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- 10/25/16--11:20: _Top British Artist ...
- 10/25/16--11:20: _The National Choral...
- 10/25/16--11:26: _Doin' Work, Flash I...
- 10/25/16--11:45: _Yevgeny Kutik and T...
- 10/25/16--12:47: _Woodstock Film Fest...
- 10/25/16--13:20: _The Met Turns 50 --...
- 10/25/16--13:41: _The Ecstasy of the ...
- 10/25/16--15:50: _Number of Art Museu...
- 10/26/16--06:29: _Norah Jones and Kan...
- 10/26/16--10:22: _When Counter-Cultur...
- 10/26/16--11:24: _What to Expect duri...
- 10/26/16--12:07: _Painting After Post...
- 10/26/16--14:05: _Missing James Franc...
- 10/27/16--06:04: _Impossible Desires:...
- 10/27/16--07:39: _American Ballet The...
- 10/27/16--08:53: _100 Lamps from Tiff...
- 10/27/16--09:32: _The Famous Artist W...
- 10/27/16--11:40: _A Gala October: Cul...
- 10/27/16--14:09: _Impressionist, Femi...
- 10/27/16--17:04: _Point of Origin
- 10/25/16--11:20: The National Chorale 'S Wonderful!
- 10/25/16--12:47: Woodstock Film Festival Wraps 17th Edition With Industry Awards Bash
- 10/25/16--13:20: The Met Turns 50 -- Part One
- 10/25/16--13:41: The Ecstasy of the Moon
- 10/25/16--15:50: Number of Art Museums in L.A. Keeps Growing
- 10/26/16--11:24: What to Expect during November's Auction Season
- 10/26/16--12:07: Painting After Postmodernism, Blockbuster in Brussels
- 10/26/16--14:05: Missing James Franco in Zagreb's Museum of Broken Relationships
- 10/27/16--08:53: 100 Lamps from Tiffany Studios
- 10/27/16--11:40: A Gala October: Cultural & Charitable Catch-Up
- 10/27/16--14:09: Impressionist, Feminist, Art's Missing Link: William Merritt Chase
- 10/27/16--17:04: Point of Origin
For the second year running, Lincoln Townley has been commissioned by The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles to create a collection of portraits to celebrate this year's honorees at The Britannia Awards being held in LA on Friday.
Jodie Foster, Ricky Gervais, Samuel L. Jackson, Felicity Jones, Ang Lee, and Ewan McGregor are the latest in a long line of celebrities to get the Townley golden touch. His painting of boxing legend Muhammed Ali sold for $623,000 earlier this year. Sir Michael Caine calls Townley the next Andy Warhol.
Townley has donated these latest works of art to BAFTA Los Angeles. The funds raised will go towards its ongoing educational and community outreach programming.
The Brit artist has achieved global success with his ICONS series - a collection of paintings of the most famous and influential people in the world.
The London born painter, married to actress Denise Welch, launched the Music ICONS series in September that took over a year to curate and was inspired by the deaths of music legends David Bowie and Prince. Townley was commissioned to paint the "Supermodels" to celebrate LA Fashion week.
Townley is also recognized for his other paintings that explore the darker side of the human personality. His latest show "Retrospective" at London's Saatchi Gallery sold out in three hours.
He has a unique ability to capture the essence of the world's greatest performers.
These are powerful men and women. They have a quality about them that captivates us all. They're like a canvas onto which we project our hopes, dreams and desires. It is testament to their skill and magnetism that they make this possible by opening their light and dark sides to us. We feel they belong to us and the pressures of being what we want them to be while sustaining a private identity of their own often pushes their resilience to the limit. They live life on the edge and that edge is what I've tried to capture in my portraits.
The Britannia Awards is BAFTA Los Angeles' big night out in Hollywood, where Brits and anglophiles come together to honor exceptional people who have dedicated their careers to advancing the art forms of the moving image and to celebrate the long-standing collaboration between the British and American film and TV industries.
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Question: Who doesn't like Gershwin? Answer: Nobody! Sadly I've heard people complain about JS Bach (too cerebral), Beethoven (too intense), Wagner (too, well, Wagnerian) but no one, I repeat, no one doesn't like that American in Paris, the man who got rhythm, the man who built a stairway to paradise, George Gershwin.
The sold-out audience at last Friday's All Gershwin Concert at Geffen Hall concurred as they rose to their feet cheering the perennially hot "Rhapsody In Blue" performed by Maestro Everett McCorvey, Pianist Michael Fennelly, The National Chorale Orchestra, and especially the remarkable National Chorale. What? I hear you saying. Did the editors at the Huff Post not catch that musical gaffe? Everyone knows there's no chorus in the "Rhapsody."
It seems that George was mostly finished arranging his piece for orchestra and chorus right before he died. It took almost a hundred years and the dazzling pianist/arranger Michael Fennelly for his vision to be realized and it was delightful.
The moment the chorus started their "oohs," along with the statement of the first theme, I was honestly taken aback. That's not how it should be done. But it took me only four measures to reconsider. Why not? (or Who Cares?) The choir added a heavenly accompaniment to an already glorious piece. Plus, I remembered that the "official" orchestral version of "R in B" is also an arrangement itself, the original having been written for Paul Whiteman's jazz ensemble.
Hearing the chorus added to the orchestra, I was instantly transported to my childhood (an aural Madeline, if you will) and the harmonic vocabulary of the American Cantatas I so loved: Gorden Jenkins's "Manhattan Towers," and Mark Blitzein's much-neglected "Airborne Symphony." I felt I was listening to an undiscovered Gershwin Cantata, although, of course it had been discovered many times. Gershwin himself (not Ira) wrote the lyrics:
This is the day when we will say, "I do"
Finding a way to keep our love new
All of my life, I've dreamt of you as my wife
So when that day comes along, I'll be here singing our song...
I truly believe, even in this day of international conductors jetting around from one orchestra to another, that orchestras do have a nationalistic sound. American orchestras (especially those in New York) can play Gershwin better than anyone. Maybe it's the water? Maybe it's the bagels? But his sound (along with Bernstein's, and Copeland's) is buried deep in the hearts and consciousness of American musicians. The thrill in hearing Americans play Gershwin is analogous to the thrill I experience when I hear an English orchestra play Britten or the Vienna Philharmonic play Strauss and Mahler.
Everyone knows "R in B" opens with that famous clarinet line. Quoting from Fennelly's program notes, "Synthesizing three centuries of music history into a single bar, the clarinet begins with a simmering trill styled after a Mozart cadenza, ascends through a diatonic scale as in a Weber concerto, suddenly accelerates with a chromatic flourish like a Strauss tone poem, and then burst forth with a glaringly sliding glissando-unlike anything previously heard in a concert hall." Fennelly writes as well as he plays. Let me add: thus was born American classical music.
I have heard many pianists capture the fervor, the noise, the power of the Jazz Age, but Fennelly, in addition to the pounding chords brought out the warmth and singular beauty of the softer passages. The inner voices seemed to float over the orchestra, landing gently on our ears. Even in the dead acoustics of Geffen Hall (soon to be gutted, praise the Lord) Fennelly's delicate touch caressed the audience and made his returns to the boisterous sections all the more stunning.
His cadenzas were simply astonishing. I heard interpolated riffs that Bernstein created, as well as some others by jazz legend Dick Hyman, but a few were improvised and composed by Fennelly himself. They hit me like a lightening bolt. He catapulted the audience 2,000 feet in the air, taking them on a rocket-ride around the Chrysler building as he riffed on the Gershwin melody.
Of course, there's not going to be an "R in B" without a virtuoso clarinet player and Pavel Vinitsky didn't disappoint. With lead trumpet Kevin Cobb and the wonderful Jorge Avila, first violin, Maestro McCorvey conducted a pitch perfect performance and the National Chorale was a wonderful. I'm sure this new version will have a very long life.
McCorvey really got to shine, though, in the second half of the program. He is the newly appointed Musical Director of the Chorale and they couldn't be in better hands, given their performance of "Porgy & Bess, A Celebration of Songs" (arr. By Robert Russell Bennett). McCorvey has conducted Porgy all over the world and his attention to detail was astonishing. Given the economics of the times, I'm sure he only had minimal rehearsal time. Yet, the orchestra played with the precision of a band that's rehearsed and played together for years. The most important thing about Porgy is that in addition to sounding like a traditional opera, it has to swing, 'cause Porgy don't mean a thing if it ain't got that you-know-what. McCorvey found the perfect balance between the grand opera house monumentality and the Catfish Row juke joint.
The four seasoned soloists, Janinah Burnett, Karen Slack, Robert Mack and Kenneth Overton performed multiple characters in this show-stopping performance. All the favorites were there: Burnett singing a sensuous "Summertime," and joining Overton in a soul-searing "Bess, You Is My Woman Now." Ms. Slack stopped the show with "My Man's Gone Now," and Mack brought down the house with "It Ain't Necessarily So."
The even began with five Gershwin songs performed by The Professional Performing Arts High School Choir, who sang rather standard arrangements. The men had to compete with a women's choir three times their size but did so admirably. Although they started off tentatively, they soon found their groove, and gave a lovely start to this sumptuous evening. If these young professionals are any indication, there will be a new pool of accomplished choristers ready to sing with the National Chorale very shortly.
The Chorale also got to shine with their performance of "A Tribute to Gershwin," arranged by Jack Jarrett. This demonstrated their perfect intonation, their crisp diction and, most important, their joy in singing with this whole medley. My favorites were "Someone to Watch Over me," with a luscious jazz infused introduction, and "Fascinating Rhythm" with its, well, fascinating rhythms and sensational syncopations. This choir rocks!
But, despite the first-rate music making, this evening belonged to three great artists: Everett McCorvey, Michael Fennelly and, of course, George Gershwin.
-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Welcome back to Doin' Work: Flash Interviews With Contemporary Photographers. This is a place to celebrate the photographers who inspire me, and present you with an easily digestible bite of their personalities and work.
This week's guest is Wenxin Zhang. Wenxin (b. 1989) lives and works in both China and United States. She received her MFA at California College of the Arts. Zhang's work considers the intricate relationship between the real and the fabricated, creating multipart projects that unearth the complex layers of delusion and estrangement embedded within her non-linear imagery. She was selected in the 2016 BJP Talent Issue, a finalist in 2014 Three Shadows Photography Award as well as the 2014 Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award.
The artist as a young child, image courtesy Wenxin Zhang
Where do you live and work and how does it impact your photography?
I've been living in Queens, New York for a little over a year. My life is kind of always in a drift. I was born in a small city in China, went to grad school in California, then moved to New York. I also travel and dream a lot. I believe all the places I've been to formed me, as well as my photography.
When and how did you get your start in photography?
I think I started thinking as a photographer even before owning a camera. I traveled a lot with my journalist father when I was little. I paid lots of attention to my surroundings in the trips. Those memories have become virtual albums.
What compels you to pick up your camera?
I studied drawing and painting in a very young age, when I realized that I couldn't elaborate what was in my mind with ink I took my father's camera and started shooting. I was 13.
Blue Waterfall, image courtesy Wenxin Zhang
What are you working on now?
I am writing and doing research for my ongoing project "polymorphic expedition". It discusses the meaning of journey in the nowadays where people hugely rely on technology to experience the world. I collaborate with a programmer/designer and we are planning to create an online journey, which contains texts, photos, videos and 3d models.
If you had to explain your work to a child, how would you describe it?
I wouldn't explain it. I would just show them my work and ask them what they see, and then build up a story with their interpretation. I've tried it and I love their reactions. Children often have amazing abilities of creating their own stories based on given materials.
Do you make a living as a photographer? If yes, please explain how. If no, tell me about your day job and how you balance photography with said job.
I do sell my works and take art commissions, but besides that, not really. I write a lot. I write interviews and reviews for art media. I also work as a part-time social media person in an art foundation that I really like. I do not like commercial photography, I almost dislike every part of it. But I will do it if it pays well and dare to challenge itself.
Snowflake, image courtesy Wenxin Zhang
Show me the image you feel you're best known for. What are your thoughts on it?
It's often true that the most known works of an artist is not the favorite ones of the artist herself. People are attracted by sublime things.
What - if anything - frustrates you about photography?
There used to be frustration towards a medium from me, but now there isn't. As soon as I abandon the conservative thoughts about photography, then there's no problem. Opening up and stop criticizing things that you don't really understand.
Describe your working process.
I start with writing. Then I create a framework based on the writing. I shoot like I'm making a movie.
Mustard Curtain, image courtesy Wenxin Zhang
Describe the approach you take when establishing a relationship with a subject.
In terms of people, I am an introvert so it can get hard. Normally I only keep an ephemeral relationship with people that I take photos of. I love strangers.
In terms of nonhuman subjects, I feel a lot more comfortable. I do a lot of research on it and go visit it once and once again, until I feel that I have built a heart to heart relationship with it. But the relationship is of course very arbitrary. I know it.
What do you think of the vast sea of online photography? What's your approach for standing out?
It's just like a normal ocean, there's a lot of trash and oil floating on its surface. But if you dive deep, you will see beautiful fish and coral reef. I don't know if I stand out, I just dive deep.
Victoria Bay, image courtesy Wenxin Zhang
What are you most proud of in terms of your work?
