This gallery contains 6 photos.
Rochester is now starring as the stunt double for New York City in Spiderman 2. And it’s making some Rochesterians as mad as the Incredible Hulk
The news from Staten Island, it’s not all bad.
For the most part, everything seems – SEEMS – like it’s back to normal after Sandy, the worst storm in Staten Island’s 300-year history.
The stores are hopping with Christmas shoppers.
The streets are typically jammed with traffic.
The noisy holiday revelry in local restaurants with present opening, reindeer antler wearing patrons lay on an extra surreal layer to this island that everything is okay.
Last night, my husband and I ate at Euro-trendy Alor Cafe. As we dined on crepes and roasted Barramundi and sipped our Riesling and Merlot, we listened to a trio of flamenco guitarists:
All this normalcy takes place above “the Boulevard.”
Drive below the Boulevard, in the neighborhood where I grew up and my parents still live, things get strange.
Everywhere, there are subtle and not so subtle reminders of how Sandy reaffirmed for many Staten Islanders why the Island’s South Shore has the dubious distinction for being named ”Zone A.”
First, you notice the inspection postings that dot a front window on nearly every residence:
Then, there are the police cars that are out on nearly every corner. All day and all night:
And on the other side of the field, some more harsh evidence of Sandy:
On the other side of my childhood neighborhood are the eclectic bungalow-lined streets of Cedar Grove. Though I didn’t know anyone who lived here, I am thankful for the peacefulness these streets offered me in my teen years. These are the streets where I felt safe riding my bicycle. Many of these streets now have RED inspection stickers which mean that most of these houses are no longer safe to inhabit.
Even the neighborhoods makeshift 9/11 memorial had been destroyed by the storm surge:
As I walked these streets in the low December sun, I thought to myself: Am I a disaster tourist? Am I just a gawker?
No. No I’m not.
I couldn’t bring myself to take photos of the most badly damaged homes. The ones reduced to rubble. I felt by taking photos of these homes, I would be just be further violating the homeowner’s dignity. FOX news and CNN took photos of the worst, only to chase the next big news story and forget about this place just weeks later.
In this tucked-away corner of Staten Island, I’m not a tourist, though I no longer live here. I want to show the world these secret streets, to show them in their continued state of misery. Even though the media has moved on.
Don’t forget this strong and dignified neighborhood, however modest their homes.
Still there are signs of hope. This beautiful Spanish-mission styled church still stands:
Outside of a makeshift relief center where residents can get food, drinks and even Christmas gifts, there is this tree, with a sign of hope and resilience:
Here is my article on Susan Ferrari Rowley’s Rochester exhibit which ran in the November 11, 2012 Living Section of the Democrat 7 Chronicle:
In the male-dominated world of art, it’s tough to be a woman sculptor. Women artists seldom get the space they deserve in the pages of an Art History 101 textbook.
The exclusion of works by women is further evidenced in the inventory of American museums, where only about 5 percent of museum collections include works by women artists, according to the Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. An even smaller percentage include sculptures by women.
That is why Robin Muto, who is the co-curator of one of Rochester’s newer galleries, AXOM Gallery & Exhibition Space, jumped at the opportunity to show the work of Rochester-based minimalist sculptor Susan Ferrari Rowley in an exhibit specifically designed for the studio’s airy, high-ceilinged space.
“New Directions,” on exhibit at AXOM, 176 Anderson Ave., through Saturday, offers the viewer a range of human emotions in stark white fabrics, stretched and sewn onto soldered aluminum frames. The works will head to New York City’s OK Harris gallery in December.
Contrast in form
“New Directions” reveals Rowley’s current migration from creating larger outdoor and public sculptures to works scaled for private residences. Asymmetric pieces likeInseparable, Centered and Off-Balance exude an edgy tension as they balance precariously on pedestals Rowley custom designed to be just big enough for their footprint.
The “living on the edge” quality of these smaller works also suggests anatomical elements of a body, legs and arms. A calming, translucent glow that seems to start from within the sculptures hints at an inner soul.
Rowley’s sculptures are a contrast of materials and moods. They are large and imposing, yet they invite the viewer to come closer. Through cloth and metal and angular and curved lines, the exhibit of about a dozen abstract pieces can be experienced by stepping around, over and through them.
Outside the main gallery is the story of the art through photos of Rowley making them in her Scottsville studio.
The dominating work in “New Directions” is 4-2-2, a 10-foot composition of three geometric forms. This construct of three white, billowy shapes gives off a peaceful, translucent glow made possible by the carefully placed overhead track lighting. At the same time, three enormous metal poles that extend from the floor to the 14-foot ceiling impale the composition. The very moment of this piercing appears to be captured within the tension of the cloth.
