07 March 2009

felt wallpaper waters walk man push cart

Though I should have spent the day sorting and packing, I went up to the Cooper-Hewitt for the ARLIS/NY tour of the "Fashioning Felt" and "Wall Stories: Children's Wallpaper and Books" along with Tulou (affordable housing in China) and Shahzia Sikander selections from the collection. The felt show is marvelous and the curator Susan Brown gave us a fine tour. Among my favorite objects were the Andrea Zittel dresses. Susan explained that Zittel wanted to get totally green and put the fabric together without machinery. The dresses are interesting to look at too. Kathryn Walker did some wonderful rosettes as a molding in the first gallery from the information desk. I had seen the Tulou show before and I really love the model of the circular complex with a square block inside. I also very much enjoy shows in which an artist is turned "loose" in the collections of a museum, selecting things which moved or inspired her or him. Some other memorable artist selections were Kara Walker at the Met a couple years ago, Paul Cadmus at the National Academy before that, and John Biggers at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston even earlier. The Biggers retrospective at MFAH included a room of paintings and other art that inspired Biggers as he grew up in Houston. The Sikander selections are in the small gallery to the right of the information desk and the show also includes a large folio she did expressly for this show. The folio is probably about four feet high and each page is about 3 feet across. It's big and rather like a Persian manuscript with modernist interventions, such as Icarus masquerading as an American eagle.

From the Cooper-Hewitt for a quick round of "American Waters" at the National Academy. And then on to the Met where I again visited the Edward Weston and Raqib Shaw shows, looked at the wonderful Kehinde Wiley recumbent Christ, and then did a rather quick round of the late Bonnards. It's not that it wasn't wonderful but it was quite crowded and I'd rather look at a few good Bonnards (and some of the drawings especially were lovely) than gorge myself.

I got my ticket for "Man Push Cart" at MoMA and then went over to Fifth Avenue for a bit of gallery hopping. Forum Gallery had a show of paintings by Alex Melamid of hip-hop artists. The show was done in conjunction with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, and the catalog had an essay by Francine Prose. The paintings are really lovely and the Detroit and Prose connection was wonderfully serendipitous. Prose is a favorite author and I've read her Goldengrove and Sicilian Odyssey is the past few months. John Maier got me a t-shirt from the MOCAD which he visited a couple years ago. I'd love to see the museum which is currently in a renovated garage (rather like the Temporary Contemporary in L.A. in its early days).

Downstairs for some Elliott Erwitt photos of New York City at Edwynn Houk and a nice little group show at McKee Gallery. McKee has the estates of Philip Guston and Harvey Quaytman so there were a few of each. There were also two works by Kit Rank, with whom I wasn't familiar. I really liked "Monkey's Milk Bar."

And then "Man Push Cart." If you haven't seen it, I recommend it. I wonder how someone who hasn't lived in NYC would react. It's very much the hard life of the push cart vendors, currently mostly from Pakistan and Afghanistan. The movie was released in 2005 and much of the impetus for making it was the horrible and suspicious treatment of brown peoples after 9/11, particularly those suspected of being Muslim. The main actor was at the screening and chatted with us in the lobby after the film. He said the movie had played well outside NYC and showed a different view of the city, not the elegance of Prada or the mad chase scenes but the real life hard hard life of the immigrant who may have been a rock star or doctor but now sells coffee and bagels, getting up at 2 a.m. in all kinds of weather.

Today's weather was not hard to take. It was supposed to get up to 69 degrees today which is pretty toasty for NYC in early March. I was in Los Angeles for College Art Association last week so I'd had my share of warm weather. I really enjoy going to College Art and listening to papers about things I haven't known about ... or things I'm quite familiar with. I stayed with Steve Ong most of the time; he lives in a lovely hillside house in Silver Lake. His late partner Ed Amstrong used to work with me at Bobst Library. I also spent one night at The Hacienda, as Sharon Chickanzeff calls her childhood home where her 96-year old mother still lives. The house is lovely and set in La Habra Heights which is quite a bit higher than other territory in the southeastern part of L.A. The Hammer Museum had a lovely show of portraits and I also enjoyed seeing the Broad Museum and Getty Villa. And eating quite a lot of Mexican food never is a problem.

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