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Ridgewood makers market spotlights queer artists

By Stephanie Meditz
[email protected]

While the Pride parade marched on in Manhattan on Sunday, queer artists in the Ridgewood and Bushwick areas came together in a celebratory display of their work.

The Footlight Underground at the Windjammer hosted a makers market for artists of various media, including jewelry, visual art, digital art, clothing, and tattoos, to set up shop for the day, gain exposure, and meet other artists in the area.

Many artists who attended the market see their art as an outlet for self-expression and a way of reconnecting with their roots.

Amy Catherine Welch has been painting since she was a child. She rediscovered her passion when she found an online painting application during her workday as a receptionist.

The bright, neon colors in her work are a welcome change from the white walls that surround her most of the time.

“I feel like I’m a bit of an old soul, so I like having these kind of Victorian women liberated with all the color…I just like playfulness,” she said, referencing her favorite piece. “I just like bringing joy.”

Bushwick-based illustrator and animator Eva Redamonti, @evaredamonti_art on Instagram, describes her extremely detailed artwork as psychedelic and surreal.

She sees art as a way of coping with her emotions in all their complexity.

“I think my art is deeply connected to my mental health,” she said. “So I make art when I’m happy, I make art when I’m sad, and it always makes me feel better. It’s kinda just what I do to survive in this world.”

Hans Rasch of Le Sylphide Tattoos.

Musician and visual artist Michael Rider likewise expresses themself through their art, specifically their experiences as a queer, nonbinary person.

“I find that in my visual work as well as my music, there’s a lot of longing, remembrance, nostalgia, just a lot of fantasizing for a kind of reality that doesn’t really exist,” they said.

Rider’s newest album, “Cycle,” came out in May and is available on most major streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon Music, and Pandora.

Hans Rasch of Le Sylphide Tattoos—“@le.sylphide” on Instagram—places a similar emphasis on queer and transgender experiences in conducting their practice.

They run a trauma-informed practice that creates a soothing, meditative, and private environment for their clients who are mostly people of color, feminine-presenting, or queer.

“A lot of breath work happens in the process, and meditation,” they said. “I’m a professional dancer as well, and so much of dance training has to do with psychosomatics and checking in, so a lot of that sort of vocabulary of listening in to the body… finds its way into my practice.”

Since Rasch works as a tattoo artist once a week, they value the unique personal connections they make with their clients.

Lex Glade

Lex Glade, an artist, costumer, photographer, and prominent force behind the scenes of Footlight Presents, similarly finds it important to make connections and empower others to create art.

A self-described “professional dress-up person,” they love hosting one-on-one workshops to teach people how to sew and apply special effects makeup.

Glade’s brand Sparkle Punk—“@sparkle.punk” on Instagram—sells colorful jewelry, face masks, headbands, scrunchies, and more.

“I found that when I can make something that somebody can wear that makes them feel so good, that makes them feel really authentic and real and them, just made me really happy,” they said. “The most punk thing you could ever do is be yourself.”

Glade runs “@footlightpresents” on Instagram and is responsible for much of the organization’s recruitment for events and engagement with the community.

“That’s how people find us,” they said, referencing social media. “They’re like, ‘I feel the energy and I feel good, I feel safe here’… I think being a fem-owned and run business also really helps with that because we can really create a space that does what we preach.”

Footlight Presents hosts a variety of different events, such as open mic nights, cabarets, and workshops, to give emerging artists a platform and make culture accessible to all people.

It accomplishes these goals with the help of its members, who pay as little as $5 a month to support its efforts.

This funding allows events to have sliding scale admission, meaning that ticket prices vary and people pay what they can.

Footlight Presents also publishes a Zine titled “The Footlighter” that often highlights work by local artists and attendees of past events.

Laura Regan, who runs Footlight Presents, describes it as a need-based, community-oriented organization created “by artists for artists.”

“I go to a lot of events, I follow people on Instagram, I connect with people all the time, I’m always looking for new talent. I do come to a lot of the open mics and stuff too to scout for talent and see if I can book them on events. So it’s just about being invested and part of the community,” she said.

To support Footlight Presents in their mission to empower local artists and amplify diverse voices, become a subscribing member at https://withfriends.co/footlight_underground_at_the_windjammer/join.

 

Found objects shop opens in Ridgewood

By Stephanie Meditz
[email protected]

The corner of 60th Lane and Catalpa Avenue was closed to the public until Eric Oglander transformed it to share his passion for art with the Ridgewood community.

