Selling Stickers, T-Shirts, And Friendship Bracelets, For Palestine

On a recent weekend, a group of local artists, writers, clothing designers, and others set up shop in the backyard of the Ridgewood rock club TV Eye for a “Palestine Benefit Market,” with the goal of fundraising aid efforts for Palestinian refugees in Egypt. Organized by a pair of artists named Katie Grossman and Lia Kantrowitz, the group recruited collaborators out of a handful of affiliated leftist activist groups like the Gaza Mutual Aid Collective, the Ridgewood Tenants Union and Bushwick Mutual Aid.

Kantrowitz has been involved in Pro-Palestine efforts since last fall, when she designed a series of posters showcasing conditions in Gaza “Before the ‘War’” that all pose the strikingly-worded question, “What happens after a ceasefire?” Kantrowitz then posted these online, with the hopes that people would download them and print them out, tacking them up on phone booth poles throughout the neighborhood.

More recently, Kantrowitz has started selling hand printed graphic t-shirts, also in support of Palestine. The front of these features a black and white rose, while the back reads: “Killing the flowers will not delay spring.” She sold these in Ridgewood too, alongside other vendors like Theresa Escobedo, Gnarly Headache, Genna Howard, and Sarah Nowicki, the latter of whose live airplant earrings proved to be especially popular.

The group had quickly turned TV Eye’s outdoor yard into a bustling flea market, flying the Palestinian flags in artwork, banners, and pamphlets everywhere you could look. Many of the artists were selling versions of the flag too, incorporated into keychains, earrings, and stickers that all came in Palestine’s black, white, green, and red hues; into beaded bracelets spelling out “Free Gaza.”

“The incredible organizers at TV Eye rallied the punx, skins and artists, which is no easy feat,” said Fagan Kuhnmuench, a.k.a Gnarly Headache, a linoleum and wood print artist based in Bushwick.  “As an anarchist and artist, I am more than happy to bring my work to support mutual aid. I don’t feel special for doing this; I just find nothing more gutless and reprehensible than remaining silent from the security of my privilege,” says Kuhnmuench, 

At the market, Kuhnmuench sold illustrated “AZAB” stickers and triple wood block prints that read “Palestina Libre.” 

Those in need of a haircut were in luck too, as East Village-based stylist Olivia Contreras set up a hair station on the back patio. There was a raffle too where attendees could purchase $5-20 raffle tickets for items and services offered up by vendors. Everything from canvas paintings to jewelry to tattoo gift certificates were up for grabs. Guests could even make a bet for the items inside a $200 “mystery bundle” too. 

According to the organizers, 100% of proceeds from all of the vendors’ sales went to families fleeing Gaza. Through a message on Instagram, Grossman tells me they have to keep names of these groups “on the DL bc we don’t want their gofundme to get flagged.” Grossman suggests that “maybe you can say it was split up equally and sent to 5 different gofundmes.”

They said their market raised over $34,000 for those accounts. 

Grossman, Kantrowitz and the other organizers had also created a space for people to loosen up and have fun while never losing sight of the urgency they felt. The event was DJed by a handful of locals like DJ Curryboi and the former Wax Idols singer Hether Fortune. As attendees mingled around the space, chatting over music and sifting through chapbooks, the market slowly turned into a party. Old friends could be heard catching up over beers and buying matching bracelets, while new friendships were made under TV Eye’s disco ball.

“We hope to keep this momentum up and have another [market] soon, but until then, please remember that events like these can be organized by anyone at any time for any cause,” Grossman and Kantrowitz would write in a joint statement afterward.

Photos taken by Holyn Thigpen.

For more news, sign up for Bushwick Daily’s newsletter.

Join the fight to save local journalism by becoming a paid subscriber.

Latest articles

Related articles