Wednesday, November 30

The People's Library

The People’s Library, formerly located at the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement in Zuccotti Park, was lauded at the fastest growing library in America by Melvin Jules Bukiet (writing for “About a thousand books a day are lent out and about a thousand more arrive, so many that they’ve had to find storage space elsewhere. “ Bukiet wrote, “to put these numbers in perspective, a suburban library I know lends out about 400 items a day, the majority of which are ‘media,’ a.k.a. videos.”
The morning of November 15, when the NYPD raided Zuccotti Park, they also confiscated the 5,000 books in The People’s Library. Readers, writers, and librarians were outraged when they saw bins of books being emptied into a dumpster on the livestream of the raid.
Hours after the raid was over, when a barricade with a single entrance was erected, people returned to the park. The NYPD and other security officials were not letting people into the park with large backpacks, many of whom had books belonging to The People’s Library. Matthew Taylor, a Queens resident, was there that afternoon and said that people were practically leaping over the barricade and telling the NYPD, “I have to return this book before I get fined for being overdue!”
A few days after the raid Mayor Bloomberg’s office tweeted a picture of some of the books they had confiscated, ensuring the public and the librarians that the books were safe and could be retrieved.  Of the 5000 books that belonged to the library only 1300 books were returned, about one third of the collection. Of those 1300 books that were returned only 800 are fit to be read. At press conference last week, Norman Siegel a civil rights lawyer pleaded that, “The Bloomberg Administration needs to replace every book missing or damaged…. We have the titles and authors. The Bloomberg Administration needs to acknowledge that a wrong was committed and that this can never happen again.”
I saw The People’s Library last October and was astounded by the collection. The library had a large children’s book collection, philosophy books, text books, Twilight, and, after making a joke about reading Ayn Rand on Wall Street, The Fountanhead. During the press conference, Siegel pointed out that the library even had Bloomberg on Bloomberg.
The donation based library has since gained support from the American Library Association and now exists in a transient state, with small “branches” popping up at Occupy Wall Street marches (and drum circles) throughout the city. There was even a #OWSbookmobile that traveled around New York City picking up books in hopes of replenishing the lacking collection.
The People’s Library and its patrons are a community of engaged readers, in a country where educators are constantly figuring out how to get young people interested in books. It is deplorable that our own government is destroying our books. But, the library is just one small part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, as one of the librarians said at the press conference, You can take our books. You can take our park. But you can’t take our spirit. And we’re not going anywhere

The Man Behind The Park

Photo: Farrell/News
Before September 17, the name Zuccotti did not have much of a meaning to the thousands of people who, for the next two months would occupy, live and visit the park. Many people still do not know why the park is called Zuccotti Park or for whom it was named.

74-year-old John E. Zuccotti is the former City Planning Commission chairman and was appointed as the first deputy mayor under Abe Bearne in 1970. He is the co-chairman of the board of Brookfield Properties, a multi-billion dollar real estate development firm.  During his career he specialized in planning, housing, real estate and municipal law and played a leading role in the development process of major residential and commercial projects throughout the city.

“If you go there, you can’t tell the protesters from the tourists. It has a kind of festive atmosphere.” Zuccotti said to the New York Times about the occupation in early October. However, in recent weeks he seems to have different concerns of the parks new reputation.
When asked, 18 out of 20 people, who have been actively participating in the occupation, had no idea as to whom John Zuccotti is. The other two people had interesting answers. One, a 22 year old from Baltimore said, “Zuccotti is a type of bonzi tree, that is very rare.” The other person, a 32 year old man from Brooklyn thought it was, “a political figure who was assassinated in the 1800’s.”

“He was very worried about it,” former Mayor Ed Koch told the Daily News after speaking with Zuccotti recently. “He said, everybody knows my name, Zuccotti, not because of what I’ve done as an individual, but because of the park.”  

Photo: Office Links
Originally know as 1 Liberty Plaza the space was renamed Liberty Square after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. After Brookfield Properties spent over $8 million in renovations in 2006 it was renamed Zuccotti Park. But why was that the chosen place of occupation? One of the Chief Executive Officers, Ric Clarke explained during an interview, “it’s easy—location, location, location.”

A block-long, the half-acre park is a privately owned public plaza and typically does not allow overnight camping or serve as a base for mass protests. He continued, “It’s in the heart of the financial district and is one of the largest privately owned public spaces in the city.”  

Moses, a 24 year old from Virginia Beach who has participated in the occupation since the first week said, "I don't think this is a personal thing against the guy who the park was named for. It's an ideal location for the message we are trying to send. It's a great $8 million campground. "

The Price of Remembering

Photo Credit: MTA, Bing Lee on Canal Street

photo of Calarava plan

The MTA has erected permanent art in over 150 locations throughout the Triborough area. Many of these locations make homage to it’s location in the city. Around Canal Street, Bing Lee made a tiled work entitled Empress Voyage, which looks at the history of trade between Asia and the United States. At Inwood 207th Street Sheila de Bretteville created a work entitled To The Start…At Long Last in an attempt to recognize the multinational community in Brooklyn. In many there are depictions of the struggle New York City has faced with race. In Brooklyn While there are many of these commemorations in the stations, one was destined to take up the task of remembering September 11th. Besides the constuction site downtown, the only other memorial to September 11th is on the 69th Street Pier in Greenpoint, it was erected in 2005 and is entitled Beacon, “Brooklyn remembers September 11th” is inscribed in the bronze

MTA’s Art for Transit makes up less than 1% of the total $130 million operation, with minute budget of $1 million, according to the 2011 MTA Final Proposed Budget.

