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Monday, June 27, 2016

Bill Cunningham Leaves a Colorful Legacy

I mourn the passing of a beloved NYC icon, a photographic genius and a truly remarkable human being.  Mr. Cunningham passed away at age 87 which saddens & surprises me.  As an ubiquitous figure (albeit surreptitiously) around the social & street scene in NYC, I thought him invincible.  Mr. C also considered himself invulnerable. No amount of cajoling could convince him to don a bicycle helmet.  Perhaps this framed his artistic eye in a manner he did not choose or maybe he felt the helmet a fashion faux pas.  This is not to ponder - but adds wonder to his magical mystique.  Bill would drop in at an event, clandestinely shoot & with a twinkle, disappear.  Spotting him around town on his bike in his vivid cerulean rain jacket was like spotting a rainbow.  Bill was a fashionista of street fashion as well as haute couture of high society.  My girlfriend & I were fortunate to hear him speak at the 92ndY just last year to a sold out crowd.  It was an unforgettable evening where the man behind the lens was the focus.  He charmed us with his warmth, his wit and his kindheartedness.  He received a joyous standing ovation.  But Bill Cunningham has given us so much.  He will be sadly missed.  Thank you for the legacy you left us.  Thank you for making us feel special.  Thank you for the memories.  Thank you….

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Melinda's Top Cultural Choices Around the Apple in 2016

In alphabetical order:



1.   ABT's premier of Ratmansky's "Serenade after Plato's Symposium"

2.   Ailey's premier of Mauro Bigonzetti's "Deep"

3.   Anna Ziegler's off Broadway play "Boy"

4.   Jazz @ Lincoln Center - Joe Lavano "Coltrane's Spiritual Side"

5.   Ellsworth Kelly Black/White Structural Photographs in Chelsea

6.   Maholoy-Nagy "Future Present" at the Guggenheim

7.   MET Fashion Institute "Manus x Machina"

8,   NY Philharmonic perform Holst's "The Planets"

9.   "Turn Me Loose" an off Broadway biopic play on social activist/comic Dick Gregory

10.  Van Dyk Art Collection at the Frick

Melinda's Top Ten Movie Picks for 2016

In alphabetical order:


1.   Spike Lee's CHI-RAQ

2.   British film 45 YEARS starring Charlotte Rampling

3.   British documentary DAVID HOCKNEY

4.   The French Film MY GOLDEN DAYS

5.   Icelandic film RAMS

6.   REMEMBER an unforgettable Holocaust film starring C. Plummer & M. Landau  

7.   The Irish film SING STREET

8.   The French film THE MEASURE of a MN

9.   THE REVENANT starring Leo Di Caprio in his Oscar winning role

10. Korean horror film THE WAILING - Warning, not for the faint of heart    

Monday, June 13, 2016

Ailey Premiers "DEEP" choreographed by Mauro Bigonzetti

Mauro Bigonzetti (b. Italy) is an int'l choreographer recently named Dir of La Scala Ballet.  In addition to Ailey in NYC, Bigonzetti has choreographed works for NYC Ballet.  The premier of "Deep" on Friday night at Lincoln Center showcased the Ailey dancers extraordinary talents with Bigonzetti's creative and thought provoking work.  The dancers wore androgynous black costumes also designed by the choreographer.  The lighting by Carlo Cerri added an emotional intensity & mystique.  Bigonzetti chose the music by Ibeyi (twins Lisa-Kainde & Naomi Diaz b. France 1996.)  The young musical artists sang in both English & Nigerian.  The electronic, experimental music had a powerful defiant intensity and mournful longing.  Bigonzetti utilized the dancer's athletic & fluid abilities to form tight, spotlighted formations.  "Deep" is a dynamic addition to the company's repertoire.  Individual dancers were seen fleeting across the dimly lit stage.  The fragmented shapes and sharp movements highlighted a feeling of entrapment and a sense escape or liberation.   The Ailey dancers moved together beautifully and with artistic musicality.  Bigonzetti choreography was fresh & robust.  The piece left me pondering Bigonzetti's scheme and in awe of his stirring choreography.  

