Thursday, August 27, 2015

CELEBRATION: A luminous 21st century carousel opens in NYC

The brand new
Seaglass Carousel at the Battery --
ten years (and $16 million) in the making -- is now officially open!

"... sporting more than two dozen whirling, fiberglass fish, 
each with its own set of speakers and LED lights — 
it’s housed in what looks like a stainless-steel chambered nautilus shell  ...
Climb into your fish for a heady, $5, 3½-minute spin."
   NY Post,  August 11, 2015
°     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °
Meet the fish ...

30 fiberglass sea creatures were created by Broadway set designer 
George Tsypin, who led the scenic design team for The Little Mermaid musical.

Artist's rendering of the new SeaGlass carousel, opening
soon in NYC's Battery Park

And the real thing ...

The carousel is open every day from 10AM to 10PM.

For more info and gorgeous pics, link here.

~ oOo ~

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

ODD BITS: A cereal bar grows in Brooklyn

If you've been craving a high-sugar, high-carb breakfast brought to you by a trendy athletic supplies retailer, today is your lucky day! Famed footwear purveyor Kith has just opened Kith Treats -- a 150 square-foot white-tiled cereal bar offering 24 cereals, five specialty milks, and 25 topping choices -- at its flagship store in Brooklyn.

“I’m as passionate about cereal as I am about anything,” 
says KITH CEO Ronnie Fieg.

Your customized cereal concoction will be presented in a miniature shoe box.
Several notables have been invited to "curate" their own special combos; 
the first to contribute his was tennis great Andre Agassi, 
who even showed up at today's opening. 

His choice? 
Cinnamon toast crunch and cocoa puffs,
with your own favorite milk.


Rapper Action Bronson chose a combo of 
rice crispies treats, cookie crisp, cinnamon toast crunch,
kit kat bits, crushed oreos, marshmallow charms and ... skim milk.

Lest you forget that you're actually in a shoe store,
750 Air Jordan II sneakers are suspended from the ceiling,
creating "a visually endless corridor of footwear." 

See NY Times article

~ oOo ~

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

NOTE to MAD FOR MOD readers -- giveaway + "comments" section is working again

Mad for Mod's "comments" section seems to be working again, so the notebooks giveaway is back on! Anyone who comments through the blog is eligible to win a free set of very cool notebooks from Princeton Architectural Publishing! I'll do the drawing of names on Sept. 1; I have 3 sets to give away. I'll contact you and send the notebooks in early September.

To leave a comment: go to the posting you want to write something about, and scroll down to where you find a link to "comment" or -- strangely, sometimes -- "no comments". Leave your words in the dialogue box that comes up, use the drag-down to enter your name, and hit "publish". Thanks!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

EXHIBITION: Roz Chast's "Cartoon Memoirs" delights at the Norman Rockwell Museum

All images ©Roz Chast, unless otherwise noted

There are some artists who move us with their wisdom and unique perspective, and others who amuse us with their wit. Some uplift us with their humanity, or perplex us with their inscrutability. It's the rare artist who succeeds in doing all of these at once. One of them is New Yorker cartoonist and author Roz Chast, whose prolific output is currently on display at the Norman  Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. Cartoon Memoirs, on view at the NRM through October 26, 2015, is simply a "mustn't miss" show, and the Rockwell Museum is a lovely summer or autumn destination.

Roz Chast at book signing, following a most entertaining talk about her life & career
Stockbridge Mass., July 9, 2015
Photo by Michael Schonbach

Above is the first Roz Chast cartoon I ever saw, 
published in her 1984 book Parallel Universes
I knew from that moment that I had found a kindred spirit.

Chast brought her first submission, a portfolio of sixty 
drawings, to the New Yorker in 1978. Much to her surprise, Little Things 
was chosen for publication by the cartoons editor. (Some regular readers 
were appalled, and one inquired whether the magazine owed money to Chast's family!)

Over the years, Chast's cartoons have become one of the most beloved features of the magazine. Some of her favorite subjects are greeting cards, book jackets, UFO's, 
gizmos, room interiors, creepy medical conditions, tombstones, 
and -- of course -- family dysfunction.

Her images are filled with a barely controlled hysteria that seamlessly mixes
madcap humor and all-too-relatable anxiety in equal measure. What fun it was to 
wander through the Norman Rockwell Museum, and hear peals of laughter 
coming from all the rooms of the special exhibition!

