Pier 94—The Beautiful People

March 10th, 2009 § 0 comments

I wonder who thought art fairs were a good idea: investors, collectors, rich folk shopping for a new painting for the dinning room, museum directors, or gallery owners? It was certainly not thought a great idea by the makers of art, even those egotistical enough to dream of being the highlight of such a gathering of stuff, would never call it an ideal space. I could not help but wonder about this as I wandered through the Armory Show this past weekend. I was curious about the event in general, I wanted to see how it compared to Art Basel, for though I guessed it would contain many of the same galleries and artists, in the post-economic meltdown I thought the vibe, perhaps translating into the overall aesthetic, might be different—more subdued and less extravagant?

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I was relieved that this event was less costly than Basel, students could enter the maze of portable white walls for a somewhat reasonable price, the ticket included admission to both piers (92 & 94), but one was more than sufficient to become completely visually overwhelmed. I wondered as I wandered how the spaces were chosen and how the galleries chose their representative artists. Judging from the odd juxtapositions and the decorative, tasteful quality of the art I made my guesses. This lead to my amazement that someone, somehow, somewhere, decided this was a good idea.

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Inside the Big White Tent

February 22nd, 2009 § 1 comment

While I can’t really say I love my job, I do appreciate my co-worker with whom I share a small part of her photo studio. An additional member to the art department, or “creative services,” I am a somewhat odd fit at times among the other fashionable girls who sit in their cubicles and in front of their new Mac’s all day long. I used to joke when I first arrived that they put the less fashion forward employees in the dark photo studio to do their work. A veteran illustrator has an office behind me, though he travels and lectures more than he sits in it, leaving the photographer for company, and my days at work usually pass uneventfully and without the usual work stresses—npr, the constant background to our sporadic conversations, tends to aggravate me more than my job.

Outside our building, located in the heart of the fashion district, is a gold plaque—like the sidewalk stars in Hollywood—of Oscar de la Renta. Talking with a friend of a friend the other night, a graduated fashion designer, I discovered that the company I work for is an important one, and that the books we have been working on these past months are an expensive and treasured resource—who knew? The upstairs of the company looks different from our department, where fabric samples and trend storyboards are propped against the walls. The “second floor,” in office lingo, resembles a scene from The Devil Wears Prada, rolling racks of vendor samples line the walls, and the “assistants,” regular faces in the photo studio, remind me of the movie as well—they are pretty, efficient, and obsessed with fashion.

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Visiting Boston

February 21st, 2009 § 0 comments

I have come to revel in bus trips, and since I still have that west coast love of driving, I enjoy the fact that I can enjoy the road without having to drive myself. The last time I took a bus out of the city it was toward Jersey, this time we drove uptown, past our apartment, past Yankee Stadium, through Connecticut and onwards. The landscape looked colder outside ny state, frozen lakes and rivers drifted by, and houses were covered in snow that has not garnished Gotham in weeks. It feels more American somehow, or less European, to take a bus, and I enjoy the stigma. I have yet to discover exactly why this form of travel is looked down on, but it should not be surprising to find that buses are as surrounded by cultural myth as the road.

boston train station

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A Forgotten Vocabulary

February 13th, 2009 § 0 comments

“What kind of class do you want to take? Anything but ballet.”

paloma herrera

When I think of the ideal dance class I remember a particular night in San Francisco, a night class that took place while I was studying at a school there. After our “required” classes that lasted all day long, we used to crash the beginning adult classes at night. The teachers were two Russian twins, dancers for SFB, who had enough energy and charisma to bring the best out of weary feet and legs. Male ballet teachers are by far the most “fun,” they indulge in the steps they know best, jumps, turns, and fast (loose) footwork. Women are constrained by being ever attentive to perfect technique and impeccable execution. Without the pressure of our daytime teachers, without the nitpicking of our artistic director, it was the perfect time to experiment. We were brats, flaunting our training for the benefit of the beginners, but we were humbled by the local professionals who came to dance with our twins. It was as democratic as I remember ballet ever being, it was ballet without pretensions, and we were always at our best. It is that kind of class I want to find again.

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(a very young Suzanne Farrell with a less youthful Balanchine)

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Exploring Winter

February 8th, 2009 § 0 comments

For me it seems almost typical to look for what is missing in places. My latest images, in the vein of the missing, have revolved around looking for “nature” in the “city,” where there ought to be very little evidence of it. I have been interested in this seemingly cliché idea, however, because I live so near the last “forest” areas of Gotham. Inwood is surrounded by wandering, forest-like paths that are intermixed with recreational parks—baseball diamonds, playgrounds, dog parks—and bounded on one side by the waterfront, with all that riverfronts usually entail. Walking down Broadway everyday I have neighborhood shops on my right, and the inviting gates of Ft. Tryon Park on my left.

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Throughout the winter it has been amusing to watch how the dropping leaves of fall, followed by the rain, slush, and snow of February, has changed the landscape of Broadway. My interest in the snow is an interest in how we live, or live without, a presence of nature in the city. The appearance of winter seemed to render useless the outdoor activities that gave a sense of life and community to the streets. When I first visited Inwood last summer children were playing with water guns in the park, older couples sat sweating on the benches lining Broadway, and I imagine all the places I have recently discovered were used with the same enthusiasm. Large flocks of geese have taken over the baseball diamonds, the steps leading to the top of Inwood Hill Park are covered with layers of melting ice, the playgrounds left soggy and empty. Winter effects city life but it becomes integrated as quickly as anything else; salt and rain boots appear on the sidewalks, lost gloves and broken umbrellas become the common trash, and children go sledding instead of playing on the wet swings.

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