“Artists & Fleas is a community for those who love to sell and a destination for those who love to shop.”          –Artists & Fleas founders Amy Abrams and Ronen Gilmer

American Apothecary Heroin Chic T-Shirts

American Apothecary Heroin Chic T-Shirts

For a decade now, Artists & Fleas has been showcasing a finely curated selection of works by emerging artists, designers, vintage collectors & handmade crafters. The market features more than 60 independent sellers that offer a range unique items in the tradition of an old world bazaar with a contemporary twist. The permanent outpost is located in the heart of Williamsburg at 70 North 7th Street, and is open on weekends from 10am to 7pm. A second location serves as a pop-up shop in Chelsea Market, and is open daily from 10am-7pm until the end of this year. Both markets are indoors, free to the public, and accessible by public transportation.

On a recent sunny Saturday, I had the pleasure of riding my bicycle from my neighborhood in Ft. Greene over to Williamsburg to interview select vendors at Artists and Fleas.  As I approached N 7th Street on Kent Avenue, endless pockets of pedestrians swarmed the streets and sidewalks. Catty corner from the wildly popular flea market is the wildly popular food market Smorgasburg. At that particular moment, it seemed as though the entire borough of Brooklyn had gathered at this intersection with an insatiable urge to eat and shop! After a few near run-ins with strollers and entreflaneurs (a term coined by Vanity Fair writer David Kamp to describe Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey), I finally found a modern day hitching post to tie up my bike across the street from the flea market. All I had to do now was make my way through the throngs of hungry Flea zombies.  I took a deep breath, entered the crowd flow like a school of fish, and let it naturally guide me to my destination.  Upon entering the market my eyes grazed over an abundance of lights, objects and images.  As I scoped out the scene, I realized there was also a Resident DJ playing classics from a vast vinyl collection! Sigh, I still love you, New York.

Inside of Artists & Fleas

Inside of Artists & Fleas

Resident DJ Kevin Anthony 3000

Resident DJ Kevin Anthony 3000

 

American Apothecary

Watch out American Apparel, there is a new indie darling in town and her name is American Apothecary.    Founded two years ago by Mozambique-born graphic designer Anastasia Fokina, American Apothecary is a lifestyle brand that uses fashion as a means of promoting social awareness. Each season, the brand selects a specific American industry to uncover various unknown truths and therefore invites the general public to take a closer look by way of fashion.  Fokina’s business partner Jeremy was inspired to create “fashion with a purpose.”  Coupling this idea with Fokina’s background in graphic design, together they birthed the idea of making t-shirts with moral messages.  Subsequently, Fokina sourced several controversial pharmaceutical advertisements from the early 1900s, copyrighted, and then appropriated these images in order to create a series of vintage-looking t-shirts.  A few notable examples of modern medicine misfires: doctors prescribing cigars to cure asthma, chloroform to use as cough syrup, cocaine to treat children’s toothaches and heroin to use as a general pain killer.  “What was normal then, and what was being told to patients that was normal then, was NOT actually normal. Just because modern medicine is legal now, doesn’t mean it will be tomorrow…what if today’s prescriptions are tomorrow’s drugs?” states colleague and American Apothecary representative Stephanie Esposito.  Indeed. No better time to pass that magnifying glass and read the fine print. All American Apothecary t-shirts are 100% cotton, use water-based inks and are packaged in nifty over-sized cigarette gift boxes. 10% of net proceeds go to drug reach out programs. A final note: be on the look out for a rising presence of this brand, as they are now expanding their line into hand bags and accessories.

Stephanie Esposito overseeing the American Apothecary booth

Stephanie Esposito overseeing the American Apothecary booth

Chloroform T Shirt by American Apothecary

Chloroform T Shirt by American Apothecary

Father Panik 

For nearly a decade, Father Panik has been creating jewelry, clothes, cards and housewares for “beautiful outcasts.”  Founded by Brooklyn-based designers Mika Kitamori and Scott Machens, the duo successfully suffuses the brand with a “mash-up of Japanese Zen and American Honkey Tonk” sensibility (She: A doppelgänger for a member from The Crazy 88’s from Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol 1; He: A doppelgänger for James Hetfield from Metallica).  The collective’s design philosophy is coiled around opposition and rooted in turmoil. As a result, their objects symbolize “pretty threats, proudly worn scars, and brass knuckles wrapped in velvet.”  Aligning with this cantilever credo is one of Father Panik’s top selling items, an antiqued brass knuckle rosary necklace, aptly dubbed Excommunicate Rosary. Kitamori describes the necklace as “spirituality with a twist” whereas the rosary and the brass knuckles each offer a different kind of protection. The idea for the renegade rosaries stems from when Machens used to live in Paris and he would buy antique rosaries and then add unique charms to them like real rodent jaw bones or an AK47 charm from a gum ball machine. Another popular rosary amongst hair stylists and clothing designers is the Antiqued Brass Scissors Rosary, which was designed after tailor shears that Kitamori’s grandfather used to use on clothing. All Father Panik jewelry is hand sculpted out of wax in their Brooklyn workshop. The jewelry molds and casts are made in the NYC Diamond District, and then raw casts are hand finished and assembled back in the Brooklyn workshop. Not to be overlooked are classic t-shirts whose designs stem from the design duo’s life experiences. A perpetual favorite for buyers is the Brooklyn t-shirt which features a savvy design of brass knuckle loops that function as the “B.”  I dare say that Brooklyn is the New Black.

