Friday, January 31, 2014

January in New York: Cool Art, Cold Weather, Cutting Lines, and Other Rants

The Painted People enter the winter city via the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

They've been adventuring at Susan Luss's art-filled studio in Long Island City...

...and they are stoked for some cool city sights.
The cooler the better.
Let the single digits begin!

They've promised not to cause any major traffic jams.

They are especially happy since they've been featured in this excellent publication...

...with their very own page!  Well, they have to share it with me,
but that's the price of admission.

Well, enough shameless promotion of the Painted People.
Let me instead shamelessly promote my winter pics of the big city by the sea,
beginning with a series from the cafeteria patio at Kingsborough Community College,
each of them taken before my 1PM drawing class:  same time, same place, different weather.
But all of it deliciously cold, cold weather!  Finally, a winter worth the candle.

A January snowstorm leaves wind patterns at dusk at KCC...

...and earlier, shadows rule the day.

And here, a bit of my snowy trip on the B-train from Brighton Beach to Park Slope.

Winter can be oh-so picturesque; and then oh-so not picturesque.
Above, 3rd St. and 8th Avenue, Park Slope,
below, Downtown Brooklyn, Livingston Street.

Another before and after:
above, 7th Avenue at Flatbush; below Livingston Street at Elm (where there
hasn't been a living tree, much less an elm for many decades).

The trees are staying so green now because they're sprayed with some sort of supposedly
"non-toxic" retardant.
I'm amazed at how naked and cleaned-up they are.  
Did they ever actually have decorations on them, or did they just stand naked and shivering
in someone's condo for a few days before being dumped in the street?   Does no one use tinsel
anymore?  Is it outlawed now, perhaps by Mayor Mike?
 I remember cramming enough tinsel on the tree  to choke a horse.

(Internet photo)

What's more depressing than a discarded Christmas tree?

Could it be watching a former mayor stuff it into a chipper/shredder, like the one here shown on the Inhabitat NYC website of "Mulchfest"?
No, come on, this isn't depressing, it's uplifting!  

Here men are uplifting the trash-trees on 8th Avenue in Brooklyn
on their way to chipper/shredders. 

Uh-oh.  I've been discovered.

Time to duck down into the subway station where I see
another lovely winter sight, an ice fall in the G/F station right behind the third rail.
Ice-climbing, anyone?

And although this is actually a summer scene, here's a "tar-fall"  
from years ago when they were working on the street...

...and the hot tar dripped down into the Hoyt St. station
giving the floor a sort of Pollock-y abstract expressionist look.
"Composition with Tar 2/3."

Back to winter, here are some ominous ice knives 
hanging from a bridge on 104th Street in Manhattan.

Look out below!!!!

And speaking of looking out below, check out this Livingston St. chair,
a convenient place to wait for the bus.

Just down the street in front of Macy's, as Frank and I wait for the bus to DUMBO,
we notice that the Jay Z "Get Gold" window display is displaying us.

Ha, ha, ha!  How much fun is this?
A young woman passing by gives the power salute and that's me with the crazy face.

Frank and I are on our way to DUMBO to see the exhibition
of Michael Brennan at Minus Space.
His "Grey Razor" series draws us in.
The imagery is subtle yet full of a kind of tectonic energy. 

GRP Ice Cloud Mountain #3
20 x 16", oil and wax on canvas

Michael was struck by my picture of ice-knives, and upon seeing his work, I understand why.
There is a sense of pent up, potentially dangerous power in the angles and
edges of his imagery.  A kind of controlled, choreographed, well, not violence exactly, 
but something a step away from it.  Or toward it.
Skating on the edge.

A great opening!
See more of this work at 

Back to things glowing goldenly, here's midtown Manhattan on a winter's day...

...and Central Park shining in the late afternoon sun.

Here's a painting on the same theme by William Glackens, ca. 1905, "Central Park - Winter"

(internet photo)

And a more rare sight, a dead pigeon!  

This poor bird is rendered almost invisible, well-camouflaged by
the dirty snow and gravel.  One almost never sees either baby or dead pigeons.
They seem to emerge into the city fully formed, like Aphrodite rising out of the sea.

