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

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Weekend Hit : Sol LeWitt "Structures"

Complex Form 6, 1987
Sol LeWitt 
With the return of sunny days the timing is just right for viewing outdoor art.   The Public Art Fund has installed 27 works by the artist  Sol LeWitt  in  City Hall Park.  The work  spans more than 40 years and the evolution of his "structures," as he preferred to call them.  LeWitt worked in various media including  drawing, photography.  He was part of the Minimalist art movement of the 1960's and was considered the innovator of the Conceptual art movement.   A recurring theme throughout the exhibition is geometric forms and angles based on mathematical grids. Some are identical cubes that are repeated and deconstructed.  He stripped down his ideas into outlines and forms allowing us to use our imaginations and fill in the spaces.  It is fitting that his structures sit in a sunny oasis of green in our city of 90 degree angles, the ultimate homage to our grid plan layout.   -Edna Suarez
City Hall Park is located in Lower Manhattan, and is bordered by Broadway, Chambers Street, Centre Street, and Park Row.

One x Two Half off, 1991
Sol Lewitt
Splotch 15, 2005
Sol LeWitt 

Pyramid Muster, 1987
Sol LeWitt

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yuki Onodera: Transvest Series

Yuki Onodera
Rosa, 2009
From the series Transvest
Gelatin Silver Print
(c) Yuki Onodera, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
The moment photography went digital there were those who lamented the loss of film and the magic of the darkroom.  The artist Yuki Onodera embraces both methods with her new exhibit "Transvest Series" at the Yossi Milo Gallery.   Ms. Onodera presents the viewer with  life-size images  that are in silhouette form.  The cast of characters include a cowboy, a dancer,  a teenager,  a model and more.  Upon closer inspection you realize that they are cutouts (from gelatin silver prints) that are photographed against a background.  Get even closer and  images appear within the blackness.  Digital images of landscapes, waterfalls, animals, architecture, fireworks and lights and fill up the form.  Ask your children how many images they see.  God is in the details.

Yuki Onodera
Eleventh Finger No. 8, 2007
Gelatin Silver Print
(c) Yuki Onodera, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
The second set of photographs also by the same artist are located in the inner room of the gallery.  The images entitled "The Eleventh Finger," is a series of black and white  photographs of people on the street.  The subjects do not know they are being photographed as they speak to each other or talk on cellphones.  Using the darkroom technique  of exposing photographic paper to light called "photogram,"   Ms. Onodera,  perforates paper in lace patterns  and places it over the subjects faces to obscure their view. The technique was made popular by the artist Man Ray among others.   Privacy and personal space are examined in this series of images.  Take your young photography enthusiasts and stretch their visual vocabulary.  The magic of the darkroom can be at their fingertips.   The show runs till May 28, 2011, so hurry.
-Edna Suarez
Perfect for 7 and up

The Yossi Milo Gallery at  525 West 25th street

Monday, May 23, 2011

goARCHkids: Grecian Orders Tutorial #1, DORIC COLUMNS

I thought it might be fun to start with some basics. The three orders of Greek Architecture: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. They were used for temples, and are probably the most influential bit of design ever in the history of man. They are all over NYC. The simplest, most squat, and strongest in appearance is the DORIC order. As you can see, there are no curly bits at the top. The top is called the capital. Classically, the column will sit directly on the ground or floor of the temple and will have twenty flutes running vertically around it. It is slightly bigger in circumference at the bottom. The Doric order really emphasizes strength and stability. Oddly enough, Doric columns are few and far between in NYC. The corner of 116th Street & Madison Avenue in Harlem, the former Public National Bank, boasts a set of near perfect Doric columns. Not much is known about the bank except that it was formed in 1908 and this building was probably built around then. A better known Doric building is Federal Hall, downtown on Wall Street. The current Federal Hall building was built in 1842 as a Customs House. Later it was used as a treasury. This structure needed to evoke a sense of security, strength and power. Also, in 1842, the US was still a new country and wanted to be taken seriously. What better way to do that than create a link between the original democracy in ancient Greece and the new one in the US? Just like the Parthenon in Athens, Federal Hall was designed in the Doric order. Walking around town, I quiz the kids constantly on the orders. My eldest says I'm dorky, but she'll thank me one day.
- Rudie Hurwitz

