Monday, September 18, 2017

MODIGLIANI UNMASKED: Review By Polly Guerin

Paris, France, the unprecedented melting pot of the avant garde artists, welcomed the handsome Italian Sephardic Jew, Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (1884-1920), who would become renowned as a celebrated artist and sculptor. With a penchant for elongated figures and prominent noses he asserted his Jewish sensibilities and pictorial ideas through drawing and sculpture.  Image: Left to Right: LIMESTONE HEAD by Amedeo Modigliani's 1911-13.Image provided by Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation/Art Resource, New York. KNEELING CARYATID, 1911-12, Black crayon on paper. Paul Alexandre Family, courtesy of Richard Nathanson, London. JEANNE HEBUTERNE with Yellow Sweater, 1918-19, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Jeanne Hebuterne met the artist through her brother, Andre Hebuterne who had come to Paris to become an artist. Shortly after Jeanne was introduced to Modigliani she moved in with him against her family's wishes. Their union was recognized as a common law marriage and they had one child, Jeanne Modigliani. Life with Modigliani must have been had. He became an alcoholic and drug  addict probably due to mask his tuberculosis from his acquaintances. In France in the 1900s there was no cure and it was a horrible disease and those afflicted with it were ostracized. After Amedeo's death in 1920, the next day in despair Jeanne Hebuterne threw herself out of the family's 5th floor apartment building and died on impact. It is interesting to note that, in her short lifetime, Jeanne had become quite an accomplished artist and achieved recognition in art circles worldwide, along with her famous partner.       

When Modigliani arrived in Paris in 1906, the city was still rolling with anti-Semitism after the long-running tumult of the Dreyfus Affair, an 1895 scandal in which a French Jewish army officer had been falsely accused of treason, resulting in a surge of nationalism and he influx of foreign emigres, who re-settled within the nation's borders. In Paris, he chose to settle in Le Bateau Lavoie, a commune for penniless artists in Montmartre. With his cosmopolitanism and his fluent French he could easily have passed as gentile. He chose instead to use his work to question the very notion of identity.  As a result his oeuvre was exclusively figurative, in itself an eccentric choice with the experimental artistic milieu of Paris at the time.    
       This was a period of remarkable self-assertion for the artist, an Italian Sephardic Jew, within the community of predominantly Jewish immigrant artists to which he belonged, including Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine and Jules Pascin. There in Paris, he also came in contact with other prominent artists including Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brancusi, and others. 
       When Modigliani moved to Paris, he came up against the idea of racial purity in French culture, whilst in Italy, he did not feel ostracized for being Jewish.  His Latin looks and fluency in French (a French mother and classical education)  he could have easily have assimilated. Instead his outsider status often compelled him to introduce himself with the words, "My name is Modigliani, I am Jewish."
Yet he found Paris unexpectedly difficult, suffering as he did recurrent bouts of tuberculosis and struggling financially--partly because he refused to take a job or seek commissions.  Modigliani was drawn to social outsiders, such as cabaret and circus performers, and to the image of the femme fatale, characteristic of one of his first exhibited paintings in Paris, The Jewess.  Image: Portrait of Paulette Jourdain, 1919)
       MODIGLIANI UNMASKED, is the first exhibition in the United states to focus on Modigliani's early works made in the years after he arrived in Paris. The exhibition on view at the Jewish Museum through February 4, 2018 puts a spotlight on Modigliani's drawings, with a large selection acquired directly from the artist by Dr. Paul Alexandre, a young physician, who became his close friend and first patron.  Alexandre amassed some 450 drawings directly from the artist and commissioned a number of portraits.  
       The exhibition includes a selection of drawings depicting Dr. Alexandre, as well as a mysterious, unfinished portrait, never before seen in the United States. Prominent in the collection are the stylized drawings relates to sculptures.  The influence of masks in particular is clearly visible in the many drawings and sculptures in the exhibition, which offers insights into Modigliani's signature style of graceful, elongated figures that were not well received during his lifetime. However, after his death he achieved greater popularity and his works of art achieved high prices. Seen within he scope of his brief fourteen-year career, his early work provides a context in which to reconsider what may have motivated Modigliani to develop his idiosyncratic
style of portraiture. He died of tubercular meningitis, life cut short at 35. 
    Ta Ta Darlings!!! Modigliani's short life reminds us to remember to make every day count and create in measure.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's posted Blogs at www.pollytalk.com. Click in the left-hand column to links to visionary men, women determined to succeed, fashion and even poetry. 
       