It made my mother understand me more. I think art making is about communication. My mom and me used to fight a lot, now we are very close.
What are you doing when you're not making pictures?
I probably only spend one percent of my time making pictures. For me, making pictures without anything in mind is boring, so I spend most of my time absorbing things in life and learning to understand sophisticated emotions as well as theories. I also love to sleep, I constantly have crazy dreams that I love. Dating is important too.
The Blue Eye, image courtesy Wenxin Zhang
What do you think the future of photography might look like?
I don't think there will be a specific future of how photography looks like. It will keep evolving and keep mating with other media. It's like a magical fluid.
Name three contemporary photographers that blow your mind.
Dina Lawson, Lieko Shiga, Chen Chieh-jen.
The most important question of all: dogs or cats? Why?
Capybaras. They are the most gentle, loving and wise animals. Looking at them makes me peaceful and feel loved.
Deer Forest, image courtesy Wenxin Zhang
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Photo provided by Christina Jensen Artists
By Christopher Johnson, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, October 25, 2016
Yevgeny Kutik tells a revealing story about his teacher Roman Totenberg: "When I was first starting college [at Boston University]," he writes, "I had a particularly disappointing lesson and while packing up my violin, poured out to him my frustrations about my playing, lamenting how I was practising over five hours every day, but without the progress I expected. To my consternation, Professor Totenberg, who was soft spoken and had a deep voice, simply stared at me silently for what felt like several minutes and then said one word: 'Listen'."
Back in the late 1960s, when I was at BU, the music and theatre divisions of what was then called The School of Fine and Applied Arts were jumbled together on the fourth floor of a vast Beaux-Arts structure that originally housed the swankiest Buick-dealership in Boston. Roman Totenberg strode those long halls like a god, and when he passed through the lobby between classes, crowds parted before him, and even proto-hippie acting-students who had no idea who he was had to stifle an overpowering impulse to genuflect. Only a fool blows off Totenberg, and Yevgeny Kutik is no fool.
There was a lot of listening going on at National Sawdust Wednesday night. In fact, the most impressive thing about the evening, which included two world premieres and introduced the latest of Kutik's very fine recordings, was the degree to which Kutik and Timo Andres, the up-and-coming composer-pianist, seemed to be attuned not only to one another, but to some third presence that spoke to them out of the air. You don't see the real thing all that often. This was the real thing.
Like Kutik's new recording, the program was built around Hans Christian Anderson's adage that "where words fail, music speaks." This may be something of a truism, but it made for a fascinating recital. The most substantial of the new pieces--Michael Gandolfi's Arioso/Doloroso/Estatico, for unaccompanied violin, and Andres's Words Fail, for violin and piano, both commissioned by Kutik--take off from the plaintive four-note motif that opens Mendelssohn's Song Without Words, Op. 19, No. 1. Gandolfi develops it melodically and through variation, paying homage to Bach's partitas for solo violin with lots of implied counterpoint, while Andres opts for a loose, shifting canonic elaboration exploiting nearly the full range of both instruments. Both pieces are cast in simple ternary form, rising to a crisis and then subsiding. After that, words (as they say) fail, and analysis is just irritating: these are substantial pieces that command and hold attention, amply justifying their upwards-of-nine-minutes' duration. Better yet, they reward repeated hearing.
The third premiere was Andres's arrangement of a characteristically gnomic little movement from Janáček's On an Overgrown Path, also called "Words Fail!", which Andres said he felt almost compelled to do after finishing his own piece and then discovering that Janáček had beaten him to the title by nearly a century. The arrangement is both thoughtful and clever, and makes the piece feel substantial out of all proportion to its brevity. Kutik and Andres played it beautifully, shifting gears every couple of bars with a breathtaking combination of spontaneity and precision.
Andres and Kutik have performed together only once before, but they make a wonderful pair. Andres, whose prose and whose taste in lifestyle-features can seem a touch airy, is all business onstage: focussed, transparent, naturally expressive. Kutik, who seems a model of controlled passion on disc, becomes almost abandoned in performance--not unduly so, but he looks and sounds like someone perfectly willing do anything, whatever it takes, to tell you what this music is saying to him, and the occasional wooly attack or lapse of intonation be damned. Their ensemble was nearly perfect, and the way they tossed thematic elements and inner voices back and forth--naturally, fluently, without Making A Point or analyzing out loud--was sometimes thrilling.
These guys are good. Watch out.
Yevgeny Kutik, violin, and Timo Andres, piano, in recital on Wednesday, October 19, at National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, New York.
MENDELSSOHN (arr. Friedrich Hermann) Songs Without Words, Op. 19, No. 1, and Op. 67, No. 2
GANDOLFI Arioso/Doloroso/Estatico (premiere)
ANDRES Words Fail (New York premiere)
JANÁČEK (arr. Andres) Words Fail (premiere)
MUHLY Compare Notes
STRAVINSKY Suite Italienne
Christopher Johnson writes frequently for ZEALnyc about classical music and related performances.
Read more ZEALnyc's features:
The Belcea Quartet in a Primal Performance of Shostakovich at Zankel Hall
American Symphony Orchestra Pairs Two Politically Themed One-Act Operas in Concert at Carnegie Hall
The Young Elder Norah Jones and the New Upstart Kandace Springs Bring Fresh Vocal Life to Blue Note
For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.
Kingston NY...The Woodstock Film Festival's Oct. 15 Maverick Awards Ceremony celebrated 17 years of film presentations, panels, concerts and events with a Hollywood-style party attended by industry movers and shakers including Academy Award® winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu who presented the Festival's Trailblazer award to David Linde, executive producer of Iñárritu's Oscar-winning film, Biutiful, and CEO of Participant Media.
Photo Credit: Ben Caswell
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Meira Blaustein and David Linde
Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Oren Moverman received this year's Fiercely Independent Award from presenter Ben Foster, who starred in Moverman's 2009 film The Messenger. The prolific writer, director and producer went on to direct Rampart, Time out of Mind and the upcoming film starring Richard Gere, The Dinner.
Documentary filmmaker and Woodstock local Leon Gast received the Lifetime Achievement Award from filmmaker/director Barbara Kopple. Gast's award-winning documentaries, including the Oscar-winning, When We Were Kings, about the Foreman/Ali "Rumble in the Jungle," span a wide array of subjects, including bikers, Dead Heads and papparazzi. His newest film, Woodstock: A Love Poem closed the four day festival Oct. 16.
South African film, Shepherds and Butchers, directed by Oliver Schmitz and starring Steve Coogan took home the award for Best Narrative Feature. The film, a prison/courtroom drama, is set against the apartheid divide of the late 1980s.
Matthew Millan's Stronger Than Bullets won the award for Best Documentary Feature. The film reveals the defiant and electric music scene Millan discovered when he arrived in Benghazi to document the revolution.
The festival, created by Israeli-born Meira Blaustein, is the best pretext in New York for getting out of the city to view the fall foliage and visit one of the most charming towns in America. There are an array of houses for weekend rental, some -- like the one I rented this year -- offer amazing views of the golden woods.
The festival annually presents films ranging from Hollywood fare to obscure international indie features. This year opened with Blind, starring Alec Baldwin, who was present for a Q & A after the film. The film was directed and written by Michael Mailer and John Buffalo Mailer, respectively, Norman Mailer's sons. Other high-profile films included Chilean director Pablo Larrain's Neruda, starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Cannes sensation Loving, about an interracial couple who married in the 1950s and who took their forbidden love all the way to the Supreme Court.
Photo Credit: Naomi Schmidt
The Adams Family: John Adams, Zelda Adams, Toby Poser
But the biggest discovery for me this year was a family of filmmakers who splits their time between upstate New York and Topanga Canyon outside Los Angeles, and whose low-budget feature, Halfway to Zen, was my festival favorite. The slice-of-life film about a down-on-their-luck and dysfunctional (though ultra-loving) family was produced and co-written by Toby Poser (who co-stars) and co-written and directed by her husband, John Adams (who shot the film, did the music and co-stars with their daughter, Zelda Adams). The gorgeously shot feature -- the family's fourth -- also stars Toby's mother and John's father (a Billy Bob Thornton look-alike.) Hopefully, the film will find wide distribution because it deserves to be seen by a large audience.
Celebrations evoking remembrance say a lot about us. We tend to use the decimal system and its major divisions to encourage reassessment in terms of looking back and connecting it to today. The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death seemed like a good excuse to perform his plays, though it is hard to imagine he really needed it. (I remember suggesting a concert honoring a major anniversary of Walt Disney's death when I was told by an official at the company, "We do not celebrate deaths -- only births.")
Classical music anniversaries are also significant markers of what is considered important. New York and Los Angeles ignored the centenaries of Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Bernard Herrmann, two composers whose influence is bigger than most of their contemporaries, while the 90th birthday of Pierre Boulez was the subject of much discussion and unquestioned praise. The classical music world is gearing up for the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein in 2018, while the New York Philharmonic is currently celebrating its 125th anniversary around Antonin Dvorak and music about New York City.
Fiftieth anniversaries are the most interesting, because people who were there at inception will inevitably survive to report, represent, and make a case for status as a "classic" for the art that emerged -- or that they created -- during early adulthood. The fiftieth of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in 1963, and of West Side Story in 2007 are good examples.
This year we have the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. We also have a number of books that make use of oral history to take us back to the 1960s with the rise of the Black Panthers, the anti-war movement, the hippie-drug culture, the civil rights movement, and the beginnings of the women's and gay rights movements. And recently, a documentary by Ron Howard, The Beatles -- Eight Days a Week -- was released centered around the Fab Four's final concert appearance 50 years ago.
There is another important anniversary taking place at Lincoln Center that so far has gone mostly unnoticed. Fifty years ago, on September 16, 1966, 8:00 pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time, a brand new Metropolitan Opera House opened with the world premiere of Antony and Cleopatra, a 3-act epic opera by Samuel Barber, one of America's most honored and respected composers -- and with a text by William Shakespeare (who was celebrating the 350th anniversary of his death). And I was there.
The opera house -- the largest auditorium at the slowly evolving Lincoln Center -- was bigger than the old Metropolitan Opera House on 39th street by some 500 seats. It was designed by one of New York's greatest architects: Wallace Harrison, the former director of planning for the United Nations and, as a young whippersnapper, part of the team that brought us Rockefeller Center in 1939. There could be no more admired architect for this job than Wallace Harrison.
I was 21 years old and had just moved into my senior year dormitory room in Branford College at Yale when I put on my tuxedo and boarded the New York-New Haven-and-Hartford train to New York City for the opening night. Once there, I met up with my Aunt Rose, who had first brought me to the opera when I was 16 years old. That I soon got to conduct all of its major singers -- Leontyne Price, Jess Thomas, Justino Diaz, John Macurdy, and Rosalind Elias -- makes remembering that night all the more important for me -- and the general ignorance of the anniversary all the more telling. Every one of those singers, except Jess Thomas, is alive should anyone wish to reconstruct that history from the singers' point of view.
Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra was as gala an affair as could ever be imagined in those golden years of classical music in America. The composer had already won two Pulitzers, one of which was for another opera commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, Vanessa. Along with Aaron Copland, Barber simply was American classical music. Urbane, complex, and retaining a musical language that was at once European and American, Barber was the perfect choice to open America's grandest of grand opera houses.
The Met's general director, Rudolph Bing, had spared no expense. He commissioned the world's most glamorous and effective stage director, Franco Zeffirelli, to direct and design the production -- and serve as the man to fashion Shakespeare's words into a viable libretto. (Six years earlier, Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream also only used Shakespeare's words for its libretto.) Zeffirelli created an epic vision of Rome and Egypt, all seen through moving aluminum pipes that acted like glistening venetian blinds through which we both saw and imagined. For the last four minutes of act one, for example, the libretto says, "Cleopatra, from a great distance, slowly appears on the barge, as in a vision." And indeed, adding to the full depth of the Metropolitan's enormous state-of-the-art stage was an equally immense stage behind it that opened before our eyes as we watched a fully built ship sail toward the audience in slow motion as the curtain fell.
The costumes were a mixture of Elizabethan-meets-Cinecittà. A mere five years earlier, 20th Century Fox practically went bankrupt with its Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton Cleopatra. Filmed outside of Rome in the movie city created by Mussolini, Cleopatra just about ended the era of Hollywood epic blockbusters, as Sam Barber's new opera would do to American opera in the 50 years since the Met first opened its doors.
Thomas Schippers conducted. No American opera conductor had achieved the international fame of Schippers. That he was the trusted interpreter of Barber and Barber's life-partner, Gian Carlo Menotti, made him the authoritative maestro for the occasion. The libretto by Zeffirelli called for dances and ballets in the style of the Paris Opera's requirements for Verdi's Aïda. The choreography was by Alvin Ailey, making his Met debut. He worked with the Met's ballet mistress, Alicia Markova, who had begun her dancing career under the tutelage of Serge Diaghilev and was a founding principal dancer of London's Royal Ballet as well as American Ballet Theatre. And then there was the cast.
