Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Orpheus sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

by James Hunter
Orpheus was the son of Calliope and either Oeagrus or Apollo. He was the greatest musician and poet of Greek myth, whose songs could charm wild beasts and coax even rocks and trees into movement. He was one of the Argonauts, and when the Argo had to pass the island of the Sirens, it was Orpheus' music which prevented the crew from being lured to destruction.
When Orpheus' wife, Eurydice, was killed by the bite of a serpent, he went down to the underworld to bring her back. His songs were so beautiful that Hades finally agreed to allow Eurydice to return to the world of the living. However, Orpheus had to meet one condition: he must not look back as he was conducting her to the surface. Just before the pair reached the upper world, Orpheus looked back, and Eurydice slipped back into the netherworld once again.
Orpheus was inconsolable at this second loss of his wife. He spurned the company of women and kept apart from ordinary human activities. A group of Ciconian Maenads, female devotees of Dionysus, came upon him one day as he sat singing beneath a tree. They attacked him, throwing rocks, branches, and anything else that came to hand. However, Orpheus' music was so beautiful that it charmed even inanimate objects, and the missiles refused to strike him. Finally, the Maenads' attacked him with their own hands, and tore him to pieces. Orpheus' head floated down the river, still singing, and came to rest on the isle of Lesbos.
Orpheus was also reputed to be the founder of the Orphic religious cult.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


One of the most visually stunning shows currently on Broadway is the new revival of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical called SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE which I saw earlier this evening at Roundabout Theatre Company's Studio 54. This musical chronicles the life of French impressionist painter GEORGES SEURAT during the creation of his now celebrated masterpiece, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte-1884," although the characters are fictional. The second act is set in New York in the 1980s, when Seurat's great-grandson encounters different artistic struggles in his search for inspiration to create something new in the unfolding world of contemporary art . According to Roundabout, the story is a celebration of the "art of creation and creation of art." Although I am not a big fan of Stepehen Sondheim's music, I immensely enjoyed this critically-acclaimed production. The high-tech animated projection is truly mesmerizing, and DANIEL EVANS (George), JENNA RUSSEL (Dot) and the cast are wonderful. Directed by SAM BUNTROCK, this musical revival runs through June 29.
Review from the New York Times:
Published: February 22, 2008
“Look!” says the man for whom seeing is everything, in a voice that both commands and beseeches. “Look!” This directive is issued by the painter Seurat, played by Daniel Evans in the glorious revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Sunday in the Park With George,” which opened Thursday night at Studio 54. And even if George’s mother, to whom he is ostensibly speaking, pays him no mind, we certainly do.
How could we not look at the rhapsody of images that keeps unfolding before us? Directed by Sam Buntrock, this production uses 21st-century technology to convey the vision of a 19th-century Pointillist to truly enchanting effect.
But in “Sunday in the Park With George,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1985, looking involves much more than registering what’s pretty, what’s shocking, what’s new. The great gift of this production, first staged in London two years ago, is its quiet insistence that looking is the art by which all people shape their lives.
As a consequence, a familiar show shimmers with a new humanity and clarity that make theatergoers see it with virgin eyes. And while “Sunday” remains a lopsided piece — pairing a near-perfect, self-contained first act with a lumpier, less assured second half — this production goes further than any I’ve seen in justifying the second act’s existence.

Monday, April 28, 2008


"In the spring, 20,000 tulips bloom; bulbs are planted anew each fall and the prior year's bulbs are given to neighborhood gardening groups." (from Central Park's website)

