Monthly Archives: January 2014

Mapping Gowanus: 3rd ave. b/w 3rd & 2nd (1st)

I saw songwriter and musician Erik Della Penna at the soft opening for Brooklyn Lutherie (a new instrument repair venture from Mamie Minch and Chloe Swantner in the Old American Can Factory) the other night. Even though he was hobbling on broken foot, he accepted a block assignment. He reported back the next day:

“With my soul wide open, sauntered up 3rd Ave btw 3nd and 2nd.”

Sauntering Man(In truth, there is no 2nd Street that intersects 3rd Ave. So his actual block extends to 1st Street. This cartographer begs forgiveness.)

Here is the song he wrote.

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See Erik’s mad banjo skills.

Check out his duo with Dean Sharenow, Kill Henry Sugar

Treat yourself to some tunes.

Become his friend.

Mapping Gowanus

As the mission of this blog continues to evolve, I’m finding that Gowanus represents, for me, a state of mind, or state of creative struggle.

To that end, I’m launching a new project called Mapping Gowanus and enlisting my network of creative artists (writers, musicians, visual artists, filmmakers) to take part in the experiment.

Here is the challenge I’m posing:

1)  I assign each artist a block of Gowanus. (I mean this literally, as in: President Street between 3rd and Nevins, say).

2)   The person walks the block, takes it in, hangs out, explores it as much or as little as s/he wants.

3)   He or she then has 3 days to make something, inspired by the block. It can be a song, a poem, a one-page scene, prose piece, a photo or series of photGowanus Block Mapos, a video, drawing, print, watercolor….  as long as it can be posted here. (e.g. no live performances).

The idea is that creative sparks can come from any where at any time. And that constraints can spur, rather than hinder, creativity.  I’m also very excited to see what the resulting artists’ mapping of Gowanus will be.

I am starting with what I call “inner Gowanus” — the tightest neighborhood around the canal. That alone is 82 blocks by my current count.

Stay tuned…