Tuesday, July 31, 2007

LINES AND CURVES, the GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM INTERIOR


My visit to the SOLOMON GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM on Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street) in Manhattan is always about experiencing not only the art on display, but also the structure of the museum itself. I made images of some aspects of the interior, including the spiraling floor plan, as well as the skylight as shown above. The museum was one of the last structures that FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT designed before his demise in 1959. It highlights the progression of his architectural designs from linear to circular, counteracting the right angles that typically dominate architecture. The floor plan is one single fluid ramp spiraling up six stories. A skylight illuminates the interior from above, and the white concrete walls reflect the light. Currently, the exterior of the building is undergoing restoration.

From Guggenheim.org:

"I need a fighter, a lover of space, an agitator, a tester and a wise man. . . . I want a temple of spirit, a monument!"
—Hilla Rebay (art advisor to S. Guggenheim) to Frank Lloyd Wright, 1943

"Wright made no secret of his disenchantment with Guggenheim's choice of New York for his museum: "I can think of several more desirable places in the world to build his great museum," Wright wrote in 1949 to Arthur Holden, "but we will have to try New York." To Wright, the city was overbuilt, overpopulated, and lacked architectural merit."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

LA VIE, SPIEGELWORLD at SOUTH STREET SEAPORT'S PIER 17


Above are photos of a portion of the venue for LA VIE, a cabaret style theatreo-batic show presented by Montreal's sizzling circus-arts theatre company, Les 7 Doigts de la Main. We attended the Saturday night show at SPIEGELTENT located at Pier 17, South Street Seaport, near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. The SPIEGELTENT, in New York only for three months this summer, has a circular stage, an opulent decor of mirrors and brocade, and a mere six rows of seats plus banquettes along the perimeter. Four years ago, seven extraordinary performers from CIRQUE DU SOLEIL and beyond formed the company which has since captivated audiences around the globe. Their mix of life-threatening aerial acrobatics, wild characters and wicked music has been part of the SPIEGELWORLD stage (http://spiegelworld.com/). Although I cringed at some of the weird humor in the show, the juggling and aerial acrobatic acts were truly amazing.

Fom the New York Times (Jason Zinoman):

“La Vie,” less action-packed than “Absinthe” but with a clearer conceit, begins with a man (Patrick Léonard) plummeting seemingly from nowhere onto a bed. We soon discover that not only is he dead, the rest of us are too. The host of this trip through the afterlife is an obnoxious — and French — bull of a man (Sebastien Soldevila) who informs the audience that they are in Purgatory. A fierce master of ceremonies, he introduces a wild-faced and astoundingly flexible contortionist (Isabelle Chassé) wrapped in a straitjacket, and a flight attendant (Shana Carroll) on a trapeze.

The show, with images of asylums and Kafkaesque bureaucracy, occasionally veers into Blue Man Group territory. (It might be time to retire blowing on giant tubes, which is fast losing its novelty.) Mr. Soldevila and Mr. Léonard show amazing teamwork with a juggling act involving a spinning top and a wire that ends with several highly unlikely feats of hand-eye coordination. Mr. Soldevila pauses for applause. “I know, I know,” he says. “I am very good.”

He’s right, of course. But what really makes these Spiegelworld productions such unusual, exciting and slightly uneasy experiences is their intimacy. When an acrobat hangs precariously by a chain right above your head, it’s difficult to be a passive observer. And the performers in both shows make an effort, like it or not, to include the crowd.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

CENTRAL PARK and MANHATTAN SKYLINE

CENTRAL PARK and Manhattan skyline viewed from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Monday, July 23, 2007

THE SHAPES OF SPACE at the GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM




Displayed at the ground floor of the SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM is the mesmerizing panel made of cut plastic Fresnel lens sheets and staples, designed by ALYSON SHOTZ. A Fresnel lens is a type of lens invented by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel, originally developed to focus the beam in lighthouse lamps. Fresnel lenses are used in the lens of traffic signals and to shape the light beam in overhead projectors as well as in molded plastic versions which are sometimes placed on the rear windows of motorhomes to broaden the drivers rearward field of view.

From http://science.howstuffworks.com: “The basic idea behind a Fresnel lens is simple. Imagine taking a plastic magnifying glass lens and slicing it into a hundred concentric rings (like the rings of a tree). Each ring is slightly thinner than the next and focuses the light toward the center. Now take each ring, modify it so that it's flat on one side, and make it the same thickness as the others. To retain the rings' ability to focus the light toward the center, the angle of each ring's angled face will be different. Now if you stack all the rings back together, you have a Fresnel lens.”

