Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Verrazano Vineyard? The Only Vineyard in New York City is Underway

The God and Goddess of Wine by Cynthia von Buhler.

While I have my ear to the ground on Staten Island this bit of news actually came to me from my Italian gallery partner, Stefania Carrozzini, at our ("Carrozzini von Buhler Gallery "in Manhattan). I was telling her how much she would love it here and how so many people speak Italian when she said "Si, I know all about it. I read about it in the New York Times the other day. They are making wine there."


So, I dug around online and found the article. Here it is:

A Toast to Tuscany, With a Staten Island Red
Published: November 13, 2007, The New York Times

"CRESPINA, Italy, Nov. 7 — The visit to this picturesque corner of Tuscany probably will not spawn a best-selling sequel with a title like “Under the Staten Island Sun.” But in the not-too-distant future, Staten Island will bring a little bit of Tuscany to New York, in the form of a vineyard being developed at the Staten Island Botanical Garden.

A group of businessmen from the borough spent a few days this month rambling through lush vineyards, Renaissance villas and an Etruscan tomb, seeking the essence of the Tuscan experience to transplant back home. They hope the vineyard, which they said would be the first large-scale venture of its kind in the city, will entice more visitors to the oft-forgotten borough.

“We were looking for something to draw tourists off the ferry and see what Staten Island has to offer,” said Henry Arlin Salmon, a Staten Island real estate appraiser and one of the members of the Tuscan Gardens Vineyard Founders Group, which is behind the planned winery.

The Tuscan angle seemed natural, considering that nearly 38 percent of Staten Island residents are of Italian ancestry, according to the 2000 Census, more than any other county in the United States, said Joseph J. LiBassi, a promoter of the vineyard project and a member of the botanical garden’s board. “The vineyard encapsulates what Italians brought to Staten Island: agriculture, wine, culture.”

Of course, he added, the vineyard should appeal to non-Italians, too. “There are a lot of wine aficionados,” he said.

Work on the vineyard should start in the spring on about two acres of botanical garden land next to the Tuscan Villa and the Tuscan Garden exhibitions under construction. (The Tuscan Garden is based on the Villa Gamberaia, at Settignano, near Florence.)

Experts in viticulture and enology at Cornell University are helping determine which Italian grape varieties will have the best chance of thriving on Staten Island, “which can get pretty damp,” Mr. Salmon said. Because it is illegal to import vine cuttings into the United States, the plants will most likely come from vineyards in upstate New York or, perhaps, California.

Eventually, the idea is to make red wine — and someday maybe white — from the 2,000 vines that organizers of the vineyard figure will be planted at the botanical garden. It will be years, however, before anyone can get a tasting of Staten Island red.

As for potential names for the winery? Mr. LiBassi proposed “Crespina Staten Wine.”

R. Randy Lee, a real estate developer and the chairman of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, suggested “Vespucci” or “Verrazano.”

The wine is also expected to incorporate the kind of heritage grape varieties that would have been known in colonial times.

“After all, George Washington wasn’t importing wines from Tuscany,” Mr. Lee said. “I’m not sure how it will taste, but we want to reproduce it.”

The interest in heritage grape varieties is one reason the Staten Island delegation came to this part of Tuscany, to meet with Piergiorgio Castellani, a winemaker trying to save indigenous local grape varieties from extinction.

Mr. Castellani plans to travel to Staten Island in February to provide technical assistance on the vineyard. The borough, he said, “is not the best microclimate in the world; it’s close to a large city, there’s pollution. So they have to find a compromise solution that will mix resistant, adaptable vines with the right Tuscan varieties.”

Mr. Castellani, who escorted the Staten Island group to the University of Pisa to meet with viticulture experts, added: “The principal aim of the project is didactic. We’ve given them a broad basis of knowledge so they can go forward.”

Once the vineyard is up and running, visitors will be able to follow winemaking from the vine to the bottle.

“It’s basically chemistry; you mash grapes, and there’s a chemical reaction,” Mr. Salmon said. “Let’s face it, wine is exciting.”

The visit from the Staten Island delegation caused a major buzz in this small town roughly 21 miles south of Pisa that is known for its hoot owls. Officials in Crespina were thrilled when Staten Island officials accepted their invitation to be a sister city. “For a town of 4,000, it was like entering a skyscraper,” said Thomas D’Addona, Crespina’s mayor.

In addition to a small parade down the town’s main street (serenaded by the Walking Sharks Street Band) and a crossbow demonstration, the town’s celebrations included a photo session with Giancarlo Giannini, an Italian movie star who has a home in the area.

