Wednesday, March 8, 2017

MAD: a psychedlic trip with the whole family

It's Sunday morning and we are wondering what we are going to do with our day. So I'm looking something else up on Google, but now on Google, all of the sudden, news items appear below the search bar, and so my eye falls on a dress down there. It is a link to a "story" on the Counter-couture show at MAD, the Museum of Art and Design. (Clever name. How easy it is at first to mistake that couture for culture. The mistake triggers a subtle recognition and this recognition, the moment the eye slows down, if only it will slow down, slows down the eye even more.) So I follow the link to the story and realize that this might be something worth doing and go to the website to investigate. Turns out that on this particular day they are having "Denim demolition: distress, paint, bead, rip, or embroider denim. MAD will have a limited supply of denim and recommends participants bring their own denim to work with." Okah, yeah, this would work for the kids and maybe even be good for us too.

It so happens that MAD is partnered with the Cool Culture Card and (thanks to the PTA of P.S. 150 in Queens) we have a Cool Culture Card, so admission is free. (I should mention here that the reason we have a Cool Culture Card is because we personally led the PTA charge to get one.This took considerable political maneuvering and campaigning, but we felt it would be worth it, as we hope to prove.)

Jump two hours later and there it is, the MAD building, on the edge of Columbus Circle. On the outside of the building there is a set of arrows, pointing to a hole. The words on the building next to the arrows say, "Enter other worlds here" >>> O. In the hole there is a field of grass and wildflowers. Here, in the center of of the city, it is as if you are laying in the grass and looking out at the hills, bare cheek to earth, into the country-side. Promising.

The first thing we do in the museum is the Denim Demolition. Lucia gets busy on a pair of my old dad jeans (embrace it!) and Sofia makes a jeans pocket patch. The sheer amount of materials they had to work with was inspiring. Hour well spent.

Then we go to lunch across the street at the Whole Foods. To get to this particular Whole Foods you have to pass between a beautiful Botero couple, 20 ft tall naked rotund couple, gleaming in bronze. We love Botero, so it was a pleasure to introduce him to the girls. (The pleasure, he seemed to say, was all his.) And then we did the whole Whole Foods thing. Expensive place to shop, but cheapest for lunch. We ate enough good food to feed a couple of Boteros.

The first MAD exhibit we went to after lunch was Lauren Kalman's curated jewelry show. The girls love jewelry, so it was a good place to start. There were dozens of drawers and inside each one were 3 or more pieces of one of a kind jewelry, like a necklace made out of the phone book, or that stunning one that looked like a ring of pink flamingo feathers, but was really made out of butcher paper. The girls had to open every drawer of course. It was their dream, opening dresser drawers and finding so much bling.

The next exhibit was equally impressive, all woven art, curated by Francoise Grossen; woven rope sculptures, wildly woven abstract wall hangings and etc. The weaving show turned out to be a good prelude to the Counter-couture show on the 4th and 5th floor. You might say it wove us in.

On the fourth floor Ken Kesey's Trips Festival was playing on the wall, and there was a dance floor, (which my daughters later made good use of.) All around the perimeter of the dance floor were dozens of psychedelic duds made in the late 60s and early 70s by truly inventive and far out DIY designers. It's all great, and terribly nostalgic, but I'll just mention one dress here, and I think that will suffice.

The incredible story behind this dress is that "while serving a two-year jail sentence in Milan on a hashish smuggling charge, Mary Ann Schildknecht was taught to embroider by the nuns who ran the prison. Using torn bedsheets from her prison cell she embroidered this skirt and top, meticulously covering every inch with the satin-stitch. Her design and patterns evoke a journey through a fantastical narrative of castles, faces, and natural landscapes. The blouse was designed with a hole in the sleeve, should the wearer need a sudden blood transfusion."

What a great way to spend two years in jail! Milan must be the only place in the world where the prisons have satin sheets. It fits nicely with the fact that the police uniforms in Milan are designed by Armani.

The 60s are behind us (and, come to think of it, ahead of us too,) but, even stuck here, in the sad twenty teens, it was nice to trip, lightly, in lieu.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

MOMA: Jerome Bel dance and Starry Night

Went to drop off Nonna and Poppa to their awaiting cruiseship in Manhattan. Giant Peter Max on side of cruise ship.Then we had 3 hours in Manhattan today so Sofia suggested MOMA. Miraculously we found a parking spot a few blocks away. Felt a little like winning the lottery. Also, more good luck, it was the last day of our Cool Culture Card pass, (so we saved $50 entrance fee.) First thing we did at the museum is to take the girls to see Van Gogh's Starry Night. Sofia's loved it ever since she was coloring a coloring book version of it at the same time the painting popped up on Mr. Rogers, the secret portal painting that lead to the land of make believe. We also got to see the Frida Kahlo "family tree" painting, which was exciting because Sofia and Lucia already know it from a book they have, and then spent several minutes in the Monet Waterlilies room. Afterward we went the cafe to get coffee while the girls made art on the iPads they have there. The girls made a very Monet version of Starry Night. Then off to the MOMA kids art lab where Sofia created a halloween costume for me, an "art frame" for my mouth, made to hang off my glasses. After Art Lab we went to the theater to watch a Japanese puppet movie about a fox, and then after that we saw an incredible dance performance in the lobby by Jerome Bel company. The performance consisted of museum employees leading several other museum employees in different styles of dance. The dances ranged from tango to African to ballet to hip hop to butoh. I was impressed that the girls were able to sit so long, must've been over a dozen dances. I teared up during one of the dances, it was so good, so full of joy and the possibilities of art. Then we left the museum to go to Central Park to eat a late lunch. We found a cliff looking down on a lake below. Beautiful. Lots of fall colors in the leaves. Also, since it is Halloween tomorrow, there were people in costumes all around which was fun to watch. "Look, there's Tender Heart Care Bear!" "Look, there's a giant Pikachu." 50 or 60 people were following the Pikachu while staring at their phones. We assumed they were all playing Pokemon Go and the giant Pikachu was leading them to some rare Pokemon find. Gen looked at her phone and said, there's a 70% chance of rain at 5pm. As soon as she said it the sunny sky seemed to suddenly darken, leaves began to cascade down from the trees, thousands upon thousands swirling around in an increasingly gusty wind, which was soon followed by a heavy rain. Luckily we were parked just 2 blocks away, so we were laughing as we ran to the car. We were driving home through the slow traffic of Manhattan, watching the people caught in the rain. At one intersection we saw an old woman slip and fall back and hit her head. It was terrible, but so many people rushed to help her up in the rain that it was a touching reminder of the good.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Make your own art: Random bus ride scavenger hunt takes us to Astoria and to MOMI

