Monday, September 29, 2008

DUMBO Arts Festival, Dance Parties and Ratatat

The title just about summarizes my weekend. Friday evening started with an exploration around the art "happenings" of DUMBO, where art, just as it was promoted, really was to be found under bridges, in elevators, and projecting off buildings (in addition to the standard gallery displays of art). I was so impressed with this array of artwork, this blurring of convention, and the general charm of the neighborhood, that I returned to DUMBO again Saturday afternoon to get a chance to see openings and happenings not yet open or going on the previos night. Below are some photos to give you the general idea of the festival.

(above: my friend standing next to a laser light with mohair string tied to it...)
(above: the new Galapagos space in DUMBO. The former one in Williamsburg is now called Public Assembly.)

Dumbo art happenings: definitely worth it. The area, DUMBO, in general is pretty adorable, from the panoramic views from the park to the cute galleries and cafes along the streets.

Friday night I attended the "No Big Deal" party at alphabeta, a warehouse space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, after accidentally scoring a free taxi ride. (I got upset that the driver didn't know where Franklin Ave was, and he refused to take my money, telling me to get out of his cab. Upon my exit, a group of people immediately veered to take the cab, and he curtly replied that he was off duty, to which the girl in the group replied, "No, we're going to New York." Not able to help myself, I replied back, "Honey, this is New York," and walked the remaining three blocks to my destination (after they managed to convince the cabbie to take them and I was informed by friendly local kids that my destination was indeed only a few blocks away).

The "No Big Deal" party was part grafitti warehouse and store, and part totally hoppin' house party -- complete with free Sparks drinks -- with an expansive backyard Below are some pictures of the event.

And then, true Brookyln undergound party-style, it got shut down by the police.

We proceeded afterwards to a bar by the name of CoCo 66 (see their myspace profile here and the NY Mag write-up here), which was a fun dancing time to be had.
Luckily, though tired, I was not too exhausted to make it back to DUMBO the next day, OR go to the Ratatat show and have a blast there.

The show exceeded my expectations. Terminal 5 was packed, their performance had the crowd fully pumped, and their set was short but sweet. And that perfectly describes how my weekend felt: short but sweet.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Art. Music and Parties This Weekend

I am--mildly--bummed. Not that I plan to dwell on it or anything: there are other plans to be made, and believe me, I will make them. But I am bummed because, duh, the weather is so crappy and promises to continue in the same vein for the entire weekend. I had planned to go on a hike tomorrow, Saturday, and I had even sold my Ratatat tickets for Saturday night, figuring I would be slightly exhausted after a long day hike and early morning. (See their Myspace page here.) Well... Ratatat's show had been sold out for some time, and I managed to sell my tickets for slightly more than I had paid for them: apparently they have recently exploded. I saw them perhaps two years ago play live at the Guggenheim, and yes, they were fun, but at the time, their audience mostly consisted of high school/young college kids. Also, the Improv Everywhere event I mentioned on my last posting: still happening in the rain! Hmm... should be interesting. And I have to say, I am mighty curious what the synchronized song is that they have everyone to play tomorrow at exactly the same time.

ANYWAY, so I think I may be going to go to the BAM Takeover event this Saturday night instead of Ratatat, featuring the lovely St. Vincent performing, among other featured events of the evening at BAM. Unless... I end up going to Ratatat after all, with my friend who still has extra tickets... NYC life: part complete spontaneity and flexibility, and part meticulous advance planning... the two are currently uncomfortably and excitingly colliding in my life (but aren't they always?).

Apart from this dilemna, I also plan on going out tonight, possibly to this:
For a full description of this event, see the write-up. And a snippet from their description:
"No Big Deal is new art/music/remix collective project, and of course, party. Whoever you are, it doesn't matter, come for the love of music and art. Dance with your eyes closed. Go crazy, who cares. It's no big deal."
The party is tonight, at alphabeta, located at 70 Greenpoint Ave in Brooklyn.

Also, ongoing this weekend:
The website gives details of this extensive festival, sponsored by Current. From the website:

For the 12th year running, the entire neighborhood of Dumbo, Brooklyn, will become a multi-sensory art arena, FREE and open to all.

Over the FESTIVAL weekend, art will be happening everywhere: streets, sidewalks, storefronts, elevators, lobbies, the water, the waterfront, parks, nooks, crannies, NY Water Taxi, and more. Along with the 65+ new public art projects, over 100 local artists will open their studios to the public and at the new Galapagos Art Space, video_dumbo will feature a non-stop program of cutting edge video art from NYC and around the world.

