Early observations of Manila

I’ve been in Metro Manila over a week now, and I’m getting to know my new neighborhood. It’s very Western. Some aspects of my new environment have been so familiar as to be surprising: western style shopping malls with high end brands and super clean streets.

It seems safe to walk anywhere in my neighborhood, which is called “Fort Bonifacio” aka Bonifacio Global City, which the locals call BGC.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonifacio_Global_City)

This view shows the mix of buildings... low lying houses right beside large areas of skyscrapers. There's a ton of real estate development happening.

This view shows the mix of buildings… low lying houses right beside large areas of skyscrapers. There’s a ton of real estate development happening.

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In this neighborhood, the street art is quite beautiful. There are numerous public sculptures, wall murals and other kinds of art.

 

Wall mural at Bonifacio High Street. The figure to the right is having a beautiful dream, the wall beside him is his dreamscape.

Wall mural at Bonifacio High Street. The figure to the right is having a beautiful dream, the wall beside him is his dreamscape.

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A wall mural in a local bookstore made entirely of books, painted with this woman and her pink kitty.

A wall mural in a local bookstore made entirely of books, painted with this woman and her pink kitty.

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Sculpture of figures dancing around the sun... this is in a small park in front of the Singapore Embassy

Sculpture of figures dancing around the sun… this is in a small park in front of the Singapore Embassy

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But not everything is familiar…

 

Workers peeling jackfruit at the Salcedo Saturday market in Makati

Workers peeling jackfruit at the Salcedo Saturday market in Makati

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The Army band performs on the street during the Philippine Independence Day weekend.

The Army band performs on the street during the Philippine Independence Day weekend.

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Traffic here is terrible, so it's not surprising that motorbikes proliferate over cars. This commuter lot is full of them.

Traffic here is terrible, so it’s not surprising that motorbikes proliferate over cars. This commuter lot is full of them.

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Jersey City This Weekend – Art Studio Tour and Film Fest

If you are a Jersey City resident, or live nearby, and if you are interested in Art and Film, you’ll want to hang around town this weekend!

The 24th Annual Jersey City Artist Studio Tour is taking place. This is a highly anticipated event, where hundreds of artists show their work by opening their studios to the public, or through group exhibitions at selected locations. The art event runs from 12N to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Simultaneously, there will also be the first inaugural Jersey City Film Festival going on at several locations in downtown JC. For just $25 you can get an all access pass to see any of the film selections, and there is a full slate of offerings available.

So stick around downtown Jersey City and enjoy!

Icelandic Art opening at Scandanavia House

On October 9, Scandanavia House held an opening for their new exhibit Uncommon Ground: Artists and the Icelandic Landscape and I was able to attend both the lecture and to view the works on display. Here are some images from that evening.

Ragna Robertsdottir in front of her wall mural made of shards of lava pumice

Ragna Robertsdottir in front of her wall mural made of shards of lava pumice

Of all of the works on display, I found Ragna Robertsdottir’s work the most compelling. She applied lava pumice directly to the wall to create a textured landscape, which looks flat when viewed from the front, but when viewed from the side, you can see the lava pieces jutting out from the wall.

Lava pumice mural - side view

Lava pumice mural – side view

I never would have thought to photograph her piece from the side until she told me to look, using that perspective. “The painting is all black when you view it from the side,” she said. Yes, and it radically changes the viewer’s depth perception of the piece too.

Sea water landscape

Sea water landscape

This sea water landscape is interesting. My understanding of the process is the artist uses these almost petri-dish looking glass vessels and allows sea water to evaporate, leaving behind highly textured salt landscapes.

Icelandic landscape painting on display

Icelandic landscape painting on display

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Textural detail from the painting. The artist uses a layering of paint to achieve this effect.

Textural detail from the painting. The artist uses a layering of paint to achieve this effect.

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Icelandic floral detail 1

Icelandic floral detail 1

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Icelandic floral detail 2

The two floral images are small details from much larger compositions that do not photograph well. This is the work of Eggert Petursson, who paints Icelandic flowers found on the heaths and lava fields in Iceland.

And while these floral landscapes don’t exist as Petursson portrays them, because this variety and abundance of flowers would not exist in one place, his work evokes the way life must eke out an existence in that landscape … one flower at a time.

Icelandic artist panel. Moderator Gregory Volk on the left, Ragna Robertsdottir, Eggert Petursson and 2 other Icelandic artists discuss their works.

