Monday, June 19, 2017

FORCE OF NATURE---Museum at FIT: Review By Polly Guerin

Charles James, "Tree" evening dress and "Petal stole
What better source of inspiration than Nature---its flora and fauna, geology, and physical beauty   has been the muse for designers throughout fashion history.  As Alexander McQueen said, "I have always loved the mechanics of nature, and to a greater or lesser extent my world is always informed by that."
     The Museum at Fit's exhibit, FORCE OF NATURE spans the eighteenth century to the present in ten sections, each focusing on a facet of fashion's connection to nature---on view through November 18, 2017. Curator Melissa Marra's research blends a fascinating marriage of fashion and nature in unexpected comparisons on display.
     Image Left: Charles James, "Tree" evening gown with "Petal" stole, 1955.  This evening gown with a petal-like stole bestows upon its wearer a sensual elegance by transforming her into a flower.
     Garments, textiles and accessories, exclusively from the collection of The Museum at FIT, illustrate how principles of the natural sciences, such as the dynamics of sexual attraction, have informed fashion design. For instance, elaborately feathered women's hats, show how the plumage of male birds use for sexual display has been appropriated to emphasize female beauty.  The natural world has influenced fashion in positive ways, but fashion's impact on the environment has been largely detrimental. Take the case of the thousands of birds almost made extinct by the use of their feathers and taxidermy bodies for use as decoration on women's millinery.  It is good to note that this style was abandoned and today many designers are engaging in more sustainable practices. This shift indicates a new attitude towards nature, from one of dominion to participation. 
     
Pierre Hardy, shoes 2015, France
During the Enlightenment, as naturalists classified plant species, exotic botanic gardens flourished throughout Europe. These gardens inspired the work of textile designers, who began to depict flowers from around the world.  The sexuality of plants and the symbolism of flowers such as roses and orchids 

     Fashion and nature is an international love affair. A pair of shoes by Pierre Hardy challenges traditional representation of flowers by rendering realistic images of lilies in saccharine, artificial colors. (Image Right: Pierre Hardy, shoes summer collection 2015, France.
      The bold patterns of animal skins have been appropriated by fashion designers for their strong visual impact and their exotic appeal. The striking patterns of the leopard, zebra and ocelot, for example, that serve to camouflage animals in the wild are often used in fashion as a way to stand out. Remember Josephine Baker famous scenario. She paraded around Paris wearing a matching leopard print pant suit while out walking her pet leopard. Superstars today wear to the limelight outrages animal inspired trappings to create exotic, out-of-the norm images.
   
Shrimpton Couture
In a never ending search for inspiration discoveries relating to celestial bodies, the greater universe, and the physical forces that created them have also led to extraordinary designs. Science and technology play key roles in transforming the shift in a new attitude toward nature. This is evidenced by designer interest in biomimicry (employing design principles that imitate nature's processes) and biomaterials that are grown using biological organisms. For further information contact the Museum information line: 212 217 4558. Internet access at

exhibitions.fitnyc.edu/force-of-nature.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!  It is always FREE admission at The Museum at FIT, then, too, there are the supplemental I-pad content, executed by Javier Alvarez with more informative details about each section of the show.  Fan Mail welcome at pollytalk@gmail.com  Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com on subjects ranging from visionary men to women determined to succeed, fashion and poetry.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Reinventing the Bank Experience at Union Square: Review by Polly Guerin