The 34-year-old artist and collector opened the shop, “tihngs,” last month, where he sells various relics from his own collection dating back to the 18th century.

Vintage seller “tihngs” houses a multitude of objects, including photographs, sculptures, jugs, bowls, chairs, repurposed items, and even pieces whose original purpose is unclear.

Artifacts in the store include but are not limited to photographs, sculptures, jugs, bowls, chairs, repurposed items, and even pieces whose original purpose is unclear.

Oglander prizes history, utility, and uncertainty in the pieces he collects. The works that most appeal to him are not necessarily the most beautiful ones, but the ones that reflect their creator’s humanity and leave the viewer asking questions.

“I really love one-off, unusual objects. I love objects that were made out of necessity or happenstance,” Oglander said.

“And then there are things that take a little bit of explaining. This might just look like a clay bust of a head, but this is actually an end-of-day piece,” he said while picking up the artifact. “This is made at a brick factory. So at the end of the day, one of the factory workers would have sculpted this out of the brick clay and fired it.”

Oglander started buying and selling artifacts at the age of 18.

He first started dealing art for profit, but as the son of artists and an artist himself, he fell in love with many of the pieces he came across.

After accumulating an abundance of beloved pieces, Oglander recognized the need to part with some of them.

“A lot of this stuff was in my apartment and they were keepers,” he said. “They were things that I was not going to sell because they made a lot of sense in my collection. But now, doing the store, I decided to make them available.”

Six years ago, he started an Instagram account, @tihngs, to showcase his most interesting pieces. The account boasts 26.2k followers.

His carefully curated aesthetic and strong social media presence connected him to people who shared his artistic interests.

This community of artists, curators, collectors, and lovers of history became part of his niche market for art dealing.

Eric Oglander holding a clay bust of a head, which was made at a brick factory.

Oglander hopes to expand his clientele to include the Ridgewood community, especially since its location had not previously been open to the public.

When he moved to Ridgewood five years ago, Oglander was already interested in the property on the corner of 60th Lane and Catalpa Avenue.

Contrary to the popular neighborhood belief, the building’s paper-covered windows did not mean that it was abandoned.

“It’s been used as an art studio for 10-ish years,” Oglander said. “So it was so fun taking the paper down and washing the windows. The response was pretty remarkable. I think people were a little blown away.”

For Oglander, opening “tihngs” to the public did not undermine the space’s prior use as a private art studio.

He works on his own small-scale, minimalist sculptures in his studio, which is situated behind the shop.

Oglander’s artwork has been featured in several exhibitions at Patrick Parrish Gallery in Lower Manhattan.

In addition to owning his business and practicing his own art, Oglander works for sculptor Robert Gober in Manhattan.

Originally from Nashville, Oglander has lived in New York for eight years. Before calling Ridgewood home, he lived in Prospect Heights, Lefferts Gardens, and Bushwick.
One of his favorite things about living in New York is the diversity promoted by the five boroughs.

“Just being amongst so many different walks of life, it’s just so refreshing to me,” he said.

By sharing his collection with the Ridgewood community, Oglander hopes to inspire in others the same sense of wonder he feels when he finds a fascinating object.

He encourages people to visit the shop by appointment or on select Saturdays.

“I just kind of hope to expose people to stuff they’ve never seen before,” he said. “I’m usually finding things I’ve never seen before, so I want people to come in and kind of experience the same curiosity.”

Mets fan makes impressive homerun snag

Ridgewood/Queens dad finds faith in fatherhood, baseball

Alan Alcantara, 31, made the impressive grab during the New York Mets game last week with his one-year-old child in his arms.

Alan Alcantara’s view from center field was a familiar one.

The Dominican-born 31-year-old grew up playing baseball, continuing through high school and even recently playing center field for three years for his job’s softball league.

He grew up watching Sammy Sosa, emulating the batting stance of Ken Griffey Jr., and idolizing his favorite player, Pedro Martinez.

But when the Ridgewood resident found himself in section 140 at Citi Field last week, just beyond the center field wall, he was without a glove and instead holding his one-year-old son, Levi.

The first inning home run hit by the Mets’ own Starling Marte was hit over the wall, and although Alcantara didn’t catch the ball on the fly, he positioned himself to catch the ball off the bounce after it ricocheted off the center field void between the Home Run Apple and his seats.

