Sunday, August 31, 2008

Guggenheim Museum exterior restoration

Taken from inside a bus a week ago, the grayscale photo above shows that the scaffolding for the exterior restoration of the GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM has come down. The 2007-2008 restoration primarily addresses the exterior of the original building and the infrastructure. This includes the skylights, windows, doors, concrete and gunite facades and exterior sidewalk, as well as the climate-control. The goal will be to preserve as much significant historical fabric of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as possible, while accomplishing necessary repairs and attaining a suitable environment for the building’s continuing use as a museum. The $29 million restoration is made possible through the support of Peter B. Lewis, the Board of Trustees of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the City of New York and the State of New York. 

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bethesda Fountain in the Summer

When I visited the Bethesda Terrace in Central Park a couple of weeks ago, I took photos of the fountain including the big crowd watching the street performers.
Bethesda Fountain rises high above Bethesda Terrace, looking over the hundreds of visitors that come every day to enjoy the view of the Lake and relax at the "heart" of the Central Park. The sculpture that tops it, Angel of Waters, was designed by Emma Stebbins in 1873 and is one of the most recognizable icons in the entire park. Stebbins designed the statue to celebrate the new Croton Aqueduct which not only fed the fountain, but also supplied fresh water to a city that had long been plagued by infectious diseases caused by an unsafe water supply.
Besides being a favorite destination of park visitors in search of a cool place to spend a summer afternoon The Fountain is also a celebrity in its own right. It has probably appeared in more movies than any other monument in the park, exuding a timeless romantic charm that makes it a perfect backdrop for cinematographers. Literally dozens of well known movie scenes have been shot here including: Ransom, One Fine Day, Tommy Boy, Bullets over Broadway and Hair. In fact in, the 1973 feature “Godspell”, the fountain becomes a character in its own right, with the newly recruited disciples splashing joyously around in the pool. It is a fantasy that has surely occurred to generations of summertime vistors.
Location: Mid-Park at 72nd Street

Friday, August 29, 2008

Outdoor Exhibition of HOME DELIVERY: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling

Post-Hurricane Katrina House
Post-hurricane Katrina House
Cellophane House
Cellophane House
Micro Compact Home
Micro Compact Home
These are photos I made of the five contemporary houses constructed in a lot adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art. The houses form the outdoor section of MoMA's innovative show, "Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling." Selected from submissions from 500 architects and firms, each house demonstrates an aspect of prefabrication made possible by the latest computer and manufacturing techniques.
Kieran Timberlake Architects's Cellophane House is a freestanding, multi-story urban town house with balconies, constructed of a system of off-the-shelf aluminum frames snapped together with steel connectors, slide-in windows, and polyethylene-sheet side walls and flooring. What is not transparent is translucent: radiant blocks of light in a vertical formation, topped by solar connectors.
The house called System3 is designed by Oskar Leo Kaufmann and Albert Ruf as a long, rectangular, single unit incorporating "serving spaces," such as the kitchen and bathroom, which are manufactured separately as modular units and assembled on-site with open, "naked"-space living areas. (The catalog alludes to Louis Kahn's famous "servant" and "served" areas.) It all fits handily into a shipping container for delivery, and includes furniture designed by the architects that gives the living space a quiet elegance. The units can be stacked to accommodate more rooms. Nothing is flimsy here; the thickness of the wooden walls is visible by means of the porthole windows that have been punched through them.
In designing his one-room, post-Hurricane Katrina House for New Orleans, Lawrence Sass devised a system of high-speed, precise laser cutters to shape plywood panels into pieces with grooves and joints that can be hammered into place. This is a new approach to a vernacular form that incorporates all the decorative arabesques and scrolls found on the porch of a typical New Orleans shotgun house.
The smallest house is Richard Horden's Micro Compact Home, a 9-foot cube, it has a timber frame clad in panels of flat, anodized aluminum sheets. The interior, in cool gray PVC and aluminum, serves all of the functions Mr. Horden devised with his students for an active but economical and clutter-free daily life: sleep, hygiene, food preparation, and work. Windows provide ample ventilation and views.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