The FESTIVAL presents art that breaks the white cube: art that is touchable, accessible and interactive. The appeal is universal: for many of the anticipated 150,000 visitors, the FESTIVAL will be their first encounter with art and artists.

DAC, the big impact small non-profit, has been making the annual 3-day event possible since it was founded by local artists in1997. As New York City's creative edge is increasingly threatened by skyrocketing rents, DAC is committed to preserving what is possibly the last urban oasis of its kind: a site where young artists can test their ideas in the public domain, have unprecedented freedom and play. Visual artists have a long tradition of harnessing New York City as their canvas, seeing no boundaries between studio and street. The FESTIVAL allows artists to act upon that impulse by providing them with a place where the unpredictable, the spontaneous and the downright weird can still happen.

I will let these words from the DAC website speak for themselves.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Art!!

I am actually getting remotely together with my art... just took a lot of pictures of them and uploaded them on my Artwanted portfolio website.

And now, on to my first Magazine Copyediting class at NYU's SCPS for the semester.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I will be going hiking this Saturday with Outdoor Bound, on "Hike The Great Escape," a hike along the Appalachian trail, so I will not be in NYC Saturday during the day, BUT I want to spread the word about the following event: Improv Everywhere's MP3 Experiment. My friend says of it: "It was so much fun last year, so I encourage all of you to join in, especially since it gives you a reason to check out Governor's Island."

Date: Saturday, September 27 (rain or shine)
Location: Governor's Island
Time: The event will begin at exactly 3:15 PM. Arrive early and remember to budget time for weekend subway service delays and lines to get on the ferry. The event will be over at 4:06.
Wear: A Red, Blue, Yellow, or Green t-shirt.
Bring: An umbrella and an uninflated balloon.

Full instructions HERE. The download link and atomic clock (to synchronize) are on the site as well.

Monday, September 22, 2008

On Henry Darger and Canada

I never reviewed how my Friday art night was. So, here goes.

Though I was vaguely familiar with Henry Darger, I had somehow forgotten how disturbing the content of his art is. A relatively solitary man who lived in Chicago during the 1930's and did menial labor, he produced a massive amount of artwork and a sprawling work of writing, The Story of the Vivian Girls, in what is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War-Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. He is considered an "outsider artist" not only because his artwork production was for purely personal motivations, but because he had no formal artistic training and instead relied on collage and tracing to appropriate images for his own narrative and artistic ends.

Henry Darger's art is both highly disturbing and mystifyingly breathtaking. His thematic focus was on girls, in various stages of dress and undress, battling against their attackers, older adult men. The girls, cherubic-like creatures, fighting their battles in settings ranging from actual battlefields to lush forests, often featured male anatomy, and worked alongside mythical creatures to escape from and fight against these menacing adult male figures. It has often been said of Darger, that, had he not had this frenzied, prolific artistic outlet, that he would very possibly have been a psychopathic rapist and/or serial killer. Possibly so, possibly not: but as far as we know, he never tried to realize any of his demented scenes or preoccupations in real life.

With his bizarre juxtaposition of such frightening, demented content and his superbly gorgeous color sense, along with the general surreal quality of his artistic process, Darger has proved to be a major influence not only on so-called outsider art, but throughout the art world. Amy Cutler was only one artist among others who was displayed in the American Folk Art's "Dargerism" exhibit as one artist who was so significantly affected by Darger's work. While I respect the utilization of the art process to serve one's personal emotional and psychological ends, and the ingenuity, or at least unconventional nature, of portraying girls as creatures of warfare, I am puzzled and turned off by how clearly, transparently derivative some artists were/are of Darger. Okay, yes, imitation is the highest form of flattery, and sure, Darger's work resonates, perhaps intensely, with some people. But what about making art from a more intensely personal foundation, towards more personal, individual ends?

For more information on Darger's life and work, see the Carl Hammer Gallery link as well as the Wikipedia link on him.

Also, if you have not yet been to the American Folk Art Museum, I recommend it, especially during the free Friday night events. The Darger exhibit closed yesterday, but I anticipate other noteworthy exhibits in the future. Also, it is conveniently located right by MoMa.

As for Canada, I was not especially impressed with the exhibit, which mostly featured newspaper very meticulously wallpapered on the walls and odds and ends that looked like junk displayed haphazrdly around the gallery. However, I was impressed with the space, and am curious about future shows as well as possibly trying to display my own work there...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Friday: Art Time

This Friday I will be going to the American Folk Art Museum, on 45 West 53rd St, which I have never before visited. This museum features Free Music Fridays, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. This Friday will feature:




In addition to these musicians (none of whom I am yet familiar with), the museum exhibits are open, including the exhibit "Dargerism: Contemporary Artists and Henry Darger" (closing September 21st). For those unfamiliar with Darger, see the Wikipedia entry on him. His outsider art has become relatively well-known and influential, and it should be well-worth it to see this exhibit!