“I saw the ball coming off the bat,” Alcantara recalls. “It was a split-second decision to get up on the rail.”

The 431-foot moon shot to center field was hit 107.2 miles per hour off Marte’s bat, finding its way into Alcantara’s outreached arm, while he was standing on the side railing of his seats.

He says he’s been asked multiple times why he didn’t put his child down before attempting to catch the ball, but he says everything happened in “about two or three seconds.”

“My first thought was, let me stand up right away to see if I can catch it, so it doesn’t hit my family,” he added.

Alcantara, a church administrator at the Transformation Church in Ridgewood, happened to be at the game as part of an annual tradition with his co-workers. Families, volunteers, directors of ministries and even the church’s senior pastor — who Alcantara says is a huge Mets fan — were in attendance the night of Tuesday, May 31.

The bonding experience became a tradition last year, he says, as a way for the church’s congregation to regroup and celebrate life amid a global pandemic.

Alcantara, a father of two and soon-to-be three, says he received a flood of text messages from relatives and friends in his home country, who later saw the video clip of him catching the home run ball. A friend of his, a Pastor from Colombia, told him that he saw the replay of the catch while he was in the airport.

“I literally couldn’t pay too much attention to the game after [the catch],” Alcantara said.

The Mets would go on to defeat the Washington Nationals that night by a score of 10-0. They currently sit atop the NL East standings and have posted a 38-19 record through the first 57 games of the season. Only the 1986 Mets, who would go on to win the World Series that year, have posted a better club record to start the season.

During the pandemic, the Transformation Church pivoted to streaming their live services online, enabling the church at 16-40 Hancock Street to reach a larger audience than before, Alcantara says. Attending the church since he was 16, and a staff member for the last three years, Alcantara says that the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on the church’s local membership.

“We saw a lot of deaths within our members’ families,” he says. “There was a time when our pastor did so many funerals in one week, it was crazy.”

Transformation Church started as a Hispanic church before opening up english-speaking services about a dozen years ago, in an attempt to reach the American-born youth whose parents were also Hispanic.

“They understand Spanish, but not fully,” Alcantara, a graduate of Baruch College, said. “We want them to understand the word of God.”

Migrating from the Dominican Republic at 13-years-old, Alcantara has called Ridgewood his home for nearly two decades now. In addition to preaching the gospel and coordinating Sunday services, Alcantara helps the church hold annual food drives around Thanksgiving to aid local families.

“We want to be able to put our faith into action, not only preach the word, but also live it out and help people because it’s part of the gospel,” he added.

With Father’s Day right around the corner, Alcantara took his brief viral moment to celebrate the dads who are present in their child’s life.

“I want to thank the fathers for all the work you do for your kids,” he said. “I know sometimes we go unseen, but God sees it, and your kids do as well, and they will thank you for it.”

Ridgewood/Glendale honors Veterans on Memorial Day

Residents of Ridgewood, Glendale, and neighboring communities showed up for the long awaited 84th annual Ridgewood/Glendale Memorial Day Parade on Monday.
Veterans, active military personnel, community groups, elected officials, and locals alike gathered to honor and remember the men and women who died in service to their country.

“Today, we remember those that gave their lives in service to this country. This is not the day to be barbecuing and going to sales, you can do that any time,” Russell Goeller, parade chairman and committee member, said.
“This is the day where everyone who had a loved one has been touched by loss in any of these great wars in places some of us haven’t even heard of ,” he continued. “We have to remember them.”

He honored the men in Marine Corps uniforms who led the parade, thanking them, and encouraging each individual in attendance to do the same.
The group also celebrated this year’s Grand Marshal, Paul J. Schottenhamel, who served in the Vietnam War, and is a member of the Joseph B. Garity Post No. 562, American Legion.

Assembly Candidate Brent O’Leary at the Glendale/Ridgewood Memorial Day Parade

Several local elected officials shared words of support and gratitude, including Congresswoman Grace Meng, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, Glenda Garcia, deputy commissioner at the NYC Department of Veterans Services, NY State Senator Joseph Addabbo, and City Councilman Robert Holden. State Assembly hopeful, Brent O’Leary, also made an appearance at the parade.

