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    Listening to music on my Sonos connected via Bluetooth to my smart phone is easy to use and enjoyable. On a recent visit to Urban Outfitters I was presently surprised to see for the holidays, a selection of analog record players at the center of the store for today's refined music listener. Another nod to this new trend for the younger crowd tiring of digital music players: the Ben Stiller movie 'While We Were Young."

    The analog record is back, but where did it start? Not the recent trend. The original flat analog record? Something worth digging into while we have a little extra holiday time on our hands.


    Over the course of music history, innovation did much to spread the sounds of the times and flat analog records were one of the big breakthrough. As Kenny Herzog pointed our in Rolling Stone Magazine: We've come a long way in capturing and reproducing sound, and in many ways, the journey has been a poetic and literal full circle. From Thomas Edison's first experiments with waveform-engraved cylinders to the rotating dials of our iPods − and every touchstone devoted to preserving composition and performance since and after.

    Back in the late 1880s the first phonograph cylinders, the things that looked like toilet paper rolls, started showing up in new machines in salons across Europe and the Americas. By the 1920s it was replaced by the flat gramophone record (phonograph record), commonly known as an analog record, a movement ignited by the technological breakthrough of the Victor Orthophonic Victrola Phonograph (1925). As Herzog points out, Victrolas set the precedent that fidelity rules above all, even if the equipment weighs a ton.


    At the same time two creators launched one of the first flat record companies, known as the Goodson Record Company. The Goodson record company, founded in London and Montreal was one of the first record companies to adopt a flat plastic record instead of the cylindrical format. And they were flexible, meaning they could be bent with our forefinger and your thumb. As a new technology they were sold with music on the record but paid for primarily as an advertising vehicle for brands and products trying to reach a broader audience.


    The GOODSON GRAMOPHONE RECORD CO. LTD, produced commercial recordings from the mid 1920s until the early 1930s. One of the characteristic features of these white flexible records, now collectors items on eBay, is the non-flammable material called Rhodoid was without a separate paper label around the hole like later records would have, but one important feature for the successful growth of the Goodson Record was its complete surface could be used for printed advertising messages.


    Goodson Record Company, was founded by Jack Goodson in London England and his younger brother Joseph Goodson in Montreal, Canada. They sold their 9.5 inch records across Europe, the United States and Canada as well as smaller records with music and nursery rhymes for children. Remarkably they ended up across the globe. For example, according to this source, recently a find of rare records were discovered in Sevastopol (Ukraine). These flexible records seem to be rare Goodson Records. Instead of advertising emblazoned on the surfaces we see 1920s flapper women, all the rage at the time for the urban movers and shakers. The records have some real Goodson Records details like the trademark, the hand with the bended record expressing the fact that it was unbreakable, and the brand name GOODSON RECORDS, and also NON-FLAME.


    -- 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.

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    "I must have attended almost a hundred film festivals over the years but I'd never been to one in a refugee camp deep in the desert," says Neil McCartney, Chair of The Independent Film Trust on his return from the FiSahara Film Festival in October. "I'm still getting the sand out of my ears, but it was remarkable festival and I loved it."

    He was among the 350 international guests including actors, directors, activists and cinephiles, who travelled to Dakhla, a sun-baked refugee camp deep in the Sahara desert in Algeria, to participate in FiSahara's 13th edition. International guests stayed with Saharawi refugees exiled from Western Sahara for nearly four decades, sharing their homes and their food and sitting shoulder to shoulder with them on rugs to watch movies. This year's programme included more than fifty films, all projected at night onto two large outdoor screens attached to the side of articulated lorries.

    The festival took place over five days in the sprawling camp which is home to tens of thousands of refugees. Without paved roads or running water Dakhla is an unlikely place for a film festival, but it is precisely its remote location and lack of amenities that makes it the ideal choice for a festival that aims to educate and entertain both refugees and international participants. For the refugees, FiSahara helps break the monotony of camp life, offering a rare window on the world beyond the bleak desert horizons. For guests, it gives them a unique insight into the world of refugees who have been largely forgotten by the international community.

    The festival site is in the centre of the camp. Screenings take place after sundown. Each day there are activities including workshops and camel races, football matches and clown shows for the children. At night, as well as the films, there are concerts in the rolling dunes with performances by local and international musicians including the acclaimed Spanish band Vetusta Morla.

    The theme of this year's festival was Occupied Peoples: Memory and Resistance. The programme ranged from documentaries to blockbusters, animations to films made by the refugees themselves. The winner of the White Camel, the festival's top prize (which is an actual live camel), went to Ladjouad (2016) made by Brahim Chegaf, himself a graduate of a film school set up in the refugee camps in 2010. His film, which follows the thousand mile journey of three old men who cross the desert to visit a mystic mountain, is an exploration of Saharawi collective memory and culture. In addition to the white camel award, it is hoped that the Raindance film festival, a supporter of FiSahara, will screen the film at their festival in London next year.

    Second prize went to Sonita (2015), a documentary by an Iranian film maker about an Afghan teenager who dreams of becoming a rapper. Collecting his award thee film's director Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, described FiSahara as "the most inspiring film festival I have ever been to."

    Whilst a film festival might not seem a priority in a refugee camp where health problems include hepatitis B, anaemia, meningitis, and various forms of malnutrition, there is belief that culture is an important tool for survival. As Jadiya Hamdi, the Minister of Culture for the Saharawi government in exile, explained at a previous festival, film-making not only helps preserve and enrich their culture but also gives people in the camps a sense of purpose. "Empty time is a dangerous thing," she told me. "It can kill a human soul."

    This year's festival included numerous audio¬visual training workshops, ranging from sound editing to film archiving for refugees. "We are witnessing how cameras and film have become essential tools in the Saharawi's struggle against occupation," said Maria Carrion, the festival's executive director. "It is through these images that the hearts of people across the world are touched."

    Mhairi Morrison a Scottish-American actress who flew out from Los Angeles for the festival was deeply moved by her stay in the camp deeply and formed a close bond with her host mother, Warda, and her family. Warda, aged 28, was born in Dakhla, studied psychology in Algiers before coming back to work in the camp hospital. "We could speak French together but I also taught her mime which she was fascinated by. 'In which country do they speak mime?' she asked me."

    Before coming to the festival Mhairi had read all she could about it and had come across a quote from Javier Bardem who attend in 2008 in which he described FiSahara as "nothing short of a miracle".
    "This quote kept coming back to me, particularly on the last night," says Mhairi. "I was with Warda beneath a vast star-filled sky. We sat beside each other in silence for a long time. Eventually she turned to me and took my hand and said. 'Thank you a thousand times for coming. Do not forget us.'" For visitors to the FiSahara film festival, forgetting Dakhla and the people who live there, is not easily done.

    Photos by Alberto Almayer, Sergio R. Moreno, Carlos Cazurro, Josephine Doucet & Stefan Simanowitz,

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    The temptation with Travis Russ's Gorey (The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey) is to call it "Phantasma-Gorey-cal--in direct line with the writer-illustrator's personality in print and in life.

    But it isn't quite that. Throughout its 75 minutes at The Sheen Center, it is, however, playful. Onto the set that designers John Narun and Russ made as Gorey-esque as they could--with, prominently placed, a shaggy fur coat of the sort Gorey habitually wore--come three Edward Goreys. They're Andrew Dawson, Aidan Sank and Phil Gillen to represent the author-artist as young, middle-aged and senior. (Incidentally, Narun also handles the projection design that often features the imagined Gorey animal that resembles an upright seal.)

    For the most part, the Gorey stand-ins--starting and finishing each other's sentences, as directed with ease and amusement by Russ--review his often hermit-like life. Much time is given to his balletomane existence once he meets and falls for George Balanchine (but not romantically in the traditional sense),

    The Goreys give much time not only to recalling his favorite Balanchine work but also to recreating some idea of Balanchine's choreography for it. (Katie Proulx is the choreographer channeling Balanchine.) The older Gorey suggests no one will recall the work--PAMTGG (1971). (This reviewer does.) The ballet was based on a Pan American advertisement including the jingle with the lyric, "Pam American Makes the Going Great." A rare Balanchine flop, it was pulled from the company repertoire after three performances.

    Less time is devoted to pinning down--or, more accurately, not pinning down--Gorey's sexuality. In a version of a Dick Cavett interview from December 1977, Gorey, who's rather testy under the host's jocular queries, dodges the issue. At another point, he vouchsafes his low sex drive.

    Although some of Gorey's somehow-autobiographical The Unstrung Harp is recited, not that much stage time is given over to the odd fellow's inspirations, executions and grim, if not Grimm, themes. An upstage wall is covered with drawings that can be examined before and after the performance. Otherwise, the absence of more discussion feels like a significant lapse.

    (N.B.: In Program B of the current Les Ballets Trocaderos de Monte Carlo run at the Joyce Theatre, Gorey's set design for act two of Giselle is used. It's a modest affair but serves as a sturdy background for the athletic, well-drilled Trocks to cavort in front of.)
    Remember the love that dare not speak its name? For some time now that love has been shouting to beat the band. The latest shouter is Gerry (pronounced "Gary," if I have that right), whom Drew Droege has created and plays in Bright Colors and Bold Patterns, the Form Theatricals production at the Barrow.

