Chalk It Up: A Romantic Notion for Autumn

Seen outside of Poppy at 217 Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. (Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool).

Seen outside of Poppy at 217 Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. (Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool).

13 Ways of Looking at Some Fallen Leaves

The artists' collective gallery at 440 Sixth Avenue has a friendly, neighborhood feel.

The artists’-collective gallery at 440 Sixth Avenue has a friendly, neighborhood feel. (Photos: Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool)

ROMANS BELIEVED IN GENIUS LOCI, the spirit of a place, and religious cults often sacrificed to their local genius or guardian spirit. Photographer Tom Bovo, whose current exhibit at the 440 Gallery is titled Genius Loci (described by the gallery as “portraying the spirit of autumnal locales”) notices the way each block or avenue of his native Brooklyn derives much of its visual aspect from the collection of plants growing there, the shapes and colors of the leaves and the patterns they make.

This haunting image does not depend on the typical blazing colors of fall .maple leaves

The power of this image does not depend on the blazing colors of typical fall maple leaves

Bovo’s view is not sentimental, and the 13 leaf photographs in this show are not about physicial perfection or Vermont Life-like brilliant colors. The prints of his digital photos are scaled up from the actual size—the images are larger-than-leaf, in other words —and they’re both technically interesting and visually compelling.

He had to work out how to photograph the rapidly drying and curling leaves.  Eventually he put the leaf (or leaves) between two panes of glass propped in a window and then “placed a sheet of white paper onto the back of the glass sandwich to diffuse the light” coming from behind them, the gallery notes explain. Some of the images are of torn, browning, imperfect leaves.

Three of the smaller images sold right away.

Three of the smaller images sold right away.

Tom Bovo studied painting and printmaking with a notable faculty at Columbia University and his own work has been show in galleries across the US, including the Rush Arts Gallery in New York and the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art.

The show is in place at the 440 Gallery until December 1.

SPECIAL KIDS EVENT AT THE GALLERY: On Sunday, November 10, gallery member Vicki Behm will hold a workshop for children 4 to 12 years old to look at Bovo’s photographs and then to draw their own images from actual leaves. What time? Ah, 4:40 in the afternoon, of course.

Chalk a Menu Idea for Your House

Chalkboard from Fleishers

(Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool)

OF COURSE THE WEATHER TURNED FREAKISHLY WARM a few days after this sign was put out by Fleishers, the artisanal butcher on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope that specializes in grass fed, organic meats. But a timely menu suggestion has been made. Dust off the trusty stew pot or set out to acquire one, for chilly days will soon be here.

Top Off Your Style like Bogey or Sinatra. Or Walter White.

Founded in 1895 but not locally. It's a chain with more than two dozen stores in the US and two in Canada.

Founded in 1895 but not locally. There are more than two dozen stores in the US and two in Canada. (Large photo: Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool)

WHAT COLOR WAS BOGEY’S FEDORA? Bogart in fedoraTough question. Brown? Gray? I’ve always envisioned Humphrey Bogart wearing a brown fedora in any of his fedora-wearing good-guy movies like Casablanca. The movie was released in black-and-white, but in the scandalously colorized version from the ‘80s his suit is muddy brown, Ingrid Bergman’s silky dress is muddy yellow, and so is Bogey’s pocket square. The characters’ faces are muddy pink. Except Sam, the piano player. So that’s no help.

If anyone knows, it would be the Goorin Bros.

Goorin Bros. is pronounced like Gorn, that sluggish green lizard man that Captain Kirk battles to the death in Star Trek, the original series. The Brooklyn store at 195 Fifth Avenue isn’t like the team cap wall at your local Modell’s sporting goods, or the cheapo hat pile at the open-air bodega up the avenue, the place where you can buy an emergency stocking cap or a cheapo stingy-brim Justin Timberlake knockoff fedora resting in a pile on a folding table, all colors and patterns, in all sizes from small, medium, large, and X-large. This is a real hat shop, with expansive plate-glass windows with Goorin Bros. Est. 1895 in gold-leaf lettering, and shelves inside brimming (Get it? Brimming?) with hats. Though the store has just opened for the day, it’s already brimming (Again! Hah!) with customers. In front, helping a couple, assistant shopkeeper Nicky Culter, wears a Homestead Grays baseball cap sideways while showing a customer straw boaters, perfect for the summer season. In back, near the cash register, shopkeeper Alex Mroz finishes ringing up three others. He wears a Mahi Mahi, a light brown straw fedora that goes with his sharp suit.

