Lynda Benglis: Water Sources at Storm King Art Center

Lynda Benglis: Water Sources
Lynda Benglis: Water Sources

I was recently invited to attend a preview of a new temporary exhibition at Storm King Art Center, an open-air sculpture park in upstate New York.

In the Hudson Valley, about an hour north of New York City, Storm King sits on more than 500 acres of rolling hills, fields, and woodlands, and is home to a collection of more than 100 large-scale sculptures by artists including Alexander Calder, Maya Lin, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Claes Oldenburg, and Richard Serra, David Smith.

Its two special exhibitions for the summer season are Lynda Benglis: Water Sources and Outlooks: Luke Stettner. With more than a dozen outdoor sculptures, as well as more inside the museum’s building, it is the first exhibition to display a major grouping of Benglis’s large-scale sculptures and fountains, which she has been producing since the early 1980s.

Lynda Benglis: Water Sources
Lynda Benglis: Water Sources

This piece, North, South, East, West, features a crustacean-like piece called Crescendo, which sits atop the very first water fountain she made in 1983-84 for the New Orleans World Fair (it was lost for a long time after the World Fair went bankrupt.)

The surroundings of her early life influence her work. Benglis grew up in Louisiana, always around water and a witness to oil spills in bayous.

Lynda Benglis: Water Sources
Lynda Benglis: Water Sources

This 2014 piece, named Pink Ladies, is inspired by a kite Benglis saw at a kite-flying festival in Ahmedabad, India. Benglis reminds us that pink is a natural colour, though we may not see it as such. The texture, she says, is inspired by the brain coral she sees on her frequent scuba diving trips.

Lynda Benglis: Water Sources
Lynda Benglis: Water Sources

Hills and Clouds, her most recent work, glows after dark. Natural phosphorescence, such as in bioluminescent waters and phosphorescent caves, in another of Benglis’ indfluences. She also cites the glow-in-the-dark displays at funhouses in the South that she visited as a child.

Storm King are offering special evening visits to see this piece glow in the dark. Even without the full effect, in a blazing hot June sun in my case, it is well worth the visit for the rare opportunity to see these pieces.

One World Observatory with Walks of New York

One World Observatory
One World Observatory

The One World Trade Center’s new observation deck has recently opened and I visited as part of a Walks of New York tour.

Led by local New Yorkers, these small group tours hone in on specific subject (say, photography) or neighbourhood (eg. the Lower East Side) and go deep, but not too deep–less facts and figures, more personal histories.

The main draw of Walks of New York’s WTC Tour & One World Observatory tour may seem to be the pre-reserved tickets to the observatory, but prior to entering the WTC the guide leads a fascinating two-hour tour of the surrounding area. I rarely visit this area myself, feeling there’s something not quite right about gawking around the disaster sites, but I was very glad to have taken this tour and to have learned a more personal side to the events of that day–and the weeks, months and years afterwards.

The tour began at St. Paul’s Chapel, New York City’s oldest public building, which, amazingly, was not damaged at all during the attacks. Even these 18th-century chandeliers were left intact.

St Paul's Chapel
St Paul’s Chapel

The church soon became a refuge for the rescue workers who couldn’t get home after their 12-hour shifts. Messages of support came in from around the world–including these cranes from Nagasaki and Hiroshima survivors.

St. Paul's Chapel
St. Paul’s Chapel

This bell was presented to St. Paul’s in solidarity from the Mayor of London.

St. Paul's Chapel
St. Paul’s Chapel

The new transit hub at Fulton Center has recently been completed.

Fulton Center
Fulton Center

The mix of old and new architecture in Lower Manhattan is striking. This is the Woolworth building, completed in 1913, parts of which are being developed into luxury apartments.

Woolworth Building
Woolworth Building
Woolworth Building
Woolworth Building

Speaking of luxury apartments, here is “New York by Gehry,” the tallest residential tower in the Americas.

Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry
Modern and Romanesque
Modern and Romanesque

Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transit Hub is years overdue and millions of dollars over budget. Still, here’s a look at the Oculus in construction.

The Oculus in construction
The Oculus in construction

And the PATH station’s Platform B.

PATH Station at WTC
PATH Station at WTC

Brookfield Place, when it was called the World Financial Center was terribly damaged on 9/11. The Winter Garden, which had all the windows blown out, has been beautifully restored and has been expanded to hold a variety of great food vendors, including Le District, a kind of French Eataly.

Brookfield Place
Brookfield Place
The Oculus from Brookfield Plaza
The Oculus from Brookfield Plaza
Waterfront Plaza
Waterfront Plaza
Memorial
Memorial

So to the observatory. Super high-speed elevators whisk visitors 102 floors up in about 40 seconds. During that brief time, video screens inside the elevators show a CGI timelapse of New York City history–the landscape of Lower Manhattan from the year 1500 until today. It was one of my favourite parts.

Then, upstairs you are obliged to watch a bit of a kitschy video celebrating NYC before the screen goes up to reveal the skyline to cheers from the crowd.

