Sunday, September 10, 2017

ODD BITS: Pop-up shop offers felt veggies, newspapers, canned goods and just about everything else

British artist Lucy Sparrow, who handcrafts objects of all sorts from felt,
paint, yarn and thread, recently had a big success when a playful pop-up "convenience store" she set up near Manhattan's High Line last June sold out completely within a month. The shelves at "8 'Til Late" were quickly 
emptied of felt taco chips, snack cakes, assorted produce, laundry 
detergent, peanut butter, Heinz baked beans, pudding and cheese.

Left: The artist in her Manhattan pop-up shop/art installation before items started
flying off the shelves.

"The world of Feltism doesn’t assault one’s senses but instead it gently caresses them before making its point felt."

An array of awfully cute vegetables

                                                  Of course -- spam!

While the installation is about “fun and creating approachable art”, Sparrow said, "the works have a wider comment to make" about the loss of local shops in the face of superstores that have consumed 
high streets globally.

“I want the work to make people think about the loss of community spaces when these small corner shops disappear,” said Sparrow. “To remind them how valuable these corner shops really are and the colour they bring to our lives.”
Youthful candy memories ...
Bit-O-Honey, Jujyfruits, Sugar Babies and Reese's Pieces

"Lurking under the surface of Lucy’s art there is often a darker side. Whether 
it’s her felt AK-47s automatic weapons or her googly-eyed Prozac pills, her work offers commentary on the consumer world and the politics of modern life. Where others might see the harsh and ugly side of an object, Lucy will take the same thing and disarms its negative aspects with her mastery of felting 
technique and the juxtaposition of other quirky creations."

Sparrow's other solo shows include ‘The Warmongery’, 2015, Boxpark, London and ‘Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium’, 2015, Soho, London. Her work has been shown alongside great street artists at the ‘Urban Take-Over’, the V&A’s touring Street Art exhibition and in the ‘Urban Art Show’ at the Louise T Blouin Foundation in London. Pieces of her art are held in both private and corporate collections throughout the EU and the US.

Made for each other

To see a brief video of the artist discussing her work, link here.

This posting is in fond remembrance of
Chris Cavallari, whose grandfather Joseph established 
Serio's Market in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1950.

Friday, September 8, 2017

EXHIBITIONS: Coming next month: Neue Galerie NY presents "Wiener Werkstätte 1903-1932: The Luxury of Beauty"

                                      Welcome to the Neue Galerie

The Neue Galerie NY, arguably the toniest museum in the city, will highlight some of the most luxe decorative arts produced by the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops) in an upcoming special exhibition. "Wiener Werkstätte 1903-1932:The Luxury of Beauty" will run from October 26, 2017 through January 29, 2018; it will showcase 400 pieces of functional artwork by Josef Hoffmann, Kolomon Moser,  Dagobert Pesche and other icons of Art Nouveau design.

 Josef  Hoffmann brooch, 1904
acquired by arts patron Fritz Waerndorfer for Lili Waerndorfer
Silver, gilt, diamond, moonstone, opal, lapis lazuli, coral, leopardite

Above: Josef Hoffman tobacco case for Otto Primavesi, 1912

Hoffmann's brooches and boxes, encrusted with semiprecious stones,
  exemplify the Wiener Werkstätte’s luxurious aesthetic.
To read more about Josef Hoffmann, a co-founder of the
Wiener Werkstätte, please check out my article for 
Style 1900 magazine Josef Hoffmann Interiors

 The show will explore the workshop’s extensive output in a variety of media, including ceramics, drawings, fashion, furniture, glass, graphic design, jewelry, 
metalwork, textiles and wallpaper.

Josef Hoffmann, Brass centerpiece, 1924

Jewel box by Dagobert Peche, 1920
Gilt silver
Metropolitan Museum on Art

Josef Hoffmann teapot, 1904
Silver, ebony, raffia
Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Josef Hoffmann coffeepot, 1906, private collection
Silver and snakewood

 The Neue Galerie was established in 2001
by businessman/philanthropist Ronald Lauder
For more information about the notable history of this venue,
its permanent collection (which includes Gustav Klimt's
splendid Adele Bloch-Bauer I) and special exhibitions

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907

The movie Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren,
tells the story of how this painting was stolen by the Nazis, but 
eventually returned to its rightful owner, Maria Altmann,
  Bloch-Bauer's niece. It was purchased by the Galerie at auction 
in 2006 for $135 million, and is now on permanent display there.

Above: The Galerie's elegant, Viennese-style Café Sabarsky
It is outfitted with period objects, including lighting fixtures by Josef Hoffmann, furniture by Adolf Loos, and banquettes upholstered with a 
1912 Otto Wagner fabric. 
A stop-off here for coffee and pastries never goes amiss!