Monday, September 11, 2017

ARTURO'S: Authentic Mainstay on West Houston Street: Review By Polly Guerin

In a city gone so modern that mom and pop and small specialty stores have disappeared, it is important to celebrate the importance of the locally owned old world businesses that foster character, loyalty, genuine caring and investment in the neighborhood. 
     As the old Italian neighborhoods rapidly changed, gentrified and were denuded of their colorful past, the restaurant ARTURO's, famed for its coal oven pizza since 1957, remains a steadfast slice of history with honest drinks and reasonable prices. It's one of those grand old New York spots that makes us feel at home. That may be he result of a warm welcome in this family-owned establishment that was started by their father Arthur, who borrowed $3,000, a tidy sum in those days, and engaged family members to help out.  Arturo's is now run by siblings with Lisa Giunta at the helm and others steering the restaurant forward as a mainstay in this ever changing neighborhood.
      However, this establishment is more than just a pizza place, it is authentic with old world charm. Hints of the influence from the old Italian neighborhoods of New York City, traditions long forgotten are kept intact at 106 West Houston Street. The walls with memorabilia and lots of photographs attest to the historical significance of the place, which is cozy but vibrantly alive.    
     JAZZ No Cover: Enter its portals into a dimly lit bar area where weathered leatherette booths in the entrance dining room are the preferred site to listen to the lively jazz band that plays nightly and there is no cover charge.   

     Here one can be assured to enjoy honest drinks and genuine food from the full Italian menu. Red sauce standards include parmigiana with veal or eggplant, and traditional pasta dishes such as shrimp marinara, and delectable mussels over biscuits,  Of course, regulars arrive consistently and new customers are lured by the crispy crusted pizzas, too big for one, but perfect for two hungry friends. Toppings on pizzas include Italian sausage, pepperoni, spinach, lobster, calamari and always fresh basil. Sidewalk seating is delightful in good weather but you will be disappointed because you cannot hear the jazz music that is played nightly.   

Arturo's can attest to knowing customers since they were children growing up with the kind of surroundings their mother trusted.  Although, Friday is big pizza day, everyday is a reason to head downtown to Arturo's where everyone is welcomed with open arms like family. Reservations are not necessary but large groups should call 212.677.3820.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!!   I had the mussels over biscuits, delicious!!! Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com with links in the left had column to visionary men, women determined to succeed, fashion and poetry. 
     

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

J'ACCUSE By Polly Guerin

Lovers' Quarrel by French Painter Henri Gervex 1887



















Once Upon a Time a man was enraged
When he read love poems on the page

This arrogant self-seeking husband
Beside himself with rage and thunder

Confronted his wife with indignant rage
Read tender intimate sentiments saved

Exposing heartfelt emotions in detail
With poignant memories never failed


So tender were the loving words chosen
He was at once angry his emotion frozen

Ignited his heart, he remembered the loss
But then again, what care, he was the boss

Convinced his wife so severely deceived him
He demanded to know the possible reason

And confronted his wife with rude demands
So sudden, so cruel, she did not understand

The confrontation was heated and very sad
But she was steadfast and seemingly glad

"My poems about YOU, when we first met
Somehow the years flew by, did you forget?

A gentle, caring lover you inspired my heart
Those wonderful early years from the start."

The husband admonished fell into his chair
Realizing his folly had fueled his despair.







Of poignant memories 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

      No airline ticket required!!! Imagine yourself on the wings of a bird and realizing what it would be like to soar through the sky an see the world with a bird's-eye view on long distance journeys, navigating across continents and scaling the heights of the wonders of the world. 
     That, my dear, would be the journey of a lifetime and you can vicariously take the journey in view it in a breathtaking travel log recorded for the first time in a stunning film called, EARTHFLIGHT, which opens at the American Museum of Natural History on September 25, 2017.