    Gerry arrives poolside in Palm Springs the day before a friend's wedding. (Dara Wishingrad has a couple of beach chairs, an umbrella and other paraphernalia on her set.) He's loud and voluble and fast with the obscenities as he addresses the assembled sunbathers, mostly talking to ex-boyfriend Dwayne and Dwayne's new boyfriend, Mac. For one early complaint he brings out the invitation and mocks the request that guests at the ceremony avoid wearing "bright colors and bold patterns." Thus Droege's bright and bold title choice.

    Full of references to pop culture (he's surprised that Mac doesn't recognize the name Nia Peebles), Gerry goes on to ramble on about trivial topic after trivial subject. At one point while disagreeing with someone's notion, he suggests that the unseen speaker should "eat a plate of hot dicks."

    (Is this wit? How a patron--or a prospective patron--responds may indicate the likeliest prospect for becoming an enthusiastic Droege audience member.)

    At another point, Droege defines "gay" as referring to men who celebrate and make fun of their idols at the same time. It's a blanket definition that may indicate the difference between audiences who'll relish Gerry's gregariousness and those who won't.

    Bright Colors and Bold Patterns is, in the final analysis, a character study. That's to say that about 10 minutes before Droege's 70 minutes end and after Gerry has sniffed cocaine, drunk any number of margaritas, urinated against a wall and regurgitated, he sobers up and reveals what's really on his mind.

    He talks about what's been nagging at him so much that he's compelled to be nearly endlessly and loosely chatty. Sure, his exposing a lonely, loveless side is something, but it transpires after many spectators may have long since dismissed the giddily prolix fellow.

    Incidentally, Gerry's comment that gay men like simultaneously to celebrate and tear down idols, like Barbra Streisand, is reminiscent of Jonathan Tolin's Buyer and Cellar. The original actor in that opus was Michael Urie, who just happens to be the Bright Colors and Bold Patterns director. Obviously, he has more than a passing affinity for the flamboyant subject matter.
    In Life is for Living: Conversations With Noel Coward, Simon Green is ostensibly offering his second Coward holiday celebration at 59E59 Theatres. But that's merely the cheerful wrapping for a program that has the capacity to change audience members' often stated views of the masterful British entertainer as "destiny's tot."

    Yes, an argument can be made that Coward's drinks-party sophistication, for which his cigarette holder is a perpetual synecdoche, runs so deep here that it just about reaches the genuinely philosophical.

    With the equally urbane David Shrupsole at the piano and providing original melodies for some of Coward's prose, the dapper Green sings Coward songs, of course--but not necessarily the most-often recollected--along with songs by Irving Berlin and the Gershwin brothers George and Ira as well as ditties obviously influenced by Coward.

    In an inspired sequence, Green, whose voice is certainly up to Coward's often patter-song demands, alternates verses and choruses of the hilarious "I've Been to a Marvelous Party" with somber passages from Coward's diaries. As underscoring to Green's intended message about his subject's darker views, Shrubsole plays the tunes to "World Weary" and "Sail Away." (Jason Worell is credited as the show's researcher.)

    "Life is for Living" may only be 70 minutes in length, but it's appreciably more in breadth and depth. Destiny's tot himself would be grateful for the cleverly presented perceptions.

    -- 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.

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    "I'm sure even the cavemen copied the drawings of the guys from the next village and changed them a little bit." Hear British conceptual artist Jonathan Monk's view on the idea of originality: "Just embrace that you're not. Or twist it so you can be."

    Jonathan Monk often applies the method of appropriation in his work, using other artists' works as a jumping-off point to create new art of his own. The conceptual, he explains in this interview, partly grew out of necessity: as a young, penniless artist he had to develop other means of making art. "We didn't have money to make things, so you'd take a few ideas with you and fabricate them wherever you were," he explains. "Artists use material and whether that material exists as an idea or is in a tube of paint - you move with what you've got and try to change it into something you can call your own."

    Jonathan Monk (b. 1969) is a British conceptual artist who was born in Leicester in 1969 and lives and works in Berlin and Glasgow. His work has been shown at Palais de Tokyo and Musee d'Art Moderne, Paris, France, the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, UK, the Whitney Biennial (2006) and the 50th and 53rd Venice Biennales and elsewhere. He is the recipient of the 2012 Prix du Quartier Des Bains and his work is held in the collections of Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden, SMK, Copenhagen, Denmark, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA and the Tate Collection, London, UK.
    Jonathan Monk was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg at Galleri Nicolai Wallner in Copenhagen, Denmark in November 2016.

    Camera: Klaus Elmer
    Produced and edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg
    Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

    Supported by Nordea-fonden

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    I met up with Tony-Award winning actress Jayne Houdyshell in her dressing room at the Gerard Schoenfeld Theatre, home of the Tony-Award winning play The Humans. I remarked to Jayne that her dressing room had a rare zen quality, from the pristine vanity mirror to the pastel colors and comfy couch. We got settled on the couch and start chatting about Jayne's early years.

    Where did you grow up?
    Until age fifteen, we lived in a farmhouse in a rural area of Kansas. There were no neighbors, and my sisters were much older than me. So I started reading books and I'd assume the character in the books and live inside the world of those characters for hours on end. That's how I entertained myself.

    Was there any particular book you remember?
    The entire Laura Ingalls' Little House on the Prairie was huge for me. So I treasured those books and those adventures. And I went thru a serious child biography phase. I was taken with Helen Keller, so I was Helen Keller for a few years.

    You ultimately ended up going to acting school in Michigan.
    My acting teacher knew I really wanted to study in England, but didn't have the resources, and she found out about the Academy of Dramatic Arts at Oakland University which had a curriculum was based on the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and had brought over teachers from London. It was a rigorous training program, highly technical and classically based, and it was a two-year program. We started out with sixty students and by the end of the first year there was sixteen students.

    You ultimately ended up working in regional theater for twenty-seven years.
    Yes. During the first seven years after I graduated, I married an actor and we went from one small theater to another in Iowa and Illinois. When I left that marriage, in 1980, I moved to New York City. I had that residence for decades, but for the next twenty years, I worked in regional theaters all over the country, and in between would come back to New York City. Eventually I became tired of the itinerant lifestyle so I decided to stop doing that and see if I could make a go of it in New York City.

    How was the transition?
    It wasn't easy. The trajectory once I moved here, though, was that I started working on new plays, which was exciting for me and just the artistic growth I was hungering for. When I was forty-eight years old, I met Lisa Kron and Leigh Silverman and we started working on Well. That was a four year journey, and we ultimately took it to Broadway and I made my Broadway debut at fifty-two years old.

    Was Broadway always a goal of yours?
    Broadway actually wasn't a dream of mine. I did regional theater because that's what I really loved, but what created the impulse to stop that was being tired of shifting from place to place. And I had a hankering to do new plays, and those new plays were being done in New York. I didn't have this starry aching to be a Broadway actor or anything like that. My measure of success is - if I'm working on plays that I love with people I respect who respect me, I feel successful.

    Is there any advice from your early years that sticks with you?
    Not per say, but my teachers, from high school on, were all very instrumental in giving me a very strong work ethic, and none of them were pitching stardom or celebrity. They talked about what it takes to become a fine actor, all the work and applicable it takes to become that, and I believed them. We weren't living so much then in the culture that we are now where people want things instantly, where people want fame and celebrity. Those weren't goals of mine - I wanted a life in the theater, in a way that sustained me.

    What keeps you excited about theater?
    I can play a wide range of roles and the thing I like most about acting is stepping into the shoes of so many people that are so different from one another, and I've been fortunate enough to be seen that way by directors in theater and producers. So what keeps me excited is "who is this new person that I will be representing?" There is tremendous variety in that. I don't get tired of it.

    Do you have any pre-show rituals?
    I like to stay calm and be pretty quiet. But I generally check in with all the other actors and crew before the show. Every show you do, you form a family with the company and it becomes very familial so you are interested in how everyone is doing that day. With this play, I don't feel like I have to protect my voice so I don't drink tea with honey. This is not a glamorous part - I don't wear any makeup in the show. I don't have to do my hair. So my prep isn't really physical, it's just getting my head in the right space.


    What drew you to the role of Deirdre?
    There are a lot of similarities between her and my own mother. I kind of feel like I'm doing my best to honor my mother because I think she has a tremendous amount of integrity and has a lot on her plate that is difficult and complicated and manages to cope with it all with incredible humor and grace and love. And my mother was very much like that.

    It's a deeply moving play, sad at times, but also humorous. And you execute that quite beautifully. What's the key to achieving that balance?
    I don't think of Deirdre as comedic or dramatic. All the people in this play are so - human! It's ridiculous to say that but it's the point of the play. And that's what life is - ridiculous and funny and sad and heartbreaking and boring and maddening and all of that. And I just feel like its exquisitely written and it's easy to navigate the landscape of the play and find all of that. It's not that I'm playing her in a comedic way - it's that audiences recognize who she is. And I think that's true of all of the characters. All the laughs in the play are because people are saying "that's my family!".