In terms of remembering September 11th, Port Authority is taking a much larger role, as the PATH station stops at the World Trade Center Stop. With MTA’s income at zero for this fiscal year, after continually dropping since 2008, and a PATH station next to the new September 11th memorial, Port Authority is working to make a ‘Transit Hub’ at the corner of Vesey Street and West Street to replace the existing one that boarders the 8 acres of the 9/11 memorial.

Construction began in September 2005. The opening will be in 2014 at an estimated budget of $3.2 million rising from a previous budget of 2.2 million. According to the Port Authority annual report of 2010, the station will be “the Grand Central Station of Lower Manhattan.” In 2004 Spanish Architect, Santiago Calatrava unveiled his design of a white, wing-like structure that would rise from the spine of the hub, creating the shape of a bird, however, since then, the cost of the wings has been too high and they have been clipped from the plan according to the Architectural Record. The structure is now the ribcage of a large beast, letting light in four stories down. The new station promises to be the perfect subway station flush with stores and “climate controlled platforms” according to the Port Authority World Trade Center site. It will serve 250,000 voyagers a day.

Calatrava’s now-ghost wings represent the weight of the project for New York City. Whether they are outwardly political or not, transportation authority of New York City is in many ways responsible for raising awareness of events in public spaces. Perhaps in 30 years from now, a New Yorker will be able to walk by an MTA, arts for transit piece on September 11th with a short glance and a whisp of a thought. But until then, Lower Manhattan is still a crowded construction area whose importance seems to be bigger than any dollar sign amount. Manhattan photographer, Carlton Davis suggests, it is “a fresh wound in the minds of New Yorkers.”

The Race for Mayor

I'm working on a graphic illustration of "The Race for Mayor." It's not yet complete, but here's a snippet of what it looks like.

Occupy Anywhere, Just Not Here.

The Town Hall Meeting in the Kellen Gallery ended in a manner consistent to other discussions on the New School Occupation – lacking resolve.

Amidst the freshly-painted walls covering the defacement performed over Thanksgiving, the University Student Senate, President and Provost met with members of the student body, faculty and staff in order to find a solution to the New School Occupation.

In the meeting, a variety of New School students, faculty and staff members all echoed sentiments similar to those of the frustrated Financial District residents who wanted the occupiers cleared out, in that it isn’t the entire movement they were against, but they way some were conducting it and how that was negatively effecting them. Others however countered with opinions in full support, almost claiming the progressive nature of the school made it their (our) prerogative to produce aggressive, “political” art.

Ultimately, the meeting ended having accomplished little, if anything at all.

11/28 Town Hall

On Monday, November 28, a University Town Hall was held in response to the student occupier’s vandalizing the Kellen Gallery. Three University Student Senate senators acted as mediators and facilitators of the informal town hall. The main objectives were to discuss the New School occupation and how to continue going forwards. Melissa Holmes, one of the senators, started the three-hour meeting at the Kellen Gallery by asking, “How did you experience this week?”
The first speaker was A. Rodriguez, a Parsons student and a worker at the Kellen Gallery. He talked about his unease at the offering of the gallery as a new space for the occupiers. He also elaborated on his role in helping take down the current exhibition on Thursday and then cleaning up the spray painted gallery on Sunday after the occupiers had left. Besides Mr. Rodriguez, three other student gallery workers, their employer and the gallery curator spoke at the town hall.
The initial model of having an open forum where seated attendees could simply shout out quickly became disorganized and argumentative. The student senators then asked all attendees who would like to say something to form a stack on the side of the room. Speakers took turns voicing their concerns. Various speakers repeated a few specific opinions throughout the meeting.
Some emphasized the lack of disrespect the occupiers showed towards the gallery and their horror at seeing 90 Fifth Avenue and the Kellen Gallery treated so badly. Others spoke about their role in the occupation movement and their sorrow at seeing the actions of a few uncooperative dissenters ruin the opportunity for students to have a space to congregate in. Both students and faculty from various schools of the university spoke.
When the student senators took a temperature check of the room an hour and a half into the meeting, many of the audience had already left. The response to the question, whether or not students want a space, was tepid. Near the two-hour mark, it was decided that a vote could not be taken now on whether or not the Kellen Gallery should continue to be the space offered to the student occupiers. It was also impossible to decide whether the students should be given a space at all. The student senators asked repeatedly for suggestions on how to move forwards.

