Brace For Coney’s – New Bar Graces SH

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Coney’s Bar is the kind of place you go to escape a sudden rain, but end up staying all day even after the weather has cleared. The jukebox, cheap at 3 plays for a dollar, is stocked with well-worn favorites (Lou Reed, the Ramones, Talking Heads) and the popcorn machine fills  bellies with a delicious snack and the the bar with the smell of butter.

Coney’s moved into the space that Bar Tweed vacated and has made major changes.

“We’re less into gimmicks and more into just having a good time.” Continue reading

English Drive

The canvassers were hopeful as they stood on a sunny 8th Avenue, one Saturday afternoon last week, clipboards tucked under their arms, trying to flag down speeding pedestrians and hand out fliers.

No, they were not trying to give people lunch special coupons to Seafood Delight, these were volunteers for a new education drive aimed at ESL courses for Shang Heights’ Chinese residents.

Canvasser“Not too much luck so far!” said plucky volunteer and  area local, Sara Greenwald. “I’ve had a few people stop but no takers yet.”

Sara and many others have signed on with community volunteer, Rachel Pappas, who holds an ESL class at Brooklyn Spiritual Center on Monday nights that has so far been sparsely attended.

“I started the program on Monday nights because of a few of my neighbors who wanted to improve their English,” Pappas said “but now we want to try and expand that program and help even more people.”

Back on the street, Sara had successfully engaged a group of teenagers.

“They could all speak English but were going to tell their parents about it. That is the most important thing, getting the word out. Unfortunately the Chinese-language abilities of our staff are limited, that’s why we’re always looking for English instructor volunteers as well!”

The course is available on Mondays nights with a suggested donation of $5 per person, which includes one hour of instruction and access to the Wellness Center’s donated lending library of over 100 titles.

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A stack of donated books at the BSC

Visit the Wellness Center for more information on taking the course, or for volunteer/teaching opportunities.

Arrivederci To Maria’s Pizzeria

Maria’s Pizzeria will be closing within a few weeks.

To the pizza lovers in the area, this is a huge blow.

“I don’t know. We’ve seen the neighborhood change a lot the past 30 years.” said owner/guy you recognize as the voice on the phone, Marshall Fialla. “I’m getting older and my boys aren’t interested in the place. So we’re closing up.”

Fialla also cited his long commute from Staten Island where he resettled a few years ago.

The kitchen bustles at

The kitchen bustles at Maria’s on a recent Tuesday

“We had a good run, but orders were down. What are you going to do? I can’t eat it all myself, though my wife would tell you I tried.”

Although Maria’s was arguably the best pizza place around, residents will still be able to rely on the pizza places along 5th Avenue.

We will all miss the pizza and Marshall’s warm, gruff voice taking down our order.

 

New Looks At Gray Gallery

“I was sick of all these places with a McDonalds attitude—we are not a fast food chain.”

The painter Sean Casey had a one-man show to mark the opening of a new gallery and artist studio, Gray Gallery, owned and managed by Alexander Gray, the well-known art reviewer for Capital New York and former winner of MoMa’s 2006 Young Curator award.

Although there are a few galleries and artist spaces already established (NARS, etc.), Gray wanted a more intimate field, and envisioned a place where the public and creators interacted with pieces in a tranquil setting.

“If you notice, our walls are not the standard stark white color that most galleries choose.” Gray said, giving us a tour on a recent afternoon. “To me, that’s boring and antithetical to a gallery show trying to represent individuals.”

The wall color was a shade of dark grey, and as the next show that was being hung, you could see how the darker color offset the mostly white canvases.

Detail from the upcoming exhibition.

Detail from the upcoming exhibition.

“Each visit to a gallery should be a unique experience,” Gray feels. “I was sick of all these places with a McDonalds attitude—we are not a fast food chain.”

Aside from the walls, Gray Gallery took another step away from the norm for their first opening, hiring a band and ordering Papa Johns pizza instead of the de rigueur crudité fare familiar to all of us who frequent openings.

“I want you to leave with an experience, and as a gallerist, I felt that I could do more to present work. I felt that I could become part of the work as well.”

Look for a rapid change over in the next few months, with shows only lasting a few weeks.

“It’s ambitious to be sure, but art is rapid, art is ever changing, and the modern gallery needs to be as mobile as a Google Image search.”

 

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 2:00-6:00

4308 8th Avenue, 11220