Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Dakota

The building has high gables and deep roofs with a profusion of dormers, terracotta spandrels and panels, niches, balconies and balustrades giving it a North German Renaissance character.
The Dakota's entrance where former Beatle John Lennon was shot on December 8, 1980 by Mark David Chapman. As of 2009, Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono still has an apartment in the building.
Detail of the Iron Fence
Tourists snapping pictures of The Dakota from a double decker tourist bus

One of the most popular tourist attraction on the Upper Westside of Manhattan is The Dakota, an apartment building located in the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West. I took these photos of the historic building earlier this morning on my way to Central Park.
From wikipedia:
The architectural firm of Henry Janeway Hardenbergh was commissioned to do the design for Edward Clark, head of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. The firm also designed the Plaza Hotel. The building's high gables and deep roofs with a profusion of dormers, terracotta spandrels and panels, niches, balconies and balustrades give it a North German Renaissance character, an echo of a Hanseatic townhall. Nevertheless, its layout and floor plan betray a strong influence of French architectural trends in housing design that had become known in New York in the 1870s. According to popular legend, the Dakota was so named because at the time it was built, the Upper West Side of Manhattan was sparsely inhabited and considered as remote as the Dakota Territory. However, the earliest recorded appearance of this account is in a 1933 newspaper story. It is more likely that the building was named "The Dakota" because of Clark's fondness for the names of the new western states and territories. High above the 72nd Street entrance, the figure of a Dakota Indian keeps watch. The Dakota was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The Dakota is built in a square-shape around a central courtyard, accessible through the arched passage of the main entrance, a porte cochère large enough that horse-drawn carriages could pass through, letting their passengers disembark sheltered from the weather. In the Dakota multi-story stable building at 72nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, elevators lifted carriages to upper floors. The "Dakota Stables" building was still in operation as a garage until February 2007, but it is now slated to be developed by the Related Companies into a multimillion dollar condominium project. The general layout of the apartments is also in the French style of the period, with all major rooms not only connected to each other en filade in the traditional way, but also accessible from a hall or corridor, an arrangement that allowed a natural migration for guests from one room to another, especially on festive occasions, yet gave service staff discreet separate circulation patterns that offered service access to the main rooms. The principal rooms, such as parlors or the master bedroom, face the street, while the dining room, kitchen, and other auxiliary rooms are oriented towards the courtyard. Apartments are thus aired from two sides, which was a relative novelty in New York at the time. (In the Stuyvesant building, which was built in 1869, a mere ten years earlier, and which is considered New York's first apartment building in the French style, many apartments have windows to one side only.) Some of the drawing rooms were 49 ft (15 m) long, and many of the ceilings are 14 ft (4.3 m) high; the floors are inlaid with mahogany, oak, and cherry (although in the apartment of Clark, the building's founder, some floors were famously inlaid with sterling silver). Originally, the Dakota had 65 apartments with four to twenty rooms, no two alike. These apartments are accessed by staircases and elevators placed in the four corners of the courtyard. Separate service stairs and elevators serving the kitchens are located in mid-block. Built to cater for the well-to-do, the Dakota featured many amenities and a modern infrastructure that was exceptional for the time. The building has a large dining hall; meals could also be sent up to the apartments by dumbwaiters. Electricity was generated by an in-house power plant, and the building has central heating. Besides servants' quarters, there was a playroom and a gymnasium under the roof. (In later years, these spaces on the tenth floor were—for economic reasons—converted into apartments, too.) The lot of the Dakota also comprised a garden and private croquet lawns and a tennis court behind the building between 72nd and 73rd Streets.
In several movies, the exterior of the Dakota has been featured including Rosemary's Baby directed by Roman Polanski, and Vanilla Sky, directed by Cameron Crowe.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Armors for Man and Horse

These are armors for man and horse made of etched steel created by German armorer, Wolfgang Grosschedel (1517-1562). I took this photo at the Arms and Armor Room of the Metropolitan Museum of Art last Sunday. Dated 1535, the man's armor is stamped with Grosschedel's personal mark. The etched decoration includes human figures and ornaments copied from engravings by the German printmaker Barthel Beham (1502-1540).
Incidentally, a model was arrested the other day, just seconds after she stripped naked in this same Arms and Armor Room for Zach Hyman, a professional photographer who specializes in nude photoshoots in public places.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bryant Park After Work: Ethan Lipton and His Orchestra