A previous sister city partnership with the French town of Penchard some time ago was kept alive for a few years and then passed into oblivion, local officials said. But the vineyard at the botanical garden, everyone involved agreed, will be one tangible link across the ocean.

“If they want us for the grape harvest, we’ll be ready to go with our boots and tools,” Mr. D’Addona said.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Circular World Of The Blogging

Bloggers read news items or other blog posts and then post about it on their own blog. Here is an example of how ciruclar this can be: I posted about an article on Staten Island that was in The New York Times. (See Bohemia by the Bay a couple of posts down.) Then The New York Times quoted from my post. Now I am posting again about their article. Confused yet? You can read what they have to say "HERE. "

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Brand New South Ferry Subway Station in 2008

Thanks to a Prodigal Borough blog post from Cid for alerting us to this fantastic news.

Excerpted from The Lower Manhattan Info Web Page:

A ride on the 1 train down to the end of the line is a one-of-a-kind New York subway experience. To exit the train at the South Ferry station, riders must be in the first five cars of the train, where they wait for retractable floor grates to close the gap between the doors and the sharply curved platform before heading up the stairs to use the station’s single exit.

This old-fashioned experience is about to become obsolete, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority spends $450 million of the Federal Transit Administration’s post-9/11 funds to usher the original 1905 South Ferry station into the 21st century.

In August 2008, the South Ferry subway station -- now a small, curved platform -- will become a brighter, ADA-accessible terminal. The new station will accommodate 10-car trains and have multiple station entrances, including escalators and elevators.

Work on the revamped station began in late 2004, just as the finishing touches were being put on the neighboring Whitehall Ferry Terminal. The single greatest improvement of the new station is its new platform -- a standard, 10-car platform that’s as straight as an arrow and ADA-accessible. It will connect to the R and W trains at the Whitehall subway station and lead to three separate street exits: one near Whitehall, one at State Street, and one at the edge of Battery Park.

The first phase of construction is taking place in Peter Minuit Plaza, directly in front of the ferry terminal. The plaza is above the current subway station’s loop tracks (which enable the train to turn around), and there the MTA’s work crews are excavating the 50-foot-wide tunnel that will house the new station’s tracks.

In summer 2005, work began under the northeast section of Battery Park, where new tunnels are being opened and tracks laid. As part of the MTA’s commitment to the New York City Parks Department, trees and other foliage aboveground will be preserved and replanted at the end of the project -- along with other improvements the Parks Department had planned for Battery Park.

Throughout the project, the MTA is committed to keeping noise to a minimum, using dedicated truck routes, and running equipment with ultra-low-sulfur fuel. Ensuring access to area businesses and to the ferry terminal are also top priorities.

When South Ferry is completed in 2008, residents, commuters, and visitors will have a clean, new subway station and an open, pedestrian-friendly Peter Minuit Plaza that leads to the Staten Island Ferry, Battery Park, and the diverse Lower Manhattan community.

History in the Making at South Ferry

In the single most historically rich area of New York, it is no surprise that artifacts dating back to the early 18th century might crop up at construction sites. But no one was expecting four pre-revolutionary-era stone walls to stand, literally, in the way of South Ferry subway station progress.

Discovered by Metropolitan Transportation Authority crews during excavation for the $400 million terminal, the walls were revealed in sections along State Street at Battery Park. The first, uncovered in November 2005 near Battery Place, set off a flurry of archaeological activity by the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), both eager to determine the wall's original function and construction date.

But before city and state officials could even really dig into analyzing the wall, another was found, then another, then another, along with thousands of smaller artifacts such as fragments of ceramic dishes, bottle glass, bones, and an intact 1744 British coin. It became clear that one crew's historical goldmine is another's construction excavation dilemma.

"We were expecting to find artifacts [at the site]. That's why we had archaeologists supervising the excavation," says Mysore Nagaraja, P.E., president of MTA Capital Construction. Planners went so far as to create a map overlay of the archaeological "hotspots" in the construction area, which proved to be spot-on. But of the walls themselves -- while significant to the history of Manhattan and the nation -- he says, "They are very much in the way."

Four Walls as One Fortification

The four walls, though unearthed in sections as far apart as 500 feet, appear to have been part of the same pre-Revolutionary War battery wall. Dating from the mid-1700s, SHPO archaeologists concluded that they represent "one of the oldest standing manmade structures in the United States, part of the first military fortifications during the colonial years by the British," according to a report by the MTA.