    You won the Tony Award for Actress in a Featured Role. Were you nervous that day?
    I was sitting on the nerves, although not nearly as nervous as I was the first two times I was nominated. The first time I literally prayed not to be called because I was so nervous. I thought I could not get up out of my chair if they called my name, and when I wasn't called I felt nothing but joy and relief. I know that's a little weird, but I felt "yay, now I can relax for the rest of the show!" When I went to the Tony's this year, I felt really great about being there and felt great to be nominated. I'd seen all the women nominated and seen all of their performances. I felt that it could have gone any which way and I was just grateful to be there. So when they did call my name, I was a little nervous but I mostly felt joy.

    Before The Humans, you were in Fish In The Dark with Larry David. How was it working with him?
    Fantastic! It was a surprise to me - wasn't sure what I expected since I know when you meet someone that you've seen on television they are never who you imagine them to be. And that was true of Larry too. Larry was sweet, kind, generous, a real gentleman. Very respectful and funny and neurotic and interesting and complicated but I really genuinely like Larry alot. And it was interesting to see him go thru the process because everything he was experiencing was a first for him. He'd never been in a rehearsal for a play, he'd never written a play, and he was doing rewrites as we were working and rehearsing a play. I played his mother and I felt a little maternal towards him - wanting to make sure that he's ok. But he did great, and was interesting and fun to work with.

    What's one thing you would like to tell your 15-year old self?
    Hang in there, honey. You are going to have the life that you want.

    The show ends its run January 15th. What's next for you?
    I go into the rehearsals at the end of February for another play that will be opening at the John Golden theater. Very exciting. Directed by Sam Gold. It's a new play by Lucas Hnath called A Doll's House, Part 2.

    See The Humans before it closes on Jan 15, 2017 by clicking here.

    -- 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.

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    By Christopher Johnson, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, December 20, 2016

    Yes, folks, it's that good, and if you don't race off to see it, you will miss one of those life-changing nights in the theatre that people will still be babbling about on their deathbeds.

    So why are you wasting time listening to me when you could be off getting tickets? There are three more performances, and the house is criminally undersold for each of them, even in the cheap seats upstairs. There was a Live in HD showing in movie theaters recently (December 10, 2016), and hopefully an encore screening is scheduled for the near future, so you will have no excuse, and you will have no one to blame but yourself when your grandchildren ask you where you were when Kaija Saariaho and Amin Maalouf's L'Amour de Loin finally came to the Met. I will wait patiently while you make your arrangements.

    Good, you're back! What you want to do now is to punch up Maalouf's libretto, which the city of Tripoli, Libya, where the piece is largely set, has made available in a reasonably accurate transcription, with a reasonably accurate English translation, here. Then you want to secure ready access to Kent Nagano's recording, either on CD or through a streaming-service such as this. Then you want to block out as much time as you need to sink into two hours of the most riveting conversation you are ever likely to hear--and trust me, you won't want to do this only once, so allow plenty of time over several days, and find yourself a place to do it in where you can sob freely without alarming your nearest and dearest, or frightening the livestock.

    Here's what you will find: a devastating real-life love-story told, without a syllable wasted or out of place, through music of such beauty and naturalness that you might begin to imagine you were listening in on a series of intimate scenes of overwhelming tenderness and almost unbearable urgency. I won't detain you with the story itself, nor with a lot of bushwa about its metaphorical import, vast as that is; you can, and should, discover all that for yourself. Suffice it to say that, for once in contemporary opera, a perfect story is perfectly told, unburdened by intellectual doctrine and free of excess theoretical baggage. You may well be improved by it, but that is not what it sets out to do.

    The Met's production, directed by Robert Lepage, is a technical marvel made up of a large moving bridge and somewhere between 25,000 and 90,000 LED lights (depending on which piece of promotion you believe), which have been individually programmed to change to millions of colors, all of which gives visual form to the spiritual connection between two lovers who know each other only in imagination, and to the sea that separates them. Our editor-in-chief, who reviewed the opening-night performance, felt that the bridge restricted the performers' movements unduly, and that the lights were tiresome, in the end almost blinding against a black backdrop. I saw it on the second night from near the top of the house, and there the effect was, perhaps, different. To this eye, the sea-imagery was beautiful and poetic in and of itself, while reflecting and sometimes even deepening the singers' expression. By the same token, the bridge reinforced the story's essential tension: the lovers, kept separate and apart, can do nothing except think about one another, and any action outside their heads is wasted. The acting was intense, but simple and unaffected. The only thing missing was a bit of charm: the occasional laugh-line or wry aside--there are a few, and they're valuable--got swallowed up, but that's probably unavoidable in a house this size.

    All the headline-news fuss about the production, and about this being the first opera by a woman that the Met has put on since 1909, obscures the material fact, at least as I see it: this is a great opera, and it ought to become a repertoire-item. (And you need not fear: it is achingly beautiful without even a moment's pandering; if you can listen without tears to Debussy or Fauré, or to the less done-to-death Ravel, you will feel perfectly safe here.) It was magnificently led by Susanna Mälkki, making her Met debut, magnificently played by the Met Orchestra, who sounded like they were having the time of their lives, and magnificently sung by Eric Owens, Tamara Mumford, Susanna Phillips, and Donald Palumbo's magnificent chorus, who are becoming the stuff of legend and never sounded better.

    Owens and Mumford are well known and highly valued for their work in this kind of show, but Phillips, a charming singer whose previous work at the Met has been in lighter roles, transcended expectation with her harrowing final scene, which began with a shocking guttural outburst of rage and ended on a note of uneasy acceptance. By the end, I had my knuckles stuffed in my mouth to keep from crying. I was not alone. And then we all just got up and howled. If they hadn't turned the house-lights on, we would probably still be there.


    L'Amour de Loin at the Metropolitan Opera through December 29th. Music by Kaija Saariaho with a libretto by Amin Maalouf; conducted by Susanna Mälkki; production by Robert Lepage; set and costume design by Michael Curry; lighting design by Kevin Adams; lightscape image design by Lionel Arnould; sound design by Mark Grey. Susanna Phillips (Clémence), Tamara Mumford (The Pilgrim), and Eric Owens (Jaufré Rudel).

    Cover: Tamara Mumford as the Pilgrim, Eric Owens as Jaufré Rudel and Susanna Phillips as Clémence in 'L'Amour de Loin;' photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

    Christopher Johnson writes frequently for ZEALnyc about classical music and related performances.

    Read more ZEALnyc's features:

    Fazil Say Scores a Triumph as Both Soloist and Composer with Orpheus at Carnegie Hall

    Royal Concertgebouw 'Wows' with Mahler at Carnegie Hall

    60th Anniversary of original Broadway production of 'Candide'

    For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.

    -- 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.

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    If you have read my blogs about Philadelphia, you know I am a transplant from Baltimore, and that I am over the moon about the extraordinary cultural banquet offered here in every conceivable way. If you visit Philly for a week, you can have a fulfilling and exhilarating cultural opportunities each day. Plus, in this (and every regard), you will find us to be an exceedingly child friendly city. As an example, this week my ten year old grandson and I are going to our center city (downtown) Kimmel Center to hear John William's delightful score performed by our Philadelphia Orchestra to accompany the film classic, Home Alone.

    Today I am going to move from our traditional cultural events and introduce you to our committed and vibrant Free Library of Philadelphia, an organization that offers Philadelphians innumerable opportunities for our multicultural city to come together, and is completely devoted to our city's youth. It is not possible to give you the full offering of our library system, but I will try to introduce you to some highlights.....

    One of our city's most extraordinary library programs is LEAP, the incredible Literacy Enrichment Afterschool Program, one that reaches 70,000 Philadelphia children each year. At the end of their school day, Philly children gravitate to their neighborhood libraries where they work with paid Teen Learning Assistants, who answer homework questions and provide literacy activities. As you can imagine, this program is win-win for students and TLAs alike. All of the TLAs graduate from high school, and many pursue degrees in Library Science.

    Although the LEAP program is for Philadelphia area children, the following is open to you, and would be well worth your visit and participation. Inaugurated in 1994, the Library's Author Events program offers all who attend the opportunity to share with today's most celebrated voices in the sciences and humanities. Praised by our local paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, which has won ten Pulitzers (and I believe deserves another for their recent series exposing the lethal lead poisoning that continues to threaten and impair so many children in major cities), the Library's Author Events program has earned three "Best of Philly" designations from Philadelphia Magazine.

    Since its beginning, the Author Events program has grown and now introduces the public to more than 125 authors each year. Most author events are held at Parkway Central Library, located at 1901 Vine Street in center city (downtown) Philadelphia. An evening event features an author's presentation, a Q&A with the audience, and a book signing with fans. Books are sold on-site, and doors open 45 minutes prior to event start times. No tickets or reservations are required for free author events. I urge you to join these exciting evenings. For information about our 2017 programs, telephone the Author Events Office (215 567 4341) or email

    Here is another library program that will knock your socks off! Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2017, "One Book, One Philadelphia" is a signature event that promotes literacy, library usage, and citywide conversation by encouraging the entire greater Philadelphia area to come together through reading and discussing a single book. From January 25 to March 23, 2017 nearly 100 events and programs (many geared for children) will center around this year's chosen book, The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

    "One Book, One Philadelphia educates, inspires, and uplifts. It is chaired by ardent reader, Marie Field, a former highly respected and gifted elementary school teacher who cherishes words and the way they interact and relate to each other. Other cities offer a similar program. However, if you attend one of our events and your city does not offer parallel programs, chances are strong you will return home to encourage your community to unite in similar meaningful ways. Learn more on the Free Library of Philadelphia web-site,

    Many Philadelphians will tell you that there has been no more uplifting and exciting library event than the presence of Bruce Springsteen on September 29. According to library spokesperson, Sandy Horrocks, tickets offered on line (through the events page of the library website) sold out in nine minutes. Due to the volume of those trying to attend, the library phone system went into overload and the web site crashed.

