Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Oh the glamour!!

I had an almost celeb spot this morning. As I was walking into work at 7.30am I was stopped from crossing 70th street for a minute for filming of...wait for it, wait for it....Gossip Girl. I know, it's hardly a Hollywood great is it, but I was quite entertained at the prospect of seeing Chuck Bass and Blake Lively.

I know something was going down when I spotted a total film worker hottie languishing by the craft services truck outside of the Christian Dior store on Madison Avenue. The actual filming was taking place on 70th st between 5th and Madison and a Film Location Gopher asked me if I'd mind waiting a minute, so I took the opportunity to ask what was going on. I had to laugh when the FLG called to an older hirsute gentleman - who was trying to sneak across the street by walking around the outside of the parked cars - to ask if he'd mind waiting a moment and in response the man turned and gave FLG the finger.

"Nice," said FLG, "he's giving me the finger while he's on his way to synagogue."


I smiled sympathetically, but to be honest I also understood the perspective of Synagogue bloke. It sounds exciting to come across a film shoot, but it happens so damn often in New York that the novelty quickly wears off and it becomes annoying when you can't go about your daily business, they filmed a short scene from the Hugh Grant/Sandra Bullock movie Two Weeks' Notice on my block a few years back and for that teensy 5-minute scene they cluttered up the street for almost a week. At least Synagogue man didn't go off on one like this guy.

Chuck Bass knows how to smolder ladies. What is he, like 12-years old?

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Chelsea Gallery Tour - December 2010

It's been a while since I've done a gallery tour and even longer since I've been inspired to post about one. I was going so regularly I was getting a little bored of them to be honest. I felt like I was just repeating the same things over and over again, but I also felt like getting out and about yesterday, so I left my apartment at 11.30am and walked across the park and down 9th avenue to join Rafael Risemberg at the meeting point on west 26th street for his 1pm Chelsea gallery tour.

First on the tour was an exhibit by the artist Peter Campus at the Cristin Tierney gallery on west 29th street. I'll fess up, I'd never heard of Mr. Campus before, but apparently he is an artist of considerable renown, a video art pioneer.

Peter Campus' current exhibit 'Calling For Shantih' consists of seven video installations of his local Hampton Bay landscapes and he has apparently patented the technique used for these pieces which are difficult to convey in a photo, especially as the gallery lighting made it impossible to get a decent photo on my tiny point and shoot which didn't have some sort of reflection marring it, however the gallery website has this infinitely better photo of one of the pieces.

Image courtesy of Cristin Tierney

Mr Campus begins by recording a landscape with a camcorder for about 6-9mins each, choosing a windy day to get some movement, and then manipulates the video to create the 'painting' above. Speakers are positioned on the floor beneath each piece playing the sound of the wind.

You can't tell from a still photo, but the pixels flutter giving the impression of movement. The pieces are apparently inspired by the work of post-impressionist painter Paul Cezanne and sell for $30,000 each which Rafael thought was a relative bargain given the renown of the artist. He indicated that the fact that the gallery is selling 6 of each piece may be the reason for the 'low price'*. The exhibit closes on the 18th December 2010.

At the James Cohan Gallery is Distillation, the most recent work by 44year old American artist, Roxy Paine, whose career is apparently 'skyrocketing'. Last year his piece, Maelstrom, was the rooftop installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The video below shows Mr Paine and friends installing Maelstrom on the roof of The Met. The artist is the cute one with the humungous lambchops.

Distillation continues the artist's Dendroid series, which also includes Maelstrom, and is a single piece which begins at the front of the gallery and snakes back into the offices.

Like Maelstrom, Distillation is tree like, but also includes parts reminiscent of the human body - blood vessels, organs and the like. The gallery press release states...
"Paine's extensive body of work explores collisions between the natural world and the industrial. Distillation is an amalgam of structures that refer to vascular, neural, taxonomic, arboreal, mycological and industrial systems. The sculpture includes elements such as valves and flanges from petro chemical plants, tanks used for food processing, and glass vessels from the pharmaceutical industry. These seemingly standardized elements coexist with constructed parts such as blood vessels, neurons, hallucinogenic fungus, mycelium, bacterial formations, tree branches, a pair of kidneys, and a black box—all of these elements have varying levels of finish, from polished to raw steel to the introduction of paint."
The kidneys!! Ta-dah!!

The installation was built in Mr Paine's barn at his home in the catskills with 6 assistants. The gallery refused to divulge the price, except to say that it's well over $1million, so if you have a bit of loose pocket change and a few acres of space in need of decor then hot foot it over to the James Cohan gallery and it can be yours. The shape of the installation will conform to the space it eventually calls home.