SHOTZ’ work is made of thin commercial type of Fresnel lens sheet of bendable plastic cut into circular or oval pieces and stapled together cascading from the roof to the floor. This installation is part of a special exhibit called THE SHAPES OF SPACE which “makes visitors aware not only of the ways in which space is manifested within art but also the different ways in which art can engage its surroundings and reorient the viewer's own position within space.”

Saturday, July 21, 2007

HAIRSPRAY the movie musical






Photo above is part of a bus stop ad for H
AIRSPRAY
, a funny and delightful movie that I saw over the weekend at the AMC Theatres at 68th Street and Broadway. This movie is an adaptation of the still-running 2002 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same title, itself adapted from John Waters' 1988 comedy film with Ricki Lake. Set in 1962 Baltimore, the film tells the story of Tracy Turnblad as she simultaneously pursues stardom as a dancer on a local TV program, "The Corny Collins Show," and rallies for racial integration.

Review from the New York Times:

By A. O. SCOTT

Published: July 19, 2007

That “Hairspray” is good-hearted is no surprise. Adam Shankman’s film, lovingly adapted from the Broadway musical, preserves the inclusive, celebratory spirit of John Waters’s 1988 movie, in which bigger-boned, darker-skinned and otherwise different folk take exuberant revenge on the bigots and the squares who conspire to keep them down. The surprise may be that this “Hairspray,” stuffed with shiny showstoppers, Kennedy-era Baltimore beehives and a heavily padded John Travolta in drag, is actually good.

Appropriately enough for a movie with such a democratic sensibility, there is plenty of credit to go around. Mr. Shankman, drawing on long experience as a choreographer, avoids the kind of vulgar overstatement that so often turns the joy of live musical theater into torment at the multiplex. The songs, by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, are usually adequate, occasionally inspired and only rarely inane. And they are sung with impeccable diction and unimpeachable conviction by a lively young cast that includes Nikki Blonsky, Amanda Bynes, Zac Efron and the phenomenally talented Elijah Kelley.

Of course there are better-known, more-seasoned performers on hand as well, notably Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken and Mr. Travolta. But “Hairspray” is fundamentally a story about being young — about the triumph of youth culture, about the optimistic, possibly dated belief that the future will improve on the present — and its heart is very much with its teenage heroes and the fresh-faced actors who play them.

Ms. Blonsky, a ball of happy, mischievous energy, is Tracy Turnblad, a hefty Baltimore high school student whose dream is to dance with the city’s most telegenic teeny-boppers on “The Corny Collins Show.” Ms. Bynes plays Penny Pingleton, Tracy’s timid best friend, whose prim mother (Allison Janney) won’t even let Penny watch the show, much less appear on it. Mrs. Pingleton can scarcely imagine that her daughter will eventually fall for Seaweed (Mr. Kelley), part of a group of black kids whom Tracy befriends in the detention hall after school.

As Penny and Seaweed test the taboo against interracial romance, Tracy and Link Larkin (Mr. Efron), a “Corny Collins” dreamboat, take on the tyranny of slenderness. That “Hairspray” cheerfully conflates racial prejudice with fat-phobia is the measure of its guileless, deliberately simplified politics. Upholding both forms of discrimination is Velma Von Tussle (Ms. Pfeiffer), a television station executive who uses “The Corny Collins Show” — against the wishes of Corny (James Marsden) himself — as a way of maintaining the color line and promoting the celebrity of her blond, smiley daughter, Amber (Brittany Snow).

“Hairspray” does not seriously propose that Tracy and her new African-American friends face equivalent forms of injustice. But it does make the solidarity between them feel like an utterly natural, intuitive response to the meanness and arrogance of their common enemies. “Welcome to the ’60s,” Tracy sings to her mother, conjuring up the New Frontier hopefulness of that decade’s early years rather than the violence and paranoia of its denouement.

In freezing history at a moment of high possibility — a moment whose glorious popular culture encompasses “West Side Story” and the Twist, early Motown and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound — “Hairspray” is at once knowingly corny and unabashedly utopian. On “The Corny Collins Show” Seaweed and his friends are relegated to a once-a-month Negro Day, presided over by Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah). Tracy envisions a future when, as she puts it, “every day is Negro Day.”