(Internet photo)

Speaking of mythological topics, this dynamic tableau of figures
at 60th and 6th Avenue is being documented by two men in black...

...and more men in black, dressed for the weather, not for crime, of course.

Some awesome subway art... KLOPS, a graffiti artist who has work all over the city and on vehicles,
like this piece...

...addressing the tragic death of Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Miami in late 2012.
Zimmerman, his shooter, was acquitted under Florida's "Stand Your Ground"
statute that basically gives you the right to shoot anyone you feel like in "self-defense."
 This wall mural pic is posted on the site above
and followed by these comments, showing us
the high level of discourse on many internet sites:

Here is some less controversial graffiti, seen recently in midtown:

Back on the subway with Sally Novak, my fellow traveler...

...where our continuing quest for art brings us to 
the Mike Weiss Gallery, which does not disappoint.
The smell of oil paint greets us...

...and the work of Jan De Vliegher engages us with his magical strokes.

He captures the sinuous grace of these Koi creatures as they move through their dark world,
which seems less like swimming than flying. 

The way he uses paint is akin to Velázquez, whose painting did not describe but instead
brought to life the thing depicted.

(Internet photo, Diego Velázquez, "Las Meninas," o/c, 1656, 125 x 109")

(detail of above)

(Jan De Vliegher, "Untitled #3" 2013, o/c, 52 x 78")

My own work also features koi in the video
"An Accelerating Decline"
where they track their eerie way through a dark, even ominous world.

Sally and I continue our art saga
by taking the L train to Williamsburg to see the famous (infamous?)
Sideshow Gallery yearly extravaganza, now entitled "Nation II:  At the Alamo."
Sadly, I don't have work in it this year, although I have contributed to its previous incarnations.

I believe all the people on the L train are going to the show, too,
because when we get there, there's a line leading up the block from
the Sideshow door (marked by the red arrow).

Below, a red arrow points out the woman who is about to get out of line to come and yell at me
about how everyone's been waiting in the cold forever, for God's sake, and 
why do I think I'm so special that I can just walk up to the front of the line?  
This woman has murder in her eye!

New York is not a "stand your ground" state except when it comes to lines,
where cutting in front of people is a capital offense.

No jury in the world would convict her.

But, but, but, really, truly I was just hoping to take a tiny
peek into the show and to meet Susan Luss
who has a piece in amidst the hundreds. 
 Fortunately, before the woman can put words to action, 
Susan walks out of the coveted Sideshow door,
so rather than go to the end of the line and
wait in the cold among a restless crowd growing more, 
hostile and dangerous by the moment,
 Sally and I make a tactical decision to come back another day.

The show is open through March 3rd, so we have plenty of time.
According to art world gossip, famed art critics Jerry Saltz and Roberta Smith
also had to stand in the cold during one of the Sideshow yearly shows.
Apocryphal?  Or another true story in the naked shivering city?

Some of the works are shown below
along with Richard Timperio, famed artist and gallerist,
and all around cool guy who has been running this place since the time when the only Williamsburg
anyone knew about was a place in Virginia boasting lots of colonial-era mansions. 

Here's a link to an interview with Richard about the show,
which he refers to as "a community service."

And here's a link to a blog post by Anne Russinof where some of the individual works can be seen:

Alas, my name isn't on it this year,
but I'm on other lists, never fear.

The Museum of the City of New York, seen below in its stately grace... featuring a show
of photos taken of Hurricane Sandy, before, after, from every aspect
of the storm and its effect on the area and its residents.
The blue areas are where the water came up;
and many people believe that this will be the future shoreline not just
in the odd storm, but permanently.  Or worse.

My picture called "Peace, Love, Sex and Sand"
is featured - a photo taken at Fort Tilden on the Rockaway Peninsula
(see the long blue wedge on the map above)
after Sandy filled and covered everything with sand...

...and below is the before picture, when the building was clean as a whistle.

My husband, Frank Lind, has made a series of prescient paintings of Ft. Tilden buildings,
the first one done in 2009 showing the terrain as it was then, 
then a version completed in 2010 positing
a 16-foot rise in sea level caused by the Greenland Ice Sheet sliding into the ocean.
His latest version, finished in 2013, shows the reality of post-Sandy changes wrought not by sliding ice sheets, but just the random major storm.