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Yesterday, I visited the new JEFF KOONS exhibit at the Cantor Roof Garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the previously unexhibited works of the pop artist. I took photos of the three sculptures: COLORING BOOK, a silhouette of Piglet from a "Winnie the Pooh" coloring book, BALLOON DOG (YELLOW),and SACRED HEART (RED/GOLD), a chocolate heart wrapped in shiny red. All sculptures are glossily lacquered stainless steel works.
From the NEW YORK TIMES Art Review by Ken Johnson:
With its breathtaking, panoramic views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline, the Cantor Roof Garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art may strike you as an excellent place to mount a seasonal outdoor sculpture show, which it does every year. In truth, it is an inhospitable site for sculpture, as demonstrated by the 2008 display that opens on Tuesday: three wonderful, previously unexhibited works by the celebrated Pop artist Jeff Koons.
Each of these sculptures is a greatly enlarged, glossily lacquered, stainless-steel representation of something small: a toy dog made of twisted-together balloons; a chocolate valentine heart wrapped in red foil, standing en pointe; and a silhouette of Piglet from a “Winnie the Pooh” coloring book, randomly colored as if by a small child.
They are mischievously meaningful works. With its pneumatic, sausagelike parts, “Balloon Dog (Yellow)” is a sly Trojan Horse: it seems innocent but is loaded with aesthetic and erotic perversity. “Sacred Heart (Red/Gold)” acidly comments on the commercial debasement of emotional and religious experience. “Coloring Book” reflects the youth-obsessed infantilism of modern culture and society.
But placed on the architecturally nondescript patio, where there are also shaded areas for patrons of the Roof Garden Cafe, the sculptures too easily turn into benign, decorative accessories.
The biggest problem is scale. Seen in an indoor gallery, the elephantine, shiny metallic “Balloon Dog (Yellow),” which rises to 10 feet at its highest point, would have a weirdly imposing, slightly menacing presence. On the roof it appears dwarfed by the vast sky and by the open expanses of space to the south and west of the museum.
The intimacy of Mr. Koons’s sculpture is also diminished. Perfectionist attention to detail is one of his work’s most compelling aspects: note the exactingly formed knot that serves as the balloon dog’s nose, or the folds, pleats and stretch marks in the heart’s wrapper. The distracting outdoor environment, though, discourages careful, contemplative looking.
Because it is both the biggest and the simplest, the 18 ½-foot-tall “Coloring Book” is the least undermined by its environment. But it is also the least interesting formally, being little more than a flat, irregularly contoured slab whose colors are thin and watery.
Their setting aside, Mr. Koons’s sculptures remain intellectually and sensuously exciting objects — “Balloon Dog” is a masterpiece — and they are worth visiting under any circumstances.
“Jeff Koons on the Roof” is on view through Oct. 26 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; (212) 535-7710 or

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I made this image of gorgeous yellow tulips near The Plaza Hotel at the corner of 59th Street and Fifth Avenue last Saturday, April 19.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