A Brief Look at the Iconography of Occupy Wall Street

First, in attempting to convey a classic, “All-American” theme, it comes off looking like a Civil War recruitment poster or a bourbon advertisement.

Content wise, this poster should probably be split into to separate banners. As it stands both the top and bottom half have the weight, removing any clear and natural direction for the eye to follow. The result of this is it seems jumbled – the framing doesn’t even really match from top to bottom, with the bottom corners wider than the top, as well as being different stylistically.

The top half in itself is a fairly effective poster; its message is clear and consistently worded. The bottom half however is a mess. As it is, the three levels (WE, ARE, 99) are in limbo. Through the size and spacing, our eyes are drawn immediately to the large “99”, which, as the focal point should be centered with even spacing and clear lines up both sides or should be a dramatically different size. Of those three levels, either one needs to be demonstrated as the most important and set out dramatically, or they should all be given equal weight and the focus should be consistent.

A well-designed graphic should effectively utilize the negative space (basically blank space), where this designer simply inserted small graphics and increased the size to almost entirely eliminate any negative space, which is why it feels cluttered and disjointed.

Also, the font and design appear to be trying to convey an “All-American” sentiment, however it ends up feeling more like a civil war recruitment poster or a bourbon ad.

As an image, this is framed nicely. Content-wise, it isn’t exactly clear. As this isn’t necessarily an advertisement, its message doesn’t have to be obviously understood, however some clarity (or at least something standing) would be nice and effective. The poster needs some oomph to it. Perhaps changing the white lettering to a bold, fiery red would go well with the serenity of the general image – also, increasing the font size would draw more focus to the purpose behind the image and it would seem less like just a pretty picture.

This is a well-created poster. The message is clear and it is an effective take-off of the British, “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters from World War II. Technically the distance between both the camera and “#occupy*” and the letters should be reduced, thereby moving them further away from the outer borders (even the crown in the original poster is rather close to the words and not way off towards the top). However, it works perfectly fine as is.

This poster could have been very good. Utilizing old propaganda-type formats works very well with a movement of this type and could be incredibly effective, however this poster needs to work on its negative space and special movement. Reducing the size of the “1%” man and moving him further into the corner while increasing the amount of people, tightening the gaps between them and spreading them further into the main focal space of the poster would effectively demonstrate the percentages they are attempting to convey. The entire piece could also be centered, demonstrating a sense of isolation, as one man stands alone with a mass of people before him. Also, the text box is unnecessary and aesthetically, should be removed. The text inside doesn’t say anything that visual itself isn’t already saying and so removing it wouldn’t take anything away from the message.

Graphically, this poster has major spacing issues, but aesthetics are probably not its primary focus. While the message can be understood, reducing the space between lines and pulling the letters in and away from the edges could simplify it. Using multiple fonts is fine, however it is an awkward transition between the two which could be remedied through spacing adjustments. Also, the line beneath “WE ARE” is redundant; the largest writing on a poster will inherently have the greatest focus, and by using such strong lettering the designer has given it all the emphasis it needs.

This poster is awkward. While it utilizes the bold, fiery red text missing in the other bull poster, it also opens up several additional issues. The lines framing “What is our one demand?” seem unnecessary and could be removed without detracting from the overall message, however, so could those words. They carry significance relating to many of the critical responses of the movement, however, “JOIN US” itself sort of does that on its own. On the “JOIN U.S.”, the periods abbreviating U and S are aesthetically detracting, and as far as the message goes, this doesn’t come off as a natural or effective place for wordplay and therefore appears unnecessary as well. Then, as with the other posters, the white text is very close to the bottom edge, which could be remedied by moving it up, however they could also just delete “Bring Tent” as it seems like an after-thought – or a joke. “JOIN US. September 17th. Bring Tent.”

Indecision: Politics of Space

Conversation, debates, but no solution—yet. Melissa Holmes and her two fellow University Student Senators moderated the Town Hall meeting held in the newly painted Kellen Gallery on Monday. Over the weekend, volunteers had painted over the walls that have been graffiti-ed by some of the occupiers. While a variety of opinions were heard, no conclusions were drawn as to whether Kellen Gallery will be offered again to the occupiers.

Among the first to speak was Adam Rodriquez, a student worker who has worked at Kellen Gallery for two and half years. He expressed his disappointment in the administration’s lack of judgment. “Where is the common sense?” he asked. The administration had seen the occupiers vandalize the study center at 90 Fifth Avenue, and Rodriquez wanted to know why the administration did not foresee that the occupiers would trash the gallery too. “It looks like we have no control over the school,” said Rodriquez. He was also concerned about losing his job at the gallery, but the curator clarified by saying student workers will still get paid.

Many had hoped that the New School Occupation would provide a “space for discussion and conversation.” The point many student occupiers tried to get across was that the graffiti was done by a minority within the group. “The minority didn’t get what they wanted and set out to make sure no one else got what they wanted either,” said one student occupier. One person proposed that the graffiti should be perceived of as art. “Shouldn’t art be political?” he asked.