Thursday, June 9, 2016

MoMA's DADAGLOBE-Nada to Trek to Go See

DADAGLOBE which opens to the public on Sunday at the MoMA is an ambitious attempt by Tristan Tzara & Francis Picabia to create an anthology of the Dada Art Movement.  For those unfamiliar with either Tzara & Picabia (which included me) Tzara (b. Romania 1896-1963) was a poet, playwright & art critic.  Picabia (b. France 1897-1953) was a poet & painter associated with cubism, surrealism & dadism.  Dadaism is considered artistic anarchy stemming from rebellion towards social, political & cultural norms or values of the epoch (1915-1924.)  The quandary created by Tzara & Picabia in requesting (via mail) samples of art, prose & poetry from 50 artists in 10 different countries, stipulating constraints on their works is hypocritical to a rebellious, avant garde art form.  Works conforming to standards of expectations are not rebellious.  My 1st connotation of DaDa art is Duchamp's urinal or non-functional bicycle.  There were few sculptures in the exhibit.  Two were highlights of the show:  a wooden head, a fragment from a Brancusi sculpture and "Dada Head" by Sophie Taeuber (b. Swiss 1989-1943); the lone female artist.  Most of the works were photographs mostly of similar size.  The photos by Man Ray & Marcel DuChamp were intriguing.  Some of the photos were of works by Jean Arp & Brancusi.  Needless, the homogeneous sized black/white photos had a commonality that mocked originality.  Tzara & Picabia requested a limited palette of 3 colors for original drawings/paintings which again defies creative freedom.  There are numerous handwritten prose/poetry submitted that didn't garner my interest.  Financial difficulties & "artistic" differences between Tzara & Picabia were blamed for the project not coming to fruition.  Possibly, the reason their project flopped was they intuited their approach yielded Dada art passe.

AILEY SPIRIT GALA - A Revelatory Celebration of Dance & Community

Nobody does it better than Ailey & its Artistic Dir Robert Battle; making everyone feel their best.  Last night's Ailey festivities brought everyone together for an evening of jubilant performances by Ailey's dancers & the young students from the Ailey School & AileyCamps.  The proceeds from the evening go towards educational programs for children at AileyCamps throughout the country & AileyDance serving more than 4,000 NYC public school students.  Proceeds also go towards scholarships to the Ailey School.  The youngsters from the programs proved how fun it is to move as a group to music. And, how vital & expressive dance is an art form.  Dir Battle set the tone for everyone to feel at ease &  enjoy the evening.  Audiences' vocal participation added to the merriment along with hosts Anthony Anderson ("Black-ish") & Roland Martin ("News One Now.") The students performed, then AILEY II danced an excerpt from "Something Strange" and the Ailey Company performed Robert Battle's "Awakening" and Alvin Ailey's "Cry" & "Revelations."  Seeing the the students on up to the Ailey Co was thrilling.  The incredible Ailey Dancer's included the younger dancers in their choreographed works.  Everyone danced their best.  AILEY shares the spirit of dance with excellence in performance  & commitment to spreading dance through programs for children.  It's not a revelation that Ailey is so good.  It's cause for celebration.  The reception featured DJ M.O.S. who kept the party moving on the dance floor alongside the fabulous Ailey Dancers.  Nobody does a gala half as good or half as fun as the Ailey Spirit Gala.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Onassis Cultural Ctr Ancient Dion, City of Zeus- Objects Never Before Seen in America

The Onassis Cultural Ctr is located in the Olympic Tower at 645 5th and is open to the public, free of charge.  The current exhibit of the Ancient City of Dion presents objects of religious & daily life.  The Onassis Center exhibits Ancient Greek & Roman Art, Byzantine Art and Greek Modern & Contemporary art.  Now is a very exciting exhibit of rare artifacts from ancient Dion; Mt Olympus which date back to 10th C BC to 4th C AD. This collection is being shown in America for the 1st time.  The amazing preservation of such ancient statues, written tablets, ceramics, mosaics, jewelry and utensils is astonishing.  On display is a compass that was used for architectural renderings and a vaginal specula.  Gynecological advances were being made and architectural innovations.  The glass bottles & ceramic bowls were skillfully crafted and intact.  There are brilliant gold coins used in burials to pay passage for the dead.  And there ancient tablets with writings.  The beautiful mosaics had colorful stones & intricate designs.  These mosicas have never before been exhibited.  The mosaics are comprised of found colorful stones and adhered to the tablets by a cement mixture.  The Greeks are credited with inventing the 1st cement mixture.  The architectural expansion commenced (r. 413-399 BC) under Achelaus I.  Archelaus promoted a religious festival honoring Zeus and his Muses which was celebrated at the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia.  If Ancient Greek & Roman history or mythology are of interest, this exhibit will be endlessly fascinating for you.  Or you could simply marvel as did the 6th graders with sensible skepticism who wanted to know "Really, how old are these? And how could they possibly have survived?"      

