Let not your enthusiasm wane!

We are happy to introduce another guest post to our readers by Brendan Coyle. In his letter below, Brendan lets us in on the exciting changes that are taking place on the ever-evolving Staten Island’s North Shore.

“Let not your enthusiasm wane! The creative souls of New York have not stopped, regardless of the downpour of obstacles from the clouds of economic travail, which floats down over us from the stagnant hill of ailing policy makers. We will not be shaken up by them like the ant farm in the bedroom they’ve been exiled to for stealing the toys of the neighbor’s kids some idyllic afternoon out in the cul de sac.

 

A new season is upon us, so we plow forward. Here in Staten Island, the popup galleries continue to have regular openings and closings. As our downtown grows and refurbishments start to come to fruition, the popups continue to “pop up” and after a bit of a run they strike their sets, as they have in the past. The artists stirring the cauldron continue to find their temporary venues in the simmering stew, and all the while we are still yearning for more permanent additions to the scene.

 

I have watched my pet monster “Second Saturday” take on a life of its own. Makeshift venues come and go from the itinerary, but mainly the schedule has whittled down to a few rock-steady places that stand at the helm of the Staten Island art scene. Most of the venues for art here in Staten Island are not solely that. They have a primary business focus and the art seems to be an accouterment. This would seem to be the only feasible way we can have galleries here, as the neighborhood has yet to attract substantial art buyers. However, the seeds of change are being planted, and saplings are taking root.

Morgu bird mural by Brendan Coyle

Recently I introduced my new headquarters, the “Coyle Cavern” at 194 Bay St., a venue whose sole purpose is to be a gallery and an event space. I’ve been curating shows there while it is still in the process of renovations, which are finally getting their finishing touches. The feasibility of such a place as the fan-base grows and I start to attract buyers (I’ve already sold a few pieces!) hinges on a partnership with Xhafer Gjeshbitraj, a local entrepreneur, whom you might know from Stapleton where he co-founded the “Muddy Cup.” Come January, renovations will start for a café bistro called “The Studio” in the building adjoined with Coyle Cavern. And a unique sustainable business model is born! Two separate businesses in symbiosis under the same roof. 194 Bay also has some interesting residents in the apartments above the show space. There is a full-on music studio on the 3rd Floor called Cobra Sun Studio, which provides ensembles for the ever mutable Coyle Cavern house band.

 

The only thing that will never change is that this place will never stop changing, so embrace it! Join us at Coyle Cavern for Second Saturday, October 13th for my latest curated exhibition “SPOILER ALERT””

 

Cheers,

Brendan Coyle

 

 

New York Wheel and Harbor Commons proposed for Staten Island

Local officials in New York City have recently announced the plans for a new tourist attraction that would boost economic development in the Staten Island waterfront area: the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. The structure will be developed by a joint venture between the New York Wheel LLC and local development company BFC Partners and is predicted to become one of the city’s landmark attractions.

 Renderings of the New York Wheel courtesy of NYC Mayor’s Office

“The New York Wheel promises to become one of the City’s–and the world’s–great landmark attractions, alongside the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Located on the northeastern side of Staten Island (St. George), the 630-foot, or roughly 60-story, attraction will be the tallest observation wheel in the world and the only one in New York City. The Wheel will accommodate up to 1,440 people per ride, welcoming as many as 30,000 visitors per day and an anticipated 4.5 million visitors per year. Ticket prices are estimated to be in the range of $20-$30 for approximately 38-minute ride.

The Wheel will create approximately 150 construction and 300 permanent jobs in ticket sales, maintenance and other positions to run the attraction on a daily basis. An effort will be made to use local Staten Island labor and business services where possible.”

Renderings of the New York Wheel courtesy of NYC Mayor’s Office

“Our Administration has made major investments all along the North Shore of Staten Island, because we know this area is full of potential for economic growth,” Bloomberg said. “But this newest plan is the most exciting of all. The New York Wheel will be an attraction unlike any other in New York City – even unlike any other on the planet. It will offer unparalleled and breathtaking views, and is sure to become one of the premier attractions in New York City and the latest exciting addition to our newly revitalized waterfront.”

The New York Wheel is expected to open on New Years Eve, December 31st, 2015.