Time and again, Holmes tried to “take the temperature” of the crowd to see if a decision could be made about the fate of Kellen Gallery.

The assistant director of the gallery expressed that she is “not sure [Kellen Gallery] is the best place to carry out the conversation” because “the space has become loaded.”

“The student movement is one of the most important things I can see myself partaking in,” said Ted, a student pursuing his masters in Philsophy at the NSSR, “we need a space.”

The New School Open Discussion

On Monday, November 28, New School faculty, staff, and students gathered in an freshly painted Kellen Gallery to discuss the future of the occupiers and the space. University Student Senate led the open dialogue. President David Van Zandt and Provost Tim Marshall were also in attendance.

Before discussing the matters of Kellen Gallery, University Student Senate secretary Melissa Holmes announced that the "open dialogue" will begin with people "telling their stories."

Adam Rodriguez, a Parsons student and Kellen Gallery worker, was first to speak. Without a doubt, Rodriguez displayed his anger towards the occupiers, continuously blaming them for the "defacement of the gallery."

While Rodriguez was still speaking, a graduate student sitting in the crowd interrupted him and questioned his choice of words, specifically choosing to call the occupier's work "graffiti" and not "art."

"Shouldn't art be political?" the graduate student asked.

Many agreed, until the graduate student randomly began questioning the University Student Senate's position.

"Who are you guys?" he questioned. "Are you administrators?"

A bit taken a back, Holmes quickly answered the graduate student that the University Student Senate are the "mediators" for the open dialogue. While all of this was going on, President Van Zandt and Provost Marshall said nothing.

For an hour and thirty minutes, Parsons faculty, Kellen Gallery workers, and occupiers continuously expressed their opinions, with many wanting the space to be restored as a gallery.

With 30 minutes left of the allotted 2 hour time, a huge portion of the audience had already left. Holmes asked the rest if it would be appropriate to "vote" on what to do with Kellen Gallery and the occupiers.

Many agreed that it would be ridiculous to have 30 people "vote" for the whole university. The University Student Senate agreed and decided that the best way would be to send out a mass e-mail to all university students to either "cast their votes" or "send suggestions for a new space the occupiers can use."

At the end of the open dialogue, nothing was accomplished.

The Fusion of Fine Art and Fashion Panel Discussion

The Panel: Austin Scarlett, Annika Connor, Bill Indursky, and Patrick McMullan

Exploring the inexplicable link between fine art and fashion throughout the past and modern day, "The Fusion of Fine Art and Fashion" featured discussion between famous nightlife photographer Patrick McMullan, designer and Project Runway star Austin Scarlett, and co-founder of (Vintage and Modern) Bill Indursky. The panel was held at the General Assembly and the colorful conversation was moderated by artist and entrepreneur Annika Connor.

While the conversation was ultimately supposed to be about the newest concepts of the fashion and fine art, it would be impossible not to look back upon history's influence. Who better to look to the golden past than Austin Scarlett, who specialized in couture and evening wear design studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology and has received fine arts training at the Art Students League of New York.For Scarlett, looking at fashion and fine art from a historical perspective began with Spanish painter DiegoVelázquez who was enlisted by King Philip IV to decorate the interior of his palace. Velázquez also designed elegant garb for the royal family and ladies in waiting. During the 17th and 18th centuries, fashion was considered equal to art. "A painting was a display of someone's power and whole lifestyle, and likewise with fashion" said Scarlett "Promoting a lifestyle of privlege and cultivation."

According to Scarlett, Rose Bertin is one of the first fashion designers you read about in history books. Bertin was a French milliner and dressmaker for the court of Marie Antoinette and helped introduce the haute couture to popular culture. It during that time that fashion was at the "peak of frivolity and extravagance." However, when the Industrial Revolution began, fashion was made more accessible to the masses. "It became more of a common-leaf commodity as opposed to a rare kind of art form" Scarlett explained.As fashion rapidly began to spread beyond wealth, so did fine art with the beginning of the Modern Art era. "There was a seperation between the old days of the luxurious lifestyle to the seperation of Modern Art." he said "Painters were coming out with their own work that really had nothing to do with lifestyles of the rich."

The mid-nineteenth century brought the growth of the fashion industry and collaborations began to emerge between fashion designers and the world of theatre, with designer creating elaborate costumery. Proclaiming the 1950's and 60's as the golden age of couture, America's first couturier Charles James worked out of the Chelsea Hotel. Scarlett mentioned his favorite quote about James by Balenciaga, “Charles James is not only the greatest American couturier, but the world’s best and only dressmaker who has raised it from an applied art form to a pure art form,” In our modern day, the idea of artists collaborating with fashions designers or courturiers is very common, and has allowed for larger audiences to be reached.

With talk of modern collaborations, photographer McMullan mentions artist Stephen Sprouse who collaborated with designer Marc Jacobs. "He was a true artist first, and a designer second" explains McMullan. He talks about how one of his photographs from a Stephen Sprouse runway show was placed in museum and how significant that was for his flourishing career back in the 80's.

