Have loved this project since its inception in 2015. The first few gates in my neighborhood were by Buff Monster (above lower left) and are still among my favorites.
The project connects local artists and merchants to collaborate on original murals that are painted on roll down security gates on the outside of these businesses. Over two years, the project has installed 100 gates in the Lower East Side. This year, they’re going to expand to other areas of the city. Harlem and Staten Island are next.
The project was initiated in 2014 by Billy Rohan, a local artist and pro skateboarder. The next year, it was brought to life by the Lower East Side Partnership (LESP), a not-for-profit economic development organization on New York’s Lower East Side.
I’m not sure how many other cities do this – but I highly recommend it. I’ve seen firsthand how it beautifies neighborhoods and creates community. For the most part, taggers and other graffiti peeps leave the works alone.
See below for current work up on Orchard Street and elsewhere downtown. Also, found a great rotating mural series displayed on the wall outside of Tictail Market at 90 Orchard Street. Currently featured: Miza Coplin, a Brooklyn-based illustrator. Images below.
Huge fan of street art (still!) and love how the exterior of 39 Spring Street (above) was muralized by Hektad this week. But then I uncovered this instagram from realtors at Apartments of NY, and while I am happy that Hektad makes a living doing art commissions, the fact that his work was being used specifically to dress up the building for two weeks until it gets demolished to make way for the “coolest storefront in Nolita” made me just a little bit sad.
On a more positive note, Hektad is also part of the amazing art installations at First Street Green (part of First Park) on the northside of East Houston Street between 2nd and 1st Avenues (entrance on 1st Street). Totally worth checking out if you’re in NYC or if you’re planning to visit sometime over the summer.
The BIG ticket in DC is the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum. It will be up until May 14 after which it will travel to Seattle, LA, Toronto, Cleveland and Atlanta.
We had attempted to get tickets online but they sold out within 3 minutes. We made our first attempt to get walk-up passes on Saturday. Got there at 9am to find several thousand people already on line. Impossible to get in. I felt a need to try again on Sunday. We got there at 8am – and luck was on our side. We got passes for the 11:15 time slot. If this weekend was any indication, Sunday is the better day – the crowds were half of what we saw on Saturday.
Now to the show: It’s fabulous, definitely a must-see. But, it is also a huge ordeal: 3 hours waiting outside and then another 2 hours inside, mostly waiting in various lines to see the 6 room installations – all of which are timed to allow you between 20 to 30 seconds in the installation. So for a grand total of perhaps 10 minutes of seeing the work, you spend 5 hours waiting in lines.
Here’s a tip: Join the museum where you will see the show – well ahead of time – to get member tickets. Not only does it ensure you will get a ticket but you can just roll up for your time slot and breeze right in. In DC, demand has been so great that they stopped selling memberships until the show is over – and I’m sure the same will hold true in other cities. So get your membership early.
Read on below for Blind Whino, my other favorite art experience of the weekend. And big shoutout to dcist for putting it on our radar when they wrote that excellent piece on Kusama alternatives. Also, more photos from the Kusama show at the end of the post
Philadelphia doesn’t have a gallery district (a la NYC’s Chelsea) as far as I could tell. However, the city more than makes up for it with a gorgeous and vibrant amalgam of street murals, mosaics, folk and visionary art, the most exquisite Victorian Gothic architecture and, of course, the new Barnes is not to be missed.
This was recommended to us by Warren Muller of bahdeebahdu and I am so thrilled that we followed his advice. This is an example of the best of the best when it comes to folk and “visionary art.”
The Magic Gardens span three city lots, and include indoor galleries and a large outdoor labyrinth. The mosaics are made up of everything from kitchen tiles to bike wheels, Latin-American art to china plates. It is the largest work created by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. (See more of the work at the very end of this post.)
Isaiah and his wife Julia moved to South Street in 1968, when the area was being slated for demolition to build a new expressway. They opened the Eyes Gallery at 402 South Street, which was the first property that Isaiah would mosaic. He bought the building that currently houses Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens in 1994. In 2002, he purchased two vacant lots next door and “Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens” was born.
Read on below for PAFA, the Barnes and photos of some of the best street art we found during our neighborhood explorations – as well as additional photos of the Magic Gardens.
Excellent painting show at David Zwirner (525 West 19th Street, NYC) of Alice Neel’s portraits made over the five decades she lived uptown, first in Spanish Harlem (1938-1962) and then the Upper West Side (1962 until her death in 1984).
She’s known for her intimate portraits of family, friends, writers, activists, and other everyday people from her neighborhood.
The show is beautifully curated by Hilton Als (photo lower left), writer for The New Yorker. The New York Times called the show nostalgic. I disagree, it feels fresh, young and vibrant to me.
What struck me immediately upon entering the gallery was the crowd: it was really young. Alice Neel’s work casts a mighty spell and these young artists and art lovers were hooked by her paintings – and her writing – many were poring over her diaries. Judging by how intently many were studying the color and form of her paintings, I expect Alice Neel to become a major art world influencer for a new generation.
