A Stunning East Village Day

A few weeks ago my Dad was in town and he is a bad influence. While I want to obsess about real estate transactions, real estate transactions, sports, my fitness, and real estate transactions, he wants to talk about history, eat good food, and waste time with so called interesting people.

To mollify him we went to my Barber Jay, and then to B&H Dairy, which this week was notable in that it did not explode.

So another time we will talk about B&H and my Dad, and his telling of the Jewish history of Second Ave, the East Village, the LES. My Dad is an NYC Jew, just like myself, my sister Yoshi, and B&H Dairy, the best place for blintzes, whose tagline is CHALLAH! por favor. This is important to point out. To me- hearing about my ancestors struggles and immigrant experience, has always been a source of pride – and it is a heritage that is inquisitive, open minded, and appreciative of diversity.

I sell a lot of real estate in the East Village. Josh Rubin and I are among the top selling agents in the neighborhood. It’s notable because the apartments are quirky, and have certain idiosyncrasies that make sense if you have a sense of the history of the neighborhood. As a matter of fact in 2 weeks I will be releasing a PH (walk-up) One Bed with a private roof deck asking $700,000. Email me to see it first.

So this week, on the day that three buildings exploded, on Second Avenue, I was closing on an apartment at 347 E 5th St PHA where I represented the seller and buyer. It was a weird transaction in a weird building. Shout out to Michael Bensimon at Sterling National Bank for getting the loan done, despite 60% of the building being rentals.

On the day of the closing, we do the walk through, and there is evidence of a roof leak. This leads to conflict, negotiation, etc… Then on the way to the closing the Second Ave explosion happens so we are stuck in traffic. So we get to the closing late. But you know what – in the end we got the building to repaint the apartment (they had already patched the leak) and buyer and seller ended a curt business deal with more smiles that had been evident than at any point prior.

Then I go and check out something I have been meaning to see for quite some time, a jewel of the East Village, the art show Polar Opposites currently at NOoSPHERE ARTS at 251 East Houston St. Now, mind you, I didn’t actually know about the explosion and the fire. So while I am getting a private tour of the show, an infantry of fire trucks is going past me on Houston St. Later on I would catch wind of the news. Dramatic to say the least. And sad.

The art show was very dramatic in its own right. In fact with all the bullshit, traffic, leaks, nags, sirens, etc… that plague our New York lives, being able to see incredible creativity is one nice thing we can enjoy.

The show is made up of three artists, two photographers and a painter. As an artist myself, I am a harsh critic. I am also a loving critic. I really liked all the artists.

Here is what to look for when you go to the show (open now until 4/12.)


Daniel Kordan: Thomas Kincaid-ish…. I hope that’s not a dig. Kordan is a magician. His idyllic Arctic Circle villages do remind me of Kincaid’s paintings though (which is like the kiss of death for an NYC artist, but it shouldn’t be.) Anyway Mr. Kordan is from Moscow (like most Brooklynites – jk/lol.) His use of exposure and surface really is evocative – in a way Kincaid is not. The juxtaposition of light, ice, and flowing water are painterly, luscious, and beautiful. These images are not ashamed of bold composition and clear moments of interest. A renaissance of the beautiful landscape emerges.

Christine Kjelsmark: the lone painter in the show, her work is plein-air meets street art, meets the Faro Islands. She has a fun style and includes legion birds doing cute things in their Mountain River Arctic Oasis as the clouds roll along. Her artwork shows a connection to the splendor of green and character of white and ice that only a Northern artist would be sensitive to.

Jeff Orlowski: Jeff’s photos are a bit political (sadly) and are an outgrowth of his Academy Award nominated film, Chasing Ice, chronicling the melting of the glaciers. Jeff identifies himself as a photographer and a filmmaker, and his work is cinematic and rich. Lively icebergs on Mountains give way to a feeling of adventure, and almost magical fantasy, made richer by the understanding this is documented majesty, not photoshopped fiction.

I want to thank Kirsten Wildfang for arranging for me to see the show, and I really recommend it if you want something new to do in the East Village / Lower East Side. Like all historic moments, it won’t be around forever.