“Memorial Day is one of the most important days in American culture, as we celebrate the people who paid the ultimate sacrifice to enjoy the freedoms that our country gives,” O’Leary said. “My father was in the Navy in World War II, and thankfully he came home. But I know every day that even if you look at what’s happening in the Ukraine, if it wasn’t without these people who are willing to sacrifice, we would not have the country that we are in.”

Glendale Kiwanis marched in the annual Memorial Day Parade.

Ridgewood Property Owners Association at the parade.

US Marines marching in the parade.
(Photos by Jessica Meditz)

Two women shot in Ridgewood

Neighborly checkup on domestic dispute turns deadly

A 51-year-old woman is dead and a 48-year-old woman is in critical condition following a domestic dispute that has police on the look out for a 55-year-old male named Pedro Cintron who fled the scene in Ridgewood early Monday morning.

Officers from the 104th precinct responded to 66-17 Fresh Pond Road at approximately 8:15 a.m. on Monday morning, where they found the 51-year-old victim, later identified as Migdalia Ortega, shot in the head, and a 48-year-old woman with two shots in her torso.

Police say a domestic incident between the 51-year-old woman and Cintron in their third floor apartment led to the 48-year-old woman, who lives on the second floor, to check on her upstairs neighbors.

The 48-year-old woman was then shot and as she fled to her apartment, Cintron followed her and continued shooting, according to NYPD Deputy Chief Julie Morrill. Police added that there had been no prior history of domestic violence between the two.

Cintron fled the scene, and there are no arrests as of press time.

During a press conference with law enforcement, it was revealed that the deceased victim was a civilian member of the NYPD with 11 years of service in the information technology bureau.

Assistant Chief Galen Frierson added, “There’s no words to describe exactly how we feel. We feel deeply for the family and we’re here to support them in anything they need.”

614 Woodward Avenue repossessed by the city

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Correction*

New information regarding the story “614 Woodward Avenue repossessed by the city” learned by the Queens Ledger after press time, indicates that a tax lien sale certificate has been placed on the property which remains in the possession of Silvershore Properties. Tower Capital Management is handling the sale.

Ridgewood’s biggest eyesore is no longer owned by Silvershore Properties.

The property, left abandoned and unproductive for several years, has now been repossessed by the Bank of New York because of unpaid taxes, NYC Department of Finance records show.

After years of 311 reports, complaints to the Community Board, and efforts to clean up the site, the property was taken back by the city on Feb. 24.

The action was filed to the Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS) on March 4.

Tyson Washburn, a resident of Ridgewood, suspects this was the plan all along.

He said that he knew the site would be an issue since the building, where there is now an empty lot, was illegally demolished about five years ago.

“They got a stop work order and a fine for that, and I sort of knew they were going to abandon it. The moment they stopped, they didn’t pay for their dumpster to be picked up, and so the guys who own the dumpster had to pick it up and pay the cost,” Washburn said.

“And it’s just kind of getting worse and worse. I’ve reported multiple times about the sidewalk being in terrible disarray and the scaffolding that has been up for more than two years. At one point, there was water constantly leaking from it.”

At least a dozen 311 service requests have been made regarding dirty conditions, graffiti, rodents, and illegal dumping at 614 Woodward Avenue in the span of the past month.

From February until now, eight summonses have been issued to Silvershore Properties by the Department of Sanitation, as a result of people illegally dumping their garbage there.

Washburn suspects that since the building was torn down illegally, the city may have to demolish the remaining property.

“It’s definitely unsafe,” he said. “If you look at that building, you can see it is crumbling. I’m not sure what they can do with it.”

Gary Giordano, district manager of Queens Community Board 5, said that the board has requested that the Department of Buildings reinspect the site.

“I don’t know what the Buildings Department is going to be able to do as far as gaining safe entry goes,” Giordano said. “So if they could see the property from the roof of someone nearby, they would get a much better idea about the condition of the property. Often, if the roof is a problem, the inside is going to be a real problem.”

He added that it’s hard to say if the site will be demolished, and that the “best situation” would be to have extensive work done on the property as opposed to demolition.

Giordano suggested that if there’s no demand to operate a business at the site, and the building can be salvaged and renovated, that people could eventually live there.

“There is a shortage of housing, and I haven’t seen anybody doing anything there that has been of any use for at least seven years. I think it would be a good site to have some apartments on the first floor,” he said.

“But you would have to go to the Department of Buildings to get that done. It would be hard to have something there for public use, in any period of time, where the property doesn’t sit there for a while.”