I had seen Leontyne Price make her Met debut on January 27, 1961. It was a revival of the house's old production of il Trovatore and it was a normal Friday night subscription performance. It proved to be hardly normal. Both Price and Italian tenor Franco Corelli debuted together and Irene Dalis and Robert Merrill (in astounding voice) completed the quartet of soloists. (When I had the opportunity to conduct Merrill in two arias at the end of his career and mentioned that night, he said with anger in his surprisingly inflected "New Yawk" accent, "We had casts in those days. We had casts!") When Price returned to the Met to sing Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, I made sure I was there, too. She had gone from her debut bows that were genuine and moving to something very grand indeed by the time she sang the Mozart -- I was part of her standing ovation in the orchestra section of the old opera house when Madame Price did a royal, and slightly disdainful, curtsey and the woman next to me uttered, "Well! Isn't THAT quelque chose!" Sam Barber and Leontyne Price were good friends and the composer, respecting the 19th century practice, had composed the role specifically for her magnificent voice.
With the African-American Price -- born in Laurel, Mississippi -- as Cleopatra, Rudolf Bing gave us an entirely American and multi-ethnic cast: Justino Diaz (from San Juan, Puerto Rico) was Antony, and Heldentenor Jess Thomas -- from South Dakota -- was Caesar. The first time I heard any of the music to Antony and Cleopatra it was at Bayreuth a month earlier, where Jess Thomas was singing Tannhaüser. I was being given a backstage tour by Wagner's granddaughter, Friedelind, when we passed by a rehearsal room where Thomas was being coached. I stood outside the room and listened as long as I could to get a preview of a brand new opera by a great living composer writing for the opening of my country's soon-to-be grand opera house. It was thrilling.
For those of us whose first experiences with grand opera had been the Metropolitan Opera House on 39th Street, the new house generated both excitement and dread. I first attended an opera in my freshman year in high school. The student matinee that spring was Don Giovanni, with Kim Borg in the title role and Toscanini's favorite soprano, Herva Nelli, as an alarmingly corseted Donna Anna. I was 15 years old. That Christmas I received two tickets for Madama Butterfly at which Renata Tebaldi sang the title role. The combination of the Met's chandelier and Tebaldi's high B-flat at the end of "un bel di" sealed the deal. Broadway had entered my life when I was 10 and now opera made growing up in New York a dream for a kid who liked that sort of thing.
And so, for some six formative years I attended opera at the old house -- usually with Aunt Rose. (After successfully navigating Butterfly, Rose called our house one night and said, "Johnny, I am really tired of Uncle Jim falling asleep during act two of every opera I go to. Would you like to come with me instead?" Rose had a subscription on alternating Friday nights in the dress circle. Uncle Jim, fun-loving dentist who was more interested in golf than Gounod, found the mid-winter heating system of the old house perfect for a nap. The other Friday nights were held by another Italian-American family whose daughter was my age and, well, it didn't take long for me to be going just about every Friday night.
New Yorkers have a way with making things happen. "Street smart" is a phrase for it and it applies to anything we put our minds to. For me, it meant getting tickets to the opera and to Broadway shows. The latter was harder because each show was at a different theater with a different box office with a recurring ritual involving a check and a self-addressed stamped envelope from a stranger (me) asking for "best available." When it came to My Fair Lady, for example, the wait was six months and my mother and I sat in the last row of the orchestra (which made me quite grumpy). When it came to Gypsy, my older brother and I sat on the aisle in the Broadway Theatre as Ethel Merman brushed by me to make her surprise entrance from the house shouting, "Sing out Louise!" -- and I couldn't have been happier. Sometimes I got lucky.
But the Met was different because it was the same box office each time I sent in a ticket request -- always calculated to arrive on the day tickets went on sale -- and at some point a very great and good person got to "know" me. "I am 16 years old and would like two tickets for the non-subscription Ring cycle. Thank you very much. Sincerely, John Mauceri" was both true and really effective. I got to see everything: Joan Sutherland's debut, Nilsson's first Aïda, the Bernstein-Zeffirelli Falstaff, and yes, Maria Callas' return as Tosca (with Corelli and Tito Gobbi).
Most amazing of all (now that I think of it) was the farewell gala at the old house, on April 16, 1966. Leopold Stokowski started things off with "The Entrance of the Guests" from Tannhaüser, which kept on repeating until the stage was filled with retired singers from the great early years of the last century. One after another entered to rapturous applause. (Lily Pons was the only unhappy one. "They didn't ask me to sing. I can still sing!" she was reported to have said.) When all the guests had entered and seated onstage, Stokowski did the unthinkable. He turned and spoke to us from the pit. "Please save this house with its EXCELLENT ACOUSTICS!" This did not go down well with Rudolph Bing who waited for revenge, which he nicely exacted in his book 5000 Nights at the Opera.
The old Met did not get landmark status due to the influence of New York's most powerful business men in conjunction with those who did not want a competitive opera house in Manhattan. That had been the case once before with Hammerstein's Manhattan Opera House and the Met had won. The Met was not about to compete with itself in 1966. And after much handwringing, the great auditorium was demolished in 1967. RCA bought the gold curtain and cut it into little squares that were sold in a box set of long playing records, called "Opening Nights at the Met." Parts of the proscenium were prize objects for collectors. I once had cocktails at the president of New York's Wagner Society and was horrified to see that the glass-topped coffee table on which I rested my chardonnay was a section of the old arch that had Wagner's name on it and that had once proudly stood above the great stage from 1883 until the wrecking ball turned it into, as I said, a coffee table.
And so, with all that history, how were we supposed to greet this new opera house
on that early fall evening in 1966?
PART TWO WILL ANSWER THAT QUESTION.
Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons, photo by Smatprt, 2009
*This is a short story I wrote in 2011 that symbolizes the difficulty and horror and madness of what it means for a rational man to be religious and believe in the irrational.
Madness is I.
Yes, a sickness has come over me, one I can neither fathom nor explain. What is happening to me is almost beyond words and sentences, verging on unbelievability, even by I who am being most affected by this obscure occurrence. I am trying to think of how to describe this accursed sickliness without sounding like I belong in a madhouse. Yet, there is no medium that I know of where a rational man can say the world is flat and act accordingly on the repercussions of such an understanding and not expect society to incarcerate him into some institutional euphemism of oppression. Still, I must speak about this phenomenon that is haunting me, even if it leads to the wrath of men or to the banishment of my person from my present commonwealth.
Initially, I thought this thing but a physiological matter only: something in my bloodstream, an undiagnosed disease, a virus making its way through my muscles and tissues, a contagion yet to be articulated. But it was not like any ailment I had ever heard of or felt. I have been gravely sick before, but most assuredly never like this. It gave my form a strangeness, something so odd I seemed to have no reference point of comparison when attempting to give it a description to myself. The novelty of this malady left me more concerned at first than frightened. I felt like I was with a horrible fever save I had no rise in bodily temperature: I felt always dreadfully nauseous and expected to spew out my innards at any moment, but never once did I do this: I felt thirst beyond quenching but desired no water. And because no genuinely commonplace physical symptoms ever surfaced I never sought out an animal-biologist for diagnostic investigation.
Soon──very soon──I came to believe it was something in my mental workings, something not of my physique but something of my psyche. I began to accept that I definitely had a sickness──but one that was affecting my thoughts. And while I quickly should have sought out a son of Freud, I never did: partly for fear of what he might have told me, partly for the self-shame of such an undertaking, but mostly because of a cowardly tenacious false pride. If I were the problem, then surely I could be the remedy, or so I thought. Yet, the vagueness of this disorder almost forbids me from elaboration on what this thing does to my thinking processes. Still, I must confess to what is happening to my perceptions of reality, even and especially if it be implausible. For sometimes the not plausible is more in accordance to what is real than what is not real.
Yet before I travel with you to how this surrealism is altering the universe I exist in I must mention an important oddity to this whole affair:
The genesis of my mind-sickness I have ascertained originates from our dead moon. This I discovered gradually and very reluctantly. My infirmity──while overall incrementally increasing and intensifying──would ever so slowly get worse and then peak, and then ever so slowly reduce in strength and then eventually nearly disappear. Soon I realised my alien feelings and thoughts only came late at night, and I soon came to notice that they correlated themselves with the phases of our lifeless moon. As it waxed my sickness increased, reaching its zenith on the night of a full moon; and as it waned, so my sickness waned, being its weakest when the moon above had all but vanished. I know this sounds demented to express and might be another form of derangement in and of itself.
Yet it is happening, even if it cannot be occurring.
Because of this impossible abnormality──or maybe it was an integral aspect of this abnormality──I became obsessed with learning everything essential about our closest satellite, even ridiculously believing that knowledge of this cold sphere of ours would somehow bring me back to my senses and maybe rid me of this confounded monstrosity. I passionately studied its size, shape, weight and mineral compositional make-up in great detail. (I honestly doubt anyone alive can say they understand more about the geological formation of the moon more than I.) Then I examined intensely and unrelentingly its gravitational effects upon our globe, especially paying acute attention to how it supposedly had a maddening impact on certain people when it was at its luminous brightness. (I felt like a madman doing autopsies on lunatics to avoid his lunacy!) And not only was this endeavour a neutral in helping me, but it seemed to make things frustratingly worse, even though it probably did not.
Yet, something about our sun of the night hypnotised me, forcing me into being a seeker of its more mystical nature. I even came to see all the theology and spiritual history of our queen of the dark as being paramount to my understanding of my problem. For months I feverishly sought out all knowledge about our white goddess. Anything to do with the holy and the spiritual as it related to the night globe soon came to possess me. I searched for the truth behind this lamp in our blackness from anywhere I could find it, even in forbidden occult books that one should never gaze upon. Sometimes I would reach a trancelike state as I examined our living moon and all its effects on our supernatural beliefs. It is astounding the number of lunar gods and goddesses there are, although our celestial body is almost always thought to be feminine, I learned. From the Greeks and the Romans to the Hindoos and the Chinese, it seemed almost every culture had a cult committed to venerating this silver entity. An archaeologist could dedicate her life to searching all the myriad ways our eye of darkness has been worshiped. From Christianity to the Moslems, from nature-worshipers to tribalistic fertility dances. It was and is a part of almost all our major and minor religious faiths. Actually, the moon is almost a religion unto itself. And even though all this knowledge about our animate orb did not alleviate my unwholesomeness, still this particular type of wisdom gave me a relief, a soothing of contentment I did not even know existed.
The Moon is God.
At least that is how I felt after my becoming so intimate with it, and especially when the moon was past its gibbous state and becoming full as the transformation would begin. For it was this changing of I into a beastial thing that most affected me to becoming a devotee of the star without flames. And how do I describe the metamorphosis? At its worst, late at night on a completely rounded moon, it would occur. The sickening of my mind and body would increase a hundredfold, stabbing at me like a thousand daggers. All my senses would come alive, like I was an animal just born into this hostile cosmos. I could hear sounds of the tiniest creatures crawling upon the ground, peer into the night and clearly see through the emptiness as though it was daylight, and I could smell things no other human was meant to smell. (Several times I nearly became unconscious due to the delirium caused by my olfactory senses alone.) And my blood would boil and my muscles would twitch, like I had to hunt down a prey and tear her to pieces. It gave me the sensation of being alive only a man with a rope around his neck could swear of. And O the demoniac rage and anger! And even though every time it occurred it was worse, still I knew the change was not complete. That had yet to happen.
And because of all this impossibleness I have come to believe that I am now in the latter stages of becoming a man of wolf. Yes, a wolf-man, a beast of beasts that must destroy the world in an orgy of violence, a folkloric mortal that changes into an animal of terror, a thing of abomination, a hideous myth of lore.
Yes, a lycanthrope!
How this is happening I do not know, and why this is happening I do not know. But still it is happening.
Yet, I grasp how this cannot be occurring.
Vampirism and werewolfism and witchcraft are dead! Such hallucinations no longer exist, cannot exist. Fairy stories are not true, cannot be true. For I am not living in Europe during the black era of medieval times in the age of feudalism. Werewolfery exists only in a child's imagination. This moon-sickness cannot be, I say and know. But if it is, then am I to be a monster that attacks because of the moon? Are cannibalism and mutilation and murder to be my fate? And will society hunt me down like in the days of yore and burn me at the stake for being a direct manifestation of the Devil? Or will the brethren of my blood simply torture me relentlessly and unmercifully until I admit to being in league with some sorcery and all the forces of evil?
This should not be!
I am not a peasant in Russia during the reign of the Romanovs, I am not an illiterate villager within the Holy Roman Empire, and I am not a herdsman of sheep in Spain when the Moors were in power. I know about the world, from our unimportant place in this accidental chaos to the way everything is materialism and naught else. If I were an ignoramus who knew nothing of logicality or the empirical ways of learning, maybe then such foolishness could be taking place. But I am not such a person. The old piety and all its superstitious nonsense has long since been dead to one as I. The spirit world and the fables beyond the senses and all the intoxication of the things of invisibility have disappeared to me, even as a hypothetical possibility.
And because of this, all this should not be, cannot be.