    Springsteen was not scheduled to speak, and he said not a public word. Instead, the gathering was a personal meet and greet: For $33 those fortunate enough to secure tickets got a pre-signed copy of Springsteen's recent book, Born to Run, could shake his hand, speak to him, and take a selfie. As you can imagine, the line of 1200 circled many blocks; yet, no one I saw or heard complained about the wait.

    I watched the exchanges from a walled off press section close to the podium where greetings took place. Bruce Springsteen rushed no one. (Nor did our library's extraordinary staff professionals.) He shook hands warmly and gave hugs when requested. Parents and neighbors brought children. Pregnant women wanted their "about to be born" to meet "The Boss." I could see and hear Springsteen comfort some of various ages who said they were struggling with illnesses. Several wept. At times Bruce Springsteen's eyes misted with those who longed to connect with him. Those standing outside of the library as the event was ending spoke very quietly, if at all. One woman said, "He is the real deal," and all around her nodded. The same can be said of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

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    I met up with Adam Pascal at the St. James Theatre where he, along with the rest of the talented cast, welcome theatergoers to the Renaissance nightly in the tongue-in-cheek Broadway show Something Rotten. Although the Broadway show will be ending its run on January 1st, Adam, along with Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti, will be taking the show on tour. I met up with Adam Pascal in his dressing room at the theatre. He's still as good-looking as he was in his Rent days, and was introspective and thoughtful as we covered a wide variety of topics.

    Is there something that you bring with you to every dressing room?
    A crossword puzzle book. I'm obsessed with crossword puzzles. I find them very soothing and meditative. I'm not someone who puts up pictures and moves into dressing rooms. If it's a good part, I'm not in the dressing room too much!

    You live in California. Is your family still there?
    Yes, it's the real bain of my existence, being separated from them. But moving back here isn't the right choice for us. We've been out there for ten years, so my kids have their lives and their friends out there. This is what I do, and I do love it. And as long as people keep responding positively to the work that I do onstage, then I'm going to strive to do it and keep getting better and expanding my perceived abilities.

    What's the best part of it for you?
    Feeling like I did a good job. That's why I prefer theater to camera work. You get a full complete experience; getting to the end of the story and knowing that you just entertained however many people, hopefully a full house. And you get a sense of accomplishment every day. You don't get that immediate gratification, that reaction, in film and television work as its very impersonal, and I respond to the feeling of a job well done.

    This show is, in part, a spoof on Shakespeare. How you ever performed in a Shakespeare production?
    No, I haven't.

    Would you want to?
    I don't think I would. It's not my thing. To be completely frank with you, I'm not moved by it, I don't understand the language enough to be moved by the material. So I don't strive to get to that level where I could be a Shakespearean actor. I think it needs to be in your blood. Maybe I'm too simple, but I've seen a number of Shakespearean productions and I was left feeling empty and bored.


    You've originated a lot of roles. This role was originated by Christian Borle. Is there a different kind of pressure taking on a role that someone else originated?
    I find that there is less pressure, and I think that I prefer taking over a role originated by someone else. If I'm originated something, it's a lot slower of a process. When you take over for someone, the hard work is done and you just have to slip into the costume, metaphorically speaking. I've found that I'm good at interpreting something that someone else originated and making it my own. I find it easier. I'm lazy quite frankly!

    I thought you did a great job making it your own.
    I wouldn't know how to copy someone else's performance; it would feel like stealing. And I love what Will and Christian did, but I wouldn't know how to do it the way each of them did it because that was unique to them.

    You have an accent for this role. Is that fun?
    Yeah, I love it. I like to disappear as much as I can into a role. So the more makeup, the more accents, the better. That's what makes it fun, to be as far removed from me personally as I can get.

    How was it performing the day after the election results?
    Coming back here, the day after the election, was a difficult experience, and the mood was reminiscent of coming here after 9/11. It was hard to come in that day, and the mood in the theater was grim.

    The ultimate message of the show for me was about being true to yourself. What allows you to believe in yourself?
    That's a good question because I have a hard time believing in myself. Every job I get, I say "how am I here?!". I feel like an imposter. I know that I'm good at it, but I have a hard time internalizing that I'm good at it. And I feel like, at any moment, someone is going to pull back the curtain and say "aha you suck!". It's really more of a question of this being what I know how to do. I've been successful for twenty years in theater so I'm going to continue to work in theater because it's where I seem to have the most luck. And I feel incredibly lucky.

    You have so many fans.
    I grew up playing in rock bands. I will always be colored by the experience of, for many years, playing in empty bars and empty clubs, and what that feels like to pour out your creative soul and be ignored. So, to even acknowledge that I have fans, I feel like "wow there are actually people here." It will forever be ingrained in my mind that I will walk out there and there will be a couple of people at the bar. So I'm incredibly humbled by my fans; it's quite amazing and I'm forever thankful for them.

    Do you have any kind of mantra that you live by?
    Not really. I find that, if you have a mantra, you eventually break it. If you have a code of "this is how I live my life" you eventually break it. I've been sober for almost four years, and I definitely was somebody who said something and did another and I spent many years living like that. So now I just try to be good to my family and be honest and act in a way that I didn't act when I was using. I guess you have a different perspective after you go thru that kind of thing. When you risk losing everything that matters to you, and you somehow come out of it without having lost it, for me, I just try to keep my head down and live my life the way I should live it. And not talk about it or preach to other people. Because no matter what anybody told me, I had to figure it out. And so, like I said, I want to walk the path that I think I need to walk, keep my head down and stay out of other people's business. Look at the hypocrisy of this world - look at the president-elect - there's no bigger hypocrite than that.

    Hamilton is such a craze and it brings me back to Rent and the phenomena surrounding it, for different reasons than Hamilton, but similar in the sense of it being a movement.

    There are such strong similarities. If anything, Hamilton is a bigger phenomenon because of social media and the internet. In 1995, social media didn't exist. So our show basically was a word of mouth thing. Hamilton went nuclear much quicker because of social media. And yeah, I know some people in the show, and I've definitely watched them and was nostalgic about my experience. I was a little envious that they were able to have this type of experience without the incredibly heartbreaking loss that we endured, losing Jonathan Larson the opening night of our dress rehearsal off-Broadway. Our experience was, and always will be, colored by Jonathan dying right when this thing was taking off. I envy them not having this heaviness surrounding them, and being able to enjoy the experience without the sadness we had to deal with.

    Something Rotten ends its Broadway runs January 1st. What's next for you?
    Me, Rob and Josh are going out on tour. We start immediately, on Jan 10th, and the following week we officially open in Boston.

    See Adam Pascal in Something Rotten on Broadway, or on tour early next year. Get tickets here.

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  • 12/20/16--16:38: Dancing and Driving with Art
  • Once again, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles has organized an exhibition which showcases the marriage of cars and art. Its title, The Unconventional Canvases of Keith Haring, refers to five vehicles painted by the beloved pop artist Keith Haring (1958-1990) during the last years of his short life. Haring was only 31 years old when he died of AIDS-related complications in 1990.


    Yes, his life ended tragically, but his art was and still is full of life and happy energy, whether it's his chalk drawings on the walls of New York City subway stations or his graffiti-style paintings on cars. It was no surprise that a large crowd of car buffs and art aficionados came for the exhibition's opening last week. According to the museum's press release, these five vehicles, borrowed from various private collections and museums, had never been shown together before. In a short video on display, one can see the artist in the seemingly effortless process of painting these vehicles. He makes it look so playful, so easy... Yes, easy, when you have great talent and spend years learning and perfecting your craft.


    And speaking of the unconventional marriage of cars and art, here's another wonderful example of synergy, this time between fine art and dance. A week ago, dance aficionados packed the theater at the Ace Hotel in downtown L.A. for the sold-out performance by L.A. Dance Project, led by the world-renowned Benjamin Millepied. I would guess that many people came not only to enjoy the dancing, but to hear the one-and-only Rufus Wainwright, singing and playing piano --live-- during the performance. But for me, the most memorable part of the evening was watching dancers performing against the huge colorful backdrop designed by Mark Bradford -- one of the most acclaimed American painters, who also happens to be an Angeleno.


    There is a long, rich tradition of great artists creating set designs for dance theater: From Picasso for Ballets Russes to Rauschenberg for Merce Cunningham Dance Company. A couple of years ago, I enjoyed the performance of the Garth Fagan Dance Company at Nate Holden Performing Arts Center with wonderful set design by another major Los Angeles artist, Alison Saar.