What is missing from “Hairspray” is anything beyond the faintest whisper of camp. The original “Hairspray” may have been Mr. Waters’s most wholesome, least naughty film, but there was no containing the volcanic audacity of Divine, who created the role of Edna Turnblad. Divine, who was born Harris Glen Milstead and who died shortly after the first “Hairspray” was released, belonged to an era when drag performance still carried more than a touch of the louche and the dangerous, and was one of the artists who helped push it into the cultural mainstream.

Perhaps wisely Mr. Travolta does not try to duplicate the outsize, deliberately grotesque theatricality of Divine’s performance or to mimic the Mermanesque extravagance of Harvey Fierstein’s Broadway turn, choosing instead to tackle the role of Edna as an acting challenge. The odd result is that she becomes the most realistic, least stereotypical character in the film, and the only one who speaks in a recognizable (if not always convincing) Baltimore accent. (“Ahm tryna orn,” she complains when she’s trying to iron.)

A shy, unsophisticated, working-class woman, Edna is ashamed of her physical size even as she seems to hide inside it, as if seeking protection from the noise and indignity of the world outside. It is Tracy who pulls her out of her shell, and without entirely letting go of Edna’s timidity, Mr. Travolta explores the exhibitionistic and sensual sides of her personality.

Mr. Walken’s gallantry in the role of Edna’s devoted husband, Wilbur, is unforced and disarmingly sincere, and their duet, “(You’re) Timeless to Me,” is one of the film’s musical high points. Another is “Without Love,” in which the two young couples express their yearning with the help of some ingenious and amusing special effects.

There are, to be sure, less thrilling moments, and stretches in which the pacing falters. But the overall mood of “Hairspray” is so joyful, so full of unforced enthusiasm, that only the most ferocious cynic could resist it. It imagines a world where no one is an outsider and no one is a square, and invites everyone in. How can you refuse?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

PEGGY ROCKEFELLER ROSE GARDEN



On a recent visit to the PEGGY ROCKEFELLER ROSE GARDEN in the Bronx, I made some photos of lovely roses. Although it was a little late in the season, the garden was still stunning. The garden was originally designed in 1916, completed in 1988, and renovated in 2006–2007. The Rockefeller garden now displays more than 3,000 rose plants including exquisite antique roses, modern hybrid teas, floribundas, shrub roses, medicinal and miniature roses.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

GARLAND SHADE LIGHT, designed by TORD BOONTJE

On permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) is GARLAND SHADE LIGHT, an etched, laser-cut silver-plated brass, created by Dutch-born designer TORD BOONTJE (born 1968). This cascading floral shade reflects Boontje's fascination with the intricate, romantic aesthetic of 17th and 18th century objects. The delicately etched botanical patterns are created using photographic process normally employed in the manufacture of electronic components. The lamp is made from a continuous metal strand that is wrapped around the light bulb and may be shaped into any form. I took a photo of one of the displays at MOMA and converted the image to black-and-white.

Monday, July 16, 2007

SUMMER OF LOVE: ART OF THE PSYCHEDELIC ERA at the WHITNEY MUSEUM


Last Sunday, we visited the new exhibit of psychedelic art at the Whitney Museum of American Art on Madison Avenue. It’s called Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era. A major attraction of the show is a hand-painted 1965 Porsche 356c Cabriolet super c once owned by the lead rock singer of the 60s' JANIS JOPLIN. Shown above are photographs I made of the “psychedelic” car featuring the artwork by DAVE RICHARDS. The exhibition has travelled from England to Frankfurt and Vienna before coming to the Manhattan Museum.

Psychedelic art, characterized by its use of vibrant colors, complex design, and vivid imagery, came of age during the period of intense racial, and political revolution of the 20th century. During a time of tumultuous social and political upheaval, defined by several events including the civil rights movement, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War, artists, filmmakers, poets, architects and musicians created visionary art that illustrated a desire for alternative lifestyles. The exhibition showcases these works of art which runs through mid-September.

From: http://www.rockhall.com/

"Janis Joplin paid about $3500 for this 1965 Porsche 356c Cabriolet when she bought it from a Beverly Hills auto dealer in September 1968. Prior to the sale, the dealer had painted the car oyster white. Joplin, however, wanted something more dramatic, and Dave Richards, a friend and Big Brother roadie, created this psychedelic design, which includes an image of Janis and Big Brother on the front left fender.

