Meet Chef Kelston Bascom

October 7, 2015

Meet Chef Kelston Bascom of Bascom Catering, featured chef for our Sixth Annual Public Art Potluck!   Tickets to the Potluck are available here.   We’re really excited to be working with Kelston this year! He’s a wonderful chef, and a crucial part of The Point CDC, where he runs The Point’s cafe and also teaches culinary education classes as part of the Blank Plate program. We can’t wait to see what he cooks up for us at the Potluck!   We asked Kelston a few questions about his cuisine and what he’s been up to. Here’s what he had to say:


How would you describe your cuisine in three words?

Good mother’s cooking.


When and how did you first discover your love for food and culinary arts?

My sister and my mother used to always cook dinner. They came from the Caribbean—Trinidad & Tobago—so we always had a big Sunday dinner. I always helped them with prep—I was too young and too short to see over the stovetop, but I was always around when my sister and mother were preparing food and I learned from them.   I started cooking on my own when I was 11. My Mom said I had to start making my breakfast then, because she was too busy. Later I went to culinary school. I didn’t actually get my culinary degree ’til 2002.


In addition to working as a chef, catering, and running the cafe at The Point CDC, you also teach culinary arts to teens in The Point’s Blank Plate program. Can you tell us more about the program?

Yes, we do the Blank Plate program from April to June, for kids ages 13 to 17. We teach them basic culinary arts, introduction to food and cooking, knife drills, and stuff like that. We‘ve done it for four years so far—it’s going on its fifth year now. What I enjoy most is seeing the enthusiasm on kids’ faces, to see them learn something new—a new vegetable, new technique, something basic about cooking—and help them pick up new skills as they become adults.   blank plate 2


Tell us about Bascom Catering and Events, what sort of events do you do and what’s next for the company?

We started Bascom Catering in 2008. We cater healthy great food at a low price. We did Tribeca Film Festival seven years in a row, and also serve Congressmen’s offices, Hyde Charter School, Bronx Charter School, events at The Point CDC, weddings, bat mitzvahs, funerals, and more. If you don’t have a big budget, we’ll work with you. We try to offer a great product and a great service at a good price.   We’re working on a lot right now. We’re looking into opening a new space in Hunts Point. I’m pushing for a culinary school that can work with about 50 kids a day, so we can offer programs for more kids in this community. A lot of kids are enthusiastic about cooking and want to do this, but they don’t necessarily have the finances to go to a culinary school downtown. So we’re trying to launch a program for kids in the community, possibly offering them stipends to help make it accessible.   We’re also trying to open a restaurant in Harlem next summer. Stay tuned!


What’s your neighborhood, and what do you love most about it? And, what do you love most about Hunts Point?

I’m from Richmond Hill, Queens, which is a neighborhood with a vast variety of cultures, especially Latino and East Indian. The great thing about Hunts Point is that the community, culture, and the art programs out here are amazing. People here are all artists, they all love artists, and being a chef, it goes without saying that you’re an artist. People here have really accepted me—they’ve embraced me like I’m from Hunts Point, welcomed me as an artist as part of the community. Like I said, everyone here is an artist, or really appreciates art—it’s a really creative community, and extremely welcoming.   blankplate1


What excites you most about working with The LP for our 6th Annual Public Art Potluck?

I’m looking forward to working with The LP! You offer a great service in the community, and I look forward to giving you guys some of my creations, and making everyone smile. I’m really honored to work together. You give so much back to the community and I want to give part of what I do for community also.


What’s your favorite film, book, or song about NYC?

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “New York, New York.” “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!”


Don’t forget to buy your tickets to our Public Art Potluck!

Welcome to Kelly St

Field Day 2015: Hunts Point / Longwood

October 1, 2015

Field Day is The LP’s annual festival that showcases the rich spectrum of local arts and culture in our three anchor neighborhoods: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Harlem, and Hunts Point / Longwood. The three day festival is open to everyone to participate by collecting a booklet containing a map and complete details on festival activities. The activities include open studio visits with Create Change Residents and Commissioned artists, free art workshops, public programs led by our Fellows, creative walks and more. Click here to see photos from Field Day.


With Day One (Harlem) and Day Two (Bedford-Stuyvesant) completed, the final day of Field Day 2015 commenced on Saturday, September 26, in Hunts Point / Longwood surrounding Rainey Park. Upon arriving at the Kelly St. Garden (924 Kelly St.) We saw a handful of eager adults and children making art. Some were focused on the printmaking while others were wrapped up in making unique pieces jewelry made out recycled paper. Much of the jewelry created was so skillfully done as if it were created by professionals.



Artists Alison Hall Kibbe and Sasha Phyars-Burgess, in association with the Kelly St. Garden created the brilliant project ‘Story Block.’ It is inspired by the powerful people and their stories both artists met at the garden during their time as Create Change Fellows in 2014. For their commissioned project, both artists were inspired to continue celebrating these great people.