Sunday, May 22, 2011

goARCHkids: Bite that Apple

A rainy afternoon, you need to do a bit of shopping anyway, kids are bickering, hit an Apple store. Architecturally, they are impressive with their 100 foot ceilings or however high they are. Back in the day, the serfs and peasants did not know how to read, so the architecture needed to appeal to their senses. They would walk into a medieval cathedral and their eyes would travel up and around. Wow, they would think, these ceilings are so high, this space is so magnificent, surely only God could provide us with architecture like this, architecture that defies reason because it is so big and awe-inspiring. So walking into the Apple store on 14th Street or the one on Broadway and 67th is a bit like that. Wow, you think. Then your children make a beeline for ALL THOSE IPADS! A wealth of ipads! Surely this largess, this beauty, can only come from one place. Apple it is! An architect friend of mine used to work on the Apple stores. He said the cost of the materials, importing them from god only knows where, all that gorgeous stone and stainless steel, was astronomical - just like a medieval cathedral. One big difference though is that the Apple stores, all designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, are child friendly. Not all the patrons are, but that extraneous space, the round little pouf seats, and especially those magical glass spiral staircases are an irresistible draw for the kids. Hand holding might be required depending on the age of the kid. Another difference worth noting is that while the glorious medieval architecture relied on appearing mysterious, the Apple stores celebrate construction. You can see the beautiful bolts in the glass holding things together. My kids actually ask to go to our local Apple store and I can get done whatever I need to efficiently and without being distracted, a rare thing indeed.
- Rudie Hurwitz

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekend Hit List

A handy short list from recent posts that may come in handy when the inevitable question pops up,  "Where to, this weekend?"
David Nyzio, Untitled 2011
at Postmasters Gallery

Lisa Hoke:  at The Elizabeth Harris Gallery  529 West 20 st

John Chamberlain: at The Gagosian Gallery  555 West 24th st

Thornton Dial:  at The Andrew Edlin Gallery 134 10th Ave

Willem de Kooning:  at The Pace Gallery  32 E West 57th street

Thursday, May 19, 2011

John Chamberlain: New Sculpture

Installation View

Photography by Robert McKeever
When I think of scrap metal I think of cold unappealing material.  Nothing can be further from the truth when standing beside any sculpture created by the artist John Chamberlain.  You and your family can judge for yourselves when visiting The Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea.   From every vantage point each sculpture is rich with layers, creases, twists and endless lines , much like an abstract expressionist painting.  He credits Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and sculptor David Roland Smith of the abstract expressionist generation as being influential.   Mr. Chamberlain has been working with metal assemblages since the 1950's, using discarded automobile-body parts  and other industrial detritus.  Many of the new sculptures are whimsical looking  with bright colors and  flourishes of paint on shredded ribbons of metal. There is a strange and powerful energy in the gallery as you walk around these gentle giants.  A metal version of Stonehenge comes to mind.  The exhibit runs until July 8th, 2011.
-Edna Suarez
Perfect for all ages
The Gagosian Gallery 555 West 24th street   www.gagosian.com

Monday, May 16, 2011

goARCHkids: McGraw-Hill Still Pretty to Me

I have always found the McGraw-Hill building to be one of the prettiest skyscrapers in midtown. I like the deco lettering of the name at the top, and all that sea green terracotta always seemed so cheerful in gloomy and serious old midtown. When the building was built, in 1931 by Raymond Hood, no one quite knew what to make of it. The New Yorker couldn't find a way to review something that had no historical precedent. They'd never seen anything quite like it before and felt that architectural design was clearly moving in the direction of just providing shelter - not high praise! Generally people could accept art deco or moderne design elements and liked those parts of the building. What put people off, or confused them, was that this building was definitively looking towards the European avant garde, or the International Style. One can see that in the horizontal bands of windows, which is classic Le Corbusier, arguably the father of the International Style. Meanwhile, though International Style enthusiasts were quick to claim this building not only as one of their own, but as the first International Style building in the United States, they also ignored the deco and moderne elements. Everyone seemed to see the parts of the building that suited them. What I like so much, the color and almost whimsical quality of the McGraw-Hill building are not at all what the architect intended. Hood firmly believed that ornament had no place in contemporary architecture, so he stripped it from his designs. But to my eye, relative to what came later to office building design, this building is a breathe of fresh air. McGraw-Hill sold it in the 1970s. It no longer spoke of that company. The design was so dated, inappropriate. We were walking a few blocks south of 42nd and I glanced up and saw it. I told the kids how much I liked McGraw-Hill. They did too, bit more eye-catching than the standard office building.
-Rudie Hurwitz

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Willem de Kooning: The Figure/Movement and Gesture

Willem de Kooning
 Woman, c. 1969
oil on canvas, 60" x 48" (152.4 cm x 121.9 cm) Private collection 
© 2011 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 
Photo by: Kerry Ryan McFate / Courtesy The Pace Gallery

For those who put a premium on thinking out of the box and would like to promote abstract thinking in your children,  I encourage you to take them to The Pace Gallery and introduce them  to the mind and method of artist Willem de Kooning.  Born in the Netherlands and deemed an American Master in his lifetime, De Kooning  is considered to be one of the world's foremost Abstract Expressionists.  His paintings were also termed " Action paintings," in that through technique they implied a kinetic energy of their own. Jackson Pollock and Franz Klein were among his peers. His influences were Surrealism and Cubism and particularly the works of Arshile Gorky and Picasso.  Although the artist was not inclined to use labels, these terms will immediately come to mind in the presence of powerful sweeps of color in broad brush stokes, smears and splatters.  Each canvas pulsating with synergistic energy as if in constant motion.  De Kooning felt that his paintings were always evolving and never in a state of completion. He was known not to sign his work until the moment they left the studio.  He sketched and erased, painted and  scraped, over and over, layer upon layer of oils and line proving the process to be as important as the idea.   It will be interesting and challenging to point out  how shape and landscape lose their boundaries as the complexity of the idea is reflected on the canvas.  The exhibit runs till July 29, 2011. 

-Edna Suarez

The Pace Gallery located at 32 E 57th street.  http://thepacegallery.com/

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

goARTkidsBERKSHIRES: Disposable Stained Glass

During the school break, the kids and I hit Mass MOCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, to see Color Forms II: The Basic Utensils. This is a show of works by the artists Soyeon Cho and Lisa Hoke. Both artists work with common disposable or recyclable items. Even as one approaches "kidspace," where the show is mounted, there are brilliant assemblages covering the walls like moss. Inside one encounters delicate, illuminated bird cage-like constructions that seem to be covered with butterflies and to drop leaves. Further in, the windows glow in all the colors of the rainbow and another beautiful assemblage seems to have grow along the wall. Hoke creates patterns from the colors in the graphic design on the packages. When you look more closely at the windows, you see that the "stained glass" is actually natural light streaming through hundreds of rolls of colored paper tucked in a wire frame. Trying to keep my two year old from pushing each piece of paper into the frame was a task accomplished only by the diversion of the fantastic craft area where everyone (adults too - or at least this adult) could create a work of art using recycled materials. Hoke takes the mundane, manufactured material of everyday life and creates these very organic pieces that are strikingly beautiful to boot. Its an interesting and slightly mind-bending lesson for the kids once they lean in and recognize the plastic plates and pieces of this and that. A good lesson for everyone.
- Rudie Hurwitz

MassMOCA is about 3 hours from NYC and very much worth the trip. Color Forms II: The Basic Utensils runs until Sept 5,  2011.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lisa Hoke: Love, American Style

If only all of our recycling ended up in the studio of New York based artist Lisa Hoke. She would most certainly  create grand and colorful  "assemblages," for you to enjoy. Until that day arrives, a visit to The Elizabeth Harris Gallery would be the best way to see the beautiful and eye-popping pieces she creates from what we would normally discard. Ask your children to point out cereal box covers, matchbooks, cups, wrappers and containers of all kinds. The intoxicating colors remind us why we grabbed them with gusto from the grocery shelves. The endless amounts of it, is a testament to how much we consume and then  toss away,  "American style." No doubt the discussion will lead to questions like how did she accumulate all of this?  You can confidently say: " a support network of faithful recyclers and her building's superintendent." Ms. Hoke's work is also currently on exhibit at MASS MoCa  at Kidspace. The exhibition entitled  "Basic Utensils," is up until September 5, 2011.
-Edna Suarez
Perfect for: All ages

The Elizabeth Harris Gallery  located at 529 West 20th  between 10th and 11th Avenues. www.eharrisgallery.com/

Lisa Hoke: Love, American Style,  is up from April 28th through  June 11th, 2011. Images Courtesy Lisa Hoke and Elizabeth Harris Gallery

Sunday, May 8, 2011

goARCHkids: Endangered Temple to Power

One of the most important buildings of its time, the IRT Powerhouse from 1904, showed what a modern, influential city New York had become. New York City had a subway system! The city leaders wanted to show this off by making a really flashy building to supply the electricity to the subway. Like all important civic buildings built during this period, the Powerhouse was Beaux-Arts in style. But this building was designed by possibly the most well-known architects in the world, McKim, Mead and White. Before he was murdered by his underage girlfriend's husband, Stanford White designed the Powerhouse. The materials and details are stupendous, and the grandeur is reminiscent of the old Penn Station and the Post Office, also designed by McKim, Mead and White. The AIA Guide to NY Architecture called it "a brick and terracotta temple to power." What caught my eye as I was driving down the West Side Highway the other day, was the western addition. This was built in 1952 and doesn't relate in style at all to the original building. Stanford White had actually designed an addition, but they chose not to use it. That might have been part of that whole mid-century idea of favoring a modern, less-fussy style or it might just have been cheaper. The colors harmonize with the old building and both buildings read as industrial at the time they were built, but both are so very much of their own time that's the only thing that really tells us today what this building was used for is the solitary smokestack. Originally there were six and they were meant to echo the smokestacks of the ocean liners that came to dock along the Hudson. Con Edison owns the building now and they were considering demolishing it to build condos. 59th Street along the riverfront is some of the most expensive real estate in the world. We drive by this building at least four times a week and we talk about its importance and now perilous existence. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

goArtkidsSF: Isabelle de Borchgrave

Ever wonder what happens if you fold paper this way and that? What do you get, Origami? Think again. Better yet go see the exhibit entitled  Pulp Fashion: the art of Isabelle de Borchgrave, at the  Legion of Honor 100 34th Avenue, San Francisco.  Once there you'll find life size mannequins dressed from head to toe in historical costumes made entirely of paper. The Belgian artist who is a painter by training, manipulates and treats  paper in such a way that it looks so sublimely tactile.  She draws on themes from examples in the history of costumes. You'll see costumes from  the Renaissance to grand couturiers, such as Worth, Dior and Chanel to name a few. My family and I had to suppress strong urges to touch the work. After all, it's only natural to want to make a closer inspection. The security guards were working double time, and grandparents steered little fingers away from the gorgeous garb. The exhibit closes July 12th, 2011.    
   - Norma Wendroff
Perfect for 8 and up. Children under six are free and the museum is free every first Tuesday.
The Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco has several other exhibits that you'll enjoy taking your family to.
 Reading the Floating World: Japanese Ukiyo-e Books  on view now till July 24th, 2011
Marvelous Menagerie: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel ends July 24th, 2011
Image left:  Maria de’ Medici (detail), 2006, inspired by a ca. 1555 portrait by Alessandro Allori in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Photo: Andreas von Einsiedel 

Eleanor of Toledo (and detail), 2006, inspired by a ca. 1545 portrait of Eleanor and her son Giovanni de’ Medici by Agnolo Bronzino in the collection of the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Photo: RenĂ© Stoeltie

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

goArtkidsSF: Thom Faulders: BAMscape

Thom Faulders: BAMscape, 2010; mixed media. Photo: Marion Brenner
courtesy: BAM/PFA

 If you and your family find yourself in  Berkeley, California , visit the Berkeley Art Museum at 2626 Bancroft Way Berkeley. You'll find an interactive installation created by architect, designer, artist Thom Faulders, entitled "BAMscape." The very user- friendly sculpture, is a landscape of bright orange forms. Curved and cozy as their core is foam and so engaging to the eye, as their shapes  rise and fall.  The abstract waves beckon you to sit and test every "lumpy, bumpy," (as overheard  by my source). Find your way to Gallery B and enjoy this expansive work from the lobby or the balconies above.  The commissioned sculpture will preside in the central atrium until May 27,2012. 
Perfect for all.  Children 12 and under are always free. Everyone is free every first Thursday.
Reported by Norma Wendroff

Monday, May 2, 2011

goARCHkids: Mid-Century Convent on East 116th Street

Heading over to Costco on 116th Street this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to pass this beautiful little mid-century convent. I was particularly pleased by the carved marble treatment around the main portal. Simple, elegant, but playful, like polka dots. Though it was built in 1961, as evidenced by the date incorporated into one of the roundels flanking the door, the name and associations hark back to a time even before Spanish Harlem, when this neighborhood was all Italian. According to ephemeralnewyork.com, "in 1930, about 89,000 Italians of various regions lived in mostly crummy tenements from 96th Street to 125 Street East of Lexington Avenue." The main church, built in 1884, catered to that community and sponsors a large celebration on the day of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Now many of the masses are in Spanish. As with much of NYC, at this convent we see this great mingling of a range of cultural influences: historic Italian religious philosophy, mid-century modern architecture and contemporary Latino lifestyles. Not only a rich piece of architectural history, but a visually delightful one as well! Not bad for an errand to pick up a jumbo box of diapers!