After this, I plan on attending another art gallery, Canada, located at 55 Chrystie St. between Hester and Canal St. All I know of this gallery is what's on the website, specifically that it is hosting an Opening Reception this Friday from 6-9 pm.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Absinthe and Beyond: Artistic and Physical Energy

The performance of Absinthe at Spiegelworld on Friday, at South Street Seaport, was an intimate, stunning tour-de-force. I sat with my date at the very front, literally just a foot or two away from the small circular stage. Knowing the show would be an erotically-charged cabaret performance, rather like a small-scale adult-version of Cirque de Soleil, we both expected that we would probably be involved in the theatrics of the evening. And we weren't disappointed.

Absinthe features a series of performances and theatrics, tied together by a slinky MC cabaret singer hostess and two comic, acrobatic performers. A 2006 review of the show on NY Times gives an adept synopsis of the show, but also reveals that the performers and their acts are varied with the show. The NY Times review features the act of a man in a bathtub, which was entirely absent from the performance I saw Friday. Regardless, the acts highlighted an unbelievable array of the acrobatically impressive and skilled to the comic and the bawdy. A more recent review of Absinthe, along with another Spiegelworld show, La Vie, from 2007, can be seen here. As the review states, be prepared for the intimacy of the show and possible audience participation.

The act which my date was called to participate in involved the "married couple" comic hosts who introduced their act as a demonstration on how to correctly make use of bananas in erotic play. Their performance consisted of shooting banana bites from their mouths across the stage into the mouth of their partner -- and also an attempt to shoot banana bites into the mouth of my date. As their act wound down, the bites became chewed up, processed banana sludge which they continued to switch back and forth.

This sort of jarring physical humor was balanced with acts purely gorgeous and breathtaking in their grace, from a hula-hooping gymnast/contortionist to a roller-skating couple whose finale included the woman attached to her partner by neck-braces and her whirling in the air, turning her entire body while only supported by her neck.

And the act which I was included in: an incredibly robotic, mechanical-styled dancer who lip-synced snippets of the song, and in a "low battery" pause, took my hand to have me "power him up" and stage-snuck a kiss on the lips with me.

Needless to say, it was a fun, fully captivating evening.

And, not to diminish my enjoyment of and satisfaction with the evening, the weekend continued in the same vein. Saturday I went dancing with a few friends of mine at Cattyshack, a ladies' club in Park Slope.

We stayed there, mostly dancing, until closing time at 4:00 am. The spirit of dancing camaraderie bordered on the libidinous. While there, we all donned creatures-of-the-night personas, temporarily paused in a collective dance trance, transported to a world apart from our daily cares.

And the next evening, Sunday, I found myself in a friend-of-a-friend's apartment in Harlem for a dinner party. In addition to my friend, I had only met one other person before. The evening felt like a throwback to a college dorm night, where a group of people sat discussing life and love and work. Having this sort of evening engaging in ponderous, meaningful and personal conversation was refreshing.

And so this weekend perfectly encapsulated my idealization of NYC culture at its height: a heady mix of the personal and anonymous, where we can both, and even simultaneously, lose ourselves and intimately connect, on emotional and physical levels.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This Week in Performances

I think the weather is making me lethargic, so I haven't been keeping particularly up-to-date with all the hustle-and-bustle of the city. But here are some things I may check out in the next few days:

Shows ongoing until Sep 15th (closing) - danscores by Ofelia Loret de Mola: Available Space.
Friday night, (shows ongoing until Nov 2nd), Absinthe at Spiegeltent.
Saturday night, Midnight Juggernauts show at Le Poisson Rouge. (with Grandmaster Flash)

Available Space Dance Performances: From the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council website:
September 8–10 & 12 at 12:30pm, September 13–15 at 8:00pm

City Hall Park, near the entrance at Broadway and Warren Street

Subway: R, W City Hall, 2,3 Park Place, 4,5,6 Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall

World Premiere

Ofelia Loret de Mola, a Mexican choreographer, collaborates with actors, musicians, and a visual artist to transform a swath of City Hall Park into a carnival that evokes the grit and cheap sparkle of a Mexican circus. Beginning on and around the chess tables, the dancers perform as circus characters illustrating chess in a political subtext to live music. The audience travels with the performers from the west side to the east side of the park where they are later led by a marching band to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Available Space is presented as part of Celebrate Mexico Now 2008, the 5th annual citywide festival of contemporary Mexican art and culture produced by CN Management. The festival closes on Sept. 15, celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Joyce "Evening Stars at Battery Park"

So last night I attended the Evening Stars at Battery Park performance, which was co-produced by Joyce Theater and the River to River Parks festival. I arrived about 15 minutes prior to the scheduled performance time at 7:30 and found a great spot to lay down my picnic blanket and await my friends and the show.

