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Williamsburg Every Second was back in all its glory this weekend, but luckily for me it wasn’t the only cool thing going on around town. Alphabeta, a newly opened graffiti supply store in Greenpoint, hosted an opening this past Thursday for Austrian street artists in collaboration with Overspray Magazine. The party was packed, thanks to the hot-but-not-too-hot summer swelter which carried over into Friday bringing a smile to those out enjoying their monthly culture fix.
Alphabeta, located at 70 Greenpoint Avenue, was the perfect place for this down-and-dirty street artist party. It’s presence in the neighborhood is just as controversial as the artists being shown and made me realize that graffiti is one art form that can really rub people the wrong way.
“The shop has been getting a lot of negative press,” said Alphabeta employee “LT,” who was working the counter during the party on Thursday night. “And City Councilman Peter Vallone has already made it known that he doesn’t want us here. He’s the guy who says he wants no graffiti ever!”
Nicolas Platzer, owner of Austrian gallery Inoperable, said that one of the reasons he opened up his gallery three years ago was to give the local street artists the recognition and respect they deserve.
“Graffiti in Vienna is really frowned upon there,” he said. “It’s a renaissance city and it is hard to get people to respect their work.”
Platzer, who is in his twenties and was actually born in Rhode Island, said that eight artists flew over, just half of the artists featured in the show.
“The idea of this show is to get some exposure for these guys,” he said. “You don’t hear a lot about Vienna in America and we wanted to show New Yorkers that there’s something really exciting happening over there.”
The party went until the early morning, thanks to the sounds of DJ 3S, but those who got there early enough got to participate in the raffle. Alphabeta gave away cans and cans of free spray paint to the winning ticket holders, but warned that winners should be careful not to be too eager to ope their gifts.
“Don’t be running out and tagging tonight folks,” said the night’s emcee. “The cops are out there right now waiting to put you in jail for the night. It isn’t worth it.”
On Friday I managed to hit six gallery opening parties and I even ran into a random Italian man who thought of himself as a sexy beast. While hopping between McCaig and Welles, Front Room, Like the Spice, Hogar, Parker’s Box and Jack the Pelican, I was stopped by Luca Tesconi and two of his friends. The Italian men were standing on the corner of Grand Avenue and Roebling Street, trying to pull people into Shanghai Bistro for Tesconi’s comedy show that night.
“You’ve got to come! I’m so funny!” said Tesconi, who handed me a large postcard with his picture on it and a bio of himself, which noted that he had a “rigorously Italian wife who prays every night that he will become a star.”
When I took a photo of Tesconi, he asked to see the picture. Before I had a chance to get the display on my digital camera to show the photo, he screamed, “I don’t even need to see it to know it is beautiful! I am a sexy beast. Look at how sexy I am!”
I wasn’t able to make it to the show because I had galleries to see, but what I experienced on the street for free was enough to know that he was a pretty hilarious dude.
As usual, each gallery donned its own unique variety of artists. I enjoyed each exhibition, but what stood out this month was the food. Free chocolate was offered to guests of Like the Spice and Front Room Gallery. The chocolate was provided by Divine Chocolate (www.divinechocolateusa.com) and was delicious. I also remember that the drink I was served at Parker’s Box was bitter and quite disgusting. It was an interesting addition to the show that evening which featured a special video projection artist Marc Ganzglass. The video, titled “Liu Thinks Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Is Innocent,” played multiple times on one of the gallery’s walls and showed some type of sled moving through a tunnel-like cave.
The most interesting piece of art I saw all evening was at Jack the Pelican, and it might not even have been art at all! In the second gallery, where works from Dan Arps’ show “Affirmative Dungeon” were being shown, there was a small pile of trash in the middle of the floor. Giddy from the chocolate, I chose not to ask if it was there on purpose. I’ll have to go back next week to see if it’s been cleaned up.
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