MARIO LOPEZ joins the Broadway cast of A CHORUS LINE

Youtube from Towleroad TV
We attended last night's performance of the Broadway revival of A CHORUS LINE at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre located at 236 West 45th Street in Times Square. The iconic musical currently features MARIO LOPEZ who plays the non-singing role of Zach, a demanding director who is casting the chorus roles for a new Broadway musical. Lopez, 34 is well-known for his breakout role as high school jock A. C. Slater on the hit NBC comedy series "Saved by the Bell," and appeared on ABC's hit reality series "Dancing with the Stars." He currently hosts "Weekend Extra" and MTV's "America's Best Dance Crew." He starred in ABC Family's highest rated program, "Holiday in Handcuffs", as well as in Oxygen Network's "Husband for Hire." He has also appeared on TV shows including "Nip/Tuck," "George Lopez," "Mind of Mencia," "Pacific Blue," "The Bold and the Beautiful," and "Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story." His first book, "Mario Lopez's Knockout Fitness" is in stores May 13th. Lopez stays with the show until September 7, but he will be on hiatus Sunday, May 11, 2008 through Tuesday, June 3, 2008 to promote his new book and attend to other commitments. Above are photos that I took earlier today at the stage door of the Schoenfeld Theatre after the matinee performance.
Now in its second year on Broadway, the new, critically acclaimed production of A CHORUS LINE opened on October 5, 2006. It's been reported that the musical has recouped the show's entire $8 million investment in 157 performances (19 weeks). A Chorus Line is directed by its original Tony Award winning co-choreographer Bob Avian, conceived and originally choreographed and directed by Michael Bennett, with a book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban, with the original choreography re-staged by Baayork Lee. Avian said he expanded Lopez's role to add extra stage time. "I'm having him dance in the opening number, which this director doesn't do," he said. Avian said that Lopez brings a "macho swagger" to the character, who asks the dancers to tell their life stories and reveal why they want to dance. "He has natural authority and natural command of the stage, and he's very macho . . . You know, we've always had the part played by a very articulate kind of man," he said. "Mario's quite different than that, and he's got the girls all excited."A Chorus Line is produced by John Breglio for Vienna Waits Productions. Masterworks Broadway's 2006 Broadway cast recording of A Chorus Line is available in stores nationwide.
The show' s cast includes Nick Adams (Larry), Tommy Berklund (Greg), Natalie Cortez (Diana), Charlotte d'Amboise (Cassie), Dena Digiacinto (Bebe), Jessica Lee Goldyn (Val), Deidre Goodwin (Sheila), Bryan Knowlton (Paul), James T. Lane (Richie), Melissa Lone (Maggie), J. Elaine Marcos (Connie), Paul McGill (Mark), Heather Parcells (Judy), Jason Patrick Sands (Don), Jeffrey Schecter (Mike), Will Taylor (Bobby), Katherine Tokarz (Kristine), and Kevin Worley (Al), as well as Todd Anderson, Michelle Aravena, Mike Cannon, E. Clayton Cornelious, Joey Dudding, Jenifer Foote, Lyndy Franklin, Nadine Isenegger, Jessica Lea Patty, Grant Turner, and Deone Zanotto. The production has scenery by Robin Wagner, costumes by Theoni V. Aldredge, lighting by Tharon Musser (adapted by Natasha Katz), and sound by Acme Sound Partners. When the original A Chorus Line opened in 1976, it won the Pulitzer Prize and nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. This revival opened to mixed reviews: "It's still one singular sensation." (New York Theatre Guide); "Its creators neglected to restore its central nervous system and, most important, its throbbing heart." (New York Times); "A good reproduction of a great original." (New York Post); " Faithful and altogether loving re-creation. Welcome back, you beautiful thing." (Star-Ledger); "Brings the faint whiff of mothballs to memory lane." (NewsDay); "A high-spirited, entertaining show that honors its predecessor." (The Record); "It's the sense of duplication -- albeit lovingly executed -- that keeps the revival from soaring." (Variety). And as for MARIO LOPEZ, well, in my opinion, he is a wonderful dancer and has a charismatic stage presence. But then again, I'm not a critic.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Earlier this afternoon, I joined the thousands of people who lined Fifth Avenue to see POPE BENEDICT XVI riding in his POPEMOBILE. Above are some scenes during and after the procession. The Popemobile rolled along Fifth Avenue from St. Patrick's Cathedral north to the papal residence on 72nd Street. The procession began at 1:15 p.m., after he celebrated Mass for priests at the cathedral and has lunch with New York Cardinal Edward Egan.

The Popemobile was invented after an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981, so people could see the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics without endangering him. Benedict's vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz, is one of two models he uses. The tradition dates back centuries to when popes were carried through the streets on a special chair. 

The pope also addressed the United Nations General Assembly and visited a Jewish synagogue yesterday. Tomorrow the pope will visit Ground Zero (World Trade Center site) and will also celebrate mass at Yankee Stadium.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Gala Tribute to MERYL STREEP

We attended a gala tribute to MERYL STREEP earlier this evening at the Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center. The Film Society of Lincoln Center honored the remarkable career of Academy Award® winner Meryl Streep with selected film montages and onstage salutes by friends and colleagues including Robert Redford, Robert De Niro, Mike Nichols, Uma Thurman, Stanley Tucci, Christopher Walken and Amy Adams. Probably two of the most applauded movie clips were from the movie SOPHIE'S CHOICE, and the highly anticipated MAMMA MIA where Streep sings ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All." The highlight of course was Ms. Streep's funny and wonderful acceptance speech at the end of the show. 
Proceeds from the Gala Tribute will support the Film Society’s annual programs including the New York Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, Film Comment magazine as well as year-round programming at the Walter Reade Theater.
Top photo shows souvenir programs featuring a portrait of the honoree taken by BRIGITTE LACOMBE.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

2008 TARTAN DAY PARADE: the "little ones"

I made images of adorable "little ones" during the Tartan Day Parade earlier this afternoon on 6th Avenue. Pipers, drummers, pipe bands, organizations, and proud Westies & Scotties participated in Tartan Week's main event - New York's National Tartan Day Parade -- the largest Scottish celebration in Manhattan and one of the largest Scottish parades in the world. Unique among parades, the NY Tartan Day Parade features full pipe bands and individual pipers and drummers from around the world. Last year’s parade participants hailed from Scotland, Australia, Canada, England, France, Switzerland, Pakistan and the U.S.