We may admire the mathematical formulae of analytic cubism, stand in awe before a serene Raphael, or tilt our heads in bemusement at one of Jeff Koons’s inflatable lobsters. But sometimes the most affective and accessible art is made by non-artists — by amateurs and children. Unassuming and genuine, this type of work can cut through the semantic haze of contemporary expression and speak with the plain, human voice of those rarely heard. Such is the joy of amateur art, and a New York City nonprofit has managed to capture it through the combined efforts of middle school students, contemporary artists, and devoted classroom art teachers. The issues explored range from bullying to guns in schools. The medium? A school lunchroom table.
The possible future site of New York Fashion Week and hundreds of other arts and culture events resembles a futuristic, moving building more than a Barclays Center for the arts. The so-called Culture Shed, a structure slated to be part of the Hudson Yards development, will occupy West 30th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, and promises to provide a home for large-scale temporary arts events, which currently lack a permanent site in the city.
It hangs in the air like paper, like drapery, like a metal curtain, transparent yet solid, monumental and unreal. The space around it, the gallery walls, and you yourself become secondary to this vast and majestic thing. It is red and gold and black and shines as the light ripples across its surface. Woven like a tapestry and tiled like a mosaic, it appears almost medieval, but you know it is contemporary and African. Whatever it is, you cannot seem to look away.
The new Museum of Mathematics, or MoMath, provides an interactive introduction to mathematical concepts through a series of hands-on, kinetic exhibits that draw in children and their families. The two-story museum, located on the north side of Madison Square Park, is built around a series of didactic sculptures and displays that illustrate math and physics principals. When I visited on a recent weekend, the relatively small space was brimming with children and their parents scrambling through the exhibits. Math, it seemed, had been brought to life.
When James Jenkin prepared for Hurricane Sandy, moving his supply of books onto elevated pallets in the basement of his West Chelsea bookstore, he could not have imagined he would lose nearly 9,000 of them.