After a tasty Dominican supper, we went to the very baroque Church of St. Michael’s on West 99th Street to attend Amor Artis chorus and orchestra perform Handel in Italy. Handel worked in Italy from 1706-1710. Among the cantatas, mezzo-soprano Sarah Nelson Craft enchanted us with Armida Abbandonata.
Sarah Nelson Craft and Ryan James Brandau performing Handel in Italy
#WhiteLoveListens Potlucks are meals sponsored by Judson Memorial Church members to discuss how to make racial justice work. I joined a Brooklyn group of people all white, mostly elderly. We each talked about being raised in a white environment. To quote the expression, you don’t know what you don’t know. The evening provided a launching pad for further thinking, for getting out of the box.
“Welcome to one of the few places in NYC where cell phones and people are silent, food and drinks are for after the movie and everyone has a wonderful time.” This message is flashed on the MOMA screen before the movies that attract packed audiences. Mr. Cary Grant is a wonderful collection of the suave one’s various charming movies. Since he and Alfred Hitchcock are among my most admired movie pros, I paid one dollar to see “North by Northwest.” It’s such fun living in NYC and going to a 1959 movie that features 1950s Manhattan: Cary Grant strolling into the Plaza where in real-life he had a suite; Eva Marie Saint in couture chosen in Berdorfs for her by Hitchcock; the aerial shot of the UN; the Bernard Herrmann music.
Francis Picabia’s exhibit at MOMA goes from room to room. Each space demonstrating another phase in the French artist’s career. I spent a great deal of my childhood at MOMA, wandering through the galleries, pausing to look at favorites, going to the movies. One of the first painting that fascinated me was Picasso’s Three Musicians. It awakened in me a life long fondness for cubism. Exhibition History at the museum’s website is a wonderful on-line history of the various MOMA exhibits beginning in 1929 to the present.
Mechanical Object Francis Picabia MOMA
Francis Picabia MOMA
Francis Picabia MOMA
I would never have gone to Silence if a friend had not baited me with a delicious Chinese supper before the show. Fortified with duck, dumplings and wine, I steeded myself for a very long movie about Catholicism. I’ve never appreciated Martin Scorsese’s love of violence. The movie was way too long (another Scorsese flaw) and, at times, boring (yet another…) BUT fascinating and beautiful. Also, Scorsese turned on its head the notion of one religion deciding it had the truth and the right to inflict it on other cultures. 17th century? The three western, Portuguese priests spoke in 20th century jargon and looked modern. The Japanese actors in sumptuous, exotic costumes and deliciously weird hair dos conveyed a sense of long ago and far away.
Graphic Lessons: Recent widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine year old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.
Graphic Lessons: NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: something’s eating at him: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case?
Graphic Lessons: Nine year old Dana is the only witness who overhears three people fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore?
On October 11 The New Century Jazz Quartet belted out original and standard pieces at the Emmanuel Baptist Church jazz vespers. It has built itself an enviable reputation in Japan and the States. The Quartet’s quintet of bass, drums, piano, alto saxophone and trumpet made the church rock.
Across the street from the Church, Brooklyn was revving up for Halloween.
Afterwards, we had dinner at Madiba a “South African Cuisine in a Brooklyn Scene”. The name is a tribute to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. The location was originally a garage and has been modeled after sheens which are South African dining halls. It’s a cosy atmosphere in a series of funky rooms. No, I didn’t have ostrich. We had lovely chicken wings and then crayfish.
A friend and I thought Free Friday evening at MOMA would be packed. The plan: the Picasso exhibit on the fourth floor, supper in the fourth floor cafe and a Chech movie downstairs in the basement. The reality: the cafe was surprisingly empty. We sat on the balcony overlooking the sculpture garden three stories below, eating and drinking to abandon, skipped Picasso and proceeded to the movies.
Move over Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni,.The most boring movie prize goes to the 1962 Věra Chytilová. Does anyone watch the movies of Bergman, Antonioni any more?
