Next Stop Go

Where the Wild Things Came From

Wild Things Days kicked off in New York today with the unveiling of original drawings and manuscripts by the author of Where The Wild Things Are.

Wild Things Original Cover

By Dean Stattmann

When Maurice Sendak sat down in 1955 to put the final touches on his illustrated book, Where the Wild Horses Are, he completed but a framework for the story it would later become. Now, over a half-century later, with Sendak’s award-winning children’s book just days away from its international film debut, Where the Wild Things Are is about to enter the next stage of its evolution. To celebrate, The Morgan Library and Museum in New York City is hosting an exhibition of Sendak’s original illustrations and manuscripts to highlight the creative process that gave birth to the 1963 best-seller.

Beneath the lofty stained-glass and fresco-clad ceiling of The Morgan’s majestic East Room, surrounded by three-tiered antique bookshelves bearing historic titles by Charles Darwin and Mark Twain, art lovers and Wild Things fanatics alike converged this morning to browse early drafts and preliminary sketches from Maurice Sendak’s 1963 children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are in an exhibition entitled Where the Wild Things Are: Original Drawings by Maurice Sendak.

Where the Wild Things Are uses minimal prose and compelling illustrations to tell the story of Max, an imaginative young boy, who is sent to his bedroom without dinner and consequently creates a magical world filled with fantastic creatures, or Wild Things, by simply setting his imagination free.

Of the 15 artifacts put on display, three seemed to garner particular attention. The first, a drawing of Max sailing away from a ferocious sea monster, reveals Sendak’s process of developing his characters from early tracing paper sketches to the images found in the book today. Another piece, a pencil-drawn scene excluded from the final published version, shows Max, having discarded his utensils, tucking into a bowl of spaghetti, poised on all fours atop the dinner table. But perhaps the most insightful of all the items on display is a two-page excerpt from Sendak’s notebook, which reveals profound details about his artistic process.

“Not only do we see Sendak’s work, we see him giving instructions to himself,” says curator Christine Nelson. One page bears the ballpoint scribbles of a later Where The Wild Horses Are manuscript, with a note from the author, “Drop this story for time being – I’m forcing it and it won’t be forced.” On the adjacent page, after attempting the current title in verse form, Sendak simply writes, “ALL BAD.”

The exhibition, organized in cooperation with Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum and Library, the official home of Sendak’s artifacts, is part of Wild Things Days, a two-month-long, Philadelphia-based series of events, exhibitions and activities based around Sendak’s work. The exhibition at The Morgan is the only event to take place in New York and will remain open until the end of Wild Things Days on Nov. 1.

Image: Preliminary drawing of dust jacket for Where the Wild Things Are. Pen and ink, watercolor. Copyright Maurice Sendak, 1963. All rights reserved. Courtesy of The Morgan Library and Museum.


The TRASHman

Adrian K

By Dean Stattmann

If you’ve recently passed by Cite – the eclectic SoHo furniture store on Greene Street – you may have noticed a bright pink polka-dotted bag in the window. Rather than a special edition Lovesac, this is the work of up-and-coming Harlem-based artist Adrian Kondratowicz. Oh and it’s actually a trash bag. In 2008, with the vision of reuniting art with function, Kondratowicz created TRASH, a line of biodegradable polka-dotted trash bags. Made from a PVC liner scented to repel rodents and insects, the eye-catching eco-bags quickly got the attention of the press, giving Kondratowicz the exposure he needed to pursue more sizeable ventures. And now, on the eve of unveiling his latest project, he answers some questions about TRASH and how artists need to adapt their work for tough economic times.

What inspired TRASH?

I was originally thinking of getting some poster boards, renting out some ad space and running these posters that were pink with white polka dots and just tiling it really, really big. After finding out how expensive that was, I printed some out and started wheat pasting them, but then the thing with wheat pasting stuff illegally is that people tear it down as soon as they see it, or it just gets done over really quickly, so I needed something that was basic that would be there, but also that was not very ‘street,’ and for some reason the trash bag popped into my head and then I just imagined the whole street lined with them.

How did the project materialize?
I shopped it around all the art production companies, the non-profits and the private dealers and collectors, and everybody was very enthusiastic but nobody wanted to write me a cheque. So I wrote myself a cheque, put everything I had behind it and it worked out very well. It’s just a matter of planning and being organized. It’s like with everything else. It wasn’t really that hard to do. And also a bit of luck helps too.

How was luck involved?
Doing the right location at the right time and having the right people see it. It’s not like we promoted the thing. I have a small mailing list and the whole point of doing these things is to create awareness of some sort, whether it be for me, the project or the environment. It’s funny, like after two or three installations, everything went live on the web through the blogs and next thing you know TV stations are calling me and magazines are asking for press material and it was just like a snowball and it keeps on coming.

