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Thursday, July 26, 2012

MOMA's Exhibit: Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900-2000

Covering the entire 20th C in relation to designs and philosophies pertinent to children is a mammoth if not overwhelming venture to undertake.  I was drawn into the exhibit by an over sized table & chairs which children are permitted to perch on and many parents used for photo opts.  And, an oversized photo of a smiling child hanging from a wall high off the ground.  But don't make the assumption this will be a joyous exhibition geared for youngsters.  Much of the exhibit presents the dark side of children exploited for political gain during horrific conflicts.  I will focus on the youthful optimism and means for instilling creativity in children prominent in this show.  Children have a natural curiosity and free spirit which we as adults need to nuture.  The best way to instill creativity is by not constricting one's imagination.  And  provide materials and spaces that stimulate and enrich the child's creative years.  The best examples were the simplest in design:  building blocks, legos, art supplies and outdoor recreational areas.  My two favorite pieces in the show were both at the exit.  The interactive light screen that mutates your shadow and the poster listing things to do on a playground: jump, shout, run, get dirty, shout, tell stories.  I recommend parents see this show but take your children to play in the park and give them a big empty box.    

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jane Austen's Cults & Cultures @ 92YTribeca

There was a brigade of women & 1 brave man who attended Prof. Claudia Johnson's lecture on the enduring fascination with  Jane Austen's (JA) literary legacy.  Johnson is a Prof. of Lit. @ Princeton Univ., Chair of their English dept. and a published author on Austen's life and work.  The erudite Prof. spoke too long regarding arcane information.  I was not interested in learning about one nephew's biography on her life or of her great nephew, Lord Brabourne, who published her letters posthumously.  Johnson did speak to JA's "wit, clarity and artistic control."  Johnson even described JA as a magical, literary alchemist.  But let's discuss why Austen's novel's have been embedded in so many reader's hearts for 2 Centuries?  The Prof. addressed the magical dullness of gentry & small village lives back in the late 18th & early 19thC.  Therein lies the continuous fascination with Austen's legendary literature. This Badger with a B.S. degree feels that JA captured a time in history when life was mundane but given JA's artistry, we are able to romantize about this long gone era with wonder and admiration.  However, after enjoying JA's indelible depiction of her day, I'm thankful to be living in the 21st C because life back then must have been unbearably boring.      

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sanja Ivekovic, Sweet Violence @ the MOMA

Much credit must be given to Sanja Ivekovic for her groundbreaking feminist work.  She is also known as part of the New Art Practice in Yugoslavia.  This exhibit, is the first time her work is being held at a museum.  And while, her work takes a deep look at politics from communist to post-communist political systems, I was troubled by the violent stories of women juxtaposed with glamour shots.  Perhaps that was her point, the paradoxes with which we view actions in society.  This was a powerful exhibit which stands to make us stop and think about what is happening and what we tend to gloss over in daily life.  I did leave the exhibit provoked by what I saw.  There is a warning prior to entering the exhibit of its violent content.  Perhaps, you'll make time to see the Diego Rivera murals before leaving the MOMA.

THE CLOCK @ the Rubinstein Atrium Lincoln Center

Now through Aug. 1, THE CLOCK is being shown, free to the public @ the Rubinstein Atrium from 8:00AM-10:00PM.  THE CLOCK is the artistic compilation of film footage covering a 24 hour day by Swiss artist and composer, Christian Marclay.  It is an homage to an international history of film, from the silent era to the present.  The continium of the entire footage is a connected to the actual present time by various measures of time:  clocks, watches, digital monitors, etc. There is also a melding of different scenes by various means of communication.  The background score is Marclay's compositons utilizing the sounds associated with the rush of time passing, ticking, clanging, all adding to a sense of urgency bordering on hysteria.  "Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." (Troly-Curtain)  I did not relish the 2 hr. wait in the sun despite having a book.  Take an umbrella, water or a friend to help pass the time.  Was it worth the wait?  I don't generally have the patience to stand in line but I endured, only to watch the film for 45 min. Einstein said that time is an illusion. I don't think so.  I do think THE CLOCK is a momentous work of art that is worth seeing measured against what your time is worth.  "Time is what we want most, but what we use worst." (W. Penn)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Melinda's Missed Moments before & during the Move

