6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring artist Stephen Powers’ Boerum Hill studio and sign shop. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!
Walking along Fourth Avenue in Boerum Hill, the storefronts all look pretty similar–pizza shops, laundromats, cute cafes–until you come to the corner of Bergen Street and see the large, colorful collage of signs gracing the side of the little brick building. This is ESPO’s Art World, artist Stephen Powers’ sign shop. But as you can imagine, this space is much more than that. Powers, who painted graffiti under the name ESPO for much of the ’80s and ’90s in NYC and Philadelphia, also uses his shop as a retail store and informal gallery where passersby can walk in and peruse his graphic, pop-art-esque, text-heavy work. Stephen recently gave 6sqft a guided tour of his shop and chatted with us about his transition from graffiti to studio art, why he dislikes the term “street art,” his love for Brooklyn, and where he sees the art scene heading.
Get a look around and hear from Stephen
Photo via CityRealty
It sounds like a dream come true. After a decade of living and struggling to pay your rent as a middle-income New Yorker, you get an email from NYC Housing Connect that says, “Invitation for Interview” followed by the address of the building to which you applied. For a moment, you are ready to break out the champagne and start celebrating the fact that that rent-stabilized, affordable NYC apartment you have always dreamt about living in—yes, that massive apartment that is only a fraction of everyone else’s monthly rent—is finally in reach. But then, like a lot of middle-class New Yorkers, you start to seriously consider whether you’re ready, willing, and able to accept what NYC Housing Connect is actually offering.
Hear from real New Yorkers who have turned down affordable housing
Photo of Frank Leadon © Katherine Slingluff
In “Broadway: A History of New York City in Thirteen Miles,” architect Fran Leadon takes on a monumental task: to uncover the news events, people, businesses, and buildings–mile by mile–that have contributed to New York’s best-known street. Beginning as a muddy path that cut through the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam and dissolved into farmland, Broadway has evolved over 200 years to host a chaotic mix of traffic, hotels, stores, theaters, churches, and people. In its first mile, you can see 400 years of history, from the Civil War to the emergence of skyscrapers. Moving uptown, Broadway takes us to the city’s cherished public spaces–Union Square, Herald Square and Times Square–as well as the Theater District and Great White Way. The street continues to upper Manhattan, where the story of urban renewal plays out, then cuts through the Bronx and winds all the way to Albany.
In his book, Leadon focuses on Manhattan’s relationship with Broadway, making the argument that you can tell the story of NYC–and even the country–through these 13 miles. “Broadway was never just a thoroughfare; it has always been, first and foremost, a place,” he writes. With 6sqft, Leadon talks about understanding Broadway, a street he often experienced in fragments, as a single 13-mile thoroughfare that serves as the lifeblood of New York. He also discusses how years of research and discovery made it to the pages, surprising histories that emerged along the way, and why he’s still writing the history of Broadway in his head.
Daniela, from Colombia © Dru Blumensheid
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Dru Blumensheid shares some images from the Queens Museum‘s new exhibit Real People. Real Lives. Women Immigrants of New York. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
“Statistics do not tell the story of immigration. People do. Women do.” This was the impetus behind the new photo and video exhibit at the Queens Museum, “Real People. Real Lives. Women Immigrants of New York.” A partnership between New Women New Yorkers, NYC’s only non-profit dedicated to empowering young immigrant women, and artist Dru Blumensheid aka BUMESI, the exhibit features photos and videos of 16 young immigrant women taken in iconic locations such as the Brooklyn Bridge and Chinatown, all as a way to show “a nuanced and multi-layered picture… of the barriers and isolation they experience, and of the hopes, dreams, and talents they bring with them.”
In celebration of Women’s History Month, 6sqft chatted with Dru Blumensheid about her personal inspiration behind the project, what she learned from the experience, and how she hopes all New Yorkers can benefit from hearing these stories.
Hear from Dru and see her beautiful photos and videos
Photos © AphroChic/Patrick Cline
“Modern.Soulful.Style.” This is the term coined by Crown Heights-based husband-and-wife team Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason when they started their home design blog AphroChic in 2007. These three little words really must have resonated; just over a decade later, Jeanine and Bryan have taken the design world by storm, starting their own product line (which includes their “Brooklyn in Color” paint collection, the first paint line by an African-American design brand), designing interiors, authoring the book “REMIX: Decorating with Culture, Objects and Soul,” and hosting HGTV’s “Sneak Peek with AphroChic.”
6sqft recently chatted with Jeanine and Bryan to learn how they went from careers in criminal justice to interior design, how African American influences factor into their work, and what’s to come from this unique couple who “embraces culture and the unique admixture of the traditional and the contemporary that helps to define us all.”