A representative from Silvershore Properties could not be reached for comment.

Ridgewood’s biggest eye-sore: 614 Woodward Avenue

By Jessica Meditz
[email protected]

614 Woodward Ave in Ridgewood has acted as an unofficial dumping ground for people to leave their trash, inviting rats and other creatures to wreak havoc.

Known for its eye-catching architecture, swanky cafes and rich cultural history, Ridgewood is a community appreciated by lifelong residents and first-time visitors alike.

But for residents who live and work on Woodward Avenue, it’s a nightmare.

614 Woodward Avenue is a large, corner side abandoned property that is boarded up with construction fences and sidewalk sheds.

It is owned by Silvershore Properties, a company whose former owner, Jonathan Cohen, was labeled “New York City’s worst landlord” by Attorney General Letitia James during her time as the former public advocate of NYC back in 2017.

Since 2018, the property has racked up 28 violations from the Department of Buildings, adding up to a total of over $200,000 in fines.

The tickets are issued to Silvershore Properties as well as another individual named Dawny Martinez. As per the Department of Buildings, both parties failed to show up in court and pay their fines.

In the meantime, the property has acted as an unofficial dumping ground for people to leave their trash, inviting rats and other creatures to wreak havoc.

Gary Giordano, district manager of Queens Community Board 5, said the site has been an issue in the community for several years, ever since Sehy Carson Funeral Home went out of business.

“I remember we had to get the Department of Buildings over there because people were squatting there. We eventually got that taken care of, but I don’t know of any real legitimate use of that property for more than seven years,” Giordano said.

“I will say that I have not known it to be the dumping accumulation problem it has been lately,” he continued.
“When I started at this job 32 plus years ago, nobody was complaining about illegal dumping.”

Giordano said that he has reached out to the Department of Sanitation to clean up the mess, and they do, but people continue to leave their garbage there.

Angela Mirabile, executive director of Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation (GRRC), a nonprofit that focuses on preserving Ridgewood, said that she’s received numerous complaints from residents about the site and its sanitation issues.

She is unsure of who is dumping there, and explained that most of the trash left on the sidewalk there is regular household garbage, and not something that Sanitation would not pick up.

Another issue at the location is graffiti, which GRRC has helped clean up as part of one of their routine programs.

“Normally, with a construction fence, we would give it time for them to do whatever they’re supposed to be doing because the fence is usually a temporary thing,” Mirabile said.

“But that fence has actually been up there for a very long time. So we figured it would help to have the graffiti removed because people are dumping garbage there,” she added. “Sometimes they think that nothing is going on and they dump it, so if we painted over it, it would give it a better look.”

Mina Takla, who owns Aghapy Food Inc. Deli & Grocery across the street, said that 614 Woodward has looked the same since he opened up shop seven years ago.

“People constantly throw their garbage and other stuff in front of the building and I don’t know why,” he said. “I think if somebody fixes it or takes care of the building it’s better for everyone who lives and works here, because it’s a problem.”

Another resident, who requested to remain anonymous, has remained on top of the issue that the property presents to the neighborhood by taking photos, making 311 reports and keeping in contact with community members who are part of the Community Board, the Neighborhood Association and local realtors who are concerned about showing homes in the area.

“I’ve contacted the realtor who is trying to sell the property whose documentation is hung up. It’s old information showing the building in an entirely different state, and they’re asking more for it than it would ever sell,” she said.

“So they’re clearly not really trying to sell it. I’m concerned for the Catholic charity building next door that’s had scaffolding on their building this entire time. It really seems like a hardship on their quality of life,” she continued.

She said it appears that Silvershore Properties keeps opening new LLCs in order to shuffle around losses.

While it remains unclear what their strategy is, the resident said it can be categorized as an acceptable loss.

“I think it’s just criminal negligence for the health and safety of this neighborhood. It’s absurd how much trash children are exposed to, and that they can’t even walk a normal path to the park because the sidewalks are unusable,” she said.
“By having the scaffolding up for an extended period of time, on an unoccupied building without lights, it becomes an area for all kinds of criminal activities, like the shooting we had. It’s criminal that Silvershore treats this like a financial instrument, whereas we have to live with this health hazard.”

A Google search will reveal that Silvershore Properties is “permanently closed,” and the phone number listed is disabled.

Jonathan Cohen or any representative from Silvershore Properties could not be reached for comment.

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