Though abstract and stark in composition, 4-2-2 was created out of a very human emotion: the heartbreak of impending loss. Rowley says it was inspired by the death of her dog Tu-Tu (pronounced tiyu-tiyu), who was a loyal companion for almost 14 years.
Rowley melds techniques like sewing, traditionally regarded as a feminine skill that she learned from her grandmother, with the more masculine crafts of soldering metal and machine tooling. The combined media make each sculpture confrontational in its large scale, yet lightweight and vulnerable in overall appearance.
“I like to work in opposites,” says Rowley, associate professor of fine arts at Monroe Community College. “Metal is hard, and poly fiber fabric is soft. There are male and female qualities, a vulnerability yet strength in my work that are emotions I needed to embrace in my own life as I evolved as an artist.”
A cause in jewelry
“New Directions” also includes Angular Extremes, wearable bracelet art that is the result of Rowley’s tenacious three-year campaign to convince American machine tooling factories and other manufacturers that they can make art and jewelry.
The aluminum bracelets are cast in a Milwaukee factory that did not think they were cut out to manufacture jewelry until Rowley talked them into it. The bracelets are shipped to Rochester, where another company provides the black-and-white nickel color coating.
She then designs the boxes, made from post-consumer recycled materials, with New York’s Jamestown Container.
It is a company where her late mother-in-law spent most of her working life. The label for the packaging was produced by another American company.
These bracelets are also part of the AXOM exhibit and available for purchase at Shop One2 Gallery on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus and the Memorial Art Gallery Store.
Influences on work
Growing up on Long Island, Rowley developed an appreciation for the arts by making treks into New York City. She found art in museums, but also in the windows of Macy’s or in the hand-drawn fashion advertisements in the Sunday New York Times.
On a sixth-grade field trip to the Museum of Modern Art, Rowley fell for a sculpture of abstract feminist sculptor Louise Nevelson. Rowley had found her calling.
“I remember on the train ride home thinking, ‘Making sculptures and placing them on pedestals, that’s what I want to do with my life!’ ” she says.
Later in graduate school, Rowley wanted to find additional 20th century female sculptors to emulate. She had studied the work of Constantin Brancusi and Marcel Duchamp. Then she found fiberglass artist Eva Hesse and sculptor and printmaker Nancy Graves.
“When I read about their lives and how they struggled as women sculptors, their drive inspired me. I knew if I was driven, I would be OK,” Rowley says. “I had to live up to my potential; I had to produce and show as a woman sculptor.”
More than 30 years into her career, Rowley still possesses that drive. She sometimes works alone in her studio. Sometimes she is “making it happen” on group collaborations. In 2004, she proved to be a quick study on zoning and construction codes when she designed relief art for noise-barrier panels placed along Rochester’s western highways for the New York Department of Transportation.
Rowley also made a suspended sculpture for the set of Garth Fagan’sLight Night and Melanin.
The diversification of work, trying to make it fit in several situations, is what she tries to impart to her MCC students, says Rowley, who received the 2011 SUNY Chancellor’s Award of Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.
“I tell my students that our brains have tremendous capacity to diversify,” she says. “Artists today have to have communication and business skills as well as artistic talents, especially when they are commissioned on a piece and will need to work with those with non-artistic backgrounds.”
Saturday night, the night my parents went to a double wake for two Staten Islanders who drowned in their basement when the ocean came in, my faith was totally shaken.
I’m normally a person pretty strong in my faith, pretty sure that God has a plan and we can’t understand it. I pride myself in holding strong to my Jewish heritage and encourage my students to do the same.
But the other night, if just for a few hours, I gave up.
I went to bed in a dark place, filled with the images of helpless cold people from the neighborhoods of my childhood. I went to bed angry, completely pissed off at God. God, I thought, didn’t you promise to Noah never to destroy the earth again by flood? What was that about? Why do we humans have to see floods over and over again? How am I supposed to get up and teach my students tomorrow about your blessings, for blessing us with everything we need like food and shelter when there are people like my parents who are still without power and warmth in their own homes? When there is a wife who has lost a twin son and her husband AND her home in one single wave?
Lesson learned: when you go do bed angry at God, you don’t receive the blessing of sleep.
The next morning was Sunday. The sun shone brightly. Even when you can’t see it, there is the sun.
In New York City, it was Marathon Sunday. Fortunately, Mayor Bloomberg came to his senses and cancelled the marathon, but not before thousands of marathoners traveled just to be stuck and cold in the big apple. For me, it was off to teach Hebrew school, which opens each week with me helping to lead a tefilah,or prayer service, for students 7th grade and up.