”Why do you keep your hat on indoors?” I ask him straight off. It’s an insulting question, but my dad used to slap my head when I wore my baseball cap at the dinner table.

“This is a hat store. People expect it,” Mroz says. “Or I just tell people I’m religious.” After all, Goorin Bros. does carry black fedoras for the Hasidic set.

While baseball caps are always fashionable, felt hats began dying off in the late 60s as men grew their hair longer and stopped slathering it with Brylcreem. But lately real hats have begun a resurgence. You see bowlers, fedoras, even the occasional boater on the streets of Brooklyn or in the subways or buses. Like everything, you want to point to television; personally, I attribute it to Mad Men. And Justin Timberlake.

“There are a lot of cultural emotions going on. Not only Mad Men, but Boardwalk Empire and Downton Abbey,” Mroz says. “It’s partly the neighborhood,” he adds. People here have so much style.”

I tell him that I’m looking for a brown Bogey fedora, vintage Casablanca or The Big Sleep. He says they don’t have any in brown, but offers a gray fedora, the type Bogey wears when he plays the villain, like The Roaring Twenties. I try one on, but I need a double-breasted suit and a gat (that’s 30’s gangster-speak for a revolver) to pull it off.

Mroz thinks I might be interested in something with a narrower brim, a “stingy brim” measuring between an inch and an inch and three-quarters. After all, they have a wide selection. Again, I think Timberlake.

“You can just imagine Sinatra wearing one, hanging at the Sands with Dino and Sammy,” he says. “Sinatra is one of our hat heroes.” And no doubt: There’s a picture of Sinatra, with a feather stuck in his hat band. Which reminds Mroz: “We have a Feather Bar, where you can customize you hat to make a unique statement,” he says.

You get this guy talking about hats and there’s no stopping him. “This is a genuine panama hat, woven in Ecuador,” he turns to the display on a middle table and searches for my size and fits it on my head. Nah. I’m not the cigar smoking type.

I discover a stack on the shelf. “Now this looks like one Buster Keaton wore in his movies,” I say.

“It’s called The Buster. Keaton used to make his own hats.” Talk about small-batch artisanal. Except for the band, The Buster is barely discernable from the one Harold Lloyd wore while hanging off a clock in Safety Last.

“It’s a classic men’s summer hat—men wore them with the bands in their school colors,” he explains. And there’s a framed photo of a crowd of young men, apparently well dressed college men, though all you can really see is the tops of their straw boaters.

Goorin’s is not just about men’s hats: There are women’s in all shapes and sizes, the types that gals would wear in the Easter Parade on the Avenue, Fifth Avenue, when a photographer would snap them and they’d find themselves in the rotogravure. There are cloches and pillboxes, though nothing outrageously weird that Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice wore to Wills and Kate’s wedding.

Still, it’s a store where guys are happy to shop. There are top hats like Lincoln wore, though his measured a foot and a half high. Here they’re around half that height. And plenty of flat caps, which started as aristocracy wear, when the landed gentry would ride off with their shotguns and dogs chasing some poor fox. It usually ended badly for the fox. Within a few years they were co-opted by the city’s lower classes, like cabbies and newsies. Maybe flat caps should be renamed “The foxes revenge.”

Mroz shows me one last hat, a dark, wide-brimmed porkpie. “In Breaking Bad, Walter White wears one to be intimidating when he’s trying to collect money,” he says. I put it on and just look goofy. “You have to wear it with gusto,” he says.

No matter whether I have gusto or not, the prices are pretty reasonable. The lowest is $21, and handmades start at $79.

Handmade? That’s why I ordered a handcrafted brown fedora, just like Bogey wore in Casablanca. It’ll probably go great with my blue jeans, running shoes, and my Steely Dan t-shirt.

Executive Editor Phil Scott is the author of seven books and numerous magazine articles on travel, aviation, science, humor and brain health. He is teaching a journalism class at John Jay High School in Brooklyn.

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn for April 6 and 7

A short list of weekend openings and events
John Singer Sargent, Villa di Marlia, Lucca: A Fountain, 1910. Watercolor over graphite pencil on paper. The Hayden Collection—Charles Henry Hayden Fund. At Brooklyn Museum, now.

John Singer Sargent, Villa di Marlia, Lucca: A Fountain, 1910. Watercolor over graphite pencil on paper. The Hayden Collection—Charles Henry Hayden Fund. At Brooklyn Museum, now.