Photo by Dean Stattmann

What was TRASH’s biggest victory?
Just getting it done, from having sketches to ordering the bags. Before I did the installations I had a series of promotional events with maybe 20 or 30 people installing the bags at various people’s homes and then actually putting them on the street. I guess that was the most exciting. That’s always the most exciting, when someone sees your work and reacts.

What do you do to give your art that mass appeal?
The way I conceptualize my stuff is I think of a concept visually and I try to integrate specific behaviors into it and obviously the most common is how do you make it so people can actually buy it or benefit from it. Why would they need this? Why should this be in their lives? I think that’s the new definition of art.

So, what’s next for you?
My next project is called “Paint by Numbers” and it involves the public and participation. It’s a project for community regeneration and it involves enrolling people and inviting people to participate in creating a community mural that’s made out of stickers and the fun part happens with me distributing the stickers. There are a couple different ways I’m going to do that, but I don’t want to get too deep into it. But it’s going to be really fun!

Photos by Dean Stattmann

Residence Hall Rock


By Dean Stattmann

On a quiet Monday evening, a muffled cry emanates from the closed door of a New York University dorm room in downtown Manhattan. It’s the penthouse floor of Lafayette Street Residence Hall – one of the furthest from campus – where the university hides its Greek life. Echoes of grueling Guitar Hero solos and epic beer pong bouts bounce off these walls after hours. But amidst the Halo, hot wings and all the other accurate stereotypes, one student is ripping through the mold.

Matt Golubjatnikov, a politics major at NYU, has been playing guitar for seven years and is finally getting some attention. He spent his freshman year with NYU abroad in Florence, Italy, before finally moving into Palladium Hall on 14th Street. During his sophomore year, he pledged the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and kicked off his junior year with a spot in the frat’s spacious eight man duplex. But while most musicians with his talent move on to decked out studios with fountains in the lobby, a floundering economy has caused this junior to seek out alternative facilities, like his dorm room.


“Home recording has become incredibly accessible relative to past years,” he says. “If you have the patience and experimental interest to overcome the often steep learning curve that is inherent in today’s music software, then you can do basically anything.”


In 2008, Golubjatnikov, 21, got curious and decided to see where his music could take him. Working with a tight budget and a demanding schedule, he eventually opted for home recording equipment and slowly began to acquire the pieces of what would become an impressive home studio. One year, a semi-acoustic guitar, two effects pedals, professional recording software and a studio microphone later, he has filled his room with everything short of a waiting room, and he can still afford food. “It really surprises me what you can do with a thin wallet,” he says. “My whole recording rig from cables to software comes to a grand total of about 250$. I know more resourceful people that can even shave the amount to less than half of that.”


Starting out on Haight Street in San Francisco, C.A., with just his busted Crate amplifier and suave midnight wine Fender Stratocaster, Golubjatnikov found influences in early grunge bands and the better part of the 90s punk scene. He has since added to this list, finding a renewed appreciation for bands like Black Label Society, Incubus and Alice in Chains. He doesn’t know how to label his own music, but pegs it somewhere between hard and alternative rock. The stuff he finds himself playing traverses genres, he says.


But despite the unlikely evolution of Golubjatnikov’s dorm rock, he admits that recording in his makeshift studio – which he shares with a roommate – can sometimes present unusual problems. “You do come across unique obstacles when recording in a dorm versus a studio,” he says. “But all it takes is the creative mind that is a prerequisite anyway. When recording vocals, if I can’t get a good natural reverb or echo, I just record while standing in my shower. The ceramic walls provide a clean, non-manufactured effect. Problem solved.”


Golubjatnikov has released several tracks online under the name Spareluck, choosing social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook to bring his music to his friends and whoever else wants to listen. The reception has been outstanding, he says, and one of his tracks was recently featured in a beat by fellow New York-based producer Erik Michael.

Golubjatniokov may not have an album in the record store just yet, but he pays little mind to this. For him, the real pay-off is in the music. “I harbor no shame in saying that some days I will just put my own material on repeat on my iPod,” he says. “I mean, you make what you want to hear, so it’s natural to be your own biggest fan.”

Photos by Dean Stattmann

FBA Spring Fashion Show 09


On April 4, New York University’s Fashion Business Association threw its first show of 2009 at the university’s Kimmel Center on Washington Square South. I wanted something a little more engaging than just photos this time so I hope this works…

Graphic by Dean Stattmann

A Lot to Learn From Pete Hamill

By Dean Stattmann

In Esquire’s “Meaning of Life” issue, published in January of this year, the magazine invited one representative from each state to share pieces of what they had learned over the course of their lives. The feature was made up entirely of their responses and interviewees ranged from Clint Eastwood (78, California) to Evander Hollyfield (46, Georgia), making for a insightful and diverse collection. But with just Shepard Smith (44, Mississippi) and Esquire’s Chuck Klosterman (36, North Dakota) holding it down on the writers’ front, I thought that the feature could have used another word man (and anyone other than Paris Hilton to represent New York). So who better to have share his wisdom than famed author and newspaperman, Pete Hamill (73, New York).