Icelandic artist panel. Moderator Gregory Volk on the left, Ragna Robertsdottir, Eggert Petursson and 2 other Icelandic artists discuss their works.

I believe this exhibition will be on display in the Scandanavia House galleries for the next three months. Scandanavia House is located on Park Avenue at 38th Street, in New York City.

More Short Film Adventures – Filming the Short!

I am grateful that the Executive Producers Ramon Torres and Mike Karp have given me the go ahead to share top-secret backstage candid shots with you all on the making of our film project. 🙂

First, the cast is amazing! We have a talented set of actors playing the five roles in the movie. We had a table reading of the script on April 23rd. Here is the complete cast:

L - R: Ramon Olmos Torres, Jessica Zinder, Lou Martini, Barbara Ann Davison, and Kristoffer Infante

L – R: Ramon Olmos Torres, Jessica Zinder, Lou Martini, Barbara Ann Davison, and Kristoffer Infante

 

And then, this past weekend I was on the set to watch and participate in the filming. It was SO exciting!! It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a film being made, nevermind a film that I wrote being made.

 

It was surreal to see actors speaking my lines, and then when the take was over, having the crew cracking up (the film is a comedy). I was humbled to have several of the actors tell me they loved the script and thought it was funny. I can tell you the actors brought so much to the interpretation, they made whatever I wrote funnier.
Also our director, Hiroshi Hara, is doing an fantastic job!
Here are some candid behind the scenes shots:
Me in the middle being flanked by Kristoffer Infante (Doorman Ralph) and our wonderful Director, Hiroshi Hara!

Me in the middle being flanked by Kristoffer Infante (Doorman Ralph) and our wonderful Director, Hiroshi Hara!

 

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Lou Martini as Allen, the boss!

Lou Martini as Allen, the boss!

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Close up of Lou's lips on the monitor for a very funny moment in the movie

Close up of Lou’s lips on the monitor for a very funny moment in the movie

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It takes a LOT of equipment to make a film, and our crew has been really great including Andy Zou, our Assistant Director in the background

It takes a LOT of equipment to make a film, and our crew has been really great

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Ramon getting a make up touch up and his mic attached. (His character isn't sleeping which is why he looks like that!)

Ramon getting a make up touch up and his mic attached. (His character isn’t sleeping which is why he looks like that!)

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This coming weekend we will shoot the rest of the scenes and complete all of the filming. Everything has been shot on location in New York City, which is such a great backdrop for this story.

Then it’s off to editing for the final “making of the movie” along with the addition of the soundtrack and score and all the other bits needed for final polish.

More on this amazing, wonderful and exciting adventure soon!

My short film adventure, continued

About a month ago I posted My Short Film Adventure, So Far and this is a follow up post to that.

Lesson number one – just when you think the script is finished, it’s not.

It’s been really interesting to see the process unfold on this project, which I have to imagine is very similar to many film projects.

I was brought on board by the two producers of the film to write the script, but none of the rest of the crew had been hired yet. Including the director. Since I’m a newbie in this space, I figured once I delivered a script the producers liked, that’s what would be used. Not quite.

What I came to understand very quickly, is the relationship between the Director and the writer is extremely important. In fact, for future projects I’d want to know who the Director would be and meet that person before undertaking the writing of a script because the Director has to be comfortable with me as a writer and what I’m bringing to the table, and I have to be comfortable with that person as the Director and incorporating elements that person wants to ensure there is a meshing of the vision for the film.

Thankfully, the Director on this film project has been easy to work with and made some good suggestions about script changes and changing the order of scenes I wrote to enhance the overall flow of the film.

Then, the Director of Photography (DP) also made some modifications to the script based on the fact that the way I wrote certain descriptions would have been very expensive to shoot. (Oops, I didn’t realize that one description would have required a fancy crane shot!)

Then, the producers asked me would I mind terribly changing the ending because the location I’d written for the end scene was expensive and was proving difficult to secure. And if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, could I change the nature of the pet of one of the characters because of other complications. Sure, I said. No problem. 🙂

And so it is that I’ve now delivered version 15 of the rewritten script, which might just be final. Maybe. Probably.

Except that…

I’m going to go out on a limb here (it’s not much of a limb) and guess that no final script, no matter how perfectly written, is exactly what’s delivered on screen. That’s probably a good thing in many cases.

The director and actors will do their job during the shooting of the film which will enhance and modify whatever is in the script, and then there will be an editing process which I’m sure will shape whatever comes out in the end as the final product for the entire crew’s efforts.