    And here's yet another example of a delightful and unexpected juxtaposition of dance with iconic paintings of the 20th century. This time, it takes place not on a theater stage, but in museum galleries. You simply must watch the video of L.A.-based performer Lil Buck dancing in a style of street dance called jookin' at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. It took place during the current blockbuster exhibition there of major French paintings, including paintings by Matisse and Picasso, borrowed from two major Russian museums: the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. I wonder how Picasso and Matisse would respond to Lil Buck's dancing. For me, he's paying the ultimate homage to these gods of modern art by dancing and in a way, praying in front of their great paintings.


    I hope to catch a smile on your face when you see the snapshot of yours truly in front of the Matisse painting Conversation (1909) at the Hermitage Museum during a trip to Russia last summer with major supporters of KCRW. So my friends, let me finish by wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah.


    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.

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    Its that time of year again and its always nice to get in the spirit of the season with some great holiday music. Here are a few memorable if not typically played holiday songs, made a little hipper by these wonderful jazz artists. I hope you find some joy in them as I do. Happy Holidays to all my family, friends and followers. Looking forward to a swinging New Year!

    Guitarist John McLaughlin's beautiful Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel

    Ray Charles and Nina Simone: Baby It's Cold Outside

    Cyrille Aimee with Doug Munro and Le Pompe Attack : The Christmas Song

    Frank Sinatra: Let It Snow

    Tony Bennett and the Count Basie Orchestra: I'll Be Home For Christmas

    Fats Waller: Swingin' Them Jingle Bells

    Erroll Garner: White Christmas

    Bill Evans: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

    Dave Brubeck: Silent Night

    Jim Hall and Toots Theilemans: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

    Cassandra Wilson: The Little Drummer Boy

    Miles Davis and Bob Dorough : Blue Xmas

    Carla Bley, Steve Swallow and the Partyka Brass Qunitet: O Tannebaum an others

    Bela Fleck and the Flecktones: What Child is This/Dyngyldai

    Jimmy Smith: Silent Night

    Billie Holiday: I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm

    Nat King Cole's Trio with Mel Torme overdubbed : The Christmas Song

    Michael Franks: Christmas in Kyoto

    Chick Corea: What Child is This

    Joe Pass: White Christmas

    Hubert Laws: Amazing Grace

    Dexter Gordon and Tony Bennett: I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

    Babs Gonzales: The BeBop Santa Claus

    Take Six: God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen

    Vince Guaraldi Trio: Christmas Time is Here

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    It is often said that the art market has become truly global, meaning that people all over the planet are vying for (sometimes) the same work of art, driving up prices for these pieces. Of course, 70-plus percent of the planet is ocean, but art even is sold there - on cruise ships. Most of the major cruise lines - Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity, Costa Cruise, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Lines, P&O Australia, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas and Royal Caribbean - offer art auctions as part of their entertainment programming. (Disney Cruise Lines, for its part, holds silent auctions of Disney animation cels and memorabilia on board.) Sign a contract agreeing to pay for whatever you successfully bid on and grab an auction paddle (no telephone or online bidding here).
    This isn't the most high-end art, consisting largely of editioned graphic prints (lithographs, etchings, digital prints, serigraphs) with the average price ranging from $400 to $3,000, although some one-of-a-kind pieces (oil paintings or watercolors, as well as mixed media and sculptures) are available as well, sometimes reaching five and six figures. According to Albert Scaglione, chief executive officer of Park West Gallery in Southfield, Michigan, which supplies the art, the people who run the auctions and sometimes the artists themselves to talk about themselves and their art to interested passengers on most of the cruise lines, between 20 and 100 artworks are sold in the course of a typical week on board. (The other principal art supplier for cruise ships, the Pembroke, Florida-based Art Actually, works exclusively with Royal Caribbean.) Park West sells in excess of 100,000 artworks per year on cruise ships, he said, adding that the artwork selected by Park West often is themed to the destination of the cruise.
    The artists whose work is included in these sales are a bit below the top tier, too, including Peter Max (best known for his 1960s-era Pop Art posters), Israeli artists Itzchak Tarkay and Yaacov Agam, Reston, Virginia landscape painter Howard Behrens, California marine artist Wyland and French sports artist Victor Spahn.
    Not every cruise passenger enjoys art auctions - ship loudspeakers regularly announce when the next one will take place, which tends to be every other day - but no one is required to attend and, if they attend, no one is required to buy. Some people just go for the free champagne. That helps one relax, but don't relax too much. Park West Gallery has been sued on a number of occasions for overstating the value of the artworks being sold. ("With 1.4 million customers, over these 45 years we've encountered a very small number of disputes, all of which we've resolved favorably," Scaglione said.) Also, when away from home, it may be much more difficult to obtain objective information on the reputation and market for a given artist's work.
    One last caveat: As at land-based art auction houses, the buyer's final bid is not the total price that he or she will pay. Often, there is a "buyer's premium" of between 10 and 15 percent (payable to the auction company or the cruise line) that is added to the winning bid, and framing is an additional charge, ranging from $149 to $349 (depending upon the size of the print). Since most passengers don't disembark with their just purchased artwork under their arms, Park West ships an unframed artwork (in a hard cardboard tube) to an address in the U.S. costs $35.

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    I had the most creative and inspiring honor of attending the Red Dot Miami and Spectrum event at Miami Art Basel, and I could not be more grateful and inspired. Art truly enhances one's life. I attended thanks to the most gracious generosity of Courtney Einhorn, who kindly invited me.

    (Art of Courtney Einhorn)

    The art works exhibited were literally from every spectrum, facet and genre. There were so many different techniques and mediums; my brain was abuzz with all the new sights my orbs were blessed to contemplate. The atmosphere reminded me of the Renaissance, I imagined, if I was alive at that time. Many different folks from all corners of the planet were appreciating the self expression displayed in the white walls.



    Different languages swirled around in the air, mingling with the different smells, laughter, styles of dress and hair styles. It was a Mecca of diversity: a veritable Mecca. I love humanity in our many different forms and this event gave me a front row seat at what it looks like when we all come together for the sake of art. I cannot thank Courtney Einhorn enough for the invite and Red Dot Miami and Spectrum for hosting such a wonderful event. Art has a way of allowing us to see ourselves, and I am glad that the version I saw at this event was one of diversity.

    (My sincerest Apologies to the Artists whose work I loved but whose names I was unable to remember, please if anyone knows their name please put it in the comments)

    (Art work of Jose Antonio Araluo)




    For more info check out the links below.

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    By Jil Picariello, ZEALnyc Theater Editor, December 21, 2016

    The subway system is now 112 years old (which is about how long we've been waiting for the Second Avenue line to open). So are the stories that intertwine through the book of the new a cappella musical In Transit, which opened recently.

    Broken hearts, missed soul mates, lost opportunities, lessons that need learning: All the clichés that warm the heart (often while numbing the brain) are here. They aren't any brighter, there is no new take, and very little of this book is surprising.

    I couldn't have cared less. Because, frankly, we're not there for the story. We're there for the song. And the song is marvelously, infectiously, ear-wormishly entertaining. The talented cast is polished to a high-gloss gleam, and they perform with such precision and--excuse the pun--harmony, that I did not miss a single instrument, or mind one of the overworked clichés.

    The voices are glorious, and the cast puts you in mind of an old-fashioned Mickey-and-Judy musical, where young people give it their all and you end up smiling and, heaven help us, even tearing up a little.

    The evening's entertainment is, in a sense, "hosted" by a beat-box champ/underground Yoda named Boxman played by Steven "HeaveN" Cantor alternating with Chesney Snow. In addition to dispensing wisdom, Boxman is also the glue that holds the story together as the other characters swirl around him. The simple and marvelously versatile set by Donyale Werle also swirls, transforming from subway to office to bar and back again. Donald Holder's lighting and Ken Travis' sound designs add to the ambiance. And director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall keeps the plates spinning with nary a dull moment, at least while the talented cast is singing.

    The stories are (almost) beside the point. Jane is an aspiring actress, about ready to give up on her dreams. Her agent, Trent, who is planning to marry his fiancé, Steven, still has not come out to his bible-thumping Texas mamma. Trent's friend (from an a capella group in college called--wait for it--"Resting Pitch Face") Ali is heartbroken and a bit unhinged. Ali's brother Nate has recently lost his job due to a distressing "Reply All" incident. Nate meets Jane, likes her, then loses her. They are all, in one way or another, "in transit." Poke, poke. Get it?

    You can guess where it's all going to go, and you don't care. Because every member of the cast is charming, the songs utterly infectious, and every single time they open their mouths to spin their glorious harmonies you completely forget how many times before you've heard all those theatrical tropes and concentrate on how rarely you hear voices like these, spinning together in completely enrapturing harmony.

    They're all great, but two deserve a special shout-out. Moya Angela handles three roles, all with aplomb. She's Trent's in-denial mother, Jane's office manager, and the subway booth worker who foils Nate's plans. Her fun and funny advice number to the striving Jane is a stand-out, as is her moment in the spotlight in a showstopping dress made completely out of MetroCards. Lady Gaga, take note. The other killer number belongs to Nicholas Ward, the super-lively "Wingman."