Simultaneously, another development group, BFC Partners, will be building Harbor Commons, a $230 million, 350,000-sq.-ft. outlet center on the opposite side of the St. George terminal. The project will include approximately 100 designer stores, a 120,000-sq.-ft., 200 room hotel and a parking garage.

“Harbor Commons will be the first outlet center in New York City that offers the retail sector a singular and unique opportunity to expand their brand presence in the most vibrant retail market in the country,” said Donald Capoccia, managing principal and founder of BFC Partners, in a statement.

Construction on Harbor Commons will start in the winter of 2014, with completion scheduled for 2016.

3rd Annual NYC Chili CookOff

It was one of those pretty Spring days, as we made our way to the Historic Richmond Town, anticipating an exciting day ahead. The idea of tasting mouthwatering stew, prepared by the chili experts, was too tempting not to attend this event. The 3rd Annual NYC Chili CookOff engaged local as well as national chefs, all of whom came to prove that their chili is the best! And on that day we couldn’t wait to judge for ourselves.

3rd Annual NYC Chili CookOff

The authentic historical village served as a perfect backdrop for the only chili cookoff within the five boroughs that has been sanctioned by the International Chili Society. The cooks were competing in four categories – Traditional chili (red chili), Chili Verde (green chili), Salsa (must be homemade) and People’s Choice Chili. Armed with the best ingredients, family recipes and a passion for cooking, the contestants were on a mission, making every effort, to impress the visitors and judges alike.

3rd Annual NYC Chili CookOff

And they didn’t let us down – the event was full! Chili lovers, from all five boroughs, came to taste some delicious chili. There was red chili, spicy chili, chocolate chili, smoky chili, meaty chili, vegetarian chili, chili burgers, and even some barbecued ribs and pulled pork sandwiches! A nice variety of flavors provided for maximum sampling opportunities. Needless to say, we tried them all and then washed it down with a few beers. The juicy chili samples, seasoned with a whole bunch of good stuff, delivered the satisfaction we craved.

3rd Annual NYC Chili CookOff

In addition to the chili tasting, the event featured live entertainment by Wahoo Skiffle Crazies (local jug band), a chicken wing contest, kiddie rides, games and craft booths and much more. While at the Historic Richmond town, one could also explore the beautiful grounds and experience history through carefully preserved buildings and landscapes. The former County Clerk’s Office building, now a museum, has books and archives used to document local history. Town’s other historic buildings have been restored and are open to the public where demonstrations of historic trades performed by costumed museum volunteers can be enjoyed during the special events. All the activities offer a much-needed break between sampling.

If you haven’t heard about the Annual Chili CookOff before now, it’s time to take notice. Looks like this event is quickly becoming a Staten Island tradition. Don’t miss it next year, we promise…you’ll enjoy!

All photos by Dmitriy Mirochnik

5th Annual Staten Island Comedy Festival

5th Annual Staten Island Comedy Festival

When was the last time you laughed? The 5th Annual Staten Island Comedy Festival promises to be Bigger and Better than in all the previous years, mixing comedy and charity. 7 nights at 7 venues for 7 charities! In these tough economic times there’s nothing like the power of laughter to bring your spirits up. The exciting week of comedy will feature the best local talent as well as national headlining comedians such as Colin JostSherrod Small and Vic Dibitetto. The stand-up comedy festival has been slowly evolving and growing, since its first debut in August 2008, now offering 7 straight nights of hilarity and celebration. The action-packed comedy show, benefiting 7 different charities, will surely have you entertained.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Joel Richardson aka Soul Joel of Soul Joel Productions, the festival’s co-founder, about the Staten Island Comedy Festival and it’s history.

Q: How did the idea for Staten Island Comedy Festival originate?

Soul Joel: The idea came to us 5 years ago. A lot of times, Staten Island’s portrayal in the media is negative and full of stereotypes. We wanted to do something positive for Staten Islanders. At the time there weren’t any comedy clubs on Staten Island and we wanted to put together a festival that would benefit the community and bring people together. The goal is to attract people from different boroughs to come to Staten Island, have a great time and get as many people involved as possible. We have performances at a different venue each night, we tried to space it out to get different parts of Staten Island involved and make it more convenient for people to attend the shows.