Click on the post headline for more information.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Just Announced: New Stapleton Branch of The New York Public Library

Council Member Michael E. McMahon Unveils Renovation Plans for Stapleton Branch of The New York Public Library

A State-of-the-art renovation will double the library’s size, add more than two dozen new computers, 11 laptop stations, wireless access, new areas for adults, teens and children and self-checkout stations

At a press conference today, Council Member Michael E. McMahon and officials from The New York Public Library announced a dramatic renovation and expansion of the library’s Stapleton Branch, located at 132 Canal St. The building will undergo a technology facelift, receiving 11 laptop plug-in stations, convenient self-checkout stations and free wireless Internet access. Public space will more than double, and a light, airy new building will be added to the historic structure, retaining its character and providing neighborhood residents a sleek, modern new library.

“I am delighted that I could help secure funding for the renovation and expansion of the Stapleton Branch Library,” said Council Member McMahon. “This project will provide the community with a beautiful new state-of-the-art library with access to countless resources – all free of charge.”

The renovation, designed by Andrew Berman Architect, will provide new areas for adults, teens and children, as well as a community room. The adjoining new building will feature 13-foot ceilings, attractive wood floors and a glass curtain wall to create light and space. Adult and teen reading areas will include cozy chairs for reading, and the children’s area will feature interactive educational games. The project is to include a new HVAC system and new electrical wiring.

"We are exceedingly thankful to Council Member McMahon, who provided over $5 million toward this project," said Mary Frances Cooper, Deputy Director for Public Services at The New York Public Library. We are also grateful to Mayor Bloomberg and Borough President Molinaro for making this significant contribution to the neighborhood a reality,” “The renovated Stapleton Branch Library will become a well of information and enrichment for the entire community.”

The renovation and expansion of the Stapleton Branch Library is generously funded by the City of New York: Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor; Christine C. Quinn, City Council Speaker; James P. Molinaro, Staten Island Borough President, and Michael E. McMahon, City Council Member.

About the Stapleton Branch
The Stapleton Branch of The New York Public Library, which opened in 1907, is located on Canal Street, near the center of Stapleton Village and adjacent to Tappen Park and the Old Village Hall. The graceful, single story, brick and limestone building was constructed with funds provided by Andrew Carnegie. It was designed by Carrere and Hastings. Today the Stapleton Branch continues to be a center of community life. The branch serves its diverse neighborhood by presenting programs for all ages, providing access to computer technology and lending books, magazines and other media to inform, educate, and entertain. Programs include a book discussion group, picture book hours, preschool programs and arts & crafts programs for teens.

About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with the Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. It comprises four research centers – The Humanities and Social Sciences Library; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the Science, Industry and Business Library – and 87 Branch Libraries in Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, and English as a second language. The New York Public Library serves over 15 million patrons who come through its doors annually and another 21 million users internationally, who access collections and services through its website, Click the headline to viist the NYPL website.

Note from CVB: Hmmm... new library, beautiful houses, great coffee shops, and restaurants. Last time I looked this gorgeous house in Stapleton was for sale along with another pretty white Victorian across the street:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Channel 13 to give an “Island Tour” in early December


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The history and culture of Staten Island — from Dutch settlement to Denino’s pizza — will be the subject of an hour-long Thirteen/WNET documentary to air during the station’s pledge drive in early December. Co-hosts David Hartman and historian Barry Lewis reunited for “A Walk Through Staten Island,” the latest in an acclaimed PBS series that has featured 10 other walking tours of various sections of New York and New Jersey over the past decade.

“This has been a wonderful immersion in Staten Island culture,” said Hartman, who is also well known as the first and longtime co-host of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “It’s been a real education.”

Hartman and Lewis disembark to explore Borough Hall and the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George; the Conference House in Tottenville; the Greenbelt; the Alice Austen House, Sandy Ground and the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum; the Sea View Hospital Historic District; the Seguine Mansion; the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art; Historic Richmond Town; the 9/11 “Postcards” Memorial; Fort Wadsworth, and Snug Harbor Cultural Center in Livingston.

“It will change a lot of perceptions,” said Cesar J. Claro, executive director of the Richmond County Savings Foundation, which recently approved a $50,000 grant that made the documentary possible. He referred to both newcomers and residents of Staten Island: “I would bet that more than half of Staten Islanders haven’t visited all of the borough’s cultural institutions,” he said.

For the documentary makers, it was a crash course in all things Staten Island, and they came away with astute observations about the borough’s — you know — Staten Islandness.

Hartman noted the difficulty of getting around on Staten Island by public transportation, and the abundance of good Italian food. He also noticed the degree to which Islanders coalesced around the tragedy of Sept. 11 — a remarkable thing, he said, for a town of a half-million people.