  I'm a huge Edith Piaf fan but I don't share her sentiment, "Je regret rien!" Here is my list of what I regret missing or will miss while away.
DANCE - ABT @ the Met, The Royal French Ballet @ Koch, Evidence Dance Co. @ the Joffrey Theatre & I missed the various outdoor dancing next to the Met (swing, salsa, country) free to the public to view/listen, a fee to get on the dance floor.
THEATRE - Hugh Jackman, End of the Rainbow & Shakespeare in the Park.
MUSIC - The New York Phil. free concerts in Central Park, GMA concerts Friday mornings,  Mostly      Mozart @ Avery Fisher in Aug. & Paul Simon at the Beacon.
SPORTS - Lin leaving the Knicks, the chance to see the WIS Badgers in the elite eight, not playing golf on                any of the city's public golf courses.
ART - The Frieze Art Fair on Randall's Island, the Contemporary African Art Gallery and the      Rembrandt sketches at the Frick.
Mostly, I'll miss my sis, Marcia

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ben Vereen @ Below 54 - There is Magic for You!

Mr. Ben Vereen, Tony Award winner, singer, dancer, actor extraordinaire; LIVING LEGEND.  He even told us himself, and you know what, not only do I not believe in false modesty, he's absolutely right, he is a living legend!   Before I sing his many praises, go buy a ticket for his nightclub show @ Below 54.  He is only there through July 21st and it would be an absolute shame to miss him.  Mr. Vereen gets my vote for best show I've been to all year.  He sings, he moves he shares his fascinating life story. When you think of the great stars of Broadway, you must think of Vereen who starred in Pippin, Jesus Crust Super Star, Sweet Charity and worked with Broadway's elite: Weber, Fosse, Robbins.  This man can do it all, he had me and the entire audience captivated.  I did not want the evening to end.  He paid tribute to some of his close friends, Sammy Davis, and Frank Sinatra by performing some of their greatest songs in a style that was all his own.  His band was excellent and the pianist, drummer & bass player all had their moments to shine.  Below 54 is the infamous VIP room from the Studio 54 days and is now a comfortable and intimate setting for performers and the food was declicious.  Mr, Vereen sang "How wonderful life is while you're in the world."  Back @ you BEN!  And, come back to Broadway, we miss you.

Monday, July 16, 2012

FAREWELL MY QUEEN topples at the box office

The French Film FAREWELL MY QUEEN by Director Benoit Jacquot is a deadly bore despite being set against one of the most turbulent revolutions in history.  The movie begins in July 1774, the year King Louis XVI ascended the throne amidst the stirrings of the French people who were starving while Royalty  lived a very opulent life-style.  Diane Kruger plays Queen Marie Antoinette whose lovely head is going to roll.  The movie is shown from the vantage of a young and pretty maid to the Queen, Sodine, whose responsibilities include reading to her majesty.  Kruger is stunning as are the sets and her love interest, the Duchess Gabrielle de Poignac.  Yolande Gabrielle whom the Queen befriended at court was bestowed wealth and titles for her & her husband.  Much ado, ho hum, is made of her lust for the exquisite Gabrielle which she confides to her young and adoring reader, Sodine.  As violent unrest surmounts most of the inhabitants of Versaille flee like rats.  The Queen asks Sodine to switch her servants garb with the gown of Gabrielle to insure the Gabrielle would be spared should their carriage be overtaken in their escape.  Sodine willingly obliges as she says she was the reader to the Queen but now having left "she is nothing."  There is nothing of interest here unless beautiful women and settings suffice.  I'd rather eat cake.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Roderick Romero's Treehouse in the E. Village Community Garden

New Yorkers, summer is a time to delight in the outdoors and nature.  We have many wonderful outdoor FREE venues to enjoy in addition to Central Park.  There are numerous community parks for us to relax in and enjoy.  I want to highlight the E. Village Community Garden which is open free to the public and is fortunate to have one of Roderick Romero's treehouses for young and old to clamour in and admire.  I remember back to the joys of being in a treehouse:  apple throwing wars, as well as more serene endeavors.  Either way, a treehouse offers a different vantage point; youthful and full of possibilites.  Romero has been commissioned by Sting (yes that Sting) and Julianne Moore to build wonderous treehouses on their properties.  For the other 99%, I suggest visiting the Community Garden in the East Village and take advantage of the beauty of nature and the free opportunity to sit in Romero's structure which is a mere 8 ft. off the ground.  You may just come away with fond memories and a refreshing new perspective.