Throughout his career, McMullan has explored photography as both functional and a fine art. In terms of history, McMullan spoke not for only his love for portraits but also the fashions worn in them "When you think of so many of the wonderful masterpieces, what would they be like without the fashions they're wearing?" he posed. "Fashion is part of the portraiture." He also points out that for a while it was mostly the wealthy who were able to immortalize through painting, and since photography was first invented documenting has become quicker and easier for many more.

When McMullan hits the town to shoot, he looks for the individuals who catch the eye. "I've always been drawn to people who say "Look at me!" He explains. "I really have." In many cases, there fashion plays a large part in what captures his attention. " Fashions adds status, color, flair, and style to each of us" he explained. For McMullan even bad style is fun to photograph.

Following McMullan's commentary, Connor directed the conversation over to Indursky and his innovative approach to fashion and art. As a co-founder of an online retailer who sells carefully curated antiques, he has found the recipe for embracing technology in a relatively old-fashioned business. Indursky asserted that he believes that in fashion "Items have a second life that goes way beyond their original function." Thinking artistically, one can bring new life to a once thought to be useless garment. Not limited just to fashion is the idea of "upcycling" which is not just environmentally friendly, but also encourages creativity and innovation. Taking a vintage item and re-imagining it, "you repaint it, refurbish it, cut it apart, and making it something else."

While Indursky admits there are aspects of fine art and fashion that have been lost in the digital age, there are plenty of benefits. Combined with traditional methods, he uses web analytics to forecast trends in the art and fashion products offered on VandM. Collectively the group agrees that technology holds endless possibilties in the foreseeable future of fine art and fashion.

The Fusion of Fine Art and Fashion was the third in an exciting new educational series of panels entitled Art as Entrepreneurship. Each panel hosts a mix of creators, investors, historians, and innovators in a monthly art discussion.

Approaching the Gap in Student Learning, A Debate

Photo Credit:

“If we treated our schools the way we treat our football teams schools would be fine” Perdro Nogura remarked on the topic of efficient budgeting for schools at the state level.
 On Tuesday November 29, The New School hosted a debate as part of the Institute for Urban Education’s Catalyzing School Change year-long speaker series. The conversation between Pedro Noguera a professor of education at New York University and Joe Williams, executive director of the Democrats for Education Reform centered on the role and responsibilities of communities, parents and the Department of Education in diminishing learning gaps between students.
Perdro Nogura who is also the Executive Director of  the Metropolitan Center of Urban Education and the Co-director of the Institute for the Study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings started the conversation off “you cannot address the issues in schools in impoverished communities without addressing the issues of poverty themselves” he said. 
Joe Williams who is also a former journalist, enters the conversation by talking about his experience writing on education for the New York daily 10 years ago. He remembers when New York state stated releasing test scores for schools broken down by race.
“[The scores] showed that white kids in New York were getting a seemingly better education on paper than black kids,” Williams said.
Williams remembers calling all the black politicians and trying to get them to talk about how they saw and understood the gap in achievement to be true. “No one knew what to say” Williams suspected. “They had their own antidotes but the politics of education are weird. No one wants to sound like they’re against public schools.”
Nogura chimes in and says that the issues isn’t about race its about poverty. 
“The strongest indicator of how well a student will do on the SATs is income level and the number of years their parents were educated.” 
According to Nogura quite often schools in impoverished communities with large populations of low-income students also have high populations of needier kids (students whose primary language isn’t english or who require access to social services).
 He argues that these schools generally don’t have the best teachers or sufficient numbers of social workers and other networks of support that are necessary, and because of the way funding is awarded to schools on the basis of positive test scores they continue to lack the funding to attract good teachers and fund programs that might support their needs.
Both Williams and Nogura agree that poverty has profound affects on education but Williams feels still that increasing school closures would help increase budgets and support what is working. To an extent Nogura agrees but feels that if schools close without any assessment made as to why they failed the learning gap continues without any new attempt at resolution.
 For William part of the solution lies in effective teacher training and effective teacher performance neither of which both William and Nogura agree is being done now on a large scale in public education.
For Nogura addressing the learning gap means a commitment on behalf of the community to demand better performance when their schools aren’t doing well, an effort on behalf of parents to support their children, an effort on behalf of schools and faculty to understand the needs of its community and an effort on behalf of the Board of Education to provide schools with resources that address their specific needs and encourage collaboration with schools that are succeeding in similar situations.
“We need to be asking how to get students excited about learning. When we push for simplistic solutions and don’t understand the situation there will be casualties,” Nogura concludes.

The Aftermath of the Graffiti

The fresh paint was barely dry on Kellen Gallery’s walls as the New School’s students and faculty gathered in a Town Hall meeting on on November 28th. The meeting, which was hosted by the University Student Senate, offered a chance to voice concerns and opinions about the school’s involvement with the Occupy Wall Street movement and what the future of the gallery holds. The Senate let the students take the stage - president Van Zandt and provost Marshall opted to observe from front row - and the event turned out heavy with drama but futile with resolutions.