Our interview with AfroChic
Photo of Beverly Willis courtesy of BWAF; photo of the San Francisco Ballet Building courtesy of Wikimedia
Throughout her more than 70-year-career, Beverly Willis has made an impact on nearly every aspect of the architecture industry. Willis, who began her professional career as a fresco painter, is credited with pioneering the adaptive reuse construction of historic buildings. She also introduced computerized programming into large-scale land planning and created a permanent prototype for buildings designed exclusively for ballet, with the San Francisco Ballet Building, one of her most iconic and enduring projects. As a woman in the building industry during the middle of the 20th century, and without any formal architectural training, Willis faced barriers that her male co-workers did not.
After decades of success, instead of retiring Willis, founded the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF), aimed at shining a light on women architects who were left out of the history books. In 2017, BWAF launched a website, “Pioneering Women of American Architecture,” that profiles 50 women who made significant contributions to the field. Ahead, architect Beverly Willis talks with 6sqft about how she became a pioneer in the field, the goals of her foundation and her continued push for gender equity in architecture, and beyond, through education and research.
More this way
David Mandel (L) and Serge Strosberg (R) in their studio, photo by James and Karla Murray
6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring artistic duo Strosberg Mandel‘s Soho studio.Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!
Last year, Belgian-American figurative painter Serge Strosberg had an exhibit about feminism in the East Village. The show’s curator introduced him to David Mandel, a theatrical stylist, jewelry designer, and former drag queen. Though the two came from very different artistic backgrounds, they immediately hit it off on both a personal and professional level. Fast forward to today, and they’ve formed the NYC-based artistic duo Strosberg Mandel, creating large-scale assemblage portraits–mostly of rock n’ roll icons such as Prince, David Bowie, Elvis, and Cher–using found materials and glamorous add-ons like Swarovski diamonds and luxury fabrics.
In anticipation of their upcoming debut solo exhibition “Troubadours of Eternity” at Lichtundfire from January 24th to February 4th, in which they’ll unveil the full portrait series as “a celebration of authentic musicianship and timeless spirits,” Serge and David invited us into their Soho studio to get an advanced preview of the pieces and learn about their unique work and partnership.
Tour the studio and hear from David and Serge
Michael Hiller is a zoning and land-use attorney who has represented community groups in seemingly impossible quests for about 20 years. His high-profile cases have often been against the Landmarks Preservation Commission, notably Tribeca’s iconic Clock Tower Building and new construction along historic Gansevoort Street, both of which are pending appeal by the defendants.
As one legal observer commented, “He has become an expert in the nuances of the Landmarks Law from a legal perspective. In court, he is very talented on his feet before a very hot bench, before judges who ask a lot of tough questions.” His successes have won him designation as a Super Lawyer every year since 2009 as well as the 2017 Grassroots Award from the Historic Districts Council. 6sqft recently visited Michael at his office to learn more about his work.
Ahead, hear from Michael and learn more about his current cases
All photographs © James and Karla Murray for 6sqft
6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring Glaser’s Bake Shop, a 115-year-old German bakery in Yorkville.Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!
In the early 20th century, New York’s German immigrants relocated from the East Village to the Upper East Side neighborhood of Yorkville, which soon became known as Germantown. The community was so culturally rich, that German was spoken more than English in this area. 86th Street was dubbed “Sauerkraut Boulevard” and was lined with German butchers, restaurants, and bakeries. After the dismantling of the Second and Third Avenue elevatrated trains in the 1940s and ’50s, most of the German community moved out, but several of these old-time businesses still remain, one of which is Glaser’s Bake Shop.
When German immigrant John Glaser opened his bakery in 1902, there were half a dozen nearby competitors. 115 years later, the perfectly preserved storefront on First Avenue and 87th Street is the last of its kind in Yorkville, but it’s still filled everyday with new neighbors and long-time residents alike, eager to satisfy their sweet tooths with the extra chocolately brownies, jelly donuts, Bavarian pastries, and their famous black-and-white cookies. Glaser’s is now owned by John’s grandsons Herbert and John, who are committed to keeping their family’s traditions alive. 6sqft recently stopped by to watch Herb work on massive gingerbread village and chat with him more about the baker’s history and how he’s seen Yorkville change over the years.
Get a behind-the-scenes look and hear from Herb
© Estate of Fred W. McDarrah
Perhaps no single photographer could be said to have captured the energy, the cultural ferment, the reverberating social change emanating from New York City in the second half of the 20th century as vividly as Fred W. McDarrah. McDarrah got his start covering the downtown beat of the Village Voice in the 1950s and ’60s, as that publication was defining a newly-emerged breed of independent journalism. McDarrah penetrated the lofts and coffeehouses of Lower Manhattan to shed light upon a new movement known as “The Beats” and went on to capture on film the New York artists, activists, politicians, and poets who changed the way everyone else thought and lived.
Through the generosity of the Estate of Fred W. McDarrah and the McDarrah family, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation was fortunate enough to add to its digital archive a dozen of the most epochal of Fred McDarrah’s images of downtown icons, including Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Jane Jacobs, and Allen Ginsberg. And just in time for the holidays, you can purchase your own copy (with all proceeds benefitting GVSHP!).
Learn the story behind all the photos