Spend a Couple Hours »Brooklyn Museum: American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection

200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn

I don’t know why the trek to the Brooklyn Museum seemed so insurmountable that I kept putting off my trip to see the American High Style exhibit. In truth it only takes about and hour and is more than worth it. If the sister exhibit at the Met is the dolled up, flashy younger sister boasting pop music, glitzy styled head pieces and films, this one is the calm, dignified older sister. It’s far larger and more spaced out than the other exhibit and features some incredible fanning Charles James, well preserved and embellished Worths, a huge amount of shoes, and more stunning prints, draping, and colors than any fashion lover could want for.

I’d heard great things about the exhibit, so was not surprised to be delighted. I was surprised, however at what a great museum it is over all. I spent most of the day on the 4th floor where they have huge recreations of old homesteads and interior design through the decades (recreated interiors are a favorite of mine in any museum). Also currently on exhibit is an inspiring Kiki Smith retrospective, the famous Judy Chicago “The Dinner Party”, a show of the jewelry of Art Smith that had my head swimming with want (many of the awesome pieces reminded me of what Grace Jones would wear), and he vibrant exhibition called Extended Family that includes work from sculptor Nick Cave, Nina Chanel Abnay, and Vadis Turner.

So, lovers of decorative arts take the 2/3 train and prepare to spend a day on the 4th floor in pure happiness. Plus! They allow non flash photography!

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Posted on June 27, 2010

Spend a Couple Minutes »Big Bambú: You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop

On the Met Roof

It’s always great to see the various ways artists transform the rooftop of the Met, but perhaps none have transformed it so completely as Doug and Mike Starn with their elaborate work in progress, Big Bambu. The maze like structure of bamboo walkways makes you feel like your stranded on a desert island with a group of innovative architect students and a lot of bamboo – an illusion helped by just having watched the end of Lost and the hippie kids building the structure as we stood by.

We saw a group going on a guided tour, which climbs the structure as high as 110 feet. We didn’t go on the tour ourselves (pregnant ladies not recommended) but I sure it’s pretty amazing if you can manage through the guidelines of getting a ticket.

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Posted on June 13, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity

at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I will always be giddily happy with any museum or gallery show that lets me ogle unbelievable bead work, divine draping, stunning silhouettes, and incredible fabrics. The vintage clothes, from the 1900s to the 1940s presented with great headpieces and backdrops at the Met’s American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity made me and friend Stacy dizzy with pleasure and whispering about details we col hardly contain our excitement about.

Still, like all the fashion oriented shows at the Met, it was not without its flaws. I can only guess that the Costume Institute is limited in its funds compared to other wings, because the shows are always boxed off into some very tight corridors that become at times wildly packed with visitors exclaiming that “no one would really wear that” (ha!). Any room with video playing gets instantly bottle-necked and with no room to really stand back from the garments, much patience is needed to get a good, unobstructed view.

We were a little surprised to find the first “Heiress” room filled exclusively with Worths (not that we’d say no to a Worth or, pun intended under estimate his Worth as one of the most amazing couturiers if his time) but there were other designers of the era. The room for the suffragettes pretty much screamed “boring!” – all the wool suits were pushed in the corners with little fanfare, but my biggest gripe was the abrupt and undignified end. After the dreamy Starlet clothes of the  and 40s, we’re accosted by a bright screen of alternating images of modern beauties (like Jennifer Aniston, of course) and a blaring loop of the title sharing Lenny Kravitz song. After all this dimly lit beauty what were they trying to say? That true style ended in the over 60 years ago and now it’s all pop and noise? Probably not the intention.

Still, with the unusual limited time frame of the show (would have assumed The American Woman had some sartorial significance for the past few decades) and the limits of the space, once again The Met delivered with the actual clothes and styling, both amazing. Worth a visit before it closes August 1.