But while I’ve been pondering the script and laboring over whatever changes were needed, the producers have been really hard at work doing everything else. That included hiring a casting agent and casting the five roles in the film. I’m SO EXCITED by the amazing cast they’ve hired. These people are incredible actors with impressive credits to their names, I’m sure they will bring the characters I wrote fully to life!

The locations have mostly been nailed down, the director, DP and sound guy are onboard, and the producers keep going. I can’t even imagine how they are getting all this done so quickly.

But for me, the writer, my big event which is scheduled for next week, is a table reading of the script by the actors. It will be the first time the cast has been fully assembled and hearing the actors reading my dialogue will be thrilling.

Just a few days after that, filming will begin! If I’m given permission, I will bring a camera to the shoot and take photos of “the making of” this film.

So, up next, the actors reading my script together as a group for the first time. How exciting is that?!

NJ As Non-Site – Show at the Princeton U Art Museum

NJ as Non Site - Show Entrance

NJ as Non Site – Show Entrance

The New Jersey as Non-Site exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum came to my attention in the New York Times Arts section a few weeks ago. I guess it’s ironic that I’d find out about the show through the NY Times since one of the themes of the exhibition is New Jersey’s proximity to New York City, and yet how the landscape is totally outside the urban center. (What’s even more ironic is that I was reading the NY Times in California, where I had traveled on business… but we can only have so many degrees of ironic separation here.)

Today I made the trek from Jersey City, down the NJ Turnpike, over to Route 1, and then over to Route 27 into the heart of Princeton… far from any urban center or major highway which are the primary subjects of the show.

Maybe this suburban remote location for this “boutique” sized exhibition is fitting because the museum attempts to mount a show about a subject that is much larger than the space afforded – the exhibition composes two small galleries in the museum.

Of the images on display in the show, this one is the most striking:

Nude

Nude

Beside this photograph is a video showing how the artist (in the photograph) is building a miniature “landscape” on his own body. You cannot see it well in my version of the photograph above, but in the video we see him building tiny walls on top of a dirt foundation, brick by brick, built on top of his torso.

We don’t see the artist’s whole body in the video, just the close up of the “building site” each brick is perhaps one inch… the finished image (above) is the final result.

I think it’s quite beautiful.

The curator’s description of the show:

New Jersey was one of the principal laboratories for experimental art after World War II. Between 1950 and 1975, a host of innovative artists flocked to the state’s most desolate locales. There, in its industrial wastescapes, crumbling cities, crowded highways, and banal suburbs, they produced some of the most important work of their careers. The breakthroughs in sculpture, conceptualism, performance, and land art that New Jersey helped catalyze are the subject of New Jersey as Non-Site, which features more than one hundred works by sixteen artists.

It is neither incidental nor accidental that artists came to occupy New Jersey in the years after World War II: much about the state resonated with ideas and themes already in the air. Intrigued by its people as well as its landscape, artists found New Jersey both informative and revelatory. Whether they crossed the Hudson River to collect materials, forge a political movement, or stage performances, artists seemed to agree on one thing: peripheries like New Jersey provide critical leverage not available in cosmopolitan centers, an unfamiliar perspective that disables convention and expectation alike.

Behind artists’ commitment to New Jersey lay something specific: difference. For more than a century, New Jersey’s identity has been measured in terms of its difference—not to mention its distance—from New York. Long considered New York’s “other,” New Jersey was one of the first “other” places that artists explored in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, a period when many, including those featured here, started to abandon the insular world of the studio for the environment at large.

Here are some other images from the show:

Bayonne - photograph of landscape sculpture

Bayonne – photograph of landscape sculpture

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Photograph on a NJ beach with oil drums

Photograph on a NJ beach with oil drums

Unfortunately, the depth of this show and its subject matter is not conveyed in the limited materials on display at the Princeton U Art Museum in “New Jersey as Non-Site.”

New Jersey’s urban landscapes are iconic and inspirational on many levels. There were too many things “left out” and what remained was a smattering of rock sculptures, photographs of landscapes, and other objects that did not hang together cohesively enough for me, as the viewer.

As a life long resident of New Jersey, I’ve always had conflicting views about my home state anyway… so it’s no surprise I’d have a mixed reaction to this show.

The show will be on view only a few more days, until Jan 7, 2014. Entrance to the Princeton Art Museum is free, and always worth a look.

