Categories
Published

Brooklyn Artist Embraces Nature For Inspiration

Originally published on NYCityLens.com.
By Amy Chyan

Mi Ju shows off her most recent painting at Pratt's "Open Studio" day. (Photo: Amy Chyan)

She hovered over the house plant and watched the ants crawl. This is what Mi Ju, 27, a Korean-born painter, installation artist and master’s of fine arts student at the Pratt Institute, does, to gather inspiration for her art.

“She’s manically obsessed over nature,” teased Hiba Schahbaz, Ju’s studio neighbor.

Ju lives and breathes art, citing indigenous cultures, sciences and the places she’s traveled to as inspiration. She works on the mandate of combining space, art and vivid colors. Hidden surprises show up in her paintings when she combines fine paint strokes with paper cut outs to create a three dimensional feel.

On Dec. 9, Pratt held its annual “Open Studio Day” in Brooklyn during which master’s students showcased their work in private art studios provided by the school and opened to the public. For Ju, who will be hosting her first solo gallery show in September 2012, the day was like a dress rehearsal.

Ju usually spends more than 12 hours each day working at her studio, leaving just a little before midnight and returning the following morning to repeat it again. For down time, Ju goes to Prospect Park is where she catalogues shapes she sees in nature as sources for her next project.

“This is the most I like,” said Ju, whose first language isn’t English. “And it’s honest. I’m curious of what I’m going to make every time.”

Categories
Video

VIDEO: A Brooklyn Painter Opens Up His Studio

Originally published on NYCityLens.com.

Camera: Amy Chyan
Editing: Amy Chyan
Script: Kristen Holmes

Every year hundreds of artists move to New York City to try to make it in the industry. In Brooklyn, one painter puts an authentic style and hardened attitude into the mix. Kristen Holmes reports.

Categories
Freelance Published

Lightyear Looked to Impress with Third Show

Originally published on Virgin Media’s Red Room Blog.
By Amy Chyan

She sang and played guitar and wrote her own music, but wanted to break away from the singer songwriter stereotype that most female musicians face.

“I basically felt trapped in the singer songwriter genre,” said Lauren Zettler before her Brooklyn show at The Rock Shop. “When you go by your name, they put you in this box and you’re this girl with a guitar and there are so many girls with guitars. I just didn’t feel like it fit what I really wanted to do.”

Lightyear plays at The Rock Shop, Brooklyn. (Photo: Amy Chyan)

Zettler is now under the moniker Lightyear, whose new EP, “All of The Miles” was released on November 14th. By changing her musical direction and wanting out of the singer songwriter cliché, Lightyear began to explore with other sounds. She cites Metric and Emily Haines as influences of her new sound.

Categories
Freelance Published

Ohbijou live and in conversation at The Rock Shop, NYC

Originally published on Virgin Media’s Red Room Blog.
By Amy Chyan

The audience capacity at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn, New York is 120 patrons. The audience capacity at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto, Canada, where Ohbijou played a sold-out show for the release of their third full length album ‘Metal Meets’, is 770.

Ohbijiou plays New York City. (Photo: Amy Chyan)

Toronto-based Ohbijou have made quite a name for themselves in Canada. Regarded as the darlings of indie folk, if you will, the band’s previous album ‘Beacons’ (2009) quickly became a CBC Radio 3 favourite. Playing festivals and making radio appearances, almost all of Ohbijou’s shows in Toronto are sold-out fanfares that guarantee an amazing time with good friends and even better music. But outside of Canada, it’s a different scene.

Categories
Published

Crowd Buzzes with Energy from Foley Square to Brooklyn Bridge

Originally published on NYCityLens.com as a collaborative, special coverage of Occupy Wall Street’s ‘Day of Action’.

By Amy Chyan and Julie Percha

Hundreds of protesters took to Foley Square Thursday, braving the chilly temperatures for a Brooklyn Bridge march to support the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Demonstrators brandishing trombones, snare drums, tambourines and even plastic buckets made music and kept the beat. Supporters followed the sound throughout the square, dancing for enjoyment and to keep warm.

Occupy Wall Street protestors at Foley Square. (Photo: Amy Chyan)

Mix in New York Police Department sirens and group chants of “We are the 99 percent,” and Foley Square buzzed with energy.