And yet, this changing is forcing me to begin to see our world differently. This transformation is not just tearing apart my physical and mental self, it is also altering my conception of what is real and what is not real outside myself. I see how it is nearly impossible to talk about such a thing without resembling madness personified. Yet, these heightened senses have made me hypersensitive to my existence. Not only has my form changed but so has my consciousness. (Or is it the other way around?) To be honest, I do not want this illness, this hex, this horror. (Actually, I cannot conceive of any living thing──conscious or barely conscious──that would long for such a cursing.) Still, it teaches me of a sensation that goes beyond pleasure or pain, of a wiseness of how I am on fire and cannot be extinguished by the things of man. It is as though the whole of Western civilization is crashing down before my very eyes, all and everything, and left is but the unbearably raw condition of our being. It is as though I am no longer part of my limited world of sensory experience and reason, no more connected to the divisionism and reductionism and false facades of empiricism. I understand my feeblemindedness and how it is impossible to utter all these statements without thinking my pathology an obvious mental unbalance. Still, I cannot say otherwise. And maybe it is because of this very fact that language and linguistics now fail me in my attempt to paint my condition as anything less than a misty abstract portrait of visceral irrationality.
Like all men, I thought I could escape the clutches of this fiendish thing. All of my breathing has been a dedication to the life of living, not to spectres beyond the grave and to the demons that never were. And similar to most people I lived a life of important triviality of time and place and person, conscious of my transparency yet accepting of my personal minutiae as being the core of my existence. Yes, the finite of nothingness was enough for me, both with its pointless hedonism and meaningless nuances of joyful agony. It is amazing how the ordinary and superficially uneventful life is so much of a thing to be desired. Most men do not want to exist──it is anathema to our nature. This world was enough for me──and now the madness is threatening to demolish it.
Unless you have not surmised it yet, I am speaking all these words in haste as the goddess of white above is now full and about to complete this transmogrification of me. Yes, now the moon is high and round and full.
It is coming!
Again, I do not want its ecstasy, its horror, its agony. Yet, it is coming, and with it, all the wretchedness of its meaning. Would I stop it if I could? Yes──no. No──yes.
It is coming!
If only something or someone could save me from this ultimate terror. Alas, I am doomed. Maybe if I took my life before the transmutation was completed. Maybe then...
It is coming!
Somehow I try to deny its arrival, prevent its coming. Yet it is no use.
It is coming!
The powers of the moon are unavoidable, undeniable, unquenchable.
AND THEN IT COMES!
The metamorphosis is agony incarnate.
It is not a thing of beauty and bliss and joy──it is a tearing asunder of everything wonderful and beautiful. It is the torturing of all, the fulfillment of sorrow, the destruction of any hope for humanity. It is the searing of my flesh and the scalding of my bones. It is the unimaginable horror made real, the thing no man should want and yet cannot escape from occurring. It is the execution of the I against the death of everything. It is a grotesque monstrousness, a thing of evil beyond evil. And it is above all else a madness──an insanity──a lunacy.
Yet, it is the true essence of ourselves. It is not a lie, but a veracity that must be screamed in terror. And it leaves me alone and against the world. And it also leaves me with a longing not for the love of my fellow-man, but for the death of everyone who has ever been born.
Now I am one with the ancients of old.
No longer am I of this world of learned men calmed by reason and logic and pacified by sensations of shallow carnality. The world of my upbringing is now a castrated corpse to me, a myth created by a fictional reality. I am now a Bedouin under the constellation of Providence, a seer trying to find Noah's ark, a mystic attempting to unveil the universe in a grain of sand.
──And now I am a beast-man to my malevolent contemporaries: A Moslem murdering pagans to death by sword in the glorious name of Allah, a Christian burning a heretic who says man grew from the limbs of an ape, a tribalistic shaman practising the craft of the witch against the white devils, a Hindoo disemboweling a man for denying his caste duties. Yes, I am the monster that you fear, the irrational that is, the demon seed spewed upon the world. And like a rabid dog I now have fangs to rip at your soft meat, claws to slash at your timidly gentle society, jaws to devour your lost children, and animal muscles to reduce to ruins all that you value as secularly sacred.
──Yes, I am now the man of wolf amongst your civilization.
Recent L.A. cultural news and events bring to mind the lovely, tongue-in-cheek expression that "one can never be too rich or too thin", to which I would like to add that "one can never have too many museums" either. Here's what I mean. Since I came to L.A. three decades ago, the number of museums here has doubled, if not tripled, and still continues to grow.
The Broad Museum, which opened in downtown last year, is proudly celebrating its first birthday. And proud it should be. Every time I'm passing by, I see a long line of visitors waiting for admission. Initially, the annual attendance was expected to be at about 300,000 people, but at the end of its first year, the actual number is three times higher.
There is no doubt that free admission is an important factor in the Broad Museum's popularity. But add to that its public-friendly hours, when on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, it's open until 8pm. No other museum in L.A. has such friendly hours -- with the exception of the Hammer, which is also free and open late not three, but four days a week.
Last year, the Petersen Automotive Museum went through a dramatic overhaul. Its new façade of silver metal ribbons over red-colored walls is impossible to ignore -- especially at night, when it reminds me of the flow of red and white lights on a busy freeway. The new exhibition there, "the Art of Bugatti", is focused on a particular brand of exquisitely designed luxury cars, the type you won't see parked very often, even on Rodeo Drive.
These cars are not just gorgeous creatures; they have plenty of personality. Take a look at some photos I shot at the exhibition's opening. In Sunset Boulevard Norma Desmond famously said, "We had faces!" Looking at these Bugattis, one wants to say that yes, these cars do have faces. The exhibition also introduces visitors to three generations of the Bugatti family and their works as sculptors, painters, and decorative artists.
The new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which will be across from the Petersen, was initially scheduled to open in 2017, but now it has been moved to 2018. So, in a little bit more than a year, the gigantic glass sphere of this museum, designed by Renzo Piano, will greet its first visitors. The Miracle Mile along Wilshire Blvd. will become even more glamorous... But wait. There is another museum scheduled to open next year on Wilshire Blvd., just a couple of miles east. Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation will move into the 100,000-square-foot former Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, which is undergoing renovations by L.A.-based architectural firm wHY.
And here's something particularly close to my heart, and hopefully to yours as well. The former Santa Monica Museum of Art, which closed its headquarters at Bergamot Station last year, has renamed itself the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles -- ICA LA, for short. Lucky for the museum, its new eye-catching logo was designed by Mark Bradford, one of the best-known L.A. artists. Next year, the Institute of Contemporary Art will open in downtown L.A. on East 7th Street, in a former textile manufacturing plant which will be redesigned by L.A. architect Kulapat Yantrasast and his firm wHY Architecture -- the same firm responsible for turning the Masonic Temple into a public museum. Can you think of any other American city where new museums pop up one after another, like they do here in L.A.?
To learn about Edward's Fine Art of Art Collecting Classes, please visit his website. You can also read The New York Times article about his classes here, or an Artillery Magazine article about Edward and his classes here.
Edward Goldman is an art critic and the host of Art Talk, a program on art and culture for NPR affiliate KCRW 89.9 FM. To listen to the complete show and hear Edward's charming Russian accent, click here.
By Dan Ouellette, ZEALnyc Senior Editor, October 26, 2016
Entering into the elegant 274-seat neoclassical proscenium Loreto Theater at the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture in the East Village to hear the singular-voice Norah Jones officially launch her national and international tour to support her latest album, Day Breaks, I was pleasantly reminded of her likewise intimate marquee beginning in February 2002 less than a mile away at Public Theater's Joe's Pub. The occasion? A celebration of her genre-hyphenated debut album, Come Away With Me, on the prestigious jazz label Blue Note Records, which went on to become the most successful album of the year and jettisoning Norah into stardom.
Fourteen years ago at Joe's, she seemed ill-at-ease, shy, a little flustered by the sold-out show that included many media and industry people keen on finding out who this new kid on the block was. The previous year she played weekly shows at the now-shuttered Makor, a Manhattan Jewish community center on the Upper West Side, which had a comfortable downstairs performance space. She and her band played for small crowds as she experimented with her repertoire. She was timid there too, but gradually with the shows that I witnessed, she began to feel at home.
After her initial fumbles onstage at Joe's, her band kicked in, Norah relaxed on the piano and began to sing her sublime songs that would entrance an entire generation seeking a soft, tender, melancholy-tinged solace.
Blue Note label execs predicted they'd be lucky if her first recording, touched by jazz but more influenced by the singer-songwriter scene, could sell a modest 30,000 copies. To say the least, they totally underestimated how Norah's voice and her soothing music would factor into the musical zeitgeist needed for the traumatic post-9/11 era--especially in New York City a few shorts months after the twin-tower World Trade Center's terrorist collapse, but then the entire world. Come Away With Me sold 11 million copies in the U.S. and 45 million worldwide--and swept all the Grammys the following year, including album of the year and best new artist.
Now fifteen years after she was signed to Blue Note, Norah has returned with Day Breaks, her first new studio album (her sixth) as a leader--playing the piano (after a dynamic run of projects on the guitar), accompanied by a jazz rhythm section and going back to her jazz roots--not a straightahead crooner of the old, but as the personable new voice of jazz that encompasses a wide range of music from Duke Ellington to the songwriters of the day.
Previously she had been exploring: a collaboration with pop producer Danger Mouse for her fifth album, Little Broken Hearts, in 2012 and an Everly Brothers cover duo album with Green Day's front man Billie Joe Armstrong, Foreverly, in 2013. She also had fun with musical friends in the all-female collective trio Puss n Boots that recorded No Fools, No Fun in 2014.
But two years ago after playing at Blue Note's 75th anniversary all-star concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., she began to imagine what a new jazz-oriented album might sound like, especially after being accompanied at one point by saxophone icon Wayne Shorter and his band. She set out, not to do the stereotypical standards treatment, but to write and co-write new songs that could fit the jazz vibe. Day Breaks succeeds with aplomb. Just released, the 12-song collection of originals and a few choice covers (including Ellington, Horace Silver and Neil Young) has become a quick hit and a welcomed return to a mature Norah. It is the most-confident, most song-mighty album of her career.
As the Loreto Theater show on her final night started, we nervously welcomed Jones's chosen opening act: magician Matthew Holtzclaw. You've got to be kidding me, right? But rather than boring us to death, he delighted in his sleight of hand marvels and got the crowd ready for more magic.
Norah began her set in the shade of quiet, slow-tempo pieces: "Sleeping Wild" and her lyrics-penned cover of jazz great Horace Silver's "Peace," presaging more political topical material deeper into the set. In the latter piece, Norah displayed a wider breadth of her pianism--not Keith Jarrett brilliance, yet still more stated than understated in her early career. Perfect accompaniment by drummer Brian Blade (the Shorter quartet's rhythm maestro) and bassist Chris Thomas (playing guitar lines in addition to his groove heartbeat) provided the jazz feel. After Norah looked back to her first recording with a subtly longing midtempo zip through Jesse Harris's "I've Got to See You Again," Norah invited organ player Pete Remm to the stage and picked up the tempo a notch higher with certitude on the title track she co-wrote with him.
Norah cruised a section of oldies. She pushed the set from the quiet to the r&b zone with her hot cultural critique "It's Gonna Be" tune from her 2014 recording The Fall (with the poignant lyrics "If we don't get a new situation/For our busted nation, we're lazy"), followed by another sad number with an ominous piano open, "Out on the Road" from the 2012 album Little Broken Hearts, and the bump-a-bump cabaret-like tune "Sinkin' Soon" from her third album, 2007's Not Too Late.
Other flashbacks included two other debut album gems, the cover of Hank Williams' "Cold Cold Heart" and Harris's "Don't Know Why" (interestingly which was covered by Pat Metheny in 2003). The most apropos song of the night from earlier albums came with Norah delivering on solo piano her song "My Dear Country" (from 2007's Not Too Late), which was her classical-tinged salute to her nation but also a fearful, cemetery-set, election-year spook written prior to George Bush's reelection bid: "That nothing is as scary as election day."
At least half of the set was comprised of her newer songs, including the soulful, but depressing story song "Tragedy" (embellished by the gospel-flavored background vocals of Tank & Jelly), the country-vibed "Carry On," and the spot-on jazz-fueled Ellington tune "Fleurette Africane" (with Norah singing reflective wordless vocals).
More evidence of the maturing of Norah (still a young 37-year-older with two children) comes as she closes past chapters and opens the new on two songs she performed in particular: the beat-driven "It's a Wonderful Time for Love," with the lyrics "Such a beautiful time to rise/And walk away from all the endless lies/And try to see the world through other eyes?", and the rock-fired, chugging-beat "Flipside" where Norah sings, "I know who I'm supposed to be/My mind was locked but I found the key/Hope it don't all slip away from me."
The takeaway: While Norah marveled throughout her still-short career as a singer and a songwriter and a terrific musician, Day Breaks takes her much further. Based on the superb recording and her triumphant live performance, Norah has become elevated to the lofty plateau of artist. If she keeps that "finding the key" metaphor alive, she is destined to continue to only get better and fully relevant. This isn't just closing a chapter to write a new one. Norah is starting to write a new book.
The next night, another Blue Note prodigy played a smaller room at the BRIC Jazz Festival in Brooklyn. If 2002 was Norah's breakout year, 2016 is the year that Kandace Springs has risen. Like Norah has done--defying the withered--and clichéd! jazz vocalist scenario of retreading time-honored standards--up pops the 27-year-old Nashville-based Springs, a soul-steeped, jazz-drenched singer who has a bright future.
