Commend is the gravitational center of the RVNG universe. It is an inner space within the outer space that is downtown Manhattan. In the spirit of this historical neighborhood – and responsive to its evolving symmetry – Commend supports a community(/ies) of artists and craftspeople by offering mindfully selected items and ideations accompanied by purposeful editorial, placement, and events.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. KS: I’m Kerry Santullo, and you’ll often find me floating around Commend on the weekends. NBC: My name is Nina Bower Crooke and I am one of the forces behind Commend: multi-functioning retail, event, work and meeting space in LES. JM: I am Jaclyn Miller; just one part of the collective energy that is Commend.
What is it like living and working in New York? KS: Messy, confusing, inspiring, and strangely beautiful. JM: Like a really drawn out fever dream.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? KS: Softness, small dogs, and soap. NBC: The work of social and environmental justice organizations and individual activists in New York. Artists who graciously allow us to adventure in their world. Friends who inspire deeper understanding of ideas not yet explored, and hold us responsible for everyday action. JM: Oh so many things all at once! The writing of Micheline Aharonian Marcom, the music of Philip Halais (Low Jack), the films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and the curatorial work of DeForrest Brown Jr.
Favorite places to shop? NBC: Two Bridges Music Arts. JM: Valentino’s food market on Fresh Pond Road.
How did your interest in your work begin? KS: I had my heart set on attending a PhD program to study English Literature until a wayward internship at a record label caught my eye and changed my path. JM: A very long time ago, buying CD’s as a kid and staying up late into the night to listen.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city / the world to be? KS: If I can’t be overlooking a volcanic expanse in Iceland or swimming at a beach in Portugal, I would choose to be at Commend. It really is my favorite place.
What artists or designers are you interested in right now? KS: Lauren’s All Purpose Salve is one of my favorite items that I’ve brought into the shop. Her homemade salve has quickly become an essential part of my nightly routine.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work with the shop? KS: I love when dogs and parents visit the shop. Commend is for everyone.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? NBC: http://dublab.com – For their diverse current radio programming & archive. http://maskmagazine.com – Special site (literally and figuratively) of congregation and conversation, particularly around radical care. http://www.fvckthemedia.com – crucial local webpaper covering stuff that interests me. JM: beaconscloset.com: For all the designer clothes I could not otherwise afford. https://boomkat.com/: Simultaneous music retailer, distributor and review site. Not afraid to be critical of the records they’re selling! http://comatonse.com/: Writings that have deeply effected my sense of self / modes of thinking.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? NBC: We’re working to bring diverse and immersive programming to Commend through performances, workshops and meetings. Currently we are organizing monthly Town Hall style meetings to discuss issues facing our community and to complete actionable items. Our next meeting will focus on immigration and artist visas.
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? NBC: More non-human beings. JM: Callen-Lorde Community Health Center: continually inspired by their drive for community-building and the invaluable resources they provide. They will be opening a location in Brooklyn soon as well!
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after experiencing your shop? NBC: Feelings of calm and consciousness. JM: A thoughtful connection with media.