Along the square’s north border on Worth Street, Rose Bookbinder, 28, handed out battery-operated tea light candles from a large cardboard box.

She and fellow protesters distributed 10,000 candles, which were funded through Occupy Wall Street donations, she said. Bookbinder encouraged protesters to carry the candles as a message.

“We’re gonna be taking the Brooklyn Bridge as a symbol that we need to rebuild jobs here and shine a light on democracy,” Bookbinder said.

Nearby, police in riot gear directed traffic from behind plastic netting-turned-barricades. Many carried plastic zip-ties as makeshift handcuffs, hanging casually from their belt loops.

Categories
Published

Mile 16: Cheering on the Stragglers

Originally published on NYCityLens.com.
By Amy Chyan 

Remaining crowd cheering on the stragglers running on the sidewalk. (Photo: Amy Chyan)

They don’t qualify for the elite men’s or women’s running group nor do they run on pace with the other 47 000 marathon runners. The last of the runners—the stragglers—power through at their own pace, determined to finish the 26.2 miles of the 2011 New York City Marathon.

By late afternoon, the stragglers on mile 16, located at First Avenue and 59th Street, had company: cleaning crews that swept and cleared garbage left on the road. And they were cheered on by a handful of spectators, who stuck around purposefully to keep them running until the finish.

“I wait for these people every year,” said Ryan Ross, 23, who with Mike Hallovan, 60, shouted runner names and motivational words at each passing marathoner.

Hallovan, a five-time marathon runner, never stopped cheering. He’s been a New York marathon spectator for over 20 years and each year, he waits for the last of the runners. Hallovan and Ross were the only two left at the corner of 59th Street at 4:30 p.m.

Categories
Published

Harlem Business Owners Worry About Possible Wal-Mart

Originally published on NYCityLens.com.
By Amy Chyan

Yellow smiley faces and employees’ royal-blue vests, immediately bring Wal-Mart to mind. But there are no smiley faces here in Harlem where some residents and small businesses are protesting the possibility that the national retailer will set up shop on the vacant lot at 125th Street and Lenox Avenue.

In the past few years, large brand-name stores like Staples, Marshalls and Old Navy, have opened on the corner across from the vacant lot, bringing tough competition to local businesses.

Concerns about the negative impact that another big-box store, like Wal-Mart, could have on Harlem businesses, especially during hard economic times, had community leaders, residents and even a state senator speaking out. On Thursday, Oct. 6, the group rallied with signs and raised its voice in front of the vacant lot.

“They feel threatened by the giants that will squash them,” New York State Sen. Bill Perkins said of the local stores currently open for business on the block. “We are in a David and Goliath situation.”

The strip along 125th Street in Harlem is no stranger to change. The New York City Economic Development Corporation’s website states that it is focused on transforming the Harlem main street, between Broadway and 2nd Avenue, into “a world-class arts, cultural, and entertainment destination and regional business district.”

In addition, 125th Street is named a New York City Business Improvement District, with one of the many goals to “promote 125th Street as a great location for local national retailers to do business.”.

Categories
Freelance Published

Diamond Rings Leaves Webster Hall With More Than 14 Fans

Originally published on Virgin Media’s Red Room Blog.
By Amy Chyan

Diamond Rings opens up for Twin Shadow at Webster Hall, NY.

There were definitely more than 14 and a half fans shoulder dancing and foot tapping when Diamond Rings opened for Twin Shadow at Webster Hall on Friday night (Oct. 7). John O’Reagan (Diamond Rings) joked that when he played New York City two years ago, that’s how many fans showed up. Modesty (and perhaps honesty) seem to have helped fill the venue that night. ‘All Yr Songs’, Diamond Rings’ first hit single, was dedicated to those 14 and a half fans midway through the show.

Based in Toronto, Canada, Diamond Rings is O’Reagan’s solo project: simple recordings that started on a borrowed Macbook. Given at the door were rainbow banded eye masks, similar Diamond Rings’ eye make up on the front cover of his debut album ‘Special Affections’. (Think Ninja Turtles’ eye masks, in rainbow pattern. The sight of seeing the token inebriated girl dancing in circles with this mask on was somehow quite wonderful.)