Can anyone ever be truly comfortable in New York? I’ve lived here my whole life and still feel the daily stresses of subway rides, traffic, overcrowding and of course insanely high prices (tickets to MoMA cost $25 now?). These Manhattan blues are part of the reason I was both intrigued and skeptical of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, a pop-up event space in the East Village that will present a series of lectures, film screenings and interactive programs all based around the idea of confronting comfort in our cities and urban development. With corporate sponsoring shoved right into its very title, I wondered if the Lab would stick to a privileged, glossy view of urbanization or actually offer legitimate “solutions for city life,” as the program’s website states. Even the word “comfort” suggested to me that these solutions would be targeted only towards a particular social class who has the resources to take advantage of them.
Masterpieces, hidden treasure, absolutely free. These are just some of the accolades of New York’s Hispanic Society, a museum that unfortunately only gets 25,000 visitors a year. With a roster of artists that includes rock star names like El Greco, Velasquez and Goya it’s hard to swallow that the Society gets so few visitors a year. Why is the collection so underrepresented? What in the name of Goya is going on here?
The Upper East Side is alive today with shouts of “UNION POWER” as Sotheby’s art handlers took to the streets to protest a new contract agreement that would drastically jeopardize their benefits.
BEWARE! If you just got laid off you may be at high risk for OGD: Obsessive Graffiti Disorder. According to a recent New York Times article graffiti is sprouting up like bad acne in cities all over the country and the recession is partly to blame. The article narrowly treats graffiti as a pathological pastime of a depressed nation, or a symptom of social turmoil at large. Yet after reading this biased report filled with mostly disgruntled quotes from city officials, I wonder what else the Times could have addressed in order to offer a bigger picture on graffiti and street art rather than the usual concerns it brings of urban apocalypse.
This summer the Studio Museum in Harlem is hosting five extensive exhibitions that hold true to its mission and bring both established artists and those in training under the same roof. Packed into the museum’s intimate space on 125th Street, the shows offer a tremendous range of mostly thought-provoking work, with only a few glitches along the way.
Whether sequestered behind glass in a museum or sold to tourists along Fifth Avenue, the African mask is an image from the non-Western world that we are all familiar with. Yet walking though the African art galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the other day, I felt somewhat disconnected from the African mask. Severed from its intended use for performance and ceremonies, the mask as it is presented in the museum becomes an ambiguous object. Does the mask still have relevance when removed from its cultural context? Can we appreciate it for just its form? Is it art or artifact?
Forget the streets: If you want to find some of New York’s best graffiti art, you have to dig a little deeper. While much of the city’s graffiti has been washed away, some of the more provocative tags still exist miles beneath the sidewalks, in nooks and crannies invisible to the pedestrian eye. I discovered these spray-painted secrets on a recent trip to the Freedom Tunnel, a legend among street art aficionados and underground urban explorers alike.
The Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn is looking to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to serve as its cultural consultant – and not everyone is happy about that.