The gallery also had a couple of other works by Mr Paine, like this piece made from plaster and resin. Realistic isn't it?

Even close up it's hard to tell it's not real.

And these poisonous fungi made of steel - yup, steel - from the artist's Replicant series. The exhibit closes on December 11th.

Lori Nix's The City is currently showing at ClampArt on W 25th St.

Lori Nix is a New York based photographer who makes these beautifully intricate table top sized models and then photographs the results. According to this 2007 interview with the artist the models take anywhere from 3-months to 2-years to complete and apparently once she is done with a model she destroys it. Eeek!! That seems like such a shame, but it is NYC after all and space is at a premium.

The City depicts a city - duh, you don't say - following a cataclysmic event when human life no longer remains - dead or fled I'm not sure. I like the slightly sinister tone of her work which reminds me a little bit of the snow globes created and photographed by the artists Paloma Munoz & Walter Martin.

The models must be unbelievable. It would be great if they had at least one in the gallery alongside the resulting photo. Apparently Lori and her girlfriend work on the models when they get home from work in the evenings and on weekends. Rafael estimated that about two thirds of the artists showing in Chelsea also have day jobs, and there I was thinking artists had made it and were working at their craft full time if they were showing in Chelsea.

One artist that most certainly doesn't have a day job is Anselm Keifer whose most recent work is showing at the Gagosian Gallery on West 24th St.

Anselm Keifer is a German artist born in the last year of World War 2 to a father who was a Nazi soldier. His work calls attention to Germany's past and doesn't shy away from depicting controversial historical events, especially the human cost of World War 2.

The focal point of the Gagosian exhibit, titled Next Year In Jerusalem and the artist's first in New York since 2002, is a large steel container inside which hang 76 large scale photos of the artist as an art student in 1969 in which he makes a Nazi salute in front of European sites of historical significance while wearing his father's old uniform. The container doors are open both sides - which some visitors mistakenly took as an invitation to walk through the container, although they were quickly stopped by the numerous security guards - to show the hanging photos.

Surrounding the steel container are a number glass and steel vitrines inside which are what appear to be various items dating back to WWII, although they're not, they're just made to look that way.

My favourite piece - if favourite is the right word for an exhibit like this - is the white plaster wedding dress punctured by shards of glass topped with numbered glass disks to represent Kabbala markers of spiritual presence.

And this piece representing Jacob's Ladder to heaven.

You can find the NY Times review of the exhibit here. As sombre as it is I highly recommend seeing it. The work is very powerful when you see all the pieces together, however they will be sold as separate pieces so chances are this is the only opportunity to see them as a single collection. The exhibit closes December 18th.

Phew. By contrast the next exhibit at the Yancey Richardson Gallery, Lost In My Life by Rachel Perry Welty, was entirely more playful, although still with a serious message concerning consumerism. The artist photographs herself camouflaged among leftover consumer materials: fruit stickers, bread tags, twist ties, price stickers, cereal boxes, foil and egg cartons

This is the artist camouflaged by twist ties.

By fruit stickers...

A close up of the fruit stickers...

And by pricing stickers...

The photographs are $7,000 each and with over half of them sold already you had better get a wriggle on if you are looking for that perfect gift for the art appreciator in your life.

Next up was Brice Marden's Letters which is exhibited at the Matthew Marks Gallery. Brice Marsden is apparently one of the world's most famous living abstract painters - psst, I've never heard of him - who was the subject of a MoMA retrospective in 2006.

Rafael prefaced this exhibit by saying that Mr Marden's work is 'an acquired taste'. I can see what he means. They are very nice, but I can see how people might take one look and think "they're just squiggles, my 5 year old could do that."

Apparently understanding of his paintings are greatly aided by first seeing the drawings. In this case the paintings are abstracted versions of Chinese letters per the drawing below. It is not about the words, but the visual aspect of

Now if you were gagging to snap up a little something from Mr Marsden's latest collection for a high 6-figure sum well I'm afraid you've missed the boat since all the pieces sold as he was creating them - sight unseen.

Did you know that the galleries - as agents of their artists - get 50% of any sale? I didn't realise it was that high. I'd assumed the 15% per Hollywood Agents, but apparently not. The high percentage is due to the high overheads that galleries have to account for such as the space and the staff.

Last on our tour was Nigerian artist Odili Donald Odita whose exhibit, Body & Space, was showing at the Jack Shainman Gallery.

