Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Monday Movies at the CHCMC

Calling Local Leaders: Grant Opportunity!

Announcing the 2013 We Are All Brooklyn Fellowship Grant Opportunity! 
Applications are due April 1, 2013. To download the RFP and Grant Application please click here.

Grant Flyer

Monday, February 25, 2013

Crown Heights Profile: Ron Taylor, Artist and Gallery Owner

Ron Taylor is not a typical artist. He uses unconventional tools to create abstract paintings, and unlike many artists, Taylor does not silo himself in his studio: he believes in community engagement.Since moving to Crown Heights 10 years ago, Taylor wanted to create a space where people in the neighborhood felt comfortable coming in and sharing in his work. A few years ago Taylor held a workshop with kids from the Greater Restoration Baptist Church Pastor Bogan’s church, right next door to his gallery. To continue that trend Taylor set up the front room of his workspace as a gallery, so that the community could come and look at his art.

Last spring Taylor took community engagement even further by opening up his space to SOS for our Arts to End Violence Festival. His gallery, located at 1160 St. Johns Place, was home to the SOS Arts to End Violence Art Showcase, a show of local professional and youth artists that ran from May 23rd until June 22nd.

 Taylor says he really enjoyed having youth artwork hanging in his gallery. People came by regularly to see the show; there hasn’t been anything else like it in Crown Heights.

Taylor wasn't always based in such an art-friendly area. He moved to New York 1983, and says he appreciates all the artistic opportunities that living here affords, especially compared to Birmingham, Alabama, where he grew up. In Birmingham Taylor was not exposed to nearly as much art and culture; there was no art major at his local college, so Taylor applied to Atlanta College of Art. He started with charcoal drawings and portraits, and eventually introduced color into his work. After four years at Atlanta, Taylor won a fellowship to attend graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. At Wisconsin he studied a broad array of techniques, and among these was airbrushing. While working on a project making silk-screen prints, he accidentally spilled the glue in a way that caused the ink to bleed through the canvass in some places and not others. This produced an interesting texture, and soon after Taylor began regularly using the airbrush and glue to reproduce that effect.
Since settling in Brooklyn, Taylor has used the airbrush extensively to create more abstract work, sensing that using the images in his work was a crutch. Instead, he builds from a more negative idea of what he doesn't want in the picture.

When beginning a new painting, Taylor uses a brush to lay out patterns on canvass. He uses either water- or oil-based paints that he cuts with turpentine to increase its fluidity. The first colors he lays down are usually light and warm colors and then he moves to darker, cooler colors. This serves to layer the image; a process he describes as similar to building a photograph. Over time, the paint comes to cover the entire surface, creating a field of color. The entire process takes a few days.

After painting, Taylor uses the airbrush pressure to move the paint, sponges to remove paint, and brushes to create controlled drips. The weather can influence the outcome of the work, as the temperature and air quality can affect the paint movement. His techniques lend Taylor's paintings a sense of space and depth; the viewer can almost enter into Taylor's work.

Taylor's influences are unusual: rather than taking cues from airbrush artists like Ed Paschke, or other commercial, photographic airbrush work, he was moved by musicians like Sun Ra and Jimi Hendrix. Recently he's been listening to music with abstract, industrial sounds as he paints. Still, Taylor admits to admiring Van Gogh in his early career, and acknowledges the influence of Jackson Pollack's color schemes and paint techniques. He loves the movement in Pollock's paintings, and imbibed his abstract style. 

These days, Taylor feels his art moving in a different direction. He thinks he might move back toward using imagery in his work. Perhaps it's something in the air. 

To learn more about this year's Arts to End Violence festival and arts contest, click here.To see art from last year's festival, click here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

YO SOS Searches for Summer Opportunities

After the youth in YO S.O.S. graduate from the program, they spend their summers working, interning, or attending camps where they can continue to build on the skills they developed in YO S.O.S. In preparation for this coming summer, the staff and youth organizers of YO S.O.S. have begun searching for summer employment opportunities for program participants.

Both staff and youth organizers are on the lookout for promising jobs and internships. Over the next few months, staff will work with the youth organizers to find and identify organizations and activities the youth organizers would like to be a part of over the summer. YO S.O.S. will support the youth organizers as they apply and interview for these jobs and internships. The youths will then set out over the summer on experiences that will help them keep developing into effective messengers, advocates, and activists.