Union Square, one of the most vibrant and historic intersections in New York City, is a pulsating hub. Throughout nearly 185 years it has been the gathering place for commerce, for entertainment, for labor, political events, farmer's markets and happenings. 
     It is the place to be and see the young and mature cognoscenti especially enjoy the park which owes its name to the location at the intersection---or union---of two major roads in New York City;  Broadway, the former Bloomingdale Road, and Fourth Avenue, the former Bowery Road. 
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION The site was authorized by the State Legislature as a public place in 1831 and acquired by the City of New York in 1833. For those you have forgotten their American Revolution history, the equestrian statue of King George III, pulled down by patriotic citizens and the historic moment November 25, 1783, is recognized as Evacuation Day, when the British were finally driven out of the city.  For years Evacuation Day was celebrated as a major holiday to commemorate the end of British rule in the United States.
    Who resides in the Park today? The equestrian statue of United States President George Washington, by Henry Kirke Brown, the first public sculpture erected in New York City, was unveiled in 1856.
    With such an illustrious past Union Square, surrounded by trendy neighborhoods, such as Chelsea, the Flatiron District, East Village and Gramercy Park, is a fast paced epicenter that attracts multi-national pedestrians and tourists from all over the world. It is any wonder, therefore, that a major bank's headquarters are located here?
By David Aquino Sanchez
WHERE IS THE BANK? When I first walked into the bank's headquarters, on the bank's storefront street level there were people sitting by the windows working on their laptops, just like a trendy restaurant. Then too, further into the street level, an artist, David Aquino Sanchez was painting a large mural, a replica of his rendering of a New York City themed painting, the apple morphed into an eagles head, plus other iconic images. "What are you doing here I asked?"  He explained that through a community outreach program, the bank features an artist every three months and that he would be at the location finalizing his masterpiece until September. This engaging artist has a large repertoire of works in color that identify with his diverse oeuvre. He takes pride in the charity he has formed to help the youths of Santa Domingo.  Called, the Shoeshine Boys, he plans to garner funds to help to elevate the young boys and girls out of their poverty circumstances. Visit David at www.davinaquinoart.com.
Yet there still was no sign of a traditional bank.
     Instead there was a glamorous staircase to ascend to the next level which again did not look like a bank and had even more remarkable spaces such as individual mini booths by the windows, which were already taken up by business and personal Internet people working. Then, too, there is a tablet station, but most impressive is a rather spacious open viewing lounge with huge windows overlooking the park. No reservations required, just take one of the colorful seats,  where weary individuals can, if they wish, merely sit and take in the panoramic view of the Union Square intersection. What's this all about I asked?  
Window Booths (individual work areas) and elongated Tablet Station 
REINVENTING THE BANK  A well informed individual explained, "It's Capital One's flagship bank, bringing back the human element in banking, returning to a place of hospitality and offering diverse fast-land Manhattanites an opportunity to slow down and perk up, and visit anytime they wish to---even when they are not banking."  And, did I mention--there's Peet's coffee shop where customers can take a breather and sip a hand-crafted cup of coffee, even bring it with them. Of yes, by the way, this is a bank, there is not doubt about it, and there's time to do traditional banking or discuss the diverse banking opportunities; all this in an innovative open environment. 
For further information Capital One Bank, 853 Broadway, NYC 10003 www.capitalone.com.
     Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Destination Union Square is the place to be and relaxing in the new bank experience is worth a trip downtown. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click in the left-hand column to the Blogs that resonate with your interest.

Monday, June 5, 2017

AL HIRSCHFELD Legendary Caricaturist at Algonquin Hotel Review By Polly Guerin

Al Hirschfeld's Tony Award Winning Black-and-White Images 
There is never a dull moment on historic West 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. It is known to the cognoscenti as Club Row, and at the end of the street the legendary Algonquin Hotel, famed as the site of The Round Table, was the gathering place of the elite stars of stage, screen and theater. 
    Now fans and aficionados of the legendary caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, who was well known for his black-and-white portraits of celebrities and Broadway stars, can enjoy a unique exhibit of his work in the celebrated lounge of The Algonquin Hotel. Hirschfeld, whose artwork graced the pages of the New York Herald Tribune and later The New York Times and many other publications and magazines was actually a frequent visitor at the The Algonquin Round Table. He knew and worked with many of its members and you will remember best that he sketched the famous portrait of Dorothy Parker and her cohorts in 1962. The connection of Hirschfeld and the cult of celebrity runs deep in the annals of his oeuvre. His style was unique and almost always of pure line in black ink, into which he dipped not a pen but a Crow's quill. Hirshfeld's outpouring of whimsical and comedic images chronicled nearly all of the major entertainment figures of the 20th century as well as politicians, TV stars, and such musical legends as Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Count Basie and many others.
The Algonquin Round Table
PRIOR TO THE TONY'S:  In collaboration with the Al Hirschfeld Foundation, THE ALGONQUIN HOTEL CELEBRATES THE TONY'S AS SEEN BY HIRSCHFELD" in an exhibit which opened recently, just prior to the Tony Awards taking place June llth. There is plenty of time to visit Hirschfeld's black-and-white portraits of Tony Award winning Broadway musicals and plays that grace the Hotel's legendary lobby lounge and and whilst there sip a libation or two.  The exhibit is on view through August 8, 2017.   Free for the viewing, just walk into the lobby of the hotel for a heads up on this unique exhibition. New Yorkers and tourists alike are welcome to visit The Algonquin Hotel Lobby Lounge, marvel at Hirschfeld's works and guess the name of the show in each drawing, and, of course there is the subject of "Nina" the name of his daughter that Hirschfeld managed to conceal in each piece.  So have fun trying to find it. Maybe take an opera glass with you as the works are ceiling high.   
Hirschfeld's THE PRODUCERS
The panorama of  larger-than-life reproductions  features a total of 23 drawings, reproduced three feet tall. You must look up, look up my dear, the stunning black-and-white reproductions are hanging atop the iconic Lobby Lounge's oak paneling. Although the focus of this exhibition is on Hirschfeld's black-and-white, it is important to know that a whole body of his work was also in color, particularly in magazines and the subject of magazine covers. 

