Monday, May 23, 2016

RADIOTHEATRE: Edgar Allan Poe Festival: Review by Polly Guerin

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Fasten your seat belts...it's going to be a macabre night. Radiotheatre invites you to enter into the mysterious darkness of the 160 year old St. John's Sanctuary, into the world of the grandmaster of psychological horror, the poet and author, Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49). His demons and macabre stories are metted out in the candle lit sanctuary with a stellar cast of performers who appear to relish their dramatic delivery in a radio broadcast setting.  
    This is not the first time that The Edgar Allen Poe Festival takes New York City by storm. Now in its l2th year, Radiotheatre present 16 terror tales that will grip your attention, guaranteed to chill the marrow in your bones in a Festival that runs to June 11th. (M27, 28, 29, June 2 4, 5, 9, 10, 11. at 8pm). The stories are dapted for the stage by Dan Bianchi,  as well as sound and lighting design, and music with Wes Shippee.  The atmosphere is riveting with dramatic bumps and grinding sound effects, and smoky sinister vapors.  Under the direction of Frank Zilinyi and R. Patrick Alberty the performers are convincing storytellers, who appear to thoroughly enjoy the craft of make believe.
      On May 21 I attended the Poe story adaptations of Ligeia, The Sphinx, Hop Frog and the Fall of the House of Usher directed by Frank Zilinyi and the show did not disappoint but kept us glued to every moment's dialogue with the detail of the sound effects and music. Indeed, I found myself drawn into the web of intrigue, mystery and the macabre. Cory Boughton's captivating performance was  tantalizing as was Frank Zilinyi's dramatic repartee, while Melissa Roth and Ellen Bryan proved their metal with spellbinding narration and discourse. 
       The landmark St. John's Lutheran Church, 81 Christopher Street, located in the heart of old Greenwich Village, is the ideal location for a tribute to Poe's remarkable works that have gone on to inspire millions of writers, artists, filmmakers and horror story lovers of all ages and cultures. Edgar Allan Poe, incidentally lived in old Greenwich Village and penned some of his most famous works there. To his honorable credit, Poe is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. In the annals of great men he was a foremost American writer, editor, and literary critic best know for his poetry and short stories, particularly these tales of mystery and the macabre.
     Be ready when sparks fly. As always, Radiotheatre productions come complete with breathtaking performances by stellar craftsmen and women, original orchestral scores, and enough of sound FX to keep you riveted to your seat. Just bring your imagination!!! And as they say Enjoy the Show!!
     What's up next? Indulge yourself in Poe mania: From May 27-29 Morella, The Tell Tale Heart, The Oval portrait, MS Found in a Bottle; June 2-5 Berenice, The Cask of Amontillado The Case of M. Valdemar The Pit and The Pendulum, June 9-11 The Black Cat, the Masque of the Red Death, William Wilson, The Premature Burial.   For further information: wwwradiotheatrenyc.com.  Tickets $20-$10 students and seniors.
Order through Smartix.com or 212 868 4444.
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! Whew after a night with Poe, I'm glad to be back on terra firma. Fan mail always welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you.  Check out Polly's Blogs on www.pollytalk.com, just click on the link in the left-hand column to poetry, fashionhistory,  womendeterminedtosucceed and visionarymen.

Monday, May 16, 2016

J.M.W. TURNER'S WHALING PAINTINGS at the Met: Reiew by Polly Guerin


Whalers ca. 1845
The exhibition of Turner's Whaling pictures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art---the brooding, mysterious depictions of whalers and whaling---is not the subject that would entice most visitors. However, it is the first exhibition to unite the series of four whaling scenes painted by the great British artist, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) near the end of his career.
     To the cognoscenti, who know a thing or two about these paintings, there is the glimmer of recognition that Turner's paintings inspired the epic story, Moby Dick.
     The quartet of paintings---comprising the Met's Whalers (circa. 1845) and its three companions from Tate Britain---were among the last seascapes exhibited by Turner, for whom marine subjects were  a creative mainstay. The topic of whaling resonated with some of Turner's favorite themes, modern maritime labor, Britain's global naval empire, human ambition and frailty, and the awesome power of nature termed the Sublime.

THE MELVILLE CONNECTION: Turner's whaling pictures offers a unique opportunity to consider the painting's impact on Herman Melville's epic novel Moby Dick, published months before Turner's death in 1851.  It is not certain that Melville saw the paintings when he first visited London in 1849, but he was unquestionably aware of them.  Aspects of Melville's novel remain strikingly evocative of Turner's style. 
      In addition to the four paintings that are on view, a selection of related watercolors, prints, books, and wall quotes is displayed and offers the insight into Turner's paintings and their possible relationship with Melville's text. A whaling harpoon on loan from the South Street Seaport Museum, and whale oil lamps from The Met's collection are also on view. 
     The exhibition is accompanied by a Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin entitled Turner's Whaling Pictures written by Alison Hokanson. It is on sale in the Museum's book shop and at the Met store www.metmuseum.org.
     Educational programs include a gallery reading of excerpts from Moby Dick on July 8 and a a Picture This! program on June 16 for visitors who are blind or partially blind.