Thankfully…

Dear readers,

Maybe it’s the improved levels of Omega 3’s in my body due to the new eating regimen, or maybe it’s me feeling good just because, but I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

This year I have had a lot to be thankful for: good health, good friends, and amazing opportunities to travel and enjoy life.

2013 has been a blockbuster year for me to see art, both locally in NYC and abroad: the Tate Modern, Prado, Sophia Reina, SMAK Contemporary in Gent, the Armory Show retrospective at the NY Historical Society, Chelsea galleries, and many more events and museums than I can mention now. (Check out the “Art” tag in the tag cloud for posts.)

It’s been a blockbuster year for music too: seeing BB King live was a high point, along with visiting tons of jazz clubs from Amsterdam to Madrid to Barcelona, along with local jazz in Jersey City too, and “discovering” jazz pianist Bill Evans for myself has really made my year. (Check out the “Music” or “Jazz” tags in the tag cloud for posts.)

The amount of artistic talent I’ve been exposed to in 2013 in incalculable – but it has had a tremendous effect on me. I’m inspired to keep putting my energy into seeking out musical, artistic and writing talent.

Amazingly (to me, at least) I’ve also continued to have editors accept my work for publication. While 2013 was not a highly productive year for me when it comes to producing finished fiction, I was able to regularly maintain this blog (thank you readers!) and recently, I joined a Jersey City writers group so I can invest more energy into this creative part of my life, which is essential to me. (Yes, I’m doing it, damn it!)

Finally, although it’s a challenge, I continue with my mostly-vegan eating patterns, plus I’ve given up caffeine. This change has been significant, and has already produced tremendous benefits, like more energy, regulated sleep and digestion, losing weight, and a feeling of well being. I look forward to more of the same!

I hope you, dear reader, have much to be thankful for too. I hope you are living up to your creative potential. I hope that this year gave you many reasons to be inspired, and that you seek out ways to continue to be inspired.

If I’ve played any part of that at any point this year for some of you, I’m grateful.

Thankfully,

Carol

 

Three Shows on Now – Chelsea Art Galleries

Yesterday I went art gallery hopping in Chelsea to see the latest and greatest. It has been many months since my last visit. Along the way there were three artists I found interesting enough to want to share their work here.

It’s impossible to go to Chelsea and see “all” the galleries in an afternoon, there are too many. So what I’m presenting here is just a tiny slice of what I saw yesterday, which is an even smaller slice of what’s actually on view.

The first artist is Justin Bower, and the show is Panic Room. It’s on (through December 10th) at Unix Gallery, 532 W. 24th St in Chelsea, New York City.

Here’s an excerpt of the statement on the show:

Panic Room focuses on the destabilization of the human subject and problemitizes how we define ourselves in this digital and virtual age. Complex backgrounds referencing optical art relate to a certain kind of “code” and control the subject in Bower’s paintings. His art interrogates the autonomy bestowed upon us by the ideals of the Englightenment and opens a dialogue documenting the trauma that technology has on the contemporary human. In an age where infinite data is comprised of replicable code, the works confront the viewer with a radical question of “What am I?”

Alternatively, you could go with my interpretation of these works:

Chuck Close on acid.

I like them.

Here they are:

Justin Bower - Panic Room face 1

Justin Bower – Panic Room face 1

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Justin Bower - face 2

Justin Bower – face 2

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Justin Bower - face 3

Justin Bower – face 3

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Justin Bower, face 4

Justin Bower, face 4

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The second show is Skylar Fein’s The Lincoln Bedroom, on now (through Dec 21st) at C24 Gallery, 514 W. 24th Street, NYC.

The Lincoln Bedroom is a series of installation pieces that provoke the viewer to re-imagine history as a not-so-sanitized version of events as what we might read in our school textbooks.

Here’s an excerpt of the gallery text describing the show:

Abraham Lincoln shared a bedroom with Joshua Speed in the 1830’s in Springfield, IL. Many historians, biographers, and scholars have speculated about the nature of their relationship, causing an ongoing debate about Lincoln’s sexuality. Fein’s work combines factual and fictional histories, and proposes evidence of these uncertain moments through his imagery and objects. Since no photographs exist of the Speed residence, the artist relied on photos and sketches of similar structures, as well as on his imagination to create an impressionistic, and slightly hallucinatory recreation that is far from a museum period-room.

What I can tell you is that the Lincoln Bedroom is highly amusing and yes, thought provoking. The installation works well and pokes fun at many histories that have been told and re-told, or are largely untold, in the textbooks.