Before going to bed, I expressed my very dark thoughts about prayer and God very honestly to my boss.I wasn’t feeling very thankful to God after days of looking at the destruction, and learning how close death hit to home.
Thankfully, she sent me some reinforcement. The rabbi of the temple Sunday morning addressed the kids so thoughtfully and patiently. She told us, yes, we can still feel blessed by God for God’s daily miracles: for giving us the ability to stand, to see, for giving us food and clothing. We do not despair or feel guilty for the blessings we have but instead use tefilah, to inspire us to help others in crisis. Just being together in a room of people joining together makes you realize you are not alone in sadness, and praying together can lead to hopefulness and action.
That afternoon I got a call from mom. She was overwhelmed with gratitude. She said Angels came to Staten Island that day. Would-be marathon runners took the ferry and ran around the island.
Thousands of them took to the streets, knocked on doors and started helping out and cleaning out. Several of them descended at my parents house and emptied the contents of my parent’s waterlogged basement.
Back here, in Rochester, many fundraising and relief efforts are underway including the Sea Breeze Fire Association collecting and then driving down a truck load of supplies to Staten Island and Long Island.
Brighton and Pittsford kids next week are organizing a bagel breakfast for pick up or delivery to benefit the New York Mayor‘s Fund for sandy relief, aptly named Sand-Aid.
These are indeed dark days and it will take a lot of fundraisers like this in the weeks and months to come, even after the media finds another story to cover. But with relief efforts like this, there will be light again.
These are the blocks I used to bike through as a kid. Fox Beach was the detour my sixth grade bus took each morning to pick up a few kids on the way to school. The street was so narrow the bus could barely squeeze by.
These tiny bungalows, once used as summer getaways for the elite Manhattanites in the 1920s, became the blue-collar neighborhoods of my childhood in Staten Island. Tucked away “below the Boulevard,” the streets around New Dorp and Cedar Grove beaches had a feeling that they had been left back in time. Mom and pop delis and restaurants. Hardly any cars came by in these quiet narrow streets a few blocks off the water.
Out the window of my childhood bedroom, beyond another block of townhouses and a wetland field, I could see the ocean. Almost a week ago, this ocean swept into the old neighborhood. My parents evacuated, but neighbors who stayed behind said a wall of water came charging down the block, flooding basements and first floors, and then rushed back to sea as quickly as it came.
Here is a Youtube video posted on Facebook by one of my former high school classmates. Please watch it. Please, in your prayers, don’t forget Staten Island, the forgotten borough, it’s full of some great people.
This post is long overdue, but WordPress put up the perfect photo challenge to (kick me in the pants and get writing) I mean, get me motivated:
What is urban? This is what true urbanism should be. A blend of city and nature on a perfect summer day.
I went to a lot of places over the summer, but my favorite destination, for always, remains:
New York City.
It’s a place where I grew up, and you’d think I would be tired of it already. Seen it all. Been there. Done that.
That’ll never happen. Because there is always something New to discover in New York City. Even for us natives.
For example, in our annual summer visit to New York City, we toured the High Line.
Opened in recent years and built on refurbished elevated rail lines, the High Line lets the visitor walk the thin line between street level and the heights of skyscrapers. It is a strip of gardens, fountains and orchards that blooms right between steel, brick and glass and wooden water towers. It repurposes an older structure that would have otherwise been torn down and instead has been transformed into a public space and one of the best places to snap pictures in all of New York City.
It goes on for about 20 blocks above the West Side’s meat-packing district and there are plans to extend the High Line to more of the old abandoned El.
With fountains, flowers and musical and cultural events, all set in a shining beacon of sustainable public space, to me it’s the best 20 blocks you can walk right now in NYC.
I shot these photos on my dad’s Nikon:
It’s been more than a few weeks since I’ve written about my garden. I’ve had to pack the kids for camp. I was away visiting family and friends in New York City. There are several writing deadlines I must complete before the end of next week. And the family is in a bit of transition. More on that in a later post.
But, at the beginning of the summer, I said I would post about my garden, and I’ve got to get back on track.
Since early May I have been tending a 10 x 10 foot plot in my town’s community garden. I have been watering diligently
through this very dry summer.
When I was away, I left my garden in the care of some friends who have a plot adjacent to mine. They have a garden that is not only well cared for but is sealed like a fortress against any critters that may want to feast on their crops.
After a week of being away, I was tempted to drive out to the garden the night we arrived home. But there were kids and suitcases to unpack and get into the house. The garden would have to wait.