    The rest of the cast is just as great, especially the very talented Margo Siebert as Jane. And the songs that show off their voices to a T are written and composed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez (looking to pick up the third arm of her EGOT?), James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan, and Sara Wordsworth. And clearly the performances owe much to music supervisor Rick Hip-Flores and the a cappella arranger Deke Sharon, the vocal producer of the Pitch Perfect movies and star of the reality show Pitch Slapped.

    Take the bus, the car, or, better yet, the subway. However you get there, In Transit will take you away.


    In Transit is at Circle in the Square, 1633 Broadway. First Preview: November 10; Opened: December 11, 2016 for an open-end run. Running time 1 hour and 40 minutes with no intermission. Book, music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan, and Sara Wordsworth. Vocal arrangements by Deke Sharon. Musical supervision by Rick Hip-Flores. Directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall. Cast: David Abeles, Moya Angela, Steven "HeaveN" Cantor, Justin Guarini, Telly Leung, Erin Mackey, Gerianne Pérez, Margo Seibert, Chesney Snow, James Snyder, Mariand Torres, Nicholas Ward, Adam Bashian, Laurel Harris, Aurelia Williams.

    Cover: Company of 'In Transit:' photo: Joan Marcus

    Jil Picariello ZEALnyc's Theater Editor writes frequently on theater and culture.

    For more features from ZEALnyc read:

    A Familiar Tale From a 'Bronx' Perspective

    Scaled-Down 'Finian's Rainbow' Charms at Irish Rep

    Finding your inner Olaf at all the NYC area ice skating rinks

    For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.

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  • 12/21/16--11:32: The Art Market in 2016
  • This past year, the art market has continued to perform well, which has been seen through top works soaring far above estimates in the spring and fall auctions, renowned collections going up for sale, and more focus on emerging markets. There has also been several opportunities for investment in growing sectors that has created exciting anticipation for what 2017 will bring.

    The top 5 highlights of 2016 were:


    Edvard Munch, Girls on the Bridge, 1902

    1. Works soared at auction: The second highest-priced work ever paid for an Edvard Munch painting at auction was realized in November, when Munch's Girls on the Bridge (1902) was sold for $54.2 million with premium, $4 million over its original estimate of $50 million.


    Jean-Michel Basquiat, Air Power, 1984

    2. Major collections were a hit during auction season: The Steven and Ann Ames Collection, which had 24 works sell for a combined $122.8 million, and the David Bowie Collection, brought in over $163 Million in November. Sotheby's was widely-acclaimed for the white-glove service administered for these high-profile sales, giving investors the opportunity to acquire works from artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, and Gerhard Richter.


    Chen Dongsheng of Taikang Life Insurance

    3. China became a powerhouse in the art market: Taikang Life Insurance, a Chinese insurance company, acquired a 13.5% stake in Sotheby's auction house, making the company's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Chen Dongsheng one of the largest stakeholders. Dongsheng also helped establish China Guardian Auctions, one of the largest auction houses in China. Will this stake be used to promote a stronger Chinese art-focused agenda? This will be something to look out for in 2017.


    Rendering of the Rubell Family Collection new museum, set to open in 2018

    4. An increase in private museums: Major collectors are taking their collections out of their homes and storage to establish private museums and institutions that make their art more accessible to the public. J. Tomilson Hill, a Vice Chairman of Blackstone Group, announced his plans to open a museum in NYC in the fall of 2017. The collector's collection includes works by Christopher Wool, Ed Ruscha, Pablo Picasso, and Agnes Martin, and will be focused on providing arts education. Maurice Marciano of clothing label Guess, purchased an abandoned, mid-century Masonic temple in LA and will be reopening the space as the Marciano Art Foundation this spring. The Marciano Art Foundation will house his 1,500-work collection, which includes work by contemporary artists Dan Colen, Rudolf Stingel, Wade Guyton, and Kaari Upson. Most recently, the Rubell family, the long-time collectors based in Miami, announced they would be moving their collection to a museum located in Miami's Allapattah District in 2018.


    Rufino Tamayo, Sandias, 1969

    5. The Latin American market saw a major boost: In the second-half of the year, the market saw record-breaking lots at Sotheby's, Christie's, and Phillips. A work by the artist Rufino Tamayo's Sandias (1969) sold for $2.2 million at Christie's, securing the top lot of the Latin American auction. In addition, six Cuban artists set new world records at Christie's, including work by artists like Mariano Rodriguez, Victor Manuel, and Carlos Enríquez. At Phillips, Os Gemeos' work Untitled (2009) sold for $310,000, breaking its estimate of $120,000-180,000 and the artist's current world record. Sotheby's Latin American sale brought in a total of $21 Million and sold renowned works by Fernando Botero and Rufino Tamayo.

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  • 12/21/16--13:17: Haunted by Hamilton
  • I have a love-hate relationship with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

    When I first read about Hamilton and the Broadway show that bears his name, I became fascinated with how a poor, uneducated orphan from St. Croix developed into a leading statesman and founding father, the guy who conceived of our present day treasury and the ingenious separation of powers. This was definitely not the Alexander Hamilton that I had learned about in middle school, whose only claim to fame was getting killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in Weehawken New Jersey, not far from where I grew up.

    Curious, I read Ron Chernow's book, Hamilton, the inspiration for Miranda's play. I bought the musical soundtrack and sang along to the lyrics that I had printed off the internet. Weekly I phoned the box office to see when tickets might go on sale in hope that I would not have to mortgage our home to get seats. My husband bought Eliza Hamilton memorabilia for my birthday.

    I became a devoted Hamilton fan. Okay, maybe I was slightly over the top.

    As the date of the show neared I worried I would be disappointed--how could any show live up to this year-long wait, to the hype that surrounded it?

    On the night of the performance I settled into my seat at the Richard Rogers Theater. As the lights dimmed I was instantly swept away by this story of intrigue, war, romance, sisterly love, infidelity, and grief. I watched, transfixed, as the performers brought to life the verses that had so captivated me.

    My husband and I left the theater raving about the show. "Can you believe," I said, "how relevant the themes are even today?"

    As we walked down 45th Street the songs began to replay in my head.

    While I slept that night the King of England sang in my ear: You'll be Back. Soon you'll see. You'll remember you belong to me. That loop replayed again and again.

    To my happy surprise I woke to Hamilton singing one of the jauntiest tunes: Hey, yo, I'm just like my country, I'm young, scrappy and hungry, and I am not throwing away my shot.

    Over the next week, whenever I was not otherwise occupied or in conversation, my brain replayed another of Miranda's verses: Boy, you got me Helpless. Look into your eyes and the sky's the limit. I'm helpless. Like Eliza I was helpless to this soundtrack.

    Was I losing my mind? I started to notice that whenever I was with friends, invariably I would chime in with verses from the show that seemed to fit with whatever we were talking about--or at least they seemed fitting to me. It was at this point my feelings of love and adoration for Miranda began to shift. He was driving me mad. When you're gone, I'll go mad. So don't throw away this thing we had. See what I mean?

    Another week went by, non-stop Hamilton playing in my head. Miranda's show was tormenting me, refusing to leave me alone. Googling the phrase, "song stuck in my brain," I discovered that this well-known phenomenon is called an earworm and it usually lasts for a day or two. I was on day fifteen.

    I learned that songs that tend to get stuck in one's head usually have a catchy, upbeat melody, often with an unusual rhythm. I wondered, was it the rap and hip-hop beat that had me hooked, or was it something about my emotional connection to the story?

    At week three I researched ways to get rid of an earworm. The experts suggested replacing one catchy tune with another. I pulled out my iPhone and listened to the entire Graceland album by Paul Simon. The next day I hoped to wake to a loop of, maybe, I'm going to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis Tennessee. No, it was still Hamilton: I wanna be in the room where it happened. The room where it happened.

    Interestingly, in my search I came across an article about Jean Harris, the former headmistress of the well-known Madeira School and murderess of her lover, the Scarsdale Diet Doctor. At her trial she said that the song Put the Blame on Mame had looped through her brain for over thirty years. She was quoted as saying that she was tormented, she couldn't even hold a conversation without it playing in her head. She told the court that when she killed Dr. Tarnower the song finally ceased.

    My husband, who grew up in Scarsdale, is getting worried.

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    By Bethany Hopta, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, December 22, 2016

    The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater filled the stage of New York City Center on December 11th with exuberance and grace. The program began with r-Evolution, Dream, choreographed by Hope Boykin, a member of the Company since 2000. The piece was inspired by Ms. Boykin's visit to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, where she experienced the sermons and speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The narration--historical and original writings--voiced by Leslie Odom, Jr., and the original music by Ali Jackson, provide a unique, powerful and jazzy sound. The dancers, a mix of the Company and members of Ailey II glided across the stage, their movements accentuated by the vibrantly colored costumes designed by Hope Boykin. The jewel tones of purple and green and the contrasting white and black provided a stunning visual, their effect magnified by lighting designer Al Crawford. As this is a new work in the repertory, I recommend trying to catch a performance.

