Posts Tagged With: museums in harlem

Landmarked Corn Exchange Bank Building Could be Redeveloped

By Jeff Mays
DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

The Corn Exchange Building at Park Avenue and East 125th Street is a shadow of its former self, having been sliced from six stories to a two-story high stub because of its decrepit condition.

Now, officials at the city’s Economic Development Corporation want to hear proposals on how to redevelop the landmarked structure, which was built in 1889.

“The purpose is to understand what the interest is,” said Kyle Sklerov, a spokesperson for EDC. “We think it is an important site because it is located in the heart of Harlem’s commercial corridor and it has been underutilized for a long time.”

The building sits on a 4,300-square-foot lot and is zoned for both commercial and residential uses. The building was designed by architects Lamb & Rich in the Queen Anne and “Romanesque Revival” styles. It was originally constructed for Mount Morris Bank, which was absorbed by the Corn Exchange Bank in 1913, according to reports.
The building eventually fell into the hands of the city due to tax foreclosure in the late 1970s.

Christopher London, an architectural historian and board member of the Historic Districts Council, called the building the finest example of architecture along 125th Street. He first began to admire the building a quarter century ago when it was still intact.

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Headed Uptown for a Harlem Renaissance

Interior view of the museum - (Photo courtesy of Mustafah Abdulaziz for The Wall Street Journal)

Culture City
March 7th, 2011
By Pia Catton
Wall Street Journal

Sometimes the weather just gets in the way. In January, this column was devoted to experiencing the arts in unfamiliar ways as an effort to curtail procrastination: trying out new (to me) venues, neighborhoods and formats. After visits to the Queens Museum of Art and the Central Park Marionette Theater, followed by watching opera in HD and ballet on iTunes, I scheduled a visit to the Studio Museum of Harlem.

When the appointed day arrived, however, so did a major snowfall, forcing the museum to close for the day. But just like the Carnegie Hall concerts that were postponed last year because of that pesky Icelandic volcano, it’s only a matter of rescheduling.

So on a considerably less snowy day, I took the subway uptown for a whirlwind tour of arts and healthful food. My guide for the afternoon was actor Daniel Beaty, the 35-year-old writer and performer of the one-man show “Through the Night,” in which he plays multiple characters to dramatize the stories of black men in America.

A longtime Harlem resident, Mr. Beaty is closely connected to the neighborhood’s arts institutions. He’s also a supporter of its small businesses that cater to the health-conscious, one of which loosely inspired a story line in “Through the Night,” which is currently playing at Times Square’s Westside Theater.

One of the characters in Mr. Beaty’s show is a middle-aged father on a mission to keep his health-food shop open. So for our first stop, we met at Watkins Health Foods (66 W. 116th St.), a juice bar that also sells all manner of food and vitamins. Though the real-life store does brisk business (and Mr. Beaty’s character bears no real connection to the owner), Mr. Beaty was inspired by the setting after stopping in each day for a power drink of green vegetables, ginger and lemon.

Daniel Beaty and Lauren Haynes on a recent tour of the Studio Museum of Harlem, where Ms. Haynes serves as assistant curator.
.”I used to get one of these every day after working out,” he said as he ordered one for me. “I’m going to have a large, but you might want small.” (I finished it—and the energy boost was no joke.)

Our next stop was for lunch at another of Mr. Beaty’s regular healthy haunts: Food for Life Supreme (108 W. 116th St.), where they craft everything from the delicious Cuban-style salmon sandwiches to the colorful tables.

After lunch it was on to the Studio Museum of Harlem, where our visit took on a six-degrees-of-separation element. Mr. Beaty’s production boasts a high-profile group of “artistic ambassadors” whom he and producer Daryl Roth brought onboard to ensure the play attracted a broad and diverse audience. Among them: Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum of Harlem.

Ms. Golden has been at the helm of this 43-year-old museum since 2005, and she has balanced the institution’s longstanding mission—presenting and preserving artists of African descent—with new approaches to building the audience.

