25 September 2007

the art & architecture has been pretty exciting

There have been several good art/architecture adventures over the past few days. This evening, I went to a lecture sponsored by Docomomo and given by Albert Ledner, the architect of three National Maritime Union buildings in New York City. Though born in the Bronx, he has spent most of his career based in New Orleans. The buildings in New York are famously shaped: the headquarters now part of St Vincent's Hospital (and threatened by their development plans), the former seamen's hotel now the Maritime, and the annex building behind the hotel. Each is a tell-tale example of Jetson's modernism (and I mean that in a complimentary way). There was an article on Ledner recently in The New York Times. cf http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/21/garden/21nola.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss The article notes that Mayor Nagin of New Orleans lives in Ledner's Ashtray House. The union hall that was most striking to me was the one in Norfolk, looking rather like the new Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston combined with the Villa Savoie.

On Sunday, I went to Long Island City (the part of Queens across the East River from Midtown Manhattan) for some art viewing and a walking tour of daylight factory buildings. At Dorsky Gallery was "Seeing things" curated by Trevor Richardson: not very many works but examples by some favorites (Nina Katchadourian's "Austria" and a paperback still-life by Thomas Allen) as well as the beautiful "Two books" by Abelardo Morell and still life by Zachary Zavisak. From there to the Sculpture Center: four benches in the garden by Jeppe Hein and a big rotating mirror in the main space; in the basement a work by Willoughby Sharp who is also at Mitchell Algus Gallery and other works. I love the basement spaces at the Sculpture Center. P.S. 1 also had some interesting stuff.

The walking tour by Jack Eichenbaum was quite fine. Though I'd ridden the path before, part of the tour was on the elevated number 7 train from Court House Square to 33rd Street with some time on the platform at Queensborough Plaza. The view over L.I.C. as well as toward Manhattan is splendid. We went into three buildings: one that is now quite upscale studio space, two that attempted to be vigorous retail spaces but are mostly small operations and offices. The third building, the former Gimbel's warehouse, used to be occupied by three guys who built sculptures, one of which remains. The remaining sculpture is crafted from an old schoolbus.

Saturday's gallery hopping in Soho and Chelsea was a relatively normal day of hits and misses. Orchard seemed to be closed but I guess they're under construction and the current show is in Midtown. Among the hits: David Stephenson's vaults at Julie Saul Gallery; Collier Schorr at 303 (Spencer Tunick had just signed the guestbook); Jackie Ferrara at Frederieke Taylor (I love her "furniture" and the wall works were good too); Robert Adams photos of leaves of Matthew Marks; small Ugo Rondinone "paintings" (pencil in white paint) also at Matthew Marks (the sculptures dominating the space did nothing for me but the paintings were lovely); Reuben Cox's photos of log cabins by architect Joe Webb at Bespoke, up in the attic at 547 West 27th; Aperture had photos by Bruce Cratsley and Peter Hujar among "Lisette Model and her successors."

Now if the rest of life could just be as nourishing. I'm working on getting perspective on the work bureaucracy and somehow it's seeming to work ... I think.

Oh, go see "Helvetica" if you can. It's a documentary film about, duh, Helvetica font, how the ubiquitous sans serif font talks when it's used. It's really funny at times though you might have to be a font hound to really dig it. cf http://www.helveticafilm.com/

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