    Robert Battle's No Longer Silent, originally choreographed in 2007 for The Juilliard School, premiered with the Ailey Company in 2015. The dancers (clad in black blazers and black pants) move precisely, as if in military formation, first together, and then in groups. The set (designed by Mimi Lien) evokes war with a fence upstage, framing the dancers' movements, but also illustrating a boundary. The lighting (by Nicole Pearce) emphasizes the groupings of dancers and at one point, frames the faces of the dancers in a long horizontal line. A somber piece, it is punctuated by music by Erwin Schulhoff, a Czech composer, and one of the first classically trained composers to find inspiration in jazz music. Schulhoff's musical career ended prematurely; his Jewish heritage caused him to be blacklisted and eventually deported to a concentration camp in which he died from tuberculosis in 1942. The poignant piece is masterful in its storytelling.

    Bringing the program to a close was the iconic Revelations which remains joyful and true and beautiful. Created in 1960 by Alvin Ailey, it is inspired by the music of his childhood--music of church services that evoke a range of emotions: joy, sadness, hopefulness. Divided into three sections, the first, Pilgrim of Sorrow, is somber. The costumes (designed by Ves Harper) are in earth tones, symbolizing the earth and coming from the earth. The movements are fluid and graceful; "I Been 'Buked" sets the tone of this section. The dancers begin the piece in a cross formation, moving together, then separating in explosive movements and reuniting at the end into the same cross formation. "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel" is a fast paced trio of two female dancers and one male dancer, mixing and moving across the stage with energy and grace. The duet, "Fix Me Jesus," danced by Ghrai DeVore and Yannick Lebrun was exemplary.

    Take Me to The Water begins with "Processional/Honor, Honor," the music is sprightly and the costumes (also designed by Ves Harper) are all-white, evoking a baptism theme. "Wade in the Water," continues the baptism theme, with blue fabric stretched to give the impression of water. "I Want to Be Ready," a solo piece, danced by Vernard J. Gilmore, was performed with skill and strength.

    The final section, Move, Members, Move begins with "Sinner Man," a powerful trio of male dancers who performed both synchronized movements and solo work with a level of energy and precision that was a joy to watch. The three final pieces, "The Day is Past and Gone," "You May Run On," and "Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham" features the Company in costumes redesigned by Barbara Forbes; the dress and hats for the ladies and pants, shirts, and vests for the gentlemen mimicked church dress and the gospel hymns and joyful dancing represented the happiness and lightness of spirit that often occurs in this setting and with this music.

    The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continue performances until the end of December and they are truly not to be missed!


    Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center from November 30-December 31, 2016. Robert Battle, Artistic Director.

    r-Evolution, Dream; choreography by Hope Boykin; music by Ali Jackson; narration by Leslie Odom, Jr.; original lyrics by Hope Boykin; excerpts from "The Negro's Complaint" by William Cowper; "False Greatness" by Isaac Watts; " Sonnet 16" by William Shakespeare; "The Best of Whatever You Are" by Douglas Malloch; "If I Can Help Somebody As I Pass Along" by Alma Irene Bazel; "Lift Every Voice and Sing" by James Weldon Johnson; dancers: Matthew Rushing, Jeroboam Bozeman, Rachael McLaren, Renaldo Maurice, Vernard J. Gilmore, Linda Celeste Sims, Daniel Harder, Jacquelin Harris, Michael Francis McBride, Jamar Roberts, Sarah Daley, Megan Jakel, Glenn Allen Sims, Akua Noni Parker, Sean Aaron Carmon. Company members from Ailey II: Tara Bellardini, Lloyd A. Boyd III, Yazzmeen Laidler, Jessica Amber Pinkett, Jacoby Pruitt, Terri Ayanna Wright.

    No Longer Silent; choreography by Robert Battle; restaged by Marlena Wolfe; music by Erwin Schulhoff (Ogelala "Ballettmysterium" Op. 53); dancers: Daniel Harder, Jacqueline Green, Jermaine Terry, Belen Pereyra, Megan Jakel, Samuel Lee Roberts, Michael Francis McBride, Renaldo Maurice, Jacquelin Harris, Elisa Clark, Hope Boykin, Collin Heyward, Yannick Lebrun, Rachael McLaren, Kanji Segawa, Jeroboam Bozeman, Sarah Daley, Samantha Figgins.

    Revelations; choreography by Alvin Ailey; traditional music.

    Pilgrim of Sorrow: "I Been 'Buked;" music arranged by Hall Johnson; dancers: The Company;"Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel;" music arranged by James Miller; dancers: Kanji Segawa, Elisa Clark, Ashley Mayeux; "Fix Me, Jesus;" music arranged by Hall Johnson; dancers: Ghrai DeVore, Yannick Lebrum

    Take Me to the Water: "Processional/Honor, Honor;" music adapted and arranged by Howard A. Roberts; dancers: Michael Francis McBride, Samantha Figgins, Jeroboam Bozeman, Sean Aaron Carmon; "Wade in the Water;" music adapted and arranged by Howard A. Roberts; "Wade in the Water" sequence by Ella Jenkins; "A Man Went Down to the River" is an original composition by Ella Jenkins; dancers: Jacquelin Harris, Daniel Harder, Constance Stamatiou; "I Wanna Be Ready;" music arranged by James Miller; dancer: Vernard J. Gilmore.

    Move, Members, Move: "Sinner Man;" music adapted and arranged by Howard A. Roberts; dancers: Jerboam Bozeman, Jermaine Terry, Sean Aaron Carmon; "The Day is Past and Gone;" music adapted and arranged by Howard A. Roberts and Brother John Sellers; dancers: The Company; "You May Run On;" music arranged by Howard A. Roberts and Brother John Sellers; dancers: The Company; "Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham;" music adapted and arranged by Howard A Roberts.

    Cover: Linda Celeste Sims, Alicia Graf and Glenn Allen Sims in 'Revelations;' photo: Andrew Eccles.

    Bethany Hopta, a Contributing Writer for ZEALnyc, writes on dance and related performances.

    For more features from ZEALnyc read:

    Alvin Ailey's 'Young NY Night' Premiere Dazzles

    'Hanna and the Moonlit Dress' Provides an Alternative Holiday Experience

    'Exhibitionism--The Rolling Stones' is a 'rocker's Nirvana'

    For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.

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  • 12/22/16--10:56: Autopsy of a Nation
  • For twenty years, I've been teaching writing at the International Women's Writing Guild Summer Conference. This summer was unlike any other. Writers were uneasy, on edge, agitated by the weirdness of the whole campaign. I wanted to give them a chance to vent some of those feelings, so we wrote a collective poem. The title was "Autopsy of a Nation."

    We looked at actual autopsy reports. We found nouns and verbs used by professionals in the field. We imagined looking at our own country from the perspective of an outsider examining the remains. Then we opened our hearts and gave voice to our feelings. Everyone in the class contributed a line.

    I came across it today and decided to share.

    Autopsy of a Nation (a group poem)

    Final cause of death:

    swelling and edema of the extremities, indicating a failure to stand up for what they knew to be right

    organs inflamed, due to excessive intake of prescription drugs, alcohol, social media

    embolism indicating sedentary lifestyle and a unwillingness to support each other

    metastasizing cancer from processed foods, pollutants and GMOs

    hyperextended muscles and tendons reveal overreaching for success, fame, wealth

    dehydration from failure to dip their cups in the sacred well

    malnourished for lack of intimate connection

    calcification of arteries show evidence of antibiotics from diseased beef and poultry intake

    varied contusions and bruises suggest lack of defense against bullies who bludgeon

    ruptured eardrums from the repetitive sound of bullets, bombs and perpetual bullshit

    lacerations on wrist from the construction and destruction of barbed
    wire fences

    cataracts on the eyes from refusing to see the other as self

    neck vertebra disintegrated from excessive leaning to the right

    hair exudes odor of petroleum, matted with condoms, plastic and dead fish

    stomach cavity bloated with bile from undigested grief

    Unremarkable observations:

    overdeveloped thumbs
    irregular neck curvature
    uncalloused hands and feet
    flaccid muscle tone
    excessive body fat

    Final note:

    A potentially salvageable opportunity was missed.

    The heart --intact-- might have gone on beating
    if all other systems had been properly maintained.

    July 20, 2016
    IWWG Writing Conference
    Jan Phillips' class

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    A photo of SLS Brickell's distinctive exterior at night. Photo Credit: The Related Group.

    One of the first priorities of early humankind was finding a safe place to live. Before basic tools and the invention of blueprints eventually became sophisticated enough to construct a stand-alone home, a defensible 'pre-fab' cave with a burning campfire would do for protection. A building boom of sorts spread through primitive societies, propelled by pioneering "architects" who incorporated creature comforts with structural soundness. Whether a mud hut, a scaffold-like teepee or cliff-side condo, one innovation after another--especially indoor plumbing--contributed to an expanding and flowing fabricated environment that continued to evolve, and there is evidence that many early dwellings also incorporated art works, such as murals of bison, Pompeiian mosaic floors, or tall stone carvings of abstracted humanoid forms. As the grand cities of America began to shoot upwards into the sky as useable urban land became increasingly scarce, the idea of a singular, condensed, recognizable identity for a strategic and iconic façade became de rigueur. This notion presented an exciting challenge to push forward with groundbreaking concepts inside and out, and these practical, distinctive designs generated memorable urban identities in cities such as Manhattan, Chicago and San Francisco. Miami certainly has joined this exclusive fraternity with an outstanding collaboration of designers, architects and artists, directed by visionary developers who joined forces with a great creative team to produce a growing and in this case, glowing, unique skyline.