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Nicole Eisenman: AL-UGH-ORIES at New Museum

Nicole Eisenman (b. France 1965) is a figurative painting whose works speak volumes ranging from art history, to contemporary pop culture to social commentary.  Her explosive exhibition at New Museum contains mostly large scale oil paintings that are provocative & pensive.  Included in the show are 2 large sculptures, a departure from her oeuvre & arresting in their content.  One is an all white porcelain  androgynous figure gorging on a triangular form.  The figure is adorned with a necklace of multiple shapes & symbols.   Eisenman's paintings captures something from the works of Guston, Picasso and German Expressionist.  She portrays round, comical shaped figures, exaggerated facial features and inebriated debauchery depictions.  Amidst the dreariness of isolation & dystopian societies are a few lighter, humorous works.  "Selfie" is a clever self-portrait & reflection on our narcissistic indulgences.  The 1st gallery contains 4 large portraits & one expansive mural/collage that demonstrates her multi-talented painterly techniques and satirical subject matter.  This sea bearing mural is an endlessly fascinating work.  In the painting "Deep Sea Diver" the diver's gear appears fluid & depicts a jocular face in its collar.  But, the diver looks despondent and resigned to his task.  Perhaps, his work entails the recovery of bodies.  Death, economic ruin, dystopia, loneliness & worst of all obscurity are the prevailing themes.  The painting "The Maiden" shows an elderly woman holding holds with the grim repear & is particularily melancholy.  More disconcerting is "The Tea Party" 4 men, including a dismal Uncle Sam are ensconced in a survivalist shelter armed with arsenal.  "Family Dysfunction" is one of the most disturbing paintings.  It is small & mounted apart & alone.  The painting is of an infant mutilating his genitals, the father is getting stoned and the commando mother pre-occupied. Even paintings of couples or people enmasse, there is a strong sense of dissociation.  Nonetheless, Eisenman's work can be appreciated on many levels, not the least her mastery of figurative painting.   Her sardonic & biting commentary are presented with such vibrant colors & playfulness the exhibition is delightful & engaging rather than just a mournful allegory.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Korean Horror Film THE WAILING- The Devil Made Me Do It

Dir/screenwriter Na Hong-jin (b. S Korean 1974) uncompromising horoor film defies one genre labeling. Instead, this provocative film embodies multiple forms & a cavern of categories: crime thriller, family drama, theology & mundane (until now) small village lifestyle.  It casts dark shadows over the Exorcist and nods its head to The Walking Dead.  The cinematography casts a spell of its own mixing natural beauty with ghastly mayhem.  Once you start watching this spellbinding film, you will be drawn into its distinctive & disturbing picture for its 2 1/2 hr relentless running time.  (The film is in Korean with English sub-titles.)   This bleak flick had me ill at ease & thoroughly transfixed.  A police officer is called in to investigate the grisly killing of family members by the husband who becomes transformed into a catatonic state.  Similar scenarios occur more frequently plaguing this once benign village.  Fingers get pointed at a newcomer; an elderly Japanese man.  He moved into a shack in a secluded wooded area.  Once the beloved, sweet daughter (a tour-de-force performance) of the officer transforms to a vicious, foul mouthed hellion, skeptism turns to alarm.  First, help is sought from the Church though none given and then from a Shaman whose services are interrupted.  Finally, the father gathers a vigilante posse to kill the old man who seems not only guilty but elusive and omnipotent.  The film has conflicting enigmas that leave the viewer bewitched & bewildered but never bored.   If you experience this film you won't be able to exorcise it from your brain.   Be willing to watch THE WAILING.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Arthur Miller's THE CRUCIBLE starring Saoirse Ronan

Arhur Miller is one of the most prominent Amer playwrights of the 20th C ("Death of a Salesman" & "View From the Bridge.")  He received the Pulitzer Prize for "Death of a Salesman."  "The Crucible" is a timeless parable about morality dealing with the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism.  The cast includes Tony winning actors & Acad award nominee Saoirse ("Brooklyn".)  Original score for the play is by Philip Glass.  Glass is one of the most influential composers & musicians of the late 20th C.  The major incredients for a memorable theaterical experiences were all in abundance.  Nonetheless, watching this oppressive, holier than thou, blowhard show was odious.  Never my favorite Miller play,  I will never again subject myelf to this erudite miss hit.