In the past community members and supporters of YO S.O.S. have helped in a variety of ways.
  • YO S.O.S. supporters have donated money to fund a Youth Organizer's unpaid internship
  • Local business owners have agreed to interview Youth Organizers for positions in their stores
  • Youth programs with summer jobs components have opened their doors to YO S.O.S.
  • Programs and companies have hired Youth Organizers! 
  • Supervisors have written letters on behalf of Youth Organizers to encourage others to hire from YO S.O.S.
To reach this goal, YO S.O.S. is searching for opportunities far and wide. If you know of any organizations interested in bringing on talented and motivated high schools students over the summer, please be in touch with YO S.O.S. at 718-679-9414 or rbuitekant@crownheights.organd

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

YO S.O.S. Retreat!

Last weekend, YO S.O.S. went on its first ever retreat, which was dedicated to strengthening bonds in the group and preparing for the community organizing the youth organizers will do in the spring. The group did activities focused on unity and relationship building. In addition, they strategized and planned their spring community organizing project, Arts to End Violence.

Twenty youth organizers and four staff members traveled by bus to Camp Vacamas in New Jersey for group activities. On the first night of the retreat every teen shared a personal object that was important to him or her. Some people shared pictures or drawings, while others shared things connected to family members living and those that passed. This activity allowed the youth organizers a chance to share aspects of their identities and histories. It was a time for each person to understand more about each other's similarities and differences. Afterward we went outside in the freezing temperatures to sing some silly camp songs around a fire.

The next day consisted of an outdoor challenge course, a facilitation and organizing training to get them ready for Arts to End Violence, and games in which they shared facts about themselves to get to know each other better. The youth organizers practiced their communication and teamwork skills in big group games, including team skipping rope, a tire zip line, and obstacle courses.

At the end of the weekend, many organizers said they felt closer to each other, had built trust within the group, and were able to open themselves up and make new friends. Youth Organizer Helen Dupree said, "The retreat gave me a chance to get to know everyone and build a stronger relationship while planning what we will be doing for YO S.O.S. in these next few months. Knowing that I have supporting & determined peers is a wonderful feeling. I'm looking forward to these next few month."

The youth organizers challenged themselves to step out of their comfort zones. It was a heartwarming and amazing experience for the staff to be a part of, and many of the youth organizers are still sharing stories in person (and on Facebook) about what it meant to them. YOUTH POWER!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Tips on Being a Good Neighbor in the Storm

As winter-storm “Nemo” approaches, the CHCMC would like to encourage you to stay warm and safe. We have compiled 10 tips to see you through the storm. We’d like to thank Susan Fox from Park Slope Parents and Con Edison New York for their contributions to this list.

1.     Be there for each other. Remember to check on neighbors who may have particular trouble during the storm, including the elderly, those with very young children, and those with disabilities. If you are going out for supplies, offer to pick something up for them.
2.     Be a conscientious citizen. Keep your sidewalks cleared. Divide up the shoveling between you and your neighbors, to lessen the burden for each.
3.     Be gentle to your body. Stretch your back before shoveling, and don’t over-exert yourself.
4.     Be mindful of pets. Don’t leave pets out in the cold too long, and if you see a pet out in the cold try to ensure its safe arrival indoors.
5.     Be prepared. Charge your cell-phone and fill up some pitchers with water in case of power-outage. Check to make sure your flashlights and any battery-operated radios are in working order, and have a set of extra batteries.
6.     Be careful. Avoid downed power-lines, and never touch them with your hands or any object. Be mindful that downed wires can be hidden from view by tree limbs, leaves or water. If a power line falls on your car while you’re in it, stay inside and wait for emergency personnel.
7.     Be a reporter. If you see downed power lines, you can report them by calling 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633) or visiting When reporting an outage, you should, if possible, have your Con Edison account number available, and report whether your neighbors have also lost power.
8.     Be forward-thinking. If your power goes out, disconnect or turn off appliances that would otherwise turn on automatically when service is restored. If several appliances start up at once, the electric circuits may overload.
9.     Be aware. Weather updates and news on restorations of electrical service can be heard on most local radio and television stations.
10. Be merry. Take advantage of the fresh snow. Pull on your boots and take a walk, go sledding, make snowballs and snowmen and then… a hot drink!

Thursday, February 7, 2013