In the words of the artist...
The ideas behind Body & Space came to me in 1999 in the middle of my own aesthetic investigation on the term, ‘Black.’ Since that time, I have wanted to move beyond what I found to be the abstract nature of black, and find a space that could be more real, and more specific in the many implications and directions created through this term. I eventually found my way through Color. For myself, color is the way to become specific about black, i.e., black as skin, as a social construct, and as real experience.

Each piece is priced in the range of $26,000 to $35,000.

All the above exhibits are open until at least December 18th, with the exception of Roxy Paine at James Cohan which closes December 11th, so if you are looking to avoid the consumer throngs doing their holiday shopping you could do worse than head over to Chelsea.

*Bargain, I'll take 3!!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving!!

Ahhh, how is everyone? Stuffed to the gills after over doing it on Thanksgiving?? I am well and thoroughly enjoying my 4 day weekend, it's been so nice so far. The best thing being the amount of sleep I've managed to get. It's blissful, I should try sleeping for 8-9 hours a night more often, it takes years off me.

On Thanksgiving Day I had a mellow lunch with my friend Nigel, fellow Brit and fellow Thanksgiving orphan, at Spring St Bar & Natural followed by a movie, Unstoppable, which was not bad actually. Better than I expected it to be at any rate and pleasingly brief in this age of the 2+ hour movie, at just under an hour and 40 minutes. I always find that most movies could do with being shortened by a good 15-minutes, like the Harry Potter movie that I saw on Friday for example. It dragged on a bit in places and would have benefitted from quarter of an hour being chopped from the middle, although for the most part I enjoyed it.

It's amazing I got out at all to be honest. I was loathe to step foot outside my apartment on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year when everyone and his dog is out and about doing their holiday shopping and the stores are abuzz with bargains. On the few occasions my parents have been in town for the Thanksgiving Holiday my mother has coerced me into going to Macy's with her - an experience I avoid at the best of times, but my mother thinks she'll miss out on a bargain if she doesn't jump into the fray - while my father gets to stay at home and tackle 'any jobs' I need doing - affixing kitchen roll holders to my tiled wall etc - and it was just as unpleasant as I imagined what with all the unnecessary pushing and shoving, feeling all overheated in your 3 layers of clothing and almost succumbing to an asthma attack while taking a short cut through the perfume department.

I do as much of my shopping online as I can and my mother accuses me of contributing to the decline of the High Street, but it's the fact that the High St is so clearly not in decline, if the number of people on the streets are any indication, that keeps me away from the stores and in front of my computer. I let the shopping come to me.

Typically post Thanksgiving marks the start of my hibernation period, but I've been staying in far too much this year, so prior to seeing the Harry Potter movie I took myself up to the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum on 91st and 5th to check out the National Design Triennial exhibit. I've been meaning to check out the museum for a few years now, but until this weekend I hadn't got around to it. I've no excuse really, because I only live about 15minutes walk away, but I can give no real reason other than that it would slip my mind - I've started keeping a 'to do' list of things I should check out in NYC. Between you and me I nearly ditched it on Friday in favour of staying at home and reading a book I'm really enjoying - Red Bones by Ann Cleeves - but then I happened to notice that the exhibit closes in early January and I just knew that if I didn't go there and then I would miss it, so I got my arse into gear and walked up to the museum, trying my best to skirt the shopper hoards clogging 86th street. I'm really glad I did.

Unfortunately photography isn't allowed in the Cooper Hewitt, so the photos below aren't from the exhibit, but other websites. The exhibit is categorized into 8 areas: energy, mobility, community, materials, prosperity, health, communication, simplicity.

My absolute favourite piece of the exhibit was this idea for invisible streetlights by Korean designer Jongoh Lee.

Image from Coroflot.com.

Aren't they beautiful? The lights can be wrapped around tree branches so that they are difficult to detect during the day as they mingle with the natural surroundings. They use a 'photocapacitor' that converts solar energy absorbed during the day into electricity, which is stored in a battery. The lights are able to store solar energy even on the cloudiest days and can release electricity at any time. I love love love them. I'm waiting for the day they are installed in Central Park.

Another invention that harnesses solar power is the Solvatten Water Purifier by Swedish designer Petra Wadstrom, a water container that uses the sun to make dirty water safe to drink. Apparently there are 1.2billion people worldwide living without clean drinking water and 1.2 million diarrheal deaths every year caused by water-borne diseases, mostly among children under five. The purifier opens to reveal two halves which are exposed to sunlight which naturally heats the water to a temperature high enough to kill any nasty beasties lurking within. When the water is safe to drink a light changes from red to green.

