Grand Army Plaza,
Brooklyn, New York
After my students graduated in late May, I was off to the Big Apple. First, I walked around Prospect Park in Brooklyn. I was just across the street from where I used to live on Third Street and the Park, and then just down the path is Grand Army Plaza, the Brooklyn Museum, and Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. It was a beautiful day to be in the city ( not too hot ) – see some art and hear a concert and visit with the family.
It was here in Brooklyn, that many years ago I began to write about art for the Prospect Press and American Artist Magazine ( now defunct ). Walking around the neighborhood at night I would see artists at work in their studios, and I would come to meet many of them including Lennart Anderson, Kendall Shaw, Jules Olitksi, Alex and Allyson Grey, and Teching Hsieh. I would interview them and write a story much like I am doing now.
painting by Alex Grey
The artists I met also began to form my community. Right around the corner lived Barry Schwabsky who is now the art critic for The Nation. Upstairs at Union Street, Alex Grey was completing his major work “Sacred Mirrors”, and I was working on art for books and exhibitions and the art scene was in high gear.
Today, I am in Manhattan to hear a concert devoted to the music of Arvo Part who will be honored at Carnegie Hall later in the day with a ten minute standing ovation. I had to go over to see the shows at the Museum of Modern Art including “Metamorphoses” with Paul Gauguin, and a retrospective of Sigmar Polke. A big surprise for me was also finding the paintings and sculpture of Lygia Clark who was unknown to me until this moment, and I really enjoyed her spare architectural constructivism.
painting by Lygia Clark ( 1920-1988 )
Lygia Clark was born in Brazil in 1920 and died in 1988, spending much of her life in South America. The show at MoMA featured her geometric paintings and sculptural works of flat panels of metal attached by little round hinges so that the sculpture could change it’s shape with a little manipulation.
Later in her life, Lygia Clark was a practicing therapist spending some years in Paris making a kind of body art ( fanciful clothing ) and needless to say she was ahead of the curve.
Paul Gauguin is one of my favorite post-impressionist artists, and his show was full of surprises as well. Prominent at his display in the museum were suites of prints and the original woodblocks ( including a block on loan from The Memorial Art Gallery ). Gauguin’s paintings on view included one of my favorites – a woman holding a fan from 1902 ( Folkwang Museum, Essen ). The majority of this show highlighted works from Tahiti, including some of Paul Gauguin’s sculpture, a few ceramics, and images from his book “Noa, Noa” Offerings of Gratitude.
Installed downstairs, was a giant retrospective for Sigmar Polke and the last time I saw a show of his that had this kind of impact was at the Brooklyn Museum years ago, but it wasn’t this extensive. Polke should be better known in our country – he was endlessly inventive, but I felt that the show and the way it was hung jumped around too much. and I would have like to have seen more depth for this artist. Polke has a bit of the angry Pop Artist in him and he seems to have branched out into many different mediums and different directions without making definitive statements.
Alice Aycock “Park Avenue Paper Chase”
Back on the street, Park Avenue to be exact, there were several whirling tornadoes of steel by the artist Alice Aycock. She has been known for her large scale works, and these very distinctive painted pieces can bee seen at a great distance towering over passersby and the throngs of traffic on the lanes.
The Hudson River landscape from Storm King Mountain
Leaving the Big Apple, we stopped in hopes of seeing the sculpture collection at Storm King Art Center, but it was closed for the day. Instead we ambled through Woodstock and I checked out the
shows at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum at 28 Tinker Street.
I was happy to see one of my former students ( Ingrid Ludt ) presenting her work in a regional show in the gallery. All in all this was a productive weekend and a wonderful breather from the world of the university.