Father Panik booth

Father Panik booth

Excommunicate Rosary, Father Panik

Excommunicate Rosary, Father Panik

 

Love Hue Studios/Bugcicle

Designer Devin Kain knows what makes things tick. He makes one of a kind, repurposed functional art with sculptural elements such as clocks and lamps made out of books and stereos made out of kegs.  Having studied mixed media, audio engineering and carpentry as an undergrad in Bellingham, WA,  Kain skillfully assembles art objects that are infused with a rustic charm. Kain’s bookclocks–which are garnished with a dial and implanted with a AA battery–have consistently been his top sellers at the market, where he has maintained a booth for the past five years.  The artist sources many of his materials from thrift shops and warehouses. When I asked Kain about the old books, he explained that his mother is a retired librarian, therefore she was able to help him gain access to multiple stacks. For those with a favorite book, Kain’s website welcomes project commissions. I’d also like to offer that Kain recently completed a rather interesting commission that involved him building a functional 3-platform treehouse with solar panels (but no plumbing) for a young woman based in Northern California. I’d like to sign up for one of those.

Devin Kain in his Love Hue Studios booth

Devin Kain in his Love Hue Studios booth

Book Clocks, Love Hue Studios

Book Clocks, Love Hue Studios

 

Leonardo Sarubbi

When I approached Leonardo Sarubbi‘s booth he was speaking French with a prospective buyer.  Without me realizing it, I began to actively follow along with the conversation. Sarrubi picked up on my French connection and I ended up conducting half my interview en francais.  When I exhausted my French, I returned to speaking English and I apologized for breaking the conversation flow.  Sarubbi just laughed and confessed that French was not his first language either–he spoke Italian! Originally from Florence, Sarubbi sources lithographs from his parents print workshop that was built in the 1960s.  Images of world maps and geographical prints from 1500s and 1600s, botanical renderings that recall Albertus Seba’s Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, and gorgeous Italian architecture are hand printed on fine 100% cotton rag paper. Each print is executed on original metal plates, inked in black and white, and then hand colored. Sarubbi may live in Astoria now but I encourage visitors to stop by his booth for a wonderfully European experience.

Leonardo Sarubbi showing handcolored prints

Leonardo Sarubbi showing handcolored prints

Historical Map print

Historical Map print

 

Eric Sokoloff

Eric Sokoloff is a former security guard with a soft touch. The printmaker, who got his BFA from FIT in 2005, currently renders icons from the film and music industries. Portraits of Hollywood badboys like James Gandolfini, Christopher Walken and Al Pacino make flinty cameos on paper, and hard rockers like Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead and the Swedish metal band Opeth take a smoke-free stage on t-shirts. As a music lover, a recent highlight for Sokoloff was selling one of his classic Monkey with a Knife design t-shirt to Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins. The artist executes his prints with various inks, watercolor, oil pastels and gouache. He is continuing to refine his process (specifically his ink technique) in order to illustrate comic books and graphic novels.  Raised in Westchester, the artist presently lives in Astoria and has just started exhibiting his work at Artists & Fleas. I guarantee it will be your safest stop in the market 🙂 A selection of Sokoloff’s prints are currently on view at Astoria Park Wines and Spirits until September 27th, and also can be found online at Etsy.

Eric Sokoloff, printmaker

Eric Sokoloff, printmaker

Christopher Walken Portrait Print, Eric Sokoloff

Christopher Walken Portrait Print, Eric Sokoloff

Jane's Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins wearing a t-shirt by Eric Sokoloff

Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins wearing a t-shirt by Eric Sokoloff

NYC Cycling Map Posters

Venezuelan born, Brooklyn based multi-media artist Kevin Marcell has placed his latest art project on the map. A New York City Cycling Map, that is.  By employing a variety of techniques such as silkscreening, stenciling and spray-painting, Marcell creates unique portraits of the city on NYC Cycling Maps.  Using his original photographs, the artist screen prints and paints on outdated cycling maps which would otherwise be discarded by the city and local cycling shops. “He presents his vision of New York on an unorthodox canvas,” says fellow artist and graffiti collaborator Lorenzo Masnah, who was manning the market booth on the day I was there. Each “functional art” map which the artist has lovingly renamed “Recycling Maps” is one of a kind and is made in Marcell’s Williamsburg studio. NYC City Cycling Maps can also be found on Etsy.

NYC Cycling Map poster "aka Recycling Map"

NYC Cycling Map poster “aka Recycling Map”

Lorenzo Masnah overseeing the NYC Cycling Map booth

Lorenzo Masnah overseeing the NYC Cycling Map booth

 

This article was also featured on Monarch Daily. 🙂