Friday, February 27, 2009

Live Hard, Create Compulsively, Die Young.

Fantastic Times article today with an even better title about a bad-boy artist Martin Kippenberger. I hope to see the show at MoMa this weekend (to make up for that unfortunate Twombly mix-up).

As stated by Holland Cotter,

What was he high on? Alcohol, ambition, disobedience, motion, compulsive sociability, history and art in its many forms.

Art in its many forms was what he made — specifically paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, prints, posters, books — all in madly prolific quantities. In every sense he took up a lot of space.

And he continues to do so at the Museum of Modern Art, where his first — and excellent — American retrospective, “Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective,” is spilling out of top-floor galleries and down into the atrium.

Doesn't that just get you EXCITED!? Well done, Cotter. Well done, Kippenberger.
photo: NY Times

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cy Twombly

So I have been excited about the new Cy Twombly show at Gagosian for months. I love Cy Twombly. He had cover 4 in Art in America in Feb, and I have been staring at this image since the first bound copies arrived. Yay, I thought. Finally. A big, juicy painting show in Chelsea. Just what I need.

However. Upon planning my weekend around the 'The Rose' Twombly exhibit I realized that I hadn't actually read the ad. I just looked at the picture. This show is at the Britannia Street space in London. Hot damn.

While this doesn't totally kill my weekend-- I have plenty to do and much to see-- it is a little disappointing. Kind of like the first time I was going to go ice skating at the only ice skating rink in the entire state. I already had my carefully chosen black stretch pants, over sized purple sweatshirt, and scrunchy socks on. My ponytail was skater-perfect and my heart was fully prepared to become Kristy Yamaguchi the moment I stepped on the ice.

However. Right before leaving for the big event we learned that the rink was CLOSED for the entire weekend. Okay, the Cy Twombly thing is not really all that much like the ice skating incident because having the rink closed DID kill my weekend. And my childhood. It was terrible. I didn't step on the ice until years later. But at any rate... lets take a moment and talk about Cy Twombly.

Twombly is an artists' artist. He is valued and praised within a certain sect and ignored elsewhere. I first saw his work during a painting course in college... to me he was the guy who pretended to be a preschooler with his scribbles and drips.

But when you reach a level of understanding in the Contemporary community Cy Twombly suddenly becomes the utmost of brilliant. He is Michelangelo, he is Giotto. Cy Twombly's scribbles and drips are completely unreachable. It's this irony that gets us in the end.

The easy way out is to call Twombly 'childlike.' This description annoys me. If referencing children's marks was his only purpose he wouldn't have already had a retrospective at Tate Modern and have record sales at both Sotheby's and Christie's. His paintings are in every major collection in the world, and without him there is a definite missing piece.

Twombly recalls the history of art in his marks. He nods at the High Renaissance, references the Italian coast, gracefully illustrates the four seasons. He did an entire series based on Bacchus that i love, love, love. He relays springtime in bursts of color and formulated script. In order to understand Twombly you must understand that he is intensely intuitive-- something that translates directly from brush to canvas to viewer. It's striking.

You will have to forgive any image that you find online or in a textbook... like the other greats, he should really only be viewed in person. MoMa has a few pieces up, and I'm sure the Met has one or two in that terribly dull Contemporary wing.

But the best way to see Twombly is surrounded by other Twomblys-- in a gallery show. That is why I was looking forward to the Gagosian show this weekend-- a big white room, dead silent, and fiercely intimidating.

Anyone up for a day trip to London?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Guess who got last place at the Oscars???

Mickey and I did. Dead last. I got 11 out of 24 right on my Oscars ballot. LAST PLACE. I don't want to talk about it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Let the Right One In

People have been telling me to see the Swedish vampire movie for the past 3 months. 'What, you haven't seen the Swedish vampire movie?! You have to see it! Why haven't you seen it!?' Do I seem like a girl interested in Swedish vampires? It was confusing for me too.

So yesterday, after a seven hour brunch (yeah, a seven hour brunch), we rolled out of Kate's Park Slope apartment and took the train into the Angelika to give it a go. It was between The Classe, which I still need to see, and the Swedish Vampires. Vampires it was.

Now, even though I knew that this was a vampire movie, I have to admit that I was totally unprepared for the vampire aspect. I'm not used to gore. Plus, I don't know if there is a way to make vampire movies not funny, because if there is any believable setting for blood-feeding, bright and snowy Sweden is it.