Q: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

Soul Joe: I’m a producer and a radio personally. I have my own radio show on Tuesday nights (5 to 8pm EST on 1460 AM in Philadelphia and South Jersey) called The Comedy Point. And during the day I teach mentally disabled about the radio and how to produce their own show at Lifestyles for the Disabled. This organization also happens to be one of the charities that the festival benefits on Sunday, April 15th. In fact, all the proceeds from the 7 shows will be donated to 7 different charities.

Q: Who are the stand up comedians that will be performing in the festival?

Soul Joe: 4 comedians that are performing are from Staten Island and they earned their entry through the auditions we held last year. The other stand-up acts are all national headliners from New York area. It’s a good mix of local and national talent. There’s a different line-up every night, the comedians bring their A game every time they hit the stage. There’s also going to be a kid friendly show to kick off the festival on Sunday, April 15th at 2pm.

Q: Where do you see the festival going?

A: The goal is basically just to keep growing. We would love to be like the Montreal Comedy Festival which is one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world. And I want to keep making it to where Staten Island becomes an attraction, where people can come from different parts of the country and enjoy the festivities.

Q: Any last words before we go?

Soul Joe: Just come out with your friends and family and enjoy the shows!

For more information about the Staten Island Comedy Festival and to purchase tickets please go to www.statenislandcomedyfestival.com

Come cheer on your hometown humorists for a unique chance to see the future stars of comedy right in your neighborhood!

Staten Island Comedy Festival Flier

Staten Island “Castle”

Staten Island Castle by Eugene Sabo

As we bring this story to our readers I cant’ help but  feel a little bittersweet. Recently, my photographer friends embarked on an adventure to the abandoned Staten Island Castle and were really excited to capture a part of the history. Now that the building is demolished, this group was, possibly, the last to enter The “Castle” and capture the atmosphere that cannot be replicated. Step back in time as my friends take you on a journey:

“Architecture aims at Eternity” – a famous quote by Christopher Wren, one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history. Unfortunately eternity is not something that was in the future for a Staten Island specimen that until recently has been standing tall for over 120 years. Known as the Staten Island Castle, the S.R. Smith Infirmary has played a big role in the rich history of our town. The design of the building provided corner-less rooms which, at the time of construction, was thought to be the best way to reduce the spread of disease and dust. The Infirmary remained operational until 1979. In 1965 it was decided that a move to a new location would be more beneficial than a much needed extension of the current location. That new location is now known as the Staten Island Hospital on Seaview Avenue.

Sometime in 2011 I heard that the Castle was under a real threat to be taken down. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about this situation, but being a photographer, my opinion is at its best, when it is expressed visually. On one cold winter morning along with a few of my friends I ventured out on a mission to preserve history. A red wall could be seen as we made our way through the brush. Once we made it to the foot of the structure it was easy to appreciate the eerie grandeur of the walls and towers that stood in front of us. We did not expect a lot, but once inside, a world of visual history opened up to us. Through the punctured walls and all of the debris on the floor it was hard to imagine what this place once was. Once on the second floor, we were happy to discover what later became our favorite subject – a grand, textured iron staircase with marble step coverings stood out in front of us as a forgotten rusty giant. We tried to capture it from every angle, and to show the details of its two tall pillars. The sun was beginning to make its way towards a higher angle and began pouring through the boarded up windows in the oval rooms. Streaks of light lit up the crumbling space. We caught ourselves whispering most the time as our subconscious mind realized that something was at peace here.

HDR (high dynamic range) photography is something that is trending right now. Abandoned subjects like our Castle really benefited from this type of visual art, because it makes the most of the light and color that is available in the frame. Our eyes see a lot of the dynamic range, but the HDR technique opens up a whole new perspective. Each one of us saw the Castle in his/her own unique way. The Castle is now gone, demolished. I am hoping that the structure that will be built in its place, will be able to persuade the Staten Island residents that the Castle was not destroyed in vain.  I also hope that our images of this historic landmark will become a part of our community and serve as a reminder of something that aimed for eternity, but could not withstand time.

guest Contributing Author,

Dmitriy Mirochnik

Galleries below represent a selection of images from each of the photographers.

Dmitriy M

Eugene Sabo

Evelina Kremsdorf

Yelena Rozov