The car quickly became identified with Joplin, who drove it around San Francisco, where she lived, and down to Los Angeles, where she recorded. Whenever she parked it somewhere, fans would leave notes under the wipers. Once, while Joplin was at a gig, the car was stolen. The thief spray painted it gray, but when it was retuned, Joplin found an auto shop that was able to recover the psychedelic finish.

A few months after Joplin’s death in 1970, her family gave the car to Albert Grossman, Janis’ manager. He kept it in Bearsville, New York, where it was used by visiting artists, friends and clients. In 1973, he returned the car to the Joplins, who used it as a family car.

The car has been restored several times over the years. Most of the engine and body parts are original. The seats have been re-covered, and the cloth on the convertible top is new. The body was repainted as close as possible to the original design by the Denver Center Theatre Company paint shop in 1994."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

BASTILLE DAY STREET FESTIVAL




Face painting was very popular among kids at today's BASTILLE DAY STREET FAIR, which was three blocks (60th Street between Lexington and Madison Avenues) of the sights, sounds, and flavors of French culture, where New Yorkers are invited to be French for a day.

Bastille Day, the French national holiday, commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on July 14, 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of the absolute and arbitrary power of Louis the 16th's Ancient Regime. By capturing this symbol, the people signaled that the king's power was no longer absolute: power should be based on the Nation and be limited by a separation of powers.

The street fair featured sampling the cuisine of France and French-speaking countries from vendors including: Bouchon Bakery, The French Culinary Institute, Le Bec Fin, Opia, Payard, Petrossian, Seppi’s, and Trois Crêpes Patisserie, among others. We sampled delicious pastry from Payard. A festive “open-air picnic” area with tables covered in checkerboard tablecloths was set up along the three blocks. There was also live music by three bands direct from France: The Penelopes, Poni Hoax, and Frustration, appearing courtesy of Agnès b.’s “J’aime la Musique” program. Other live acts including French Cancan dancers, the “nouvelle bossa” singer Pascalito, DJ Indaloh, and traditional Martinique dancers also appeared on the festival stage throughout the afternoon.

For kids, the FIAF Language Center hosted an Arts & Crafts activity booth. Two specialty bars gave adults the chance for a more spirited celebration! The Bastille Day Bar in the FIAF lobby served Moutin Cadet white, red, and rosé wines, and Kronenboug 1664, the premium lager of Brasseries Kronenbourg. Across the street, a Martinican Case à Rhum, a tropical hut offering drinks made with rums from Martinique, located at Bistro 60.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

BROADWAY BARKS 9








BERNADETTER PETERS and MARY TYLER MOORE hosted the ninth annual BROADWAY BARKS, a star-studded dog and cat adopt-a-thon benefiting New York City animal shelters and adoption agencies. The event, produced by Broadway Care/Equity Fights AIDS and sponsored by the ASPCA with additional sponsorship by the New York Times, Pedigree, and RCA Small Wonder took place earlier today in Shubert Alley. BROADWAY BARKS helps many of New York City's shelter animals find permanent homes by informing New Yorkers about the plight of the thousands of "homeless" dogs and cats in the metropolitan area.

"In 2006, for the first time in New York City's history, the euthanasia rate for dogs and cats in the city's Animal Care & Control shelters fell below 50%. A total of 20, 581 animals were placed into homes. 9,313 were adopted; 9,937 were transferred for eventual adoption to local shelters and rescue groups; and 1,331 were returned to their owners," said Moore.

"This milestone means we are saving more than half of the dogs and cats in our city shelters," said Ed Sayres, president & CEO of the ASPCA. "We are are proud that New York City's efforts to save the lives of adoptable animals has reached this important benchmark."

Peters, who adopted her dogs, Kramer and Stella, from the ASPCA and AC&C, adds, "It's bringing us closer to the day when we will no longer have to euthanize any healthy and treatable homeless cats and dogs because of a lack of space. As a community, we are most effective in helping animals when we pool our strengths to achieve what is, after all, a shared goal -- the elevation and continued welfare of animals in our society."