Here are some images from the show:

An entire building was constructed to house the bedroom. The outside looks like a general store.

An entire building was constructed to house the bedroom. The outside looks like a general store.

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"Men's Magazines" is a rack of fictionalized mags, many with pornographic themes

“Men’s Magazines” is a rack of fictionalized mags, many with pornographic themes. My favorites are the top two on the left showing a menacing wrestler in his underwear, but the topics are “antiques” and “camping.”

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Moorcock's "Specifics" - treatments on the right for women, and on the left for men. Very funny stuff.

Moorcock’s “Specifics” – treatments on the right for women, and on the left for men. Very funny stuff.

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The last show I have to share is Shinichi Maruyama’s Nudes on at the Bruce Silverstein Gallery, through Dec 21st, 535 W. 24th St., NYC.

The SLATE article written about the show says it well:

Specifically for NUDE, Maruyama created each image by combining 10,000 individual photographs of the dancers to compose a single shot. Maruyama is aware his images capture a new way of showing the human form and motion over time, and he hasn’t forgotten photographers who paved the way for this new technology.

“I know the advancement of technology has allowed me to create these new images that would have been impossible for others in the past,” said Maruyama. “The scientist/photographer Étienne-Jules Marey, who contributed a lot to many artists more than 100 years ago, used a camera that shot 12 images per second. But because of the technology we have today, I was able to use a camera that let me take about 2,000 images per second.”

I took some shots with my cell phone camera to share here, but the shots on the SLATE site are much better quality. Use the link I provided above to SLATE if you want to see more images than what I have here.

Dancer 1

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Dancer 4

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Dancer2

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Dancer3

That’s it for now, until the next time I visit the Chelsea galleries!

Tranvestite and National Book Award Winner William T. Vollmann

For some strange reason, William T. Vollman recently came across my radar. I hadn’t heard of him before, yet another testament to how out of the loop I am on contemporary literature.

First, there was a the Newsweek article “The Lush Life of William T. Vollmann” from November 6th, two weeks ago; quickly followed by a New York Times piece “William T. Vollmann: The Self-Images of a Cross Dresser” on November 13th, four days ago.

The articles have been published to promote the release of The Book of Delores, who is Vollmann’s alter-ego when he cross-dresses, something he has been doing for a long time but only decided to “go public” with now. (Although he comments in the NY Times article, he has ‘shielded’ his wife from his cross dressing, and he asks the reporter not to interview her since she doesn’t know about that part of his life.)

I came to find out in my wanderings that Vollmann won the National Book Award for Europe Central in 2005, and he also won a PEN award for The Atlas, a 450+ page tome of short stories.

All the recent coverage, plus the evocatively strange personality of the writer, drove me to find out more about the author’s work. (Yes, it’s no surprise: titillation sells.)

Yesterday I went to The Strand (my favorite bookstore in New York City) and piled my basket with Vollmann tomes: The Book of Delores, Europe Central, The Atlas, and Rainbow Stories – the last two being collections of short stories. I hopped on the elevator to the third floor Rare Book Room and ensconced myself in an overstuffed armchair to begin digging into the texts.

The Book of Delores is what it says it is – the investigation of Vollmann’s alter-ego Delores over many years. Vollmann has had a long standing fixation with prostitutes, and has sought out these sex workers all over the world and then written about his experiences in his many works. In Delores, he portrays himself as a painted whore, with all the trappings of the trade.

Vollmann as Delores

Vollmann as Delores

I found the images grotesque.

I’m not sure what Vollmann hopes to accomplish with the publication of this book. Perhaps the breaking down of taboo barriers, although I don’t believe this book will do that. “Delores” doesn’t accurately represent femininity, or masculinity either.

It seems self-indulgent on Vollmann’s part to inflict this particular face to the world; although it is his right to do so as a part of his artistic expression.

After my tour of Delores, I picked up Europe Central. After reading the first three pages, I was reminded of James Joyce’s Ulysses. While it seems like it might be readable, it confronts the reader at every turn to defy narrative. I freely admit I didn’t give Europe Central more of a chance, and put it back in the pile of books I wasn’t going to buy.

Then I picked up The Atlas. As with Vollmann’s other works, the collection (from what I’ve read thusfar, about 60 pages) is obsessed with prostitutes in exotic locations. But the language is stunning, and the emotional resonance of some of the shortest stories is intense.

Yes, that’s probably the best description of Vollmann: intense.

But why is it that when men write about whores they win writing awards and make names for themselves?

