Guess Like The Jeans. Flavor Like Pralines.

Of course something like denim has more than permeated pop culture and fashion brand’s influence on the landscape has been well noted. Few brands in the 90s were as noted as Guess. But at this exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology, brands from  several eras  are featured.

Denim is perennial style, and this is a complete timeline of #denimhistory . From original work styles to 70s glam, the exhibit eventually ends with modern styles. I didn’t see JNCO represented, but these Moschinos below gave all the joy a visitor could want.

 

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Moschino Jeans? Dancehall Vibes Anyone? FIT, February 2016

 

One Week Since You Looked At Me

Hank Willis Thomas UnbrandedLast week was an ending for all sorts of examinations of the advertising world. Of course, I’m referencing Mad Men, one of my favorite shows of the last 8 years (I’ve seen every episode).  But in other examinations of whiteness and advertising, Hank Willis Thomas’s show Un-Branded: A Century of White Women, at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York also ended. This is but one of many in Thomas’s series that looks at advertising with a critical eye. In this series, white women were the overall subject with one ad featured for each year between 1915 and 2015. Several questions were left unanswered without the help of writing on the wall. This was surely a show left up  to the viewer’s interpretation.

There were definitely some recognizable ads, and others…not so much. This one, titled The Taming of the Shrewd by Thomas, surely puts an interesting play on the Shakespeare play, The Taming of the Shrew. (Also see: my current work life. All these Petruchios think I’m Kate!).

The Taming of the Shrewd

The Taming of the Shrewd

But of course as an 80’s baby, my favorite Kate and Petruchio ever are Kat and Patrick of Padua High played by Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger.

10 Things I Hate About You, Source: Pretty52.com

10 Things I Hate About You, Source: Pretty52.com

Sigh so in Mad Men, Shakespeare, and advertising white women stay being played. If you want to see the lives of the other I suggest you look for Unbranded when it shows up in another showing or parts play out in an exhibit.  Or you know, read a book- but not Shakespeare, because his Moors are male.

Hold Me Closer Tiny Dancer

The New Whitney Museum is open, and amaaaaaaaazing (Oprah voice emphasis) ! I swore I wouldn’t visit for the first month, because- crowds, ugggh. But, I broke that promise to myself and took a bit out of an afternoon to wander through the exhibit America is Hard to See. The premise of viewing America through the Whitney’s permanent collection seemed daunting and migraine inducing at first. I entered all like “Error: CANNOT COMPUTE.”  But as I strolled through the floors, the myriad of connections that make up the nation began to seem natural.

Of course it didn’t take me long to find the first piece I wanted to pose with. Richmond Barthes’ “African Dancer” was near the start of the exhibit and was poise and grace and all that jazz in plaster sculpture form.  According to the didactic this piece was most likely inspired by this bomb Langston Hughes poem, “Danse Africaine.”

The low beating of the tom-toms,  The slow beating of the tom-toms,  Low…slow  Slow…low—  Stirs your blood.  Dance!  A night-veiled girl  Whirls softly into a  Circle of light.  Whirls softly…slowly,  Like a wisp of smoke around the fire—  And the tom-toms beat,  And the tom-toms beat,  And the low beating of the tom-toms  Stirs your blood.

The low beating of the tom-toms,
The slow beating of the tom-toms,
Low…slow
Slow…low—
Stirs your blood.
Dance!
A night-veiled girl
Whirls softly into a
Circle of light.
Whirls softly…slowly,
Like a wisp of smoke around the fire—
And the tom-toms beat,
And the tom-toms beat,
And the low beating of the tom-toms
Stirs your blood.

All of this got me to thinking about other images of dance that have stuck with me through the years.

In sculpture there’s another famous tiny dancer by Degas. He’s also known for his paintings of dancers by color.

Edgar Degas Little Dancer

In contemporary art we can recall the Ernie Barnes of Good Times fame. Those Keith Haring figures seem to get down as well.

And for those of you surviving and thriving in Philly, I came across this entire exhibit dedicated to dance from the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s archives.
Boogieeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!

They’re The World’s Most Fearsome Fighting Team

Everything we learned about turtles as kids completely did not jive with the Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles. Somehow these notoriously slow creatures morphed into fierce fighters under the mentorship of a rat.