The exhibition also includes some of Chast's hooked rugs and Ukrainian Easter eggs, 
(pysanky), with which she says she was "obsessed" for a couple of years.

Hello, 2015
hand-hooked rug, wool, burlap

Some awfully cute pysanky

"With their brilliant colors, rendered smooth and glossy by a polyurethane topcoat, Ms. Chast's eggs are extraordinarily lovely -- glorious jewel-toned objects whose aesthetic 
lies somewhere between Fabergé and Dr. Seuss."
... NY Times, November 2004

Chast's first New Yorker cover, above, was published in 1986.
She sees it as a "family tree" of ice cream. (Her father thought it 
portrayed a doctor pointing out foods that should never, ever be eaten.)


She has penned more than 1000 drawings and numerous covers for the New Yorker over the past thirty years. Above left is a representation of her hand painted pysanky collection. Above right: some fantastical seed packets.

And ... ta da ... The Book!

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Chast's graphic memoir of growing up in Brooklyn as the only child of hypochondriac, affection-withholding parents, and eventually caring for them during their declining years, is an instant classic. Among many, many awards and accolades, the book was selected as one of The New York Times Book  Review’s 10 Best Books of 2014. 

The full contents of Can't We Talk ... are displayed, page by page, 
in a single room at the NRM exhibition. 
You can read the NY Times review here.
The Guardian's review is here.

"The Wheel of Doom", a major laugh-getter at the exhibition,
was originally rejected by the New Yorker for publication in the magazine.
Chast spoke briefly about the rejection that cartoonists - even famous ones - must endure.
"If there's ANYTHING else you can do for a living besides this," she joked, "DO IT!"

You can see a video of Roz Chast's talk at the Norman Rockwell Museum here.

For more information about Roz Chast's 12 other books, link here.

That's all, folks!
~ JP

~ oOo ~

Saturday, August 8, 2015

EXHIBITION: Great women of 20th century design at MOMA

I've been thinking a lot about the fascinating MOMA/NY exhibition I saw almost exactly a year ago: "Designing Modern Women 1890-1990". I was quite smitten with nearly everything I saw, and thought it would be fun to repost about it. Hurray for unsung design hero Margaret Knight, who came up with the idea of the flat-bottomed paper bag! 

Other special favorites were Art Nouveau designs by Margaret MacDonald (more on her later), silver work by Marianne Brandt, Eva Zeisel's elegant white ceramic bowls and whimsical tableware, Greta Von Nessen's "Anywhere Lamp", Eileen Gray's high gloss black lacquer room screen and round occasional table, and the whole section called "Kitchen Transformation". The latter demonstrated how sensible it was that women -- who were always concerned with esthetics, efficiency, and hygiene -- would rise to the forefront of design in this area. Charlotte Perriand's pod-like Unité kitchen is a standout in this department.

            Marianne Brandt coffee and tea service

     Eileen Gray screen and famed E1027 table

Von Nessen's "Anywhere Lamp"

Eva Zeisel's "Shmoo" salt & pepper shaker

A slightly puzzling feature of the show was its first item, a chair 
by iconic British designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
CRM was the husband of artist Margaret Macdonald; 
the two collaborated closely through the course of their careers.
He famously said of her "I have talent, but she has genius."

Margaret MacDonald's gesso
"The White Rose and the Red"

(To read an excellent BBC article entitled
Margaret MacDonald: the talented other half 
of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, link here .)

       Unité kitchen,  designed by Charlotte Perriand           Unité kitchen seen from the living room
with Le Corbusier 

A group of four humble paper bags was included in the show, because ...

... the flat-bottomed paper bag was Invented in 1871 by Margaret Knight,
one of the first female inventors ever to receive a US patent.
It replaced the flimsy envelope-style type and 
revolutionized grocery shopping forever. 

I was baffled by the omission of Art Deco ceramics maven Clarice Cliff. A phenomenally successful designer, entrepreneur and all around Zelda-esque bon vivant, she was best known for her Bizarreware line. Here's a touch of Clarice for you.


See my article "Clarice Cliff: Jazz Hot Baby
of Art Deco Ceramics" (Modernism magazine, Spring 2007)

~ oOo ~