Tag Archives: bushwick

Woman starts coalition to bring artists together in Ridgewood


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Top: Photo courtesy of Colin C. Jorgensen (Cojo); Bottom: THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

As a newcomer to the neighborhood, Emily Heinz wanted to start a group to bring a community within the community of Ridgewood together.

Though she may not be a “traditional” artist, art is the field that she most closely relates to and out of her love for it came the new group, The Artist Coalition.

“The art community in Ridgewood has existed for a while and now it is growing,” said Heinz, a 22-year-old Denver native who moved to Ridgewood about five months ago. “But there is no real epicenter for it in the community so, I wanted to bring it together.”

The coalition, started in early September, had its first meeting on Oct. 11. The idea that Heinz had originally for the group was to bring some of the local artists together, discuss their pieces with one another and learn from each other. She figured painters and maybe some photographers would show up.

But when it was time for the meeting, she was overwhelmed by the various forms of artists that came about.

“So many different types of artists came out,” Heinz said. “There were some photographers, writers, painters, sculptors, musical and mixed media artists. It went so well, everyone felt really good about it.”

As the ongoing art scene continues to grow in Ridgewood, Heinz said she wanted the group to “better facilitate the migration of the group and make it a part of the neighborhood.”

As the art scene has now taken off in the neighboring towns of Bushwick and Williamsburg, she does not want people to get confused over her purpose for starting the group.

“I don’t want people to think the group will be invading the community, I’m not interested in that,” Heinz said. “We want it to be part of the community and help it grow.”

The group has strengthened its numbers to 31 members and is growing by the day, according to Heinz. She is excited to host the next meeting on Nov. 8, with the location still being determined.

“We want people that really feel a passion for what they are making, that’s an artist,” Heinz said. “My hope is to have really good conversations and to see other people’s work. I also want the members of the coalition to leave feeling they had something valuable come out of the meeting.”

To find out more about The Artist Coalition, visit Ridgewood Artist’s Coalition on Facebook.

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Intellectually disabled man missing from Ridgewood since Friday found


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Almache

The family of an intellectually disabled man who went missing in Ridgewood Friday night received good news Monday when he was found safe.

“We are all so happy. We are all crying with happiness. We are thankful he was finally found,” Stephanie Almache, the cousin of the missing man, Geovanny Gonzalez, told The Courier as she was on her way to be reunited with him at New York Hospital Queens.

Gonzalez, 26, was last seen on the corner of Grove Street and Wycoff Avenue on the border of Ridgewood and Bushwick on October 3 at around 6 p.m.

Gonzalez, who is on vacation in America from Ecuador and only speaks Spanish, has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old and also suffers from epilepsy, which he has not had his medication for since he went missing.

“We are all really worried and want him back,” Almache said shortly before he was found. “He is a great guy and a really good friend. We are all just devastated.”

Family members said that Gonzalez was having dinner when he suddenly ran off. They chased him through the streets but eventually lost sight of him near the M train stop on Grove Street and Wycoff Avenue.

Because he was here for two months this year, prior to this vacation, he vaguely knows the cityscape and may have tried to make his way into Manhattan, which is where he came from earlier that day, Almache said.

According to police, Gonzalez was found in good condition. Almache and authorities did not immediately have more details on how he was located.

-With additional reporting by Cristabelle Tumola

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Influx of hipsters revives 90-year-old Ridgewood German bar


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Gottscheer Hall was on its way to closing down two years ago. But the Ridgewood bar and grill turned a profit in 2012 because of younger, more affluent patrons who began to appear in larger and larger groups.

People packed the Gottscheer Hall on Sunday to watch the World Cup final. The patrons that afternoon were either older and of German descent or younger and attracted to the German appeal of the bar and grill that derives its name from a region in Europe that was once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

“I like the history of the bar, the kitschiness. The beer is good and cheap,” Jonathan Deentler, 25, said as he ate a German pretzel and sausage with sauerkraut. “I guess you could say I’m being a cultural tourist.”

Deentler and his friends, who all live in Bushwick, began to come to the bar two years ago and have since often frequented it. Around that time, the Gottscheer Hall began to turn a profit, something that hadn’t been seen for 15 years, according to the bar’s secretary Roland Belay.