Then they ended up in an environmental art piece at New Museum’s 2015 Triennial. Timeless Alex (2015) by Eduardo Navarros looks at life from a turtle’s point of view, which is the antithesis to the crazy fast digital life we lead.

 

Maybe there’s a lesson for all of us in this. Like find the piece within, go in on some pizza, and you too can take on Shredder!

 

 

 

The New Museum’s Triennial is on view through May 24th.

We Wear the Mask

We Wear the Mask

WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

-Paul Laurence Dunbar

Selected pieces featuring masks, currently on display at The Studio Museum in Harlem in the Exhibition “Concealed” until June 18, 2015.

Why Won’t You Braid My Hair???

Kendrick Lamar, Rolling Stone Cover March 26 2015

Kendrick Lamar, Rolling Stone Cover March 26 2015

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Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell star in Get Hard.

Spring Trends? It looks like braids are in vogue. But aren’t they always?

Bound, Kehinde Wiley at Brooklyn Museum 2015

Bound, Kehinde Wiley at Brooklyn Museum 2015

Bound, Kehinde Wiley at Brooklyn Museum 2015

Bound, Kehinde Wiley at Brooklyn Museum 2015

Maybe it get’s deeper.

Juliana Huxtable Sculpture by Frank Benson, New Museum Triennial Spring 2015

Juliana Huxtable Sculpture by Frank Benson, New Museum Triennial Spring 2015

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So media really loves men getting their hair braided?

Kehinde Wiley’s work is on display at the Brooklyn Museum in Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic through May 24, 2015. Juliana Huxtable is one of many artists at the New Museum of Contemporary Art’s 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience also on display through  May 24, 2015.

Off With Their Heads…

Kehinde Wiley is known for his contemporary urban takes on classic art. Particularly popular has been his World Series where he visited countries including Israel, China, Jamaica, and Haiti and painted subjects he met on the street. If you somehow haven’t seen his work yet, you must get going to the Brooklyn Museum where a collection of Wiley’s work is currently on display. The exhibit includes old favorites as well as some newer pieces ranging from paintings to stained glass to sculptures, and even some video.

Judith and Holofernes from the series, An Economy of Grace

Judith and Holofernes from the series, An Economy of Grace

Judith and Holofernes is a piece that takes on several classical works that depict a beheading as described in the book of Judith (one of the books that isn’t part of the traditional Bible). Wikipedia has the story for you. Read it, or just dance till you’re dead.

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic is currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum until May 24th, 2015.

Speaking of People

Johnson Publishing Company was founded in 1942 by John H. Johnson and started with the publication of the Negro Digest. Eventually, the company would publish their flagship publications, Ebony and Jet.

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Speaking of People: Ebony, Jet, and Contemporary Art is currently an exhibit at the Studio Museum of Harlem that features art informed by the information in these pages.  The title of the exhibit gets its name from a monthly feature in Ebony Magazine where updates on prominent African Americans were featured. The catalogue for the exhibit features essays by prominent artists.   Artists featured in the exhibit include Ellen Gallagher, Theaster Gates, Lyle Ashton Harris,  Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Ayanah Moor, Lorna Simpson, Martine Syms, Hank Willis Thomas, and  Mickalene Thomas.


Recent news that Johnson Publishing Company is selling it’s photo archives, makes the exhibit even more resonant.

Speaking of People: Ebony, Jet, and Contemporary Art is on display at the Studio Museum of Harlem through March 8, 2015.

No Woman, No Cry

Chris Ofili: Night and Day is a retrospective at the New Museum of the oft-praised British artist’s work. So much beautiful work, so much elephant dung, so much current commentary to be gleaned from his work.

Chris Ofili's No Woman, No Cry 1998

Chris Ofili’s No Woman, No Cry 1998

This piece was created in 1998 as a tribute to Stephen Lawrence, a London teenage who was murdered on a public bus in a racially motivated attack in 1993. The botched case did not result in any convictions until 2012. The painting represents Doreen Lawrence,  the mother of Stephen Lawrence, with images of the teen in each teardrop.

More about the Stephen Lawrence case here.

The original No Woman, No Cry

Chris Ofili: Night and Day is on view at the New Museum through 2/1/2015.