30 December 2006


Bill and I went to see the new Institute of Contemporary Art building when I was up visiting in Boston earlier this week. Steve and Barbara and Tom joined us and we were a merry crew. As you approach the ICA from South Station across the wasteland of parking lot and construction fence, it seems much smaller than the pictures I'd seen (both photos since completion and drawings before). The cantilevered top floor doesn't really stretch all the way to Texas or Hudson Bay. Inside, the spaces were very effective. There was quite a crowd in the lobby but not chaos. The shop was crowded but we managed. The elevator has a lovely route with glass glass glass and views of the building and out to the bay. The media room which hangs off the cantilever is lovely and you can stand up near the top and just see water or go down to the front and see the walkway and the gawking people. The installation of the opening show was very nice and the circuit around the display floor is good. And that's even with fairly sizeable crowds. http://www.icaboston.org/

We went on to dinner at some Irish joint near City Hall. Tom was off to another gathering before going to a two-man version of "The importance of being earnest" in Cambridge. Bill left a message for his sister Martha before we went to the restaurant and she popped in just as we finished eating. No problem; we went on to the Ruby Room for a fancy final drink.

On the way home, we stopped at Hollywood Video for a movie and ended up with "Agnes and her brothers" (in German with English subtitles). It's pretty interesting but not your cheery little family story. As Eleanor/Katharine said, every family has its ups and downs. Agnes is a MTF transsexual, Hans-Jörg is a sex addict who kills his father and then runs away to Poland or Iraq with the porn co-star, Werner is a government minister whose wife wants to leave and whose son photographs him in awkward situations (you might have to be there, but you probably won't want to be there). Worth it, I'd say.

The night before, we'd gone to "Volver" and then to the Paradise (one of my two favorite bars in the whole world, I might exaggerate but what's life without exaggeration now and again). Volver is really good.

Now back in NYC. Before I went up to Boston, I went to MoMA and the Met. The Manet/Maximilian show at MoMA is splendiferous: great paintings and supporting stuff. Also, some good things in the photo show next door to the Manet. I really enjoyed the works by Jonathan Monk. The Tiffany show at the Met was surprisingly good. There's a three-panelled window of white flowers with translucent glass that's splendid and well-installed. I'm getting a little stir-crazy down here in the Bobst basement.

The Manet resonated a bit in the "Dissent" show at the Fogg and the Louis Philippe (pear king) stuff there resonated on Thursday morning in the gallery shows we stopped in as well as in the ICA shop which had some wax pears in a silver bowl.

19 December 2006

vocabulary test

I saw the vocabulary test (see next entry) on Jean's blog and she got an A+. I thought the choices were limiting, and they don't tell you which you got wrong. This is probably why I never did so well on the Miller Analogies Test. An enigma is, well, an enigma, how can it be like something else?

how's your vocabulary?

Your Vocabulary Score: B
You have a zealous love for the English language, and many find your vocabulary edifying.Don't fret that you didn't get every word right, your vocabulary can be easily ameliorated!

18 December 2006


There was a profile of Rick Lowe in the Arts & Leisure section of yesterday's N.Y. Times. He is the founder of Project Row Houses in the Third Ward of Houston. I've meandered over that way from downtown a couple times. The article by Michael Kimmelman describes how Lowe built up the neighborhood through house renovation, general cleaning up, art projects, etc. The picture shows him in front of a couple houses in solid neo-vernacular style, designed by Rice University students. It is encouraging.

Another article in the Arts & Leisure section was about anti-gay slurs and the use of controversial terms such as queer or nigger by the communities that had been the victim of such words. This reappropriation is a combination of "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words probably hurt longer" and political in-your-face-ism. At the screening of "The lost tribe" and "Walking in the light" at Cinemarosa, a woman asked about the use of queer by some folks. She was a Holocaust survivor and couldn't understand the use of queer. Unfortunately, the sentence or two about "Little dog laughed" were not especially positive. Mac and I have tickets for "Dog" for Wednesday. Oh, well.

It will be our third theater experience in eight days. Last Wednesday, we went to "The vertical hour" as part of our NYTW subscription. Both Mac and I thought the play was stronger than the acting though neither of us was major disappointed with the acting. We happened to be standing out in front of the theater when it appeared that the stage door was just a bit West of us. We waited until Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy came out and signed people's programs. We looked at the stars but didn't get our programs signed.

At the ARLIS/NY holiday party on Thursday, Bill Dane said he'd been at the Wednesday matinee of "The vertical hour" too but had found the play weak and the acting fine.

