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Back to Florence

2 Feb

A break from regularly scheduled posting to bring you the amazingness that is the Google Art Project. Visit a museum anywhere in the world, zoom in on works of art. I’m not saying that looking at art through a computer is at all the same but this is pretty damn awesome.

See you Monday, I’m at the Uffizi!

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Winter Doldrums

1 Feb


The amount of snow still on the ground is ridiculous, there isn’t any space to put the results of the next impending storm. I decided to spare you a photograph of the piled up mounds of snow because it just bums me out. The accumulated snow and the reading I have to do for grad school has me hibernating inside my home like my dog, Riley. Without fail, every morning Riley curls up on the chair in our family’s living room with his tail touching his nose.

How long til I can have days with views like this again?

In art news, I have 20 days to check out the exhibit Glorious Sky: Herbert Katzman’s New York. To be followed up with a viewing of this show at the Met. Finally, I found this article discussing how the current situation in Egypt may impact their cultural treasures.

I also have less than a week to figure out a delicious, veggie inspired party food for Superbowl Sunday.

Any suggestions?

 

 

11 Jan

Graduate school begins next week, and with it begins a disruption to my meals. It’s common knowledge among friends and family, that I need to eat and I need to eat often. But when I’m looking for a meal as I wait for a train or a class to begin, I grab the nearest palatable thing. This in no way means that something is something healthy.

I figure the only way to circumvent this issue to to do what all those magazines, books and blogs tell me to do: plan ahead.

Each weekend I plan on creating a list of recipes and meals that will either freeze or travel well, so that I always have something available. Today’s was a batch of Martha Stewart’s Apple Squash Soup. I had higher hopes for this soup, but a side salad and dollop of greek yogurt made it a much more respectable lunch.

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After several months hiatus from visiting a museum for pleasure, rather than work, I visited the Whitney to view their Edward Hopper show. Already a Hopper fan, I enjoyed seeing his work set among that of his contemporaries.

His works of solitude and isolation, commentary on the human condition, are somehow much more palatable than more contemporary artists’ reflections on the darker aspects of life. I may feel this way because his use of light, color and shape are more applicable to my personal work, but my friend MaryEllen and I left the other exhibits feeling more depressed then inspired.

Hopper on the other hand made me really focus on the way light fell on the apartment buildings as I walked to the subway. I earned more personally and artistically from just a few of his paintings than from every gallery I visited in Chelsea earlier that day.

Museum Hopping

13 Aug

Yesterday I wanted to go to some museums I haven’t visited in months, or years. (Or ever). I wanted to go here.

Except I forgot that the Guggenheim is closed on Thursdays, breaking from the rule of no museum Mondays.

I waffled indecisively in front of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

I missed the exhibit I wanted to see at the Jewish Museum.

Eventually I just walked down to that my safe bet, the Met. I never know where I’ll end up there, I tend to wander through the same hallways. I go up the main staircase, usually making a left turn into prints and drawings. Then I’ll just segue from there, making arbitrary turns.  Once in awhile I’ll end up underneath the Medieval gateway, which I’ll use as my marker. Yesterday in particular I tried to avoid the throngs of people.

While wandering through the museum, I started a train of thought inspired by one of the photographs on display in “Between Here and There: Passages in Contemporary Photography”.  The photograph was by Thomas Struth.

Thomas Struth. National Museum of Art, 1999.

The museum’s placard discussed how Thomas Struth focused on the secular religion of art, as well as the “appreciation of difference and cultural specificity.” This photograph, of an art loan between France and Japan, shows us how the Japanese chose to display Liberty Leading the People and how it is viewed. All the information presented to me, through both the placard and image, led me to thinking about this concept of art as a secular religion. I think it’s completely valid.

Even the Met’s architecture lent itself to this train of thought. All I could think of, as I looked at these arches where the churches I’d visited in Florence. Even the niche filled with flowers reminded me of the small niches for religious statues and offerings you would find randomly in a wall.

NYC. Florence.

And then I found myself in a wing where I had never been before, the Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for the Arts of South and Southeast Asia. I discovered about the religious transformation of the region, as Buddhism spread from India to China.

I spent some time wandering the museum in reverential silence, thinking about the cultural significance of so many things.

Which led me to search out another cultural element. Food.

Spring Pasta

14 May

Talk about a quick to make recipe.

I added to this Spring Linguine (in my case, fettucine) baby spinach thinly sliced and salmon. Slice the spinach just like you would fresh herbs, by rolling them into log and using your knife to carefully slice them into ribbons. The salmon was canned wild alaskan salmon. I should have just bought flaked salmon because I had to carefully remove the skin and bones ( including the spine. THE SPINE) from the fish before adding it.

