Prodigal Suns

Prodigal Suns I met Russell and Carl at their store, RePOP on Washington Avenue in Clinton Hill, and then stumbled upon (or, kind of internet stalked them until finding more) this seemingly outdated, but wonderful website of theirs.  Carl, a medical illustrator, and Russell, a painter and self-described closet goth-fanatic, came together as individual artists in Brooklyn and started creating under the name “Prodigal Suns” after they “compiled enough inspiration, confidence and conception.”  Evoking their respective strict Christian upbringings and finding a common bond in the biblical parable, they set out to change the perception of the prodigal son through their collaborative art, as their website explains.

Artist Cheryl Donegan’s recent comment exposes her opinion on the Bible as static: “Modernism should not be seen as Biblical; it should be seen as Talmudic,” the written record of an oral tradition.  As the previously noted Jerry Saltz article notes, Talmudic tradition is inherently collaborative, involving “thousands of people making comments in the margins, debating issues and ideas, shaping tradition, changing it, and keeping it alive.”

Prodigal Suns started their collaborative work with Genesis, a series of 10 pieces, which established a language later refined in The Kansas Group, a series that focused on the deconstruction and reconstruction of Family.

Too much self-reference?… “At first inspired by Louise Bourgeois, Carl and Russell oddly attached themselves to the Book of Acts, borrowing from the character Stephen to rebuild the birthing canal, the loss of innocence, death, reincarnation and the revelation that comes from the stoning of innocents.  In depth it became an opus for the discrimination of homosexuals in the 21st Century.”  …I promise, it wasn’t planned.

The two haven’t stopped collaborating, even though the dates on this website may give that impression (copyright 2005).  Their store is a living “wonderland of vintage finds,” a product that the two of them have nurtured into its own personality.

Playing hide and seek with Yinka Shonibare

Brooklyn Museum period roomI’ve never quite understood the concept of reassembling historic rooms, putting a red velvet rope around it, and funneling tourists on a counter-intuitive path through a house, castle, or museum. But once Yinka Shonibare placed child figures ducking under desks or rocking on horses in the Brooklyn Museum’s “renowned” period rooms, peeking through an untouchable room’s window became a game.

Leaving his exhibit on the first floor of the Brooklyn Museum, I felt a bit cheated. I didn’t expect the majority of Shonibare’s survey to be film. But the map revealed there was more –the large-scale game of hide and seek brought me through other galleries to find those little figures in their clothes of “patterned Dutch wax fabric produced in Europe for a West African market” inside rooms that could easily have belonged to colonists.  According to the exhibition’s website, another site-specific installation, Party Time—Re-Imagine America: A Centennial Commission by Yinka Shonibare MBE,  will be on view at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, from July 1, 2009, to January 3, 2010, in the dining room of the museum’s 1885 Ballantine House.  Would it be cheating to use 20th century transportation?

BOMB the Borough

bombJust discovered B.O.M.B. — Brooklyn’s Other Museum of Brooklyn. This glorious fake Museums seems to have a real location on Wallabout street, and a bunch of “artifacts” promoting good local causes, along with other articles of vague historical import or curiosity.

We’re especially curious about the physical space itself, anyone been?

We also learned about the long-gone Wallabout Market, formerly the largest produce market on the East Coast from 1801 to 1939, before it was destroyed and swallowed up by the Navy Yards, never to return.

Yesterday was a Stumble in the Rain

On Sunday, our gang came across Black & White Project Space, a new non-profit gallery on Driggs Avenue in Brooklyn (n.b. we are an actual gang with matching leather jackets). The space opened on March 7, and its inaugural exhibition, a collection of photos, videos, and objects taken from Brighton Beach, will evolve over a 3-month run.

Out back, a monumental Astroturf portrait of a woman demands your attention–you can see her from the street (camerafone pic by Ryan Muir).

We went down to the brand-new pier jutting out towards Manhattan from the Northside Piers development, apparently designed by the same morons who thought Battery Park City was a good idea (this is not necessarily “factually true,” but Northside has the same soulless, cookie-cutter mediocrity as BPC). I wanted to hate the pier for what it stood for, and I did, kind of. But at the same time it was fun being that far out from shore. It was overcast and New York looked as sexy as she ever does. On the boardwalk itself, some wrought-metal armature forms neat benches and an overhang. It looked like a catwalk gone wrong, sprouting from the wood planks.


