Bed-Stuy Stories: Annika Kaye of the Howard Avenue Playgroup

Bed-Stuy Blog contributor Mikhal Weiner is profiling interesting residents from our community for her column, Bed-Stuy Stories. Next up is Annika Kaye, who has started the Howard Avenue Playgroup, a creative summer program for kids in the neighborhood.


I met with Annika Kaye on a recent Sunday morning to talk about Brooklyn, being neighborly, educational philosophy, but especially about her new initiative – The Howard Avenue Playgroup, a creative summer program for kids in Bed-Stuy. As Kaye pushed open the glass door, she smiled broadly, making her way out of the June sun to join me at a back table. She folded her sunglasses and set them on the table, looking positively joyful.

Kaye is a lifelong New-Yorker, born in Stockholm, Sweden but raised in Chelsea in a bustling apartment building. “As a child, my concept of community was saying hello to people in the elevator and that was kind of it. We didn’t know anyone else on the block or surrounding our own building,” she told me. Nevertheless, even as a child she found herself creating mini-communities – getting to know her neighbors and babysitting younger kids in the building, even though she herself was, at the time, quite young. “Now, as a mother, I can’t imagine leaving my kid with a ten year old, but back then…” she chuckles. It was another time and another place. Brooklyn is different, though, she says, “Slower pace, greater space, community…it’s a very noticeable difference. Neighbors saying hello to each other, kids coming over for spontaneous playdates, that’s what I appreciate about Brooklyn.”

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ArtLinks 3: A New Kind of Art Exhibition

art links, art links bed-stuy

Imagine a game of telephone that uses works of art instead of a phrase or word. That’s what ArtLinks is – an ongoing collaborative project that brings together over 20 artists across disciplines and countries to create a continuous thread of innovation and artistry. Six months in the making – this is a one of a kind event.

Twenty three artists from across the globe have been working together to create one unending chain reaction of creativity. Every pair or trio of artists, in turn, had ten days to create something new inspired by the work of the pair that preceded them. None of the artists had worked together in the past, and all of the works are multidisciplinary.

The ArtLinks 3 Exhibition is presented by Salomé ArtHaus, a local artist collective, on Saturday, June 23rd from 6-11 pm in Bushwick, Brooklyn at Powrplnt (562 Evergreen Ave). Tickets are available online ($10 –> includes a free drink) or at the door ($12)

Featured artists:
Yaniv Glaser & Benjamin Furman
Sasha Daniel & Maha Alasaker
Tongues Unknown & Jared Rosen
Mor Cohen & Darryl Blake Rahn & Michal Hidas
Taylor Bradshaw & Sienna Rose Kat Blaw & Devon Yesberger
Sebastian Chiriboga & Laura Gatti
Pamela Hersch & Maya Valentine
Kieran Murray & Ronit Levin Delgado Rojas & Astrid Kuljanic
Evan Tyor & 魯千千 (Chien Chien Lu)
Tom Vizel & Mikhal Weiner

Bed-Stuy’s WOC Book Club Will Meet June 20th and 23rd

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Bed-Stuy’s WOC (Women of Color) Book Club is an initiative led by local resident Beatriz Kaye. For the past few months, the Book Club has been gathering monthly to discuss timely and pertinent books by Women of Color. According to Kaye, “the meetings are open to WOC and Queer Trans People of Color – it is a safe space to discuss books, literature, and more.”

This month, the Book Club read ‘Not That Bad’, essays about rape culture edited by Roxane Gay. Join the discussion! This month’s meetings are either on Wednesday the 20th, 7pm at Nostrand Cafe (261 Nostrand Ave.) or Saturday the 23rd, 1pm at MacDonough Cafe (83 Saratoga Ave.) Find out more about upcoming events by following the Book Club on Instagram @bedstuybookclub

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UPDATED: Bedstuy Flea Kicks Off June 23rd

UPDATE: The dates of this event have been changed, and reflected in this post.