Earlier this year I wrote about Arnon Grunberg’s Blue Mondays, which I stumbled upon in an Amsterdam bookstore. I had simply asked for a well known local author who had been translated into English and was handed the book. I had no idea what it was about. Grunberg won a Dutch award for best debut novel for that work, which is an account of a young man’s many experiences with prostitutes in Amsterdam.

Where are the women writers claiming their own sex as a right of passage in their literary works and making big names for themselves?

Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus? Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness where she describes her life as a lesbian, cross dressing as a man? Or how about Lydia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water, a memoir where she explores being sexually abused as a child, and then a disastrous marriage, miscarriage, devolving into severe drug abuse etc. Perhaps Elise Schappell’s Blueprints for Building Better Girls, a short story collection I reviewed earlier this year, with women characters who really scared me. Maybe that’s a good thing.

Lolita is a classic, taught every year in universities in mainstream literature classes. If it wasn’t for my Women’s Studies classes, I would never have known about The Well of Loneliness, which I read in college. I should add, I never attended a lit class where I was required to read Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook either.

But none of my rantings take away from William T. Vollmann’s command of the English language, and the force of his artistic vision as I understand it (so far) in The Atlas. His character studies of the prostitutes and the world in which they live is emotionally compelling reading.

I just wish there were some highly decorated women writers who have positively claimed their sex as a part of their writing too and made their careers more successful by doing so.

Cultural Gluttony: BB King, The Armory Show and more

This week I’ve binged on culture and this post covers my wanderings.

I saw BB King and Robert Cray live, went to the 100 year retrospective on the Armory Show at the NY Historical Society, and saw blues artist Joe Nemeth for his one night NYC performance.

I've got a golden ticket!

I’ve got a golden ticket!

Read on for details!

BB King and Robert Cray – live at the State Theater

BB King is now 88 years old, and I’d never seen him play live, so it was a treat to see him this week.

His eight piece back-up band, consisting of 4 horns, a keyboardist, drummer, base player and guitarist were great, and from their ages I’d say they’ve been playing with BB a long, long time.

BB with the band - 8 pieces!

BB with the band – 8 pieces!

The State Theater in New Brunswick, NJ is an intimate setting, and for my $100 (USD) ticket I got a seat in the “front balcony” of the theater, above the main hall and overlooking the stage. I could see what was happening on stage clearly, but I wasn’t close enough to get good cell phone photos. Still, you can see some of the stage set-up… :-}

Lovely view of the State Theater stage before the show

Lovely view of the State Theater stage before the show

Robert Cray and his band opened the show with a one hour performance of some of his classic popular blues hits like Strong Persuader, but I’m sorry to say he never played Smoking Gun, probably his biggest hit. Still, Cray’s voice and guitar playing are top notch.

The Robert Cray Band

The Robert Cray Band

It occured to me, during Cray’s set, there’s a reason why he made it as a professional. His stage presence is strong but easy going; he’s so obviously a talented and capable musician.

After Cray’s band finished, the re-set up process created about a 45 minute intermission before BB King’s band came on.

Once BB’s band came on, they played two numbers without him as a warm-up, and then he joined his band and played perhaps five or six songs total to finish the evening.

BB likes to patter with the audience and joke around, which fans know if you’ve seen videos of his performances or listened to his live albums. This performance was no exception, and BB delighted in leading the audience in a sing-a-long of “You Are My Sunshine” and then kidded around with some of the folks down in front near the stage.

It was extremely charming that as his band was playing When the Saints Come Marching In to end the show, BB didn’t really want to leave the stage. People rushed to the front of the auditorium to shake his hand, take his photo and get his autograph… while they still can.

BB King is rushed by adoring fans at the end of the show!

BB King is rushed by adoring fans at the end of the show!

I can’t blame them – BB King is a living Blues legend.

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The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution – new show at the NY Historical Society Museum

Original 1913 Armory Show set up

Original 1913 Armory Show set up

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Cutout of Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase in front of the NY Historical Society

Cutout of Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase in front of the NY Historical Society

I’d been greatly anticipating seeing this show at the NY Historical Society and finally got the chance to go yesterday. The show will be up until early 2014, so there’s plenty of time to see it.

Duchamp - Nude Descending a Staircase

Duchamp – Nude Descending a Staircase

Travel Tip: Since it’s only the second weekend since the show opened, I’m happy to report it was crowded. Still, tickets are readily available at the museum, you may not need to reserve them online. (I called the museum to check on ticket availability and was told to come in.)