The cold, harsh crunch of snow lends a startling and alluring backdrop for pale skin and deep red dripping blood. It all works until someone combusts into flames or arms are ripped off and thrown into water. Then it just becomes a little funny.

That said, this film isn't about vampires at its core. It is an old tale of school bullies and overcoming obstacles and falling in love. The protagonist is a prepubescent boy whose interactions on the playground rival a Lord of the Flies hierarchy. Its about courage and loyalty, love and fitting in. But in this Swedish love fest, its a young girl who comes to the rescue of dear Oskar. David is rescued while attempting to throw stones at Goliath... for in the reality of schoolyard duals, David can only be beat.

Because of its young viewpoint, the story held our fascination at a very naive and lucid state. We are reminded of Bridge to Terabitha in the fragility of both characters in the big world they are up against. But instead of fantasized demons and kings, Oskar and Eli face actual hunters of blood and soul. Eli's world is a dark reality and Oskar barely blinks.

As in most modern day vampire stories (I've seen a total of maybe 3 in my lifetime, so I may not be the best source to make such grand comparisons, but here I go) Eli feels a tremendous guilt and shame for the blood she sucks. You would kill to kill she says to Oskar, who holds a transfixed interest in murder weapons and bloody newspaper clippings. I kill because I have to live.

Our heart breaks for her because its supposed to. She doesn't want any of this. But she has to eat. I hear ya, girl Don't we all? :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I wish he were my boyfriend (part II)

GUESS who was on NYmag Daily Intel on Val Day... Josh Lyman. What are the odds?!

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Heart Art

In honor of this lovely holiday, I am taking Katie's lead and bringing you some of my loves... all Valentine's Day themed artworks. (If you can't be corny on Valentines Day, when can you be?)

Hanging Heart (Magenta and Gold), above, is my absolute favorite piece by the famed Jeff Koons. It is currently in a private collection (if I'm wrong please correct me) but you can view his sister piece Sacred Heart (Red/Gold) on display on the Met's rooftop. It feels just how love should... big, juicy, and bold.

Further downtown tonight, Fernando Mastrangelo's show LoVE is a smoke made with the fume of sighs... is opening at Kumukumu Gallery on the Lower East Side.

Mastrangelo is a Brooklyn artist who has transformed Kumukumu into a three part sea vessel-- a metaphor for life, death, and love. It's a romantic yet forlorn look at love as conveyed through history, literature, and art. And the title, if you weren't aware, was taken directly from Romeo and Juliet. Yep. LOVE IT.

My final heart is an Andy Warhol 1979 screen print. I actually did a similar series in college of intaglio prints of hearts that I sketched from human anatomy textbooks. There is something so alluring about this grotesque yet poetic human organ that has been the physical embodiment of love for centuries. And coming from a medical family background, this was my meager attempt at connecting art and science.

Warhol completed this version late in his career when he could pretty much stamp anything and make it famous. While this phase of his life annoys me a bit, I do love the piece.

Happy Heart Day, my loves. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Simon Hogsberg

A friend sent me this artist's website today, and I immediately fell in love with the photo above (as well as the woman in it.) Simon Hogsberg is a Danish photographer specializing in narrative imagery. His voice is clear and concise and feels innately European in its flooding of white light. This particular series, however, is set in my darling New York, and therefore stood out among the rest.

As stated from his website (note: the feed scrolls left to right):

Once in a while I see a person on the street who immediately attracts my attention. I’m fascinated by the appearance of the person and feel a strong urge to walk over and say hi.
I spent one month, seven hours a day, walking the streets of New York in search for people who had this effect on me. I found ten, and asked each of them the same question: What do you think about your face?

Besides the obvious poetry in this idea (aging gracefully, history of self, a visual past), one other thought jumps out at me... really?! A month? You walked around New York for SEVEN HOURS a day for a month!? On whose time and on what pocketbook?! And you only found 10 people???? That's well under one person a day! And THESE are them? Sorry, but if I didn't say it who would.

The photos are lovely though... :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

Reader, beware. This will get personal.

I went to He's Just Not That Into You the other night with high hopes and much anticipation. I love movies like this... case studies on personalities and relationships and the smashing of the two. Well, I didn't love the movie. Even though I wanted to. However... It encouraged much thought, as intended. That I will give it.

The thing is... this movie wasn't actually directed at my sect, contrary to all prior thought. It wasn't set in New York, for one. I know that makes me crazy narcissistic to declare that it would have turned out differently if it were, but come on... it would have. In New York exists a certain demographic absent from this tanglement of love stories. What about the single gal? I know, Gigi... she was single, right? No, she was not. Not in the way that I view single.

