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.

*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
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

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.

Why Won’t You Braid My Hair???

Kendrick Lamar, Rolling Stone Cover March 26 2015

Kendrick Lamar, Rolling Stone Cover March 26 2015

IMG_3075

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.

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.

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.

Mr. Tilley If You’re NASTY

Original  Eustace Tilley 1925 Cover

Original Eustace Tilley 1925 Cover

The New Yorker is known for its covers. Without resorting to a rotating list of celebrities, the magazine has become iconic for it’s brilliant drawings, often with tongue-in-cheek references to current events. The one recurring figure (besides New York) is Eustace Tilley. The dandyish character (kind of yesteryear’s metrosexual) first appeared in 1925 and is featured every year on the magazine’s anniversary cover. Over time, the New Yorker has allowed for several interpretations of Eustace Tilley to be depicted on the cover. And it fits, because New Yorkers are anything but a monolith. They may be cultured or self absorbed or snobby or downright NASTY.

This year, for the 90th anniversary, Mr. Tilley is showing up in multiple personalities like only a New Yorker could. Nine artists were chosen to present their interpreation of Eustace Tilley. The artists given the honor of altering everyone’s favorite dandy are: Kadir Nelson, Carter Goodrich, Anita Kunz, Roz Chast, Barry Blitt, Istvan Banyai, Lorenzo Mattotti, Peter Mendelsund, and Christoph Niemann. And it only fits.

Check the gallery below for the covers. All images taken from the New Yorker website.