One of the pieces on display at the MOMA's sculpture garden is called MIDDAY by SIR ANTHONY CARO. The piece is made of painted steel, 7' 7 3/4" x 37 3/8" x 12' 1 3/4" (233.1 x 95 x 370.2 cm). Sir Anthony Caro, (born 8 March 1924 in New Malden, Surrey) is an English, abstract sculptor whose work is characterised by assemblies of metal using 'found' industrial objects. Caro was educated at Charterhouse School and Christ's College, Cambridge, earning a degree in engineering. In 1946, after time in the Royal Navy, he started at the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) to study sculpture for a year. He transferred to the Royal Academy Schools in 1947, staying until 1952. Anthony Caro found modernism when working as an assistant to Henry Moore in the 1950s. After being introduced to the American sculptor David Smith in the early 1960s, he abandoned his earlier figurative work and started constructing sculptures by welding or bolting together collections of prefabricated metal, such as I-beams, steel plates and meshes. Often the finished piece is then painted in a bold flat colour.
Caro found international success in the late 1950s and for a time was popular in the US. He was also influential as a tutor at St Martins School of Art, now Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London inspiring a younger generation of abstract British Sculptors led by his one time assistant Phillip King as well as reaction group including Bruce McLean, Barry Flanagan, Richard Long and Gilbert and George. He and several former students were asked to join the seminal 1966 show at the Jewish Museum in New York entitled, "Primary Structures" representing the British influence on the "New Art."
Caro taught at Bennington College from 1963 to 1965, along with painter Jules Olitski and sculptor David Smith.
He is often credited with the significant innovation of removing the sculpture from its plinth, although Smith and Brancusi had both previously taken steps in the same direction. Caro's sculptures are usually self supporting and sit directly on the floor. In doing so they remove a barrier between the work and the viewer, who is invited to approach and interact with the sculpture from all sides. In the 1980s, Caro's work changed direction by introducing more literal elements with a series of figures drawn from classical Greece. Latterly he has also attempted large scale installation pieces. One of these large pieces, Sea Music, stands on the quay at Poole in Dorset. To mark his 80th birthday, a retrospective exhibition was organized by the Tate Gallery in 2005.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I took these photos of the marquee at the Broadhurst Theatre where previews of the much-anticipated play EQUUS begins in a little more than a week. The marquee features artwork in which the naked upper body of DANIEL RADCLIFFE, the show's star, is eerily merged with a horse’s head. 

Production: Equus, by Peter Shaffer, directed by Thea Sharrock, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Richard Griffiths, Kate Mulgrew, Anna Camp, Carolyn McCormick, Lorenzo Pisoni and T. Ryder Smith.
Previews: September 5, 2008
Opening: September 25, 2008
Closing: February 9, 2009
Venue: Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths — who played to sold-out crowds in the 2007 London revival of Shaffer's 1973 drama — reprise their work for this Broadway transfer. Based upon a true account told to the playwright by a friend, Equus is the story of psychiatrist Martin Dysart who investigates the blinding of six horses, a savage act committed by an unassuming 17-year-old stable boy, Alan Strang, whose family life is rife with bigotry and religious fervor. As Dysart exposes the truths behind the boy's demons, he finds himself face-to-face with his own.

Monday, August 25, 2008

PETE SEEGER in concert: 25th Annual Roots of American Music Festival

Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger and his grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger
Tao Rodriguez-Seeger
One of the youngest member of the audience

Last Sunday morning, I attended the 25th Annual Root of American Music Festival at Lincoln Center Out of Doors featuring PETE SEEGER, his grandson TAO RODRIGUEZ-SEEGER, and GUY DAVIS together in a special family concert. Pete Seeger is considered a national treasure. He is America's best-loved folk singer, a political activist, and a key figure in the mid-20th century American music revival. During the early 50s, he was a member of THE WEAVERS. As a composer, he is best known for the songs WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE, IF I HAD A HAMMER, and TURN, TURN, TURN. In December 1994, he received the nation's highest artistic honors at the Kennedy Center. In 1996, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. NYC has been home to Pete Seeger singing for children since his ground-breaking Town Hall concerts in the early '60s. He's been called the "Pied Piper of American Folk Music," and when you hear him lead the audience of children from 8 - 80 in the chorus, you understand how apt the title is. The iconic American music master leads a sing-along of folk favorites for the whole family, joined by his grandson, the "Alt-Timey" Tao Rodriguez-Seeger (co-founder of The Mammals) and family friend and protégé, acoustic bluesman Guy Davis.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


