November 16, 2015

A Glorious Mosaic

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This afternoon, I had the serendipitous delight of seeing this jubilant, mid-century mosaic mural at the entrance to the former 111 West 40th Street, now known as 5 Bryant Park. The mural—covered over for many years and recently revealed and restored—was created by WPA artist and Cooper Union alumnus, Max Spivak (whose mosaic corner at 104th and Broadway, was already one of my favorite urban details.) At first glance, the mural looks biomorphic, but is actually Spivak’s homage to the tools used by garment workers, who were the building’s original tenants when it opened in 1957.

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July 19, 2014

A Passage to Olana

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Sitting under a billowing white tent on the lawn of Olana, Frederic Church’s Moorish manse and studio overlooking the Hudson, I listened intently to one of my idols, textile print designer and guru John Robshaw, in conversation with antique dealer and Lockwood de Forest maven, David Petrovsky.  Their discussion of travels to India, and the powerful influence of its decorative traditions, crafts, patterns and prints fanned the flames of my own wanderlust, and desire to learn the art of block printing from the masters there.

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After the talk John Robshaw signed my copy of his lavishly illustrated home decor book and memoir, John Robshaw Prints.

May 29, 2014

Couturier Engineer

“Creation is simply a problem and design is the way out.”—Charles James

The Charles James show at the Met is a consummate marriage of resplendently architected gowns and other high fashion garments, and computer visualization. The latter truly adds value in revealing James’ brilliance as not only a designer but as an engineer of fabric, draped and contoured to feminine form. See his cloverleaf and tulip gowns. He was a multidimensional talent, who imbued his work with a sophisticated knowledge of materials, mathematics (tessellation and even fractals), and a respect for the inner sensuality—his gowns, especially—could evince from his high society female subjects.

“What, after all, is the true function of fashion but to be a rehearsal for propagation? Rehearsals, we might better say.”

The exhibit, set in nocturnal light, is also illuminated by some of James’ colorful bons mots.

imageTwo things that I rued about the show: Photography was forbidden and so was throwing myself all over the gowns to touch and be enveloped by their splendor.

May 13, 2014

Brimfield, Opening Day

imageA return to the Woodstock of the antiques and collectibles world, Brimfield in mid-Massachusetts. Today, the first day, the dealers were blissful, the buyers so sated. A sensorial all-you-can-eat buffet that spans perhaps a mile, it is exhilarating to take in the profusion of stuff, amusing to see the absurd combos of items in arbitrary tableaux, and inspiring to experience the exploding encyclopedia of textile prints and typography. Warholian spores wafted and pervaded the fields of booths. What popped out for me thematically were needlepointed items, giant versions of things, vintage military, work and sports uniforms, technical tools, stripes, jewelry from all eras and countries, gardening decor and vessels, beaded and non-beaded handbags, and barkcloth. Even though there were enterprising porters dragging rickshaws of choice hauls, many attendees had to sit, retreat and regroup from the long day of stimuli and transacting.

April 28, 2014

Meet the Beetles

imageA double-parked installation on West 16th Street between 8th & 9th, by Bolivian artist, José Maximiliano Siñani Paredes Sánchez. Siñani, who now lives and works in New York, reinterprets everyday objects to expose another reality. . . with much humor.

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April 09, 2014

The Heart of Wetness

imageThis evening, we sipped Curacao-tinted Prosecco at the chapel of the surf—a magnificent, torrential, calligraphic Raymond Pettibon show at Venus over Manhattan on Madison Avenue.  Spanning 25 years (1987-2012), the show aggregates 40 of Pettibon’s surfer-thermed paintings ranging from intimate black ink wash images to colossal indigo-slashed pieces often accompanied by handwritten poetic Lichtensteinian texts, that put one at the core of the wave, feeling at once powerful, vulnerable and alone.

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January 16, 2014

Freight Elevator as Gallery

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One of the rarely seen—and exclusive—art installations in Chelsea: a freight elevator in the former Nabisco factory, now the Chelsea Market, encrusted with carefully cut and silhouetted sports memorabilia. The artist (and sports nut)—the elevator operator himself, allowed me to take a few photos of his magnum opus.

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November 20, 2013

Mirror Man

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Art Spiegelman’s retrospective at the Jewish Museum is a revelation, of the inner workings—anguish, humanism, intellect, humor—and the eloquent, prolific output of this storytelling artist and genius. For Spiegelman, the explored life is worth living, and he lives up to his name,“mirror man” in German—let alone his first name. A well-written, organized and documented show—you should see it.

November 16, 2013

Balthus, Cats & Girls

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The best part, perhaps the most genuine component of the Balthus: Cats and Girls show now at the Met is its coda, a separate room labeled Mitsou. Based on his found and lost stray cat—these beautiful 40 pen and ink drawings resemble woodcuts, and show a precocious talent, as they were made when Balthus was just 11 years old.

November 06, 2013

Calder Jewelry:  Show & Tell

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Election Evening:  I went from civic duty at PS 9 to a soiree at Salon 94.
A swank Upper East Side townhouse gallery off of Fifth Avenue—from which Fran Leibowitz had just exited—Salon 94 was the gracious host to a show of
Alexander Calder’s exuberant and spectacular jewelry, intimate mobiles and stabiles.  Meandering through the two stories and the curved seashell staircase were Calder family members and friends, resplendent in his bold, tribal, playful metallic leis, breastplates, cuffs, brooches, and earmobiles. 

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It was as if we entered a time warp or a déjà vu—on exhibit too were the other guests—some topless, with raccoon bands of makeup or black /white faced like Frank Gorshin in an early Star Trek, affectless stretched faces and bearded ladies—striking poses for klieg lights and a Polaroid photographer who posted their images on the wall.  We met party presence Andre J regal in red patent leather harness and leopard lederhosen.  Upstairs, we saw the Studio Museum’s Thelma Golden schmoozing just outside an abundant open kitchen, where cooks proffered tofu and cilantro baguettes, open-faced steamed pork dumplings and shortbread cookies studded with coffee beans.  Red and white wines were flowing. 

The ultimate experience though, of the whole evening was the opportunity to touch and actually adorn myself with Calder jewelry!

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