In the Kelly St. Garden, each artist has a plot of land where they grew vegetation. Kelly St. resident Rosalba Lopez Ramirez, for example, has positive memories of gardening with her parents so it brings peace to her. Sajata-E who is also a resident, fabric artist and designer takes viewers through her studio and explains her eco-friendly approach. Her main goal is to avoid making an excess of garments that ends up in the trash, so her method enables her to reuse what she does not use.




Artist Fay Bonas also is environmentally conscious and says she always has paper in her house which she made no use of. She thought why not make something out of it. We spoke with Fay about her overall experience with Story Block. She said, “We came up with the idea of photographing the pieces in the garden. When Allison did my interview she made me feel comfortable so she pulled out My Story. I am more of a behind-the-scenes type of person. Field Day was awesome. This is my second time facilitating a workshop for the LP and as usual they always make it easy for me show others how to make paper beads.”


Hunts Point based artist Sharon De La Cruz led participants on a creative walk to the many sites bordering Rainey Park. What was interesting about Sharon’s walk was she created a template for the participants to interact with their surroundings by creating their own comic strips. As the group arrived at the Serrano Gallery of Fine Arts, each participant was to choose his or her favorite painting and draw their interpretation of it onto the comic with a sentence explaining why they favored it. By the looks of their respective drawings, the group was filled with artists.




So much occurred at the Serano Galleries of Fine Arts. The owner, Ray Serrano, introduced us to his gallery with his religiously themed exhibit of how God created Earth in seven days. The exhibit takes the title of ‘Bereshit’ which is a Hebrew word found in The Bible and means the beginning. Ray saw it fit to pay homage to God as “without God none of this would be possible.” The interesting part of the exhibit is Ray excluding the seventh day from his paintings. He states many people ask him about Eve but he responds she comes a little later as God rests on the seventh day.



Artist Seyi Adebanjo presented two short films. The first of which was ‘Ọya: Something Happened On The Way To West Africa!’ in which Seyi directed, produced and edited. This personal and political documentary follows Seyi’s journey as a Queer Gender Non Conforming Nigerian returning home to connect with the Òrìṣà (African God/dess) tradition, and follow a trail back to the powerful legacy of his great grandmother, Chief Moloran Ìyá Ọlọ’ya. In the documentary we see Seyi interact with locals as they are berated of their identity. The locals want to know who they are, are they a man or woman. It is a fascinating documentary that shows a person who has a love for their culture and a level of bravery that some can only wish to have.


Seyi’s second showing was Trans Lives Matter! Justice for Islan Nettles which is a multimedia photography piece. As Seyi says, “…because the personal is political.” The piece is a powerful and intensely moving document of a community vigil for Islan Nettles who is a transgender woman of color. It captured the love and support community brought to sustain each other and her family; this includes the continued oppression that occurs in the Queer community (transgender and gender non-conforming people.) Seyi explained the technique was intentional as they wanted people to sit with the images and hear people’s voices rather than hear the victims speak about themselves.


Rhynna Santos of Everyday Bronx held a workshop at the gallery on street photography. As a Puerto Rican woman who calls the Bronx her home, she realized when she would travel internationally, the minute a stranger found out she was from the Bronx, the response was always one of negativity. It became her passion to shine a better light on the borough. Eventually she took the reins of the Everyday Bronx Instagram page which recently reached 13,000 followers.


As a professional photographer Rhynna is one of a handful who have embraced the smartphone. Many photographers frown upon smartphones because it has made their craft mainstream. As Rhynna states, “The most important camera you can have is your smartphone and it is great for street photography.” She spoke about combining social media with your photos to create a personal brand and put heavy emphasis on the effects of hashtags. She even gave selfie tips, instructing the audience to hold the camera about 30 degrees above the face as it gives the face a more structured and well-lit effect. Following all the fun facts, Rhynna had the audience go out and use their personal phones to capture some candid moments in the neighborhood.




Nearing the end of the day we arrived at the Stebbins-Hewitt House Garden to meet the Hunts Point / Longwood Fellows (Sarah Lidgus, Dominique Hernandez, Stanley Cadet and Nicole Tammelleo). The atmosphere was similar to an art-infused family barbeque with playing, people eating, children getting their face painted, and people creating works of art by painting on miniature canvases. Stanley states the creation process for Bronx Brilliance was very organic: “our theme came by way of attending a series of meetings, reading articles and blogs, and visiting community events in Hunts Point. One action led to another action until we met our partners and listened to what they were doing in the neighborhood and what was needed in the neighborhood.”




As the minutes counted down to 5 there was a shower of smiles resting on everyone’s faces. There was a collective feeling of success shared by everyone involved, knowing that Field Day 2015 went off without a hitch. Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Hunts Point / Longwood showed off their beauty and historical presence on three different days making many aware how important it is not to let gentrification consume these priceless neighborhoods.