Last summer, Ms. Golden extended the museum’s evening hours to 8 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday—and turned Wednesday into a day for school tours and private events rather than the public. They may sound like small administrative changes, but they’ve had a major impact. “We used to not have a late-evening opening time, and that really cut us off from our audience,” she said. “There were lots of people in the neighborhood, and the museum would be closed.”

With the later time, the museum can catch people before they head to performing arts or dinner. “It was an acknowledgment of all the different reasons people come uptown,” Ms. Golden said.

Mr. Beaty in his one-man show 'Through the Night,' at the Westside Theater. (Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal)

Assistant Curator Lauren Haynes led us on a tour through exhibits of work by Mark Bradford, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Dawoud Bey. And before we left, Mr. Beaty and I both availed ourselves of a great freebie: Harlem Postcards. “We ask artists to take a picture, and we print it as a postcard,” said Ms. Golden. “Our hope is that visitors from near and far leave with something that represents not only the museum but the neighborhood.”

From the museum, it was a short walk to the Dwyer Cultural Center (258 Saint Nicholas Ave.), a performance, exhibition and rehearsal space where Mr. Beaty has performed and pops in to catch other artists. He also has a deeper artistic connection to the facility: Dwyer’s co-director, Voza Rivers, is also the executive director of the Lenox Avenue-based New Heritage Theatre Group, which originally produced Mr. Beaty’s “Through the Night” with the Riverside Theatre and Wall Tall Girl productions.

In the gleaming multi-purpose rooms, one group was rehearsing a play and another was just arriving for a hip-hop show. A text and photography exhibition celebrating gospel and churches in Harlem lined one of the walls.

The Dwyer Center is mere steps from the Aloft Harlem Hotel, the Nectar Wine Bar and the restaurant Chocolate, where Mr. Beatty and I reflected on our day over a glass of bubbly. In a short few blocks, we had connected with visual and performing-arts venues, but there was too much to pack into one day. Next time: the Apollo.

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Harlem Fine Arts Show Returns for Second Year

A national showcase of African-American artists is returning to Harlem in February, a weeklong affair that will coincide with Black History Month.

The second annual Harlem Fine Arts Show will be held at Riverside Church from Feb. 25 to 27 with a mission to develop “the long-neglected area of African-American culture, history and economic development,” organizers say. This year’s show will emphasize both known and emerging artists from around the country.


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“Nueva York” in Harlem

Looking for a unique museum experience in the area? Now through January 9th El Museo del Barrio exhibition is titled=, “Nueva York (1613-1945),” with the New-York Historical Society as a co-curator. The exhibition focuses on the historical relationship of New York City with Spain and Latin America, with interactive displays that illustrate the commercial and social interdependence of the cultures. Museum hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 1230 Fifth Avenue, at 104th Street, East Harlem. Call (212) 831-7272 or visit for more information.

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‘A Great Day In Harlem’

NPR posted this great photo along with the history behind it.: On an August morning in 1958, 57 jazz musicians gathered on a Harlem stoop to pose for a group portrait taken by jazz enthusiast Art Kane (who went on to become a famed fashion and rock ‘n’ roll photographer). The famous photo, shot on the front steps and sidewalk outside a brownstone on 126th Street, became the centerfold in Esquire’s January 1959 issue, The Golden Age of Jazz. You can read the full story here.

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National Jazz Museum in Harlem Acquires New Recordings

Lester Young

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem announced they now have over 100 hours of live performances by Jazz icons from 1935-1941. Harlem’s Executive Director Loren Schoenberg discovered the collection after a 24 year cultivation that started with his meeting William Savory in 1980. Savory died in 2004 and Schoenberg acquired the discs in April, 2010 for the museum through Savory’s heir, Eugene Desavouret, of Malta, Illinois. The collection includes live performances by Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Lionel Hampton, Fats Waller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and more. You can read the full story here.

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