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

ODD BITS: A floating museum in Chicago

Chicago, a city long-renowned for its great art museums, stellar architecture 
and river setting, is now finding ways to bring art to neighborhoods
long underserved by existing downtown venues.

This summer, a mobile museum featuring works by local artists traveled to communities throughout the city via a 100-foot floating barge, traversing 
the Chicago River. Dubbed the Chicago River Float, the platform 
hosted film screenings, exhibitions, roundtable discussions and 
performance art, part of the city's 
2017 Night Out in the Parks programming.

The barge began its route in southeast Chicago and made multiple 
stops, ending at the Navy Pier. Hopefully, this will become an annual event.

Above: Performance art and dance along the River Walk

Below: Hangin' by the water, watching all the art go by

For more information about the Chicago River float,
link here.

~ oOo ~

Saturday, September 2, 2017

EXHIBITIONS: Making Room: Housing for a Changing America at National Building Museum

 The Great Hall of the National Building Museum in Washington, DC
Photo credit: Michael Schonbach

The National Building Museum, a venue I can't seem to get enough of, will soon open a timely exhibition, Making Room: Housing for a Changing America.  
Originally organized by the Museum of the City of NY, it will be sure 
to interest the baby boom generation, demonstrating ideas for adapting houses 
for aging in place, or for multigenerational families who 
want to share a household.

 Micro Unit living space featured in Making Room
 Photos courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

To see a short video that demonstrates the transformation 
of this 325 square foot mini-apartment 

from living room to office to bedroom, link here.
 Built by Clei and Resource Furniture.

Laws that govern the size, shape, and occupancy of our housing have 
not kept pace with the changing needs of our population. 
Making Room will feature five proposals for new types of housing, 
including mini-studios for single adults, shared housing options, 
and accessory units for extended families. The proposals 
will be illustrated through models, 
drawings, and animated videos. 

A giant sized television slides to the right
to reveal barware. The chair near the window flips over 
at the middle and turns into a stepladder. Cubby boxes on the wall
provide display areas without taking up any floor space.
Photo courtesy of Museum of City of New York.

°     °     °     °     °     °     °      °
Making Room will be on view at the NBM from
November 18, 2017 through September 16, 2018.
For more info, visit 

°     °     °     °     °     °     °      °

     Below: Currently on exhibit at the National Building Museum

The Great Hall, all decked out for a glamorous dinner reception
(My invitation apparently got lost in the mail.) 


Friday, August 25, 2017

EXHIBITION: Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry at NYC's Jewish Museum

Athenaeum family portrait II, c.1915

The art of feisty and exuberant Florine Stettheimer is currently being 
featured in a delightful exhibition at The Jewish Museum in NYC.
 The exhibit comprises over 50 paintings and drawings, a selection of 
costume and theater designs, photographs and ephemera, as well as 
some of her critically acclaimed poems

 Although she's not a household name today, 
in her heyday Stettheimer was well-known as a prolific Jazz Age painter, 
costume designer, poet, saloniste and feminist. The strongest influences 
on her colorful, stylish artwork were the European Symbolist painters 
and the costume designers of Ballets Russes. Born in 1871 in Rochester, NY,
she was the daughter of refined German-Jewish parents.

Self-Portrait with Palette (Painter and Faun), undated. Oil on canvas

Above: Florine Stettheimer, photograph by Peter A. Juley & Son, c. 1917.

Florine enjoyed being seen as eccentric and avant garde.
Her salon, which met regularly on NY's Upper West Side or in
rented mansions on the New Jersey shore, was co-organized by Florine
and her two sisters, Ettie and Carrie. The Stettheimers were “an exotic if somewhat strange trio: Ettie in wig, brocades, and diamonds; Carrie, who dressed in the elegance of a past era; Florine in white satin pants. They were all extremely fashionable, though often they appeared as though they were of another age." 

Portrait of My Sister, Ettie Stettheimer (1923)

"The Stettheimer sisters typified the idea of the new woman of the 20th century, they declared men impossible but worthy of flirtation. They wore pants, smoked cigarettes, disdained marriage, romance and children, and were constantly surrounded by artists and writers who were drawn to their soigné gatherings.” 
           ...  from Extravagant Crowd: Carl Van Vechten's Portraits of Women

Their circle of friends, many of them luminaries of New York's artistic vanguard,  included Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Elie Nadelman, 
Man Ray, Gaston Lachaise, and Marcel Duchamp.