I remember a friend of mine going through a breakup a few years ago in absolute hysterics over the idea of being single again. 'I don't want to go out on a million dates,' she cried. 'I don't want to put in the effort, I don't want to have random makeouts at bars!' 'WHOA,' I thought in horror. 'That's NOT what single means.'

Gigi is a girl looking for love. She is desperately searching for that one person who will make her whole, once and for all. She is trying really, really hard to not be single. To her, single is the enemy. Even in the end she is dating like crazy trying to figure it out.

I kept waiting for someone to smack her and to tell her that she needs to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the life she is living. Why didn't some wise old soul open her eyes to the goodness around her... read a book! See a movie! Have dinner with friends! LIVE YOUR LIFE! What the hell!?

Whatever happened to the Katherine Hepburns of this world? Where is Mae West? Vivien Leigh? June Carter? Give me Jo March, people. This movie was chock-full of whiney Amy's.

What do you think this blog is about? Its about falling in love, come on. That's the title. It is, in a way, mocking the idea of falling in love as taught to us in fairy tales. I started this blog to energize the world (well, myself and my 5 friends who read it) in passionately caring about everyday life. I wanted to start a revolution of thought and awareness. Something to fill that ridiculous 'void' that we are taught exists when we don't have an 'other.' It's a very direct and pointed correlation.

That said, I did tear up when Ben got down on his knee and proposed to Jennifer. I liked that story line because it showcased real hurt as opposed to petty 'will he call me' crap. It was the only story line that didn't make me cringe. (Well, thats not true, I liked the Scarlet Johansson/Bradley Cooper line as well, but mostly because I really liked him in Alias.)

My advice to Gigi? There aren't any rules. There aren't any lessons. There aren't any rights and wrongs and coulda shoulda woulda's. There are just synapses and signals shooting across the universe and sometimes they smack into eachother and sometimes they don't. There are some amazing guys out there, and when it does happen, I'm sure it will be wonderful. Just please don't waste your time trying to predict it. Now go read a book or something.

Stepping off my soapbox now. Happy Valentines Day. :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Paul Villinski

Paul Villinski, one of my favorite artists, is rumored to be coming to Chelsea next month. Cross your fingers. Villinski creates lovely installation pieces from found cans, gardening gloves, and old vinyl records. The work shown above is an installation piece that he created using beer cans gathered from the streets of New York. See? Lovely.

And despite the quick punch (transformation, recovery, metamorphosis) Villinski is a thinker. He works with an environmentally focused mantra and thinks big... entire cities big. His ideas work to initiate change in places like post-Katrina New Orleans and the industrial wastelands of Queens.

He also aims to bridge the barrier between earth and sky, wing and wind. And because of these grand views and focused initiatives, his butterflies suddenly hold weight and depth despite their cliched past. His dirty gloves reek of longing and his wings flap with purpose.

I like him. He knows what he's doing. And I hope to glimpse him soon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Becky Shaw

Becky Shaw is a play that understands the art of observation. The point isn't some theme or character or plot... it's about a generation. Our generation... eek. And Gina Gionfriddo gets it.

She has obviously observed the annoyance, the selfishness, the confidence, the lack of confidence, and the idea of tricking ourselves into knowing what we want... all resulting from a coddled generation raised on msnbc and post-Freudian textbooks. Yet because it was observed instead of felt it absolutely worked as entertainment. This play was hilarious.

Bubbles and I saw Becky Shaw together tonight on Broadway. We talked furiously between curtains about this very idea of a generation and what defines it. 'We're back to the sixties! noted Bubbles in exasperation, 'You kids are the talk, talk, talk of the sixties!' Her generation, mind you, was 'full of grunters. We didn't talk about anything.'

This generation... (what are we again? Millennials?) knows how to analyze and pick and prod until the point of exhaustion. We have been raised to believe that if there is a problem, you talk about it. You figure it out. And talk they did.

That said, it should be noted that in no way is Gionfriddo trying to capture an entire generation the way that Rent did for the 90s or Grease for the 50s. Shaw is more of a shapshot or a focus group. She took extremes and set them in a room and they in turn set the room on fire. And that's what makes it interesting... there's nothing epic about it.

