Monday, January 16, 2012

103rd St – Cecil Beaton: The New York Years – Museum of the City of New York

Once upon a time, in the days before Photoshop, Cecil Beaton’s devastatingly stylish photographs infused the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair with elegance, wit and scandal.  Certainly, he was an extraordinarily gifted photographer, but to call Cecil Beaton: The New York Years a photography show is to trap his effervescence in a darkroom and watch it ooze out the air vents. The exhibition, at the Museum of the City of New York through Feb 20th, presents Beaton’s sketches and diaries, costume designs and portraits. It is a celebration of the tumultuous career of a creative powerhouse.
Like Truman Capote, Beaton came from England and worked his way into the uppermost echelons of New York society. He lived in hotel rooms, which he redecorated to suit his lavish tastes. He made costumes and sets for Oscar Wilde's plays and George Balanchine's ballets. He snapped this self-portrait as he swung from the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge. He famously said, “Perhaps the world’s second-worst crime is boredom; the first is being a bore.”
A note about the museum:  Let’s be honest, it’s a trek to visit MCNY from pretty much everywhere in the city. Take a cab. Take the 2/3 to 110th and enjoy a brisk walk through the northern end of Central Park. Take the 6 to 103rd or the Madison Ave bus lines... However you choose to get there, once you are inside and ascending the grand staircase, you will be ever so glad you paid a visit. From the wallpaper to the celebrity sightings, the Beaton show is a joy. Do yourself a favor and buy the book. It's even better! 
If you have time afterward, stay for the much-praised The Greatest Grid. If not, pop over to Lexington for a delicious bowl of lentil soup and grilled lamb sandwich at local gem Moustache. Talk about the spice(s) of life!

Venue: Museum of the City of New York
Artist: Cecil Beaton
Streets: Fifth Avenue, 103-104 Sts
Eats: Moustache

Monday, January 9, 2012

W 29th St – Burrito Bullet, Where We Begin, On Display

Today, you absolutely should swing by Mexicue for a free Burrito Bullet. Burritos are usually enormous and make me want to take an afternoon nap. These not-so-mini minis are the perfect solution. Plus, Mexicue offers pretty much everything on their menu in this new size, so you don't have to compromise flavor. After sampling these babies you'll want to come back for seconds, which is good since basically every gallery in Chelsea is closed on Mondays. When you find yourself on 29th Street any other day of the week, start with Where We Begin (obviously) at Sean Kelly GalleryArtist Peter Liversidge, inspired by a visit to New York, repurposed found objects and encourages you to interact with them. These pieces stand on their own, but if you want to know more about exactly what Liversidge is getting at, his proposals for the installation are on display in their original form: manually typewritten pages with errors and annotations intact. Will history be kind indeed?
Across the street at David Nolan artist Victoria Gitman shows history has been kind to handbags with On DisplayCan you believe these gorgeous little vintage purses are paintings?! Seriously. Oil on board. How does she get those glass beads to look so real? It's like scrolling the Costume Institute Archives. Amazing, right?
Venue: Sean Kelly, David Nolan
Artists: Peter Liversidge, Victoria Gitman
Streets: W 29th St, 7th-10th Aves
Eats: Mexicue

Friday, January 6, 2012

Orchard St - Traffic Circle, Urban Soul, Displaced Person

Did you see that article in last weekend’s Times about Orchard Street? It was once literally an orchard on a 300-arce farm. Now, it’s a “grittier,” mellower SoHo with $3.00 cups of coffee and three million dollar “lofty-type one-bedrooms” on the horizon. Talk about the American Dream realized! Of course, since you read this blog, you’re already familiar with the fantastic gallery offerings on the strip. Go this weekend for your last chance to see Anne Morgan Spalter’s Traffic Circle at Stephan Stoyanov/Luxe Gallery! Spalter was a pioneer in new-media arts, and this is her first solo show in NYC. If you find yourself as mesmerized as I am by her kaleidoscopic videos of taxis on Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center at night, you can watch them again and again on her YouTube channel. Hooray for new-media!! 
Before the spinning images start to make you dizzy, grab a cup of Blue Bottle Coffee from Lost Weekend NYC and head to BOSIDAMJANOVIC for Urban Soul. Photographer Marinella Paolini offers you highly selective, intimate portraits of striking architecture. Her artistry is in the precision of the light and angles in the exact moments captured. No matter how many times you’ve been to the Getty Museum in LA, for example, you might have never seen it this way before. Luckily, Paolini careful eye has captured it for you.
Round out the Orchard Street picture with a stop at the Tenement Museum or just grab a taste of the times with a little lox and schmear from Russ & Daughters (nobody does smoked fish better). As you nosh, look around. This was once farmland? Come on!
Bonus: After tonight’s opening, you can further explore urbanization, displacement and cultural growth via The Displaced Person at Invisible-Exports. 