No one can tell me that there isn’t a time difference between New York City and Rochester.
Maybe its just the pace of time that moves faster “downstate” because when we returned from our week away in good ‘ol NYC, I was exhausted and slept until after 8 that morning.
I tried to push some energy into my voice when the phone rang and woke me at 8:15.
It was my gardening friend.
“Have you been over to the garden? I didn’t wake you? Did I?”
No, of course you didn’t wake me, I said, faking a wide awake tone into my voice. But, considering I just got home at nine the night before, and my garden would not be visible in the darkness.
I thought, is she mad? I’m still in downstate jet lag…why don’t Rochesterians get that there exists jetlag when returning from New York City? And you don’t even need to fly to get it!
“Well, you should get over there soon. Your garden is becoming known as the Garden that Ate the Community Garden!”
Indeed. In just one week’s time, my garden had exploded.
Now, compare my community garden at its humble beginnings back in May:
I cleared it and planted tiny seeds:
Sunflowers have grown taller than my tallest child.
Both the sunflowers – and the children
Pumpkin vines are creeping everywhere. I’ve actually received gentle reminders from my garden neighbors to please retrain my vines back into my garden plot and out of the common garden paths.
And, unlike a sun deprived pumpkin vine, not only am I getting blossoms that have been host to a number of pollen-intoxicated bees, but I actually have 5-10 pumpkins taking shape. I’ll need to make a lot of pumpkin pie this fall.
Not to mention a lot of tomato sauce:
The full sun of the garden has produced such strong leaves on my tomato plants, it looks like they’ve been going to the gym.
There have been some failures, of course every garden has them. My eggplant plants were eaten first by beetles and then strangled and overgrown by the invasive pumpkin vines.
The basil seeds I sprinkled never made it in this dry summer without a good daily watering.
But so far, this experiment in community gardening is paying off. Harvested my first crop of purple beans for dinner last night:
Just got back from a visit from “the old country,” New York City, to visit family and friends. And I can’t stop raving about The Bronx.
We just returned from a place blooming with lilies and hyacinth, filled with beautiful views of the Palisades, the Hudson River and gracious stately homes and gardens.
I’m talking about the Bronx here. Da Bronx. Really!
As a fifth-generation native New Yorker, a lot of my family has roots in the Bronx. My father and grandfathers were born there as well as my father-in-law. But, at the height of the urban blight of the 1970s and 1980s, it was not exactly somewhere we went exploring when I was growing up outside of a trip to the Bronx Zoo.
When most think of the Bronx, they conjure images like urban blight. A crumbling school in the south Bronx that caught fire shortly before game 2 of the 1977 World Series inspired the book “The Bronx is Burning ” by Jonathan Mahler
Or, perhaps they think of the massive, impersonal apartment complexes they sluggishly traverse the Cross Bronx Expressway on their way to the Long Island Sound or the George Washington Bridge :
But on my last visit, my family and I got to visit the Bronx’s best-kept secrets: The Cloisters Museum and Wave Hill.
The Cloisters, right on the Manhattan-Bronx border, is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that specializes in European Medieval Art. It is set in a castle-like building jutting over the Hudson River set on four acres of parkland. If you have the time on your next visit and already paid admission to the main branch of the Met on Fifth Avenue, you can treat yourself to this as well:
Wave Hill Public Garden and Cultural Center
Further up the road, and I’m talking a country road that makes one feel as if they are in the middle of the countryside and not just 10 miles from Midtown Manhattan, is Wave Hill. Surrounded by 19th Century mansions,
Wave Hill is a semi-private park that consists of gardens and mansions once leased by the Roosevelts and Mark Twain. In the 1960′s, the Perkins-Freeman family, founding partners of J.P. Morgan, donated the land to New York City, allowing the rest of us New Yorkers, for a small admission fee, to afford views like this:
So, next time you find yourself in New York City, do yourself a favor and visit upper Manhattan and The Bronx. You might find a unicorn:
Or even a fair Bronx princess:
Everyone in my nuclear family loves LOVES pumpkin pie. And for only the second time in 12 years, my pumpkin-pie eating little family of five will not be going over the NY Thruway and through any tunnels or bridges to New York City. Nope, as much as we love seeing the family and sitting in 10 hours of traffic, this year, we are staying put.
When you are Transplantednorth, there are some disadvantages of being a nuclear family in a town where it seems you are surrounded by friends who all have extended family in town. Come holidays like Thanksgiving, you once again become the disappearing transplant.