“Maybe the fact that it’s the most remote borough allowed it to develop at its own speed, in its own way,” he said at Snug Harbor yesterday. “And so it has a different feel from the other boroughs.”

Hartman also sensed a pride in independence among Staten Islanders.

“Staten Island has a multiple personality,” observed producer James Nicoloro. “It’s got a city feel and a country feel. … In a funny sort of way, it’s New York City but it’s not New York City.”

It’s also a borough with great stories: From the oystermen and strawberry farmers of Sandy Ground, the country’s oldest free black settlement, to the doctors who found a cure for tuberculosis at Sea View, the grounds of the former Farm Colony and once the largest tuberculosis hospital in the world.

“I came into this thing as an outsider and I was impressed with what I found,” said Nicoloro.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bohemia By The Bay: The New York Times Features Staten Island

Cara Buckley from the New York Times first contacted me about this feature a few months ago. Supposedly she had heard my interview on NY1 or maybe she had heard Sara Valentine's interview on NPR. Either way, she got in touch with me first and she wanted to come to Staten Island and find out if it was becoming "hip". I introduced her to most of the people I know on Staten Island including Christoph and Trish who were just about perfect for this piece because of their witty songs about the island. Michelle Monteleone, from The Times, also came to the island and I gave her a little tour and interview. In her video, Adam Ferretti, makes a good point. Staten Island attracts "more actual artists" and not hipsters who desire to to be seen as cool. Many people were interviewed and things were left out due to space constraints. My main feelings about Staten Island were not included. This is how I feel: I live here because I want to, not because I have to. Staten Island's North Shore offers trees, gardens, unique people, diversity, large beautiful homes, safety, fog horns, water, marinas, really good Italian food, and it is IN New York City. Sure, it is cheaper than Manhattan but most places are. We looked everywhere (Ditmas Park, DUMBO, Vinegar Hill, City Island, Jersey City, Jersey City Heights, Kensington, Manhattan, The Bronx, Westchester, Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn Heights, Crown Heights, and so many more places) and we chose Staten Island because of this unique combination of all the things we wanted. Also, I'm so sick of ferry bashing. The ferry is the best thing about my day. It is so beautiful and relaxing to take a boat into the city. I can use my computer. I can stare at the water. I never get sick of it. And it is exotic to take a boat to work. I would take 22 minutes on the ferry over 22 minutes on the F or L trains in Brooklyn any day! Please! Let the hipsters stay where they are but bring on the real artists.

"Hipsters On Staten Island" video from The New York Times. Yours truly is featured in this but I'm NOT a hipster, sorry!

"Bohemia By The Bay" a feature article from The New York Times

And speaking of hipsters here is a YouTube video you MUST watch. The Hipster Olympics in Williamsburg:

Thank you to all of you came out to meet and talk to Cara and Michelle: Kamillah Hanks, Diane Matyas, Michelle Budenz, The Fort Hill Circle clan, Rispoli (who fed us delicous Italian ices), Leidy's, Everything Goes Cafe, The Downtown Staten Island Council (who didn't know that Cara was there at their party), The St. George Theater, Cargo, Sara Valentine, Gregor Scheer, Ann Marie and Wilder Selzer, Russell Farhang, the attic guys at The Staten Island Museum who gave us tours, and those of you who met Cara at Leidys. And thank you to Cara and Michelle for finding out more about us.

Please read the article and watch the video and post your thoughts on it below. Many people wrote to me (via e-mail and my "MySpace page" ) but it would be good to let others hear what you have to say as well.

Photographs from Cynthia von Buhler and Russell Farhang's party at their home to celebrate the closing of Show & Tell at The Staten Island Museum. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

The Times sent a photographer to my recent Staten Island Museum closing party at our house but they only printed one photo (without a credit, it was of The Hungry March Band) so here are some photos, by Paul Weiner, from the party. It attracted a ton of people from Manhattan and also from Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Boston, New Jersey, and the island. And people of all different ages arrived, not just twenty-something hipsters (although there were plenty of those in attendance). So, things are a-changing here. Thanks to: The Hungry March Band for leading a parade from the museum up to our house, Christoph and Trish (and Russell) for entertaining us with songs about Staten Island, Al Gori and his fabulous merry-go-round (a big hit with children and adults), Miwa (our lovely bartender), Dalia (who helped me clean up and prepare the house for a Latina magazine photoshoot that happened the next day at 8AM), and all of you who took the ferry over (and loved the ride).