While she's made her name as an r&b singer, her Soul Eyes debut is a brilliant mix of soul, country, deep jazz and even a bit of roots pop, including two songs written by songsmith Jesse Harris--the composer responsible for Norah's biggest hits--and two songs by neocountry singer Shelby Lynne (a great choice).
The fact that Larry Klein produced the recording gives Springs' music all the more cred. Last year when she performed a short showcase in New York soon after signing with Blue Note, she seemed tentative in her delivery. My guess after hearing the new recording is that she's found her voice.
Four facts: 1) Springs works on cars, buying old four-wheelers and refurbishing them. 2) Prince was a big fan of her music and invited her to perform with him at Paisley Park in 2014 for the thirtieth anniversary party of his masterpiece Purple Rain. 3) Here Springs kills on her rendition of the great Mal Waldron's classic, "Soul Eyes." Great song, great interpretation. 4) Springs is destined to be another Blue Note jazz vocals star--maybe even a true artist.
Dan Ouellette, Senior Editor at ZEALnyc, writes frequently for noted Jazz publications, including DownBeat and Rolling Stone, and is the author of Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes and Bruce Lundvall: Playing by Ear.
Read more of Dan Ouellette in the following ZEALnyc features:
Arturo O'Farrill Leads His Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra With Sizzling Rhythms and Subversive Politics
Young Vocalist/Composer Cécile McLorin Salvant Plays Jazz on Her Own Terms--From Eclectic Styles to Feminist Backlash
Bird Lives Forever--Modern Graffiti Makes Its Debut in New York
For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.
"The only way to support a revolution is to make your own." Abbie Hoffman
At any given moment a counter-culture is developing before your eyes. Authoritarian governments know this. So do, as it turns out, lifestyle brands, sociologists, and PR firms.
Born of a genuine disaffection with the dominant culture as it steamrolls blithely forward, counter-culture has the ability to draw sharp contrasts into focus, expose secrets, challenge hypocrisies, redress inequality. It can also crack open a moribund mindset and give oxygen and sunlight and water to new ideas, new ways of being, alternate paradigms.
Counter-culture is essential to growth of culture, and while it can be shocking, disruptive, even painful at times, the wise know that the marginalized often lead the body politic toward a stronger equilibrium, a more perfect union.
Graffiti may not have begun as a subculture or a counter-culture, but virtually all of our recognized institutions steadfastly resisted it. Over time, they have become more open to suggestion, if with reservations and conditions. Eventually, everything is transformed by it in degrees.
DETROIT CHARTS THE MOVEMENT
May we suggest that when it comes to the counter-cultural aspects of graffiti and Street Art, Detroit is a fine example of being in multiple stages of acceptance and denial, with examples of the counter-culture all along the continuum from rejection to absorption.
During a recent visit we saw old-school Detroit graffiti heads with their elaborate pieces next to newcomer kids from other cities bringing a raw-graff anti-style. You could also find corporate lifestyle brands polishing their art-cool bonafides while gently intermingling with grassroots community-minded mural organizing.
Further up the financial ladder you'll witness blue-chip collector/investors getting down in a gallery culture that supports marquee art names, and major institutions courting younger "edgy" artists who started their "careers" far outside the mainstream, often outside the law.
Andrew H. Shirley steps carefully in many ways as he leads us up a cracked staircase of oil-caked concrete, piss-poor lighting and the occasional puddle of murk. Our ears are still ringing from the sounds of a busted muffler in his car and we're mulling over the sight of his dashboard vitrine that seemed to contain bones, feathers, amulets and pop culture debris reflecting in a ochre filmed windshield.
On the way here to Lincoln Art Park, we have passed graffitied car carcasses, crumbling ex factories, and fire torched exoskeletons of houses - all which lead to this loading dock entrance of a building once owned by Ford, now run as a recycling plant and, as it turns out, an art exhibition gallery.
"So there was 40 years of garbage and the whole floor was filled with it," Andrew says, "I came in here and I had to unload all of that sh*t by myself".
A native of the big D, the slim-framed Mr. Shirley has spent half of his 40 years outside of it; writing graffiti, pitching and creating art projects, promoting scenes, studying film making and custom bike-making... generally pushing the margins of cultural acceptability in a way that looks sketchy on a resume - but would make smart brands salivate, if they had the guts.
"This is the 20th anniversary of me leaving this town and I have been back several times with several different shows," he says about the group exhibitions and events that feature what he calls 'underground aesthetics'.
"This is the first big public project where I brought a lot of my friends from New York and included the artists and makers here in Detroit who I have come to know over the years - all under one roof and showcasing all of their talents."
Also, a film screening.
It's the debut of "Wastedland2" in the middle of this 7,000 square foot dark cavern with a small grouping of stolen church pews facing the screen. The original Wastedland was a smaller tale - a petri dish of ideas that expanded and took root in a showier piece of exploration and mystery with higher production values.
The seating area is orbited by mini-dioramas of characters and scenes featured in the half hour graffiti mockumentary. Here is a handmade shack by Adam Void that perhaps epitomizes a metaphorical outsider clubhouse mentality common to the graffiti game.
To stage left is a stuffed 6-foot tall Cranky Cat standing erect amid piles of spent paint cans, a fire extinguisher, and exhaust tubes leading nowhere. In the movie Cranky is a feral and grouchy/whining character who propels the drunken aerosol action forward with escapades of ex-urban painting and existential fireside conversation with Wolftits and Amoeba Man in their "Wizard of Oz"-like pilgrimage in search of truths. There is no Dorothy and no Toto in the film, but the animal head masks are trippy and comical even in the darkest moments. Each graffiti artist, according to EKG, was asked to make a costume that mimicked their spirit-animal. Amoeba Man's plastic-wrapped head mask is a tour-de-force.
Standing silently in the center of the floor behind the seating area in the exhibit is the massive tentacled steam-punked multi-eyed orb made of wood and steel that gives physical presence to the elusive anonymous graffiti crew called UFO 907. He also is the films' diety and the holder of the aforementioned elusive truths.
Behind him on the wall is another slatted and animated version of UFO - perhaps more similar to the wiggly UFO 907 character sprayed across hundreds of walls in NYC. This animated sculpture version has a reservoir of black ink that drips on the floor.
Wastedland 2 is a road trip without road, a therapeutic buddy film without saccharine, staged in a post apocalyptic terrain that is revealed as graffiti oasis. The hapless beer- and weed-fueled journey is pure youthful angst suspended in chemicals and many in the audience laughed in recognition at the head-banging frustration voiced about fundamental life questions by these furry characters.
Despite the obvious obstacles posed by frozen facial expressions, there is a warmth in the interactions. Of note particularly is the party scene of mixed genders and the stumbling awkwardness of Wolftits with a potential lady friend; this will be the first time you've seen the mating game portrayed quite like this.
"This piece played the character of God in the film," Andrew says, pointing to the all-seeing sculpture. "You may have seen that it was actually in a field in upstate New York."
Yes, we made the trip to the rolling hills of cow-country to see it twice in a field of gently waving weeds. Previously we saw it in the lobby of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Previous to that we saw it being carved, soldiered, and under construction in UFO's studio in Brooklyn. Truthfully, it does seem rather god-like.
Andrew says he transported the hulking orb by truck from rural New York to post-industrial Detroit, which must have taken 9 or 10 hours if he crossed into Canada and squeezed between the Great Lakes of Ontario and Erie.
This old factory has definitely not been refurbished into a "white box" gallery space, and there are no guards. There may be a guard dog. The floors are occasionally flooded by a leak from a source that is hard to pinpoint, the lighting is so irregular as to appear incidental, and visitors should be careful not to bang their head on the soot-covered sculptures of clouds by artist DarkClouds that are affixed slightly above with stalactite-like ebony drips that could be solid or liquid.
As you parse the floors and avoid the paint-peeling columns Mr. Shirley is narrating just ahead of you with an earnest voice that weaves in and out of range, dashing off to find an extension chord perhaps, or a ladder, or to find someone to come explain the muscular graffiti pieces on display in the adjoining passage.
GANGSTERS AND WHITE KIDS
Presently a twenty-something guy named Zak Warman appears and walks us past 10 or so freshly wild and layered graffiti pieces each displayed in their own bay, each representing important players from the last couple of decades in the Detroit graffiti scene. Zak tells us says that the Motor City scene is characterized by two distinct styles and constituencies at the moment, and this show combines both.
"I guess like the 'gangster graffiti' and the 'white kid graffiti' would be the best way to put it," he explains while surveying the lineup and glancing at the rest of the show. "You know, the people who were like born in the gutter here and the people who came here in their teen years who moved here and such."
"There's people here who would never have painted together but maybe it was just the way that I showed them or my proposal. I was like 'let's just set everything aside that's happened over the years - this is about us it is not about you. This is about everybody not just about our own f**king personal graff beef.' "
"It's like the first time that everyone has come together into one big family."
Mr. Shirley jumps in to further describe the nature of the work and the creators. "It is very important in Detroit to be able to 'piece', " he says of the verb 'piece' that describes the noun 'piece' - a large, complex, and labor-intensive graffiti painting.
"In some places having a good tag is that first staple and then you move up from that tag," he explains. "But here, because of the amount of time and space that you have to develop your craft all of these dudes really regard piecing above everything else."
He walks down to the end of the line to point at a painted work. "These guys at the end - PERU and ARMY - they were doing 10-color pieces on the streets, as was SEKT - before anyone else. These guys represent a span of time from the early and mid 90s into the 2000s." In most cities you don't have that luxury of time to develop an illegal piece, but Detroit has a number of stories like this.
A common story around Detroit is that, due to de-industrialization, the collapsing economy and the shrinking municipal budgets in the 1990s and 00s, the police were only arresting people for felonies. Since graffiti was not a felony, the police would simply drive by while aerosol was being sprayed.
"It's not a myth," says Andrew. "I painted a water tower one time - it's still here today." He recounts a story where one cop sat vigil on a rooftop for hours watching him paint on the water tower, only to be replaced by another until finally the painting was done. "I think he was just making sure that I didn't get hurt and that I was okay," he says with a sense of wonder.
It's time to depart the Wastedland 2 exhibition and go to the streets in this run-down part of Detroit, where the art on the walls is roughly the same as the stuff we've just come to see.
It is unclear if this underground is simply about aesthetics, or if there is a deeper message. Maybe this is not a counter-culture after all, but a subculture.
As we stand by the elevated installation by artist EKG, dry-ice smoke billows out of a fully formed madman's laboratory behind black curtains. Amid the visual field of blinkering orange light tubes and smoke that harken back to 1950s Sci-Fi movies, you see another character from the movie; the film's box-headed admin assistant who robotically types out reams of black scrolls full of orange symbols to decode at a pivotal moment. This is an apt skillset to possess in an underground scene that is heavily coded and rife with implied and layered messages. A simple man of few words, EKG dubbed his character The Cyber Spirit Stenographer in The Court of The Overlord.
We consider the amorphous steam from the Cyber Spirit and wonder how porous the veil is between the mainstream and the outsider artists who fuel this scene. When does counter-culture become culture? We can't say for sure.
"Detroit is a pretty good example of counter-culture becoming culture, actually," replies Andrew H. Shirley to our inquiry. "There is this corporatization that happens and there are culture vultures on the corners and in the nooks and crannies in underground scenes of America and they are exploiting it for monetary gain."
True. But there is also word-of-mouth that spreads the news and the willing, thrilling adoption of techniques and languages by the naturally inquisitive types whose brain synapses are electrified by discovery. With shows like this does Mr. Shirley feel like he is aiding and abetting the mainstreaming of a subculture like graffiti and its D.I.Y tributaries?
"I'd like to pull back the curtains and give a little peek of it but I'm not trying to shine too many flashlights or provide too much of a narrative into the 'hows' and 'whats' and 'whys'. I think it's important for the common man to see that there is an alternative perspective because too often they are just inundated by the media that is controlled by the corporations - who are telling them what to wear, how to think, how to act, what to pray to, what to feel and how to live their life."
SOME LAST WORDS ON FESTIVALS
He does have a little beef with mural festivals though.
He thinks his Wastedland 2 show deals a fairer hand to local artist communities. "This is kind of in contrast to what seems to be an international phenomenon of bringing muralists, many of them the same muralists, from city to city - developing a 'look' that is kind of becoming a blanketed look," he says.
"Detroit has so many f**king artists and part of the problem for me is that there are a lot of these mural festivals that are two thirds or 75% or 90% international artists and 10% or 20% local artists. It doesn't allow for the city to see what is really happening here. I wanted to have a show where the background and the forefront of the show was about what was happening here."
"While I do think the mural festival is very important in bringing in outside influence and outside interest into the city, for me it is just as important, or more important, to really praise and understand the origins of these movements in Detroit. That's why I have reached out and had the help of friends to get these artists into the show."
That said, we'll say that the Wastedland 2 event was heavily promoted by the folks at the recent Murals In The Market Festival and many of the international artists who participated in the mural festival were also in attendance at the Shirley curated show, the bonfires, and music events at the sculpture park - as well as the screening of the movie.
Of course we also saw Gen Y and even Gen Z there with backpacks full of paint, dangling their legs off the retaining wall that overlooked the huge bonfire -- who seemed to disappear when the freight train that ran along the lots' perimeter came to a halt. There was also a guy from the Detroit Institute of Arts and a local plumber who talked to us about building a tree house in his front yard. Maybe it is harder to define culture than we thought.