Maureen's 50th 9 12 2015

Field Day 2015: Bedford-Stuyvesant

October 1, 2015

Field Day is The LP’s annual festival that showcases the rich spectrum of local arts and culture in our three anchor neighborhoods: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Harlem, and Hunts Point / Longwood. The three day festival is open to everyone to participate by collecting a booklet containing a map and complete details on festival activities. The activities include open studio visits with Create Change Residents and Commissioned artists, free art workshops, public programs led by our Fellows, creative walks and more. Click here to see photos from Field Day.


Day one of Field Day 2015 was the perfect start to The Laundromat Project’s three day festival. On day two, the festivities moved to the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Covering five sites for project ‘Imagine Bed-Stuy’, day two entailed lots of walking throughout the 2.8 sq/mi neighborhood with a population of an estimated 160,000 residents. Bed-Stuy is known as the cultural center for African Americans in Brooklyn as African Americans make up 70% of the population.  


Upon arriving at station one (the Marmy Laundromat located on 197 Malcolm X Blvd), teaching Artist Jasmine Murrell was present once again but this time to help the residents unleash their creative side with print stamp making in a workshop titled “Make Your Mark.” The purpose of this workshop was for the participants to express who they are, what they care about in the form of a symbol. Seven year old Kyesha said, “I made a butterfly for my mom because it’s her favorite and it reminds me of her.” Kyesha, along with her father both created symbolic stamps.


Over at station two (The Luminal Theater located at 405 Tompkins Ave.) fellow Jason Maas hosted a live hybrid of storytelling and portrait drawing in a session titled “Legacy.” We witnessed a Bed-Stuy resident named Arnold enlighten the crowd about his life in the neighborhood. Arnold told the audience, “the parents in the neighborhood felt safe enough where the children could play on the block while the parents stayed inside.” It was interesting to see Jason sketch a very realistic portrait of Arnold as he was in motion. As Jason states, “I start each portrait with the eyes.” As the eyes are the windows into a person’s soul it made all the sense in the world.


Maureen's 50th 9 12 2015


Upon arriving at station three (Sincerely, Tommy located at 343 Tomkins Ave) Rasu Jilani along with store owner Kai Avent de-Leon had developed a very energetic scene for Rasu’s project titled ‘Griots in ‘The Stuy.’ The online archive of Bed-Stuy residents’ stories and a temporary public art installation of photographs drew a crowd. Seeing some of the residents speak with spectators as their photos were installed on the ‘Sincerely, Tommy’s’ wall was a multi-sensory experience. The project emphasizes on Rasu’s objective of catalyzing an interaction between artists, the local community and the wider public. By doing this he plans to promote awareness around social issues through exhibitions, humanities, community programs and cultural events.



Taking a break from the stations, 2014 Artist-in-Residence Chloë Bass led a creative walk inviting participants to see the neighborhood from the perspective of stray cats titled as “cat walks.” Chloë’s love for cats, especially her own named Tommy, encouraged her to follow the stray cats of Bed-Stuy. The walk took the participants on a journey where she informed them how cats liked to be alone, go to clean and safe places and generally like to inhabit green spaces. The walk later turned into a great social message as she realized that the way people treat stray cats as dangerous is very similar in the way that society treats individuals of low income. It was an eye opener to say the least.


Maureen's 50th 9 12 2015


Heading on to station four (Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza at 1368 Fulton St), there was quite a bit of activity as both poetry and self-defense workshops were taking place concurrently. Led by Francis Estrada and Nicholas Powers, it was an informative sight. Participants sat in a circle and they learned about poetry while pairs lined up on the steps of the Restoration Plaza and practice newly learned self-defense moves.


Maureen's 50th 9 12 2015


With so much to do in four hours we finally arrived at station five (the Halsey Community Garden at 462 Halsey St). It was where the final part of project ‘Imagine Bed-Stuy’ commenced. There was lots of organic food prepared for all to enjoy. The main objective was to make people aware of the “creativity, beauty, diversity and strength of the Bedford-Stuyvesant community,” as fellow Ola Ronke states. The fellows wanted to focus on organizations that help to make Bed-Stuy the great neighborhood it is and not just what is making it become trendy. “Bridge Street Development Corporation which offers free money management and home buying classes, runs the amazing BedStuy brownstone tour. Brooklyn Movement Center works around food justice and food access, as well as combating police brutality and empowering residents in many other ways. 462 Halsey Community Garden which runs the food box program and offers residents a chance to grow fruits and vegetables as well as order fresh, in-season, farm-grown boxes of produce for only twelve dollars,” said Ola Ronke about the partners. Together with these organizations, the team did an outstanding job of connecting with the Bed-Stuy community while making it a fun experience for all involved.


Field Day 2015 in Bedford-Stuyvesant was another great success thanks to the Bed-Stuy community, the fellows (Ola Ronke, Adaku Utah, Hossannah Asuncion and Jason Maas), and The LP’s staff, volunteers, and other members of the family. The eventful day carried on into the evening with a reception at Bed-Vyne Cocktail with lots of Create Change Fellows coming out to support. It was also nice to see ellows from the Hunts Point / Longwood team come out to support the Bed-Stuy group before their own big day in The Bronx.