Issa Pineapple

I am never one to tell someone to stop short of their dreams. Look at these students, who without even thinking had their artwork featured in a museum. As reported on Mashable and other sources, Ruari Gray, a student at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen,Scotland left a pineapple in the museum as a joke. The pineapple ended up on display in a case.


Photo from

Someone will point to how much this devalues the art world, but what we should focus on here is everyone’s inner artist. Besides, pineapples are welcoming and experiencing a real fashion world moment now (more on that later).

And here’s a Boy Meets World clip where Eric shows off his inner art critic. If you didn’t see a monkey and a coconut, maybe you won’t appreciate the pineapple either.


Today, the nation officially honors Christopher Columbus. You can believe the hype. It is true.  In 1492 he sailed the ocean blue. What’s up for debate is the semantics of discovery. Columbus’s arrival to the Americas was one of many events that led to the colonial era which also brought along with it large scale occurrences of  rape, disease, murder, and a number of other maladies in interactions with people who were already settled in the Americas. Europe’s discovery was personal. A number of nations had been chilling in the Americas for years. Columbus kind of  got lost on a boat looking for trade routes, and made good on what could have been a misfortune for Spain.  Then he made hell for other people. The only person who should love him was Queen Isabella. He does not really merit a tribute. ( Neither does misogyny nor drug dealing really, but you know: the only Christopher we acknowledge is Wallace. )

So if we’re not honoring Columbus today, we can honor the people he met in the Americas.  The Smithsonian National Museum of The American Indian (NMAI) offers a great place to start getting familiar with their history. If you can’t make it to the physical location,  you can explore a lot of what the museum offers online. Let’s be careful as we construct new commemorations.  In pushing to celebrate Indigenous People, let’s make sure we’re taking into account a well rounded view of the history of those here before us. Trust me when I say it wasn’t all peace pipe smoking, dancing with wolves, or trails of tears. The museum helps you weave through the history with a variety of historical artifacts and interactive exhibits.

Every time I go to DC, I make sincere efforts to get to the NMAI. It’s a great institution. But with the pains and insistence I often exhibit, you would think that I didn’t know about the National Museum of the American Indian-New York. Oh, I know about them alright. They quite perfectly rejected my docent application in high school. But my insistence on visiting the DC branch is not just a function of old resentment. Rather, it is the great promise of fry bread at the DC branch’s cafeteria  that pulls on my cultural heart strings. Consider this my additional endorsement.

Yep, the picture is horrible, but the taste....the taste!

Yep, the picture is horrible, but the taste….the taste!

In my quest for fried pieces of dough, I have had the opportunity to engage with some amazing pieces of contemporary art, historical artifacts, and learn something more about the black Americans who are and are not part Cherokee.  This doesn’t even begin to take into account the wonderful environmental aspect and attention paid to creating realistic feels of various parts of the States throughout the grounds. Today as I reflect on the holiday we’re supposed to celebrate- and yearn for fry bread-I also pause to honor those that were here before us, and whose descendants are still here today.


Of course I pose with the pieces at NMAI. I need to do something to work up the fry bread appetite. (Circa 2009)

Oh and one more thing, we’re calling out Columbus, not Italian culture at large.  So there’s nothing wrong with a parade or zeppole today as well.

The Bronx is Up and Seneca Village was Around

A new play about Seneca Village, a black community that once existed in the modern day Central Park area, has been garnering attention. For one, intellectual America is having a national moment about all things Civil War related. Seneca Village, a community that was vibrant between 1825 and 1867, before being torn down for the Vaux and Olmsted meh park, definitely falls into the category of kind of sort of part of the nation’s forming at the time of the War.  Also,  New York is definitely going through a moment with confronting ideas about gentrification and displacement.

Creative Time Seneca Village Creative Time Seneca Village

Earlier this year, Creative Time along with the Central Park Conservancy presented Drifting in Daylight. They too took time to recognize Seneca Village. Karen Olivier’s piece, HERE AND NOW/GLACIER, SHARD, ROCK was a billboard that made the view contemplate the changes in time with artifacts from Seneca Village and imagery of the current site. The billboard changed as you walked pass, and I was able to capture really cool video. Unfortunately people’s private conversation about spirituality was also captured, so you get my stills. Also, check out Creative Time’s site on the installation here.

Creative Time Seneca Village

Creative Time Seneca Village

The People Before the Park by Keith Josef Adkins; directed by John J. Wooten. 1856 is playing until September 20th at the Kean Theater in New Jersey. More information is available on their website.

The First Starbuck!

So, lots of people admire Starbucks’ wonderfully artsy and inspired siren branding, but where else does the everywhere coffee brand and public bathroom pop up in connection to art? The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) has the answer.

The Wild Bunch , Prepoduction Illustration,  Tyrus Wong

Tyrus Wong is celebrated for his artwork, namely his contribution to movies. While it’s his drawings for Disney’s Bambi that brought him fame, he also did a lot of preproduction sketches for live action movies. This early Starbuck saloon appears in a preproduction sketch for Warner Brother’s The Wild Bunch, released in 1969.

Tyrus has an interesting story which is explained in the exhibit, Water to Paint, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong, which is currently on display at MOCA through September 13th.  If you check it out, also be sure to look at some of the historical information on Chinese-Americans as well as the kites. Because when isn’t it a perfect time to go fly a kite?

Is it the art? Or just the fancy building?

Museum Room View

Interesting read on NPR

“The art world has never been healthier if you measure the intensity of the human experience of what art has to offer,” says Michael Lewis, an art history professor at Williams College. “Glistening new buildings everywhere and the great rise in the subsidiary parts of art museums, the cafe and gift shops — there’s no question that there’s a great allure in the museum world today.”