THE ALGONQUIN: Although The Algonquin Hotel, which opened November 22, 1902, is the oldest and longest operating hotel located in the heart of New York City's Club Row, 59 West 44th Street,  it is as modern as one would expect. www.algonquin.hotel.com 
Many celebrities and famous clientele have been guests, but the one character I always look for is the celebrated hotel house cat, Matilda, a celebrity herself who is usually the official lobby greeter. The tradition of having a house cat started in the 1920s. Over the years there have also been some male counterparts called, Hamlet.   Recently I asked for Matilda III and found her curled up sleeping in her favorite spot, in a street window, where even the passing crowd on the way to the theater can see her. A placard tells her story.
     Ta Ta Darlings!! It's the perfect place to rendezvous with a special friend(s) and relax with a "Dorothy Parker" or "Matilda" cocktail. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click on the links in the left hand column to visionary men, womendeterminedtosucceed, poetry from the heart and others.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

LIVE OUT LOUD'S 2017 Young Trailblazers Gala June 5 at TIMESCENTER

What does it take to be sweet sixteen and bring to the fore a nonprofit organization that empowers LGBTQ youth to live authentic lives? Just ask Leo Preziosi, Jr., Founder and Executive Director of Live Out Loud. He has has been spearheading this organization from the beginning and announces this year's honorees including the Soaring Spirit Award being presented by Mary-Louis Parker to BRUCE COHEN, an Academy Award-winning director of film, television and theater (pictured left). He is executive producer of "When We Rise," an eight-hour miniseries on the LGBTQ rights movement from 1971 to today.  The film is an epic event and as it chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, setbacks and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBTQ people who helped pioneer one of the last legs of the U.S. equality movement from it turbulent infancy in the 20th Century to today.
      WHO ATTENDS? The Young Trailblazers benefit gala draws more than 400 influencers and community leaders from the worlds of business, arts, politics, fashion, and recognizes individuals and companies who have made a positive impact among the LGBTQ youth community.
      If you're like me and you want to support this organization you, too, can become part of this sweet sixteen anniversary. Live Out Loud celebrates at the YOUNG TRAILBLAZERS GALA, Monday, June 5th, at the TIMESCENTER, 242 West 41st Street, New York, N.Y.  For tickets call 212.378.4095 / email leo@liveoutloud.info. Tickets start at $250 and sponsorship opportunities are still available. Proceeds from the gala event will benefit Live Out Loud's educational school programming for LGBTQ youth.
      Red carpet arrivals start at 5:30 pm, Award presentation from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, Reception and Silent Auction from 7:39 - 9:30 pm.  The Gold Sponsor for this year's event is GILEAD.
      Raphael Miranda, Meteorologist for NBC 4 New York will Emcee and Mary-Louis Parker who presents the Soaring Spirit ward to Bruce Cohen is appropriately designated as she plays lesbian feminist activist Roma Guy, a co-founder of The San Francisco Women's building, a women-led arts and education community center and non-profit organization. The Educator of the Year will be presented to Annabell Louis, Linden High School.
   Why Does LIVE OUT LOUD MATTER? This nonprofit organization guides and empowers LGBTQ youth not only to live authentic lives but connects them to positive role models, and affirmative experiences in the LGBTQ community. Every week, the Live Out Loud High School Program is out in high schools and communities bringing  together students and role models. 
      Then too,  Live Out Loud's Homecoming Project, invites the LGBTQ community nationwide to return to their hometown high schools to share their personal stories with the next generation  Live Out Loud's Behind the Scenes program partners with corporate LGBTQ affinity groups to connect with professionals who can provide career advice and personal guidance. 
      The Young Trailblazers Scholarship Fund---Every year, three LGBTQ high school seniors are recognized and awarded scholarships for $10,000 at the Annual Young Trailblazers Gala for their outstanding leadership and community activism. For more information, go to http://www.liveoutloud.info.
Ta Ta Darlings!!! As the audience at the Young Trailblazers Gala at the TimesCenter reaches a high pitch of unbridled enthusiasm PollyTalk will be there cheering on the LGBTQ youth. Be there, it's an enriching experience.  Fan mail to pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's other Blogs at www.pollytalk.com.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A WORLD OF EMOTIONS at Onassis Cultural Center: Review By Polly Guerin

