New York City Blog Nov. 22- Nov. 28

Signs of our times: we went to a 14th Street theatre to see The Martian. It was like an airport. We scaled the complex’s heights on a series of elevators.Then waited in line to have our backpacks, etc. examined. Sir Ridley Scott directed the movie. Internationally we’re joined at the hip so I guess it makes sense for a Brit to direct the all American The Martian. Mars is American, too. Matt Damon, stranded on Mars, grows potatoes in his own excrement, strews the landscape with rubbish, flashes his buffed butt and leaves notes about not destroying a machine because it saved his life. See what I mean about being American? The movie is achingly politically correct. The captain of the team that deserted Matt is a woman with not a hair out of place. Having made the initial mistake of thinking our hero was dead and leaving Mars without him, the captain is the one who, in the last hours of the movie, straps herself into nine hundred pounds of tech stuff and saves him. Matt Damon was perfect and Ridley Scott is a master at building tension. What was pathetic was our American need to be popular, to be loved. Scenes of the Chinese -yes, the Chinese – applauding and the rest of the world holding its breath as our brave astronaut is saved. Will the day come when we Americans applaud others with the same fervor we expect from them? I doubt it.

We went to one of the few old time movie houses in Manhattan to see a documentary about Peggy Guggenheim. Peggy had only five hundred thousand dollars in the early fifties. Poor dear. She picked up her palazzo on the Venetian Grand Canal for a song. The next fifty years were spent collecting modern art, sleeping with artists, getting married and divorced and swanning around Venice with her dogs in the last private gondola. The documentary brought back memories of Venice. Entering the Guggenheim in Venice long ago was like coming very late to a cocktail party. That’s changed. Now, the Venice Guggenheim is well run and packed.
Peggy Guggenheim’s gondola is in the Maritime Museum, a wonderful place that shows how wedded Venice, la Serenissima, is to the sea.

New York City Blog Nov. 16 – Nov. 22

This week I’ve been immersed in Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530), the Florentine painter. The Frick Collection has mounted a small but choice exhibit of his painting and drawings. It’s called “Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action”. It’s an apt title. On the lower level you can study studio drawings of the artist’s wife, Lucretia, various arms and legs, nudes. His sketches of children, gentle and pensive, are wonderful. Doesn’t the unfinished quality of studio drawings bring an artist and his surroundings to life? In the Oval Room there are several paintings depicting biblical figures. Saint John the Baptist is portrayed as a young, virile man decked out with various props that would have alerted a Renaissance person to the saint’s destiny. Nearby, the Frick has placed a studio drawing of the model. The viewer can see how the tough, handsome studio subject is morphed into the dignified, serious subject in the painting. A Salon Evening featured remarks by the exhibition curator, a reading from Robert Browning’s poem about the artist and a wonderful dance choreographed by Marcelo Gomes and danced by Devon Teuscher. If you want to spend time in Renaissance Florence, get thee to the Frick.

After a delicious meal at an upscale east side restaurant named after another great Italian painter, Caravaggio, we walked past the French Consulate on Fifth Avenue. Bouquets had been left in sympathy with last week’s tragedy.

Floral Tribute at the French Consulate in NYC

Floral Tribute at the French Consulate in NYC

“Every nation-state tends towards the imperial—that is the point. Through banks, armies, secret police, propaganda, courts and jails, treaties, taxes, laws and orders, myths of civil obedience, assumptions of civic virtue at the top. Still it should be said of the political left, we expect something better. And correctly. We put more trust in those who show a measure of compassion, who denou­nce the hideous social arrangements that make war inevitable and human desire omnipresent; which fosters corporate selfishness, panders to appetites and disorder, waste the earth.”

—Daniel Berrigan
poet, Jesuit priest

New York City Blog Nov. 8 – Nov. 15
Confession: I haven’t always hated theatre.  As a kid I haunted Off-Broadway and Broadway. I wanted to cure my aversion so I went to “Advance Man” the first part of The Honeycomb Trilogy, being performed in the Judson Memorial Church gym. When did shouting become an essential part of the American theatre tool kit? I’ll keep persevering. Judson, bursting at the seams with political action, dance and theatre, is the place to do it.

Friday at the Frick: Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano, Thomas Dunford, the archlute and Jonathan Cohen, the harpsichord knocked it out of the ball park, actually the Frick Music Room. In his will, Henry Clay Frick had instructed that after his wife’s death, their mansion be turned into a museum. The Music Room was built in 1935. It was added to the original structure built in 1912 to 1914 by Thomas Hastings. What an evening. The superb musicians romped through Henry Purcell, Michel Lambert and other sixteenth and seventeenth century composers. As an encore, Ms. von Otter scored a Frick Music Room first. She sang Bjork’s music . My friend and I left the civilized world of serious music to learn about the French tragedy.

One of Steve’s friends, a Mexican-American detective, has a DíA DE LOS MUERTOS party. Usually, this Mexican feast is celebrated on Nov. 1, part of the Halloween, All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day triumvirate. This year he gave his Day of the Dead party on Nov. 14. It was cruelly apt. The French massacre had occurred the day before.

Day of the Dead

 

New York City Blog Nov. 1 – Nov. 7

IMG_3516In Memorium: John Hoch. A dear, whimsical, talented friend died recently. He made this plaque for me. Get it?? John painted several murals in my apartment. I love this one with the falling book. I think it’s charming and it brings him to life for me.

 

 

 

IMG_3514

Founded in 1871, The Salmagundi Club on Lower Fifth is one of the U. S’s oldest art organizations. It’s been in its current location since 1917. I went to the opening of the Audubon Artists Exhibition to see Lynne Miller’s new mixed media construction.

Lynne's Construction

Lynne Miller’s Construction

FIT stands for Fashion Institute of Technology. The acronym is great but the name of the school is confusing, isn’t it? The outside of the Pomeranz building displays students’ murals. Inside, there are two terrific exhibits: Global Fashion Capitals and Fashion Underground.

FIT's Students' Wall Murals

FIT’s Students’ Wall Murals