Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dumbo Arts Festival 2008

The DUMBO Arts Festival (technically the Art Under the Bridge Festival) -- a crazy formless party of open studios, outdoor art, roving performances, and infectious fun -- is taking place this weekend in Brooklyn, and Jae and I went and checked it out a bit today.

I guess I was too busy taking it all in to really "cover" it, but here are a couple peeks.

It's going on all day Sunday, and everything is FREE, so if you're in the area come check it out!

Top right: I liked this installation on the stairs of an office building on Main Street.

At around 7pm, a band of drummers gathered on the corner of Front and Pearl. I caught them on video just as they were starting up, before they stirred up a huge crowd and marched into Rebar (a local hotspot) to blast the night away. (Turn up the sound on your computer!)

Walking down Pearl Street, we suddenly found ourselves showered with tiny soap bubbles. It was so pretty and mysterious, and it took us a minute to find the source: this third floor window of a loft building down the street.

One of the anchorages of the Manhattan Bridge has recently been opened up and it's my new favorite space in my favorite 'hood. It's huge and open, like a strange urban cathedral. Tonight there was a pretty interesting installation of video projections, and a giant form constructed from rebar uplit in green with flat screens perched on the ends. It was weird and engaging and beautiful.

The title is Pachyderm.

Posted and images by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Futerra's Greenwash Guide

If you run a "green" business, you probably want to avoid the pitfalls of greenwashing. And if you're a consumer of "green" products and services, you probably want to avoid the pitfalls of buying into greenwashing.

Luckily, the London-based sustainablility communications firm Futerra has released a very thorough guide to greenwashing, describing what it is and how to avoid being perceived as a greenwasher yourself (assuming your green efforts are in earnest, of course!).

Download the Greenwash Guide here.

It's a helpful resource to be sure, although I have one criticism: I think some of their graphic design, with it's pseudo-hand-drawn graphs and charts, might fall into the realm of hand-washing...?

[via LOHAS]

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image sourced here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Snacks - new feature!

I'm attempting a new feature today called Friday Snacks. It's basically a few links, calls for entries, and other cool stuff I've come across recently. Let's see if I can stick with it for more than just this week!

Enjoy the Snacks!

I am doubtful that I could make them as good as Hanco's, but it's good to have this recipe for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. [via Craftzine Blog]. (This is for you, Rena!)

Art21 Blog, which accompanies the PBS series, is really good, and my friend the culture pundit Hrag Vartanian is currently guest blogging.

The American Craft Council is now accepting applications for the Alt-Craft section of their huge annual American Craft Show in Baltimore. Deadline is Oct. 23. Email altcraft [at] craftcouncil [dot] org to find out how to apply. [image via Etsy]

Furniture Festival exhibitor David Gibbs and his project New York City Water Tower Furniture will be featured on the Discovery Channel on Oct. 6 at 6pm and Oct. 7 at 2am and 10am. Congrats, David!

I can't get enough of big knitting... This is a project by Jennifer Marsh [via Craftzine Blog].

I love this growing moss ring by Icelandic designer Hafsteinn Juliusson [via Inhabitat].


Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fall Furniture Festival - Images in Flickr Set

I've set up a Flickr set to make images of work by exhibitors in the upcoming Fall Furniture Festival available to bloggers, press, and anyone else who's curious. (We have 17 exhibitors confirmed so far, and more to come!)

I'll be adding more pictures as they come in. If you need high-res of anything, please contact me.

Check out all the images here.

A sneak peek:

Top: Long Bench built from old bowling alley wood by Counter Evolution NYC (Brooklyn).

Elsie Low Table by Nine Stories Furniture Co. (Brooklyn). "Veneered" with enameled metal salvaged from junk yard car bodies.
Hollow Chair by Brave Space Design (Brooklyn). Made from bamboo and non-toxic finishes.

Three-tier table by Benton Custom (Brooklyn). Roger Benton lines up the sapwood in these planks of walnut to evoke racing stripes.

Bilge Chair made from bourbon barrels by Uhuru. The base is made from truck springs.

More to come!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Images courtesy of the respective furniture makers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Recap of ACC Salon - Politics of Craft

With journalist and consumer culture critic Rob Walker moderating a discussion with the smart, articulate multi-hyphenates Sabrina Gschwandtner (pictured right) and Liz Collins (with Walker, left), Thursday night's Salon at the American Craft Council was a feast of ideas and engaging insights.