S A T U R D A Y
caption here

Maker + Materials: tree house architect Romero. (Photograph, Caroline Voagen Nelson)

A Tree House grows in Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Wood from reclaimed trees felled by Hurricane Sandy is showing up in many uses and locations. Reclaim NYC, with designs implemented out of Sandy debris, will be exhibiting at NYCxDesign in May. Opening Saturday, tree house architect Roderick Romero is constructing a new site-specific installation using trees downed by Sandy. This promises to be part artwork, part open-air classroom, and will certainly be fun to view and walk through.

New exhibition, “That Perfectly Arranged Mouth,” paintings by Katharine Colona Hopkins. At 440 Gallery, Park Slope.

Inaugural exhibition, Next Generation, by Park Slope artist Lori Nelson. At Ground Floor Gallery, Park Slope. 6pm-10pm.

Inaugural exhibition, “Next Generation,” by Park Slope artist Lori Nelson.
At Ground Floor Gallery, Park Slope. 6pm-10pm.

GO: New exhibition, “John Singer Sargent Watercolors,” plus Target First Saturday. Brooklyn Museum.

Great for kids: Spring Seed Celebration & Swap, an annual celebration of making things grow. At Old Stone House and Washington Park. Park Slope. 10am-4pm.

Lumpia Shack’s return to Smorg

Lumpia Shack’s back @ Smorg

Return of Smorgasburg! Over 100 vendors in a new location in Williamsburg, at East River State Park. 11am-6pm.

Smorg vendors I’m seeking out: Brooklyn Piggies, Bolivian Llama Party, ISH Premium Horseradish, Lumpia Shack…let us know what you recommend.

Jazz Healing Force of The Universe. Saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett does two sets at Sistas’ Place Coffee House, Bed Stuy. 9pm and 10:30pm. Part of the month-long Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival presented by the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium. For the 14th year, this longest running grassroots festival features more than 500 artists performing in 50 venues throughout Brooklyn.

S U N D A Y
smorgDUMBO

Whether at Smorgasburg, above, or at a Food Truck Rally, food always seems to taste better al fresco.

The food trucks return to the Park with a Food Truck Rally at Grand Army Plaza. Every first and third Sunday of the month will give everyone the chance to dine in style at Mike’n’Willie’s, Milk Truck, Rickshaw Dumplings, plus a dozen more vendors. Afterwards, you could run or walk it off around the Park’s 3.35 mile loop. Prospect Park at Grand Army Plaza. 11am-5pm.

Return of Smorgasburg! Over 75 vendors are back at the historic Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO. 11am-6pm.

Recycle easily and safely: Spring NYC SAFE (solvents, automotive, flammable, electronics) disposal event. Here’s a one-stop way to get rid of potentially harmful household products. Depending on the product, materials collected will either be recycled, blended for fuel, or sent to licensed hazardous waste treatment facilities for safe disposal. Prospect Park, corner of Parkside Avenue and Prospect Park SW. 10am-4pm.

fifthTasteW E D N E S D A Y, April 10

Purchase tickets soon for A Taste of Fifth at the Grand Prospect Hall. We’re liking that $20 of your $45 ticket will go to a non-profit Fifth Avenue BID member of your choice. This is a chance to try some of the most talked about food and drink from places you never seem to get to, such as Fleisher’s, Campo Di Fiori, Leske’s Bakery, Pork Slope, lots more. The Grand Prospect Hall has to be one of the more ornate party places in the area—can you name a film it appeared in? Park Slope. 6:30pm.

2todoNOTEJoy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists. Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

Joy’s Hurry Up Spring for the last week of March

Out like a lamb? The Parks Department just removed a diseased Linden from the front sidewalk, and a new tree is on order. The squirrels have been feasting on emerging flower shoots in my Brooklyn Backyard and they seem quite pleased with their handiwork (grrrr). Spring’s warmth and flowers can’t get here soon enough so I’ve been living vicariously through other sources that I’m sharing in this week’s post:

Sturman_Saraswati 1Cherry blossoms soon

Artist Sally Mara Sturman’s new illustration for YogaCity NYC captures the beauty of spring. Recently, Sturman left the familiarity of Brooklyn for a few weeks in sunnier, warmer California—the influence is showing in her newest watercolors. Now back home, she also custom paints ceramic pieces and works at Blue Moon Fish at the Greenmarkets in NYC. Find Sally’s work at her Etsy Shop.