A galaxy of Broadway stars joined Peters and Moore, presenting the animals for adoption. Celebrity presenters including Angela Lansbury (Deuce); Audra McDonald (110 in the Shade); Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna (Chicago); David Hyde Pierce (Curtains); Jerry Mathers and Paul Vogt (Hairspray), Priscilla Lopez and Mandy Gonzalez (In the Heights); Christine, Ebersole, Mary Louise Wilson, John McMartin and Maureen Moore (Grey Gardens); Cheyenne Jackson, Kerry Butler and Mary Testa (Xanadu); Michael Cerveris (LoveMusik); Jo Anne Worley, Beth Leavel, John Glover, Gerry Vichi and Patrick Wetzel (The Drowsy Chaperone); Ashley Brown, Jane Carr, Daniel Jenkins, and Gavin Lee (Mary Poppins); Marin Mazzie, Jonathan Hadary, David Hibbard and Martin Moran (Spamalot); Xanthe Elbrick (Coram Boy); Charlotte D'Amboise and Michael Berresse (A Chorus Line); John Earl Jelks (Radio Golf); Michael Mulheren (Deuce); Christian Hoff, J. Robert Spencer and John Lloyd Young (Jersey Boys); Judy McLane (Mamma Mia); Laura Belle Bundy, Orfeh and Andy Karl (Legally Blonde); Lea Michele (Spring Awakening); Sebastian Arcelus, Jayne Houdyshell, and Kendra Kassebaum (Wicked); Stephanie J. Block (The Pirate Queen).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

LOTUS at the NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN






These are some of the beautiful lotus plants at the Conservatory Courtyard Pools of the New York Botanical Garden which I visited a week ago. Unlike the leaves of water lilies which sit on the surface of the water, the leaves of the lotus plant rise up to as high as four feet above the water. There are tropical lotus and cool temperate types of lotuses. Most lotus that come from China are suited to the Victorian climate. In Eastern literature, the lotus is a plant that grows out of the slimy mud- the still, putrid water – to produce the most beautiful flower. “It’s compared with life; that whatever your life circumstances, it’s possible for the most pure and beautiful thing to rise.”

Sunday, July 8, 2007

FRANK STELLA ON THE ROOF




Earlier today, I visited the special exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called “FRANK STELLA ON THE ROOF,” featuring the recent works in stainless steel and carbon fiber by the prolific American artist Frank Stella (b. 1936) at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. This sculpture exhibition marks the artist’s first solo presentation at the Met, simultaneous with Frank Stella: Painting into Architecture, on view through July 29. The roof garden, aside from being an exciting outdoor space for sculpture, offers spectacular views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Flashback: MACY'S FLOWER SHOW





MACY's Herald Square has been home to one of the country's premier FLOWER SHOWS, featuring the world's most exotic blooms. These are some more images of creative window displays at the department store's ground floor that drew huge crowds last April.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

110 IN THE SHADE the BROADWAY MUSICAL REVIVAL

Taking advantage of the 4th of July holiday, we went to TKTS and got half-price tickets (without the usual long line of tourists) for the Broadway revival of "110 in the Shade." Four-time Tony Award winner AUDRA McDONALD stars as Lizzie Curry, who is on the verge of becoming an old maid, when a charismatic rainmaker comes along. Set in the Texas Panhandle on July 4, 1936, the show was wonderful and Audra McDonald was marvelous as always. "110 in the Shade" at STUDIO 54 is a production of the Roundabout Theatre Company.

From the New York Times (by Ben Brantley)

Is it possible for a performance to be too good? Audra McDonald brings such breadth of skill and depth of feeling to the Roundabout Theater Company revival of “110 in the Shade” that she threatens to burst the seams of this small, homey musical. Ravishing of voice and Olympian of stature, she’s an overwhelming presence in an underwhelming show. Steve Kazee is a wanderer and Audra McDonald a small-town girl in “110 in the Shade,” a musical based on N. Richard Nash’s “Rainmaker.” Watching Ms. McDonald in this gentle, threadbare tale of a love-starved spinster in a rain-starved farmland, which opened last night at Studio 54, is like drinking rare Champagne from a plastic cup. Yes, a Baccarat flute would be preferable. On the other hand who’s going to turn down the chance to sample a vintage Cristal? For what Ms. McDonald makes of Lizzie Curry, an unmarried woman in a household of manly men, is a dazzling case for the musical as a dramatic form that plumbs hearts and minds. She so blurs the lines between spoken and musical expression that one seems like a natural extension of the other. Singing for Ms. McDonald is just a more emphatic and articulate way of talking, one that’s needed when emotions are so intense they can’t be captured without the texture and shading of melody. When you listen to Ms. McDonald’s Lizzie sing about the ache of loneliness or her disgust for the words “old maid,” you don’t know how she feels; you feel how she feels. You’re likely to find tears in your eyes by the end of even comic songs.