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The FM Ferry Experiment Live Broadcast From The Staten Island Ferry

Note from CVB: An artist friend from Boston sent me this information. Recently while driving in Staten Island Russell and I saw a sign that said "neuroTransmitter" with an arrow pointing down a road. We both looked at each other and said, "What is that?" Well, now we know.

The FM Ferry Experiment Live Broadcast From The Staten Island Ferry

Concept and programming by: neuroTransmitter (Valerie Tevere + Angel Nevarez)

September 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 - 2007
12 - 4 pm EST (NYC)


Hurricane Deck of the
Staten Island Ferry
reached via:
Whitehall Terminal -- 1 Whitehall St. Manhattan
St. George Terminal - 1 Bay St.
Staten Island

For eight days in September, neuroTransmitter presents The FM Ferry Experiment, a project which transforms the Staten Island Ferry into a floating radio station, broadcasting out to the NYC region as it continuously travels between Staten Island and Lower Manhattan.

In 1967, The New York Avant-Garde Festival (1963-1980) founded by Charlotte Moorman, landed on the Staten Island Ferry for 24-hours. In the spirit of this festival, The FM Ferry Experiment integrates broadcast and performance into one of New York's most traveled public spaces, expanding its architecture out into the airwaves, engaging publics on the ferry and on-the-air.

Live programs consisting of performances, lectures, and conversations will take place on the Staten Island Ferry, and will be broadcast along with music, sound, and ambient noise via WSIA 88.9 FM and

In-studio performances and appearances by:
31 Down, Dafne Boggeri, Ralf Homann, Jesal Kapadia & Sreshta Premnath, Tianna Kennedy, Emily Jacir & Jamal Rayyis, Edward Miller, School of Missing Studies with Peter Ferko, Xaviera Simmons, Brooke Singer & Brian Rigney Hubbard, Sandra Skurvida, Alex Villar, Bojidar Yanev

Audio works by:
Julieta Aranda, Fia Backstr├Âm, Mark & Stephen Beasley, Wiebe E. Bijker, Bik Van der Pol, Nao Bustamante, Paul Chan, free103point9, Wynne Greenwood & K8 Hardy, Maryam Jafri, Hassan Khan, Fabiano Kueva, Brandon LaBelle, Pedro Lasch with Thomas Lasch & Audio Wizards, Crist├│bal Lehyt, LIGNA, Lana Lin, Jill Magid with Ed Vas, Naeem Mohaiemen, Antoni Muntadas, Max Neuhaus, Phill Niblock, Carsten Nicolai, Jenny Perlin, Cesare Pietroiusti, Radio Sonideros (Sara Harris, Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, Keren Ness, Clare Robbins), Steve Roden, Marina Rosenfeld, Kristen Roos & Jackson 2Bears, Martha Rosler, Scanner, Hanna Rose Shell & Luke Fischbeck, Jason Simon,
Skyline, Judi Werthein

Plus further socio-spatial experimentation, conversations, news bulletins, music, archival broadcasts, and sing-alongs…

neurotransmitter - Initiated in 2001 by Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere as a project whose work fuses conceptual practices with transmission, sound performance, and mobile broadcast. Their work re-articulates radio in multiple contexts considering new possibilities for the broadcast spectrum as public space. Recent projects include: WUNP, unitednationsplaza, Berlin, Germany; The Contemporary Museum, Baltimore; The New Museum, NY; viafarini, Milan, Italy; The Anna Akhmatova Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia; Govett Brewster Museum, NZ; Centre d'Art Passerelle, Brest, France; and Museu da Imagem e do Som, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Tevere is an artist and Associate Professor of Media Culture at the College of Staten Island, CUNY. Nevarez is an artist, DJ, and musician.

WSIA 88.9 FM was founded in the mid-1970s by a group of students at The College of Staten Island, CUNY who ran some wire to the cafeteria and started spinning records. They then applied for a license and have been broadcasting regularly since August 31, 1981. For over 25 years WSIA has featured a variety of programming, and the CSI students who run the station have always been committed to being new and innovative, and serving the Staten Island and Greater New York community. WSIA broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week over the air and online at

The FM Ferry Experiment is produced in cooperation with the New York City Department of Transportation and WSIA 88.9FM; and has been made possible in part by The National Endowment for the Arts; The Independence Community Foundation through The Staten Island Project and College of Staten Island Foundation; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council with support of The September 11th Fund; and Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art, supported by NYSCA and Jerome Foundation; with sponsorship from free103point9.

For more information click on the headline title of this blog post.

Noble Maritime Collection at Snug Harbor

Note from CVB: I visited this musuem today. It is housed in a beautiful brick building at Snug Harbor. I was there for a book signing event (see the previous post). It was crowded so I plan to go back and spend more time there during visiting hours. John Noble's houseboat studio really intrigued me. The boat is on display in the museum and you can peek through its windows to see his desk, brushes, stove, and even a small bathroom.

