New Yorkers suffer exorbitant rents and ridiculous commutes, but we get amazing pizza and Central Park in return. We are masters of the trade off. So when you propose an escape from the city, a skeptical New Yorker might ask, “What exactly am I giving up my breakfast bagels for?” Well, if you’re headed to Austin, the answer is: A LOT.
Like many women, I’ve had a somewhat turbulent relationship with my self-image. Thanks to a particularly nasty bout with eczema when I was younger and constant weight fluctuations, it was difficult to feel comfortable — much less confident — in my own skin. Age helped me navigate those treacherous waters, but fashion was mostly what kept me afloat. Despite how I felt about my body, I always found ways to have fun with how I dressed.
“When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space”
– Up on the Roof, The Drifters, 1962
There are very few things New Yorkers love more than the following (in no particular order of appreciation): soaking in the sun, lounging on rooftops and imbibing a few cocktails. Offer any of these things, or all of them at once, and you’ll find hoards of the city’s faithful congregated.
I’ve been in a little bit of a rut lately. Maybe it’s that last-bit-of-winter funk, or the fact that Justin and I recently both caught a nasty bug that knocked us off our feet. But we’ve been opting for quieter weekends at home, leaving us scurrying to catch up with all the museum exhibitions we’d previously shortlisted. One of those was A Pen of All Work by Raymond Pettibon at the New Museum.
When I visited Italy many years ago, I particularly remember a visit to the Galleria Borghese in Rome, where I made my first acquaintance with the works of Caravaggio. When we continued on to Florence, I was excited to hear that additional works were located in the Uffizi Gallery. We spent the day visiting other sights, reserving a few hours at the end of the day for the museum. We saved the best for last, only to discover that the Uffizi was under construction and that they had moved Caravaggio’s works to a different section. And the section was located a distance away from where we were. @#$%! So we ran, and luckily managed to get in a quick, breathy view of his pieces just under the wire.
While I do find Caravaggio’s works to be magnificent, his tumultuous life made his art all the more intriguing. His story includes all the makings of a hit reality TV show: poverty, celebrity, violence, death, imprisonment, libel, poisoning. But his influence on painters from then on has been undisputed, and Valentin De Boulogne is one of the many who have followed in his footsteps.
While we cringe every time we hear someone refer to themselves as a “brand”, it’s impossible to deny that nowadays people sell. Celebrity can arise as much from a book one labored on for five years as a viral video one shot in five seconds. Sometimes we fail to comprehend the attention, but then there are numerous articles calling the Mona Lisa overrated. (Google it.) Portraits are depictions of people, and what makes them uniquely engaging is there are at least two people involved: the artist and the subject. The subject could be attractive, the artist could be notorious, and the relationship between the two could be scandalous. People never fail to intrigue.
If there were a list of naturally aggressive words in the English language, it feels like “manifesto” would be at the top of that list. But it’s really just a declaration of intentions, be it Marx’s or lululemon’s. Each one carries weight, because once we verbalize or document a motive, we make a formal commitment to it. And one person who seems to understand the power of a manifesto is filmmaker Julian Rosefeldt.
Roselfeldt’s 2015 film, Manifesto, premiered at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and is finally being offered to New York City audiences at Park Avenue Armory’s Drill Hall. In real estate-starved Manhattan, it’s hard not to walk into the space and be awed by its sheer size. The dark, cavernous 55,000-square-foot room holds thirteen giant movie screens. A lone bench sits in front of each one, and as you perch on it, a speaker delivers targeted audio for the piece of film you’re watching.
You’ve probably seen a number of pictures in your Instagram feed from Pipilotti Rist’s latest exhibition at the New Museum in New York City. And it’s no wonder: her work seems perfectly curated for the social media outlet. But Pixel Forest is much more than a 1080 pixel by 1080 pixel photo inspiring Instagrammers far and wide to double-tap.
Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist has made quite a name for herself as a visual artist. She started making videos in 1986, when the medium was at its height (think MTV), but several years ago she told the New York Times, “I use the same ingredients, I think, but I am cooking a different meal.” It’s quite a different meal, indeed. She’s since evolved into a multimedia magician of sorts, overlaying sculptures and textures with provocative video and imagery.
Lynn’s a natural-born planner, and I’m, shall we say, a little more “fluid” in my approach to life. She writes ruler-straight notations with breathtakingly symmetrical penmanship in composition notebooks and prolifically schedules our digital calendar with placeholders for upcoming events. I plan what I’m wearing 10 minutes before we head out for the day and am never more happy than when a pedestrian evening in the city takes a serendipitous left turn and we end up at strange locales we never would have considered in advance. After many, many years of marriage, I like to think that we balance each other out. She has opened my eyes to the fact that a little structure often leads to more frequent and more meaningful experiences, and I remind her that spontaneity in life is an important counterbalance to the weariness and monotony of everyday existence.
Recently, a bit of chance and calculation collided in our visit to Society of Illustrators where we ventured to take in A Retrospective: Ralph Steadman. In typical fashion, Lynn sent me a link to an article about the exhibit a few weeks beforehand and asked, “Interested?” I afforded the article a two-second, cursory examination and replied, “Sure. Why not?” I knew, of course, exactly who Ralph Steadman was, though, admittedly, more by his work and the company he kept than his name.
If you ask someone what they think about New York City, they’ll undoubtedly have an opinion. For those seduced by the city’s many charms, the response will probably be that of hackneyed superlatives. Naysayers, on the other hand, will issue a laundry list of grievances. You’ll hear any number of things, but I’d be willing to bet “boring” won’t be one of them. This city’s single greatest virtue is that, no matter how long you live here, you’ll never see it all.
Time and time again, it has introduced me to something new and unexpected, quite often coinciding with a period when I’ve become increasingly weary and disillusioned. Most recently, that astonishing revelation came in the form of a repurposed freight elevator shaft along a dodgy-looking alley in Lower Manhattan.