The entire event is available to download as a podcast, and it's worth a listen.

Prompted by Walker's thought-provoking questions, Collins and Gschwandtner spoke to such issues as "what role do craft and design play to promote change?", "What is the value of non-utilitarian public expressions of craft?", and "What is the effect of trendiness on the DIY movement?"

Their considered, honest responses touched on a number of topics, from the Luddite Movement as an example of how craft can effect change (fascinating!), to how the fact that works of craft suggest a bodily presence might explain why craft is so popular today in our increasingly digital age. They discussed the challenge of craft in the context of the third world, and craft as an alternative to mainstream consumer society.

Toward the end, American Craft Magazine editor Andrew Wagner asked Walker how he came to craft as a topic. Walker said he found it to be the most interesting thing happening in consumer and material culture today, and it presents questions about what it means to make something, to buy something, etc.

This was the last in the Summer Salon Series at the American Craft Council, and I look forward to the third season of Salons next summer (and hope the ACC Library will have more chairs by then!!)

Posted and photos by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Imagine if Obama Met with President Bartlett

If you were a fan of "The West Wing" as I was, you remember President Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen. You probably also remember wishing he was the real President.

Well, Maureen Dowd yesterday posted an OpEd in the New York Times written by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin that imagines a meeting between Senator Obama and President Bartlett that is a very entertaining and a somehow motivating way to start the work day.

Click here to read.

And now, in the words of Bartlett, "Ok, breaks over."
Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans. Image sourced here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Greenjeans Fall Furniture Festival at the Brooklyn Flea

Thanks to design*sponge for posting about our upcoming Fall Furniture Festival at the Brooklyn Flea!

The Furniture Festival, which takes place every Sunday in October at the Brooklyn Flea, will feature local and regional furniture makers, focusing on Brooklyn designer/makers including Standard 41, Brave Space Design, Counter Evolution NYC, City Joinery, and many more.

Click here for the list of participating furniture makers and the Sundays their work will be shown -- and check back to see who has been added!

Read all about the Fall Furniture Festival.

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Top image: screenshot of design*sponge.
Bottom image: Fall Furniture Festival e-flyer.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Handcrafted Living" = More Handwashing

Saw this on the Lower East Side tonight. It's a poster for new condos going up in Williamsburg called the SteelWorks Lofts. The picture is of a welder, and their catchphrase? "Handcrafted Living."

It's great that the condo developers are working with local manufacturers on their project (though my bet is that it's not that exceptional).

But seriously -- if this isn't a gem of "handwashing" (like greenwashing, but related to co-opting the handmade) I don't know what is.

Less cynical posts (my visit to 3rd Ward today, the ACC Salon tonight, the Furniture Festival coming up) coming soon!

Posted and image by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ACC Salon Thursday! - Rob Walker, Sabrina Gschwandtner, and Liz Collins

The last Salon of the season -- not to be missed!

"The Politics of Craft"
Rob Walker in conversation with
Sabrina Gschwandtner & Liz Collins

With one of the most important elections of our era around the corner, join us in investigating craft’s relationship to politics and its role in addressing issues of urgency in our world today.

Rob Walker, a New York Times columnist and author, interviews makers Sabrina Gschwandtner, of KnitKnit, and Liz Collins, knitwear designer and founder of Knitting Nation.

American Craft Council Library
72 Spring St., 6th floor
6–7pm, reception to follow

RSVP to or (212)274–0630 x272.

Posted and image by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Friday, September 12, 2008

63 Chairs at the Red Hook Art Lot

The Art Lot in Red Hook (Brooklyn) has had this great installation up all summer. I only learned about it today.

It's by RISD alums Bill Hilgendorf (half of furniture makers Uhuru Design) and Maria Cristina Rueda. It is made up of discarded chairs they found on the sidewalk around Brooklyn on trash pickup days. (San men call that "mongo.")

Some find it unconscionably horrendous (philistines!!), but I love it.

The Art Lot is at Columbia and Sackett. [Map]

Happy weekend!

Posted and photo by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Blog Tip: Increase Font Size

Trouble reading small type online?

Did you know if (on a Mac) you press Command and "+" at the same time it'll make all the text on your scree larger? Command and "-" makes it small again.

Not sure what the PC code is, but it really helps when fonts are teeny tiny...