On Friday night, we went to "Kaos" at NYTW. It's Martha Clarke's (no relation, as far as I know) latest venture, based on stories by Pirandello. The dialogue is spoken in Sicilian and that aspect was quite beautiful but the whole thing was pretty inscrutable.

Saturday night was Pina Bausch's "Nefés" at BAM. Wow! The lighting was fine in general but there was one scene with the women in a speckled light where the light was following the women or the women were following the light, or they had become an organic whole. There were several moments during the dance when a dancer would be supported during one particular movement even though it could have been done alone. Beautiful ensemble work as well as fine solos.

I did do a bit of visual art that wasn't connected to performance. Friday's Times had an article on 11 Spring Street where a building long known for its graffiti has been turned into a three-day artwork. The line was maybe an hour's worth of standing but anybody that doesn't have a book or something to read in their bag deserves to be bored. About half of the time in the line was spent listening halfway to shopping talk. At least it was live, not cellphone. Then, for something rather different, I went up to Hirschl & Adler (masterpieces from the Munson Williams Proctor, and they were, especially the Dove watercolors, a nice Frankenthaler, good Rothko and nice S.R. Giffords), Knoedler (Frankenthaler sculpture), and the Frick. The latter has a dozen or so works from the Cleveland Museum whose home is being renovated. The David and some of the others seemed much bigger than I remember them from grad school days though it may have been the scale of the oval gallery at the Frick. I didn't remember the Hals (the gloved left hand of the sitter is gorgeous) and the Valentin de Boulogne.

I stopped at Storefront on the way North for the magazine show. The trip through 1970s magazines was very nostalgic. Those early days of checking in periodicals at Frick, the great titles such as Avalanche and On SITE.

10 December 2006

nina moment

I've got WQXR coming out of the speakers and the reporter just said "In Beirut ..."

09 December 2006

words words words

My galleryhopping today was pretty focused. I had a few galleries on the list and didn't wander far from itinerary. First off was White Columns at 4th and Horatio. One of the pieces was a collection of Stuart Sherman videos. Some of his words: nose, words, globe, chain, gun. On another wall "A false sense of security" spelled out in pushpins. Then I went to the Kitchen to see the Christian Jankowski installation. Yikes. The Frankenstein piece was folks walking out of the darkness toward the camera, some in costume, all talking of wreaking huge damage on someone who had messed severely with him/her. Not easy to watch, very little to even be ironically amused by. The other installation was pomo talk about cinema studies against a gory bloody horror vampire movie. It did have funny moments with the text actually taken from works by various film theoreticians. Imagine someone spouting pomo words from their mouth, along with blood. Maybe you had to be there.

The next show was very light by comparison: Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt's works at Pavel Zoubok Gallery. I talked to Sur Rodney (Sur) who was manning the front desk and he said that Tommy has done lots of installations and this stuff was so small and contained. On the other hand, it was placemats and hotpads of plastic and various collage bits including renaissance paintings and pictures. One of the amusing ones was Saint Augustine's mom and her concern for her son. One of the others had this great quote: My eighth grade class was greatly influenced by Mother Cabrini and Auntie Warhol.

One of Andrew Robinson's pieces at Paul Sharpe Fine Art had this text from Rimbaud: I sat beauty on my knee and found her bitter.

Sidebar: Paul and I chatted about gromets and clips and I realized that binder clips are more ubiquitous now in our paperless environment than they were twenty five years ago. Hmm.

And I wonder sometimes why I am so attracted to the melancholy?

Then off to the train and up to Columbia to see the Ely Jacques Kahn show before it closed (both it and the Jankowski were on their last day). Some lovely drawings and interesting photos. I knew he was prolific but I guess I didn't realize how many of the midtown skyscrapers were his. The Avery collections are so incredible but there were also things from LC.

There was a notice on some list that a task force is being formed at LC to look at the future of bibliographic control. If I had to pick between series authority control and more processing of architectural archives, I think I'd take the latter. That's certainly the direction NYU discussions are taking: why spend oodles of time and money recataloging the mainstream stuff that everybody else is doing when there are uncataloged and unprocessed items in special collections.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the email from Visual AIDS and the picture was of Tom Seidner and another guy in a picture entitled "Radical Faerie Series" (1987) by Albert J. Winn. When I was at the Wolf Creek Sanctuary in August, I thought of Tom and wondered what had happened to him. He had been the owner/operator of Borealis Books in Ithaca in the early 1980s. We had talked about the Radical Faeries and I had heard he was spending at least part of his time in faeriedom but don't know which sanctuary if that was the setting. Still can't tell which from the Visual AIDS page but it isn't Wolf Creek and looks kind of Tennessee. http://www.thebody.com/visualaids/web_gallery/2006/renaldi/06.html

