LES Runway: Lo-Down Readers, Get Your Fashion Fix

Photo courtesy LES Runway/Jeff Mosier

Say you always wanted to attend the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week shows but didn’t have the right connection. Now, you can indulge your inner fashionista and support up-and-coming designers right here in the neighborhood at what’s being billed as New York’s most intimate runway. L.E.S. Runway runs through Oct. 2 at Grand Opening, 139 Norfolk St. (near Rivington). By day, the space serves as a pop-up shop selling the designers’ creations, by night, the catwalk is primed, the models are primped and the champagne is flowing.

Husband and wife team Marc Maleh and Cheryl Carr-Maleh conceived the idea and collaborated with Ben Smyth, Grand Opening’s founder and owner. “We wanted to offer New York City-based designers access to the community. A lot of designers don’t have the means or the platform to show their work,” Maleh says.

Good Morning!

Bring your rain gear with you this morning; showers will continue for the next few hours and then clear this afternoon with a high near 40℉. It will by gusty and cold this evening with a low of 14℉. Thanks to photographer Harvey Spears for sending along some more great shots from the Chinese Lunar New Year (and the photo above).  We’ll have more images to post later today. Also today, a profile of “industrial-engineer-turned-coffee-entrepreneur” Mike Caswell, who opened Roasting Plant coffee shop on Orchard in 2007.

Grand Opening To Host Micro-Budget LES Film Festival

There is a fun new event coming to the neighborhood.  It’s called the LES Film Festival and it’s 20 days of independent short and feature films made for under $30,000. Screenings will be held at the intimate Grand Opening space on Norfolk Street. Their judges are local muralist Marco of MarcoArt, actress Eva Amurri (Californication, The Banger Sisters), Phil Hartman of Two Boots Pizza and Indie Film Fame, and Roxy Hunt and Tony Castle of BFD Productions.

Pong on Grand St., Chester at ABC No Rio, and a Sweatshop Cinderella on Eldridge

Arts watch

If you are staying out of the fray of the CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival, there are still plenty of events happening on the Lower East Side this evening:

As we've mentioned, the guys from Grand Opening are "re-opening" PONG this afternoon on Grand Street.  Stop over for a pick-up game of ping-pong, or become a member and compete for a
chance to win the L.E.S. Cup, in a season-ending tournament that will
reveal the most talented table tennis players in the Lower East Side.

Tonight at ABC No Rio you can catch some standup from Christine Nangle (Saturday Night Live), storytelling from Seth Lind (Thank You Robot, Told) and sketch comedy from Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting (Edinburgh Fringe Festival). The night of comedy, titled, Don't You Find Us Charming?, is hosted by Bushwick's favorite improv team CHESTER.  Admission is on a sliding scale ($3-$8) and the laughing starts at 8pm.

Also, tonight at The Museum at Eldridge, Historian and filmmaker Suzanne Wasserman discusses and shares a rough
cut of her newest project, a short film on Yiddish writer and
force-of-nature Anzia Yezierska. The event is part of the museum's Academic Angles Series on immigrant history. Admission is FREE.

Vegas Style Wedding Chapel Set to Open on Norfolk Street

A few weeks ago we told you about the latest imaginative project from the guys at "Grand Opening" on Norfolk Street. In the past, they've turned their storefront (at 139 Norfolk) into a drive-in movie theater complete with a sky blue 1965 convertible, a ping pong parlor and an art gallery. Starting July 10th, it will be a Vegas style wedding chapel. We stopped by the soon-to-be chapel recently to get the scoop from the "wedding planners." 

-1 In a past life, "Grand Opening" was a drive-in movie theater.

PONG-4A ping pong parlor was the first "business" to open at "Grand Opening"

Ben Smyth and his brother moved their business to the Lower East Side a couple of years ago, opening the storefront as an offshoot of their design firm. Ben says they wanted to do something to engage the community, tapping into the diversity and artistic spirit the neighborhood is known for. The concept behind "Grand Opening" is to unveil a new "business" every few months. So far there have been about 10 projects, some more popular than others.

20090608_grandopeningguy_146x97 The wedding chapel concept seems destined to be a big hit. One of their employees, Kevin Fey (pictured), has gone through an exhaustive (about one hour) correspondence course to become a minister in the Universal Life Church. You get to choose the cheesy backdrop: beach, forest, whatever you want. Ben says there's already been quite a lot of interest. Some people are having real weddings in the 250 square foot space – others are renewing their vows or having a commitment ceremony. You can even rent a bride or groom. There is room for around 20 guests. They'll stream a live feed of your big day on the internet.

"Grand Opening" is raising money for the project on Kickstarter. They only have one more day to reach their fundraising goal of $3,000. There's still about 500 bucks to go. You can see more information about the Wedding Chapel and watch a video here.

LES Wedding Chapel

The LES installation/event space "Grand Opening" on Norfolk Street has a proposal to make. Next month, they'll become a quickie wedding chapel, Vegas style. You'll be able to get married by a Universal Life Church minister, with 20 or so of your closest friends looking on. The whole thing is explained in this video on Kickstarter.