FigTreesOnTable_thumbThree stores on the to-visit list

1 • Ditmas Park   Many creative types work several gigs at once; so does Sycamore. A bar, a flowershop, and an event space in one location seems to work for everyone and keeps the space active all day. Stems Architectural Florist hangs there everyday and offers flowers as well as plants—a recent post states that cuttings for fig trees from Flatbush Fig Farm are available for purchase. How Brooklyn is that? Check the site for scheduled music and brew events.

saipua2 • Red Hook   Saipua, a family-owned business focusing on small-batch olive oil soap and seasonal flowers and plants is definitely a do-what-you-love enterprise for all involved. Founder Susan Ryhanen retired from 30 years of teaching and started tinkering in her basement with handmade olive oil soap—Saipua on Van Dyke Street is the storefront result of her love of flowers and soap. Daughter Sarah is a co-owner of the shop and creates breathtaking floral arrangements. On Saturday, March 30, Saipua will have a houseplant sale, offering unusual varieties of ferns, begonias, succulents and free growing advice. Profits will go to The Farm at Worlds End, the flower farm that Sarah runs upstate, to fund the purchase of a tractor.

zuzu3 • Park Slope   Long time Slopers, as well as newcomers, know that a visit to Zuzu’s Petals is always a blast of color and fragrance. Owner Fonda is the ultimate flowergirl with helpful plant advice and recommendations. What I respect most about Zuzu’s Petals is the dedication of this local business to the neighborhood, along with the beautiful dog that’s always there to greet customers. It’s the ideal example of shopping small in the neighborhood. And you know what the name means?

Two sites of note
heritagePhoto

1 • Brooklyn Visual Heritage is an online compilation of several picture collections from Pratt, Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Museum and The Brooklyn Public Library. A keyword search for spring turned up plenty of images of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Ralph Branca. This image took a little more effort to find; it’s from the 1952 Brooklyn Eagle and is captioned “girl in a garden with magnolia at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.” Explore to find fun, retro, relevant images of familiar Brooklyn places.

The-Backyard-Parables-revised-cover2 • A Way to Garden.com is author, editor Margaret Roach’s site for “horticultural how-to and woo-woo.” Roach’s weekly newsletter links to tidbits and resources that gardeners at any level will find useful, entertaining and attractive. I learned this week about alternatives to planting impatiens in a shade garden; a mildew-type fungus affected plants in 35 states last year. Roach’s writing is humorous yet straight-forward—she answers questions promptly and provides knowledgeable resources on a lot of different topics. Other sites may get a quick browse depending on my interest, but this one gets read.

april.pansies
Here’s Hoping…

By the time this posts, maybe we will be able to stash the winter coats away. Here’s a reminder, however, that April weather can be fickle:
Pansies, from my Brooklyn Backyard, April 8, 2003.

Happy Holidays.

2todoNOTEJoy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists. Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn for March 21 through March 24

This weekend starts early on Thursday and it’s also the last day for Dine-In Brooklyn.
Winslow Homer, The Unruly Calf, circa 1875. Graphite and white opaque watercolor on blue-gray wove paper. Brooklyn Museum, part of Fine Lines: American Drawings. See below.

Winslow Homer, The Unruly Calf, circa 1875. Graphite and white opaque watercolor on blue-
gray wove paper. Brooklyn Museum, part of Fine Lines: American Drawings. See below.

Three reasons to go out on Thursday, March 21

steamboat1 • Brooklyn Museum stays open until 10pm on Thursdays so that visitors can linger in the galleries and take advantage of special evening programs. Several new exhibits have opened in the past few weeks including Fine Lines: American Drawings and the spectacular Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui. At 7:30, a Drawing Workshop for all ages will explore the drawing process and help budding artists develop professional techniques.

2 • The March edition of Steamboat, the comedy series, at Greenlight Bookstore gets down to funny business with comedian and author Bob Powers hosting some of the city’s best humor writers. Tonight’s roster includes multi-tasking Brooklynite Rosie Schaap, author of Drinking With Men: A Memoir, and Dave Bry, author of Public Apology: In Which a Man Grapples with a Lifetime of Regret, One Incident at a Time. Fort Greene. 7:30pm.

haggadah-04

A different take on a traditional Hagaddah.

3 • Brooklyn by the Book: The Bronfman Hagaddah. In time for Passover, author Edgar M. Bronfman and illustrator Jan Aronson will speak with Rabbi Andy Bachman of Congregation Beth Elohim about this contemporary retelling of the Exodus story. With its underlying message of human rights and freedom, The Bronfman Hagaddah brings together readings from diverse sources such as abolitionist Frederick Douglas to Ralph Waldo Emerson and poet Marge Piercy. At 6:30 there will be a kosher-wine tasting by Slope Cellars, food from Brooklyn-based Gefilteria (read more about them, below) and a book sale by Community Bookstore. Discussion begins at 7:30. Park Slope.

