Thursday, August 27, 2015

Brooklyn Museum: Basquiat/ Faile/ Sneakers

    Lobby of the Brooklyn Museum. Girls dwarfed by their avatars.

We started the day out with lunch at Prospect Park. These snake handles slithering into potted flowers greeted us at the gate.

So many good trees to eat lunch under...

These twin girls joined us for some summertime leaf collecting.

This was our view. You can see the playground we are heading to after lunch on the left, made from all repurposed wood from hurricane Sandy destruction and turned into playground toys.

Now at the playground, at a water pump fountain. The girls could have stayed here all day.

On the way to the museum we stopped by the Brooklyn children's library.

First stop at the Brooklyn Museum is the Faile exhibit. I had never heard of Faile but it was incredible. Old broken down ruins give it an ancient feel, as if the present were long past.

But then you enter the arcade, and there are dozens of re-purposed pinball and video games. All of them playable, with a specific cultural critique.

This one was pure design manipulation.

Here you wield spray paint and tag a wall. Then the po-po comes and you have to get away.

This re-purposed driving game was one of my favorites. You drive a pixie stick and suck up all the pixie dust being dropped by a fairy. The game was called Camino De Dolor. The girls enjoy the game without understanding the irony supplied by the title.

After spending an hour playing video games we checked out the sneaker show. This was my favorite pair. One size fits ONE. A black man runs and a nation follows him.

Then onto the Basquiat:

This was a show of his notebooks, mostly, which were intimate and yet with a sense of the public gaze already in them.

I love this text on translating. A good example of his poetic prowess. It took me a while to decipher the last couple lines. "Tight\ I'm a spring bouncing." The hand-writing has loosened up and looks like a spring bouncing!

Painful this one, since less than a year later he did step down.

"It all depends on who you are on what street. Podium scaling his way to a bed."

Portrait of the artist's mind

Love this notebook page...

Spotted this Brooklyn ephemera on the way home. Nice color scheme.

The sweet potato monsters I made for the girls for dinner have a little Basquiat influence.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Whitney: floors 8, 5, 3 and 1

This Edward Hopper is from the original Whitney collection, on the 1st floor of the new building, and has probably the biggest aura in the room. We talked for awhile about composition and its effects using this painting as an example.

Each floor of the Met is broken up in chapters, this one, on the 8th, is all about visualizing music, so we talked about synesthesia.

We tried to imagine what this painting "sounds" like. When I told Sofia this painting could be thought of as music for the eye, she said that it looked like an eye. And I saw a figure, perhaps the Virgin Mary in the blue space with a parti-colored robe.

We loved this painting by Agnes Pelton and spent some time making up a story for it. It is Selena's wedding night. (Selena the swan, from EB White's novel that we just finished, Sofia's first chapter book, The Trumpet of the Swan.)

This one by Stanton Macdonald-Wright caught our eye too. We eventually found figures in the painting and decided this was the inner life, the inner aura of the scene.

This great study in natural patterns was benefited by reading the title, Cricket Chorus in the Arbor, and description. See below.

I've been seeing the Esso gas pump a lot lately in different art works, so it was interesting to find this abstract version. The girls have a replica of the Calder mobile in the background in their bedroom, so that helped bring it all home. You can see Sofia is too busy making art herself to care. And Lucia has fallen asleep. Later I put on that new band with the great name, Sylvan Esso, for her. 

I love this work by Paul Chan, essentially (a projection of) light streaming through a window sill onto the floor. But it is really a small movie and eventually things start rising in the air like cellphones and eyeglasses, then cars and buses, then people start falling from the sky. The rapture in reverse. I felt free when everything started rising up (no more smart phones!) and then grounded again when the people started falling. The hand shadow in this detail is mine.

Here's Sofia in front of an Ed Ruscha. Another good painting with which to talk about composition.

Pixilated clouds

Real clouds

Love the pool of light in the sea

This almost made me cry, because it reminded me of Warhol's Marilyn on a white disc, which in turn reminds me of seeing Marilyn in the moon during a "trip" with my friend Mikhal, something I can still see today when I look at a full moon.

This performance on the 3rd floor was a surprise, mixing live music, poetry, weird electronic looping, tarot card reading, and images. In this image a confederate flag is morphing into African-American Confederate soldiers. A stark reminder of the ugly remainder of racism.

All told a good day at the races. Thanks Whitney!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Met: China through the looking glass/ Treasures of the Deccan Sultans of India

this looking glass into the art of the Deccan Sultan show was a beautiful metaphor. Just like The reflection of me waving to you in the background.

I happen to know the woman who curated the show, so that is why we came on our last day of the show, to see her work. But I would have been amazed by the show anyway, so I am so glad to have had a connection. Thanks Marika and Stephen. The other reason why the show was so great is because my wife is half Indian and half Chinese. Chindian we like to say. And this show, along with the China through the looking glass show we saw afterward, was the perfect way of looking into the history of the mother of my children. It was as if the aesthetic DNA, the highest aesthetic manifestation of 2 billion collected people, had distilled together to become these two shows, reflected in this one woman. So that was why this was a sacred day in my own family history. 

These works from the collections of the sultans were especially great to see because they were scattered after the sultans fell out of power. They have been collected together again, almost miraculously. And seeing all of it together truly gives us a flavor of a unique and spectacular flowering in human history.

This is Ibrahim, the main guy that made it all happen, the patron. He is the son of a military man, therefore very wealthy, but he maintains his Power through bribes, instead of military might, so that and is a patron of the arts. But without the military power and the kingdom is invaded.

They had magnifying glasses for everybody, which really brought the pieces to life.

A sculpture of the Koran as a bird of prey.

And excellent and trippy use of marbled paper.


This is an incense holder, and two  weights, to hold rugs down. All in the shape of temples. I think this detail is a good example of how well curated the show is.

This is and example of "far eye" and stippled, woven chest hair.

Nice color

And shape

At first I thought these were turkeys on this man's robe, but they are flowers.

Then on to the China through the looking glass show. This was fashion designer and artist interpretations of Chinese culture and style. Celebrating cultural appropriation instead of criticizing it. I love this first communist dress because I could imagine the main character in the book I am reading, "wild swans", wearing it.

I absolutely love this quote by Walter Benjamin about Mae Wong.

I am not so sure about this woman's bag though. Yes if you want something look for it, but doesn't this over-emphasize the wanting?

Nice use of plates. 

This is exactly how Lucia look at this point in the show.

Walking back to subway

This woman was just standing there, she had just gotten married that day but was showing off her address in hopes of selling it, apparently it is very expensive.