These are some of the images I made from the New York Turkish Festival in Central Park (97th Street and Fifth Avenue) earlier today. The mission of the festival is to display the Turkish cultures with all its aspects, to inform and entertain the attendants and children, and serve as a scientific, artistic, and cultural resource. The festival had a broad content: displays, artworks, craftworks, books, music, Turkish food, children's playground, Turkish folk dances and Ottoman Band, Turkish shadow theater, parade, and evening concert. Throughout the event there were performances on the stage. Also pictured above are some of the oil wrestlers before the traditional Turkish tournament began. There is only one wrestling tournament in the world at which the contestants use tons of olive oil. It is held yearly in western Turkey, and its tradition reaches far back into history.
According to English thinker Bertrand Russel, the Roman Empire collapsed due to the infected mosquitoes that spread Malaria. In those times, living at sea level, to 400m above sea level was close to impossible. Even mosquito nets, burning animal feces, standing in smoke during sundown were not sufficient for complete protection from mosquitoes. The oil extracted from a vegetable particular to the Mediterranean region: "the olive," was used in cooking and for protection from mosquitoes. When humans learned to mix a specific ingredient "kafur" with olive oil for full protection from mosquitoes, the Roman Empire was long gone. The people of Anatolia who spent day by day applying olive oil on to their bodies, continued to wrestle with their bodies oiled, and a new style of wrestling surfaced from this condition: "oil wrestling."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Balloon Man

A colorful capture of a Balloon Man at a street fair on 57th Street in Manhattan.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Turning heads on Park Avenue are three sculptures each entitled HEAD by internationally renowned artist JUN KANEKO. He is known for his large ceramic sculptures, like the HEADS that are on view in the landscaped medians at 52nd, 53rd, and 54th streets until October 31. Japanese-born Kaneko has been based in Omaha, Nebraska since 1986. His artwork appears in numerous international and national solo and group exhibitions annually, and is included in more than seventy museum collections. He has realized over thirty public art commissions in the United States and Japan and is the recipient of national, state, and organization fellowships.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Youtube posted by hungerpangs12

This has nothing to do with NYC, but in commemoration of Ninoy Aquino's 25th Death Anniversary in my native Philippines, the "I Am Ninoy" campaign was initiated to inspire our young people to play their part and be a hero in their own way. I am Ninoy. I am Pinoy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Little Mermaid

We recently caught a performance of Disney's "The Little Mermaid" on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontane Theater. 
Below is Ben Brantley's review of the musical (New York Times):
Fish Out of Water in the Deep Blue Sea
Loved the shoes. Loathed the show. O.K., I exaggerate. I didn’t like the shoes all that much. But the wheel-heeled footwear known as merblades, which allow stage-bound dancers to simulate gliding underwater, provides the only remotely graceful elements in the musical blunderbuss called “Disney’s The Little Mermaid,” which opened on Thursday at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater.
A variation on Heelys, a skate hybrid popular among schoolchildren and teenagers who are probably way too old for this production, merblades endow their wearers with the ability to skim hard surfaces with a near-balletic lightness. Unfortunately, a state of lightness is difficult to sustain when you’re being attacked on all sides by an aggressive ocean that appears to be made of hard plastic.
The get-out-of-my-way water, which periodically slides in like so many push-button car windows, is only one of the obstructions to be wrestled with by the cast members playing fish, seabirds and merfolk in Disney’s charm-free $15 million adaptation of its charming 1989 animated movie of the same title.
Directed by Francesca Zambello, this “Little Mermaid” burdens its performers with ungainly guess-what-I-am costumes (by Tatiana Noginova) and a distracting set (by George Tsypin) awash in pastels gone sour and unidentifiable giant tchotchkes that suggest a Luau Lounge whipped up by an acid-head heiress in the 1960s. The whole enterprise is soaked in that sparkly garishness that only a very young child — or possibly a tackiness-worshiping drag queen — might find pretty.
Come to think of it, the motto of this production, the latest and least of the Disney musicals to besiege Broadway since “Beauty and the Beast” opened in 1994, could be, “You can never go broke underestimating the taste of preschoolers.” In 1989 the film of “The Little Mermaid,” which signaled a renaissance in Disney animation and featured songs by the composer Alan Menken and the lyricist Howard Ashman that were regularly described as “Broadway-caliber,” was heralded as that rare fairy-tale cartoon that could be enjoyed just as much by grown-ups as by children. (Hey, I saw it three times.)
But in a perverse process of devolution “The Little Mermaid” arrives on Broadway stripped of the movie’s generation-crossing appeal. Coherence of plot, endearing quirks of character, even the melodious wit of the original score (supplemented by new, substandard songs by Mr. Menken and the lyricist Glenn Slater) have been swallowed by an unfocused spectacle, more parade than narrative, that achieves the dubious miracle of translating an animated cartoon into something that feels like less than two dimensions.
Inspired by the darker and more cautionary Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, “The Little Mermaid” was Disney’s first animated film to feature a newly empowered breed of heroine who gets the prince but doesn’t need saving by him. In this case that’s Ariel (played here by Sierra Boggess), the title character, a princess of the deep who defies her mighty father, King Triton (Norm Lewis, underused and bare chested) to pursue the handsome Prince Eric (Sean Palmer), a nonmarine form of life, on land. To do so she must enlist the aid of Ursula (Sherie Rene Scott), the evil sea witch, who transforms Ariel’s fish tail into human legs — but at what price?
I’m not going to give you any more plot, because of limitations of space, but if you have any intention of seeing this musical, please rent the movie first, or you will be utterly, you know, at sea. Despite a new book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright, the ending, with its war-of-the-elements climax, is incomprehensible. And though the film’s supporting sea creatures, both frolicsome and dastardly, from the film, are all on board, it’s hard to figure out here just who and what they’re supposed to be.
Sebastian (Tituss Burgess), the Jiminy Crickett-like crab who is Ariel’s scolding sidekick, retains his trademark Caribbean accent but looks more like a lobster than a crab in his tiered shell suit. Scuttle, the malapropism-prone sea gull, looks like one of the Lollipop Kids from “The Wizard of Oz,” except for that beak on his hat. Flotsam (Tyler Maynard) and Jetsam (Derrick Baskin), Ursula’s electric-eel henchmen, resemble revelers at Limelight, the departed New York dance club, on a dinosaur-theme night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Outside the new 7 World Trade Center is a small plaza where a striking sculpture is located. It's called BALLOON FLOWER (Red) by internationally acclaimed artist, JEFF KOONS. Overlooking Ground Zero, the art installation is located in a park bounded by Greenwich Street, Vesey Street and West Broadway. The Balloon Flower consists of seven elements: six large blossom- or balloon-like shapes of various sizes, and one bar that can be taken as a flower stem. They are all aglow in bright red, so that they can see themselves and the world around them reflected. It's been said that the true appeal of the Balloon Flower is that it attracts people to look at it, and then reflects them back at themselves.