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Posted on May 31, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Otto Dix

at the Neue Galerie

The Otto Dix show at the Neue Galerie is “the first solo museum exhibition of works by this major German artist ever held in North America” and it’s thrilling, disturbing, and inspiring to see, so make sure you stop by before August 30 when it comes down. A fascinating artist dealing with absurd and the realistic, Dix art, with wit and amazing imagery, covers both the horrors of World War I and the decadence of the Weimar culture. Both of it’s time and timeless, the paintings and etchings called to mind not only the writings of Christopher Isherwood, but more modern wits like Anthony Burgess, Charles Burns, Kurt Vonnegut and Francis Bacon as well as my favorite spot in the Met: the Flemish portraits.

The large colorful portraits are stunning, particularly his iconic glowing red study of Anita Berber, complete with razor sharp manicure, but the smaller etchings have equal impact. A great show by an artist many would be wise to become aware of if the name’s unfamiliar.

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Posted on May 23, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

333 East 47th Street

Some art shows that I have been excited about (talking to you Younger Than I’ll Be at BAM) are disappointing in their scope, offering little more than the images released online, the incredible, awe inspiring, amazingly inspiring and exquisitely beautiful Utagawa Kuniyoshi exhibit: Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters at the Japan Society is the exact opposite. Room after room offered more stunning work in this comprehensive exploration of the artist career is almost overwhelming – but in a most excellent way. My dad exclaimed it to be the best art show he’s ever been to, and if these close up images strike your fancy at all (and they are really only poor quality photos from my camera off the exhibit book) you need to see this in person. I walked away so completely inspired and can guarantee you will too.

The museum itself is also worth noting as a pretty neat spot that also features Japanese language classes, sake tastings, and other events including film screenings. Some limited reproduction prints as well as a beautiful book are available for sale on this particular exhibition.

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Posted on May 9, 2010

Places to Visit »Mummer’s Museum

1100 South 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA

The Mummers Parade is an age-old institution that is alive (if not exactly well) in Philadelphia; posters on the walls of the South Philly Mummer’s Museum dedicated to the traditional New Year’s Day event scream “Save the Mummers Museum!” and the unkempt, slightly decaying exhibits give the place a quality not unlike Mrs. Havisham’s home…

Unusually quiet, with only a few volunteers and one other couple present, the museum is as eerie as it is fascinating. As the social clubs that were the backbone of Mummers’ communities fade away, and the museum itself become more run down, spending the afternoon among so many dusty memories is a wonderful way to pass a couple of hours.

The first display of Terminator-meets-He-Man-like costumes are winners of a recent parade and videos show the costumes in action during the annual celebration. The intricacy of the ritual and the costumes themselves make me want to attend the next year’s event and the crumbling but stunning museum (which calls to mind the images of Kubrick) do indeed make me want to help save the Mummers.

So why don’t you all start by visiting? Admission is only $3.50 and more than worth it!

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Posted on April 25, 2010

Places to Visit »Natural History Museum, LA

900 Exposition Blvd. Los Angeles, CA

It’s taken me awhile to get this entry together because I took so many photos at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, about 50 or so can be seen below/after the jump. Since a photo is worth a thousand words, I’ll keep it brief.

The museum, even though it may not rank as a must-see among locals (none have ever mention it to me), boasts the best of the museum world: A. animal dioramas; B. dinosaur bones; and C. a killer gem room (mmmm gem rooms….).

If you find yourself in the city on a rainy day – and every time I go I get at least one of those – this is a prefect distraction.

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Posted on April 18, 2010

Places to Visit »Griffith Park Observatory

Los Angeles, CA

Last time I visited the Griffith Observatory (years ago) it was in the middle of major renovation. Now, along the throngs of tourists (the is a very popular spot to catch views of the city), you can venture back inside again. And while we missed a show in the planetarium, we did get to see Foucault’s Pendulum and lighting manufactured by Tesla’s coil.

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Posted on March 21, 2010

Places to Visit »The Museum of Jurassic Technology

9341 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles

The Museum of Jurassic Technology is by far the strangest museum I’ve ever been to and was the top thing on my to-do list after missing out on it on my last visit to LA. It’s so unusual that I can’t really explain it to you but I can tell you that it’s got nothing to do with dinosaur machines. Dark and winding, the quiet two floor space contains everything from Hagop Sandaldjian‘s Goofy sculpture the size of a needle head to a collection of Decaying Dice from Ricky Jay.