Yesterday evening, ETHAN LIPTON and HIS ORCHESTRA performed at Bryant Park's Fountain Terrace, as part of the Bryant Park After Work concert series. BRYANT PARK AFTER WORK showcases an eclectic selection of music performed by talented artists from the New York Area. Timeout New York writes, "It's always enjoyable when a singer-songwriter throws humor into his misery."
NPR's Weekend Edition describes Ethan Lipton's music as "hilarious, dark, sophisticated, schleppy and sad all at once...songs that take the mundane of life and twist it."
Bryant Park is situated behind the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan, between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Christmas in August: 2009 Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular Kick Off with the Rockettes and NY Giants Kicker Lawrence Tynes

The Rockettes

Special guest, New York Giants kicker, Lawrence Tynes

Kids and their parents joined the Rockettes forming
New York's longest kick line on 6th Avenue

NY Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes kicking off the 2009 Christmas Spectacular

Earlier this afternoon, the ROCKETTES, SANTA CLAUS, and the NY GIANTS kicker LAWRENCE TYNES officially kicked off (literally) the 2009 Radio City Christmas Spectacular on 6th Avenue, in front of the Radio City Music Hall. Traffic was stopped on 6th Avenue for the event. Special guest was NY Giants kicker, Lawrence Tynes. The Rockettes performed a special number to the delight of a big crowd on 6th Avenue. The event concluded with the creation of NY's longest kick line, creating a truly impressive "line-up" on Sixth Avenue, complete with snow (fake, of course).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cantor Roof Garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Roxy Paine's "Maelstrom"

Rooftop view of verdant trees in Central Park and the skyline of midtown Manhattan

The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden of the MetropolitanMuseum of Art is perched over the sea of Central Park's trees, and offers a great panoramic view of the midtown Manhattan skyline. It is located on the fifth floor of the Met via the elevator in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Galleries. The roof garden serves cocktail and sandwiches and is open from May through late fall, weather permitting. Hours are: Friday and Saturday: 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.; Martini Bar: 5:30–8:00 p.m.; Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 10:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; Closed Mondays.
Currently on view at the rooftop garden until November is Roxy Paine's "Maelstrom."
From the Met's website:
American artist Roxy Paine (b. 1966) has created a 130-foot-long by 45-foot-wide stainless-steel sculpture, especially for the Museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. Giving viewers the sense of being immersed in the midst of a cataclysmic force of nature, Maelstrom (2009) is Paine’s largest and most ambitious work to date. The latest in a diverse body of work, this sculpture is one of the artist’s Dendroids based on systems such as vascular networks, tree roots, industrial piping, and fungal mycelia. Set against Central Park and its architectural backdrop, the installation explores the interplay between the natural world and the built environment amid nature’s inherently chaotic processes.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

5 in 1

Installed at One Police Plaza in downtown Manhattan is "5 in 1", a red painted CorTen steel sculpture by TONY ROSENTHAL. The disc interiors of "5 in 1", 1973-74, are made with square steel tubing. The piece measures 35 x 28 x 42 feet. The project was organized by the architectural firm, Gruzen & Partners, and the landscape architect, M. Paul Friedberg.
Mr. Rosenthal, sculptor of public art died last month of stroke at the age of 94. He created the "Alamo", the popular revolving black cube in Astor Place in the East Village. His works of public sculpture are installed in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and other cities.Click here for Mr. Rosenthal's website.

