A Platform For The People

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WordPress is a valuable tool. I learned how to use the content management system a few years ago because it’s an open source (accessible to everyone via a free license) and based on PHP and MySQL – two other open source platforms. Some may argue better options exist, but the ease and simplicity of WordPress allow for a seamless administration handoff from developer to client. Populating the site with content, images and videos can be a timesaving cinch (depending on how sophisticated you tailor the CMS to be), and cost-effective for all parties involved.

WordPress also has several features that can be used differently from their original intent; for example, its ‘Comments’ section can serve as a bulletin board for employees, and the “Posts” and “Pages” menu items can be used for everything from selling products to running a corporation’s CMS.

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– Zack Levine, Web Developer

 

One Man’s Firehouse Is Another Man’s Home

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NYC’s Limelight Marketplace – a former church and nightclub.

These days it’s expected for things to take on a second life in a different form – we live in the age of recycling and the decade of hipsters, after all. From retro wardrobes to trash art to antiquing and composting, our society (for the most part) simply likes to transform old into new. Similarly, reconditioning buildings – particularly in NYC – is a practice we’ve made popular. Why? Because we love relics. They emanate history, character and rarity, which is why we’re willing to pay a lot to live in one. Developers have caught on; today they leverage old properties by converting the likes of churches, stables, firehouses and police station radio rooms into modern-day dwellings. They turn distinct spaces into camouflaged homes, unbeknownst to many of their repurposed function. Luckily for us, their opting for interior reconfiguration over tearing down a building preserves the neighborhood’s appearance and personality for later generations to appreciate.

ImageInterior of Limelight Marketplace

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A former stable (Photo: New York Magazine)

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A former church (Photo: New York Magazine)

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A former firehouse (Photo: New York Magazine)

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A former police station radio room (Photo: New York Magazine)

– Francisca Ovalle, Copywriter

Buildings As Canvases

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Buildings in NYC used to be covered with hand-painted ads (just look up and you’ll see their remnants, known as “ghost signs“). A labor-intensive process, these works date back to the 1800s, but disappeared in the 1980s when computer and vinyl printing became the norm. Recently, however, the artistic style of marketing has made a comeback. For instance, last summer 315 Park Avenue South’s wall facing 23rd Street was used to advertise the film “Batman” with a 150-foot-mural. For a look into this type of art, and the people who create them, watch this short documentary “Up There.”

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– Barbra Tolentino, Graphic Designer

You Have To Break It Before You Make It

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A few months ago I learned that my next-door neighbor Ernie Quadrino – a retired NYC sanitation worker – is also an unsung artist. I recently sat down with him to talk about his passion for making stained-glass art.

How did you get started?

10 years ago my wife wanted a stained-glass lamp. Instead of going out and buying one, I found a local shop that taught people how to make their own. It helped that I could draw well; my talent translated and allowed me to quickly pick up the craft. After just a few lessons, I proudly made a replica of the famous Tiffany dragonfly lamp.

What is your process?

1) Find a photo or drawing that can easily be turned into a pattern that will be broken into pieces.

2) Choose your colors, transfer your shapes to the glass sheets, and cut them to the size of your pattern.

3) Grind the edges of the pieces and then wrap them with copper foil.

4) Assemble the pieces to match the pattern and begin soldering them together.

5) Once finished, frame the entire piece with thicker bands of zinc. Solder each corner as well as the points where the joints of your image meet the frame.

6) To give it a more finished look, apply black tinted patina to tone down the soldered joints.

Below are some images of Ernie’s inspiring work.

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– Brian Keeler, Graphic Designer

A Home Away From My Home

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I’ve always had an appreciation for interior design; I think it stemmed from habitually driving by expensive homes at night with my mom to see the full monty of their décor. I won’t even get started on our frequent trips to open houses, but I will say it contributed to my love of studying where people live (bless The Selby and it’s bi-weekly dose of habitat profiles).

Fortunately for me, there’s a beautiful home 30 minutes away I can visit and admire as often as I want without seeming creepy. Just over in Corona, Queens, Louis Armstrong’s three-story brick house serves as a time capsule from the 28 years he lived there with his wife Lucille. Today a museum, the surprisingly modest building acts as a relic, quintessential of the leading styles from 1960s design. Guests are invited to take a guided tour, listen to at-home recordings of Louis talking and singing, and gaze at his artifacts on display (i.e. a trumpet, photos, clothing and manuscripts). I’ve now visited the landmark three times, and on each trip noticed another detail or learned something new. If I can’t convince you to also stop by, maybe these photos will.

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– Francisca Ovalle, Copywriter

Journalism Through Drawing

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Though I’m interested in graphic novels of all kinds, the work of Joe Sacco is particularly fascinating because it’s rooted in realism.

“Palestine” is a graphic novel documenting Sacco’s two-month experience interviewing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza during the first intifada. It illustrates the power of visual journalism through in-depth interviews and cultural immersion as it covers a complex, nuanced issue.

Sacco leverages hard reporting, hundreds of interviews, and personal refugee camp experiences to document Palestine and the spirit of its people – from seeing Palestinians hurl rocks at Israeli soldiers, to staying in Palestinian hosts’ homes for days without a change of clothes. Sacco’s reporting is complemented by powerful images drawn from his notes and sketchbooks; together they create a fluid storyline and print-like version of a film documentary. Sacco is less interested in getting the scoop and more receptive to finding stories that will resonate long after breaking news has faded — and this is probably what draws me to his work (aside from the visual stuff, of course).

– Lecia Bushak, Account Manager

It Takes A City

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You can find the world’s largest alpona in Dhaka, Bangladesh. A decorative art form practiced by women in Bengal, alpona resembles mehndi, but is reserved for floors and other various surfaces. Literally street art, this design was created last April to celebrate the coming of the Bengali New Year. 6 hours, 220 artists, and  3,600 liters of paint later, the 260,000 SF motif made its mark on history.

– Daejin Youn, Graphic Designer