Jeff Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania. As a young man, Koons revered Salvador Dalí. Koons attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Maryland Institute College of Art, and studied painting. After college he worked as a Wall Street commodities broker, while establishing himself as an artist. He gained recognition in the 1980s, and subsequently set up a factory-like studio in a SoHo loft on the corner of Houston and Broadway in New York. This had over 30 staff, each assigned to a different aspect of producing his work—in a similar mode to both Andy Warhol's Factory and many Renaissance artists. Last year, his art piece "Hanging Heart" sold at Sotheby's auction house for $23.6 million becoming the most expensive piece by a living artist ever auctioned. It was bought by the Gagosian Gallery which also purchased another Koons sculpture entitled "Diamond (Blue)" for $11.8 million from Christie's auction house.

Monday, August 18, 2008

STREET SCENES: Kirchner and the Berlin Street

On exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) until November 10 are the paintings of ERNST LUDWIG KIRCHNER. Above is a photo taken outside the exhibit hall when I visited MOMA last Saturday.
Fom the MOMA website:
This exhibition brings together German Expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's renowned Street Scenes series, created between 1913 and 1915. Considered by many to be the highpoint of Kirchner's career as a whole, this series of seven paintings is showcased with sixty related prints and drawings. This series dates from Kirchner's Berlin period, when the effect of life in the metropolis brought about a dramatic change in his work. Known as the co-founder of the early Expressionist group Brücke, established in Dresden in 1905, Kirchner moved to Berlin in 1911. Here his sense of rebellion against the confining principles of academic painting and the stifling rules of bourgeois society took a new turn, as the charged atmosphere and energy of the city was felt in an expression of acute perspectives, jagged strokes, dense angular forms, and caustic color. The street life in Berlin, in particular the familiar presence of prostitutes, identified by their elaborate plumed hats, captured Kirchner's eye and inspired this spectacular series. Shown together for the first time in New York, these works exude the vitality, decadence, and underlying mood of imminent danger that characterized Berlin on the eve of World War I.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Featured in yesterday's LINCOL CENTER OUT OF DOORS was Douglas Elkins' witty take on "The Sound of Music" at Damrosch Park. The photos above were taken during one of the dance numbers and the curtain call. The dancers performed to the songs from the soundtrack to “The Sound of Music.” The performances were fun and enjoyable sendups of the beloved musical's lyrics and characters. This season's programs offer something for absolutely everyone, from tributes to cultural icons to cross-cultural collaborations that cross the lines of genre and geography.