DOGFIGHT at the Second Stage Theatre

The Second Stage Theatre which brought us EVERYDAY RAPTURE & NEXT to NORMAL has another mega hit on their hands.  BRAVO!  I knew the basic storyline based on the the  1991 film by Bob Comfort:  soon to be shipped off marines wagger a bet, who can bring the ugliest female out on a mock date.  You can bet that feelings are going to be demolished, but it is amazing how very raw & real the emotions were played out on stage.   As Rose, the innocent and naive heroine who falls for Eddie's false intentions says, "people are just cruel."  Rose, while licking her wounds consoles herself after being humiliated, that for awhile she was made to feel pretty and that she will wake up and go on with her life.  Herein lies the pathos we feel for the cruel but naive young men who are headed to Vietnam; many to lose their lives.  These men who did return, believed they would be harolded as heroes only to feel hatred.  The acting and singing by the 2 leads, Linsay Mendez as Rose and Derek Klena as Eddie is truly wonderful.  I must sing the praises of the entire cast.  The music/lyrics by Pasek and Paul is poignant and entertaining.  The staging and choreography with minimal space was colassal.  DOGFIGHT deserves a huge audience and many accolades, but I would like it to remain as is; on a small stage.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Monkey rallies for the Yankees vs. Angels last night

The Bombers came back from a 5-2 deficit in the bottom of the 8th to steal the game from the Angels, 6-5 and SORRYiano closed out the top of the 9th. That is all you need to know but this baseball nut has much more banter to throw at you.  The Angels struck 1st in the 3rd scoring 3 runs.  Teixeira struck back with a solo homer in the bottom.  Korado was the starting pitcher with 6K's & still throwing heat in the 8th inning when Joe took him out after a run scored and 2 Angels were on base. He did not get the win.  Granderson can, hitting a lead off triple & Swish-a-licous had a lead off double; both were left stranded, They both had stupendous, run saving catches.  Jones & Martin both struck out watching but neither went quietly.  Jones was front & center in the ump's face & I thought he was going to be thrown.  Joe did his talking in the dugout & that was it for Jones.  There must have been heavenly intervention because Joe kept in Martin who scored the winning run in the 8th after Teixera hit another homer with 2 men on.  This chick got a real kick out of the big screen asking the Bomber's for their favorite chick flick.  I will speak for all chicks, guys, there's no thrill in that shrill whistling, STOP!  You may need us to perform the Heimlich while  you're wolfing down those dogs.  Chicks, I will speak directly to you, I saw Robbie 1st Yah Know!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

the Play LOVE GOES to WAR by Martha Gellhorn & Virginia Cowles

The play LOVE GOES TO PRESS at the Mint Theatre was written by two female war correspondents is a  romantic farce set in Italy during WWII just miles from the German front.  The back story to this play is far more compelling than the frivilous escapism play that seemed unending.  Perhaps at the time, this harmless, silliness served as diversion from the horrors of war.  Credit is owed to both Gellhorn and Cowles, ground-breaking war correspondents who risked their lives in some of the world's worst conflicts while dealing with a mainly hostile men's club of reporters.  In all fairness, Gellhorn concedes, "I must advise you at once, that this play bears no resemblence whatever, of any kind at all, to war and war correspondents.  It is a joke.  It was intended to make people laugh."  It failed to cause any explosions of laughter, it was a total dud.  However, I tip my hat in admiration for their real life bravery and bravado.  There is some titillation in the poorly concealed character that represented Hemingway, Gellhorn's real life husband for a time. They met while both were covering the Spanish Civil War.  I also admire the ladies who chose to spend many of their down hours writing a play rather than merely playing poker like their male co-horts.  I call for a truce and ask that they put this bomb to rest and shut it down for good.

Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective @ the Guggenheim

The photo portraits and videos on display by 53 year old Dutch artist Dijkstra is startling, thought provoking and incredibly fun to experience.  Dijkstra best known for her large portraits of young people poised in bathing suits on sandy shores on the cusp of adulthood, is a master at capturing their vulnerabilites and potentials.  Arbus & Sherman accentuate the bizarre, Dijkstra captures the ordinary individual and makes them appear exceptional.  The portraits had me pondering what the individuals  were feeling and what their future's held.  Apparently, Dijkstra is also intrigued by the mystery and metamorphoses imbued by time.  Note the series of photos of Almerisa, from age 6 through adolescence, pregnancy and post birth.  The transformations are banal yet riveting.  Equally hypnotic are the portraits of 4 bloodied toreadors taken just after coming from the ring situated directly across from 3 life sized nude portraits of women who've just given birth clutching their newborns to their chests.  The video in which young students express their reaction to Picasso's Weeping Woman endearingly illuminates what art is intended to induce - an emotional response that engages one in thought and dialogue.  I recommend encountering this exhibit with a companion.

Niki de Saint Phalle Sculptures on Park Avenue

Hey New Yorkers, wake up & notice the colorful & jubilant sculptures on Park Ave from 60th to 52nd by the French artist, Niki de St. Phalle. St. Phalle  was born in Fance to a French father & American mother in 1930.  As a teenager, St. Phalle graced the covers of French Vogue & Life.  While modeling in Paris, she took up painting.  Although she was self-taught, her work drew the attention of American painter Hugh Weiss.  He became her mentor and encouraged her to pursue her art.  During her years in Spain, she discovered the sculptures of Antonio Gandis which greatly influenced her to construct sculptures blending both artisitic and natural materials.   Her modeling career gave focus to the female form and she is best known for her enlarged female forms with minimized, featureless faces.  Her sculptures are enjoyed for their whimsy, sparkle and colorful  mosaics.  On the Avenue, check out the Michael Jordan and Louis Armstrong tributes. Before St. Phalle passed away in '02, she established herself as a painter, sculptor and filmmaker.  Some of St. Phalle's most glorious and magical statues are on display outdoors where they shimmer and glow - so GO!  As Barbara Walters says, "Don't forget to take time to enjoy the view."  And I say, free is free and the price is right!  Just take a little while, I  guarantee a smile or your $ back.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Take This Waltz" or Please Don't Take my Wife

The film "Take This Waltz," by Sarah Polley stars Michelle Williams as Margot who is married to Lou, (Seth Rogen.)  The movie opens on a re-enactment of a colonial flogging and public humiliation of an adulterer.  Margot is called from the crowd to administer the flogging and is egged on by Daniel, played by Luke Kirby; the devil incarnate.  The audience is hit over the head with where this movie is headed.     Adultlery is no longer branded with a scarlet letter,  but it does leave a brand of pain in its wake.  Lou plays the injured husband with sobering pain.  Lou's alcoholic sister, Geraldine, (Sarah Silverman) is also convincing in her fight with her demons.  (Perhaps, comic genuis is honed through misery.)  The temptress, Daniel, in this love triangle is swarthy and sexy in his pursuit of Margot.  Although I think the lady doth not protest too much.  The movie is over wraught with maudlin dialogue.  But, there is one hilarious women's water aerobic class that is literally pissing in the pool funny.   It is in the women's shower after that Margot & Geraldine discuss the merits of steadfastness in a marriage with their friend who says that everyone likes something new and shiney.  The older & wiser women in the  showers, counter that everything new gets old.  The contrast between the old and young women's bodies says it loud and clear.

"The Beasts of the Southern Wild" - The Brave Don't Run

The beautifully shot film, "The Beasts of the Southern Wild," in many ways parallels the Nat'l Book Award Winner, SALVAGE THE BONES.  Both main characters are young motherless girls, with drunkards for  dads & both live in ramshackle poverty. The girls yearn for a mother's love or any tenderness. Both must cope with the danger and carnage of Katrina.  The film's heroine and narrator, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) is only 6 and left to mainly fend for herself. This results in a near catastrophic explosion.  But Hushpuppy is a survivor and wise beyond her years.  "The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right."  She understands "everybody loses the thing that made them, that's nature."  Fortunately, Hushpuppy has the guidance and support of a female teacher to a few ragamuffins in the Delta.  The teacher tells her students, "the most important lesson I can teach you all is to care for those smaller than you."  Hushpuppy's father (Dwight Henry) tries to teach his daughter how to survive on her own and warns her not cry.  I implore you to see this heartwrenching movie and dare you not to cry.  Despite the harsh settting and at times, the father's brutal treatment, there is a familial bond of love that cannot be shattered nor the indinomitable spirit of Hushpuppy be diminished.