Also featured was a ten minute 1958 feature by Roman Polanski.
I went to the Vittorio De Sica festival at Film Forum. Being cowardly, I didn’t choose to see Umberto D. again, a heart wrenching movie about old age in postwar Italy. It even includes a dog. Instead, I saw Max Opel’s The Earrings of Madame D…starring Danelle Darrieux, Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica. What a load of elegant nonsense. The three actors swan around for what seems like hours in gorgeous costumes and great jewelry. The late Roger Ebert lauded the film for its technical mastery. Mr. Ebert was a white male and his eyes seemed as teary as John Boehner’s as he described the lost and found and lost love motif. I’m a white female and reacted differently. I was angry with myself for having fallen in my youth for the myth that all a woman needs are looks and guile. Danelle Darrieux has outlived her princess heroine who dies young. (After all, what’s a woman worth after the age of thirty?) Ms. Darrieux is 98. She’s neck and neck with another Parisian inhabitant, 99 year old Olivia de Havilland, one of the few actresses who could play goodness well i.e. Melanie in Gone with the Wind.
The New York Academy of Medicine sponsored Andrea Wulf’s talk about her newest book, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World. The naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), introduced many theories about nature, ecology and weather which have been incorporated into our modern sensibility. Wulf honors her fellow German by recounting his adventurous life, describing his accomplishments and name dropping. Among von Humboldt’s disciples were Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau, George Perkins Marsh and John Muir. Wulf is an engaging speaker and attracted a large crowd in the Academy of Medicine’s library.
N. Y. Academy of Medicine’s Library
I chose to go to MOMA’s blockbuster Picasso Sculpture on a rainy Friday, thinking the threat of Hurricane Joaquin would keep New Yorkers indoors. I hadn’t reckoned on the tourists, but it still wasn’t too crowded. MOMA allows photos. People were taking selfies with the sculpture. I chose to spare you. I’m throwing in the permanent helicopter.
Isn’t the family of man the most dysfunctional of all? At first, the Interfaith Service at the World Trade Center reminded me of Thanksgiving with everyone dressed nicely, on their best behavior and putting up with a loquacious and boring uncle i. e.Timothy Cardinal Dolan. There were lots of white men, a few women, one or two Asians, a token Black or two. The drama was that the faiths which usually are battling or ignoring each other came together to honor the dead. I was moved. Religion is once again sexy. And Pope F. has left town just as he was beginning to be too much.
I finally made it to the Whitney in its newish location, 99 Gansevoort Street.The Whitney claims itself to be the world’s leading museum of U. S. twentieth-century and contemporary art. I beg to differ. How about MOMA? How about the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art? How about ———. Fill in your choice. I think most of the Whitney instillations/ projects etc. could be carted away by a dumpster. What I do like is the breeze off the Hudson on the outdoor exhibit spaces and the NYC attitude.
On Martin Luther King Day I went to MOMA. I’ve haunted that place since childhood and have always felt rejuvenated by its buzz. The video, Dante Ferretti: Design and Construction for the Cinema, follows the long, illustrious career of Dante Ferretti, the Italian production designer of sets and costumes. You’ve seen his work unless you just arrived from Mars. He’s worked with Pasolini, Fellini, Scorsese, Coppola and garnered slews of awards. He’s claustrophobic. He thinks it’s because of U. S. bombs hitting his house when he was about three. His mother searched among the rubble for days until she found him. In the garden/sculpture court stand two of Ferretti’s Archimboldo figures. They’re named after Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the 16th century Italian painter who painted weird portraits that consisted of fruits, vegetables, flowers.
Dante Ferretti’s Archimboldo Sculpture
Do you get installations? Me neither. As long as I don’t have to fund them or explain them, I can enjoy the experience for about ten minutes. Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves weaves traditional Chinese myths with a contemporary tragedy. It’s shown on nine double sided screens suspended from the ceiling of MOMA’s Marron Atrium. The spectators and yours truly sprawled on cushions and couches on the floor below. It would make a great pajama party.