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Greenjeans Review: Louise Bourgeois at Guggenheim

(Note: I don't know what's up with the font tonight. Can't seem to fix it...)

“You, my daughter, need never handle a needle. Women are not supposed to be only craftswomen, they are supposed to have a career.” So admonished her mother when Louise Bourgeois was a girl, assisting her parents in their tapestry repair business by stitching in missing motifs. Her mother, an ardent feminist, had greater dreams for her daughter. [Ref.]

I wonder if she’d ever have imagined her daughter would become one of the greatest sculptors in modern Western art, one known among other things for her use, physically and metaphorically, of needle and thread.

The retrospective of artist Louise Bourgeois at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (on view thru September 28) presents work spanning the artist’s staggering 70+ year career, from her early surrealist paintings and modernist marble sculpture to room-like installations from the ‘90s and more recent hand-stitched burlap figures. It is an emotionally charged show, a feast of form, and an absorbing study in the possibilities for visual story-telling.

As incredibly evocative and associative her work is, as viewers we’re never sure how literally we’re meant to take it. Much of Bourgeois’ work is about navigating the puzzle of her childhood memories and it often feels very raw and exposed. Yet at the same time it remains very private, perhaps even coded: a staircase with space behind for hiding, young hands caressing old hands rendered lifelike in marble, an abstract fantasia of patricide. She often furnishes her work with everyday objects she’s collected over the years: large spools of thread, worn children’s garments, small empty bottles of Shalomar. We feel we can relate, even if we don’t know the specifics.

Bourgeois is the type of artist for whom the creative process is cathartic, a salve for her inner self that was wounded by some traumatic experience early in life. We read that her father had conspicuous extramarital affairs and her parents argued terribly, but beyond that we’re left to wonder. We must take her word for it when she embroiders “Art is the guarantee of sanity” and “I need my memories. They are my documents.” (The strong sexuality of her work I think is more a celebration and embracing than some latent admission of abuse as some suggest.)

It follows, then, that so much of her work would concern needles and thread whether literally or figuratively. A gigantic curved needle is threaded with a thick length of flax, large spools of red and blue thread populate a space suggesting a dress shop, rough fabric dolls sport visual hand stitching and overstuffed limbs. There is embroidery, there are balls of yarn, there are paintings of scissors.

Relatedly, labor is also a significant aspect to her work, both in terms of the labor-intensive processes she chooses (needlepoint embroidery, exquisite marble carving and finishing) and the idea of labor as a subject. Her lifelong fascination with life’s everyday labors, whether animal or human, is recurrent: coupling, birthing, building, dwelling, dying. Making art. From the mysterious hive-like Lairs to the bronze spiders, their legs like bent pins, she is creating homage to nature’s thread-makers, weavers, and builders through her own threading, weaving, and building. I couldn’t help but think of the narrative thread of life, the stitching together of memories.

Bourgeois’ work is extremely personal, even private, and yet incredibly exposed. The mood she creates becomes the record: this happened, I saw this, I heard this, I felt this way. Its power lies in how it doesn’t just show us, but pierces us and laces into our own memories and emotions, as though her work is speaking directly to our own experiences, drawing us in tightly together. In this way it recalled to me the sculpture of Martin Puryear (reviewed in this blog earlier this year).

My attempt at grasping the “craftliness” of Bourgeois’ work denies how enormously complex, layered, and mysterious her work is. One could visit the show fifty times and have fifty different experiences. At the age of 96, I am told that Louise Bourgeois still works every day in her Chelsea studio, and hosts regular salons with younger artists so she can stay fresh and inspired. She wrote on one piece, “It is not so much where my motivation comes from as how it manages to survive.” If only we could all own that secret.

Following its presentation at the Guggenheim, the exhibition will travel to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in fall 2008 and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington , D.C., in winter 2009. Catalog available.