The title character enters at the end of the first act as an unsure, delicate, needy (yet gorgeous) blind date. She is set against a cast of strong personalities who have zero tolerance for weakness and very little boundaries in terms of opinion. She took hit after hit from her date, Max, who she of course ultimately fell in love with despite his blaring disinterest and obvious mistreatment. It was so funny. She is the embodiment of tragedy and hopefulness... a combination that will always prove detrimental.

Susannah, the lead female, represents a false sense of identity so evident in a generation weened on 'favorites' and 'selective tagging.' It's like she decided one day that she wanted to be a certain person and married the first man who fit the mold. She tries desperately, every day, to fit that mold as well. She wants to like mountains and flannel and good deeds... but its only effort, not sincerity.

Max often refers to her husband as a alternative music junkie, yet we know from the opening scene that Susannah prefers rock music by the ocean. She is a judger, not a listener. Because of her complexity and harshness, Susannah is much less funny than Becky. Yet her counterpart, Max, keeps her likable by prodding her bad side.

The play continues in Shakespearean entanglement with language to match. Becky twists Max's words as if guided by Puck himself while Susan (Susannah's mother played by Kelly Bishop... aka... EMILY GILMORE!!!) bounces one liners in deadpan declaration a la Titania on her throne of thorns and certainty.

The second act gains momentum from Becky's naivete and we suddenly realize why this play is called Becky Shaw and not Susannah... for Becky, like Puck, messed with everyone's lives without permission. Yet, unlike Puck, Becky is oblivious to her irreversible ripples.

Max's character proved the most complex, stemming from a stubborn rejection of psychology and almost existential view on human limitation. He crushes ideologies and false truths in favor of realism. He is the typical jack-ass who kicks girls out of bed before morning then insists on paying for the cab.

He is the serial dater, the pompous financial guy, and the misogynistic alpha male all rolled into one delicious wool coat. Again, this is comedy and its hilarious. He kills us with his sarcasm and brutal honesty, always at the expense of the fool on the other end of the bargaining table. We of course get to see him break, but as they say... too little too late.

in addition to his character, Max actually drove me a little insane in his pitch... he started high and had a difficult time coming down. Granted, his lines were all based in sarcasm and argument but I would have liked to see a variation in his deliverance. The same goes for Susannah. I kept wishing she would belly her breath (think Kate Winselt) instead of talking directly from her head. It turned nasal and too high for the amount of angry dialogue thrown about. They were clearly written to be abrasive, but if you ask me, they could have toned it down.

Bubbles and I had a marvelous time. There is nothing like good live theater to lift your spirits and energize your soul, we agreed. Especially on a Wednesday in the dead of winter during a recession. The Times review agreed. Speaking of this damn recession, tickets to this show are $35 if you're under 30.... a STEAL. Becky Shaw is fresh, young, bold, theater and deserves to be seen.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Spain: On the Road Again

When I first heard about this show I was both extremely skeptical and extremely interested. Gwyneth Paltrow is traveling around Spain with Mario Batali??? What? Mario Batali, the guy who always gets an exasperated channel flip from me whenever he is on the Food Network, taking precious time away from Giada, Sandra, Rachael, Alton, Ina, and Nigella?! And on PBS? That's weird.

On the other hand, I love anything having to with Europe and wine and olives and cheese and the education of it all. The history, the process, the tradition. I love that stuff. But the fact that this random waify movie star and this gluttonous Italian chef are the road trippers threw me off. But it totally works.

s promised, I downloaded Spain: On the Road Again to my itunes and have been completely obsessed ever since. I watched 5 episodes in a row while painting this weekend and afterwards felt like I could actually speak Spanish and should be analyzing the amount of rainfall in the Galicia region and the best time of year to fish for mussels in a delta. I felt tired of processed food and decided that I deserved a daily siesta. And I desperately want to visit Spain.

The show works for many reasons, one of which is the fluid chemistry between Mario and Gwyneth and the two other personalities who joined the trip-- the lovely Claudia Bassols, a Spanish actress, and Mark Bittman, one of my favorite NY Times food writers (and bloggers!) The four are constantly giving slack while simultaneously bring out the best in each other. Aw :)

Bittman, por ejemplo, is a known curmudgeon yet the other three have him laughing and singing like a schoolboy in the back seat of the Mercedes convertible. Gweenie (as the Spaniards call her) feels like an old soul and someone that you absolutely want to be friends with. Its shocking how normal and gracious she is and how giggly she gets when Mario says inappropriate things (which is often.) Listen to her speak about her children... its so very endearing and so obviously from the heart. She even sings the Dora the Explorer theme song to Mario. That is one of my favorite scenes.