In this amazing film which will screen in 3D and 2D, it shows what it would be like to fly like a bird over the world's spectacular monuments, cathedrals, legendary castles, and scan nations below.  Filmed in eleven countries, on four continents, the film took four years to make. To make your EARTHFLIGHT journey even more entertaining, it is narrated by Academy Award-winning actress, Cate Blanchette. The film is a totally immersive experience that will take you on an incredible flights across the world on the wings of birds. (Photo credit right: Photo by Christian Moullec (c) John Downer Productions).
     AERIAL TECHNIQUES: It took courage to make the film, skill beyond the norm and revolutionary aerial techniques and state-of-the-art 3D cameras to deliver the reality of flight as viewers join a variety of different avian species on their seasonal journeys.  A significant challenge for the production company was operating 3D cameras in the air on microlights, paragliders, and octocopters to fly alongside birds. The camera was stripped down to the bare minimum to not overload the mircrolight, and the 3D rig was redesigned to be compact and light, and still resist the flex from 
G-force and wind speeds.   

 DISCOVER: In this intimate journey of awesome bird travel the audience will discover the fascinating science of flight: how in the synergistic life of birds with their innate compatible skill are able to maneuver simultaneously in flocks in a million  strong, manage long-distance journeys, navigate across whole continents, and collaborate with other animals to find food.
     SCREENINGS: Plenty of Screenings though March 8, 2018. EARTHFLIGHT will be shown daily in the Museum's Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Theater, in 2D at 11:30 am and 4:30 pm, and in 3D at 10:30 am and 12:30, 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 pm. Check first, times are subject to change.  To purchase tickets in advance, call 212.760.5200 or visit www.amnh.org.  General admission, Plus One, includes general admission plus one special exhibition, giant-screen 2D or 3D film, or Space show $28 (adults), $22.50 (students/seniors) and $16.50 (children ages 2-12).
For additional information, call 212.769.5100. Pay-what-you-wish admission is only available at ticket counters, where the amount you pay is up to you. The Museum is open daily, 10 am-5:45 pm. 
    Ta Ta Darlings!!! I'm taking flight with the birds as soon as the show opens, can't wait should be a journey of a lifetime. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blog links on www.pollytalk.com on fashion, visionary men, remarkable women and poetry.

Monday, August 21, 2017

OCEAN LINERS, FLOATING PALACES at the Peabody Essex Musuem: Review by Polly Guerin

Ocean Liners: Glamour, Speed, and Style at PEM
Let's take a vicarious trip on the floating palaces of yesteryear when glamour and Art Deco elegance graced the salons of the Campagnie Generale Transatlantic, commonly known as The French Line and the interiors of other world ship competitors. It was the Golden Age of the great Atlantic express in the late nineteenth and the twentieth century connecting the old wold with the new.
      They were splendid glittering ships in a race in time and a race by shipping lines to design the most luxurious interiors to attract wealthy patrons who were accustomed to luxurious hotels that emulated aristocratic homes  The prerequisite for these luxuries interiors was the fact that one had to accompany the trip with a trunk load of attire, including evening gowns to make the Grand Descent on the spectacular main dining room staircase where women would descend whilst emulating movie star elegance and diners already seated could view who was who aboard the ship.
      Your nostalgic ship experience, freeze framed in time, welcomes you at OCEAN LINERS: GLAMOUR, SPEED, AND STYLE, an exhibition organized by PEM, the Peabody Essex Museum in Essex, Massachusetts and London's Victoria and Albert Museum on view at the Peabody through October 9, 2017. www.pem.org.
       The exhibit explores the world shipping liners---their fabulous interiors, the artists' who created art treasures, and the amenities that the late maritime raconteur and author, John Maxtone Graham, Mr. Ocean liner himself, declared in his book was, "The Only Way to Cross!"  
The Dining Room,  from REX, firs class 1932
       The S.S. Ile de France, for example, was The French Line's floating palace of modernity. It showcased the height of Art Deco interiors, and featured a "street of shops" aptly named "The Rue de la Paix of the Atlantique."  The ship featured a sixty car garage, a gym and tennis court and other amenities of haute luxury that made ocean liner travel the only way to go.

