It’s not easy to admit, but I was a pretty spoiled child. Not with clothes or toys, but with time. My mother gave us few chores because she was worried that a heavy roster would distract from our education. She tirelessly carted us to and from school plus extra-curriculars and showed up for parent-teacher meetings. She did our laundry and cleaned our rooms. And she cooked. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had warm meals on the table every single day, meals that we still recall fondly (and shamelessly request on home visits).
We’re big fans of the Ramones, so we excitedly trekked out to the Queens Museum last year for the Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!: Ramones and the Birth of Punk exhibit. (That post can be found here.) As expected, we found a bounty of fantastic memorabilia on display. But the exhibit also included amazing art from the likes of Sergio Aragones and Shepard Fairey. In fact, this little gem graced the entrance:
We love our cat. Chloe is family in every conceivable way.
And if you sense that I’m both unapologetic and unequivocal when making these two statements, let me explicitly confirm your intuition. I am. On both accounts. Full stop.
I do not have a young child, nor do I currently have elderly parents or in-laws to care for in their latter years. (I’m incredibly grateful that they are all, by God’s grace, in good health.) As for my grandparents, they have long since departed this world.
That’s not to say I don’t know something about being a caretaker. For years, I’ve had a dependent, just not one I can claim on my taxes. I’ve cleaned up her messes. I’ve prepared her meals. Even handled her 3P’s (pee, poop and puke). I’ve brushed her hair and cut her nails and attempted, rather unsuccessfully, to bathe her. I’ve transported her to checkups. (And chewed my nails through a few medical procedures.) I’ve soothed her crying on airplanes and hushed her hissing on road trips. I’ve spent untold hours doting on her, reprimanding her, worrying about her and pulling at my ever-thinning hair in frustration.
One of the fundamental differences separating humans from most of the animal kingdom is our innate ability to recognize basic patterns. We are endowed with the cognitive aptitude to learn through association, to differentiate and categorize, to see the world through a frame of reference unlike any other living creature, and this acumen informs what we think and say and do. And what differentiates “creatives” from the rest of our species is their exceptional ability to see the achingly simple or astoundingly complex patterns the rest of us are unable to distinguish. The Chinese artist, Gao Youjun (also known as Tango), who is famed for his clever illustrations on the social network, Weibo, is a perfect example of this subspecies.
When you arrive at 2nd Avenue and 1st Street in the East Village of New York City, you’re met with a massive yellow figure climbing out of the wall, dressed in a turned-around cap and a track jacket,wielding a boombox. It’s a tribute to the hip hop culture that heavily influenced the artists, Brazilian twins known artistically as OSGEMEOS. The mural features one of their signature yellow characters which is meant to be racially neutral (in contrast with having to identify with one of the six preset emoji skin tones offered by WhatsApp), and it’s just one of the thoughtful concepts you’ll find at the duo’s exhibition, Silence of the Music, at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Chelsea.
Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo are consistently included in group exhibitions featuring street artists, which is how they made their start the 1980s. Like most other street artists, accessibility was a priority. But it served a greater need in their home of Sao Paulo where economic disparity, violence, and drug use were common societal ills. At Silence of the Music, it’s difficult not to find hope and cheer in the pure explosion of color contained within the rooms.
Kurt Vonnegut said, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.” I believe we all have an innate desire to create — to produce something we can call our own, however big or small — whether we’re painting, baking a cake, taking a photograph, or writing. Every now and again an artist is able to hone his or her craft to the point of achieving a signature style, one so recognizable that it’s associated instantly with that individual. Nychos, the Austrian illustrator and urban street artist, is fortunate to be one of those talents.
Nychos is well known and highly respected internationally, with multiple gallery shows and murals already under his belt at the tender age of 34. He created Rabbit Eye Movement, a collective of international artists, which not only brings its members together but gives them agency and a permanent home in a gallery space in Vienna. In his documentary “The Deepest Depths of the Burrow”, Nychos cements his commitment and support for the proliferation of art, propelling the motto “Travel to Paint, Paint to Travel” forward.
As a typically angst-ridden, rebellious teenager living under the crushingly onerous, authoritarian regime of my strict, socially conservative parents, there was a particular allure to novelty shops such as the seedy, provocative Spencer’s Gifts and the subversive, iconoclastic Hot Topic. Fortunately, one or the other could be found in virtually every mall in the American Midwest. And even though I rarely, if ever, purchased anything at these establishments, I fondly recall the hours surrendered perusing the shelves and racks filled with random, quirky objects, never knowing quite what it was I’d find on any given visit. But eventually I grew up, my sensibilities evolved and interest in such trivial things waned.
‘Ten years after a successful and critically acclaimed Broadway production, the Irish Repertory Theatre’s revival of Conor McPherson’s Shining City has very, very big shoes to fill — and to our delight, fill them they have, indeed.
Directed by Ciarán O’Reilly and starring Matthew Broderick, Billy Carter, Lisa Dwan, and James Russell, Shining City is a play that, when distilled to its essence, conveys a simple, unassuming ghost story — both figuratively and literally, though the figurative is much more compelling in this case. Staged largely in an office flat in Dublin and revealed primarily through a series of sessions between a patient and his therapist, it is a narrative wherein the apparition functions as metaphor for guilt over decisions made, actions taken, words spoken (and unspoken), injuries received and secrets harbored, and where hauntings are just the external manifestations of profound and debilitating regrets.
Cindy Sherman is the definition of a controversial artist — which, according to some, makes her a true artist. Some find her work distasteful, or lacking in depth, while others find her work inspiring, innovative and provocative. Regardless of which side you find yourself on, her influence in the art world cannot be denied. Cindy Sherman is an American artist who is best known for turning self-portraiture on its head. She acts simultaneously as photographer and model, but her pieces are narratives within a scene, so she also fills the role of writer, creative director, set designer, costume designer and makeup artist. Her collections might capture her likeness as movie actresses, or as historical figures, or as clowns. She has employed prosthetics and masks to alter her appearance or as standalone props.
In an age where selfies have propelled celebrity, Cindy Sherman appears to be the anti-selfie queen. Although she takes photographs of herself, she has always maintained that she considers herself anonymous in her work. The makeup and costumes transform her into a character, and after hundreds of works (which she prefers to leave untitled so that viewers can invent their own stories to suit the scene — perhaps even insert themselves in it), she is as much a mystery as ever.
A friend of mine was visiting from London years ago, and had brought with her a big box of chocolates she’d picked up on a trip to Belgium. The group of us chatted as we sampled from it, when someone exclaimed, “I can only have one piece, it’s so rich!” Having probably devoured eight pieces by that point, I’ll admit that the notion of having too much of a good thing eluded me in that moment.
My unnatural capacity to consume desserts aside, I find that the law of diminishing returns tends to hold true in most other areas of life, and a self-imposed threshold can do wonders in increasing one’s enjoyment. For me, this definitely applies to art. While it’s easy to lose oneself in a great museum or gallery for hours, I’ve discovered that after a certain amount of time has passed, or after I’ve viewed a certain number of pieces, my ability to truly appreciate additional works decreases. The Rubin Museum has a unique approach to this problem.
The Rubin Museum features art from the Himalayas, India and neighboring regions, but they’ve always promoted a more immersive experience, encouraging visitors to engage in more than just walking through the galleries. They regularly offer meditation and yoga sessions, talks and a variety of other programs to “inspire visitors to make connections between contemporary life and the art and ideas”.