There’s a but, of course.

In the current issue of Commentary Magazine, Lewis argues that we shouldn’t be fooled by the gleaming appearance of the art world today. He tells NPR’s Scott Simon that most Americans have in fact become indifferent to art.

Read More:

*Arty Like a Rock Star

Back in  the day when I resided in London, I treasured the British Musuem and frequently took a detour through the first floor on my way to my wonderful classes. And while I did find the Rosetta Stone randomly on my last walk through the doors, I never really saw rocks. Thankfully,  there is the internet.

The British Museum has an African Rock Art Image project that features images of rock art from the continent. Currently, there are 8558 images out of a total 25,000 that have been digitized.   The museum is pretty hype about it becuase of the  progress it shows in being a functioning 21st century insitution with a digital footprint, and also the ability to save the art.  But beyond that this rock art collection is a treasure trove of stories waiting to be told.

Museum number 2013,2034.25 Description Full: Front Digital photograph (colour); detail of painted rock art (pastoral period?) from the bottom left of [2013.2034.23], showing five human and four cattle figures, painted and infilled. The human figures are either a dark or light brown colour

Museum number
Full: Front
Digital photograph (colour); detail of painted rock art (pastoral period?) from the bottom left of [2013.2034.23], showing five human and four cattle figures, painted and infilled. The human figures are either a dark or light brown colour

What tale could you tell with this one?

This art isn’t primitive or  lacking any iota of the beauty seen in more traditional arts. It’s precious.

Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem.

Hotels, The Next Frontier

If you look, you will encounter some pretty cool art wherever you go. But it’s likely you will have to experience some awful uninventive dentist office art as well.  You know, the dead uninspired water color prints you encounter in your dentist office, municipal building lobby, and until now hotels? Well travelers, your weary eyes will no longer have to embrace the dreary.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that you can now sleep with Jeff Koons, (and not end up in a Italian adult “art” film.)  They list a few hotels that have upped their collections and documented the trend. The best is obviously the Dolder Grand in Zurich where you can do the running man or stanky leg with a Keith Haring sculpture.

Keith Haring,  Untitled.

Keith Haring, Untitled. PHOTO: DOLDER HOTEL AG


Fodors Travel obviously picked up on this article and re-sent their October 2013 piece “13 Hotels with Stunning Art Collections” to their email subscribers (note, I never subscribed but I started getting these last month). So if the Wall Street Journal makes Zurich look like fun, Fodors put the spotlight on The Four Seasons in Toronto where you can dine with Bob Marley over Campbell’s Soup. Honestly, all 13 hotels look pretty amazing.

Photo Credit: Christian Horan/Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Photo Credit: Christian Horan/Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts


So before you book your next trip, make sure to practice your stanky leg routine. It will come in handy for posing in the courtyard of your luxury hotel!

Looking for Art? Make it A Movie Night!

When you live in a city like New York, art is everywhere. And in fact, some of the best works are store displays. And nothing beats a store display that’s as good as a movie, or 5 movies, or 8.

She's Gotta Have It, Poster Art, Separate Cinema

She’s Gotta Have It, Poster Art, Separate Cinema

Paul Stuart in New York did just that, featuring images of film posters in their store windows and throughout the store.  The images corresponded with the release of Separate Cinema: The First 100 Years of Black Poster Art, which includes a foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and an afterword from Spike Lee.

There were some fun things to notice  and question about the poster art.  I wonder when the shift moved back to actual photography instead of the hyper-realized drawings that dominated for a while. If I ever get to choose poster art for a movie, we’re going with a drawing. Also, some of these posters were for what appeared to be one theater releases and included the theater’s phone number.That’s so adorably old school. There aren’t even area codes.

Check below for images from the store. Separate Cinema was on view at the Paul Stuart at 10 East 45th Street and Madison Avenue in New York through March 6th. The book is available for purchase online.

Did you see your favorite movie listed?

Liked this? Also take a look at Black Broadway here.

Hunger Games



If you are a punk (aka me), then The Hunger Games was terrifying. The dystopian world, the mocking jays, the fight to the death- all of it is a little too gruesome. So imagine the shock of avoiding the book, the movies, all the promotion, and then running into its artwork at the Museum of Metropolitan Art.



Animals, Rufino Tamayo

Animals,Rufino Tamayo,1941

Really is Animals not reminiscent of the eery description of the mutant dogs in the book? This Hunger Games Wiki made by morbid super fans goes into great detail about all the eery mutated animals. To quote:

These creatures were able to balance on their hind legs, jump very high, and had four-inch long razor-sharp claws. Each of the mutts resembled one of the tributes who had died previously in the Games, had a collar marked with the district number of the tribute it was based on, and had eyes that looked remarkably human.


"Collective Suicide", David Alfaro Siqueiros

Collective Suicide, David Alfaro Siqueiros, 1936

It’s hard to say whether or not this David Alfaro Siqueiros piece looks more like the devastation of District 12 itself or like the world of the games once they start in the Capitol. Make your own determination based on the MOMA’s text.  I’ll go with the Capitol:

Collective Suicide is an apocalyptic vision of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Siqueiros shows armored Spanish troops advancing on horseback, a bowed captive staggering before them in chains. The broken statue of a god demonstrates the ruin of the indigenous culture. Chichimec Indians, separated from their tormentors by a churning pit, slaughter their own children, hang themselves, stab themselves with spears, or hurl themselves from cliffs rather than submit to slavery.

Both pieces are currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in Painting and Sculpture I, which is currently featuring an awesome selection of Latin American art.

Seriously, I skimmed this book, and I just can’t read of watch it…too freaky. How did they play this on ABC? Better yet, how do they teach this in schools?