Participating artists at Detroit Wastedland2, curated by Andrew H. Shirley include ARMY, BRZM, DRAKE, DONT, DYKE, ELMER, FOUR EYES, LIGER, MINCE, PERU, PORAB, REVEREND, SECT, SKWAT, TOUCH, TURDL, YOGRT and others from Detroit and also artists Adam Void, Amanda Wong, Amy Smalls and George Vidas , Ben Wolf, DARKCLOUDS, EKG, Greg Henderson, Hugo Domecq, RAMBO, Ryan C. Doyle, UFO 907, William Thomas Porter, WOLFTITS, among others.
Performers included The Unstoppable Death Machines, DJ Ihatejail.com (Crazy Jim from Wolf Eyes), Ishtar, Lt. Dan, and Dj's Abacus, Prismviews, Black Noi$e, Abby and 100% Halal Meat
Next stop on the film's multi-city launch: Richmond,Virginia on November 4.
"Wastedland 2" and the accompanying show will feature new artwork from: Adam Void, Amanda Wong, Amy Smalls and George Vidas, Andrew H. Shirley, Conrad Carlson, DARKCLOUDS, EKG, Greg Henderson, NOXER, RAMBO, Russell Murphy, Ryan C. Doyle, UFO 907, William Thomas Porter, WOLFTITS, and live performances from The Unstoppable Death Machines and Richmond's DUMB WAITER and TOWARD SPACE. There will also be graffiti installations from local Richmond vandals and the 907 crew.
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In New York, there are specialty art auctions throughout the year, but all eyes are on the day and evening sales in November and May that bring out the big-ticket pieces from major collections. Here are the works worth watching the week of November 13th.
It seems as if the top three auction houses have Gerhard Richter fever, as they each are offering at least one of the artist's work for over $20 million with an expected hammer prices far above their estimates. In addition, both Sotheby's and Christie's have secured prominent collectors estates to offer this season. Christie's secured the estate of Sylvia Olnick, a committed collector who amassed a collection with works by Roy Lichtenstein and Agnes Martin (whose retrospective at the Guggenheim is a must-see). This estate, split between Christie's Post-War and Contemporary day and evening sales, is auctioning 53 objects. One notable piece is an Agnes Martin entitled Untitled #6 (1983) that is estimated between $5 million and $7 million. Another Christie's highlight is Gerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild 809-2 (1994), valued at approximately $20 million and offered from the collection of musician Eric Clapton.
Sotheby's has secured the extraordinary collection of Steven and Ann Ames. Steven Ames, former partner at investment firm Oppenheimer & Co, and his wife collected a mix of mid-market and blue chip artists, including works by Willem de Kooning, Georg Baselitz, and Philip Guston. Their collection is part of the high-profile Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Auction, which never fails to present landmarks of art history. Highlights of this particular sale include two works by Gerhard Richter, A.B., St. James (1988) and A.B., Still (1986), each with an estimate between $20 million and $30 million and two works by Willem de Kooning, entitled Untitled (1976-1977) and Untitled XXXIX (1983), each valued between $8 million and $12 million. Other highlights include Edvard Munch's painting Girls on the Bridge (1902), estimated at over $50 million, in the Impressionist and Modern sale and David Hockney's Woldgate Woods, 24, estimated between $9 million and $12 million in the Contemporary Evening sale.
Phillips will offer one of Gerhard Richter's early photo paintings in its November sale, entitled Düsenjäger (1963). This work, sold by the billionaire Paul Allen, is estimated between $25 million to $35 million, making it the most expensive Richter offered this season.
Gerhard Richter, A.B., St. James, 1988
To learn more about noteworthy exhibitions and events, sign up for an Arthena membership.
Is Brussels the new Berlin? You'd think so considering the crowds pouring in to view Painting After Postmodernism, the mega show curated by eminent American Art Historian Barbara Rose, and organized by the Roberto Polo Gallery in collaboration with the City of Brussels and Cinéma Galleries. This rich visual installation, consisting of over 250 paintings by 8 American and 8 Belgian artists is "devoted to defining new modes of painting that reconstitute, rather than deconstruct the elements of painting in fresh new syntheses free of dogma and theory," according to Rose. Collaborating with noted Belgian collector and gallerist Roberto Polo, Rose filled 6 floors of the historic Vanderborght building, a monument of modernist architecture. In The Underground of the Cinéma Galeries, several art films produced and directed by Rose in the 60's and 70's on painting in America are simultaneously playing.
Walter Darby Bannard, "He Loves Me Not," 2009. Acrylic on canvas, 50 x 46.9 inches.
Representing the USA are Walter Darby Bannard, Karen Gunderson, Martin Kline, Melissa Kretschmer, Lois Lane, Paul Manes, Ed Moses and Larry Poons. Both Bannard and Moses have high profile Manhattan shows this fall, and Poons is being scheduled for a retrospective. The Belgians, Mil Ceulemans, Joris Ghekiere, Bernard Gilbert, Marc Maet, Werner Mannaers, Xavier Noiret-Thomé, Bart Vandevijvere and Jan Vanriet are also becoming more internationally known as an influx of galleries are currently opening in Belgium, which is experiencing a second art Renaissance, and suddenly in competition with Berlin as a modern art mecca.
Joris Ghekiere, "Untitled," 2016. Oil on canvas, 78.7 x 118.1 inches.
The show is meant to prove that when Duchamp declared that painting was dead in 1918, he was wrong. And so were the politically radical 1960s and 1970s when the avant-garde was defined as conceptual art, video, mixed media and installations. All the works in the Brussels show, whether figurative or abstract, are created by individual artists with personal styles, not marketable brands. Their images are produced by the process of painting, not through reproduction. The painterliness of these works go beyond Postmodernism to retrieve the fullness of painting as a major art ; including its tactility, explicitly material surface, and capacity for metaphor.
Painting After Postmodernism, PAP, will be at the Vanderborght until November 13th; it visually dispels the myth that painting is dead.
Paul Manes, "Notte di Fiori," 2016. Oil on canvas, 65.8 x 71.7 inches.
Larry Poons, "Tantrum 2," 1979. Acrylic on canvas, 65 x 165 inches.
To live in this world
You must be able to do three things...
Museum of Broken Relationships lures with an irresistible tag...
...completed with a "found object" from the rain soaked cobblestone streets.
1. To love what is mortal
After shedding your skin in Berlin, you arrive in Zagreb at dawn with no money, no camera and a mesothelioma lawsuit on your mind. Taking a rest on the steps of the bus station, a crippled poet spontaneously gifts you with nectarines...and Zagrljaj!
2. To hold it against your bones
knowing your own life depends on it.
You insist that Tomislav autograph his book, and when he hands it back, you hold it to your heart, as if your life depends on it..
As dusk falls, you discover that tagging MISSING JAMES FRANCO 3.0
...has become a habit, even without a recording device.
"Can I have a sticker?"
The request comes from Luka Didnak, who stops before you to discuss James Franco: "He does what he wants and doesn't care what anyone thinks." He has the best bicycle and you tell him that you hope he will tag it when you hand him the sticker.
You mourn your gadget loss again and make tags in your head like scenes in a film that will have to be retraced with a new apparatus.
The next day, in a state of GADGET LOVE MOURNING, you are reduced to pressing your face against the glass...
Windows offering MS Office Tools to keep your Love always close to your heart drive..and so you find a remedy -- a digital camera!
The award-winning Museum of Broken Relationships invites a Franco crossing of boundaries via its mission statement:
Museum of Broken Relationships is a physical and virtual public space created with the sole purpose of treasuring and sharing your heartbreak stories and symbolic possessions. It is a museum about you, about us, about the ways we love and lose.
A visit on the rainy night of your departure from Zagreb seems to be the ideal manifestation of the Mobius Strip. A boutique offers material comforts from the wounds of heartbreak...
Salt is a purification material essential to healing negative patterns of attachment.
...a cozy cafe...
You linger for hours over tea and honey liquor listening to music about heartbreak and reading literary texts about lost love.
...and four exhibition galleries with donated objects. Here are some favorites:
This strategically placed "Red Dress" blasted you with the LIFE FORCE. (Photo by Mare Milin)
A literary gift recounting a LOVE propelling the writer into Gotham heights.
A Berlin woman's "ex-axe" is the coldest DEATH piece on display. She weilded the instrument to chop up her ex's furniture as retaliation for being dumped for another woman: "Two weeks after she left, she came back for the furniture. It was neatly arranged into small heaps and fragments of wood. She took that trash and left my apartment for good. The axe was promoted to a therapy instrument".
How many times did this wisdom come through your MOURNING?
A "Rabbit Fur" gift accompanied by poetry mirrors your RESURRECTION into a comforting new skin by way of this posting. Your Zagreb dream of that fertile creature manifested as a vintage coat catching your eye in the Sunday flea market.
"Four Discs" made you happy that you resolved your Office Tools issues to be able to share the LIFE/DEATH/MOURNING/RESURRECTION of the quantum leap into the THREE to get to the stability of the FOUR.
Your Quest to resolve the opposites through tagging remains forever in the paper archives.
The museum began as a humble collecting project (like this one!). After recently redesigning the gallery located in an old stately house in Zagreb's Upper Town, the local success has produced a multiplying fertility effect: Museum of Broken Relationships Los Angeles, in addition to 43 exhibitions in locations ranging from Copenhagen to Jeju Island, South Korea.
3. And when the time comes,
The key to having a baby...
...is getting the timing right...
...for the Great Leap!
And so you depart from Zagreb, the City of Love, spreading some MISSING JAMES FRANCO 3.0 LOVE with profound new insights...
TO LET IT GO.
Croatian beauties: Viktorija Pralas (R), from the heart-centered Croatian family hosting The Dots resurrection in the City of Love, with her friend Tea Koritar.
Lisa Streitfeld is a Kulturindustrie philosopher out to prove Adorno wrong while on a new adventure in the Balkans.
The Missing James Franco tagging project is a Web 3.0 prototype for collaboration between art and commerce.
Participate on Twitter: #MissingJamesFranco3.0
Mary Oliver's quote from "in Backwater Woods" was written on a gallery wall.
To contribute an object to the museum collection, please refer to the contributor page.
Unless labelled otherwise, the photos in this posting by Lisa Streitfeld and published with permission of Museum of Broken Relationships. Mare Milin photo courtesy of the Museum of Broken Relationships.
One of my favorite activities during the recent BFI London Film Festival -- and there were many, mind you -- was the Filmmaker Afternoon Teas. A series of sessions that felt like speed dating for movie buffs, the Filmmaker Teas combined all the ease of a well organized press junket with amazing food treats and that most soothing of warm beverages, proper English tea.
It was during one of these sessions that I had the chance to meet Italian filmmaker Claudio Giovannesi. Giovannesi is a young, vibrant writer, musician and director responsible for some crucially conscious work. His 2012 film Alì Blue Eyes forecasted or perhaps understood at its very roots the kind of complex dynamics that immigration has created in Italy, the film's title inspired by a poem written by Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1962.
Then it was time for Wolf, a documentary featuring the story of Rabbi Ben Murmelstevin, the director of the Concentration Camp Terezin, a problematic figure for obvious reasons who after being absolved of collaboration with the Nazis, moved to Rome -- only to be marginalized by his community. The story is told via conversations between his son Wolf and psychoanalyst David Meghnagi, who also wrote the story of the film.
In London, Giovannesi was there to screen his Cannes success Fiore, as part of the Italian Cinema at the BFI London Film Festival series featuring young, vibrant voices of contemporary Italian cinema. Fiore is a masterful film, blending realism with romanticism, and packing an emotional punch that lives on in the viewer.
Fiore is the story of two juvenile convicts, a boy and a girl who meet and fall in love behind bars, defying all limitations. While many of us struggle to love within our freedom, it was deeply moving to see how behind bars, enclosed in institutions that discouraged romantic liaisons, Daphne (leading lady Daphne Scoccia) and Josh (played by Joshua Algeri) made love not only a probability but an absolute certainty.
I loved catching up with the deeply intelligent, handsome Giovannesi and hearing his thoughts on Italian cinema, how he found his actors, most of whom are non-professionals, and what he thinks of filmmakers as modern-day prophets.
What do you think when I say that filmmakers are prophets?
Claudio Giovannesi: I think that's a really big thing. I don't feel I'm a prophet, I'd be conceited if I felt like a prophet.
But don't you see the future in a much clearer way than the average human being?
Giovannesi: No. Absolutely not. Actually, I think in my work and my way of life, I see the present.
But with a much clearer view than us.
Giovannesi: Well, clearer, I'm not sure... Cinema and especially the kind of cinema I try to make is based on one thing: the closeness to other human beings, a sense of empathy and the absence of judgement. I work on the present, on this encounter.
The film you've made is one of a filmmaker who doesn't hold any judgement on these kids. Young men and women we see every day and we may even curse them out, because they get in our way.
Yet you've made them out to be human beings and I know from now on I'll look at "those kids" in a different way. I'll consider your point of view. That's perhaps what I mean by prophetic, someone who changes our vision?