Venues: Stephan Stoyanov/Luxe, BOSIDAMJANOVIC, Invisible-Exports
Artists: Anne Morgan Spalter, Marinella Paolini, Ron Athey, Walt Cassidy, Jesse Aron Green, Geof Oppenheimer, Sue Williams
Streets: Orchard Street, Houston - Division
Eats: Lost Weekend NYC, Russ & Daughters

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

W 37th St – Lever House, Captured

Sometime in the not-too-far-off future you’ll be meeting friends for drinks in NoPS. It’s bound to happen. NoPs is what I call that little neighborhood of garment factories, fabric shops, 99¢ pizza joints and Lincoln Tunnel traffic just north of Penn Station. In the last five years little gems have been popping up across the grid. Take west 37th: Ohm Factory, Houndstooth Pub, Lower East Side Printshop… So, resolve to do some exploring in 2012 and check out Lever House, an exhibition inside Printshop’s 6th-floor studio of newly published editions by New York based artist Enoc Perez. These seven-color screenprints of New York's Lever House are vibrant and deep and just the perfect pick-me-up for this frigid winter day.
All you need is 15 minute to see the show, grab a granola bar from the bodega downstairs and head back to work. Still, if you have more time (and your new year’s resolution does not involve lunch in bar form), head westward to Market Café for grilled-to-order flatbreads and beet & bean salad. Then check out Captured (A Portrait Show) at Heskin Contemporary. From Maurizio Cattelan perched on a bookshelf to Alberto Giacometti in the window by Christer Stromhülm, Captured is an opportunity to see a range of portraiture by 26 artists working in various media. Should you find yourself inspired to try your hand at a self-portrait, circle back to the Printshop and sign up for Intro to Printmaking. 2012 is the year to create the world you want to live in. Go for it!
Venue: Lower East Side Print Shop, Heskin Contemporary 
Artists: Enoc Perez, Maurizio Cattelan, Christer Stromhülm, Others

Streets: W 37th St, 7th – 8th Aves
Eats: Market Cafe

Friday, December 30, 2011

Eastern Parkway - BMA - Youth and Beauty, Hide/Seek, Brunch

Journey far from tourist-infested Times Square this weekend and treat yourself to the fantastic offerings at Brooklyn Museum of Art.  Start on the 5th floor with Youth and Beauty. Despite the loud reputation of the roaring 1920s, the exhibition presents the art and tropes of the time as quiet, desolate landscapes and intimate portraits. Take, for example, this captivatingly still photo of Gloria Swanson by Nickolas Muray. According to the commentary, her hand-to-face starlet pose originated in the ‘20s “to suggest a beautiful woman’s depth.” Who knew?!
The exploration of liberated individuality seeps down to the 4th floor galleries where Hide/Seek surveys the extraordinarily complex history of LBGT representation in modern American art from Walt Whitman and Thomas Eakins to Annie Leibovitz and Ellen DeGeneres. Spotlighting the contributions gay and lesbian artists have made to modern art, the show runs the gamut from grand oil paintings to tiny platinum prints. George Wesley Bellows depicts dozens of men disrobing by the riverfront on a hot day. Robert Mapplethorpe offers just his arm and torso reaching across a blank wall in a private studio. Félix Gonzåalez-Torres' work piles 175lbs of individually wrapped candies in the corner of the room and invites you to take one. You should!   
Then, save the rest of the museum's offerings for your next visit and opt for a cozy, delicious brunch at Cheryl's Global Soul. Full disclosure: there isn’t much that’s global about brunch at Cheryl’s, but the brioche French toast and Norwegian smoked-salmon plate are darn good. Afterward, take advantage of this gorgeous weather and stroll around the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. They bloom all year round!
Robert Mapplethorpe, Self Portrait, 1975.
Venue: Brooklyn Museum of Art
Artists: Nickolas Muray, Robert Mapplethorpe, George Wesley Bellows, Félix Gonzåalez-Torres, Others
Streets: Eastern Parkway, Underhill – Washington Ave
Eats: Cheryl’s Global Soul