Response to Brian Fernandes-Halloran’s community art show has been so strong that one participant walked off with a large screen television and DVD player last night. No signs of forced entry were found in the theft of equipment that was part of a video installation that shared the views of residents. This follows repeated reports to PLOG of chronic robberies on Ocean Avenue between Empire Avenue and Lincoln Road. A crew of youth reportedly have been using fire escapes to break through windows or remove air conditioners to access apartments. Investigators have told victims that the individuals involved have been identified but police have insufficient evidence to press charges.
We’ve heard so many plans for cafes and such since the closing of K-Dog and Dunebuggy that PLOG presents this handy map to keep track of all your future caffeine needs. A former employee from K-Dog is in talks to open a coffee shop at the former florist on Flatbush (green). Restauranteur Gino Sela is rumored to be opening a bakery next to his pizzeria and trattoria (red). As we reported last week Cafe Pomidor claims to be opening in November (yellow) and The Blue Roost Cafe (blue) announced plans to take over K-Dog’s space and be operating before December. Get your travel mugs ready for winter.
Once the location of Mike’s International Restaurant, 522 Flatbush Avenue has become host to a month long community art extravaganza. The first ten days of the exhibition is called “Between Neighbors” and features work from local artist Brian Fernandes-Halloran. PLOG stopped by the opening reception and spoke to the painter about his unique vision of the neighborhood.
“I started painting people around the area and realized that they were figures but not necessarily individuals to me. I wasn’t taking in my neighbors as much as I wanted,” said Fernandes-Halloran. “So my paintings started to change and became about the distance between us.”
The artist explained that his show began to transform into an opportunity to listen to locals and give them a chance to express themselves. In the gallery, visitors have the opportunity to write notes about experiences on their block, record videos in a “truth booth” and paint a message on a security gate.
“The gate is a metaphor for the transition of getting to know somebody,” he said. “It’s usually a symbol for ‘don’t enter.’ But as with people, sometimes you have to reposition yourself, walk around and be in a place where you can communicate openly.”
It took Fernandes-Halloran more than 18 months to secure a space by working with State Senator Eric Adams and organizations such as PLGNA and PLG Arts. And continuing with the theme of breaking down barriers, beginning October 30 the space will feature “The Neighborhood Show” which will include art pieces from dozens of residents, a craft market, live music and more. Be sure to stop by and take in the sights!
If you were walking down Ocean Avenue last week, you may have been hit by flying lead—and we don’t mean bullets. At 65 Ocean, employees were recorded allegedly scraping lead paint off fire escapes in the front and back of the building with little or none of the safety precautions required by law. A building resident who did not wished to be named told PLOG that workers did not use vacuums and that chips were falling to the ground, into air conditioners and apartment windows.
In this video taken by her husband, two individuals can be seen removing reportedly contaminated paint without any protective gear. Despite a number of attempts to contact the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the tenant says that inspectors were unresponsive or claimed to have not witnessed the ongoing maintenance. While the HPD informed her that 99 percent of fire escapes built before 1970 are covered with lead, the agency somewhat paradoxically will not test outdoor areas. PLOG will continue to investigate this story in the coming weeks.
PLOG took a long summer break and then some but is back covering the beat. Reader Hallie asks us: “What is the story with Cafe Pomidor on Midwood and Flatbush? When is that going to happen?” We’ve pondered this mystery as well since banners went up back in April announcing the arrival of an eatery that would offer “healthy soups, wraps [and] sandwiches.” Little has happened at the location since then and the interior remains gutted.
Having never received a reply to several emails sent to the owners, we finally asked one of the gentlemen who sits a lonely vigil in front of the storefront each day. Busy talking on his cellphone, he promised us Cafe Pomidor would indeed be opening in November. At first PLOG was skeptical, but a search online shows there is a new website for the restaurant and a mailing list that promises to notify locals of the opening date. Anyone care to predict on the possibilities for Pomidor? We’ll keep you up to date, Hallie.
You are cordially invited to a reception for “A Year of PLOG: Photos, Video and Conceptual Art” at K-Dog and Dunebuggy Cafe, Friday September 2, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Just steps away from Lincoln Park Tavern and Enduro Cafe, enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres and a display of photography, video and art.
A Year of PLOG: Photos, Video and Conceptual Art
Friday September 2, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
K-Dog and Dunebuggy Cafe
43 Lincoln Road Brooklyn, NY 11225
This is the information PLOG currently has on the gunfire on Flatbush Avenue and Maple Street which took place at approximately 8:40 PM.
Bystanders reported six or seven shots fired, possibly from a long boxy black Maserati which was heading north on Flatbush and made a sudden u-turn south. One individual was reportedly hit but ran from the scene without treatment before authorities arrived. The Sneaker Q shoe store at 556 Flatbush had a window shattered and the 99 Cent Discount Market at 564 Flatbush showed a bullet hole in its window.
Above: Bullet hole in the window of the 99 Cent Discount Market.
“Mei is a young girl in search of herself. In search of what makes her happy,” says Widad Franco.
But unlike other children in the neighborhood, Mei exists only in Franco’s imagination. She is the central character in a new online children’s book entitled Mei’s Flying Dream. Five years ago, television journalist Franco decided to challenge herself to create a book and character based on the very best traits of her friends and family.
“The way I developed Mei is that in every story she is looking for a balance in her life,” she says. “She’s looking to achieve things, overcome obstacles and become a better person.”
Like her own character, Franco has faced obstacles of her own and has struggled for find outlets for her work. As a graduate student in media studies at the New School, Franco is committed to making children’s publishing more democratic for illustrators and writers.
“Usually to be published, you have to have an agent and have all these credentials. Plus it’s a small market and it’s expensive to produce books,” she says. By using the free Prezi format, she hopes to combine the feel of traditional book with the flexibility of online multimedia.
Turning a profit isn’t Franco’s immediate goal.
“The best way people can support the book is to show it to people. Pass it around and talk about it,” she says. “Mei is not only my character. I have a lot of other characters and stories to tell. I want people to keep an open mind that a physical book is not the only way to go.”
Top: Widad Franco with her character Mei on Midwood Street