since he was 17. “I went to study in Europe and never returned,” he said, and added, “I want my son to learn Spanish properly.”

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Art This Week: A Brewery Gallery, Forgeries, and Another Stonewall Show

(image via Howl Happening)

We the People
Opening Wednesday, June 19 at Howl! Happening, 6 pm to 8 pm. On view through July 21.

Some people go to prestigious and expensive schools to learn how to make art, throwing piles of cash at nice supplies in the process. Guy Woodard, on the other hand, honed his craft using a cheap ballpoint pen while incarcerated. The former counterfeiter and forger is opening a solo show of intricate ink drawings at Howl Happening in the East Village starting tonight. In addition to his drawings, which explore both political events and the ins and outs of everyday black life, the exhibition also features a selection of Woodard-created forgeries, including one of Trayvon Martin’s Howard University diploma.

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Giblet: Actual Pig in the City

Babe: Pig in the City is showing in Prospect Park next month. But you don’t have to wait that long to see an urban ungulate. There’s a piglet named Giblet roaming the streets of the East Village and beyond.

He seems to enjoy strolls around Tompkins Square Park, getting his head stuck in Cheerios boxes, and crossing the street with elegance and poise. More →