|Dear Neighbor,You’ve noticed we care a lot about space in Epicenter: how to find your piece of it via hiking, biking, dining, picnicking. This week we hand the mic over to Nitin Mukul, who usually designs and photographs this newsletter, to talk about helping transform a space in his neighborhood: |
Glocalize! Festival, Diversity Plaza, 2019
I volunteer with Friends of Diversity Plaza. We’re a small group committed to this strip on 37th Road in Jackson Heights, Queens, to see that issues of maintenance are handled. We also organize arts and cultural events, vigils, rallies and seasonal celebrations for our community. One of the main goals of our mission is public space equity. A plaza in a vibrant immigrant community like ours deserves the same government resources and services as Times Square or the Flatiron District. Public open space is a matter of health, racial and community justice.That is even more true now. In the face of the pandemic, the amazing culinary culture of the area was being hit hard. Many of our small locally owned restaurants were not able to get government aid. Some closed.Our community group reached out to the restaurants to see how we could help. In some cases, we were able to connect them with Elmhurst Hospital to deliver bulk food orders to an overwhelmed medical staff. But that wasn’t enough. Efforts to pedestrianize 37th Road, right across from Diversity Plaza, also presented the opportunity to create more shared community space and help struggling restaurants on that block. As part of DineOutNYC, officials decided to bring the second communal dining project to Jackson Heights after creating one on Mott Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood.
Prem, owner of Hamro Bhim’s Cafe, with artwork by Jesse Lambert
We reached out to artists to have their work incorporated into the seating modules; we chose the work of Jesse Lambert and Beth Reisman to be printed onto four of the tables.
I designed four murals to be painted onto the sides of the modules.
photo: Anokha Venugopal
I reached out to South Asian Youth Action, where I had once been a mentor for a career fair (aka, how to tell your parents you want to be an artist), to assist in painting the murals. Eighteen students arrived in the rain on the day of the installation, many seeing each other for the first time since the pandemic began, and had a great time working together.
photo: Anokha Venugopal
The restaurants started reaping the benefits almost immediately. One momo shop said it is reopening as a result of having the outdoor seating, and like other businesses on the block, it agreed to help maintain the equipment. By the next evening, the atmosphere had been transformed and the space redefined — and it’s evolving still. You can help by volunteering to maintain the Plaza (call Council member Daniel Dromm’s office at 718-803-6373) and of course coming to eat here… I recommend the lamb chops at Angel, the fish momos at Bhim’s and the chili noodles at Phayul.
You can also help us grow this community by hitting forward on this newsletter, sharing in your networks and asking folks to subscribe. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. We also seek donations to pay our vendors and freelancers.
OUT & ABOUTDim sum at home: Nom Wah, one of the city’s oldest dim sum restaurants, is hosting a virtual cooking class Thursday, August 27, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. On the menu are its famous rice rolls and roast pork buns. Ingredients can be found on the registration page. Not a cook? Order takeout from Nom Wah and tune in to see how your meal is made. The class is free, but advance registration is required.
Cheese, please: Queens residents, rejoice. The iconic Murray’s Cheese Bar has opened a flagship restaurant and retail shop in Long Island City, complete with its first full-service bar. Check out the menu.
An IRL market (!): With so many things transitioned to virtual, we were thrilled to hear about a new market opening in Brooklyn. The Greenpoint Terminal market will feature creatives, food stands and local shops every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at its waterfront location on Noble Street. Social distancing measures will be in place, with all businesses stationed 6 feet apart and wide, one-directional walkways. Maybe it’s time to turn that quarantine hobby into a business; the market is seeking vendors.
Museum without doors: Art is coming to the community at the first “museum without doors” exhibit tomorrow, August 26, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Flushing Greenmarket. Come meet world-renowned artists Shih Pao Lin and Joseph Hsu while picking up some end-of-summer produce.
MUSEUMS ARE BACK
New York City museums are officially allowed to reopen to the public. There are rules of course, like timed tickets, and capacity is capped at 25%. Let us know how it’s looking out there. Our roundup:
The Museum of Modern Art: MoMA is reopening August 27. Advance tickets are required and released a week in advance in one-week blocks every Friday at 10 a.m. Members do not need to book tickets in advance, and Mondays are members only. Admission is free through September 27, made possible by a partnership with Uniqlo.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: The Guggenheim won’t be reopening until October 3 (September 30 for members). For every advanced ticket purchase, the museum will give a complimentary family pass to an essential worker.
Museum of the City of New York: The museum dedicated to celebrating our city will be welcoming guests starting August 27. Advance tickets required.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Met will reopen August 27 for members and August 29 to the public. The Met Cloisters is set to reopen September 12. Advance tickets required for nonmembers.
The Brooklyn Museum: New York City’s third-largest museum will reopen September 12. Reserve your tickets here.
The Tenement Museum: This museum explores the uniquely American story of immigration and will be offering single-household group walking tours of the Lower East Side, starting in mid-September. Check its website for updates.
The Noguchi Museum: The museum, named for its creator, sculptor Isamu Noguchi, will reopen on September 9 to members and September 23 to the public. Advance tickets required. Check its website for updates.