Opinions ranged from indignant to hopeful, but the one wish everyone seemed to agree on was simple: something needs to happen, and fast. Many speakers noted that the school’s reputation as a radical one gives an advantage for civic engagement, but also builds pressure to react. One student compared the school’s situation to that of UC Davis, where peaceful student protestors were pepper sprayed by university police earlier this month. “We have this amazing opportunity where our president is actually offering us a chance to express ourselves and be involved,” the student said, drawing supportive nods from Van Zandt. Those speaking in support of the Occupy movement expressed regret about the fact that the actions of a few individuals  can taint the image of the whole movement. “Let’s not talk about what happened here in the gallery anymore,” one pleaded. “Instead, let’s talk about what’s going to happen now."

As the gallery’s latest exhibition was being noisily cleared out in the back, the meeting slowly fell apart as well. After heated opinions turned into repetitive complaints, most of the crowd cleared out well before the two-hour mark and left the student senate with no choice but to promise to propose a way of voting for the movement’s future. “Use these next two weeks to do something radical,” a member of the faculty said to the students, “You have been given a gift - use it. Please.”

Town Hall in the Kellen Gallery

Other than a lingering odor of chemical cleaning products in the air, the interior of the Kellen Gallery on Monday’s Town Hall showed no signs of having been defaced during Thanksgiving. Approximately eighty or so attendants including New School students, faculty members, and gallery workers gathered with the University Student Senate, President Van Zandt, and Provost Marshall to hold a discussion regarding the space’s continued usage by occupiers.

But several gallery workers were not ready to move on.  Recounting their horror at seeing the gallery’s destruction, one claimed that his “job to protect this space,” was now threatened. Increasingly vocal were other gallery supporters, such as a representative from the New School Radio organization. As recent grant recipients, these students had been given the Kellen Gallery for an ongoing exhibition and studio space that has now been interrupted. One Parsons professor pointed out that sacrificing a gallery for the sake of the protests “creates a hierarchy that puts art and design at the bottom. ” She pointed out that a defacement of a computer lab might have received a stronger reaction.

One particularly vocal New School student wanted to know why words such as “destruction” or “trash” were being used in reference to the gallery’s state. Comparing such dialogue to Fox News’ descriptions of Zuccotti Park, he pointed out that the graffiti could be considered political art.

 A couple occupiers that were present during the move from 90 5th Ave to the Kellen Gallery claimed that those active in the defacing were a “petulant” and small group of seven or eight who might have ruined a positive occupation thus far. After an hour or so, there seemed to be a consensus among many that the negative actions of the protestor’s fringe group had eclipsed the main issues. Most present seemed to be outright supporters of the overall movement.

But after multiple laundry lists ranging from specific grievances to broad ideologies had been brought forth, some well-spoken and others just downright inflammatory, the discussion of the space’s future needed to be had. Pressed by University Student Senate co-chair Melissa Holmes, several people brought forth good points regarding the Kellen Gallery’s potential as a space for open discussion. Others felt that the University might be able to find a less public space. In the end, the lack of a fairly represented University community meant that a vote could not be had. After two hours, the gallery’s status was still up in the air, and the original goal of the meeting unmet. Attendees filed out with the promise from the University Student Senate that an email regarding a vote would be sent soon. 


If one were to have walked into the Town Hall meeting at the Kellen Gallery an hour late, one would not have missed anything.  Within seconds, one would ascertain most of what had been talked about due to the redundant nature of the discussion.

One of the few issues that were discussed was Adam Rodriguez, his demands, and how, with the help of the nearly two hundred in attendance, The New School was going to compensate him for the damage he experienced as a result of the gallery’s occupation.  For twenty minutes he stood affront the seated audience and described the horror of repainting the walls, and the fear he underwent in trying to budget the next three weeks of life without a job.  Fortunately his supervisor was in attendance, and twenty minutes into the meeting, after allowing him to articulate his gripes, she informed Rodriguez that he was still to be paid regardless of future occupations.

After a brief interruption from an angry student, who insisted on calling the student senate out for their shortcomings as mediators, the meeting was opened up to other concerned students and faculty.  One student stated that The New School needed to consider how to move forward.  The next suggested that The New School move forward responsibly. 

After a brief interruption from the same angry student – who was promptly cheered off stage – the student senators insisted that the crowd take a vote on where to host future occupations if not at the Kellen Gallery.  Six people and thirty excited fingers wiggled in excitement, but this gesture soon proved to be insufficient. 

A certain faculty member suggested that not enough people remained in attendance to take a vote: she insisted that a vote would be a misrepresentation.  This last suggestion to schedule another town hall meeting specifically to discuss new spaces for possible future occupations was the most successful and productive moment of the meeting.   

The President and Provost were in attendance, and said nothing. 

Versace Fans Failed to Sell Out the Exclusive H&M Collection

Hundreds of people stand outside of the H&M flagship store, awaiting for the security guards to open the doors to purchase Versace for H&M.