Matisse - Blue Nude - 1907

Matisse – Blue Nude – 1907

This retrospective show is very small compared to the original Armory show, which had hundreds of artworks. In fact, the entire NY Historical Society coverage consisted of two galleries, while a third gallery covered pieces shown “soon after” the Armory show but not from the show itself.

Still, the curators of this show have gone to lengths to explain the original placement of the artworks and the cultural context for the showing of these works. One thing that fascinated me was the curator’s emphasis on how the artists were found for the show. Half of the works at the original show were American, the other half European. There is a lot of good reading material in the show too, and if you’re interested, there is a catalogue for sale.

What surprised me most about the show was that many of the works shown were not only “not shocking” they were traditional landscapes and portraits. It turns out that the organizers of the original Armory show were trying to show viewers an art trajectory, from the classical European, to the American point of view, and then the big divergence with Cubism and Fauvism and so the traditional works were a purposeful lead in, to help the viewer acclimate to what they saw in the final gallery.

Van Gogh - Mountains at St. Remy - 1889

Van Gogh – Mountains at St. Remy – 1889

This final gallery was the only section of the original Armory show which showcased the “new” works, and the public was shocked by them due to their bold colors, multi-varied perspectives, non-traditional forms and in some cases content.

One of my favorite “put-down’s” of Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase was that it looked like a “splinter salad.” The reaction was clear: critics of this art were severely challenged to understand the new forms.

Although today’s viewers will likely not be shocked by the Matisse, Duchamp, Gauguin and other paintings and sculptures they see, it’s good to be reminded how new art forms CAN shake viewers up, and CAN challenge them to think about art in new ways.

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Joe Nemeth at Terra Blues, Thurs, Oct 17th

What can you say about Terra Blues on Bleeker Street in NYC except that it’s a Blues Institution. This venue attracts top talent from all over the world to come and play blues, and yes, sometimes the acts are only in town one night – as was the case with Joe Nemeth, a blues harmonica player and five time Grammy nominated musician.

Joe Nemeth - Blues harmonica and lead singer

Joe Nemeth – Blues harmonica and lead singer

Nemeth and his band played a funky blues first set, and then… the electrical power went out for the amps in the back of the stage.

Nemeth was undaunted by the set-back, and sent his band offstage to take a break, while he decided to sing solo, just a boy and his harmonica, and he brought down the house.

Joe Nemeth at Terra Blues in NYC (bad lighting!)

Joe Nemeth and his base player too at Terra Blues (bad lighting!)

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However, after his one solo song, the power had not come back on, and so he too took a break. Unfortunately, many in the audience didn’t wait for the electrical repair and got up and left. Since it was only Thursday night, and I knew I had a busy few days ahead (to see BB King the next night, and then off to the Armory show too) I also decided to call it a night.

Young drummer for the Joe Nemeth band

Young drummer for the Joe Nemeth band

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The very talented lead guitarist for the Joe Nemeth band

The very talented lead guitarist for the Joe Nemeth band

Does it look like I was sitting right next to the stage? Because I was at the very first table next to the stage. I could have almost reached out and touched the lead guitarist’s cowboy boot!

Enjoy!

Danish Paintings: From the Golden Age to the Modern Breakthrough

Tonight I attended an opening reception at the Scandanavia House for Danish Paintings: From the Golden Age to the Modern Breakthrough.

Vilhelm Hammershoi - DETAIL - Courtyard Interior at Strandgade

Vilhelm Hammershoi – DETAIL – Courtyard Interior at Strandgade

Scandanavia House – which is part of The Nordic Center in America – is located in a swanky mid-town neighborhood on Park Avenue in NYC. I’m bringing this up because while this opening was certainly about Danish paintings, it was at least as much a New York City-centric event than anything else. Yep, it’s good to be home. When I filed into the auditorium in the basement of Scandanavia House, I felt like I’d been put into a time machine from earlier in my life when I used to work in this neighborhood. All around me were men in suits and women with serious jewelry. These men and women obviously had a lot of money; they were attending this event to help pay homage to the personal art collection of former Danish Ambassador (from 1981-83) of John L. Loeb, Jr.

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Ambassador Loeb, who seems to be in his … 70’s? … has amassed the largest collection of Danish paintings outside of Denmark, and is an ardent supporter of the arts, including the two co-curators of this exhibition, the five additional staff assistants that helped put the show together and the printing of a “handsome catalogue,” I was informed by one of the curators during his lecture. In addition to the opening event tonight, there will be ongoing events, like docent tours, etc. from now through the end of January 2014 when the exhibition closes.