°     °     °     °     °      °     °     °     °     °     °
At last grown young
with noise
and color
and light
and jazz
dance marathons and poultry shows
soulsavings and rodeos
gabfests and beauty contests
sky towers and bridal bowers
speakeasy bars and motor cars
columnists and movie stars
                                               —Florine Stettheimer

°     °     °     °     °      °     °     °     °     °     °

Asbury Park South, 1920. Oil on canvas

Birthday Bouquet (Flowers with Snake), 1932. Oil on canvas

Picnic at Bedford Hills, 1918

"It’s not that Stettheimer, who died in 1944, at the age of seventy-three, needs rediscovering. She is securely esteemed for her ebulliently faux-naïve paintings of party scenes and of her famous friends and for her four satirical allegories of Manhattan: symbol-packed phantasmagorias of Fifth Avenue, Broadway, Wall Street, and Art, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. She painted in blazing primary colors, plus white and some accenting black, with the odd insinuating purple. Even her blues smolder. ... Zealously urbane, Stettheimer wasn’t much for nature, except, surreally, for the glories of the outsized cut flowers that barge in on her indoor scenes. She painted grass yellow. She seemed an eccentric outlier to American modernism, and appreciations of her often run to the camp—it was likely in that spirit that Andy Warhol called her his favorite artist."
                                                                    ... New Yorker magazine   

Spring Sale at Bendel's (1921)

Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry runs through Sept. 24, 2017
 For more information, visit the Jewish Museum's website

If you walk about 10 blocks north from the Jewish Museum,
you'll come to the Museum of the City of New York -- another
favorite place of mine. On display there is a dollhouse
designed by Carrie Stettheimer over the course of 20 years.
The dollhouse is one of the Museum’s most popular artifacts. 

 Every detail of the house was created with meticulous authenticity, 
from the post WWI wallpaper, furniture and fixtures
to the miniaturized versions of actual art, which include a
3-inch version of Nude Descending a Staircase by Marcel Duchamp, Limoges vases in the chintz bedroom and crystal-trimmed candelabra in the salon. Stettheimer infused her artistic sensibility into every aspect of the house.

Hot tip: show your ticket to the MCNY 
at the Jewish Museum, and
you'll get in for free! 


Saturday, August 19, 2017

EXHIBITIONS: An odd couple? Not as much as you might think ...

 Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol were "iconic visual communicators who embraced populism, shaped national identity, and opened new ways 
of seeing in twentieth century America." 
                                                                         ... Curator's note

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts is 
currently exhibiting an original and thought-provoking show called 
Inventing America: Rockwell & Warhol. This is the first-ever 
exhibition in which the two artists' work has been paired. 
 "Until I came here today," I overheard one visitor remark
"I couldn't have imagined those two names even being used 
in the same sentence!" 

But the two men actually shared many traits:
both knew from the time they were children that art was their true calling,
both had supportive families, both had a sense of humor about themselves and their work, both started out their careers in advertising, and
both were interested in photo-realistic art at a time when the 
fine art world was in thrall to Abstract Expressionism.

Norman Rockwell's beloved oil painting "Freedom from Want" (1943)
is juxtaposed in the exhibition with Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup can (1969).
 Though both artists came from a background in the advertising world
they expressed themselves quite differently. Rockwell liked
to tell a story in his paintings, while Warhol preferred stark 
images of a product, devoid of context.

Rockwell worked on his oil portraits using photos for reference, and he
liked spending time with his subjects so that he could get a fuller
sense of their personalities. Warhol, ever the celebrity-hound, worked 
from film but rarely met his subjects until he himself became quite famous.

Warhol's two favorite muses, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe
The artist was obsessed with celebrity 
and with Monroe and Taylor in particular.
Photo credit: Jewish Museum, NY, NY

Photos of museum grounds courtesy of
Norman Rockwell Museum.  
All rights reserved.

Above left: Entrance to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA
Above center: Visitors picnic on the lawn near Rockwell's studio, which was moved from downtown Stockbridge to the museum's property in 1986.

Many of the objects in Rockwell's iconic "Triple Self-Portrait", 1960 (below) 

can be seen inside the studio.

Photos of exhibition rooms (above and below) courtesy of
Norman Rockwell Museum.  All rights reserved.

Above: Some of Warhol's threads from the 1960s,
along with one of his wigs.

The cover of the exhibition catalogue
displays two very different images of Jacquie Kennedy.
I find it striking that she looks so guarded in the 
Rockwell portrait, and so happy in the black-and-blue image 
Warhol created, based on the iconic photo of her arriving in 
Dallas on November 22, 1963. A few hours later 
her husband would be assassinated.

Inventing America: Rockwell & Warhol
will be on view until October 29, 2017.
For more info, link here

°     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °
Whenever I'm at the Rockwell Museum, I always 
make a stop at his stirring Ruby Bridges painting
entitled "The Problem We All Must Live With" (1964). 
Ruby was the first black child in the south to attend 
an all-white school. She had to be escorted, alone, 
by federal marshals, while contending with hateful 
graffiti and objects being thrown at her.
Ruby grew up to become a civil rights activist. 
In 1999, she formed the Ruby Bridges Foundation, headquartered 
in New Orleans. The foundation promotes the values of tolerance, 
respect, and appreciation of each others' differences.