    Having a ball at the SLS Brickell pool at night. Photo Credit: House Photographers.

    Today, modern multi-use buildings that incorporate truly distinguished and innovative designs obviously have a sharp-edge advantage against their competitors, with a flourishing international arena that has developed exponentially and has become much more sophisticated by market-driven interest in living with extraordinary design. These initiatives continue to evolve to create buildings as bona-fide works of art, from top to bottom and inside out, which is the case with the groundbreaking and ingenious concept that created the spectacular, just-opened 55-story SLS Brickell Hotel & Residences. In a partnership with the LA-based, award-winning hospitality company sbe and The Related Group founder and Chairman Jorge Pérez, a compelling, art-filled building has come to life downtown. For good measure, adding the legendary talents of co-founding principal of Arquitectonica, Bernardo Fort-Brescia, with his wife and founding partner Laurinda Spear, as well as legendary designer Philippe Starck, this utilitarian sculptural complex now is poised to become a Miami landmark asset in the heart of the city's rapidly changing Brickell neighborhood. At whatever angle, from the ground up or looking down, this structure is a masterstroke of a planned marriage with an impressive art dowry filled to the brim with form, function and fun.

    Massive drip mural by Markus Linnenbrink enveloping the tower's exterior façade. Photo Credit: Tamz.

    An alien approaching South Miami Avenue from the air at sunset might mistake the painterly work of Brooklyn-based German artist Markus Linnenbrink's dizzying 40,000 square foot, vertically striped and dripped mural for a giant slice of colorful layer cake, theoretically baked by Claes Oldenburg, and a handsomely decorated homage to color field pioneers Gene Davis or Morris Louis. The icing on the cake is a dazzling line-up of permanent soft blue pin lights that appear as candles at night, offering an illuminated façade that could be used to amplify the hit song by DNCE "Cake on the Ocean." The building now anchors the southern tip of South Miami Avenue with its distinguishing prismatic glass wedge, which resolves the geometry of the city's grids that meet at the corner of two of Miami's most important streets. This triangular configuration becomes the dominant vocabulary, while linear, intermittent balconies project into space, streamlining the profile. The uncommon shape and exterior decoration sets the stage for a pedestrian friendly environment, similar to Manhattan's Park Avenue, adding to the energetic richness of the entire block, which is peppered with a delightful installation of site-specific commissioned works.

    Katja Loher, When Will the Sea Swallow the Land?, 2016, Site-specific video installation, entranceway, SLS Brickell, Miami, 6 LED-discs placed on ceiling, 8 ft. each. Commissioned by The Related Group.

    The Related Group appointed Swiss artist Katja Loher to shoot a site-specific video installation for the spacious entrance driveway, which consists of six circular Video-Islands that are strategically placed almost as stepping stones, positioned upside down on the ceiling and serving as portals in the artist's universe. At the opening, VIP guests had the feeling of being "beamed up" to these animated kaleidoscope window-like circles after attending an Academy Awards-like red carpet ride surrounded by a mob of camera crews and art and costumed performances, some in honeybee outfits that reminded me of a classic "Saturday Night Live" skit by Dan Aykroyd. Everybody was smiling, including a proud Jorge Pérez, arguably Florida's best residential and mixed-use developer, as he stood in front of the photographers' step and repeat background with its can't-miss logos.

    Opening night group photo of the A-team. Top row, left to right: Matt Allen, Arash Azarbarzin, Sam Nazarian, Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Boy George, Jean Monestime, Jorge Pérez, Frank Carollo, Carlos Rosso, Michele Caniato (peeping through behind Carlos). Bottom row, left to right: Philippe Starck, Thomas Meding, José Andrés, Michael Schwartz. Photo Credit: House Photographers.

    Just after entering the foyer, visitors will come across Bernardí Roig's The Man of Light, delightfully placed by Patricia Hannah, Pérez's art director, which is a perfect hybrid of Dan Flavin and George Segal, perhaps en route to Art Basel as they look for an electrical outlet.

    Bernardí Roig, The Man of Light III, 2005, Polyester resin, marble dust and fluorescent bulbs.

    Ray Smith, The Wave, 2006, Oil and sand on wood, 90 x 320 in. Photo Credit: The Related Group.

    Another striking work that perfectly blends magical realism and modernism is Ray Smith's contextual The Wave, which is an oil painting on wood of colossal mirror-like waves curling towards each other, celebrating the power of nature and perhaps the alleged parting of the Red Sea. If you see anything like this coming your way on South Beach, you need to drop your suntan oil and surfboard and run like hell. Another wonderful example of art fusion and narrative realism is an ironic painting by Smith, titled Tex-Rex, which portrays a midnight performing cowboy Marlboro man as he twirls a huge swinging lasso that would make Roy Rogers jealous.

    Ray Smith, Tex-Rex, 2006, Oil on canvas, 128 x 150 in. Photo Credit: The Related Group.

    When you add up the extraordinary inventiveness of the entire SLS Brickell project, with its signature design and iconic façades and the first-class team of planners and creative partners, and throw in Philippe Starck, Sam Nazarian, Chef José Andrés and Michael Schwartz, James Beard Award-winning Chef and owner of The Genuine Hospitality Group, for good measure and taste, it shouldn't be surprising that this fantastic property has transformed Brickell forever. "Give Me Shelter" in Miami now has a whole new meaning that others should hold as the gold standard downtown.

    SLS' signature duck sculpture, designed in collaboration with Philippe Starck, sits atop SLS Brickell's pool deck. Photo Credit: World Red Eye.

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    For Architectural Digest, by Sara Tardiff.

    There are few artists whose work you are just as likely to encounter in a gallery as you are walking down the street. Melbourne artist Rone got his start painting stylized, larger-than-life portraits of women not on canvases but in abandoned buildings and other unexpected surfaces around his home city. With more than ten years of work in the industry, Rone is now recognized worldwide, exhibiting in the National Gallery of Australia, collaborating with the likes of Jean-Paul Gautier and showing in galleries from London to San Francisco (and everywhere in between). His haunting paintings are an examination of the synergetic relationship between beauty and decay, installing stunning portraits in spaces that are often ravaged by nature and time. His most recent exhibition, "Empty," took place this past October in the historic Fitzroy building in Melbourne, which is due to be torn down in the coming weeks. Rone fully embraces the fleeting nature of beauty, approaching each piece with the expectation that human and natural elements will at some point intervene. Browse through some of his selected works—in collaboration with nature and the cities they inhabit.

    Rone’s mural titled Homewrecker is of a woman peeking through the rubble of a fire-damaged house. It was part of his "Empty" exhibition.

    The Empire, also part of the "Empty" exhibition, features a serene portrait of a woman amidst the chaos of a dilapidated home.

    A public mural in Penang, Malaysia, painted in 2014.

    The Sound of Silence, found in a building destroyed by water and fire damage.

    Emma of Göteburg: Rone’s tallest work yet, and the tallest mural in Sweden.

    A young woman and her mother painted on a wall in Detroit.

    More from Architectural Digest:

    126 Stunning Celebrity Homes

    Inside Jennifer Aniston's Gorgeous Beverly Hills Home

    Go Inside a $53 Million Private Jet

    Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady's Incredible L.A. Mansion

    22 Incredible Indian Palaces (You Can Stay At

    Tour the World’s Most Luxurious Submarine Superyacht

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  • 12/23/16--06:20: Beauty is Only Skin Deep
  • 2016-12-23-1482502748-6007173-450pxSandro_Botticelli__La_nascita_di_Venere__Google_Art_Project__edited.jpg

    "Beauty is only skin deep" goes the old expression which is also the title of a Temptations classic. But how to deal with the eternal allurement of the flesh and the way in which is gets confused with subcutaneous matters, especially with regard to the most elusive body part, the soul? Physical beauty can even be a troubling asset for those who possess it as they are prone to wonder, very much like people of great wealth, whether they are being loved because of something which is not an expression of their true inner being. What must be disconcerting to the person of either great physical beauty or wealth is the fact that once they lose either they will no longer be the cynosure they once were. And there are undoubtedly those who wished they had not been born with their endowments or possessed of good fortune, if their fate was ultimately to lose either or both. "Never to have lived is best," is the famous quote from Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus, which underscores the notion that in the face of tragedy and loss life doesn't see worth it. Why have life at your feet, if the carpet is eventually going to be pulled out from under you? And as for those who prospect for pleasure and beauty, what's the point of possessing a beautiful flower at the height of its bloom, if it's one day going to lose its pedals? You run after ephemera at your own peril. The only other thing is inhabit an alternate universe. If there can be secret markets in body parts, there is likely also a shadow world in which subliminal elements like consciousness and the soul are the valued items.

    "The Birth of Venus" by Botticelli

    {This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}

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