My favorite section may have been the one about various old wives tales and superstitions complete with dioramas of mice on toast, children’s hand growing hair and a man kissing a goose. I was also pretty taken with Athanasius Kircher‘s confounding but beautiful creations and where else can you walk into a velvet room and be confronted with large oil portraits of Soviet Space Dogs. There are trailer park models, more art that needs to be viewed through a microscope (the pretty but pretty insane work of Henry Dalton) and a myriad of other things that I could barely even wrap my head around. It was tough to get too many photos with the low light, but there’s enough below/after the jump to intrigue you to make your own visit.

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Posted on February 28, 2010

Spend a Couple Minutes »Quicktake Rodarte Exhibit

at Cooper Hewitt

Some things just have to be seen in person to be believed and appreciated, and the incredibly intricate and textured work of Rodarte definitely falls under that category. On display in one of my favorite spots in the city, The Cooper Hewitt, the exhibit  Quicktake: Rodarte consists of selected pieces from their recent seasons and each offers another reason to gasp and fawn. The tooled leather, the hidden gems, the dip dyed silk, the knitted tights, the claw belt clasps… sigh.

The only complaint is that they weren’t joking when they called it a “quick take”. There are only three sections of clothes, with about six on display each. I want more, more, more!!

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Posted on February 21, 2010

Spend a Couple Minutes »Metal Mad at Giant Robot

437 East 9th St

Leave it to Giant Robot NY to turn me into a little art collector! The Metal Mad show caught my attention when Paul Lyons, whose work is featured, sent a note out the other day… heavy metal art sounded like something I could not miss out on.

It’s a fun, small collection of skulls, bosoms, swords and beastly animals. I am/am soon to be (the show is up until March 3rd) the proud owner of Paul’s grotesquely awesome marker drawings and a fantastically creepy Audobon-esque painting of headless bat-birds battling in a black sky by Aaron Brown. These three pieces were my personal favorites, but there’s lots of great stuff to see.

Hannah Stouffer‘s dreamy, bloody paintings are lovely, the black and white pen and ink drawings by Louie Cordero call to mind the horrors of a Charles Burns comic and are fab. I was also smitten with the Bear Horde drawing by French and the intricate creations from Jeremiah Maddock. Oh, and Tom Neely‘s Wolves in the Throne rules.

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Posted on February 14, 2010

Spend a Couple Minutes »Demons, Yarns and Tales

Demons, Yarns and Talesat James Cohan Gallery, 533 West 26th Street

Prepare for some tapestry madness over in Chelsea at the James Cohan Gallery’s “Demons, Yarns and Tales,” exhibit that runs through Feb 13. All the tapestries on display are over-sized and incredible. The work is though provoking – (from the eerie historical work of Kara Walker, to the politically violent and vibrant work of Grayon Perry (one of my favorites)), exquisite – (like Fred Tomaselli’s After Migrant Fruit Thugs and Shahzia Sikander’s Pathology of Suspension), and colorfully pleasing (avaf’s pop culture mish mash and Beatriz Milhazes’ Pucci like design).

I’ll try to return to the friendly gallery when the show comes down to see the YUN-FEI JI Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts show. But don’t you wait that long! If you are a friend to tapestries, sewing, fabric art and textiles, the current show cannot be missed.

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Posted on January 24, 2010

Places to Visit »Figueres

dali figueresHome of the Salvador Dali Museum

Figueres is about a two hour train ride from Barcelona, through landscapes that are in turn industrial, rural, urban, vineyardy before finally stopping at the little town Salvador Dali put on the map. It’s a short walk from the station to the eye popping museum, but not well marked, so we foolishly took a cab about three blocks.

The museum, Dali’s former home, is as wild as you can imagine from the outside, and I can only really do it justice by asking you to take a look at the photos we took (though, they are no substitution for actually being there either!).