From the museum website:

Mission Statement

The mission of the Noble Maritime Collection is to preserve and interpret the art, writings, and historical maritime artifacts of the distinguished marine artist, John A. Noble; to continue Noble's legacy of celebrating the people and traditions of the working waterfront of New York Harbor; to preserve and interpret the history of Sailors' Snug Harbor in its collections, exhibitions and programs; and to operate a maritime study center inspired by John A. Noble and the mariners of Sailors' Snug Harbor.

What you'll find at the Noble Maritime Collection:

Art exhibitions
Noble's houseboat studio, made from "the small bones of larger vessels"
Ship models
Rare and significant maritime collections
Education programs for students of all ages
Teacher training
Oral history about Sailors' Snug Harbor
Printmaking studios

About John A. Noble

Born in Paris in 1913, John A. Noble was the son of the noted American painter, John ("Wichita Bill") Noble. He spent his early years in the studios of his father and his father's contemporaries, innovative artists and writers of the early part of this century. He moved with his family to this country in 1919, a year which had great significance to him and foreshadowed his life's work. "It was the greatest wooden ship launching year in the history of the world," he often said.

"About 1929 I started my crude drawings and paintings," the artist recalled. "In the wintertime, while still going to school, I was a permanent fixture on the old McCarren line tugs, which had the monopoly on the schooner towing in New York Harbor. This kept them constantly before my eyes. In the summertime, I would go to sea." A graduate of the Friends Seminary in New York City, Noble returned to France in 1931, where he studied for one year at the University of Grenoble. There he met his wife and lifetime companion, "the lovely, green-eyed" Susan Ames. When he returned to New York, he studied for one year at the National Academy of Design. From 1928 until 1945, Noble worked as a seaman on schooners and in marine salvage. In 1928, while on a schooner that was towing out down the Kill van Kull, the waterway that separates Staten Island from New Jersey, he saw the old Port Johnston coal docks for the first time. It was a sight, he later asserted, which affected him for life. Port Johnston was "the largest graveyard of wooden sailing vessels in the world." Filled with new but obsolete ships, the great coalport had become a great boneyard. In 1941, Noble began to build his floating studio there, out of parts of vessels he salvaged. From 1946 on, he worked as a full-time artist. Often accompanied by his wife, he set off from his studio in a rowboat to explore the Harbor. These explorations resulted in a unique and exacting record of Harbor history in which its rarely documented characters, industries, and vessels are faithfully recorded. Although he was raised in artistic circles and quickly gained recognition for his work, Noble always remained intimate with the people of the Harbor. "I'm with factory people, industrial people, the immigrants, the sons of immigrants," he asserted. "It gives life to it." Late in his life, Noble recalled his first compelling views of New York Harbor. "I was crossing the 134th Street Bridge on the Harlem River on a spring day in 1928, and I was so shocked--it changed my life. I was frozen on that bridge, because both east and west of the bridge were sailing vessels. And I thought sailing vessels, you know, were gone... There it was, and I couldn't eat, or anything; I was so excited." By the time of his death in the spring of 1983, shortly after the passing of his beloved Susan, the sailing vessels he loved were all gone, and the maritime industry in the Harbor had diminished significantly.
But Noble's inexorable interest in the sea had not diminished. Although he felt the loss of many kinds of vessels, he was "just as interested in drawing the building of a great modern tanker, the working of a modern dredge, the shifting of topsails." In fact, he wrote, "anywhere men work or build on the water is of interest to me...My life's work is to make a rounded picture of American maritime endeavor of modern times."

Thursday–Sunday, 1–5 PM

$5.00 Adults
$3.00 Seniors/Students/Educators
Free to members and children under 10

Click on the post title to go to the museum website for more information and directions.

A Children's Book About Museum Manners Is released By The Noble Maritime Collection

The Noble Maritime Collection will celebrate the publication of a new children’s book, The Terrible Captain Jack Visits the Museum, on Grandparent’s Day, Sunday, September 9, 2007 from 2 until 5 PM at the museum.

In The Terrible Captain Jack Visits the Museum or A Guide to Museum Manners for Incorrigible Pirate and the Like, a worldly ship’s monkey explains how to behave in a museum to Captain Jack, “a mean and dangerous pirate” with a lot of curiosity.

Author and illustrator Diane Matyas, former Director of Programming at the Noble Maritime Collection, will read from her book and sign copies.