From the New York Times:
Mr. Rosenthal is also represented in Manhattan by “Rondo” (1969), the gleaming bronze circle in front of the New York Public Library’s branch on East 58th Street; “5 in 1” (1973) at Police Plaza; “SteelPark” (1980) at 80th Street near First Avenue; and “Hammarskjold,” originally installed at Hammarskjold Plaza in 1977 but acquired the next year by the Fashion Institute of Technology on Seventh Avenue at 27th Street.
Bernard Rosenthal was born in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago. He took sculpture classes at the Art Institute of Chicago during high school and decided on his career after seeing plaster reproductions of the work of the Russian sculptor Alexander Archipenko at the University of Michigan, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1936.
On returning to Chicago, he approached Archipenko, who was living in Chicago at the time, and arranged to receive lessons in exchange for casting some of Archipenko’s terra-cotta figures. Mr. Rosenthal, who worked in a semirealistic figurative style, did his first commission, “A Nubian Slave,” for the Elgin Watch Company building at the 1939 World’s Fair. Soon after he enrolled in Cranbrook Academy of Art, eager to study with the figurative sculptor Carl Milles.
In World War II Mr. Rosenthal was shipped by the Army Corps of Engineers to Britain, where he commanded a unit of artists making topographic models. At the end of the war he taught art to soldiers waiting to return home from France.
In 1946 he married Halina Kolowicz, a student in one of his classes, who, after he later moved to New York, became president of the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts. She died in 1991. His wife, Cynthia, is his only immediate survivor.
Encouraged by Charles and Ray Eames, whom he had befriended at Cranbrook, Mr. Rosenthal moved to Los Angeles, where he found himself in great demand to produce sculpture for the many buildings going up in Los Angeles. In 1952 he became the first instructor of sculpture at the University of California, Los Angeles.
His work has been included in exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
In 1960, as his style turned to geometric abstraction, he moved to New York and began showing with the dealer Sam Kootz, who persuaded him to use his nickname, Tony, professionally. He was later represented by Knoedler and André Emmerich. In 2001 he moved to Southampton.
Mr. Rosenthal exhibited all over the world. In 1999 Rizzoli published a monograph about his work, “Tony Rosenthal,” with a forward by Edward Albee.
A hard-working and prolific artist into his 90s, he found that one honor eluded him.
“He never had a retrospective, but that’s all right,” Mr. Levene said. “He has one every day on the streets of New York.”

Friday, August 21, 2009

Broadway Revival of HAIR: the Understudy, Paris Remillard Shines

The Hirschfeld Theatre Marquee

I caught this evening's performance of the Tony Award winning revival of the Broadway musical HAIR at the Hirschfeld Theatre on 45th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues). Even though I didn't have any nostalgia for the '60s, I enjoyed this musical with a score including such familiar songs like "Let the Sun Shine In," "Aquarius," "Hair" and "Good Morning Starshine." The musical tells about a group of hopeful, free-spirited young people who advocate a lifestyle of pacifism and free-love in a society riddled with intolerance and brutality during the Vietnam War in the 60s and 70s. The message of hope, peace and change continue to be relevant today. The very talented cast included powerful-voiced WILL SWENSON, SASHA ALLEN, DARIUS NICHOLS, BRYCE RYNESS, CAISSIE LEVY, KACIE SHEIK. WILL SWENSON was very charismatic as Berger. At this performance, the role created by Tony Award nominee GAVIN CREEL was performed by understudy, PARIS REMILLARD who was brilliant and mesmerizing in the show. It was reported that Mr. Creel injured his ankle during the August 19 matinee. The staging was interactive, and the lighting design was superb. I especially liked the dramatic lighting at the end of the second act. There was also one distinct display of full-frontal nudity. After the curtain call, the audience members were encouraged to climb on stage, let their hair down, and join the cast in joyous singing and dancing. And they did.
Here are some of the reviews:
Variety - “The enhanced production now at the Al Hirschfeld is sharper, fuller and even more emotionally charged. Director Diane Paulus and her prodigiously talented cast connect with the material in ways that cut right to the 1967 rock musical’s heart, generating tremendous energy that radiates to the rafters."
New York Times - “But what distinguishes “Hair” from other recent shows about being young is the illusion it sustains of rawness and immediacy, an un-self-conscious sense of the most self-conscious chapter in a person’s life.”

USA TODAY - "The new Public Theater revival ( * * * * out of four), which opened Tuesday at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, not only avoids potential obstacles but finds a resonance in Hair beyond any parallels between the turbulent '60s and our own troubled times. What director Diane Paulus and her flawless cast have achieved is a testament to the indomitability and transience of youth, with all the blissful exuberance and aching poignance that entails."
Boston Globe - “But it has not, to put it mildly, aged well. What may once have seemed winningly ingenuous and gently rebellious now feels unbearably naive and unforgivably glib. The antiwar sentiments of the show are still painfully relevant but uselessly one-dimensional, and beyond that there’s … what? Drug jokes, sex jokes, squares-vs.-hippie jokes, and a lot of other stuff that must have sounded a little corny even the first time around.”
Lottery for Box-Seat Tickets:
The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical has established a pre-performance ticket lottery for box-seat tickets, aptly renamed "BE-IN BOXES." Those wishing to purchase these tickets are asked to show up at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre 2 1/2 hours before each performance for a drawing that will take place 2 hours before curtain. For every performance, a limited number of lucky audience members will receive $25 "be-in box" tickets, promising to make their experience of the show both affordable and unique.