"All this for fashion?" A woman exclaims as she walked pass the 250 or so people lined up outside of H&M on Fifth Avenue and 51st Street. While the middle-age woman, donning a white puffy knee-length coat, ill-fitted jeans, and running sneakers may not understand how serious the Versace for H&M collection may be, these fashionistas definitely do.

"Versace is one of the most important brands of recent times," Margareta van den Bosch, creative advisor at H&M, said in a press release.

This past summer, the Swedish retail-clothing company announced that Versace would be designing their 11th guest-designer collection.

"I am thrilled to be collaborating with H&M and to have the opportunity of reaching their wide audience," Donatella Versace, creative director of Versace, said in a press release.

Widely considered one of the world's leading international fashion houses, the Italian fashion label, founded by Gianni Versace in 1978, has always been recognized for creating provocative styles from classical themes. With the exclusive collection, Donatella Versace continues to showcase the heritage of the brand.

"The collection [is] quintessential Versace," Donatella Versace adds. "Perfect for H&M and Versace fans everywhere."

With a total of 45 pieces, the women's collection includes fitted dresses, leather skirts, printed leggings, and gold accessories ranging from $19.95 to $299, while the men's collection fairs a little less with 34 pieces including bold colored suits, graphic shirts, and studded shorts as low as $17.95 and up to $299.

Since the Versace for H&M collection costs only a fraction of what regular Versace retails for, shoppers speculate that the collection will sell out. In order to give everyone the opportunity to get their hands on the exclusive collection, H&M has implemented some restrictions.

According to, a leading New York-based fashion blog, the first 280 shoppers in line will receive 1 of 14 different colored bracelets with specific entrance times. Twenty people will enter the designated are every 30 to 45 minutes with a 15 minute shopping time limit.

While the restrictions only apply for the women's collection (the men's collection is a first come first served basis) shoppers are limited to purchasing up to two of the same item. But some shoppers still feel like they will not be able to get even one finger on the exclusive collection.

"Since it is more organized I still feel like I have a slim chance," Tiara Briggs, 27, said.

At approximately 8 a.m., security guards began to slowly let people inside the store and within 30 minutes, shoppers began to walk out of the store with bags full of clothes. According to Racked NY, the biggest purchase was $9,000.

Despite all the hype, Versace for H&M failed to sell out. A small selection of printed dresses, leather pants, studded bags, and metallic shoes are still available.

Tuesday, November 29

The Knicks are Back- Does Anybody Care?

Madison Square Garden will welcome the New York Knicks back on Christmas with some new bells and whistles after the “Phase One” renovation of MSG. The question is, will New Yorkers welcome back the Knicks with the same enthusiasm?

“The entire situation just came across as spoiled, the players, the owners, everybody,” said Manhattan resident James Fryar, a self described “supporter” of New York Knicks basketball. “They (the Knicks) are relevant for the first time in awhile, and then this has to go happen. It takes some of the steam out.”

Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony hope to make New Yorkers care about the Knicks.
Many people didn’t really have an opinion one way or another on the Knicks return.. “It’s fun. Good for them. What do I care? I’m the wrong person to ask about this; last week I still thought what’s his name Ewing was on the team! He isn’t, correct?” Agnes Scotcher, a West Village resident said. "The only reason I ever see my grandson is because he likes to watch the Knicks games. So, I'm glad they fixed it all up so that I can see him!" Scotcher said with a laugh. After hearing the main points of stress in the conflict, Scotcher called the whole thing "mularkey" and laughed.

“Me and the guys used to go all in on one of those packages and split up the tickets,” Maurice Caldwell, a doorman and security guard in Manhattan said. He and a group of hotel workers used to purchase a season ticket package for the Knicks home games, but Caldwell isn’t so sure that they will fork over the money this year. “With everything going on today, they are gonna sit around bickering about how to split billions? What a problem to have.”

The New York Knicks had a league high revenue of $226 million in 2010. After all expenses were paid, including salaries and expenses, the Knicks came away with roughly $64 million income. This wasn’t the case for many teams though, which is where the main frustration came from.

Out of the 32 teams in the National Basketball Association, 17 of them lost money during the 2010-2011 season. “It’s unfortunate to hear,” Caldwell said, “but I mean they are all millionaires. No sympathy here.” Caldwell’s co-workers nodded in agreement.