08 December 2006


Wednesday night took me to Zankel Hall for a Sofia Gubaidulina concert. Wow! Double wow! It was incredible. The first piece -- "Rejoice!" -- was a sonata for violin and cello. The second and third pieces were for eight and seven cellos respectively, with a couple waterhorns tossed in for "On the edge of the abyss." Gubaidulina (goo-bye-DOOL-inna) was unable to attend because her husband died recently. Instead, they showed clips from a couple documentaries, good place setters. It was truly a delight to listen and watch, the way the sounds drifted between cacophony and harmony, the way the cellists worked their instruments. One of the documentaries talked about the way Gubaidulina touched the folk instruments, there was also something tactile about the playing of the cellos.

For a completely different experience, last night was a concert by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir. Early music, Bach, Buxtehude and Corelli. Very different from the Gubaidulina. Good. I guess I preferred the Gubaidulina but the baroque concert reminded me very much of my mother and her love of Christmas oratorios.

At the mentoring panel on association participation on Wednesday, Jennifer enthused about the 18th century when I mentioned that I'd chosen an 18th-century panel at College Art. It occurred to me, as I was reading during the intermission last night, that I'm actually reading a book that dwells in the 18th century -- Princesses: the six daughters of George III by Flora Fraser.

04 December 2006

a moving experience

Much of the time this past weekend was spent helping Christie through the dregs of her move from a rental apartment to the apartment she's buying on State Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Some shlepping but mostly little packing and cleaning tasks. Yesterday we had sandwiches at Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwich shop on Atlantic Avenue and they were very tasty. We had the Classic Vietnamese (chopped pork, ham, pate, marinated carrots, cilantro) and Vietnamese coffee (sweet and hot).

After I split, I took the 2 train to the Brooklyn Museum where I found ten million people in the Annie Leibovitz show. I would like to see it again with fewer people but it was still worth it. Slipped out the back staircase to the Walton Ford show with its wonderful Audubon-ish watercolors with lots more going on. I really enjoyed "Jack on his deathbed" -- Lord Hamilton's ape who also collected antiquities and expired as Vesuvius erupts in the background. A couple "nasty bits."

From there to the Proteus Gowanus program on "chained libraries" with Wendy Walker and Robert LaFarge. It was more about the idea of libraries which have been metaphorically chained (or lost) by war, changing tastes, natural disaster, ethnic cleansing.

The weekend started with the Ballet Preljocaj program at the Joyce. Wow. I had seen Preljocaj at PS 122 a few years ago but not his company. The first half was "Move 1" set to John Cage, the dancers flowed and stuck to a vigorous sequence of movements. Lovely shorter male dancer. The second half was "Noces" set to Tchaikovsky: vigorous music, vigorous dancing. Really wonderful. I don't always understand audience or critical reaction. The audience clapped warmly after the second piece but I was ready to jump to my feet (timidly, no one else did so I didn't). The Times critic thought the first piece was fine but was a little ho-hum about the second. There's no accounting for taste.

A couple dreamy things this weekend: the possibility of a little more space via a notice about a rental with some IFA students who are buying a house in Crown Heights (I think I met them at John's some time ago); the charming fellow I talked to after the Proteus Gowanus program, out on the street, needed a light.

01 December 2006

hugo van der goes

Heidi went to Bruges on Monday so she didn't get to see "The death of the Virgin" by Hugo van der Goes. She did tell me where her photos were posted -- http://www.flickr.com/photos/vheidi -- and there's some lovely shots of Bruges as well as some mountains and streams in Ireland. While I was flickring with Heidi, I thought I'd search the tags for "hugo van der goes" and only got one hit for someone who had been to the Uffizi.

Amazing food treat the other night. After the heady Jean-Louis Cohen lecture on Tuesday night at Cooper, we officers of the SAH chapter took him to dinner at Aroma Kitchen and Winebar on East 4th Street. http://www.aromanyc.com/index.html The food was very tasty, the atmosphere was incredible. You enter the bar from the street and it's nice but not particularly unusual for the neighborhood. We had a private dining room in the basement: you go through the narrow door, down the steep stairs which are between buildings and outside, up a couple stairs, turn right through a very narrow door (aka cellar doorway), down a couple more steps, turn left into a miraculous space just the size for our party of 11. Vito suggested that they just bring us some of each of the appetizers and ... my favorite was probably the artichokes (en casserole, I guess, with cheese). I had a pasta that was heavenly: beet colored, veal infusion sauce, some cheese. What's not to like with tons of grease and carbs?