So we decided for our first day of summer vacation to take a random bus to wherever it would take us. And we brought a scavenger hunt list. We caught the Q104. (Same name as the radio station I grew up listening to in KC. KC Kasem's top 40.) We were waiting on the West side of 48th street near our house, but then saw a bus coming from the other direction so walked over the East side to take it. It took us into the heart of Astoria Queens. Here we are on the bus (which we didn't want to stay on for long, because the air conditioner was so cold.)

This was on our scavenger hunt list. "Something unique." An orange unicorn with a blue mane, of course!

We walked into a wig shop on Steinway Street. To find "something funny to wear."

"Find a funny animal or person." Check

"Find something you want in your dream house." Check

"Find something fun to play." Check. Arcade at Museum Of Modern Image, Cool Culture card got us in.

More fun, stop motion videos at MOMI. Here's a still from Sofia's masterpiece, "Pulling Gear from Trash"

More fun, still from flip book video at MOMI

Just before us this smooth cat turned his flip book into a proposal

In the gift shop at MOMI, scavenger hunt exceeded. "Look for lego pixels" was not on the list.

"A weapon that can keep you dry." Also not on the list. But umbrella swords. Genius.

There was a wall of "reaction gifs". Super funny.

"Find a yummy dessert" was on the list. And this fig caramel cheese empanada ($2) could not be beat.

Sofia using the keychain pliers she got me for father's day to rip open the lip of the honey stick.

"Show us your moves." Check. Winds from below. Bonus.

"Public Art." Check. Audrey pops up on Steinway to say, "Free Humanity." She would!

On walk home we stumble past The Queens Library at Astoria. Read some books. Check out a few more. 


Love the way the curls of her hair wind with the bird flight.

Girls played with legos and toys at library while I read a POIGNANT Lydia Davis story.

"Do a good deed." Sofia made a pound at the library and then found owners for the dogs.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Secret garden (Calvary Cemetery)

"There's always going to be another Frito/ you're always going to want to make it move." -Sofia to the tune of Miley Cyrus mountain song

Thursday, June 9, 2016

CMOM -Children's Museum of Manhattan: Muslim/Water.

The day started out with a birthday party for me, even though it wasn't my birthday. I love the party hat Sofia made. Lucia put the dog nose on me upside down I see. My lap is full of presents.

The presents are full of toys.

Sofia wore a "Party Time!" uniform.

On the way to the museum Sofia packed snacks. She also packed me an ice cold beer. Good girl!

Lucia's biggest fan!

We stopped by the Free Library on Queens BLVD. As we were approaching I told the girls that it was one of the most magic portals in NYC. I told them there was 50% chance there would be something magic in there today. But when I opened it there was nothing. I said, "Today we got nothing." Sofia said, "Nothing can be magic too." She got me. Then she said, "Like nothing for homework is magic. And no school is magic." She really has a point. Especially as there WAS no school today. And no homework last night.

But there was actually something pretty great in there, afterall, an Amazon receipt for "Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (Hardcover) by Heath, Chip..."  How indeed, Chip Heath?

On the 7 train we played the game of trying to spy something interesting. I noticed this big bad wolf from Red Riding Hood reading penguins a story about his other famous story, Three Little Pigs. But on the back cover the wolf is laying down peacefully with the piggies.

But then Sofia noticed that the husband was angry because the big bad wolf had taken his place in bed while he was in the bathroom brushing his teeth. Haha.

Found this in the subway station, most of the word "most." Love it. Just can't beat most of most.

When the girls are with me they get away with some fashion choices their mother might not have allowed.

Stopped and looked at books on the sidewalk of a bookstore at Broadway and 81st. This one is perfect for Lucia.

And this one too. ; )

And this one for Sofia.

We made it to CMOM where they had a great exhibit on the Muslim culture. Sofia was curious what Islam was and I told her it is a religion, like Judaism, Hinduism or Christianity. She responded by saying, "I believe in unicorns."

They had several scents to smell from Muslim based countries, from Cumin to Frankincense. So wonderful.


Let's go to CMOM

Muslim millinery for the girls to play dress up in.

This was the best scent of the day, Pitaya. I have to find some to try now.

There was a great H2O section too.

Did you know this? The Hudson used to be lined with oysters, which filtered the water and kept it clean. By 1900 they all been fished out or killed by pollution. But by 2030 they are on track to repopulate the water with a billion oysters! So great. I want to volunteer to help.

Sofia painting with water. It's water color.

She's the best

And we hit up Chipotle on the way home. Had to get the girls to gymnastics by 3:30. 

We found this on the way from the train station to gymnastics. Someone was throwing it out. It is meant to be electric, so was not sure it would be a good thing to donate to sunnyside park (since there was no way to power it.) But there was three or four kids with it the entire time we were there and it was a big hit. I didn't even think about the joy of kids pushing.