The short video below (1-min 33-secs) shows Petra demonstrating how the water purifier is used. What can I say Petra Wadstrom rocks!!

So did you know that there is a
self contained sustainable city being built on the desert outskirts of Abu Dhabi. A city that will be the worlds first car free, carbon neutral, zero waste city powered by renewable energy sources???

I certainly didn't, although there's was a whole NY Times article published about it in September - okay so 2-months ago, I'm not THAT far behind the curve. Apparently the city will also be car free, so the only way to get around will be to either walk, bike or Segway but there's also the option to take one of the underground personal transit vehicles, or PRTs.

Image courtesy of autogreenmag.com.

Is anyone else experiencing images from the movie Wall-E flashing through their mind? I'm envisioning lots of obese people travelling around in these wee pods.

The city is designed by Foster & Partners and the current estimate for completion is at least 2020, 4-years later than the original deadline. The 6 minute video gives an overview of the project. It all seems a bit too "Logon's Run" if you ask me, will it be curtains once you reach the age of 35?

Other items in the exhibit include this plastic fur jacket by Maison Martin Margiela which is made from over 29,000 plastic garment label fastenings.

Image courtesy of Stylepark.com.

I love the idea of this, although unfortunately I doubt it will impress the fur loving ladies who lunch inhabiting the upper east side. Fur is still such a status symbol in New York and it never fails to repulse me when I see these ladies of a certain age swanning around the city in their full length minks and what not. It's really unnecessary if you ask me, it's not Siberia after all, although maybe that's hypocritical of me since if I had to kill my own food then there's no doubt about it, I'd be vegetarian.

Anyway there's lots more to chat about, but I'll end on that note since my Safari browser just crashed twice without reason. Uh-oh!! However I highly recommend catching the triennial exhibit before it closes on January 9th 2011.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Please Pass The Epsom Salts

Good Lord I'm Achy Today. My thighs, my calves, my bum. I ache all over after yesterday's hike and it was no fun running up and down the 3 flights of stairs with a bag of laundry first thing this morning. I gave my usual 9am Pilates class a miss today in favour of a gentle 70 block walk downtown to return a few bits to Anthropologie - I love that store - as I don't think my glutes could have taken instructor Kimberly's strenuous toning routine today.

Despite today's aches and pains the hike was wonderful, I really enjoyed it and we were very lucky as far as the weather concerned. It was a crisp, sunny autumn day. Perfection.

There were twelve of us on the hike, plus our affable guide Simon. Eleven women and two men in total. My friend Nigel goes on these hikes quite frequently and often grumbles that his fellow hikers are always married couples, I think he should start hanging out with me more often, I'm like a talisman for a single guy, since wherever I go I meet hoards of single women and gay men, but very rarely do I come across single straight men*.

We gathered at the meeting point on the upper west side early Saturday morning and set out on the two hour drive to Lake Minnewaska State Park just outside of New Paltz.

Heading out. The path from the car park gave way to flat graveled carriage roads, which were nice and easy walking.

A view of the Lake Minnewaska, at least I THINK it's Lake Minnewaska, but it could well have been Lake Awosting, but looking at google maps I believe it's the former, but then geography was never my strong suit. To be honest I'm the last person that should be let loose in nature, it took me long enough to get used to Central Park ;-)

Heading off-road.

I was quite pleased to find that I easily kept up with the group and that it wasn't an Inca Trail like situation with Melissa and I lagging the rest of the team. I was quite worried about how I would deal with the hike, which was classified as moderate (intensity level 3 out of 5), having never done much hiking as an adult - and really only had one school trip to Keswick under my belt which I did when I was about 10 - although I have to say after the Inca Trail it was pretty easy. I think even if I had been a regular hiker the Inca Trail would still have been something of a shock, although surprisingly Outdoor Bound, who I did the day hike with, only rates the Inca Trail as intensity level 3-4. I won't be partaking of any of their intensity level 5 activities I can tell you that for nothing.

The hardest part of the hike was all the leaves obscuring the terrain and, in some areas, making it slippery underfoot and the worst bit...the bathroom situation. Basically there isn't one. "You can't be shy when you're hiking" smiled Simon, who made us have mandatory water breaks. "I hope you are all drinking enough water, you're more dehydrated than you realise."

I nodded obediently that I was indeed drinking enough water, but quite frankly I was lying through my teeth and only sipped at one of the 3 half liter bottles I'd brought so as to avoid having to squat behind a tree and risk mooning the rest of the group. If I decide to make hiking a regular thing I may well invest in one of those weird funnel cup things that allow you to pee like a man although some practicing at home may well be required.