A conversation with an NYC Parks officer on the site revealed the Pier is allegedly public—part of a concession that Northside’s developers undoubtedly made to the City to repay for the outsize monstrosities lurking where once rusty but inoffensive warehouses sat. But he was skeptical of how easy the boardwalk will be to access for people who don’t live in one of the new condos that straddle its entrance. Stay tuned.

It’s been a little while since I’ve walked around in Williamsburg, but wow. Residential buildings are popping up there like mushrooms after a rain. Or, they were, before capitalism broke and the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) dropped to its lowest level since they began measuring it.  My uneducated guess it that we’ll see a lot of projects stall and want for tenants in the next few years.

Half-completed glass and steel luxury condos or extant dilapidated brick warehouses? The choice is yours, Williamsburg. Just kidding! There’s no fucking way BK’s industrial heritage will be allowed to remain intact. We hope you like brushed aluminum!

So. While gentrification: Stage Two is coming, it may take a bit longer than initially planned.


After the shushing’s done

librarians are hawtThe librarian is drinking again. Cute post from the Desk Set’s much improved website, Where DO Librarians and Archivists Hang Out? We know and like most of these local haunts, and look forward to the book swap on March 30th at nearby Pacific Standard.

Cribbed for her pleasure:

Enid’s in Greenpoint and Daddy’s in Williamsburg have hosted us countless times, and always with grace and style. The bartenders are super sweet, the drinks are affordable, and you are almost guaranteed to run into a librarian, archivist or writer every time you set foot into either joint, whether they are serving your drink, spinning the tunes, or reading at the bar.

Black Rabbit on Greenpoint Ave hosted our Library and Literature Trivia night last September, and we’re betting you might spot a librarian or two at their Smiths Speed Dating event tonight! That’s right: speed dating accompanied solely by Smiths songs.

On the other side of the river, the Great Jones Cafe has been known to employ librarians and library students, and they have incredible food, delicious drinks, and the greatest juke box in the city, no doubt.

Urban Librarians Unite, a group of New York City Public Librarians meet up frequently at the Creek in Long Island City – the neighborhood that’s close(ish) to every other neighborhood – to talk shop and have a few beers.

I happen to know that librarians and MLS students can often be found at Harefield Road in Williamsburg, especially on Thursdays.

And Pacific Standard in Park Slope is so dedicated to writers and readers, they have their own in-house Bar Librarian. (barbrarian?) (And the Desk Set is planning an event for readers and writers to mingle and swap books there on March 30th).

PTP (Yeah You Know Me)

progress and technology!Quick heads up ’bout a phun lil’ phundraiser / bar night coming up, for the Progressive Technology Project. This slides more into the netroots arena, but still, information technology nerdlingers such as ourselves are into it. Anyways here are the deets:

March 9th, 6:30pm – 8:30pm!
Huckleberry Bar, 588 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211 – It’s close to the Lorimer stop on the L train.
Who is PTP?: A nonprofit that works with community organizers around the country providing the tools and training that move the movement for progressive social change.

Please consider a donation to PTP in an amount that’s right for you. If you can’t make a contribution this time, please come anyway and meet the PTP folks!

RSVP to kwame [at] or on facebook

Real Life vs. Internets Life

Email Exhibition ImageArchivist, SD conspirator, and web-1.0 aficionado Jesse Aaron Cohen has just celebrated the 50th installment of his monthly email exhibition series, a set of curated images and links sent to subscribers once a month for the past several years. Often the material is drawn from his day job as archivist at a yiddish library/archive in Manhattan, but over the years there’s been plenty of other cultural ephemera included in the exhibitions. They are awesome! Subscribe to them!

Slides from all 50 months-worth of exhibitions are going to be shown as part of an upcoming ‘real life‘ event on internet bloggers and artists.

Quoth the Archivist:

A bunch of internet artists and bloggers who will be doing 4 hours ‘in real life’. As part of this guy Lance’s presentation, he is asking several other artists to show their work via slide show, and I am giving him all 50 exhibitions to use. So my exhibitions will be featured alongside a bunch of other projects on 8 March, 12–4pm, at the Capricious Art Space in W-burg.

Capricious Space
103 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(between Bedford and Berry)

Gallery hours
(from March 7–March 28 only):
Saturday noon–8pm
Sunday noon–8pm
And some additional evening hours for special events, see the official calendar for full details.