PS Kroyer - Self Portrait - Sitting by his easel at Skagen Beach

PS Kroyer – Self Portrait – Sitting by his easel at Skagen Beach

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PS Kroyer - Portrait of the Artists Wife Marie

PS Kroyer – Portrait of the Artists Wife Marie

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In the lecture, the curators presented the concept behind the show, which is staged in three parts, one for each display gallery: The Academy; The Land; and The Modern Breakthrough. The Modern Breakthrough represents when Danish painters thought about:

the psychology of the individual, the role of the environment on identity and the ways in which the act of painting itself could be used as a medium through which emotions could be expressed and society renewed…

The opening image, my detail of the figure hanging out the window looking into a courtyard by Hammershoi, is an example of a piece within the Modern Breakthrough.

Hammershoi Courtyard Interior - full painting

Hammershoi Courtyard Interior – full painting

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Here are some additional images from The Academy gallery…with some information from the curators.

Jens Juel - Seated Chinese Man (Section: The Academy)

Jens Juel – Seated Chinese Man (Section: The Academy)

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Joel Ballin - 1882 - Study of a Model - Young Girl Undressing

Joel Ballin – 1882 – Study of a Model – Young Girl Undressing

During the lecture, we were told that the Danish Art Academy was one of the first (if not the first?) to have women models come and pose nude, rather than just male models.

The curator’s description in the gallery reads:

This work, painted in CW Eckersberg’s life class at the Academy records some of the professor’s most important pedagogical innovations. Traditionally, studies of the human nude had been conducted exclusively with male models, and only in the artificial light of candles or lamps. The point was to not represent life but to evoke an imagined realm of ideal beauty. Eckersberg … brought female models into the studio and instructed his students to paint them in the light of day and in realistic domestic settings.

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Christen Dalsgaard - DETAIL - Young Girl Writing

Christen Dalsgaard – DETAIL – Young Girl Writing

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So if you find yourself on Park Avenue near 38th Street between now and next January, you may want to stop by and see these Danish paintings from the private collection of the former Danish Ambassador. While you’re at it, pick up a handsome catalogue documenting the Ambassador’s collection by expert curators and enjoy the show….

Important Show Coming: The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution

I’ve been talking a lot very recently about art being shown in context, and there is a very important upcoming show that takes this idea and expresses it –  so I want to make sure anyone in the NYC metro area is aware of The New York Historical Society’s “The Armory Show at 100” coming to the NY Historical Society Museum beginning October 11, 2013.

Unlike many shows that take significant effort like this to curate, the NY Historical Society has already decided this show WILL NOT TRAVEL. The show is ABOUT a landmark New York City event, and the show will take place IN New York City and nowhere else.

If you are lucky enough to live in the NYC metro area, I encourage you to order your tickets now. (And I get no kickbacks from the museum!)

TIP: The NY Historical Society offers free admission (with a pay-as-you-wish donation policy) from 6-8pm on Friday evenings.

Here is what the NY Historical Society says about the show:

The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution, revisits the famous 1913 New York Armory Show on its 100th anniversary. In 1913, the International Exhibition of Modern Art came to New York. Organized by a small group of American artists and presented at the Lexington Avenue Armory (and thus nicknamed the Armory Show), it introduced the American public to European avant-garde painting and sculpture. This exhibition is an exploration of how the Armory Show inspired seismic shifts in American culture, politics, and society.

The New-York Historical Society’s exhibition reassesses the Armory Show with a carefully chosen group of approximately seventy-five works. The exhibition includes American and European paintings and sculpture that will represent the scandalous avant-garde and the range of early twentieth-century American art. It will also include historical works (dating through the nineteenth century) that the original organizers gathered in an effort to show the progression of modern art leading up to the controversial abstract works that have become the Armory Show’s hallmark.

The 2013 exhibition revisits the Armory Show from an art-historical point of view, shedding new light on the artists represented and how New Yorkers responded. It will also place this now-legendary event within the context of its historical moment in the United States and the milieu of New York City in ca. 1911–1913. To that end, music, literature and early film will be considered, as well as the political and economic climate.

The exhibition will not travel. It will be accompanied by a substantial catalogue with thirty-one essays by prominent scholars from a variety of fields to re-examine the 1913 exhibition and its historical and cultural context.

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I will definitely be going to this one!