     This exclusivity of bygone elegance stands as a testament to time when passengers traveled first class in an atmosphere when the most esteemed craftsmen and artists of the era produced works of splendor, never to be seen again. French artists, sculptors and architects included Rene Lalique, Edgar Brandt, Henri Navarre and Jules Leleu to name a few---all had participated and showcased their works in the l925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris, which gave the world the term "Art Deco," and inspired the ship's contemporary style. It evoked the craftsmen and artists' Art Deco concept of beauty that swayed the refined taste of the world.    
First Class Salon on The Normandie
  The quintessential of the Art Deco designed liners was The French Liner's NORMANDIE with its opulent display of artistic genius.  The interiors glittered with gilded-glass panels, The History of Navigation cycle,  designed by Jean Dupas, once exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and most recently auctioned off to a wealthy tycoon. The legend of the Normandy still is revered with artifacts currently on display on the, 2,500 
passenger cruise ship, Celebrity Summit. On the third deck find a display that includes nostalgic photographs of shipboard scenes and famous passengers such as Greta Garbo and the fashion designer, Colette, a showcase of the  the first class dining room dinner setting and a video tour with John Maxtone Graham commentary. 
      In its day, traveling first class with its physical allure, was a dream-like magical experience, it transported style and elegance, it evoked music of the era and the setting of romantic encounters.  The luxury of these memories are unlikely to ever be repeated again, but you can vicariously experience their grandeur at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA where you will transported to that bygone maritime era of unrivaled splendor.
      Ta Ta Darlings!!! I'm evoking memories of my tour of the Normandie, so little did I realize then how remarkable it was.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com, click on the links in the left-hand column on fashion, visionary men, remarkable women and poetry.  


Monday, August 7, 2017

ROAD TO FREEDOM DAY at Dobbs, Ferry Review By Polly Guerin

The Patriotic Enacters on the Road to Freedom Day 
"HEAD QUARTERS, DOBBS FERRY" General George Washington wrote most of his correspondence from "Head Quarters, Dobbs Ferry" the major epicenter of his command over the American and French troops during the American Revolution.
     It is no wonder, therefore, that Dobbs Ferry citizens revere the historical significance of their town with the Annual ROAD TO FREEDOM DAY, which takes place marching in tandem with authentic uniform enactment in the lead, followed by the adults and children who wind their way to Mead House, the site of the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society, which continues the festivities with military demonstrations, other entertainments and hospitality.  Such display of patriotic pride reminds us to remember that the call for liberty and justice for all was at the core of the American Revolution so valiantly won whilst driving the British out of the country. 
    Anytime is a good time to visit historic Dobbs Ferry but August is especially important, when Dobbs Ferry commemorates the march of General George Washington's Continental Army troops and the French forces under the command of Comte de Rochambeau.  Let us not forget that it is said by American Revolutionary historians that without the support of the France alliance, America would have lost its war of independence. 
     
Adults and Children on the Road to Freedom 
The route taken by Washington and Rochambeau eventually follows the route of the Continental army on August 19, 1781 when it began a march of more than 400 miles to Virginia and the decisive American and French victory at Yorktown over British and Hessian troops under Lord Cornwallis (October 19, 1781) that ended the American Revolution.  Participating citizens and guests in August vicariously follow that route through the town of Dobbs Ferry led by fife and drums and the Ebenezer Stevens Artificers. Artificers were skilled craftsman, responsible for the repair and maintenance of artillery including cannons and muskets. In the summer of 1781 they were encamped at Dobbs Ferry and later marched to Yorktown with the army and resumed their work as cannons and muskets were in constant need of repair and maintenance. 

     
A Cemetery Tribute to the Revolutionary War Patriots
After the opening ceremonies at Gould Park, including a discussion and display of the Revolutionary flags, the marchers made their way to the Little White Church Cemetery to honor the American Revolution's patriots with Arificers and fife and drum ceremony.