Review from the New York Times (Alastair Macaulay):
Are there sociologists at work tracing the influence of Julie Andrews on child consciousness over the last five decades? The recent London and New York stage productions of “Mary Poppins,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “The Sound of Music” are all part of this phenomenon, as is the British cult show “Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music.”

The choreographer Doug Elkins’s “Fräulein Maria” (seen on Saturday night) helps us to label this aspect of culture “Acknowledge Your Own Inner Julie Andrews.” The audience gurgles with joy as the dancers hold up lengths of fabric to resemble the Alpine skyline; a white shirt is thrown over one summit to become a peak of snow. Then, yes, out comes a big shaven-headed man, then a woman, then another woman, all dressed identically as Julie, I mean Maria.

It’s all so cheerfully emblematic of a higher silliness that it’s almost wonderful, and the audience loves boosting it with participation and applause. Key roles are played with gender-swapping and multiple casts. The giddy campiness of it all overflows when the eldest von Trapp girl, played by a large man receiving the attentions of an equally large man, responds to his (lip-synched) declaration of “I am 16, going on 17” by eagerly producing a tape measure to check out his veracity.

Still, I wasn’t alone in tiring of it. (A 9-year-old boy beside me joined in the songs but was baffled by the dances.) Mr. Elkins’s dancers just aren’t precise enough to make the correspondence of dance to words or music delicious. And he doesn’t quite know how to acknowledge his own inner Julie: he keeps starting to release all that innocent hills-are-alive enthusiasm but then undercuts the romance with smart-aleck jokes.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


PLAY, RUN, WALK. BIKE, BREATHE. Today is another day of SUMMER STREETS. It's a new city program that temporarily opens a 6.9 mile car-free route from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street. Featuring connections to Central Park and other open spaces, Summer Streets give New Yorkers unprecedented access to the streets for exercise and exploration from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on three consecutive Saturdays in August, the 9th, 16th and 23rd. Major cross-town streets remain open for vehicles that need to cross the route. The program was announced previously by Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Sadik-Khan who were joined by Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Lance Armstrong and David Byrne. I took the photos above on PARK AVENUE earlier today. The street was full of cyclists, walkers, joggers and all sorts of impromptu car-free cavorting.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Alexander Calder's SAURIEN

This is Alexander Calder's sculpture called “Saurien.” A bright orange stabile from 1975, this piece is spectacularly placed underneath the cantilevered corner of a skyscraper on the corner of 57th Street and Madison Avenue.
Born in Philadelphia in 1898, Alexander Calder was the second child of artist parents. His father, sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder, received a number of public commissions and so, throughout Calder's childhood, the family traveled often. Calder studied to become an engineer, but in his early twenties decided to pursue a career as an artist. He began by developing a new method of sculpting: by bending and twisting wire, he essentially "drew" three-dimensional figures in space. He lived in Paris from 1926 to 1933, where he created his famous Cirque Calder and had his first solo gallery shows. In 1933, Calder and his wife, Louisa, moved to Roxbury, Connecticut, where he continued to live and work for the rest of his life. His shift toward abstraction, inspired by a visit to Piet Mondrian's studio in 1930, resulted in his invention of mobiles and stabiles, two bodies of work that he continued to develop in scale. Calder's many permanent public sculptures - in Chicago, Paris, Mexico City, Montreal, Jerusalem, and other cities all over the world - are some of the most beloved and important works of the 20th century.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

View from the Loeb Boathouse

When we recently visited the Loeb Boathouse Restaurant, a famous icon of Central Park, I took this image of the view of the lake.
Many diners prefer the deck where they can sit back and watch the rowboats and occasional gondola drift by on the Lake as they enjoy their meal. The Bethesda Terrace can be seen in the distance.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008


On display at NIKETOWN on 57th Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue are country split windrunner jackets in country-specific patterns. The idea is to allow for the ultimate remix, splitting the jacket and re-combining colors and elements of a country's flag with another to create one's own mash-up culture style.

Niketown has been described as a fusion of fashion and sports arena, Nike's "motivational retail environment" and a large sports-gear emporium. Inspirational quotes in the floor, computer-driven foot sizers, and a heart-pumping movie shown on an enormous screen in the entry atrium make it hard to leave without something in the latest wick-away fabric or footwear design. Niketown is attractive, with five floors of shoes and athletic wear displayed in Lucite and polished-metal surroundings. "Museum" cases display Sneakers of the Rich and Famous, and you're assailed by images of celebrity pitchmen and women.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 50th Anniversary

Today, the ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER celebrates its 50th Anniversary with free dance and drumming classes, food, prizes, kids' activities on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. I took photos of the scenes at the celebration earlier this afternoon.