WHY DO EMOTIONS MATTER?  Life would  be pretty dull without emotions that  penetrate every aspect of our lives, they are the background of every form of art and literature and are interwoven with memory, attention, cognition, and decision. Emotions are such heady stuff that they determine our interpersonal relations, our private life, the public sphere, and religious worship. 
      Perhaps we need more emotion in our lives, let's see how the ONASSIS CULTURAL CENTER'S stunning ancient Greek masterpieces bring emotions to the fore in a groundbreaking exhibition, A WORLD OF EMOTIONS Ancient Greece, 700 AD-200 AD on view through June 23, 2017, Free admission and public programs, Onassis Cultural Center New York, 645 Fifth Avenue at 51st Street.
     Image Right Features two heads: The Head of PENTHESILEA Marble, Roman copy of a Hellenistic original. (c) Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig. Second head ACHILLES, Marble, Roman copy  of a Hellenistic original. (c) Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig. 
      The exhibition brings together more than 130 masterpieces from world-renowned museums including the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum Athens, the Louvre, the British Museum, the Vatican museums and many more opening pathways to a wide world of unending, conflicting, universal emotions. A World of Emotions explores the ideas and attitudes of people in classical antiquity toward emotion and the ways in which the emotions are depicted, revealing how some are strikingly familiar to us and some shockingly alien.  It features vase paintings, sculptures, theatrical masks, amulets, coins, and votive offerings, among other artifacts, many on view in the United States for the firs time, and some for the first time outside of Greece.  

Angelos Chaniotis, Professor of  Ancient History and Classics, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton wrote: "Emotions have a particular significance for Greek Culture. Greek  theorized emotions as early as the 5th century BC.  Emotions were personified and worshipped as divinities. The very first word of Greek (and European) literature describes an emotion: menis, "anger."  Emotions are manifest in every expression of Greek culture, in institutions and society, drama and poetry, rhetoric and history, art and philosophy." Image Left: Funerary Stele, Marble, early 3rd century BC, from the Cemetery of Ancient Thera. Archaeological Museum of Thera (c) Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports--Archaeological Receipts Fund. Photography Kostas Xenikakis.
     Think upon this: According to Aristotle's definition, tragic plays had a surging effect on spectators by arousing fear and compassion. The tragic poets drew their subjects from the passions of larger-than-life figures such as Euripides' Medea with themes of love, betrayal, jealousy, anger and revenge,  which become part of the world's cultural heritage. The myth of Medea inspired six operas, the best known being Luigi Cherubini's Medee of 1797. Maria Callas played this part in her only film role, in Pier Paolo Pasolini's Medea of 1969.  Presented on the theatrical stage, myths triggered fear and empathy that led audiences to catharsis, which according to Aristotle was the defining goal of tragedy.   
     Professor Chaniotis adds: "This exhibition presents an itinerary into a world of emotions. It confronts the visitor with question of timeless value: What were the means with which ancient artists represented emotions. How did images and texts arouse emotions that still resonate with a modern audience.
     A World of Emotions is the kind of exhibition that provides a timely opportunity to think about the role of feeling in our own personal, social, and political lives, and prompts questions about how we express control, manipulate or simulate feelings. Image Right
A marble votive relief of Greek mythology hero
Zeus from 340 BC.
     The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue of essays, available for purchase  at the Onassis Cultural Center New York.   Contact info: www.onassisusa.org/emotions.  
     Ta Ta Darlings!!!  This exhibition gives me cause of express my emotional reaction: Don't MISS this opportunity to revisit the Greek classics and immerse yourself in the emotional thrill  of seeing some Greek antiquities on view for the first time in the US.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs on www.pollytalk.com, and n the left-hand column click on the subject that resonates with your interest on visionary men,  women determined to succeed, the fashion historian and poetry. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

POSTERS and PATRIOTISM at MCNY: Review By Polly Guerin

 As Memorial Day approaches, it is fitting to pause to remember those who served and made great sacrifices in all the wars to keep our nation free and safe.  
    Then too, it is interesting to look into the annals of war propaganda and to note that although New York City is located some 4,000 miles from Europe's bloodiest battlefields during World War I,  it played an important role in the conflict, particularly as a producer of all types of war propaganda.
     The Museum of the City of New York's "POSTERS and PATRIOTISM: Selling World War I in New York" displays sixty original illustrations to sell the war to Americans, on view through October 9, 2017.
    Why does this exhibition matter? Just the magnitude of the outpouring of Posters, Patriotism, and the Power of advertising, the persuasive method that was used to promote patriotic responses during World War I captures our collective interest.  
      In order to unite
Americans in the war effort, a formidable propaganda machine was set up in New York. Three hundred illustrators and admen were recruited with producing posters leaflets, magazine covers and sheet music covers.                  During the 20 months of American engagement in the war, 2,500 illustrations were designed , reproduced and posted over all 50 states. However, at first their image of the war was innocent and romantic; often portrayed as a glorious and exotic adventure. 
    To mobilize the home front New York became a theater of war. Vibrantly colored illustrations covered newsstands, subway stations and billboard all over the city and department stores dressed their windows simultaneously to reflect the propaganda.  Few people thought that the war would drag on but it did and as news of the fallen victims reached the citizens. the reality of the war set in and the vibrant message was darkened.     

