STEPHANIE GRAY: HEARTS FROM NY: Super 8 films of vanishing NYC

NYC (Queens)-based filmmaker-poet Stephanie Gray has been making poetic super 8 films about cities since 1999 when she started filming the haunting poetry of Buffalo NY’s decaying urban areas. Since moving to NYC in 2004, she has continued her exploration of the mysteries of a city and its rhythms, as well as vanishing neighborhood places, spaces and shops. This evening will feature super 8 films about NYC: some silent, some with Gray reading poetic text live. Specific locales of the films include the fading character of Hell’s Kitchen and the East Village, as well films devoted to disappeared businesses, especially bakeries, such as Gertel’s, Zito’s, Jon Vie Pastries, Five Rose’s Pizza and other portraits of the city. The evening will culminate in Gray’s recent longer work You Know They Want to Disappear Hell’s Kitchen As Clinton.” Gray will project the films live from a super 8 projector.

MORE BREAD FOREVER (7 min, b/w, silent, 2004) The next to last day of Zito’s Bakery which closed in 2004 and as far as we know, the last we checked (or for a very long time) another business still hadn’t moved in to its space on Bleecker St.

Gertel’s galore .. lore .. ore (7 min, b/w, silent, 2007) One the last real Jewish bakeries on the Lower East Side succumbs to the unfriendly real estate market in NYC. Gray caught its next to last day. The bakery continues as a wholesaler/mail order in another borough. The sign next door for something hardware-like somehow made its way into this film. The interior of Gertel’s was dark and too crowded with people or memories to venture in. Instead, the filmmaker stayed outside to get one last memory. The building has been demolished. Gertel’s should’ve lived on. We’ll never see signs and storefronts like this again, that breathe and exhale the memories of the millions before us.

i bought the last 4 bagels at jon vie pastries (7 min, b/w+color, 2005) i did. before it closed. forever. sadly there wasn’t as much fanfare about this closure as there was about zito’s bakery closing a bit earlier in 2004. the silver
wallpaper was blinding, though.

Next to last day of Five Roses Pizza (7 min, silent, b/w 2009) I was sad about the fluorescent lights, sad about the lack of crowds, sad about the mother mary. I stared out gloomily to DeRoberti’s across the street eating my pizza.

magic shoes (7 min, silent, color, 2008) One of the last days of Magic Shoes, you know you saw it there on Bleecker, but did you ever by Knee Hi Converse? Maybe you should’ve.

Storefronts before other storefronts (7 min, silent, b/w, 2008) You’ll note some of these storefronts are alerted already and you get the feeling, you wonder, how much longer will they be here? The Launderette letters are gone.

hearts in new york (3 min, silent, color, 2006) Finding all the hearts in early Feb that I can for a valentine’s project, but instead, finding hearts that are up year-round. There’s plenty. At least one of these shops you see is gone.

After Doing My Taxes Around Here (3 min, silent, color, 2006) My all time favorite wall mural disappeared some time after I shot this. Was it your favorite, too? WHY? And if you take out one letter, it all relates subliminally to taxes.

governor’s island (7 min, silent, color, 2005) You wonder how much of what could now be called “old” Governor’s Island will stay up while it becomes a new spiffy art destination. What will we lose?

YOU KNOW THEY WANT TO DISAPPEAR HELL’S KITCHEN AS CLINTON (17 min, b/w + color, 2010, live sound) In mysterious insistent shots, Gray films an inspired letter of sorts to writer E.B. White, author of the midcentury infamous Here is New York essay. The sound is a mix of the filmmaker’s voiceover, bits of poetic prose prefaced by, and inspired by quotes from White. Interspersed are reverbed lines from a 60s surf song New York’s a Lonely Town. She treats this letter as a film essay of old and disappearing Hell’s Kitchen which developers have been trying to rename Clinton for years. Maybe that should be Hell’s Clinton, or Clinton’s Hell

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