Destined to paint Forest Hills

A column by in the Forest Hills/Rego Park Times by Michael Perlman

If you are taking a leisurely stroll around Forest Hills among the trees, the Tudor architecture, or the commercial thoroughfares, you may have stepped into the setting of an oil painting by Weimin Mo, an accomplished artist who sets up an easel and a canvas and captures the neighborhood.

Mo is a native of Shanghai, China. who lives on the outskirts of Fort Myers, Florida, with his wife. Now at age 70, he cherishes his post-retirement life, where he can share quality time with his daughter in New Jersey or son who still calls Forest Hills home, and paint on a nearly daily basis.

“If the weather is nice, I simply go outside and paint,” he said. “If I am going grocery shopping, I sketch with ink on the subway.”

Fans can purchase one of his hundreds of works on his blog. Works are complemented by summaries of his interpretations of a scene and experiences. In addition, Mo works on commission to paint portraits, houses, boats, or any topic of interest. [FHT]



112th Precinct to celebrate the holidays next week

The 112th Precinct is holding their annual December Holiday Party next week on Wed., Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. at J.H.S. 190 Russell Sage, located at 68-17 Austin St.

Join the members of police department for an evening of music, free refreshments and art displays from local school children.

112th Precinct Community Council president Heidi Chain with members of the Community Affairs Division at the 2013 holiday event.

112th Precinct Community Council president Heidi Chain with members of the Community Affairs Division at the 2013 holiday event.


A look back on the history of film in Forest Hills

The set of “Sentimental Tommy.”

A column in the Forest Hills/Rego Park Times by Michael Perlman:

Forest Hills and Rego Park boast an impressive record on camera since the neighborhoods were founded in the early 20th century.

On November 26, residents found signs indicating that scenes from “The Good Wife,” a political and legal drama on CBS, were being filmed on 99th Street between 66th and 65th roads.

According to Lauren Kamm, director of Publicity for CBS, the episode is tentatively scheduled to air on Sunday, January 11. Buildings that may appear include Tower Diner and the Thorneycroft, Blair Hall, and Queens Gardens apartment complexes.

One of area’s earliest moments on camera occurred in the 1920s. The rural steep hill along 66th Road between 102nd and 110th streets caught the attention of Astoria Studios, which built a set depicting a Scottish village for “Sentimental Tommy,” a silent film that was released in 1921.

Two years prior, the same spot hosted a replica of a Civil War-era American village for Augustus Thomas’ play “The Copperhead.” Architect Robert Haas, chair of the Art and Decoration Department of the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, designed both sets.

This same forested hill, popular with children as a sledding spot in the winter, was nicknamed “the green jungle,” and in the 1960s was where Birchwood Towers was built. [FHT]



New tradition at Red Pipe Organic Café

A column by Michael Perlman in the Forest Hills/Rego Park Times

Austin Street was once characterized by high-end independent shops and restaurants, but in recent times has been subject to the opening of chain stores and rent increases, causing longtime owners to leave. But in October 2014, Forest Hills welcomed Red Pipe Organic Café at 71-60 Austin Street.

In December 2013, the community waved adieu to the cherished Stoa Jewelry at the same address, and concerns surfaced as to whether Austin Street would receive another mundane replacement.

Marie Sinanian and Rena Monogenis, who offered an extensive range of custom jewelry and locally designed artwork, were a mainstay of Forest Hills for 45 years.

But a new tradition was born at Red Pipe Organic Café, the neighborhood’s first organic and vegetarian café. It also a rare Forest Hills treat that allows patrons to enjoy smooth jazz, acoustic guitar, or piano on Wednesday evenings and features a gallery for local artists, which will rotate on a two to three-month basis.

“A gallery will benefit our community’s arts scene, and I would be interested in displaying my black-and-white photos of nature or street art,” said local professional photographer Susan Gurevich.

Forest Hills residents Dr. Rene Alkalay, Dimitry Benjamin, and Giorgi Tabagari are the three partners whose collaborative vision resulted in a great product. Through the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, Alkalay met Benjamin and Tabagari, who have been childhood friends since age six. [FHT]


Bramson ORT College in Forest Hills comes close to closure

Earlier this year, Bramson ORT College was placed under heightened cash monitoring by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and was just weeks away from closing.

Although the school, with campuses in both Forest Hills and Bensonhurst, provided the additional documentation required to receive the necessary financial aid funding under the probationary period, it was reported that the DOE was unresponsive and nevertheless declined the school any financial aid payment.

In response to the school’s near closure, the Bramson ORT College administration contacted Congresswoman Grace Meng for support.

After meeting with DOE officials, Meng said she managed to work out a plan to renew financial aid payments. As a result, DOE has since made its first disbursement of $175,000 and the school now expects they will soon receive the total balance of $980,000.

“With the school remaining open and this issue now behind it, the institution can move forward to continue the important work it does in educating New York students,” Meng said. [FHT]


Geraldine Ferraro Democratic Clubs inaugural meeting in Forest Hills

District Leader Michael Cohen

District Leader Michael Cohen with Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz

The Geraldine A. Ferraro Democratic Club held their inaugural meeting at Banter Irish Bar and Kitchen, located at 108-22 Queens Blvd., on Wednesday in Forest Hills, combining the two current clubs in the district. Councilwoman and District Leader Karen Koslowitz, District Leader Michael Cohen and the Community Empowerment Democratic Association (Robert F. Kennedy Democratic Association) joined Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Borough President Melinda Katz to help kick off the new club in honor of former Congresswoman Ferraro. “You have more people, you can get more accomplished,” Koslowitz said of the benefits of having one unified front.”The sky is the limit.”