Once the Armistice of November 11, 1918 was signed, New York entered the Jazz Age. Spared by the destruction of battle New York City transformed, admen and artists cast aside propaganda for the Dada art movement and Harlem became a mecca of new clubs inspired by African-American soldiers.  It was the roaring 20s and the city was the epicenter of freedom and frivolity.   
 It is interesting to note, that John W. Campbell, the railroad executive most well-known today for his gilded age office in Grand Central Terminal, lastly as the bar, Campbell Apartment (now closed) made substantial donations from his private collection of propaganda posters.
    Something to ponder: Would such a propaganda campaign work in today's society? 
    Ta Ta darlings!!! Let's remember the men and women who so gallantly served and revere their memory this Memorial Day, and lay a wreath at a statue in their memory or throw a wreath into the water for those lost at sea. Fan mail always welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and in the left
hand column click on the Blog that resonates with your interest on visionary men, women determined to succeed, the fashion historian or poetry.
    

Monday, May 8, 2017

NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S Center for Women's History: Review By Polly Guerin

Soaring Glass Grand Staircase by Norman S. Benzaquen 
Dazzling like sparkling colored gemstones, the custom-designed glass gallery of 100 illuminated Tiffany lamps displays works of artistic creation, many made by the "Tiffany Girls," who at last get their 15 minutes of fame in the groundbreaking new, CENTER FOR WOMEN'S HISTORY. The first of its kind I am told, in a major U.S. museum, the the fourth floor of THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY has been transformed into a space that tells women's stories and the impact women have made on American history.
     As the centerpiece on the fourth floor, the museum offers a rare opportunity to view a custom-designed glass gallery showcasing the Museum's preeminent collection of Tiffany lamps re-imagined in a permanent installation and displayed within a dramatically lit jewel-like space with its soaring glass Norman S. Benzaquen Grand staircase. 
      Quite true, the museum did have an earlier Tiffany exhibition but that was around 2005, and now the full scope of the museum's Tiffany lamp collection is on view in glorious drama, and to say the least, it is quite stunning, and tugs at one's mind to remember that many these faceted creations were designed and assembled by women.  
The fully renovated fourth floor reveals the often overlooked stories of women who had made an impact on American history.  Then too, the exhibition was inspired by the New-York Historical's discovery of the unknown story of Clara Driscoll, and her Women's Glass Cutting Department, who designed and created iconic Tiffany lampshades at the turn of the 20th century. It is interesting to note that Louis Comfort Tiffany so valued his
leading lady that he paid her the same salary as his employees in the men's glass cutting department.  Image right: The installation includes  multiple examples of the Dragonfly shade, a unique Dogwood floor lamp, a Wisteria Table Lamp, and a rare, elaborate Cobweb shades, among many others.
     With state-of-the-art interactive media, the visitor experience includes a hands-on "Design-a-Lamp" experience in the Tiffany gallery and a diorama that illustrates the rise of electrification. Putting it quite succinctly Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society said, "The reopening of our Henry Luce III Center on the fourth floor of our landmark building marks a new and dramatic phase in the museum's history. Many of the objects we now are able to have never been seen by the public before, others had not been seen for generations."  
     
Interactive Dolley Madison dining table invites visitors 
Of course, the The Women's Center, fourth floor, offers much more than the magnificent Tiffany gallery. SAVING WASHINGTON, for example, showcases the contributions of Dolley Madison and her female contemporaries to the fledgling democracy in early America. Image left: An interactive recreation of Dolley Madison's dining table invites visitors to practice their diplomacy skills. All photos by Corrado Serra.

     In the North Gallery the striking space presents treasures from the museum's holdings in 15 themes relating to the port of New York, Hudson River School artists, slavery in New York, and 9/11, among other objects on view. Highlights of early American silver include a display of silver and jewelry from the New York retailer Tiffany & Co.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!!  Here's to the women who made America great!!!  Visit the new Center for Women's History, where women take pride and place in American history.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click in the left hand column on the links to visionary men, fashion, women determined to succeed or poetry.