“The hipsters revived us,” Belay said. The German restaurant is celebrating its 90th anniversary this September but up until recently the business suffered a loss of patrons. Belay attributes this loss to the fact that the German immigrants who drank at the bar are getting older and dying off. The last big wave of Germans to the neighborhood was during WWII when the war displaced many Germans from the Gottschee region, now part of Slovenia.

“Every year we get fewer and fewer Germans coming here,” Belay said. “So we have to look forward and it seems like the hipsters will keep this business alive.”

Brian Questa, 26, lives in Williamsburg but decided to watch the World Cup match between Germany and Argentina in Gottscheer Hall. He, too, was attracted to the bar’s “authenticity,” something he thinks Williamsburg lost when it became gentrified. Questa plans on moving to Ridgewood soon because of cheaper rent and the charm of the neighborhood. He noted the irony of contributing to Ridgewood’s gentrification.

“I concede the fact that because there’s more young people taking an interest in it does make it more attractive to me,” said Questa, who identifies himself as a musical composer. “Unlike places like Maspeth where it’s all families living there.”

When Germany won the match, the bar erupted into cheers and German chants, with both the older Germans and the hipsters celebrating the moment. In the coming years, Belay and the other owners of the bar will have to juggle the necessity to make money with “preserving the German heritage,” as Belay put it. But he will also have to try not to make the bar “very fake,” like Questa said Williamsburg is.

“People come there to live in Williamsburg but it’s full of people just there to see and live in Williamsburg,” Questa said.

 

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High school brings colorful posters to Queens businesses


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Eric Jankiewicz


A local high school is designing posters and fliers for independent Glendale and Ridgewood businesses.


Andrew Drozd teaches three art and design classes at the Academy of Urban Planning in Bushwick where students work with local businesses in Brooklyn and Queens to apply design techniques to real world applications like advertisement.

“This is something that’s still in its infancy but we’re learning,” Drozd said.

“Students appreciate what they’re learning if there’s a real value attached to it.”

He first started the class this semester in April. The design exercise was meant to only last a couple of weeks.

“And now here we are, nearing the end of the school year and my students are still passionate about it,” Drozd said. “There’s been such an outpouring of support from the local business communities.”

Jesse Ibrahim owns Roma Deli in Glendale. He displays a huge poster at the entrance of his store.  The poster has pastel colors that frame a picture of the deli-front in the center. On the bottom right corner it says, “This poster was created by Jocelyn Perez a student at the Academy of Urban Planning.”

“I love it,” said Ibrahim, who has owned the deli for almost 15 years.  “Now my entrance is brightened. It’s very presentable.”

Ibrahim was first approached by Drozd two weeks ago and was then given an option of about 15 different poster designs all made by separate students.

“So there’s a level of competition,” Drozd said.

In Ridgewood, Armand Baklajan was expecting his poster any day now when it would be hand-delivered by Drozd.

“This is fantastic work,” he said, holding a sketch of his yet-to-be completed poster. “I wish I had such a motivated and passionate teacher when I was in high school.”

Drozd said that he has about 40 other businesses lined up for future posters. He first came up with the idea when he noticed that so many delis have hand-written signs advertising things like breakfast sandwiches.

“So there’s an element of social justice in this. We’re providing a service to people who could really benefit from it,” he said.

Each class produces about three posters a week using design programs and pictures. Drozd expects the work to continue through the summer and next school year the design exercise will be introduced to another batch of students.

“We’re going to ride this until it crashes,” he said.

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Mayor de Blasio announces paid sick leave expansion


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via witter/@NYCMayorsOffice

More New Yorkers could be protected from losing their jobs for taking a day off when they or their family members are ill.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced legislation Friday that will extend the right to paid sick leave to businesses with five or more employees, which expands on a law enacted by the City Council.

The announcement was made at Esmeralda’s Restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn, a business that is part of a coalition supporting paid sick days.

Speaking at the announcement was the restaurant’s owner, who already provides her employees with paid sick leave and has seen its benefits, as well as Leonardo Hernando, a car wash worker from Queens.

Hernando, a father of four, has lived and worked in the U.S. for nine years and has never once had a job that provided paid sick days. He said he cannot take a day off because it will mean he won’t have enough money for his family.

With the new legislation, he will no longer be in that situation.

“Families will be more stable and secure, because they have paid sick leave coverage,” de Blasio said.

Under the expanded legislation, about 500,000 more New Yorkers, 200,000 of whom do not currently have paid sick days, will now have the right to paid sick leave, according to de Blasio.

