York Street Station in DUMBO.
Because of its intrinsically personal nature, making a gift of artwork to someone is what you might call a pretty ballsy move. Unless, of course, the art you are gifting happens to have the kind of broad universal appeal of art deco architecture. And this is the genius behind the Brooklyn-based Municipal Prints Company, a new boutique prints and lithograph maker that specializes in the gorgeous period art and design of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Their recent “City of Brooklyn” series is based on W.P.A.- era posters and I love the sharp clean lines, the elegant typefaces, and the rich contrasts of the colors. They’re great re-interpretations of some timeless designs and you pretty much can’t go wrong giving someone one of these.It’s a nice bonus that the story behind the company is kind of awesome. Brooklyn resident and founder Sheldon Yeager was a MTV Networks executive who happened to harbor a deep and abiding love of the aesthetic and architectural traditions of the early 20th century, specifically the grand public architecture of that era. Of course lots of us have passions and have debated following The Dream… but we get distracted because its lunchtime and we have to go to Duane Reade or whatever and so we never do anything about it. We find it inspiring when someone puts their money where their mouth is and takes a leap of faith for something they believe in. So we salute Mr. Yeager and the Municipal Prints Company for doing just that, and ultimately creating a really beautiful product in the process.
Ever been to Jane’s Carousel in Dumbo? An incredible new addition to Brooklyn Bridge Park, it is a vintage Carousel from 1922 positioned right on the waterfront and has jaw-dropping views like this of Manhattan and the bridges…
I like the story behind it, because it is one of persistence. An artist named Jane Walentas (wife of David Walentas, the real estate developer who created Dumbo as you know it today) spent more than 25 years bringing this Carousel to life.
It was a true passion project, and took an insane amount of work because when Jane and David purchased it at auction in 1984, the Carousel was a total wreck. They made hundreds of necessary carpentry repairs, and began the time-consuming process of hand-scraping away 62 years of “Park Paint” with a razor blade to reveal the original 1922 carvings, color palette, and designs. The horses were rendered in faithful detail based on historical photographs.
Missing embellishments such as faceted jewels, small beveled mirrors on the bridles, and delicate pinstriping were restored. Blackened varnish was removed from original paintings to reveal their true colors. Mechanical systems were updated with new gears, motor and an electronic controller. Totally rewired, the Carousel now dazzles visitors with 1200 brilliant lights. When finished in 2011, it was finally housed in an appropriately gorgeous glass and steel pavilion designed by the incredible Jean Nouveau.
And not surprisingly, the finished product is pretty damn amazing. Eve went completely bananas over it… Go, you won’t be disappointed!