Bedstuy Flea is kicking off next weekend and for the following eight weeks! It’ll be located at 380 Tompkins Avenue, between Jefferson and Putnam. Here’s what you can expect, from the event organizers:

Eight weeks, Two days of scavenger fun – featuring over 30 vendors of sustainable goods, eclectic vintage, handmade items, jewelry, wellness products, arts and crafts, and wares from the five boroughs and beyond weekly.This curated experience is immersed within exposed brick walls opening into a whimsically garden filled with a diverse and vibrant shopping experience that will tantalite all of your senses in the heart of Bedstuy, Brooklyn. Bring your inner child out to mingle, get a tarot reading, eat, dance and shop for a good cause. Meet fellow global citizens, community members, influencers, and bloggers. Let your money make a difference! Your participation goes to support the Audre Lorde Project, NAACP, and Peace Boat – all community based organizations who make a significant difference.

It’ll go down every Saturday and Sunday between June 23rd and August 11th, between 11am and 7pm. Admission is free.

Renovated Affordable Housing Opens on Bainbridge Street

Photo by Ben Gabbe

Last Thursday, the ribbon was cut on a renovated affordable housing project at 271 and 291 Bainbridge Street. It was the work of HPD, Enterprise Community Partners, Low Income Investment Fund, NYS Housing Trust Fund and New Destiny Housing. New Destiny is a nonprofit that works with low-income families and individuals at risk of homelessness and domestic violence by connecting them to safe, permanent housing and services.

The four-building, 36-unit affordable complex got $9.4 million in upgrades. Each renovated building now contains six apartments set aside for formerly homeless families, with rents affordable to very low and low income tenants.

Renovations also included new roofs, joist replacement, new and improved lighting in hallways, masonry cleaning, new boilers, additional security cameras, renovated lobbies, new landscaping in all backyards, and new children’s play equipment. Apartment upgrades included new bath and kitchen fixtures, new appliances, floor replacements, tiling and painting. Check out the apartments below!

Pop-Up Exhibit Happening This Friday at The Malcolm

Carlos Mateu, Art De Coeur

This Friday between 7 and 11pm, a pop-up art exhibit will be on view at The Malcolm, located at 106 Malcolm X Boulevard between Greene and Lexington. The show, “Pop Geometric” is by the artist Carlos Mateu. Here are more details on Carlos:

Carlos Mateu calls his art style “geometric realism”. His paintings fuse elements of cubism with realism, using straight lines and perspective to create a geometric and three-dimensional effect, while subtly deforming the images. Intense colors of acrylic are applied in layers like silkscreen, creating clean and precise divisions between tones, textured further with oil pastel. His subject matter incorporates surrealism and mysticism to reflect the Afro Cuban life and religions, memories of Cuba, his life in the United States and his own creative perspective on the world around him.

The event is being hosted by Art du coeur, which represents both emerging and established artists and shows their work in various venues around New York City.

Brooklyn United Marching Band Theater Debut

Join the Brooklyn United Drum and Dance Troupe for their limited time, off-Broadway debut on June 8th, 9th and 10th – BROOKLYN UNITED LIVE. This dynamic, engaging production will feature performers ages 5 to 17 from across the borough who have been working hard to prepare for this unique expression of music, dance, community and camaraderie.

Brooklyn United kids come from numerous Brooklyn neighborhoods, with over 100 participants from Bed-Stuy alone. Students learn to read music and to march, of course, but they also learn life skills. The BU mission states clearly the wider vision as “the development of youth through Academic Support, Character Development, Skills Building and Performance Opportunities. It is through these pillars that we strive to build strong, well rounded, healthy, confident and capable young people.”

Ty Brown has been running programs in Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights for over 20 years, and described the myriad ways in which the program has impacted young participants. “BU has effected students in every area of their lives. Academically they show great growth, emotionally they are more confident and outspoken, and their relationships with their parents are stronger. BU students become amazing leaders and go on to lead any industry they enter.”

Next week these young leaders will have the opportunity to showcase their skills on a new stage, and we will be fortunate to partake in the joy and growth that comes from working together as a community to create a singular work of art. Brown’s message is clear and rings from every cymbal crash and bass drum beat, “[We can all] be better each day,” he said, “Wake up with gratitude every day for our ability to beat this game of life!”

Tickets are available at Performances will take place June 8th to the 10th, 2018 at La Mama (66 East 4th Street). (June 8th at 8pm, June 9th and 10th at 3pm.)

Check out this video to learn more about the incredible kids of Brooklyn United, or watch this video to see and hear them at the Kosciuszko Bridge Opening Ceremony.