Monday, March 9, 2009


Happy Women’s History Month. Tanya Rynd is one of three women owners of Superfine, a 2005 NYC Small Business Award winner to help “shape, serve and improve the lives of women”. Their kid friendly restaurant, gallery, and performance space is a hub in the Dumbo Brooklyn arts scene. In 2005, Tanya invited me to join the Superfine Dinettes, her home spun performance art troupe, to march in the Mermaid Parade.

So forevermore, Superfine’s three owners, Tanya Rynd, Cara Lee Sparry and Laura Taylor will always march inside the pages of MERMAIDS ON PARADE. Their creativity allows me a place to go where women are smart, strong, own their power and are respected for it. I plan on interviewing all the owners.

Today we start with Tanya Rynd, a natural impresario, consummate people person and a community connector. Her goal is to present live art and music to the public. I’ve always wondered what goes on inside the mind of someone who runs a restaurant while booking musicians, curating art shows, who also writes, paints and performs.

Q: When did you start to march in the Mermaid Parade? 

TR: In 1997 I went to the Mermaid parade with Cara Lee Sparry. I wore two inch long silver eyelashes, a silver dress and a plastic fish as a necklace. Watching the parade I felt swept up in the tide of mermaids instantly. The next year I began to march in the parade and have continued consistantly for the next 10 years. In 1998 I found my mermaid name, Mermaidra, Queen of the Deep. Cara Lee who is a genius costumer has always been my comrade in creating and living the mermaid parade.

The Parade is a ritual for the summer solstice - the longest day of the year. King Neptune and Queen Mermaid have opened up the sea for all mermaids to walk on land for one day. In all of their forms, in all their diversities, the sea creatures spill onto the streets and boardwalk. What is truly remarkable about the parade is that it encompasses so much creativity and self expression. Just when I thought that I came up with something original and smart there is always someone else’s interpretation of the this ritual that makes me marvel with awe and laughter. A tremendous tidal pool of so many great minds in the ocean of New York, I always feel the parade is a celebration of the imagination! One of my all time favorite troupes in the parade was "Sushi and the Banshees" where all the members were pieces of sushi, including wasabi boy. The parade is an experience where adults can be as smart as children and children can be smarter than the adults because they already impart fantasy and imagination as reality. Towards the end of the parade the King and Queen lead us through the four seasons, cutting ribbons, and opening the ocean. For me, Melanie's book, MERMAIDS ON PARADE captures the very essence of why the parade is important- she captured the actual ritual and celebration of the creative and playfulness of being alive whether it be on the land or the sea. 

Q: What is the evolution of the Superfine Dinettes? 

TR: In 2002, I formed a mermaid dance troupe that later became known as The Superfine Dinettes. We are a group of women who gather specifically to march in the parade, to create a theme and dance presentation that changes each year. We are diehard mermaids, many of us imbue the lore and fantasy of the mermaid. The dance troupe is about self expression as
strong women/mermaids, and really about having fun. Some take turns choreographing numbers; we all join in picking music and creating the theme of our costumes, then personalizing that costume to oneself. Here are some of the examples of our Mermaid Parade Names that the Superfine Dinettes created:
2002: Dolly Parton Huki Lau, Nookie Laters 
2003: The Esther Williams Fin Club 
2004: Mermaids Gone Wild 
2005: The Mermod Squad 
2006: The East River Mermaids 
2007: The Ladies Mermalade 
2008: The Hip Hop Hula Mermaids 
2009: TBA 

Q: How does Superfine connect the arts community together? 

TR: All three owners, Tanya Rynd, Cara Lee Sparry and Laura Taylor are artists and were pioneers in Dumbo as artists and residents long before Superfine was even created. One of the main goals for Superfine and reasons we created Superfine was to connect the community with each other, which is an art in itself. To also create a space that supported art and music and was an actually living art piece. As one of the directors and producers of Superfine I feel that everyday we succeed in being present as a space that is dedicated to artists. Every three weeks we present an artist (painter, photographer, installation artist, illustrator, collaborater, collage...) on our thirty foot art wall. We present local musicians every week for over eight
years. Every day I am engaged in hearing about, promoting and encouraging other people's independent dreams and art projects. One of my goals in our project is that people would come together there to actively communicate with each other, that the art of networking one on one would be present and it is! I have always wanted people to be engaged with each other and to participate. I feel that Superfine encourages people, even in how it is designed, to dare to express themselves. The art of making food everyday with love does translate to the people and I think our food connects our community together as well. 

Thank you, Tanya aka Mermaidra, Queen of the Deep!

Superfine sells MERMAIDS ON PARADE at 126 Front St Brooklyn 718.243.0095

* Tanya Rynd at her recent birthday party
* Tanya rehearsing with the Dinettes 2005
* Mermaid Parade 2008
* Tanya performing at her recent birthday party.
Photo Credits: Herb Hernandez

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice interview! Thanks for using my pics :)