The Viva Voce Chamber Ensemble will fill the halls of the museum with pirate music. Guest will enjoy refreshments of a nautical nature.

Members of the museum’s CloseKnit club have knitted little ship’s monkeys which will be on sale to commemorate the publication of the book.

The book is on sale at the museum for $10.00. One can also order it by calling the museum.

Admission to the museum will be free on Grandparent’s Day.

Click on the headline above for more information about the museum and the musuem store which sells the book.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

SHOW. A Gallery & Studio To Open Soon.

Above: Computer sketches of the proposed illuminated sign for SHOW. The "S" will blink on and off so it can be read two ways. The sign will be visible from the ferry terminal.

SHOW will open this Winter. The new gallery and studio allows for the art-making process to be viewed from the storefront windows. SHOW will feature the work of Cynthia von Buhler, Theo Dorian and other artists. SHOW will be located across from The Staten Island ferry terminal on Staten Island. Exit the ferry and walk up the steps between Borough Hall and The Courthouse. The address is 156 Stuyvesant Place. More information: 718-524-0855.

Update: Opening reception party postponed! We will be posting a new opening reception date soon.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Artist Talk at The Staten Island Museum

Show & Tell installation view.

Saturday, August 11, 2007, 1PM: Cynthia von Buhler will be giving an informal gallery talk about her work at The Staten Island Museum. This artist’s talk is part of the Artists/Ideas Series: Supported by JP Morgan Chase.

More information:
The Show & Tell exhibit runs from April 26, 2007 – September 23, 2007
Cynthia von Buhler's surreal three-dimensional works blend Renaissance inspired portraiture and messianic figures with natural objects. Her enigmatic paintings impart their meaning through symbol, design, and narrative. In von Buhler’s art, butterflies, snakes, birds, and plants are set into cages, boxes, and peepholes to serve as metaphors for the human condition. The layered gouache paintings and their sculptural, performance, and audio accoutrements are at once poignant and mischievous. Show and Tell is akin to a trip down an ornate rabbit hole. Many New Yorkers are familiar with von Buhler's interactive sculptures which have been exhibited frequently in the city. But few have seen an exhibit of her 3-d paintings, since most of these works are in private collections. Also on view will be characters from von Buhler's recent children's book, The Cat Who Wouldn't Come Inside (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). The museum is easily accessible from Manhattan via the Staten Island ferry which is a free twenty-minute ride, and lands across the street from the museum. A free exhibition catalog is available. Books are available for sale in the museum gift shop.

The Staten Island Museum
75 Stuyvesant Place
Staten Island, New York 10301
Hours: Tuesdays - Fridays from 9AM to 5PM, Saturday 10AM - 5PM, Sunday 12PM- 5PM.
Show & Tell installation view.

This talk is included in the museum admission fee.
To find out more about Cynthia von Buhler and her work click on the article headline above.

Cat Workshop at The Staten Island Museum

Visit the elaborate Cat Who Wouldn't Come Inside website by clicking on the headline above. Click on the picture above to see the image enlarged.

Saturday, August 25, 2007 at 2PM: Cynthia von Buhler will be reading her book, The Cat Who Wouldn't Come Inside, outloud and will give children a cat sculpture clay lesson at The Staten Island Museum. Each child will make their own clay cat like the one in the book to take home. For more information please visit The Staten Island Museum website. Copies of the children's book will be available in the museum gift shop and the author/artist will be signing them at this event. The clay workshop is $5 per child which includes museum admission and all supplies. Sculpture characters and press proofs from The Cat Who Wouldn't Come Inside will be on display as well as von Buhler's 3-d paintings.
A page from The Cat Who Wouldn't Come Inside.

Scroll to the blog entry below dated 6/7/07 "The Staten Island Museum Clay Cat Workshop" to find an article about a father who attended the last cat clay workshop with his son.

The Staten Island Museum
75 Stuyvesant Place
Staten Island, New York 10301
Hours: Tuesdays - Fridays from 9AM to 5PM, Saturday 10AM - 5PM, Sunday 12PM- 5PM.
The museum is one block from the Staten Island ferry terminal.
Show & Tell installation view.

Show & Tell installation view.
To find out more about the children's book click on the article headline above.

There's No Place Like HOME

The best view in New York City is from the lawn of Alice Austen's Clear Comfort.

Exhibit Opening * Lawn Party * Concert
Sunday, August 12, 2007
2 PM - 6 PM

An artist reception of "Home," curated by Christine Osinski.
Wine, Food & Summer Games

From The Alice Austen Museum website:
"Alice Austen was one of the first women photographers in this country to work outside the confines of a studio. She was also a realistic documentary photographer - a style of photography unusual until the 20th century. With a natural instinct for photojournalism some forty years before that word was coined, she saw the world with a clear eye and photographed the people and places in it, as they actually appeared, giving US a visual record of more than fifty years of social history."