Nothing Decided At University's Town Hall

Monday, November 28th marked The New School’s third Town Hall Meeting, a continued effort to have open dialogue about university happenings and New School focused conversation between the university community and administration. The topic was the recent occupation at 90 Fifth Avenue by supporters of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. The University President David Van Zandt ,Provost Tim Marshall and the Student Senate were all in attendance. Student Senate served as the host attempting to facilitate the meeting by moving the conversation along in the goal of arriving at an answer to “where can we move the occupiers?” 
Adam Rodriguez, a student worker at Kellen Gallery was the first to speak citing the graffiti done to the the 90 Fifth Avenue building and the Kellen Gallery as reason against providing protesters with another opportunity to occupy New School property. “Where is the common sense?” Rodriguez demanded.
After Rodriguez the Student Senate opened the conversation to anyone who had input. Many speakers, including two other Kellen Gallery employees expressed their outrage over the damage done to 90 Fifth Avenue. One student who had been present in the occupation remarked that those responsible for the damage were in the minority reminding the audience “the actions of a few individuals do not reflect the majority,”; “the trade off was to avoid police violence” said a student who had been at the university in the days of the Kerry protests “we were successful in that.”
Talk about damage done to 90 Fifth Avenue became repetitious but there was a good deal of conversation in support of The New School continuing to host the occupiers in support of the OWS movement because of the university’s “radical history” and “progressive” nature many said that it would be a missed opportunity on behalf of the university to not be a host of dialogue in line with the movement.
“I was disappointed by the lack of conversation” a Lang student who had participated in the occupation of 90 Fifth avenue said; she touched on points expressed by many other speakers by saying that providing a space to host the movement was important but there had to be some organizing and facilitation to ensure that there is actually a progressive and beneficial dialogue taking place.
“How do we ensure that the space is inclusive to everyone? How do we hold occupiers accountable? What are politics of race, of gender and of class within the movement and the university? “ A lot of important questions were asked but a diminishing crowd and diminishing time didn’t allot enough proposals and the remaining crowd did not feel comfortable making a decision for a new space on behalf of the entire university. The  Student Senate assured remaining audience members they would find a way to reach out to the university community to come to a decision but as of this Town Hall nothing was determined.

The New School Looks To Find Home For Their Occupiers

Monday November 28th, students and faculty attended a University wide Town Meeting at 2 West 13th Street, aimed address a case of vandalism that had occurred in that specific room on Saturday by a select few of a group of occupiers who had moved from their original location at the Student Study Center on 90 5th Avenue. The Student Senate who aimed to have, what Co-chair Melissa Holmes referred to as, “an informal town hall” monitored the meeting. Holmes added, “the meeting aims to look at how we are going to move forward, not only in terms of this space, but in terms of this community,” the meeting would decide if the students would be allowed to occupy the space, or any space in the school.

The meeting revolved around a queue of speakers from the audience. Many feared that the occupation was out of control. “They are writing demands that don’t make any sense,” student and worker, Adam Rodriguez said of the graffiti. Of the atmosphere within the occupation, one speaker referred the aggressive atmosphere within the occupation as being a “psychological pepper spray.” However, many agreed that The New School hosting an occupation was in accordance with The New School’s relationship to political activism. Occupier and Masters student, Ted, called the occupation a “revitalization of politics.”

Through a jungle of complaints and comments, a theme arose to support the occupation, though not in the Kellen Gallery. The Kellen Gallery is a semi-public ‘state-of-the-art gallery’ used for school events and art exhibits. The occupation would force the curator and people in charge of the space to reorganize their events.

The end of the two-hour meeting did not find a decision and the room had emptied to a group that could not represent a majority. A couple of forms of voting were proposed, one to create a class where voters would sign up, another was in email form. The Student Senate promised to email the student body an update as to where the occupation would go and how the final decision would be carried out.

Monday, November 28


“How are we going to move forward in terms of space and community?”  In reference to occupying the 90 Fifth Avenue building, the president of the Student Senate began the discussion claiming that this was the objective of our meeting.  The forum was open to any and all students and faculty that have concerns about the Occupy Wall Street movement in relation to the vandalism of the meeting space.  Although I was unaware of what she was referring to, the first speaker outlined his concerns very passionately.
            “Students completely destroyed this space,” began Adam Rodriguez, one of the many in charge of maintaining the 90 Fifth Avenue building.  “Now where is the common sense?  Where does the security lie in this space when there is graffiti all over the walls?  How are people going to take our school seriously?”
            A heated man sitting in the audience countered this argument: “this is a progressive school.  Shouldn’t art be political?”  Many listeners nodded their heads in agreement with this anonymous person, but Rodriguez fired back with “I worked there.  You just took away my job.”
            The meeting continued with speakers from both ends of the spectrums, starting with Rodriguez and working through over 20 speakers, in which they shared their personal opinions. 
            “Let’s be honest, are we criticizing the overall movement or the graffiti?” asked Bobby Totman, a student at The New School University.  “The people responsible for the graffiti were the minority of the protestors.  I understand all the criticism but none of this has to do with making a better space for the protestors.”
            The Student Senate president chimed in many times, somewhat agreeing with Totman and trying to guide the discussion towards moving “forward in terms of space and community.”  However, many of the speakers ignored her attempts to direct the conversation towards a productive discussion, and, instead of offering suggestions, continued to express their own views of the movement.

At the very end of the meeting, the Student Senate president asked the room if they believe it would be useful for them to set aside a new space for the occupy movement.  
“As an artist,” answered Andrea, a fine arts student at the New School,  “art is a sign of resistance and political organizing. It seems necessary that a gallery space is a good place for this.  It's places of culture that allow for these discussions.