Lynda Benglis: Water Sources at Storm King Art Center

Art Exhibition, New York, usa
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

New York, usa
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

Florida, usa

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

Colombia, Florida, Maryland, Netherlands, New York, Puerto Rico, sweden, usa
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

Nevada, usa

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

Station to Station

Art Exhibition, New York, usa

IMG_4250

.. Is the title not only of one of my favourite Bowie albums, but also a Nomadic Art Happening taking place across the United States this month — kicking off in Brooklyn last night.

Multimedia artist, Doug Aitken somehow convinced Amtrak to loan him a train that, adorned with multi-coloured LED panels and loaded with artists, will travel cross-country. From Pittsburgh tomorrow night and on to Chicago, Minneapolis, Santa Fe, Winslow, Barstow, Los Angeles, and finishing up in Oakland on September 28th.

At each stop along the way, an event is hosted inside old train stations, and a in a vintage drive-in movie theatre in Barstow. The multi disciplinary events will feature performances from the likes of Patti Smith, Thurston Moore, Beck, Cat Power, Savages and Eleanor Friedberger, as well as art by Kenneth Anger, Urs Fischer, Ernesto Neto, and Carsten Höller.

Last night’s event at the Riverfront Studios in Williamsburg began with multi-coloured smoke bombs bursting from an  Olaf Breuning installation and then a drum line and a popping of pink and grey pom-poms and silver sequins: The Kansas City Marching Cobras.

Olaf Bruening, Station to Station

Olaf Bruening. Photo by author.

While guests (the show was sold out but not crowded) explored the installations, including a yellow Ernesto Neto yurt, and Liz Glynn explained the theory of relativity in her black yurt; No Age, Free-Kitten member, Yoshimio, Hisham Akira Bharoocha and Ryan Sawyer; and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti played on the stage in front of a bold film backdrop running shorts from the likes of Yayoi Kusama and Nicolas Provost, whose spliced up film of endless cinematic kisses was my favourite.

The night ended loudly: Suicide. A band that, given the singer, Alan Vega, is 75 years old, I never thought I’d see live. Vega stumbled on, cane in one hand, drink in the other and screamed into the mic; Martin Rev, in shiny vinyl trousers, palmed and hammered the synth. Pretty damn delightful.

Suicide. Photo by author.

Suicide. Photo by author.

Suicide. Photo by author.

Suicide. Photo by author.

Here’s an interesting comment from Aitken to the Washington Post:

“The train system runs across the American landscape like untapped arteries,” Aitken wrote in an email. “Much of our journeys have been replaced by interstates and highways. I was interested in using the train to become a nomadic broadcast tower, broadcasting new and experimental culture while tapping into unknown and amazing creators from the locations in which the train stops.”

A Weekend in New Hampshire

New Hampshire, usa
Dartmouth Green

Dartmouth Green

The small college town of Hanover, NH, famous for the violent fraternities of Dartmouth College and the inspiration for Animal House, was my destination earlier this summer for a quiet weekend getaway.

I stayed at the Hanover Inn, a centuries old hotel that has recently reopened after a $41 million renovation that included the addition of PINE restaurant, created by James Beard award-winning chef, Michael Schlow. The hotel, which overlooks Dartmouth Green (site of commencement ceremonies, including this one by Conan O’Brien) is decorated in a style that befits its college owners — lots of green, a splash of plaid, and beds draped with cable-knit cardigan-style throws.

Hanover Inn

Hanover Inn

Hanover Inn

Hanover Inn

Across the green, in the college’s Baker library, is the Epic of American Civilization, one of the three grand frescos by José Clemente Orozco in the United States (the others are in California and New York City.)

The Epic of American Civilization

The Epic of American Civilization

The Epic of American Civilization

The Epic of American Civilization

Between huge meals and craft cocktails at PINE, I kayaked the Connecticut River.

Connecticut River

Connecticut River

With these guys:

Kayakers

Kayakers

Note: I was a guest of the Hanover Inn: More here and here.

created by James Beard-award winning chef Michael Schlow. The Hanover Inn is connected to the contemporary Hood Arts Museum, where interning students help to curate the exhibits. – See more at: http://blog.shermanstravel.com/2013/08/20/five-of-the-best-college-campus-hotels/#sthash.SlpXGLxZ.dpuf
created by James Beard-award winning chef Michael Schlow. The Hanover Inn is connected to the contemporary Hood Arts Museum, where interning students help to curate the exhibits. – See more at: http://blog.shermanstravel.com/2013/08/20/five-of-the-best-college-campus-hotels/#sthash.SlpXGLxZ.dpuf
created by James Beard-award winning chef Michael Schlow. The Hanover Inn is connected to the contemporary Hood Arts Museum, where interning students help to curate the exhibits. – See more at: http://blog.shermanstravel.com/2013/08/20/five-of-the-best-college-campus-hotels/#sthash.SlpXGLxZ.dpuf
created by James Beard-award winning chef Michael Schlow. The Hanover Inn is connected to the contemporary Hood Arts Museum, where interning students help to curate the exhibits. – See more at: http://blog.shermanstravel.com/2013/08/20/five-of-the-best-college-campus-hotels/#sthash.SlpXGLxZ.dpuf