"Clear Comfort (a.k.a. The Alice Austen House) was built in 1690. In 1844 it was purchased by John Haggerty Austen, Alice Austen's grandfather. Alice Austen herself moved there as a young girl in the late1860's with her mother, Alice Cornell Austen, after the two were abandoned by Alice's father. She went on to spend most of her life there, until financial problems and illness forced her to move in 1945. In her absence, the house fell into disrepair until a group of concerned citizens saved it from demolition in the 1960's. The house successfully gained status as a historic landmark, and was restored in the mid 1980's. It currently serves as a museum of Alice Austen's life and times."

The Alice Austen Museum, 2 Hylan Boulevard • Staten Island • NY • 10305 • (718) 816-4506


From Manhattan by Staten Island Ferry
Subway to South Ferry (1/9), Whitehall Street (N/R), or Bowling Green Station (4/5) or bus or taxi to:
Staten Island Ferry (25 minute ride). At the ferry terminal in Staten Island #S51 Bus to Hylan Boulevard (15 minute ride). Walk one block east to water and house.

From Manhattan via Brooklyn by car
From the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (toll) or the Brooklyn or Manhattan Bridge take the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge to Staten Island (right lane on bridge). Take the first exit (after toll), "Bay Street". Continue to the end of street (School Road) then turn left onto Bay Street. Continue to Hylan Boulevard then turn right and follow street to water and house.

For more information on The Alice Austen House Museum click on the headline.

I No Longer Go To Manhattan To Eat. I Go To Enoteca Maria. A Restaurant Review by Uwe Kristen

Painting detail courtesy of Cynthia von Buhler

Every Wednesday morning Teresa drives from Staten Island to Brooklyn, to an old warehouse beknownst only to her and a handful of other adepts. The men in the building know her. Without wasting many words they load a heavy 100-lb bag on her pick-up truck. Then she drives back to Staten Island and parks the truck in front of the Enoteca Maria on Hyatt St.

In 2006 Denise and Joe, the owners of the enoteca, started placing ads in Italian-language newspapers of the New York City area, looking for Italian women with a passion for traditional Italian cooking. They were not looking for credentials from culinary institutes but for regional recipes that had been passed down through generations. After several months of test cookings they finally hired Caterina, Teresa, Nina, Patrizia and Argentina - and opened Enoteca Maria in February 2007.

The five women, who come from different regions in Italy, cook on alternating days. Thus the menu changes daily. Even the lunch menu differs from the dinner menu each day. The focaccia and pastries are made from scratch and baked fresh daily in the restaurant, a detail Denise insisted upon. After several visits to Enoteca Maria I am particularly impressed by the consistent excellent quality of the food, be it the rich Baccala, the wonderfully tender organ meats or the subtle bacon-infused risotto, which is cooked in small batches in order to retain its bite. Enoteca Maria now also offers a very interesting selection of artisanal cheeses imported from Italy.

The wine list offers almost 40 different wines, thoughtfully selected from different regions in Italy. Most of the wines are from small producers with a focus on traditional winemaking. Every wine on the list is also sold by the glass, a fine opportunity to try something new without having to order a whole bottle. And Joe takes it upon himself to ensure that all wines are served the way they should be. He slowly pours the wine into large goblets, allowing the wine to fully unfold their aromas. He slightly chills his red wines before serving them, a small but important detail since red wine all too often is served too warm. A decanter is always at hand for the likes of Barolo and other wines with a firm structure, that need to breathe for a while in order to show their full complexity. Enoteca Maria also offers a fairly extensive selection of Italian beers.

The idea of bringing genuine Italian cooking from different regions into one small restaurant is a wonderful concept. Once I tasted Teresa'a apple pie I began to understand why she drives her truck to Brooklyn every Wednesday. Not that Enoteca's flour is of inferior quality. But she insists on using the flour that her mother and grandmother have used before her. The crust of the pie is so heavenly flavourful that I picked every single crumb that was left on my plate while sipping the amber-colored Vin Santo at the end of my deeply satisfying meal. And I didn't even have to take the ferry afterwards to get home.

Enoteca Maria
27 Hyatt St.
St. George, Staten Island
Open Monday through Saturday - Click on the article headline for a direct link to this site.

This restaurant review was sent to Prodigal Borough by Uwe Kristen. Thank you Uwe!