Giovannesi: That makes me happy. It's enough to tell a story that shows that the emotions they live are the same exact ones as those we experience. A thing I don't like is when they say "a social film". Or even worse "a film about marginalization." I hate that.
I would never watch such a film. A film about the marginalized. I mean, we all go to the movies to experience something magical. Otherwise we'd watch the news.
Giovannesi: I agree.
For me cinema is a way to understand "the Other". And most of your films deal with this theme. Do you want to elaborate on that?
Giovannesi: The heart of the film stands in the idea of innocence. A tale of innocence. And we talk about innocence through kids who are guilty in the eyes of the law. But the fact that they are considered legally guilty, I didn't care about that in my film. What interested me was talking about innocence, of emotions and sentiments. Even in the context of being considered guilty by society's standards, which locks them away, it doesn't change that we see through them that human beings all fall in love the same way. The Eros of a teenager is overwhelming even in a jail setting. It's imperative to create a vicissitude with a character that actually society chases away. If I had approached the film by saying "I want to talk about marginalization," I would have taken a step back from them. It's already a judgement that word. And it's not cinema but sociology, which is important but it's not the movies.
We all look to belong, to find someone who understands us.
Giovannesi: Well, yes, and this is a film about the need for love.
The kids you've worked with are not professional actors. In fact, you use their names as the characters' names. How did you find them?
Giovannesi: I tried to find them by looking for the shortest distance between actor and character. So for example, Josh really served three years in jail, in those three years he learned to act because he took a class in it. Daphne wasn't in jail but had some really tough experiences that made her similar to her character. A lot of the other kids were formerly in jail. The choice to work with non-professionals was in fact made to arrive at the truth of each character. Those are kids who are once again reliving experiences they have lived through in their lives.
How is it to be in London, after Cannes, with this film, as part of this showcase of new Italian cinema?
Giovannesi: For me it's a very important festival the London Film Festival, also because I love British cinema. Anyway, it's always best to take the film outside of Italy. It's always more important to take a film outside of Italy, because there is an encounter with the audience that enriches who brings the film as well.
We in Italy always say Italian cinema is dead.
Giovannesi: We've been saying that forever, but this cinema never dies. It's not even half dead, in my opinion it seems really healthy.
Why tell such a feminine tale this time around?
Giovannesi: That was the starting idea. I had just made a really masculine film, all boys and I needed to talk about femininity. For an author, it's always interesting to talk about something we don't really know. That process, which begins with no knowledge at all, and arrives at the completed movie, is what enriches you when you do this kind of work. To talk about a sixteen year-old adolescent, a girl, was great. We Italians are all misogynists, so we must start from this. So we start from misogyny, the fact that we love our mothers way too much, maybe we even love women too much, and then we work on it.
Do you have a single message your audience should take away from Fiore?
Giovannesi: What I wish for, more than a message, is that the film hits an emotional chord. When someone says, "I watched your film and I cried," I feel happy that they cried. It's not that you must learn something, art is not pedagogic, but about feeling empathy with the characters. It's like a circle that closes, from our empathy we felt in writing the film, the empathy we felt in screening it, then if the audience feels the same, it's mission accomplished! If you watched the film and felt nothing, I don't care if you learned something. You shouldn't learn anything but feel closeness to a character that in life would be far from you.
Images courtesy of Premier, used with permission.
By Sheila Kogan, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, October 27, 2016
Jessica Lang, award-winning choreographer who has had a long association with the Joyce Theater, has choreographed her first ballet for American Ballet Theater, titled Her Notes, to the piano music of Fanny Mendelssohn Hansel, the elder sister of Felix Mendelssohn.
The music is noteworthy because the compositions of Fanny Mendelssohn Hansel have largely been unknown - it wasn't considered acceptable for a woman of her time (1800s) to publish music - but she wrote over 400 piano pieces (a few published under her brother's name). Lang chose excerpts from Das Jahr, which I thought was beautifully Romantic (comparable to Chopin, perhaps) and gorgeously played by pianist, Emily Wong.
The performance opened with dancers posed behind a scrim (the fine stage design was by Jessica Lang, as well). With a window inset in the scrim, the ballerina steps through to commence the dance. The lighting (designed by Nicole Pearce) subtly changed to highlight the mood.
The pretty and appropriately Romantic costumes were designed by Bradon McDonald, a highly regarded former dancer (with Mark Morris' company), who went back to school to study fashion design (and in fact, was a finalist on TV's "Project Runway"). He costumed the women like modern versions of classical ballerinas in knee-length chiffon skirts in shades of blue and light green.
Avoiding sentimentality, which paralleled the music, Lang has created a beautiful piece of modern ballet, and American Ballet Theater dancers showed they are exquisite artists. The jumps felt easy. The ballerinas bourée en pointe, skimming across the floor as if weightless. The partnering seemed effortless. All very light and airy, and lovely. It was tasteful, substantial and very satisfying. I can't wait to see it again.
Also on the program was Serenade after Plato's Symposium, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky to the music of Leonard Bernstein (with an outstanding performance by violinist Benjamin Bowman). Bernstein's symphony (sounding sometimes like his movie score for On the Waterfront) is more modern and edgier than Fanny Mendelsson's piano piece, and that can be said of the choreography, too. It emphasized the vigor of the men of ABT, giving each man an opportunity to show off his dancing prowess, while also being part of the whole dialogue-in-dance. Hee Seo, the only woman in the cast, has a very dramatic entrance. I had reviewed this piece previously, and it stands up to another viewing. It is just terrific, and one might argue that it's an interesting masculine contrast to the feminine Her Notes.
Finally on the program was The Brahms-Haydn Variations, a Twyla Tharp-choreographed ballet from 2000. ABT is a huge company and Tharp seems to have used as many of the dancers as she could fit on the stage. There were mostly formal, classical steps, and the modern ballet lacked any of the quirkiness or originality that I associate with Tharp. With all those legs doing arabesques and arms stretched out in various directions, it was all sort of confusing and dizzying, and kind of irritating. I think that this proves the old adage: less is more.
Overall, the dancers of American Ballet Theater demonstrated that they deserve the reputation of being one of foremost ballet companies in the world. Although the principal dancers were highlighted throughout (Gillian Murphy, Misty Copeland, Isabella Boylston, Marcelo Gomes, among others), these ballets were ensemble pieces, allowing the whole company to shine. And shine they did.
American Ballet Theatre fall season at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, New York, October 19-30, 2016. Review of the performance on Sunday, October 23, 2016.
Her Notes (World Premiere). Choreography by Jessica Lang; music by Fanny Mendelssohn (excerpts from Das Jahr); costumes by Bradon McDonald; scenery by Jessica Lang; lighting by Nicole Pearce. Dancers: Gillian Murphy, Misty Copeland, Skylar Brandt, Cassandra Trenary, Devon Teuscher, Stephanie Williams, Marcelo Gomes, Jeffrey Cirio, Cory Stearns, and Blaine Hoven.
Serenade after Plato's Symposium. Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky; music by Leonard Bernstein (Serenade after Plato's Symposium); scenery and costumes by Jérôme Kaplan; lighting by Brad Fields. Dancers: Thomas Forster, Joseph Gorak, Alexandre Hammoudi, Alban Lendorf, Tyler Maloney, Arron Scott, Jose Sebastian, and Hee Seo.
The Brahms-Haydn Variations. Choreography by Twyla Tharp; music by Johannes Brahms (Variations on a Theme by Haydn for Orchestra, Op. 56a); costumes by Santo Loquasto; lighting by Jennifer Tipton. Dancers: Isabella Boyston, Skylar Brandt, Gillian Murphy, Alban Lendorf, Aaron Scott, Marcello Gomes, and members of the Corps de Ballet.
Sheila Kogan is a Contributing Writer for ZEALnyc and writes frequently on theater, dance and other cultural events.
For more ZEALnyc features read:
Choreographer Larry Fuller Discusses His Work with Robbins, Prince, Sondheim and More
Soprano Deborah Voigt Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Metropolitan Opera Debut
Library Lions Gala to Honor 50th Anniversary of Truman Capote's Black & White Ball
For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.
A new book from Rizzoli looks at 100 Tiffany lamps and the critical role that one woman played in creating them.
Clara Driscoll was Louis Comfort Tiffany's lead lamp designer and the shepherd of 35 "Tiffany's Girls" - the young women who selected and cut glass for each shade. Some of the lamps were one-of-a-kind, but others were made in multiples.
"They could make as many as 400 of one lamp," says Margaret K. Hofer, vice president and museum director at the New York Historical Society. Hofer and assistant curator Rebecca Klassen have assembled a new exhibition of lamps, now on display in one of the society's museum galleries.
Among them is the exquisite, Driscoll-designed Wisteria lamp, composed with 2,000 pieces of glass that twist and curl with grace.
"It was one she discussed in her letters, so we know she designed it around 1901," she says. Hofer thoroughly researched two collections of Driscoll's letters - one at Kent State University, and another at the Queens Historical Society.
The lamps on display and in the book (with photography by Colin Cooke) came from those collected by Egon Neustadt, who began picking them up in 1935. "They were dismissed as hopelessly out of fashion at a time of American modernism," she says. "They were an anathema."
Neustadt collected them through the 1980s, becoming obsessed as he sought to amass an encyclopedic collection. "His first lamp cost him $12.50, but by 1984 he was paying much more," she says. "Today they can reach into seven figures."
Clara Driscoll certainly would look at those prices in amazement. The lamps of her design originally sold at prices ranging from $30 to $750, with Wisteria fetching $400. And while Driscoll herself earned $35 a week, "Tiffany's Girls" starting out as glass cutters earned $7.50.
Some made more, though marriage could put an end to that. In one of Driscoll's letters, she writes of one woman who came to her and announced her engagement - and her departure. "And she was making more than her fiancé - $12.50 versus five or six dollars," she says. "It wasn't questioned that you left work when you got married."
Times - like the price of a Tiffany lamp - have definitely changed.
J. Michael Welton writes about architecture, art and design for national and international publications, and edits Architects + Artisans, where portions of this post first appeared. He is architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., and the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015)
...it must be truly good, when one dies, to be conscious of having done a thing or two in truth, knowing that as a result one will continue to live in the memory of at least a few...
--Vincent Van Gogh, to his brother Theo, on Charles-François Daubigny's death, March 3, 1878
The town of Auvers-sur-Oise lies just northwest of Paris--a commune on the river, surrounded by wheat fields and woods. It is perhaps most famous as the place where Vincent Van Gogh spent his last days. In one of Van Gogh's final letters to his brother, Theo, he wrote of the landscape there, of the "vast fields of wheat under turbulent skies." Van Gogh shot himself in the chest, out in one of the fields, in July of 1890, dying two days later.
Charles François Daubigny, Apple Blossoms, 1873, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Collis P. Huntington, 1900 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence.
Van Gogh had traveled to Auvers to be close to his doctor, Paul Gachet, and his brother, who lived in Paris, but there was another reason why was he there. Auvers-sur-Oise had been the home of Charles-François Daubigny, a famed landscape painter of the Barbizon school, and one of Van Gogh's heros. Daubigny died in 1878, but by the time Van Gogh arrived in Auvers, twelve years later, he found the landscape relatively unchanged and unspoiled by the industrialization overtaking so much of France. The fields, orchards, and thatched-roof cottages of Auvers, immortalized by Daubigny in his time, became the subjects of Van Gogh's final paintings.
Claude Monet, Spring (Fruit Trees in Bloom), 1873. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Mary Livingston Willard, 1926 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence.
Van Gogh was not alone in his admiration for Daubigny's work; the painter's home and studio in Auvers attracted many other artists, friends, and followers, Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro among them. A pioneer of plein air painting, Daubigny's innovative techniques and personal style influenced a generation of artists known as the Impressionists. Yet, until now, Daubigny's role in the development of Impressionism was almost entirely unknown. Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape, an exhibition at Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum, in collaboration with the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati and the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, contextualizes Daubigny's work, techniques, and ideas with the naissance of Impressionism, and connects him in a lineage that stretches to Post-Impressionist Van Gogh.
Vincent van Gogh, The white orchard, 1888. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).
Daubigny was born in Paris in 1817, into a family of painters. In 1843, he settled in the village of Barbizon, where he was joined by Théodore Rousseau and Jean-François Millet. With Camille Corot and Gustave Courbet, two other important contemporaries, Daubigny helped establish the Realist style of painting, by treating everyday subjects with the attention previously reserved for classical or historical scenes. Daubigny devoted himself to the depiction of the natural landscape--an element previously relegated to the background--and the ordinary people who worked the land, harvesting their fields. It was in Barbizon where Daubigny began painting landscapes on large canvases outdoors--an unusual practice at the time--seeking to represent the landscape as realistically as possible.
Charles-François Daubigny, Sunset near Villerville, 1874. The Mesdag Collection, The Hague.
In his efforts to represent the landscape as he saw it while working en plein air, Daubigny adopted a method of quick, sketchy brushwork that eschewed finely rendered details for a more loose style, a technique that would heavily influence the Impressionists. One of the breakthroughs of the research that culminated in this exhibition was the discovery that, with a painting executed in 1857, Daubigny was among the first artists to paint "wet on wet," allowing the completion of a painting outdoors in one session, a hallmark technique adopted by the Impressionists in the 1860s and 70s.
