A guide to art in NYC, with families in mind.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Diana Thater: "Science,Fiction" David Zwirner Gallery

"Science-Fiction"  by Diana Thater

This month at the David Zwirner gallery, video artist Diana Thater takes us on an visual voyage.  Her new exhibit entitled "Science, Fiction," is inspired in part, by our global ecological state of affairs.  Your voyage begins as you step into a gallery that is bathed in a deep blue light.  As your eyes adjust to the unnatural light, you  find yourself  gazing at rectangular panels, where videos of outer space are projected.  A closer look reveals a galaxy of slow moving stars, populated by a strange looking space craft floating across it's expanse.  The videos are entitled  "The Starry Messenger".   An impression of zero gravity may take hold of your senses as you let your eyes float with the stars.   That feeling of floating is confirmed when you are confronted with a very large cube in the next room. It is hovering a short distance above the floor and emits a bright yellow glow at it's base.  A video of dung beetles burrowing into grass is projected on screen above the cube.   Is there sunlight contained in the box?  Is the eco-activity fueled by it's glow?  The gallery supplies a science news release that may bring insight your recent close encounters.  This exhibit is perfect for curious children and adults alike.  The exhibit is up until February 21st.
The David Zwirner  525,533, West 19th street  www.davidzwirner.com

image: David Zwirner Gallery

Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire"

Got a fashionista teen or a goth kid hanging around the house glaring at you on the weekends?  Head over  to The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute and enjoy viewing "Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire,"  together.  Yes,  I know how hard it is to get on the same page with your teens when it come to doing something,  together.   I have one at home.    This exhibit got a thumbs up from my teen and hopefully it will interest yours.  Probably those into fashion or history or both will really enjoy it.    What you'll see are 30 vintage mourning dresses from the 18th and 19th century.  There is mourning dress worn by Queen Victoria.  We were stunned at how small she was.  For those interested in accessories and jewelry,  they are also featured, although it seems like a very small sampling.  In Victorian times,  lockets with human hair braided and encased in them were so in vogue.  You'll see a couple of beautiful examples.  We peered at those for a while. I would have liked to have seen more hats and miscellaneous  mourning items like shoes and purses but that's the fashionista in me talking.  The exhibit is not very large and it is probably perfect for dragging along the smaller kids and dad's (not of the fashion conscious inclination).  Hurry, the exhibit closes February 1st.  Many pardons for the tardiness of this post.  I took more time than I should have in deciding wether or not to include major museums in my coverage of art exhibitions for family viewing.  It's a new year, and  I will begin to do so since I always get asked if I know about this big show or that.  Originally I wanted to highlight only the art exhibitions in art galleries but it's too hard not to mention the many great shows in the museums of New York City and the boroughs.  So, here's to a new year and a new mission.  Happy viewing.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 fifth ave at 82nd street

The Costume Institute  galleries 980-981


Monday, November 17, 2014

Romare Bearden: "A Black Odyssey" at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach gallery

"Poseidon the Sea God, -Enemy of Odysseus,"
 Romare Beardon 1977*

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach art gallery was established in 1986 for the students and faculty of Columbia University.  It is located on its campus at 826 Schermerhorn Hall, home of the department of Art History and Archaeology.  I didn't realize it was open to the public until I saw write up in the Columbia Spectator about it's current show,  “Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey”.   The gallery is tucked away on the 6th floor of the building.   This was the first time that I was seeing this body of work and it felt like discovering a new treasure.  The exhibition is comprised of, collages, watercolors and drawings depicting scenes from the classical Greek poem, The Odyssey.   In this series of collages,  Bearden re-tells the story of the war hero Odysseus trying, to find his way home while infusing it with African imagery and allegory.   For example the Greek god Poseidon is depicted with an African mask in "Poseidon the Sea God,-- Enemy of Odysseus," 1977.  His signature style of combining glossy clippings from magazines along with colored papers and cloth does not appear in this series.  Instead he cut out vibrantly colored papers and layered them to form images in a style that references Matisse’s cut outs.  Romare Bearden connects the narrative of the African diaspora with the theme of human displacement that occurs across cultures and history.  Your teens who are studying Greek literature will especially appreciate the narratives that they have read come to life in these images.   This exhibit is up until March 14, 2015. 

Miriam and Ira D. Wallach gallery

*Collage. Courtesy Thompson Collection, Indianapolis, Indiana. Art © Romare Bearden Foundation, Licensed by VAGA, New York

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Amen: A Prayer for the World " at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

What would a prayer for the World look like?  What would you pray for?  This is the question that 48 artists (30 Eastern and 18 Western)  were asked to think about, when they were approached by the interfaith arts organization called CARAVAN.  In asking artists from different cultures in the East and West to decorate sculptures, they hoped to create a call for a spiritual and symbolic bridge between countries.   That bridge would extend across the world in the form of a traveling art exhibition.
To begin the process a unifying template was needed, so CARAVAN asked Egyptian artist Dr.
"Pink Camouflage"  Ammar Abou Bakr
Reda Abdel Rashman (known for fueling his contemporary art with ancient Egyptian themes)  for his help.  He sculpted four different fiberglass figures in prayer positions and left them blank. The variations signify diversity in cultures and forms of prayer.  Copies of the blank figures where delivered to the 48 artists and the finished project was first exhibited in July of this year in Cairo, then Washington D.C. and it is now here in New York City at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  Each piece is as diverse in message as in decorative techniques.   The exhibit is  displayed behind the rotunda of the Cathedral.  In and around its small chapels. Some of the figures are arranged together as if in a group meditation and others are placed solo along the corridors.   The experience varies from solemn to uplifting as you walk from piece to piece and read about the different topics that the artists have chosen to  focus on.  When seeing all of the different points of view expressed in this exhibit it is not surprising that practicing tolerance and respect of religious and political beliefs between nations sometimes feels as elusive as a dream.  This exhibit is perfect for all.  Small children and some adults should be reminded not to touch the figures.  There is suggested admission fee. Pay what you can. The exhibit is up through November 23, 2014.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  www.stjohndivine.org
1047 Amsterdam Ave at 112th street

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ralph Fasanella: "Lest We Forget" at The American Folk Art Museum

This month the American Folk Art Museum features the art of Ralph Fasanella, in an exhibit entitled : Lest We Forget.   The Bronx born artist was the youngest son of Italian immigrants who worked, as laborers to raise their family of six children.   His father was an ice delivery man and his mother worked in a dress shop, drilling holes in buttons.  His mother understood the importance of labor unions and was an anti- fascist activist.  Mr. Fasanella’s paintings tell stories of the plight of laborers, and political unrest in post -war America.  The phrase “Lest we forget” appears in many of his paintings.  During his young adult life he held many different jobs such as textile worker and truck driver but his main passion was organizing labor unions. He took up painting to exercise his arthritic hands.  His paintings are densely packed with imagery and messages and they are very large because he imagined them being displayed in union halls.  A folk art dealer “discovered” him in 1972 ,and he enjoyed recognition for his artwork in his later years.   This exhibit it perfect for your older children.  The exhibit is up until December 1st.

The Folk Art Museum 
2 Lincoln Square  Columbus Ave and 66th street 

 Ralph Fasanella, “American Tragedy” (detail) (1964), oil on canvas, 40 x 90 inches / 101.6 x 228.6 cm