Thankfully that is the only cringey part of the experience and you are then left alone to wander the observation deck and take in the 360-degree views at your leisure.

One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory

Thanks to Walks of New York for hosting me on their tour.

La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami

A year ago I was invited to attend LE Miami, the luxury travel show. The event has a partnership with American Excursionist who organise bespoke tours designed by experts and led by local personalities. I went on their Little Havana Cultural Immersion tour, led by a cultural anthropologist, which took me to Calle Ocho to experience el calor Latino.

Our first stop was La casona de la sagüesera, the home of the identical twin Cuban artists, Ronald and Nelson Curras, who work in ceramics and have transformed their house into a living piece of art. La sagüesera, I was told, is Spanglish for “southwest.”

Throughout the home–which may be turned into a museum one day–are images of O’ Shun, the most popular of the orishas (spirits) in santería, the religion that developed in the African slave communities of the Cuba’s sugar plantations by adopting elements of Spanish-imposed Catholicism while maintaining beliefs from Africa, primarily those of Nigeria’s Yoruba tribe.

Incorporated into the murals and mosaics throughout the house are frequent images of sunflowers–the presence of which in Cuban art invoke O’ Shun.

I just loved the energy and colour of La casona de la sagüesera and feel very lucky to have been invited inside.

La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami
La casona de la sagüesera, Little Havana, Miami

My Favourite Street Art of 2014

IMG_8411
Stinkfish in Malmo. October 2014.
Toxicomano in Bogota. September 2014
Toxicomano in Bogota. September 2014
Abey Charron in San Juan. November 2014.
Abey Charron in San Juan. November 2014.
Hero de Janeiro in Amsterdam. October 2014.
Ottograph/Hero de Janeiro in Amsterdam. October 2014.
Icy and Sot in Brooklyn. July 2014.
Icy and Sot in Brooklyn. July 2014.
Shepard Fairey in Miami. June 2014.
Shepard Fairey in Miami. June 2014.
Tatiana Fazlalizadeh in Manhattan. March 2014.
Tatiana Fazlalizadeh in Manhattan. March 2014.
Icy and Sot in Brooklyn. October 2014.
Icy and Sot in Brooklyn. October 2014.
Artist ? Baltimore. April 2014
Artist ? Baltimore. April 2014
Swoon in Manhattan. September 2014.
Swoon in Manhattan. September 2014.
Bastardilla in Bogota. September 2014.
Bastardilla in Bogota. September 2014.
Collaboration. Malmo. October 2014.
Collaboration. Malmo. October 2014.

 

 

In Pictures: Las Vegas’ Neon Museum

Have you noticed that neon lights are disappearing from our cities? Those giant flashing lights you see in places like Times Square are produced nowadays by LED, not the sliced and twisted gas-filled tubes of years ago.

For years, the old, disused neon lights of Las Vegas lay abandoned in an old YESCO production lot, known as the “Neon Boneyard. The Neon Museum of Las Vegas is restoring those signs and, last year, opened up its headquarters in the lobby of La Concha Hotel to offer hour-long tours of its collection.

Sassy Saloon
Sassy Saloon
Lido
Lido
The Stardust sign's font is "Atomic" embracing the spirit of the age, it was meant to resemble the mushroom cloud of atomic tests.
The Stardust

The Stardust sign’s font is “Atomic.” Embracing the spirit of the age, it was meant to resemble the mushroom cloud of atomic tests.

Gamble!
Gamble!
Moulin Rouge
Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge was the first Las Vegas casino to integrate, and the “Moulin Rouge Accord” ended segregation in Las Vagas.

The Horseshoe
The Horseshoe

The Horsehoe was the last to integrate.

Las Vegas Club
Las Vegas Club
La Concha
La Concha

Ironically, the Neon Museum’s sign contains no neon; it is all LED.

A-C-E
A-C-E
N is for Neon
N is for Neon

Misandry at Marlton House

Room 214
Room 214

Here is Room 214 of the newly opened (but still in a soft opening phase) The Marlton. This was Valerie Solanas’ room when she shot Andy Warhol in 1968.

But that’s not all the history contained within the walls of 5 West 8th Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. Jack Kerouac holed up here while writing Desolation Angels and Lenny Bruce stayed here while on trial for obscenity,  I asked front desk for their room numbers, but she wasn’t sure. Some of the rooms have been adapted, she said, and so are not the exact same as they were back in the day. Speaking of the rooms: the fifth-floor one I stayed in was tiny; like,  the foot of the bed almost hits the cabinet against the wall tiny. I loved the Parisian decor, though, the crown moldings and creamy colours made me want cake.

Marlton Bed
Marlton Bed

The hotel is a former SRO (some of the long-standing tenants have been there since the 1960s) and was developed by Sean MacPherson of the Bowery Hotel, The Jane, and Maritime Hotel, who has made an effort to retain the artsy vibe by stocking a library with beat-ear books and vintage furniture, and adding surrealist touches in the guest rooms, such as these brass sconces.

Marlton sconce
Marlton sconce

My full review is up at HotelChatter