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Posted on January 17, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Tim Burton Exhibit

tim burton moma
at the MoMA, 11 West 53rd Street

In what must be the museum’s most talked about exhibit of 2009, the life’s work of the darkly comic and inventive Tim Burton is on vibrant and thrilling display now through April 26th. The scope of the work, from his teenage short stories about evil doctors to his latest sketches for the yet to be released Alice in Wonderland, is impressive and truly inspiring.

The exhibit opens with a kooky black and white walkway playing some of his Stain Boy cartoons, which makes you feel like you’ve walked onto one of his sets (you’ll also feel a strong urge to re-watch Beetlejuice). Next comes the circusy black-light room with a moving carousel Burton made especially for the exhibit – all of the sculptures, including this one are fantastic (I especially love the crazed Campbell soup kids singed by fire) and be sure to look up as some are hung quite high. Many of the sculptures were created by Rick Heinrichs and Neal Scanlan Studios.

Just as cool as the huge 3-dimensional works are the simple and whimsical sketches. Among my favorite are The Teenager, Little Dead Riding Hood, and the monster drawings.  It’s also very awesome to see some of the iconic costumes and props from his films, including the Ed Wood’s angora sweater, Cat Woman’s get up, the Edward Scissorhands costume, and a crazy-in-person textured headless horseman cape.

As a fan of Burton for years, I was particularly tickled, but even coworkers who were not familiar with his work became enamored of his amazing imagination.

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Posted on December 26, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »Urs Fischer: Marguerite de Ponty

urs fischerat The New Museum through Feb. 7th, 2010

The Urs Fischer exhibit currently taking over three floors of the New Museum is wonderfully unusual; every time the elevator doors opened, I was taken aback. The first floor is cluttered, to a collage-like effect, with large, mirrored boxes screen printed with non-scaled objects like cupcakes, meat, VHS tapes, CD cleaners, telephone booths, running shoes, high heels, photography books and (most oddly) an Ashanti cardboard cut out. I wrote down some of the books titles (Schweizer Sagen, Marius Pictor fotografo) to get an idea of why he picked these particular objects to display together, but I think that maybe the objects themselves are irrelevant and he’s more in awe that all these objects coexist in our world… but you’d have to ask him.

The second floor whisks you to an entirely different environment and mood. The walls, seemingly sterile and gray are actually wallpapered with photographs of the room itself. Whether through lighting or the tints in the photos, the walls offer amazing shades of color the longer you look at them – the perfect backdrop for a candy purple melting grand piano – and as you peruse the room, a few moments of unexpected humor. It’s rare to see so many gallery goers actually laughing out loud in an exhibit.

The third floor again, takes you to another world, this one full of gigantic metal sculptures made from tiny pieces of clay he pinched together then sent away to be replicated many, many times larger. Within these twirling, hulking, silvery shapes is a bright pink melting lamp post, a skeleton covered in dirt, muck, and lint, and the one piece I just did not “get” at all: a cake and travel bag floating above a subway seat with ceramic slugs.

In fact, what any of it all means escapes me entirely – but I felt transformed, like I was walking into an environment like none I had ever experienced before, and I found the whole thing fantastic.

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Posted on November 22, 2009

Web Sites »Digibarn Computer Museum

Digibarn Computer Museum is an old timey computer nerd's dream! And even though I'm not an old timey computer nerd (though I do get excited thinking back on afternoons spent playing Zork), I do love their collection of Byte Magazine covers from the 1970's, so much so that I put a few favorites up over on RC.

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Posted on October 5, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »James Ensor

james ensor skeletons fightingThe James Ensor exhibit at Moma has drawn many viewers with its intriguing images of Skeletons Fighting. The first room, however, with the very competent but run of the mill landscapes and portraits doesn't quite live up to expectations. Soon, however, the work becomes far more interesting and bizarre with skulls and wild imagery of scary masks.

Ensor's astonishing work is creepy, detailed, and funny – I chuckled particularly over his etching of a skeleton called Self Portrait in 1960. Most of his work shown is from the late 1890s but they seem so modern in their look and subject matter.

The show is worth the admission alone and is open until the 21st of September. When you stop in, keep an eye out for my favorite pieces, both called Bad Doctors.
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Posted on August 10, 2009