Three things to do involving seams, screams and Bob Ross

storefront21 • Saturday & Sunday Learn to Sew a Vintage-Style Men’s Shirt at Brooklyn General Store. This two-day intensive, for those with intermediate sewing skills, will cover techniques including felled seams, a lined back yoke and sleeve plackets. Instructor Heather Love is a Brooklyn-based mixed-media artist. Her Etsy shop hellomello handspun features her knit-based crafts and materials. North Red Hook is the home of Brooklyn General Store, the former Frank’s Department Store, and is an updated and welcome throwback to the era when Union Street used to be a thriving shopping block for food and goods. 9am-6pm.

lunaPark2 • Sunday Season Opener at Luna Park. Normally I might wait until warmer weather arrives to get excited about Coney Island, but this year’s opener has significance after all the rebuilding and restoration after Hurricane Sandy. The 86-year-old Cyclone is back in full operation, along with the Soaring Eagle and Steeplechase, a spinning disk called the Zenobio, and the Human Slingshot. As is the tradition, Marty Markowitz will christen the Cyclone by smashing a bottle of egg cream on her bow. Coney Island. 12pm-10pm.

PaintingTakedown3 • Sunday 1st annual Painting Takedown, a charity event to benefit Citymeals-on-Wheels. You remember Bob Ross, right? Twenty Brooklyn artists will be asked to throw away all taste and aesthetics by creating a painting à la Bob Ross. Audience members can bid and buy the finished canvases, while the painters will receive prizes for crowd favorites. Expect drinks from SixPoint Brewery, lots of chili, and goofy bad art. At former-feather-factory-now-arts-center The Active Space, Bushwick. 6pm-9pm.

caption and credit for Vermatzah goes here see item below

Eco-Kosher Vermatzah connects modern ecology with Jewish dietary laws and ethical standards.

Three purveyors of note for Passover and beyond

1 • Way Outer Brooklyn Vermatzah, small-batch, wood-fired matzah from Naga Bakehouse, Vermont. Locally-sourced wheat and farro go into the hand-shaped rounds produced by this eco-kosher baker. Albeit not kosher for Passover, this matzah is produced with care. With each order, the company attaches a small bag of wheat seeds to give home growers and cooks a chance to farm in their own homes. Order by Thursday for mail delivery for a seder, or revisit after the holiday.

carpInBathtub2 • Gefilte fish is a Jewish food that does not have any religious symbolism, but is a part of traditional Eastern European cuisine, especially at holidays. My grandmother used to purchase live carp and whitefish and keep them swimming in the bathtub until it was time to cook and grind the fish for the quenelle-shaped pieces. My mother resorted to jars of prepared gefilte fish that contained an unappealing aspic-sort of jelly and a couple of slices of limp carrot. No wonder we resorted to massive amounts of horseradish, jarred of course, to make it palatable. Forward to 2012, and three Brooklyn entrepreneurs open Gefilteria to specialize in artisanal gefilte fish with freshness, sustainability and flavor added to the traditional food. The founders describe themselves as “a trio of New York foodies, reimagining Old World Jewish food by adapting Ashkenazi classics to the values and tastes of a new generation.” Fish as well as several styles of horseradish are kosher for Passover and can be purchased at local retailers and online, but hurry, as supplies are sure to be snapped up.

caption credit goes here

(Photograph, Katie Sokoler/Gothamist)

3 • We can still go stand in line at Zabars or Russ & Daughters on a Sunday morning for a novy fix, but the neighborhood appetizing store, stocked with smoked and cured fish and dairy products, has largely faded away. Enter caterer Peter Shelsky in 2012, and he’s returned appetizing back to Brooklyn with Shelsky’s Smoked Fish in Carroll Gardens. Shelsky’s extensive kosher-style Passover menu offers tempting dishes such as Grandma Yetta’s savory gefilte fish, house-pickled herring in cream sauce, fresh apple horseradish sauce, vegetarian matzah ball soup, strawberry rhubarb matzah crumble, and homemade matzah. Beyond Passover, there’s always the sandwich menu; try the Brooklyn Native: eastern Gaspé salmon, smoked whitefish salad, pickled herring, sour pickle all piled on a bialy.

2todoNOTEJoy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists. Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

%d bloggers like this: