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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Weekend Hit List: Going East

Facebook etching on handmade paper
Beth Giles

If you are planning a trip out east to the Hamptons, here are two galleries that you may want to drop in with your kids.

In Sag Harbor at the Delaney Cooke Gallery at Haven's House Art Space, Beth Giles' exhibit: Paper, Paper is up through June 30th. Handmade paper works that are mostly in spiral shapes. Some of the large spirals are 36 inch, round, 3-D books. Some books are mounted on the walls and some are on standing bases. To view the pieces you must turn the thick but delicate pages. Ms. Giles makes the paper from cotton, abaca linen, and flax fibers. In addition to the different pigmentations of the paper there are images of the artist's face interspersed throughout the pages  A very interactive exhibit. Perfect for all. The owners of little fingers should be instructed to be very gentle. Delaney Cooke Gallery, 17 Madison Street, Sag Harbor, 917-445-8427.
Cell by Christine Keefe
Mitochondria image courtesy of Alan Viel, Harvard biology Labs

Another art space worth checking out in Sag Harbor is  the Richard J. Demato Gallery. Several artists are featured on the first floor of the gallery. The most noteworthy are Haley Hasler and Andrea Kowch, who offer up images of women in fantastical narratives that reveal their inner and outer worlds. On the top floor of the gallery you'll find a series of paintings by Christine Keefe that will make your kids pause. You'll find hyper-realistic images of everyday objects set in unexpected backdrops, often looking like collages. Richard J. Demato Gallery 90 Main Street, Sag Harbor,  631-725-1161.

At left: "The Travelers" by Andrea Kowch.
At right: "Portrait as Allegory of Fidelity" by Haley Hasler.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

goARCHkids: A Brutal Master Protects

In a particularly interesting case of Harlem Brutalism, we see the Church of the Master on Morningside Avenue, which is the Harlem side of the park. The original 1893 church was demolished in 2008 after it was sold to a developer. In a sad but not unique story, the church become under-used and so neglected over the years that it was in danger of collapse.  At that point it was outrageously expensive to renovate it. But a group did try and fail. The congregation moved to the community house next door, which had been built in 1972 and designed by Victor Christ-Janer & Roger Glasgow. They created a boxy little Brutalist building totally oblivious to its context in everything but size. These days an architect will try to respect the surrounding architectural and cultural climate when designing a building. But in 1972, the mood was not particularly backward looking. Brutalism is a hostile architecture even if I do think its kind of groovy. So what statement was made both by the designers and by the church officials with this choice of design? I suspect, given what we know about NYC and Harlem particularly in the 1960s and 70s, those in charge wanted a somewhat repellent structure. That period was arguably the toughest one in Harlem's history. They built the community house of poured concrete and each horizontal section has a scratchy line where they've left the concrete sticking out. There are no windows. You can see how the sections were poured, because nothing has been sanded down or prettified. That said, this exterior is very carefully designed and rather elegant. The other thing that happens with this type of arrangement, as one can see, is this sort of dark drippy shadow effect at each section. This building was a fortress to protect the congregation and it was not meant to be welcoming. See the high rise in the background? I think these condos are actually selling briskly. The kids like to hear stories about fortresses and drama, failure, ultimate triumph. This site has it all! Again, this building is so much more than just "ugly." Its tell the story of a particular moment in Harlem's history.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The National Museum of the American Indian

Comanche horse and rider doll, ca. 1900. Oklahoma.

The National Museum of the American Indian is located at the southern tip of New York. This under-the-radar museum is always free and never jam packed. I would love to see more New Yorkers and tourists take advantage of this great tribute to and resource of Native American culture in our city. Listed below are two exhibitions that are currently up and particularly child friendly. But keep in mind that there are more exhibits and always something amazing to discover at this museum.
A Song for the Horse Nation: Horses in Native American Cultures. This exhibit runs only until July 7th!  It is a look at the relationship of the horse and native peoples through hand crafts, horse gear, clothing, and toys. In the islands of the Caribbean the Taino people were the first to see a horse carrying the Spanish Conquistadors. It was a terrifying site. These horses were also brought to the Americas by the Spaniards and slowly became Indian horses as they strayed from colonial ranches and mated in the wild or were captured in raids. The horses multiplied and became close allies of the  Native Americans Nations.They were called the Horse Nation.
Small Spirits: Dolls from the Collection of the National Museum of the American Indian.  This exhibit features more than 90 dolls from throughout the Western hemisphere representing different communities and traditions of Native peoples. You will see dolls dressed in  Cherokee clothing of the 1930s,  the traditional "no-face" cornhusk dolls of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) cultures,  Seminole dolls in patchwork clothing. and Plains dolls in traditional garments. The Museum is located at The George Gustave Heye Center at One Bowling Green. www.nmai.si.edu
Kay Bennett (Kay C. "Kaibah" Bennett) Dine (Navajo), 1922–1997
Top photo by: Photograph by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI. (22/4820)
Bottom photo by: Photo by R.A. Whiteside, NMAI.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weekend Hit List


Wave HIll
On Saturday and Sunday's participate in the Family Art Project series at Wave Hill located in the  Riverdale section of the Bronx at West 249th street and Independence Ave. This weekend: Make handmade instruments with composer/ performers David Simons and Lisa Karrer. They will help you and your kids build musical instruments using ordinary objects. Afterward participate in an outdoor musical parade. Free and admission to the grounds is free until noon. Wave Hill is a public garden and Cultural Center that overlooks the Hudson River and Palisades. http://wavehill.org/about/

Mark di Suvero sculptures on Governors Island

Eleven steel sculptures by Mark di Suvero can be enjoyed at Governors Island this weekend through September 25th. This survey of Di Suvero's work since 1975 is organized by Storm King Art Center. Rent a bike and tour the island looking for these friendly giants. http://www.govisland.com
Rainbow City

The Highline's Section 2 is now open and waiting for you and your family to explore. In addition to some new interactive features on this ever expanding promenade a fantastical playground awaits you at the northern end of the elevated walk way. "Rainbow City" located on 30th street and 11th avenue (just below the Highline) is a colorful collection of air-filled sculptures that are tethered to the ground by cables. They sway with the wind and function like gigantic beach balls when pushed or leaned on. This artistic work is conceived by FriendsWithYou & AOL, and made its first appearance at the Art Basel in Miami 2010.  http://www.thehighline.org

Friday, June 17, 2011

goARCHkids: Grecian Orders Tutorial #2, IONIC COLUMNS

The gorgeous Ionic column; tall, elegant, understated. I think the Ionic order may be my favorite of the three Greek orders. While the Doric order has a dignity that speaks of simplicity and stability, the Ionic order suggests purity, particularly in its American form, where we tend to stick with the white marble version. The Greeks favored bright colors, but we did not know that in the 19th century. In our efforts to mimic the first great republic, American neoclassical style imitated what we thought was their gleaming white marble architecture, but was actually the effects of time and sun bleaching out the paint colors. Think of the nobility and elegance of the Jefferson Memorial to really feel the American Greek Revival Ionic order at its finest. In NYC, there's plenty of Ionic around, but more often its Scamozzian, which has a curl or "volute" on each corner. In the example of the Crenshaw Christian Center (above) on the corner of 96th and CPW, we see a beautiful example of a classic Ionic column. The columns are tall and slender with flutes running the length of the shaft. The other two parts of the column, the base and the capital are both specific to the order. The capital is the easiest way to quickly identify an order. Ionic has volutes, either two, or as in a Scamozzian Ionic capital, four.  The base is round in Ionic and in Doric there is no base. The columns on the right, Scamozzian Ionic, from a residential building on the upper west side, don't have fluting but they do have some standard Ionic features in the base, which is round, and the entablature, which is the horizontal structure supported by the columns. The little squares sticking out in a row along the top of the entablature that look a bit like teeth are, in fact, called dentils and are classic Ionic. So what you find all over NYC are variations of classical Greek orders. By the 19th and early 20th century, architects, builders, and designers would pick and chose what suited them without feeling that they had to adhere strictly to the rules.
 On the corner of 96th street and Amsterdam, there is a grand bank building, though there is no bank. As you see, the building now houses a CVS, a preschool, maybe some offices. The architect chose the Ionic order for this piece of prime corner real estate. Maybe they wanted to suggest something more than the stability of the Doric order, something more refined. Maybe this bank was not only stable but sophisticated. The Ionic order says all that.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Anina Gerchick: Thresholds and Guardians

Double Mirror, 2011
Anina Gerchick
What happens when melting glaciers, the Hindu god Ganesh, and Sri Lanken Stilt Fishermen all converge in a landscape of water and ice? The environment seems to be turned upside down, but humanity prevails in a series of paintings and prints by the artist Anina Gerchick on exhibit at the Chashama 461 Studio Gallery in Harlem. Follow her stream of consciousness imagery and come away with a tale of polar ice cap warming and contradicting ecosystems. Ms. Gerchick movies easily between the real and surreal in a narrative that has worrisome consequences if not for the Dr. Seuss-like fish leaping above the watery depths. Children will like picking out the differences between two almost mirror images, identifying their favorite Suess characters, and just the sheer intrigue of the color and beauty of the fantasy scenes. Perfect for all ages. The show runs till June 19th. Chashama 461 Studio Gallery at 461 West 126th street. www.chashama.org

Lovecraft, 2011
Anina Gerchick


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Weekend Hit List

Richard Dupont
Richard Dupont has packaged a  ten year collection of personal detritus, daily waste, salvaged objects and food stuffs  into several head shaped molds. Have the kids point out recognizable objects while discussing ways to recycle your garbage into art projects.  Exhibit run till June 25 at the Carolina Nitsch Project Room.
Perfect for all 
Project Room 534 West 22nd  www.carolinanitsch.com

Outdoor art activities:
  • Figment Festival on Governors Island.   June 11-12th  take the ferry to  a free  family-friendly art extravaganza.  Art activities for everyone.  Music and dance performances, puppetry and even miniature golf.     Go on and interact it's encouraged.  Bring a picnic or buy food on the island.  www.figmentproject.org www.govisland.com
  • The  Highline:  Saturday Play  Children's workyard kit   design and produce anything from your imagination with Industrial designers.   http://www.thehighline.org/workyard-kit

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cao Fei: Play Time

Play Time Fingerboard Park Installation, 2011
tech deck, fingerboard park, wood
Cao Fei
Escaped From The Garden
(PostGarden-Eye SPY Photo Series), 2011
Cao Fei
With her new exhibition at Lombard Freid Projects, artist Cao Fei blurs the lines between real and imaginary. Her new work evokes childhood games, fantasy worlds, and story-telling. One game is a small scale model of a finger skateboard  park which is placed prominently in the gallery space. Child sized stools are placed around to encourage the viewer to sit and move small skateboards around the wooden ramps. With a touch of the miniature board I was transformed into a skateboard kid gliding through an alternate world playground. A series of diptych photographs  present us with a group of characters called the CBeebies that were very popular on the BBC in the 1980s and still have a following on the web. They are seen traveling across real landscapes in search of a "PostGarden." Each image is placed alongside an exact double - or is it? In this game of Eye Spy, your children may have the advantage as they accept the imaginary scenarios more easily than our rooted-in-reality adult minds. As you pass the photographs a flat screen on the wall will stop your kids in their tracks. The star of this video is usually seen in books or in videos tooting along on his own train tracks. Ms. Fei envisions beloved Thomas the Tank Engine driving through city streets and across a highway in search of a place to dispose of refuse from a construction site. The improbability of the story had me in-check until our Thomas is seen getting a speeding ticket from the highway police. The nerve of that cop! The second room in the gallery displays a large projection screen showing a continual video of three narrative sequences. The stories are depicted exclusively with hand shadow puppetry. There are three tales in total and all are filled with fantastical images of farmers and cranes, wildlife and fairy tale creatures. Ms. Fei places the viewer in the space between fantasy and reality that younger children move in and out of so easily, because after all its only playtime. Perfect for all ages. The show runs until June 25.
East Wind, 2011
Cao Fei

Lombard-Freid Projects 518 West 19th street

All images courtesy of the artist and Lombard-Freid Gallery, NY.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Caleb Charland: Fathom and Fray

Reflection in a snow storm,2011
Caleb Charland
Caleb Charland  sees the extraordinary in the common place.  His photography is on exhibit at the Michael Mazzeo Gallery in Chelsea.  You'll see , sparks fly from cigarette lighters and create a sphere of fire, face mirrors multiply and float like celestial bodies. Or how a beam of light  splinters from his hand and splits the night sky.  All of his images are created in camera without digital manipulation.  He combines art and science with endless curiosity and captures the energy on photographic paper.  Wonder what would happen if you put bacteria on film, let it multiply, and photographed it?  Probably not, but Mr. Charland has.  You'll  marvel in the beauty of the fray.  The show is extended to June 24th.  Don't miss it.
 -Edna Suarez
Perfect for 7 and up.
Michael Mazzeo Gallery  508 West 26th street   @michaelmazzeo.com
Images Courtesy of Michael Mazzeo Gallery and Caleb Charland
Study for Sun
with face mirror, 2009
Caleb Charland

Friday, June 3, 2011

Weekend Hit List

Mary Henderson's  hyper-real oil paintings at Lyons Wier Gallery. The artist uses images from vacation retreats found on the web, then creates composites by refocusing, re-cropping and building new digital images.  Whatever the alchemy, they made us feel that the lazy days of summer were finally here.  

Lyons Wier Gallery 542 West 24th street www.lyonswiergallery.com

"Around the World Alone"
(The Holy Hermit)

Sean Landers  "Around the World Alone"  at the Friedrich Petzel Gallery.  This series of painting depicts a solitary clown taking a life long journey on the high seas.  As years pass only his hairline diminishes as he remains steadfast at the helm upon a turbulent sea.  A nautical adventure sure to engage your little sailors.
Friedrich Petzel Gallery  535 West 22nd street www.petzel.com

Jene Highstein's  stainless steel sculptures  at the Danese Gallery.  The seamless  "Towers and Elliptical Forms,''  are hammered and molded into irregular shapes.  When walking around the sculptures, a zen garden comes to mind.  Sure to chill out even the most wired among you.  Little fingers should be minded as touching is not an option.
Danese Gallery 535 West 24th street www.danese.com

goARCHkids: Brutal Mitchell-Lama on 96th?

The RNA House at 150-160 West 96th Street was built in 1967. It was part of a vast plan by the NYC government called The West Side Urban Renewal. The City Planning Commission had been studying housing deterioration and social unrest on the West Side and felt that something needed to be done. The architects Edelbaum & Webster were hired for this job. Ida B. Webster was one of very few female architects working at that time. This building is what is called a Mitchell-Lama. Mitchell and Lama were two politicians who created these types of buildings specifically for middle-class New Yorkers to live in. Basically, the rent has always been below market. Even today there is a very, very long list of people who want to move in.

I love the beehive effect of this seemingly endless repetition of pattern across 96th street. It's a big building and this is a large, unbroken facade. The kids kind of hate, but are also pleased with, its enormity, and what they say is the ugliness of it. To me, its classic mid-century stuff, though all that concrete and relentlessness does veer towards Brutalism. Brutalism is style of architecture that took hold in the 1960s and 1970s. It applies to buildings made of rough concrete, blocky in shape, and having not much to do with the other architecture or anything else around it. This building fits that criteria.

Down around the parts of the building where the humans really interact with it, its a bit cozier. Along the entrances here's a shady passage way that protects from the weather. There are also these nice planters. A friend whose grandmother lived at the RNA House when he was growing up remembers "the long, narrow lobby with floor to ceiling glass on either side, the monolithic travertine benches in the lobby, the two stainless steel elevators, long windowless hallways with strong cooking smells coming from somewhere, the terrifying incinerator chute." So, Brutalism or a nice exercise in mid-century modern middle-income housing?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Beverly McIver: Portraits

Remembering Yesterday, 2009
Beverly McIver
The self-portrait is a telling meter of the artist's inner world. Most of the paintings by Beverly McIver, on exhibit  at the Betty Cuningham Gallery,  are self-portraits.  The faces are often tightly cropped  and show introspection, sadness, happiness. The message is pure emotion and her expressions bare it all.  In some portraits, Ms. McIver's palette for her skin is daring and liberal as she leaves bold streaks of color alongside natural looking skin tone hues. In a 2002 interview for Art in America she states,  "As a child I dreamed of becoming a clown, to escape my black skin, poverty and the housing project I once called home.  Clowning was my disguise, my liberation."  As an adult she did indeed go to clown school. She also received a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from Pennsylvania State University.  The other person depicted in her portraits is her older sister Renee.  They have a complex relationship in that Renee is not able to care for herself. Once again, Ms. McIver conveys all of the feelings she has about this partnership through the expressions on her  sister's face. Infants take many of their cues from observing facial  expressions. This very primal connection is made again and again in Beverly McIver's  work.  Take the kids.  Show runs till July 1st, 2011. Perfect for most. Betty Cuningham Gallery, 541 West 25th Street.
Happy Times, 2010
Berverly McIver

Images Courtesy of Betty Cuningham Gallery.

click on images to enlarge