Museum of the Moving Image: The media museum in Astoria hasn’t announced a reopening date, but it has partnered with Rooftop Films and the New York Hall of Science to present the Queens Drive-In. Through October, movies will be shown nightly on the grounds of the Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Tickets start at $35 per car. Check out what’s showing and reserve your spot.
The Whitney: The art museum, which sits next to the High Line, plans to reopen on September 3, and will be pay-what-you-wish through September 28. Book timed-tickets in advance.
Fotografiska: The New York outpost of the Swedish photography museum is reopening its doors August 28. First responders and frontline health care workers can visit for free through 2020. Advance tickets required.
El Museo del Barrio: El Museo, which specializes in Latin American and Caribbean art, is reopening on September 12. Timed tickets will be available on its website soon.
The American Museum of Natural History: The iconic museum is opening its doors to members on September 2, and to the public September 9. Visit its website for ticketing updates.
The New Museum: Manhattan’s only museum dedicated entirely to contemporary art is reopening September 15, with free admission through September 27. Advance tickets will be available starting August 31.
GIVE & GET HELP
PPE needed: Mutual aid group Red Hook Relief is in desperate need of personal protective equipment, particularly reusable cloth face masks. Volunteers told us they recently noticed many at-risk seniors in the community reusing disposable medical masks. Donations can be dropped off at Red Hook Winery on Van Dyke Street, Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Free ESL classes: Women for Afghan Women, a Queens-based nonprofit, is hosting free online ESL classes for women who are New York City residents. The classes, which run from September 8 to December 18, are being offered at beginner, high beginner and intermediate levels.Email email@example.com or call 646-494-4054 for more information.
The right to read: This Sunday, August 30, Astoria community organizers are hosting a free book fair on 31st Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets. There will be free PPE available. Book donations are no longer being accepted unless they are centered on race or queerness, or non-English. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Bus fare: A reminder that the MTA will resume charging $2.75 for local bus rides on August 31. Front-door entry and payment have been suspended since late March in the wake of Covid-19.
UES to Astoria in minutes: The Astoria ferry route was just extended to East 90th Street. The stop is four minutes from the Astoria dock at Hallet’s Cove and 18 minutes from Long Island City. The ferry costs $2.75 per ride. Learn more.
This week, Gregory Reynolds shares with us his trip to theAdirondacks: I don’t begin shedding the layers until I reach the Taconic State Parkway. Winding and sylvan with no shoulder, the road often climbs over a hill to offer a spacious view of the Catskills. I am traveling north to meet my sister and 14-year-old niece to take them backpacking for five days in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Park. I rent some bear canisters at the Mountaineer in Keene Valley and happily meet them in Lake Placid.
The following morning we begin our trek. The park has had unprecedented volumes of traffic this summer so we choose a more obscure trailhead and head in to pitch our tents at the confluence of two noisy brooks. Over the next five days, we climb five spectacular peaks, swim in deliciously freezing mountain brooks and become immersed in the primeval qualities of this amazing place. There is enough room to pass by other hikers at a safe distance, but we adopt the command “Deploy!” when others are sighted and bring our buffs up over our faces as masks. We weren’t entirely removed from all of the weighty anxieties of 2020, but the overall experience was profoundly therapeutic for all.
Getting there: The Adirondacks are an easy four-hour drive from New York City.
The gear: You can rent from places like Gear to Go Outfitters and Outdoors Geek.
The prep: Read up on the different hikes before planning your trip. These are good for beginners. LAST WORD We want to see, hear, feel, support your art and response to this moment. To submit a poem, short story, artwork or any shareable experience, email us.
This week, we welcome artist Clarinda Mac Low. Mac Lowstarted out working in dance and molecular biology, and now creates participatory installations and events that investigate social constructs and corporeal experience. She is executive director of Culture Push, an experimental organization that links artistic practice and civic engagement, and co-director of Works on Water, an organization of artists and curators focused on water issues, as well as a medical journalist specializing in HIV/AIDS. Visit Mac Low’s website and Instagram page for more of her work.
“Sunk Shore” is a speculative fictional “tour” of the future, based on research into events expected to take place (and already happening) due to climate change. “Sunk Shore 2020” was created as part of “Walking the Edge,” a collaboration between Culture Push, Works on Water and the New York City Department of City Planning. The project was originally planned as a walk of all 520 miles of the city’s coastline, but because of the pandemic, it morphed into a five-month takeover of the Works on Water Instagram feed, where NYC artists prepared artworks and prompts that brought viewers to their shorelines. As part of Walking the Edge, Sunk Shore collaborators Clarinda Mac Low and Carolyn Hall created a tour of the future shorelines of the East River, time traveling to 2092, 2068 and 2043 through a series of video “documentations” from the different time periods.
This newsletter was written by Danielle Hyams, with contributions from Nitin Mukul and Gregory Reynolds. Photographs and design by Nitin Mukul and editing by Robin Cabana and Faye Chiu. Did you like it or find it useful? Tell a friend to sign up. Support our vendors, freelancers and efforts by making a donation to our tip jar.