This was made in about 15 minutes, fast enough to serve to my mom, aunt and grandma before they went shopping. I think they thoroughly enjoy having a personal chef.

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On an art note, the NYTimes beat me to it. I wanted to urge you to go see the Mourners at the Met, but  I discovered through their article that it’s closing on the 23rd. Luckily I saw it a few weeks ago, but I plan on going again Tuesday morning and returning with plenty of drawings of them. Absolutely no photography is allowed, and I could sneakily snap a photo, but I think I’ll be able to do them justice. And I want you to see them.

Wanted: Dead or Alive

3 May

If you haven’t been to the Museum of Arts and Design in Columbus Circle  since I last mentioned it, you seriously have to. As one of my friends said yesterday, “This is my happy place.” This week was the opening of their exhibit Dead or Alive, another in their series about chosen materials. Each artist featured uses organic materials in their work, which at one point was previously alive. These materials range from bones and bugs to seeds and plant leaves. This may sound slightly repulsive upon reading, and I won’t deny that bugs usually skeeve me out, but they’re transformed into utterly interesting works of art. Many of the artists state that they have not harmed anything in order to obtain their materials, and several of the pieces have strong environmental / political messages (Keith Bentley’s Canda Equina is one of these). But first and foremost I viewed each piece as it’s own entity, before reading to discover the artist’s prerogative.

My three favorite pieces of the show have a more traditional presentation, which speaks to my own personal aesthetic preferences. Upon entering the fifth floor, Xu Bing’s Background Story 6, 2010 is the first piece viewed. It seems to be a Japanese landscape upon frosted glass, ink lines lit from behind. Then you look behind the wall and realize that all the shapes are in reality shadows cast by organic debris, sticks and dried leaves.

Fabian Peña’s The Impossibility of Storage for the Soul 1, 2007 looks like delicate mosaics of anatomy…and this delicacy is reiterated when it’s understood that it’s not tile fragments that have formed these shapes and tonal variations, but infinitely small fragments of cockroach wings. Studio Drift’s Fragile Future.3 attracts you with it’s glowing orbs from across the room, and as you stand in front of it, each LED light covered with dandelion seeds (carefully attached to maintain the lightness and roundness of a gone to seed dandelion head), seems to speak about time.

There are so many artists, Alastair Mackie, Helen Altman, Tracy Heneberger, and Tim Tate/Marc Petrovic to mention just a few more, and each piece included is absolutely astounding (I can’t say that with 100 % accuracy because a few works did seem a bit lackluster to me, at least for their inclusion in this show). MAD, you’ve done it again.

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Food wise? My friends and I went to a nearby Thai place on 8th and 55th. Chai is an extremely small hole in the wall type of place, but you really can’t go wrong with decent Thai food, a red curry that makes your eyes water and a $7.00 lunch special price tag. ( At least, this cash strapped girl can’t). We then trekked around to satisfy a friend’s Red Mango craving, and this was my first experience with a tart frozen yogurt experience. I have to say, I really really enjoyed it plus the array of healthy toppings. I enjoyed the yogurt itself; it’s  location on the 2nd floor of the NBC store in Rockefeller Centre? Not so much.

Columbus Circle

Dead Or Alive

Pablo Bronstein at the Met

13 Apr

Pablo Bronstein at the Met, one solo show in a series highlighting contemporary artists, provides an alternative history for and imaginary futures of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His ink drawings are exquisite, meticulously created architectural schematics that are simultaneously beautiful and funny.I don’t think I’ve ever laughed before while visiting an exhibit.

Favorite Works include: The Departure of the Temple of Dendur from Egypt, 2009 which illustrates a hypothetical method of how the temple arrived at the Met and the dark background makes this one of the most visually arresting in the show. The slightly skewed Poodle Piranesi etchings cover one wall, their deliberate black lines illustrating yet another Met universe.

The show generates an quiet atmosphere due to the architectural focus upon line rather than color. A gracefulness accompanies the incredibly interesting mythology, and I left the room with new thoughts about what constitutes a history and a future.

Sadly the show closes in 5 days, so if you can stop by the Met in the next few days I highly recommend it!

The Morgan, part 2.