We go to the panel discussion at the Museum of the City of New York
which takes place under the beautiful light installation designed by Wendy Evans Joseph
and Chris Cooper of Cooper Joseph Studio.

Here's what I said recently on a Facebook post about this event:

Great panel discussion last night at the Museum of the City of New York, re. "Rising Waters" and the after effects of Sandy. The panelists talked about how there are many, many problems remaining re. housing and helping people get back on their feet and into homes, and how critical it is to streamline these services not only for Sandy, but for future Sandy's, which are inevitable.

Left to right: Joseph Pupello of Zone A New York, Ismene Speliotis of the Mutual Housing Association of New York, Lisa Jones, Director of Hurricane Sandy Relief for Brooklyn Community Services in Coney Island, Judi Orlando of the Astella Development Corporation in Coney Island, 
and NY1 anchor Elizabeth Kaledin.

Jeanne Wilkinson, "Send Help - Coney Island Beach" 2012.

And now, finally, I'm off to Mana Contemporary.
(Yes, I know this post is called January in New York, and Mana is in Jersey City,
but aren't we all one, really?  Unless we're Chris Christie, and then we're us and them, them being the ones who get traffic jams and other jammed up things rained upon them?)

I'm going to Mana 
to see the installation of Eugene Lemay's massive digital prints on canvas, Strata,

and a dance in the midst of the work choreographed by Shen Wei Dance Arts.

The movements in this dance become a progression of dark and light...

...reminding me of words that I wrote a while back in D'art International Magazine about Lemay's
"Navigator" series of prints, which
"[leave] us with a vision of dark and light with all its inherent metaphorical implications, a landscape as mysterious as the human mind.  This is a realm that Lemay both shares and hides, ultimately leaving us to explore on our own, to discover our own way through the darkness."

You can read the entire article here:

At the same time, poet and art writer John Yau and artist Carole A. Feuerman talk about her work,
monumental realist sculptures.

This is as-yet unused space in Mana - seen shining in the winter afternoon sunlight - beautiful.

And even the drywall is amazingly done up in a minimalist dot/dash composition.
I always enjoy my Mana Sundays - there's a magical mystery tour feeling about them.

There's a new Richard Meier Museum opening at Mana.
I'm not a big fan of Meier, but then I'm not a big fan of 20th century architects in general,
most of whom I feel have dropped the ball regarding the critical place that architecture can play
in making a viable future on earth,
ie. solar panels, passive solar construction, on-site recycling, green roofs,
healthy air exchange, windows that can be opened, the list goes on.
These are things that were being discussed and begun in the sixties
until Ronald Reagen tore out Jimmy Carter's solar panels
on the White House, told us to stop being energy wimps and go buy a gas-guzzling SUV.

Here are Meier's maquettes in the museum, below is the real world,
a picture taken from the shuttle bus on the way out of New Jersey.

Once again, Meier's models, above,
and New York City, below,
sans the large white structure looming over the rest.

Meier is a great Modernist, but in my mind, Modernism, with it's severe geometrical simplifications,
doesn't take enough complexities into account. Like weather variations, energy needs, local materials,
water conservation, potential flooding, and even a sense of our spiritual connection to place.
But it has paved the way to making buildings cheap and fast,
as in the Box, the tall glass one for the city 
and the short sprawling one for big-box suburbia.

Ah, well.
Back to winter.
The hills of Prospect Park
are made joyful with the sounds and sights of sledding.

Reminds me of this painting by Carl Rudolph Krafft.

(Internet photo)

I go skiing at 11AM one weekday morning and find the park nearly deserted.
The TV and radio stations have been frantically warning
 people to stay inside because the temperatures
are barely in the double digits!
Yet it's a beautiful, clean, pure-aired day of pristine light.
Sad if people are afraid of a little cold.
Pathetic, really.
Well, our warmed-over world will be welcomed by many, in spite of
the various devastations that it brings with it.
You know, floods, droughts, storms, all that.

Ah, well.

One last before and after:
me leaving to go skiing in Prospect Park, then me after returning,
refreshed and loving the cold!

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