Charles François Daubigny, Le bateau-atelier, 1827 - 1878. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
So committed was Daubigny to capturing the atmosphere and feeling of the plein air landscape, he fashioned himself a studio boat, dubbed Le Botin, from which he would paint river scenes from the open water. Monet followed his example, using his own studio boat to float along the Seine, painting the riverbanks, sky, and the reflections of light on the water.
Claude Monet, Monet's studio-boat, 1874. Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo.
Daubigny's impact on the Impressionists extended beyond painting techniques; he championed his young painting protégés in the Parisian art world and cultivated an artist's colony in Auvers. Indeed, one of Daubigny's most important contributions to Impressionism, and the course of art history, came about through a fortuitous meeting. In 1871, in London, Daubigny introduced Monet to the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, facilitating the historic dealer-artist relationship that would launch Monet, along with fellow Impressionists Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and others, from obscurity to international prominence.
Claude Monet, Sunset on the River Seine at Lavacourt, Winter Effect, 1880. Petit Palais, Paris, © Petit Palais / Roger-Viollet.
For Van Gogh, Daubigny's influence was much more distant--Daubigny had already passed away by the time Van Gogh began painting--yet quite profound. Van Gogh considered Daubigny one of the great masters of landscape painting, using his work as study material, and adopting many of the same subjects, such as poppy fields and flowering orchards. Daubigny is mentioned about 60 times in Van Gogh's letters; in one letter to his brother in 1883 Van Gogh describes a walk in the dunes, where he felt Daubigny's presence: "That walk alone... made me much calmer because of a feeling that one hadn't been alone but had talked to one of the old figures from the time of the beginning, Daubigny." Most consequential, for Van Gogh, was the way in which Daubigny not only painted the landscape as he saw it, but suffused it with feeling: critics of the time noted that Daubigny painted both "with the eye" and "with the heart."
Charles François Daubigny, The harvesters, 1875. Museum Gouda, Gouda. Photo: Tom Haartsen.
Near the end of his life, Daubigny looked to the sky, with dramatic clouds dominating his compositions of sweeping landscapes. Van Gogh, too, in his final canvases, depicted the turbulent skies and endless wheat fields of Auvers. Daubigny's 1875 The Harvesters and Van Gogh's 1890 Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds, when seen side by side, share the same horizon line, dimensions, and composition--as though the two artists were painting the same field, on the same afternoon--yet each contains its own expressive palette and gestural style. It is as if the two artists, though separated by time, were in conversation, through the language of landscape.
Vincent van Gogh, Wheatfield under Thunderclouds,1890. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).
Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape is on display at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam from October 21, 2016 until January 29, 2017.
Cultural & Charitable Catch-Up: A Gala October 2016
Text & Photos © Jill Lynne 2016
Its Gala Season in NYC...
Important Charities and Not-for-Profits who serve the community in significant ways present sparkling Benefit Galas - vying for recognition and funds.
Headlining the sold-out benefit for the Irish Arts Center at Cipriani 42nd Street, the "Spirit of Ireland", was the beloved Irish-born musician Hozier (Andrew Hozier-Byrne), His sincere deep melodic sounds delighted the audience.
The Irish Arts Center -celebrates the new cultural voices of Ireland- promoting theater.
Literature, song and dance through performance and education...
The Center is now in the midst of a Capital Campaign for the development of an expanded vital Center.
Actor, Writer and Producer Gabriel James Byrne with Composer Norman Sachs.
Board Member and Producer of Irish Film and Theater Georganne Aldrich Heller
For additional information contact: irishartscenter.org
Recently the New York Women's Foundation was celebrated in a Luncheon at Le Cirque. The Event was a precursor rallying support for the upcoming Gala at the Plaza.
Chief Curator & Director of the Studio Museum in Harlem Thelma Gordon, Host of the Luncheon, Philanthropist Jean Shafiroff. President of the Laurie M Tisch Illumination Fund Laurie M. Tisch, & President and CEO of the New York Women's Foundation, Ana Oliveira
As a cross-cultural alliance of women catalyzing partnerships and leveraging human and financial capital to achieve sustained economic security and justice for women and girls. The New York Women's Foundation is a voice for women and a force for change.
Supporter Randi Schatz at Le Cirque
The Foundation Gala honored Sara Jayaraman Co-Founder/Director of Restaurant Opportunities Center United, Dina Habib Powell, President of the Goldman Sachs' Foundation and Head of Goldman Sachs' Impact Investing Business, and Laurie M. Tisch, President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Trust.
Gala Co Chairs Jean and Martin Shafiroff
The Pet Philanthropy Circle held a cocktail reception to bring out support for their upcoming Gala, "Pet Hero Awards", at Gotham Hall.
The Soiree was held at the beautiful Chelsea home of Amanda Bowman and David Levy. Chaired by Jean Shafiroff and Co chaired by Amanda and Alex Donner.
Amanda Bowman with husband David Levy
Amanda Bowman passionately addresses the crowd about the need for animal rescue & adoption.
Always looking innovatively impeccable, Newlyweds, Stylist Montgomery Frazier and Ben Mindich
The very social Music Man & Band Leader Alex Donner
So apropos was "Drawing Sides; A timely conversation on Political Cartoons" presented by Swann Galleries. Moderated by Swann's Illustration Art Specialist Christine von der Linn, the evening featured a conversation with Editor Lee Lorentz - who popularized the cartoons of the New Yorker by his savvy editing from 1973 - 1993. (and published the best-selling book "the Art of The New Yorker; 1925-1995"), and renowned Illustrator Edward Sorel - whose cartoons have graced the pages of the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker...with many one man shows he was honored with a solo exhibition at Washington D.C.'s Portrait Gallery.
Although we applaud First Lady Michelle Obama's plaintive cry, "We go HIGH, When they go Low!", This intriguing exhibition and presentation clearly "illustrates" the long vitriolic history that defines politics.
The Important past Editor of the New Yorker, Lee Lorenz
Acclaimed Cartoonist and Illustrator Edward Sorel
Join or Die:
This cartoon was originally drawn by Benjamin Franklin and published in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754. It depicts the colonies as eight segments of a snake, with New England represented by one segment; Delaware and Pennsylvania as one; and Georgia omitted entirely.
By James Gillray, The Plumb-pudding in Danger, hand-colored etching, 1805. Sold May 26, 2016 for $11,875.
French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and English statesman William Pitt diving the globe for dinner. Napoleon takes Europe while Pitt takes the ocean
Emerging Designer Meredith Stoecklein just premiered her first capsule collection, LEIN. Comprised of modern Bridal dresses and gowns, developed for the truly contemporary woman who wants to be stylish but values the quality of traditional detailing with custom tailoring.
Fabricated in lovely textiles from the USA and Europe, we are certain Stoecklein is a star whose brilliance of design will be increasingly recognized...
Designer Meredith Stoecklein with the Elsie (a jumpsuit with pinafore ruffles and Italian Cotton/Silk Plumetis with Silk Organza.
The Dorothy Gown in French Linen with Floral detail
The collection is available from email@example.com
On the eve of Halloween I am delighted to share two of the most spellbinding frightening books I've discovered...
The Author of both is Cat Winters, a brilliant creator of eerily haunting atmosphere. The books are "The Uninvited" and published this very month, "Yesternight".
Incorporating well researched historical detail, with highly imaginative plots, these missives are spellbinding!!!
Perhaps best read at midnight on that Hallowed eve...
May your Treat be your Trick...
All Photographs (c) Jill Lynne 2016
Available from firstname.lastname@example.org
A century ago, William Merritt Chase was every bit as famous as Monet or Manet were then, or now for that matter.
Yet sometimes artists fall out of favor, and it takes a dedicated art historian or museum curator to bring him (or her) out of the shadows. In Chase's case, it took three: is Erica E. Hirshler, Croll Senior Curator of American Paintings at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts; with Elsa Smithgall, curator at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.; and Katherine M. Bourguignon, curator at the Terra Foundation for American Art in Paris.
Together, they assembled a magnificent new exhibition of Chase's work from no less than 60 collections across the United States.
So who was this artist, anyway?
Chase essentially defined American art at the close of the 19th century.
He was America's answer to Impressionism, the leading art teacher of his day, and the link between the traditional landscapes and fruit bowls of mid-19th century art and the modern world of art that came in the train of World War I.
But he was much more than that.
Chase was born in the town of Nineveh, Indiana, about as homespun and Midwestern a boyhood could get.
A group of Indiana businessmen recognized the young artist's potential and, honoring his German roots, sent him not to France, where he would be distracted by all things Parisian, but instead to Munich, another thriving arts community.
In Munich, the young Chase developed a facility for imitating--with his own unique twist--the old masters.
He wasn't merely copying; he was creating his own comment on the way Frans Hals and Rembrandt painted, setting old-fashioned imagery in ultra-modern uses of space on the canvas.
He then moved to 10th Street in New York City, then the center of a thriving, Gilded Age arts community.
There, he painted a highly confident self-portrait--the image of a young man bursting with certainty that he will succeed as an artist.
And he did. Not only were his paintings in high demand but he became one of the principal art teachers of the age, influencing many of the painters who would make their names in the early 20th century.
What set Chase apart from his peers, aside from his often riotous use of color, was the way he used space in his pictures.
You might see a woman lurking practically in the shadows.
Or the subject of the painting in a corner, while the center of the picture was empty space.
Also, Chase uniquely "got" women.
Not in a grubby, Trumpian way.
His paintings reveal a tenderness for women absent from, say, the caricatures of women to be found in the work of Toulouse-Lautrec, the punishing poses favored by Edgar Degas, or the monochromatic dullness of Whistler.
Chase, happily married by all accounts and the father of eight, including six daughters, loved and respected women, and those emotions express themselves gloriously in his work.
You see sweet domestic scenes with his young daughters, playing hide and seek in one painting, getting ready for a visit to Grandma's house in another.
You see women posing in stances that represent certainty and leadership--remember, this is the 1880s--not subservience or objectification.
Above all, Chase makes everything beautiful, whether it is his wife and children, a Brooklyn backyard full of laundry, the interior of his studios or homes in Manhattan or Shinnecock Hills, where he taught in the summers, or even his own deeply colorful and imagined response to Whistler's Mother, a painting as famous then as it is now.
Chase's work had the distinction of being shown at the Salon in Paris, perhaps despite the fact that it was so imaginative, colorful, and rule-breaking.
And then, as so often happens, tastes changed, and the man from Nineveh passed from the center of the art world into an undeserved obscurity.
Thanks to the MFA and the Phillips Collection, it is now William Merritt Chase's time, a century after his death.
Chase represents a serious gap in the education of most art lovers today.
The show at the MFA, headed for Venice, where Chase's work appeared in the first Biennale, is surely destined, and rightfully so, to change all that.
Photo courtesy of Toledo Museum.
Photo courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Art.
I recently had an experience with a themed art show that turned out shockingly well. This was "Point of Origin," curated by Dina Brodsky and Trek Lexington, and exhibited at The Lodge Gallery, on the Lower East Side. I've written about all these entities before, except for the mysterious Mr. Lexington. They're all fixtures of the part of the New York art scene I'm involved in.
Brodsky and Lexington are phenomenal curators, and much appreciated for it - Lexington's Instagram (@treklexington) was up to 172k followers last time I checked. So their invitations for this show went out, and I was fortunate enough to make the cut. The theme for the show was artwork painted on palettes. This is a pretty clever idea, because painters have an intimate and tactile relationship with their palettes. All painters have a different take on the palette - on its ideal shape, color, and placement, on what it should be made of, on the arrangement and amount of paint on it, on where and how to mix the paint. I myself am lazy as hell, and don't like to clean palettes, so I use disposable wax paper palette pads. One upside of my arrangement is that if I like how a particular group of colors turned out, I can use a sharpie to label each color on the palette and save it. I have a library of such sheets.
For the show, though, I went out and bought a proper wood palette. In fact, it was an unusual enough format for a painting that virtually everybody was going to have to make a new painting for the show - they wouldn't just happen to have something relevant lying around the studio. I looked at the artist list. It included a good fraction of the most talented and creative representational painters I know. It's not a huge world. Although many of us haven't met in person, we all know and admire one another's work. These two features, that new work would be required, and that the field was full of excellent painters, resulted in the quality of the show. How? I think because we all got really competitive. Not to "win," but simply to earn our spot amongst such peers. I know I immediately began trying to think of ways to do something better than I'd done before. I suspect others did too, in a virtuous cycle that resulted in the 50+ pieces presented.
Jason Patrick Voegele and Keith Schweitzer, whose project The Lodge Gallery is, hung it beautifully, and if you're in town, you should go see the show; it's up until November 13th. I'm proud to be included in it. A selection of pieces is included in the slideshow below. They all look better in person. They look like jewels. Go, go, go. Thank you to Brodsky and Lexington for honoring me with inclusion, to Voegele and Schweitzer for showing the work, and to the other painters for inspiring me to do better. I think this is how it should work.
Point of Origin
curated by Dina Brodsky & Trek Lexington
until November 13th, 2016
The Lodge Gallery
131 Chrystie Street, New York, NY 10002
In this slideshow, artworks are identified by the names of the artists only.