I’m not complaining, really. This was my choice to stay “home.” But can a place be home where there are no extended family within 300 miles? The rest of the year, Rochester indeed feels like home. Come holidays, without aunts, uncles cousins and grandparents around, it can feel like how the Ingalls family must have felt on the wild, windblown frontier.
But this is a story about pareve pumpkin pie.
One small advantage of staying put (okay my kids will think a big advantage) is that at our Thanksgiving table, we’ll have pumpkin pie.
As much as she has tried to like it, my mom does not like anything pumpkin. My kids, however, can’t get enough of the orange stuff. I put it in breads, waffles and pancakes. I even made a pumpkin challah just so I can make pumpkin challah stuffing.
But, most of you know that pumpkin pie calls for milk, cream, condensed milk, or some other dairy ingredient. This poses a challenge to Jewish families like ours who observe the dietary laws of keeping kosher.
There are ways to get around the dairy dilemma by finding pareve ingredients.
What is pareve? Not many know. It is so esoteric, the word does not appear in the WordPress spellcheck.
It’s a term meaning food that is neither meat or dairy. It’s neutral. Like Switzerland. Does it taste as creamy and delicious as real cream? No. But, I’d rather have an imitation dairy dessert any day than serving a Tofurky at my Thanksgiving feast!
Here is the recipe. I based it on a recipe used from Martha Stewart Living, I just replaced the dairy ingredients with some stuff called Coffee Rich, found in the frozen section of most grocery stores. For those of you in upstate New York, I found this chemical-laden substance at Tops, and not Wegmans this year. But I still love you, Wegmans.
All-purpose flour, for surface
- Pate Brisee for Traditional Pumpkin Pie
- 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
- 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1 Cup Pareve Nondairy Creamer, like Coffee Rich
- Ground cloves
- Whipped cream, for serving
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
On a lightly floured surface, roll pate brisee disk 1/8 inch thick, then cut into a 16-inch circle. Fit circle into a 9-inch deep-dish pie dish, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fold edges under. Shape large, loose half circles at edge of dough, then fold into a wavelike pattern to create a fluted edge. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork. Freeze for 15 minutes. Cut a circle of parchment, at least 16 inches wide, and fit into pie shell. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. – Buy a premade Pareve piecrust. Bake until edges of crust begin to turn gold, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool.
- Meanwhile, whisk pumpkin, sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, eggs, creamer, and a pinch of cloves in a large bowl.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Transfer pie dish to a rimmed baking sheet, and pour pumpkin mixture into cooled crust. Bake until center is set but still a bit wobbly, 50 to 55 minutes. (If crust browns too quickly, tent edges with a strip of foil folded in half lengthwise.) Let cool in pie dish on a wire rack. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours (preferably overnight.
Then, at night, images of the World Trade Center entered my dreams at least twice a month, for the next nine years.
It’s no wonder I dreamed about these iconic buildings, buildings I grew up with, beamed with pride at.
But the last time I saw them was looking out at them from my grandmother’s hospital window. It was July of 2001. Though they passed away years later, my grandparent’s health in earnest began to fail that summer. As I held her hand,I said to her “Hey, at least you have a great view of downtown. Look at the Towers. Look how beautiful they are.”
And they were on that day, across the East River. So crisp a view.
And just a few weeks before September 11, my dad had a heart attack. He did survive, to teach, to live, to continue biking and traveling, and enjoying his grandchildren. But I think it was the attacks of 9/11 that truly broke his heart.
So, is it any wonder my brain created for years images of the World Trade Center?
Sometimes in my dreams I would be falling, floating up, up, up, past desks and cubicles and giant, narrow office windows.
Other times, I’d be in an elevator, thinking, I shouldn’t be here, I need to get out of here.
In some dreams, I’d be outside, and there they were, the Twin Towers, just there, like they were a backdrop in a movie.
Or, they would appear as ghost buildings with police barricades around them. I’d walk past them and yell at them. Go away. You are gone. You shouldn’t be here any more.
Upon wakening, I wouldn’t always remember that I dreamed right away. Of course, it would hit me in the middle of my day. I’d be in the cereal aisle at the supermarket, and I would stop dead. Cold. Oh, God. I dreamed about them. I dreamed about the Towers again.
But now, 10 years later, the dreams have stopped. They stopped when Osama bin Laden was finally, justly, wiped from the face of the earth. They stopped when finally, Ground Zero was no longer just an empty, gaping hole but the beginnings of the newly emerging Freedom Tower. New York is rising again.
I know that putting a building back up cannot bring back the souls lost on 9/11, but it is my hope that this new, so carefully thought out complex of buildings and memorials can help ease the dreams and memories of so many of the families from tomorrow and onward. I wish them only the sweetest of dreams.