There’s also going to be a screening of the Alice Neel documentary on April 3. Check with Zwirner Gallery for info on tickets – although I hear they are sold out.
I’m going out on a limb here, but I predict this show will kick off a movement to small-scale portraiture – and especially to portraits that include a more diverse array of people. The scale of this work is perfect for artists today who are working in smaller studios and who are inspired to paint their friends and neighbors. Who knows it might also be the beginning of a new collector class who will want to buy small-scale portraits for their apartments.
The first biennial at the new Whitney Museum downtown is absolutely stellar. It feels young, fresh and totally of the moment. Bravo to the two curators: Mia Locks and Christoper Y. Lew for having such a strong vision. There are 63 artists and collectives in the show. Highlighted below are the 10 that stand above the rest.
Three themes run through the show making it feel perfectly attuned to the culture of this particular time and place and explaining why, as a whole, it feels more relevant than any other biennial before it.
It’s Installation-focused – all highly interactive and experiential e.g. The Work is Repellant by Jordon Wolfson which is a VR experience (very graphic and violent. I couldn’t watch it – too squeamish).
It’s Tech-Forward – Jon Kessler’s two pieces were amongst my favorites. Beautiful and quirky.
It’s Highly Instagrammable –the standout is Raul de Nieves’ gorgeous installation piece consisting of stained glass windows and beaded sculptures on the 5th floor. JUST WOW!!
The biennial is on the two upper floors of the museum, in the stairwell and there’s a beautiful piece outside on one of the balconies (don’t miss it, like I did!). It runs through June 11.
See below for photos and videos of 10 must-see pieces:
This is the beginning of a new series. I’m planning to travel to one US city per month to do an urban scouting trip – seeing firsthand what’s new, cool neighborhoods, what’s trending in hospitality (hotels, restaurants, bars).
Starting with three cities that I haven’t been to in years and I’m staying with friends so will definitely get an insider’s perspective.
What a privilege to hear these two talk about their first years in NYC and their creative choices in being artists. Highly entertaining and inspiring evening. If art and artists are of interest, do not pass up this opportunity to spend an hour with these two men, who are not only great artists but also great storytellers. Highly recommend you watch the entire Times Talks video (below). I’ve been quoting them all week especially in terms of risk-taking, kindness and generosity and leading a more creative life.
A few of their comments really resonated:
Schnabel: When I first met Jeff, I introduced him to artist friends at Max’s and when they asked Jeff what he did, he said: I Present The New. They almost hit him but he was a friend of mine so they let him be.
Koons: I was in a show called “The New” at the New Museum in 1980. I loved shopping on 14th Street, loved the different objects I saw in the store windows. For The New show I displayed the vacuum cleaner works (my first ready-mades) in windows just as I saw on 14th street. The museum guards complained that everyone was coming into the museum to buy vacuum cleaners….
Koons: Julian had this huge success but he was so generous and so supportive – he saw my ready-mades and said I’ve got to send Mary (Boone) over. He also sent over Patrick Lannan, a big collector of his – who became my first collector.
Schnabel: Jeff had this vintage green Mercedes and after we were at the Mudd Club one night I bought it from him. Later I traded it to Brice Marden for 2 suicide drawings.
Schnabel: Jeff lived in this place near Barney’s on 7th Avenue with no furniture. Just 2 vacuum cleaners.
Koons: I would always hide everything if anyone came over e.g. stuff the mattress in a closet.
Schnabel: I was a cook – people always ask if that’s why I use plates – NO! One night I came out of the kitchen with blood all over my apron and Carl Andre was in the restaurant, he said: this is Julian, he’s the artist of that drawing over there. That was so nice of him.
Koons: I’ve always been interested in EVERYTHING. When I came to NYC, I was interested in painting, in photography, in sculpture. Every young generation wants to discuss the possibilities of what they can do and achieve as a generation. Julian and I have always been friends because we were both curious about things. We’ve known each other for 40 years.
Schnabel: Warhol was unappreciated. He had a new way of mark-making. Very radical. His shadow paintings are like Goyas. Warhol was a “witness” to culture.
Schnabel on plate paintings: I do no experimentation….I shoot the rehearsal. They looked like something I hadn’t seen before and I thought, that’s a good direction.
Schnabel: I was doing Projective Drawing Tests – draw yourself at 30, 40 etc. Nobody got what I was doing and then Gordon Matta Clark came by and said: I’d like to show these to Holly Solomon, they’re kind of interesting. After that I was hanging out with Blinky Palermo and he introduced me to Sigmar Polke – he came over to the studio and we had a great time…..we were doing a new kind of painting.
Koons: I was an assistant to Ed Paschke (stretching canvas), he taught me about the politics of the art world. He’d talk about what it’s like to have an art career and a family to support. He taught me not to shoot myself in the foot, not to be destructive, not to do things that are not in the service of the work.
If you’re in NYC, make sure you check out Schnabel’s new plate paintings at Pace (510 West 25th Street, up til March 25). Photos below.