Simon had his own 5 star system for bathroom breaks and would ask any brave souls who dared the elements how many stars they'd scored:
* one star if you dig a hole
** two if you dig a hole and have good aim
*** dig a hole, have good aim and have a great view
**** all of the above plus see an animal
***** all of the above plus see an animal taking it's own bio break

Generally we were a 3 star bathroom break kind of team ;-)

The view from the ridge, about 1.5miles into our hike. The scenery reminded me a little of my home county of Yorkshire.

This bit was trickier than it looks as there were small rocks under the leaves and so you really had to watch your footing.

A nice easy flat bit.

The last 3 miles were along nice graveled carriage roads, so we hiked at a fair clip to reach our destination, the beautiful Awosting Falls.

The pay off!!

*Although I did have the pleasure of running into the Creative Cutie and his good looking friend** in the cafeteria this week. Yay!!! I hadn't seen either of them in over a month and was concerned that they'd both been casualties of the recent reorganization of the creative department, but happily they are both still around. Creative Cutie just sort of furrowed his brow in my direction rather than stare the way he used to. I think the bloom is off the rose.

I used to see him on my floor all the time when he came to meet with his client account team or in the cafeteria and he would constantly stare at me, which is how I first came to notice him. He gave me a bit of a complex actually, because I'm not one of those women who immediately assumes a guy fancies her if he keeps looking at her, no my first thought is always "why is he staring, do I have something on my face?" And off I'll scuttle to find the nearest reflective surface. It took a few instances of him staring at me before I got it together to smile at him, but...nothing, zilch, nada, so maybe I did have something on my face afterall. He's very attractive and has bit of a look of the actor, Loren Dean, so I do like to see him around the building regardless of his interest, or lack of interest, in me.

**His good looking friend is one of those bookish looking hotties. He's tall and lean with salt and pepper streaked hair and trendy specs. I think he's very attractive, although Sarala begs to differ. "He's not bad, but he looks like someone's trendy dad." Horses for courses eh!!

Friday, 19 November 2010

What Possessed Me?

I'm going on an organized day hike this weekend. I don't know what possessed me. It seemed like such a good idea a month ago when the pain of the Inca trail was sufficiently distant, but the high of the hike was sufficiently close. Knowing that this particular hike sells out quickly I booked and paid for it a month ago, but now that the reality is just hours away and I am feeling extremely sleep deprived I am REALLY not loving the idea of getting up at 6am tomorrow to get ready in time to head over to the Upper West Side for an 8.30am pick up!! Ugh!! What was I thinking?

At least the weather is supposed to be nice and the company exceptional, since I am being accompanied by my Inca Trail buddy, Melissa, who is also a glutton for punishment and agreed to this harebrained idea of mine. I'm oddly nervous about the hike which the group site describes as "moderate...covering seven miles of wooded trails," and promises "jaw-dropping views of the Hudson Valley." I should be fine, it can't be that hard, but I can't help but get nervous knots in my stomach. I keep having to give myself the "get a grip, you'll be fine, you've hiked the Inca Trail for God's sake," pep talk.

The hiking is all part of my 'stop working so much, get out and about and see if you can rekindle your romance with New York' campaign. A couple of years ago I was out and about all the time, but recently not so much. Recently I've been working so hard that all I have the energy for at the weekend is the gym, chores and flopping on the couch in front of the TV and it's not exactly feeding my soul, if you'll excuse the self help type speak.

The crux of the matter is that New York and I are experiencing the 10-year itch at the moment and I am not sure that my feelings about the city aren't biased as a result of my feelings towards my job or whether they are as a result of a need to get out for a while, but whatever the reason I just don't get the same tingle about living in the city that I used to. I'm trying not to do anything rash since maybe I am just taking the city for granted, but I miss the tingle. I get a slight frisson when I walk through Grand Central Station, but that's about it, so I went looking for the tingle in San Francisco and...um...well I didn't really experience much of a tingle there either, but there was a certain excitement about exploring somewhere new and part of me thinks that although my heart belongs to New York, I may need to get away from the city for a year or so to allow myself to fully appreciate it.

We'll see. Anyway I plan to take my camera tomorrow, so with any luck I will get a few nice shots of the beautiful autumn foliage to post on Sunday.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


Okay, so posting this is so not going to do anything for my musical credibility, which has been questioned several times of late by my Rage Against the Machine loving team member, but who cares, I love this song, it lifts my mood when work is getting me down, although the video leaves something to be desired.