The City Council enacted the New York City Earned Sick Time Act on June 27 in a 47-4 vote, overriding then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of the legislation.

According to that bill,  beginning in April, businesses with 20 or more employees will be required to give at least five paid sick days per worker each year. Starting in October 2015, businesses with 15 or more workers will have to do the same.

“While that legislation was a good start it was not nearly enough,” Mark-Viverito said.

The new legislation would take effect for all business with five or more employees starting this April. De Blasio said he believes the legislative process will move quickly so it can be enacted by that time.

The law also removes exemptions for the manufacturing sector, and adds grandparents, grandchildren and siblings to the definition of family members, and cut out legislative red tape that could have delayed paid sick leave.

 

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Glendale residents may get a ZIP code of their own


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Most of Mary Mendez’s mail says she lives in Ridgewood.

The Glendale resident has grown used to the fact that when ordering items online, her address will come up as Ridgewood.

“Most of the time I’ll just tell people I live there [in Ridgewood],” Mendez said.

The address confusion stems from the fact that Glendale and Ridgewood share the 11385 ZIP code — and have for more than 30 years.

Congressmember Bob Turner and Assemblymember Mike Miller want to change that, though, and have submitted an application to the United States Postal Service (USPS) for a unique Glendale ZIP code.

“Glendale is a unique community and should have its own ZIP code,” Turner said. “Sharing a ZIP code has created numerous, and sometimes dangerous, problems for Glendale residents, such as delays in medication delivery and first responder services.”

Prior to 1979, the neighboring communities shared their zip code with a third neighborhood in another borough — Bushwick.

Residents of the Queens neighborhoods wanted to disassociate with Bushwick following the 1977 riots and were given the ZIP code they have today.

Miller called the lack of an individual ZIP code a serious issue that needs to be addressed. “Real people are affected,” he said.

More than 1,000 Glendale residents signed a petition asking for the change.

Many feel the problem goes deeper than mail addressed to Ridgewood.

“It’s about a community identity, about keeping communities together,” said Nick Roloson, Miller’s chief of staff.

“Most people aren’t sure where Glendale is; it’s kind of no man’s land,” said Mitch Lindstedt, a Glendale resident. “I feel the lack of a ZIP is a big reason why.”

Turner said that 11384 is available and would allow the USPS to easily remedy the situation with the change of a single digit. An answer should come by the end of the summer.

Repeated calls to the USPS for a comment went unreturned.

 

Woodhaven woman seeks justice for dad’s murder


| mchan@queenscourier.com

One Woodhaven woman is on the hunt for the man responsible for killing her dad.

On November 20 of last year, Carlos Rosario, 58, was working in Bushwick, Brooklyn when a robber attacked him in his tire shop, shooting him once in the mouth.

He died even before he reached the hospital, said his daughter Ismelda, 24.

The investigation is ongoing, and the NYPD is offering a $12,000 reward leading to the assailant’s arrest, but Ismelda said she won’t rest until her dad’s killer is brought to justice.

“I’m overwhelmed. I’m shocked — that’s the best word I can use right now,” she said. “I’d just like as much help as possible so that I can continue on with my life.”

Ismelda said she wakes up every day wondering who killed her father and where the murderer could be right now.

“All those questions are always racing through my mind,” she said.

Ismelda, who now lives with just her mother, said she has since gone back to graduate school at Baruch College, where she also works part-time as a graduate assistant.

Though going back to her daily routines helps keep her “busy and distracted” from the pain, she said she is constantly reminded of the tragedy.

“I just really want to focus on advocacy and trying to spread the word,” said Ismelda, who reached out to the community and local civic groups to extend her cause.

Meanwhile, Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association, praised her efforts and strength.

“Her family should be really, really proud of her for what she’s doing,” Wendell said. “I can’t imagine the horror of that happening. I can’t imagine having the pain of losing a loved one mixed with having them taken away so violently and so suddenly. At the same time, I can’t imagine what it’s like not even having the chance for some sort of justice.”

Wendell said he hopes finding the killer will relieve some of the family’s pain.

“The family doesn’t have closure, and that’s what they have to hold out their hope for,” he said. “She’ll never get her father back — that’ll never happen — but if she can get justice, there will be some measure of closure. There has to be someone out there that has some sort of inkling about what happened.”

Anyone with information to this case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.