Memory is crucial to the writing game.

My brain had been shaped by comic books, and with writing I was able to deal with sequence, with narrative. I was able to tell a story.

I love talking to musicians, because music to me is the highest art.

In my experience, generally if you try to do too much, you’re going to be ordinary at all of it. It’s about being honest with yourself about the thing you’re really good at. Give it every God damn thing you have.

When you’re first starting, you’re under the influence of the writers you admire the most.

I’d take a paragraph from Joseph Conrad about a storm at sea and I’d convert it to a winter storm on land. And I’d change it, sentence by sentence. You’re learning how to structure that paragraph.

You’re not a prisoner of where you were born. You’re not trapped in your childhood. You can make yourself in a city like this.

The Irish were trained by the Brits to eat food as a sort of punishment.

Every immigrant wave brings something new to the conversation – what I call the common language.

I went to Mexico City College, where they supported G.I.s. I went there wanting to be a painter.

I wanted to be a writer after nine months.

You have to make mistakes.

I was wandering around Brooklyn last summer and I didn’t see any kids playing in the streets. I worry that they’re having virtual childhoods instead of childhoods.

Work will come first because it’s the engine of your life.

I was never happier than during those three or four years as a newspaperman.

It’s sometimes hard to separate the lifestyle from the work. I had a sort of discipline. I never drank when I was writing or reporting. I drank in celebration, when the day was over.

In my case I was able to always squeeze enough out of my talent.

The key is, if you go out for a good time and you don’t learn anything, don’t do it again.

One of the problems with alcohol is it’s a lot of fun.

I haven’t had a drink in 36 years.

I don’t know the Bronx very well because I hated the Yankees growing up as a child.

I liked the 50s. I was young in the 50s.

When you come to Manhattan from Brooklyn, you think you know everything. The truth is you don’t know a damn thing.

When I’m on the subway and there’s a 75-year-old lady, I try imagine her when she was 12. I look at her and try see what’s left of her childhood on her face.

You don’t know if you can write a novel until you write one.

I think that the New York of the last 10 years has been a great version of itself.

Don’t get married. wait until you’re 30, wait until you have 3,000 bylines, wait until you’ve covered a war.

You have to make sure you’re falling in love with the person, and not the notion of falling in love.

North River Check out Pete Hamill’s latest novel, North River.

“Hamill is at his best when he writes about his city. He knows New York present and past, and he is able to make us taste the early-20th-century time frame of North River.”

– The New York Times Sunday Book Review

Pete Hamill was interviewed on April 9, 2009

Photo Essay: Hudson Piers
April 7, 2009, 11:35 pm
Filed under: New York, Photography | Tags: , , , , ,

By Dean Stattmann


Step Into My Office






NY Press Editor Jerry Portwood Visits NYU Journalism Class, Discusses Freelancing and the Future of Print Media

A lone paper waits on a West Village doorstep

By Dean Stattmann

On Thursday March 26, New York Press editor-in-chief Jerry Portwood stopped by Betty Ming Liu’s beat reporting class at New York University to discuss the state of print journalism, the future of the neighborhood weekly and most importantly, what today’s journalism students can do to grab a thread in this business.

Portwood, a graduate of Oglethorpe University, came to the New York Press in February 2006. He has since served as managing editor and arts and entertainment editor at the Manhattan Media publication, and in 2008 he took over as editor-in-chief.

But today, with print journalism in its current state, it’s becoming more and more of a challenge to put out the weekly paper with a minimal staff and freelancers whose voices often don’t match that of the publication. “It’s a difficult time in journalism,” he says.

Portwood, who admits to only taking one five day vacation in the last three years, is one of just two staffers on the paper’s masthead, and relies on freelancers for 90 percent of the paper’s content. But when asked about the future of the publication, he’s confident that we’ll be seeing a lot more of the New York Press.

And better yet, he’s confident that journalism students can hold off on changing their majors for a little longer. It’s a demoralizing time for seniors, with papers and magazines falling around them like graduation confetti, but Portwood believes that the freelance gigs are still out there. Here are Jerry’s tips for bagging a byline:

– Have realistic expectations

– Be passionate about your work

– Don’t feel entitled

– Pitch stories via email (wait a week to follow up)

– Include your nut graf in the email. Make them want it.