Nothing else in Lonny Price’s production, which officially concludes the Broadway season, warrants tears, either of joy or distress. First produced on Broadway in 1963, with songs by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones (“The Fantasticks”) and a book by N. Richard Nash (adapted from his play “The Rainmaker”), “110 in the Shade” is a poor man’s “Music Man.” Like Meredith Willson’s high-stepping blockbuster of 1957, “110” is an all-American love story about a con man who brings sweet relief to the parched life of a small-town virgin. Both trade in a Norman Rockwell vision of the United States. But if “The Music Man” is a John Philip Sousa-style blast of brass, “110” is an Aaron Copland-esque twang of fiddle strings. The songs in “110” are tuneful, pseudo-rustic and on occasion as cute as buttons on overalls. This is not music that rattles the rafters. On the contrary, it seems to melt away even as it’s being performed, despite the caressing orchestrations of Jonathan Tunick and masterly music direction by Paul Gemignani. Extolling the pleasures of “simple little things,” to borrow from one of Lizzie’s songs, “110” left critics unawed 44 years ago, though it ran for 330 performances. “There is no danger even a lightning bolt could ignite it,” Howard Taubman wrote in The New York Times. Well, if Ms. McDonald doesn’t qualify as a lightning bolt, I don’t know who does. But it’s true that while she does provide a blazing center, the temperature of the show around her remains steadily lukewarm. Mr. Price’s direction emphasizes the cuddly aspects of the show in ways that date it more than necessary. Though Santo Loquasto’s revolving wooden set, overhung by a giant moonlike sphere, has a fairy tale starkness, much of the production feels like a family-oriented romance from the early 1960s, before rock ’n’ roll was king. There are songs about cleaning up the house and playing poker and going on a picnic and about, gosh, how very hot it is.

Within this small and cozy world, Lizzie oversees a household that includes her father, H. C. (the excellent John Cullum), and her brothers, Noah (the stern one, played by Chris Butler) and Jim (the cute one, played by Bobby Steggert). She pines quietly for a man of her own, preferably File (Christopher Innvar), the moody town sheriff. Her prayers seem destined to go unanswered until a charismatic wanderer named Starbuck (Steve Kazee) shows up, promising to bring rain to the dying fields. Lizzie learns that she is a woman and hence worthy of being loved. And just to make sure she knows it, her father slips Starbuck a hundred bucks in the hopes that he’ll spend the night with her. As you can tell, “110” remains family entertainment only for families without feminists. But its patronizing view of its heroine doesn’t keep Ms. McDonald from building a fully authentic character. She finds revitalizing detail in even shopworn gestures, like fiddling with her buttons to indicate nervousness. And she uncovers a barbed self-awareness in a wistful ballad like “Love, Don’t Turn Away” and the pain in a comic number like “Raunchy.” Yet even the most ambitious of the songs — including the searing nervous breakdown of an aria, “Old Maid” — can’t quite take this complex Lizzie to the levels you know she could ascend to.


Aside from Mr. Cullum, who has a marvelously easy rapport with Ms. McDonald onstage, none of the men in Lizzie’s life seem worthy of her. Part of this may come from miscasting. As Starbuck, the pleasant-voice, round-faced Mr. Kazee, clad in snug black denim, suggests a Boy Scout posing as a biker dude. As the straight-and-narrow File, on the other hand, Mr. Innvar positively smolders. (Role switch, anyone?) When at last the skies open in “The Rainmaker,” in a stage-drenching climax, Ms. McDonald seems utterly happy and at home. Elemental force meets elemental force. Now that’s a love match.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

BOTANICAL SILHOUETTE


Botanical silhouettes of palm trees and papyrus are two of the images that I made from a recent visit to the Enid Haupt Conservatory of the New York Botanical Garden. The papyrus plant specifically drew my interest. This plant, once abundant along the banks of the Nile, usually grows 2-3 meters tall. Papyrus was quite versatile and was not only used in the production of paper but it was also used in the manufacture of boats, rope and baskets. However, the singularly most important and valuable product was the papyrus paper.

Monday, July 2, 2007

LIVING STATUE OF LIBERTY


Living Statues are mime artists who pose like a statue or mannequin, usually with realistic statue-like makeup and costume, sometimes for hours at a time. This is an art that requires a great deal of creativity, patience and physical stamina. I took a picture of one of many living statues in the streets of Manhattan - Lady Liberty in Times Square. Happy Independence Day America.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

WATER LILIES AT THE NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN





Some stunning images of water lilies serenely floating at the Conservatory Courtyard pools of the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.