24 Feb

I have to admit that even though I love museums, about half way through my visits I tend to need a snack. Preferably something that will either a) tide me over til dinner time, b) get me through the train ride home or c) both. So after viewing a Woman’s Wit and Rome after Raphael, my friend Dana ( hi Dana) and I grabbed a table at the Morgan’s Cafe. I was tempted to order the wine and cheese pairing inspired by the Raphael show, but since I’m currently not drinking alcohol and I was starving I chose something else. Instead, I ordered the shiitake mushroom and goat cheese tart accompanied by a frisee salad. The tart was good, though I tasted more egg than either mushroom or goat cheese. So I’m going to have to rename it the shittake mushroom quiche. The frisee salad was really refreshing, with a light lemon dressing. Since my stomach is a bottomless  pit and I hate to end good conversation with a friend, Dana and I decided to go for our traditional museum tea and split a plate of cookies. There were about 5 cookies, with the only repeat being 2 macaroons. Since we both dislike macaroons, our first reaction was “why would they give two of the worst type of cookie on the plate?” But we were wrong, oh so wrong; the macaroons ended up being the tastiest cookies of the bunch.

“Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?”

22 Feb

I finally managed to go see the show A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy, with 3 weeks left before closing at the Morgan Library this past weekend. Of over 3,000 letters that Jane ( I feel I can call her by her first name) is assumed to have written, 160 survived. The Morgan has 51 of them in their collection. Along with letters to her sister Cassandra, her favorite correspondent, the show also displayed pages of her unfinished manuscript The Watsons; first editions of her novels; various illustrations; as well as some works from her contemporaries. This was why the exhibit was so enjoyable, you were able to view her work in the context of the world she lived. You gained insight to what informed her work and the influences her contemporaries had upon her. For example, we all know how important dances for socialization are in Jane’s novels but I always wondered how every one knew the latest ones. An answer to my question was on display, a book by Thomas Wilson that must have been in wide circulation, its title ” An Analysis of Country Dancing, where in all the figures used in polite amusement are rendered familiar by Engraved Lines” (published 1811). Most importantly, A Woman’s Wit delved into Jane Austen as a person and allows her ardent admirers to have a chance at knowing her wit through a facet other than the pages of Pride and Prejudice.

A letter to Cassandra, from the Morgan's online exhibit of the letters

1 Feb

Yesterday I attended a series of 3 lectures at the Met, all of which focused on the idea of misconceptions. I thoroughly enjoyed the first one and found it incredibly interesting, during the second one I reverted to my art history class habit of doodling to escape boredom, and the third one made me laugh until I cried. I’ll briefly bullet point what I learned / found most interesting from each.

Sunday at the Met

1. Painting Restored! Is That Really Possible? – Michael Gallagher

  • A painting cannot be restored to absolute pristine glory, but aspects of its quality and integrity can be.
  • What artists choose to use as their media determines how it fares . For example, in his painting Women Picking Olives Van Gogh used cochineal powder to create his red paint even though it has the propensity to fade. Because of this,  the painting’s color changed radically over the years. Conservators understand these changes but they are irreversible.
  • All stages of conservation are documented.
  • Even a simple varnish can markedly change the intent and meaning of a piece.
  • Because paintings usually hung in homes and became a part of everyday life, they were extremely susceptible to environmental factors. One photographic example in the presentation showed what a heavy layer of nicotine did to the color of a Cranach. Another painting’s cracking from impact was due to it’s hanging in a home, potentially subjected to thrown bread or repeated hits from a shuttlecock (Gallagher’s reasonings).
  • Most importantly, paintings should not be turned into archeological discoveries. Though it’s fascinating to see the changes an artist implemented while creating it, they were not meant to be seen in the finished project. The intent of the artist should be honored.

2. Icon- A Word with Many Meanings — Helen C. Evans

  • The main point was that any image used for veneration and devotion is an icon, it does not have to be a painting on a wooden panel.
  • Icons evolved to meet the needs of the spiritual community.

3. How to Mount a Horse in Armor and Other Chivalric Problems — Dirk H. Breiding

  • Because armor is associated with so many romantic/ gruesome ideas and is popular among visitors, it tends to create the most misconceptions.
  • Not many suits from the medieval period remain; armor showcases many artistic and technological advances of the time.
  • Knights were not the only people allowed to wear armor, almost man owned one.
  • Armor was created for men to wear in battle, therefore it was not insanely heavy. Its usually flexible and allows the wearer to have full range of motion.
  • Most importantly, it was never so heavy that a crane was necessary to lift the wearer onto a horse. You simply inserted a foot into the stirrup and hoisted yourself into the saddle. If it was physically taxing, a friend was all that was required to help you. No cranes necessary.

–Breiding made his point using many photographic examples, clips from movies the Met produced in the 1920s (one of which included a curator of the time wearing one of the Met’s full suits of armor to demonstrate how it was worn / moved), and referenced popular culture examples which perpetuated falsities about armor.

I can’t wait to visit the Arms and Armor gallery ( for what will be the second time ever) and really think about what I’m seeing. These lectures reiterated to me that keeping an open mind is important in viewing art.