    Alas after such victorious activities honoring this great day in history everyone goes to Mead House, the site of the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society, 12 Elm Street, where musical programs include musical selections from the era, as well as a display of historical artifacts and maps. The annual event is Free and open to the public, so mark your August calendar for next year's event. Refreshments welcomed the marchers and visitors with delicious homemade baked goods, cool beverages on the lawn and make your own ice cream Sunday in the Gallery.  For additional information download http://www.DOBBSFERRYHISTORY.org. 
Email:  DFHISTORY@1CLOUD.COM or call 914. 674. 1007.
      Ta Ta Darlings!!! Dobb's Ferry is a great summer Day Trip via Metro North Harlem line at Grand Central, a mere 40 minute ride on the iron horse speeding like the wind along the mighty Hudson and plucking you down on the shimmering shore of Dobbs Ferry for The Road to Freedom. Just wear comfortable shoes for the march. Fans mail welcome, I appreciate your comments, please contact pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's other Blogs on women determined to succeed, visionary men, fashion and poetry from the heart. Access the links on www.pollytalk.com.

Monday, July 31, 2017

GRAND OPERA DIMITRIJ at Bard Summerscape: Review by Polly Guerin

Antonin Dvorak's DIMITRIJ, Grand Opera on an epic scale of monumentality, has arrived at Bard, Annandale-on-the-Hudson's spectacular Fisher Center. designed by Frank Gehry.  It is this year's SUMMERSCAPE festival's long overdue American premiere performance of Antonin Dvorak's opera in an original new staging by award-winning director Anne Bogart.  For opera aficionados this is a rare opportunity to see the remaining performances,  Wednesday, August 2 at 2 pm,  Friday, August 4 at 7:30 pm and Sunday August 6 at 2 pm.  Summerstage coach from New York City August 6. Reservation required: 845.758.7900. 
Quite frankly, the opera, if only it was possible, deserves an extended run. 
 INNOVATIVE PROGRAMMING: Since the opening of the Fisher Center at Bard, Leon Botstein, principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra has been responsible for championing and restoring to the stage a growing number of important, but long-neglected operas. He combines his conducting career with his work at Bard College, where he has served as president since 1975. Botstein's unique approach to programming gives audiences opportunities to encounter neglected, but brilliant works which he performs alongside standard repertoire masterpieces, often enhancing the experience, as he did at the July 30 performance, with a preconcert talk that augmented the opera experience. 
     Dimitrij introduction at Bard stands as a testament to recognizing Dvorak's genius; the recognition of his lyricism and masterfully stirring chorus and brilliant soloists singing with such synergistic resonance that brought the July 30th audience to a standing ovation. With rising young tenor Clay Hilley's heroic performance in the title role and the captivating soprano Melissa Citro as Marina, Dimitrij's Polish wife, and the resonant, bright voiced Russian soprano, Olga Tolknit as Xenia completed their fatal love triangle. it was a breathtaking grand opera performance with others as talented too numerous to mention here.  Set design by David Zinn and costumes by Constance Hoffman make this thrilling new production a "must see" on your list of cultural interests.
THE STORY: Based on events of 17th century Russia, Dimitrij seemingly resumes where Mussorgsky's Boris Gudunov leaves off.  It vividly depicts the struggle for power during the "Time of Troubles" that ensued in the wake of the Tzar's death. Mistakenly supposing himself to be Dimitrij, the murdered son of Ivan the Terrible, Dvorak's protagonist believes he has a legitimate claim to the Russian Throne.  When he falls in love with Godunov's daughter, however, he decides to divorce his own Polish wife, he unwittingly triggers the chain of events that will result in his demise. Ultimately tragic, the story of the false Dimitrij pits Orthodox Russia against Catholic Poland. Bard's historic presentation also features Dimitrij's rarely heard, full-length overture and original brutal conclusion. The final scene's frozen-in-time tableau of the entire cast and chorus filling the stage with their omnipotent presence resembled an unforgettable work of masterful artistry.   
Melissa Citro as Marina, Dimitrij's Polish Wife
Dvorak's Dimitrij (1882) is rarely staged outside of he Czech Republic, and was acclaimed for its strong dramatic moments, original melodies and masterful choral work and was widely regarded as one of the most significant works created for the Czech operatic stage. It only received its United States concert premiere in 1984, more than a century after its composition. Bogart said,                  "The more I look at the opera-the architecture of the piece and the absolutely gorgeous music-the more I am completely bewildered why it's not done all the time, why it's not a stable part of the repertoire in the opera world."

     Ta Ta Darlings!!!   I was overwhelmed by this powerful performance and the captivating orchestration of Dimitrij. The stellar performance still resonates with me. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com.