PHOTO CREDITS (top to bottom):

Louise Bourgeois with FEMME VOLAGE (1951, Coll: Guggenheim Museum, New York), in the mid-1960s.
Photo: Louise Bourgeois Archive

Louise Bourgeois
NO EXIT, 1989
Wood, painted metal and rubber
82 1/2 x 84 x 96”; 209.5 x 213.3 x 243.8 cm.
Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création, Paris
Photo: Rafael Lobato
© Louise Bourgeois

Installation view of Spider Couple, Untitled, and Untitled at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2008
© Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation New York
Photo by David Heald

Louise Bourgeois
Watercolor, ink, oil, charcoal and pencil on paper
23 3/4 x 19”; 60.3 x 48.2 cm.
Courtesy Cheim & Read, Galerie Karsten Greve, and Hauser & Wirth
Photo: Christopher Burke
© Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois in 2003.
Photo: Nanda Lanfranco

Louise Bourgeois
Red Room (Child), 1994
Mixed media
83 x 139 x 108”; 210.8 x 353 x 274.3 cm.
Collection Musee d’art contemporain de Montreal
Photo: Marcus Schneider
© Louise Bourgeois

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Laura Su's Jewelry (Prismera Design) on the Runway!

I received an email today that made me so proud and happy for our friend Laura Su, formerly the manager at Rare Device when our shops were neighbors in Park Slope.

Laura is the woman behind Prismera Design, and her jewelry has recently rocketed right to the New York Fashion Week runway! Check it out on her blog here.

We featured Laura's work in our jewelry show "Summer Succulents" last summer, for which she designed the amazing Titanopsis Necklace (pictured on the runway model here) along with a few other pieces. She credits our show with inspiring her to come up with this collection that's been getting so much attention lately. I can't describe how proud that makes me feel!

(BTW, that's a bamboo jersey gown the model is wearing by Elizabeth Mason Couture -- tres eco chic.)

Laura totally deserves this attention -- she's a lovely person who has been working very hard at her collections. I wish her every success!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image sourced here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fashion at the Brooklyn Flea

Let's call it "Flea Fabulous."

Last weekend we noticed that, wow, people really DRESS to come to the Flea! And I don't think it's just that Fashion Week is going on in town...

From 60's-retro girls to Japanese hipsters, it seemed like everyone is dressed to express at the Brooklyn Flea.

From our spot near the Vanderbilt entrance we have a great view and I couldn't resist snapping pictures for a while. (All taken 9/7/08.) What an eclectic runway of looks!

[Click here for all 28 pics.]

The Flea is second-to-none for people watching in general, and checking out creative looks especially. As if the food, the awesome vendors, and the socializing weren't reason enough to come to the Flea!

Want to see more? Click here...

Posted and all pics by Greenjeans.

Friday, September 05, 2008

New Issue of Greenjeans Gazette

After a little summer hiatus, the latest issue of the Greenjeans Gazette is up!

Our monthly e-newsletter offers a digest of recent news from Greenjeans, along with highlights from the blog, upcoming events, and more.

Click here to read the latest issue.

Or sign up to receive the Greenjeans Gazette directly in your inbox.

Thank you for reading!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image: screenshot of Sept. '08 issue of the Greenjeans Gazette.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Faythe Levine in the New York Times

Congratulations to the amazing Faythe Levine for the awesome profile in today's New York Times!

Faythe is one of the most creative and artful people I've ever met. She is the woman behind Handmade Nation, the forthcoming doc and book about the nationwide indie/DIY movement. She runs the Milwaukee shop Paper Boat Boutique. And she organizes the annual Milwaukee fair Art vs. Craft. Not to mention the zillions of other projects large and small she has a hand in.

Read all about this and more in the article.

I hope this well-deserved attention brings lots of good fortune to you, Faythe!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Photo sourced from the New York Times.
Hat tip to Craftzine blog.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sustainable Furniture Council

As my research into the furniture market deepens, today I discovered the Sustainable Furniture Council -- a new non-profit industry association that offers education and certification -- and their very informative website.

It is worth sharing their smart Take Action section:

Questions one might want to ask when buying furniture:
  • What are the products made of?
  • Where and how were the materials procured?
  • If made of wood, was it legally harvested?
  • How are they processed into finished goods?
  • What is the environmental impact?
  • What will happen to the product after its served its purpose?
Things you can start doing today:

Make My Company Greener
Make My Store Greener
Make My Home Greener
Make My Textile Choices Greener

Like that? The Resources section offers tons more links and documents. Furniture people take note!

This is good stuff, but before I become a joiner I want to learn more about this organization, wary as I am of greenwashing these days -- who is behind it and what are their true goals?

I appreciate the resource in any case, and am glad to know this exists.

Anyone reading this a member or know more about it?

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Screenshot taken here.