Yesterday evening's performance featured the choreography of Lar Lubovitch, and his aptly-named group, the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. The performance featured white-clad dancers who pranced and pirouetted with amazing synchronized gracefulness and agility. My two friends and I meanwhile split a bottle of white wine (and I give a shout out to all the other wine-drinkers at events like this; without one of their corkscrews, we ourselves would have been "screwed") and a simple bread, fruit and cheese spread. The dancers' costumes were made of rather diaphanous, flowy material that easily caught the wind and highlighted their sculpted physiques. Seeing them up there made me feel a little self-conscious of my wine and snack consumption while sitting idly to such a majestic, coordinated performance; it also inspired me to focus on pursuing dance classes for myself, which we'll see if anything actually comes of it...

What I particularly liked about this evening was that, as a free and outdoor performance, the crowd featured a diversity of attendees, including young children and dogs, and it had a very laidback al fresco vibe. The children in front of us mostly migrated to the side of the audience and enacted their own little ballet, unconcerned with anything but their own enjoyment of the moment. This sort of non-restrictive, open ambiance is the advantageous aspect of seeing outdoor performances. On the down side: tonight's show is canceled because of the inclement weather, though tomorrow's should still go on. Read more about this and other River to River events at

Afterwards, I went out for drinks along 14th St. with a couple of friends, stopping first at Beauty Bar, a retro bar with beauty salon stylings, free manicures, and 50's era music. We moved on To Blind Pig, the polar opposite to Beauty Bar, a wood-paneled sports bar only two doors down. Unfortunately, my friend and I ended up missing the Bunny Rabbit show. We promptly fled the dank college houseparty vibe of GlassLands to find ourselves caught in the evening rainstorm and proceeding under partial cover of my friend's picnic blanket to the nearest pizza shop. I'd say it was a successful, rain-soaked Friday night!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Post-Labor Day Fun

I have taken a brief hiatus from blogging the past week, as I wound down the month of August and my final hurrah of vacation time with a sojourn to the Adirondacks. From Friday afternoon until late Monday night, I had a respite from urban NYC life and camped and hiked in the Adirondacks, happily spending a few rare days away from cell phone and internet connectivity. The trip, organized by Outdoor Bound, was the perfect departure from city life: a camping and hiking whirlwhind with fresh air, friendly faces and wilderness to be travailed over for breathtaking views.

Now, having scaled Mt. Marcy and Mt. Algonquin, I am left with pleasant memories, stunning pictures, sore legs, and a newfond appreciation for my bed and a hot shower.

(above: my friend and me at the top of Mt. Marcy)

Now back in NYC: With the gorgeous weather that prevails, I am not yet read to call summertime quits. Upcoming notable events I am considering:

Friday, September 5th: Bunny Rabbit performing live at GlassLands Gallery. 11pm-4am.
Saturday, September 6th:
-- Monster Island Arts & Music Block Party, Williamsburg, 2-10pm.
-- Circus Amok, Riverside Park. Performances start at 2pm and 5pm.
-- Art Parade, West Broadway at Houston St, starts at 4pm.

Friday, September 5th. GlassLands Gallery, located in Williamsburg at 289 Kent Ave. between S. 1st and S. 2nd St. Bunny Rabbit - visit her Myspace page if you aren't familiar with this chick rapper reminiscent of Peaches. And her Youtube page, a conglomeration of Bunny Rabbit and Black Cracker, called Bunnycrack.Saturday, September 6th: Monster Island Arts & Music Festival. 2-10pm, Third Annual Block Party. Located in Williamsburg, at Kent Ave. and Metropolitan Ave. FREE. See Secret Project Robot for more on its mission statement, which "stress[es] the importance of the art party as a way to create an inclusive and tangible environment" and "... push[es] every event beyond the norm..."

Circus Amok is "a New York City based circus-theater company whose mission is to provide free public art addressing contemporary issues of social justice to the people of New York City." (see website for further info). Click here to see video clips of the circus, featuring the woman dubbed the Bearded Lady. Click here for the schedule. Circus Amok plays regularly!

Art Parade 2008, at West Broadway and Houston. The event is organized and sponsored by PAPER Magazine, Creative Time and Deitch Projects. This year, the fourth annual art parade will feature over 900 participants!