Mario is annoying, as a human, but every once in a while he starts talking about his childhood in Spain and his children's' love for the color orange and suddenly we see this interesting, content, excited person who really does exude an infectious energy. Claudia is a popcorn ball of positive thoughts and a genuine craving of knowledge. She balances Bittman beautifully.

The heart of the program does come from this nourishing of knowledge, the nourishment of learning. Its not actually about food, in the end. Part of my skepticism came from an idea of a gluttonous journey of the privileged few. A flaunting of wealth is never attractive and I envisioned Mario stuffing ham into his already full jowl and Gwyneth demanding extra pillows and towel service. But its nothing of the sort. These four individuals bask this opportunity to learn the history, culture, and products of Spain while enjoying its riches.

The food is rarely lavish-- its often quite simple-- consisting of fresh meat and vegetables cooked over an open flame seasoned with only a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt. The point is exactly that... what makes Spanish (and Italian) cuisine so very desirable its is very intimate relation to the earth. Its about local ingredients, local flavors, and simple preparation. Its about eating what is available and preparing food to best suit its natural flavors, not the other way around.

Its the opposite of French cuisine. The French cook for a taste created with sauces and very specific heat and labored preparation. They value the delicateness of a chef's art and of mastering the most complicated of recipes. Recipes are sacred and should only be handled by those who understand the beauty of creating aspic, fois gras, or cassoulet.

The Mediterranean idea, in contrast, is simple, fresh, and anything to bring out the innate flavors of the region. The Spanish eat the oysters raw and WITHOUT seasoning... even in restaurants. The vegetables are barely seasoned, the meat is without sauce. And that, my friends, is why this road trip was essential. In order to actually taste Spanish food one must be in Spain. I love that idea. It's romantic and nostalgic and this girl eats it up. (As I write this I am eating pink and white Keebler frosted animal cookies and feeling very guilty about it, by the way. Mario would slap them out of my hands...)

My parents and I once shared a meal on a farm in the Clay Hills region of Tuscany. Everything we ate was prepared on the property on which we sat. The bread, the meat, the cheese, the wine, the olive oil... everything. It was the best meal I've ever eaten and know that I will not have another like it unless I go back. What grows together goes together, sings Mario, and he's right.

Wine from Basque is enjoyed best with lamb from Basque and cheese from Basque and asparagus from Basque. Get it? It takes the guessing out of cooking. Food nourished by the same earth has a harmonious effect on the palate. We simply can't get food like that here in the city. We make fabulous efforts (many of them by Batali himself) and many of them outstanding... but grapes don't grow on Canal Street.

During the same meal mentioned earlier, my parents and I learned about the Slow Food movement. I later studied and did a presentation of this movement in college for a Global Interactive dinner and earnestly believe in its benefits. Its about eating locally, consciously, and slowly. Tapas aren't food, I learned in the episode on Catalunya. They are a way of eating, a way of understanding life. Tapas are small bits of food meant to be shared and enjoyed in moderation amongst friends and conversation (and wine, of course with wine). One doesn't eat tapas over a sink standing up in their apartment, as I often eat. They are an event, a gathering. And again, I love that idea.

I have a few more episodes left to watch and almost hate to start because it will only mean that the end is near. The road trip did come to an end eventually, but thankfully there are recipes and ideas and conversations for all of us to take with us into American life. Come on over, I'll cook a mean tortilla espaƱola while we toast our cava.

(In honor of February) I heart...

(just spreading the love.)

Hongtao Zhou

So, I work for an art magazine but have absolutely no say as to what is published in the magazine. I work on the publishing side, not the edit side. However... artists still email me personally all day trying to get into the mag. I usually delete these emails immediately but for some reason I opened this one today and fell in love with this artist's work. His name is Hongtao Zhou, a University of Wisconsin-Madison art student. He recently created icy furniture art on frozen Lake Mendota near the UW-Madison Memorial Union Terrace shoreline. As said by Zhou, They connect the lake, the land, the air and the people and complete a life cycle with minimum environmental impact. Lovely. Those are ice cream bowls above.
Visitors stops by taking pictures, eating ice cream with snow bowls and trying the cold ice chairs. The icy furniture makes the winter Terrace shoreline a place to enjoy winter fun.

Following the weather changes, the furniture will melt back into the lake and become a part of the water body again and complete the beauty of green life cycle.

If I were in charge, Hongtao... you'd be Cover 1. :)