This exhibition allows viewers to engage closely with the output of these two great 19th-century artists and to assess for themselves whether the British painter inspired one of the crowning achievements of American literature. Additional information about the exhibition and its accompanying programs is available on the Museum's website, www.metmuseum.org, as well as Instagram and Twitter using #MetTurner.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!!  I suggest that you take along a magnifying glass to view these moody, mysterious paintings and you just might catch a whale or two yourself. Fan mail welcome, I love to hear from my readers pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  To view Polly's Blogs go to www.pollytalk.com and in the left-hand column is a link to other Blogs including visionary men, women determined to succeed, poetry, and fashion.
    The image left: W.W. Turner as a young man.

Monday, May 9, 2016

ROBERTO BURLE MARX, Brazilian Modernist: Review By Polly Guerin

Avenida Atlantica, Copacabana, Rio de Janiero
 Looking out my hotel window in Rio de Janeiro I was captivated by the panorama of the continuous mosaic promenade that borders Copacabana Beach's main thoroughfare, "the most famous in Brazil," where native sea breeze-resistant trees and palms appear along Avenida Atlantica. The mosaic pavement, a gigantic composition more than two miles long with a pattern composed of bold abstract motifs in white, black, and red-brown stone evokes modernist imagery in Roberto Burle Marx's best- known project.
      "Who was the genius of such an innovative pavement plan?"  It was  Brazil's native son, a multi-faceted architect as well as painter, print maker, ecologist, naturalist and musician whose artistic style was avant-garde and modern. From Copacabana Beach to Biscayne Boulevard in Miami Beach, throughout Brazil and around the world, the artistic and prolific work of ROBERTO BURLE MARX (1909-1994) has made him one of the most prominent landscape artists of the twentieth century.  He is famous for designing over two thousand outdoor spaces, such as public parks, private and home gardens.  Sidewalks and gardens were never the same again. His abstract and undulating curvilinear sidewalks were colorful and opened up a new world of artful expression for public appreciation. Yet, Burle Marx's oeuvre reached out into many other areas of artistic expression. Famous projects the multitude of gardens that embellish Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil founded in 1960 and featuring buildings by famed architect Oscar Niemeyer.
     
Mineral Roof Garden, Banco Safra headquarters, Sao Paulo
Through nearly 140 works, the Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist exhibition at the Jewish Museum, through September 18, 2016, presents the first New York City exhibition to focus on Burle Marx in more than two decades, and the first exhibition in the United States to to showcase the full range of this artistic output.  A major exhibition highlight is a magnificent, nearly 90-foot-long wool tapestry created by the artist in 1969 for the Santo Andre Civic Center, near Sao Paulo. As is characteristic of his work from that period, bold colors, geometric, and biomorphic abstraction fuse in a gigantic composition, creating a veritable woven garden. This monumental work has only once before been exhibited outside Brazil. 

      The exhibition explores the richness and breadth of the artist's diversified and extensive oeuvre-his landscape architecture, painting, sculpture, theater design, textiles, and jewelry--as well his reputation as an ecologist, naturalist and musician whose artistic style was avant-garde and modern. 
      The son of a German-Jewish father and a Brazilian mother of French, Portuguese, and Dutch descent, Burle Marx embraced modernism in he early 1930s, as the movement was taking hold in his country among artists and intellectuals. Using abstraction as his guiding principle, and grand sweeps of voluminous local foliage and colorful flora, Burle Marx devised a new form of landscape expression, revolutionizing garden design.
     
Victoria amazonica waterliliesgarden of Fazenda Vargem Grande
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, gardens in Brazil primarily followed French models, featuring a symmetrical layout and imported flora. Burle Marx did away with symmetry and advocated for the use of native plants, making numerous incursions into the Brazilian country side and jungle throughout his life in search of rare species.

       He was a horticulturist and a pioneering ecologist who only used plants suitable to the environment and was one of the first to speak out against the destruction of the Amazon rain forest.  
      Roberto Burle Marx's gardens are works of modern art, not only because they make use of flat planes, abstract shapes, and bold colors, but because of the way they behave: they prompt awareness of oneself in relation to the built environment.  In this exhibition, Burle Marx's global influence and legacy is also examined through the work of a number of international contemporary artists with ties to Latin America. It is no surprise that today's artists find Burle Marx a fruitful source of inspiration and you will, too.
     Ta ta Darlings!!! The work of Roberto Burle Marx tugs at our collective imagination...that the world can be a magical place, where sidewalks move in abstract directions and color and pattern inspire a new way of thinking about art.  Fan mail  always welcome, I'd love to hear from you, send an email to pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's other Blogs at www.pollytalk,com and click on the link in the left-hand column to the subject that resonates with your interest on fashion, amazing women, visionary men and poetry.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

FASHION IN THE AGE OF TECHNOLOGY/ Preview by Polly Guerin

This just in form the press preview at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this Monday morning:


The beautiful and thought provoking show,, MANUS X MACHINA; Fashion in the Age of Technology reveals how technology and craft go hand-in-hand to make a powerful combination. "I am humbled by the innovations of the past but I am also humbled by the future of technology," said Jonathan Ive, Chief Design Officer,  Apple, a sponsor. "Both the automated and handcrafted process require similar amounts of thoughtfulness and expertise. There are instances where technology is optimized, but ultimately it's the amount of care put into the craftsmanship, whether it's a machine-made or handmade that transforms ordinary materials into something extraordinary."
     The exhibition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, Spring 2016 exhibition, presented in the Museum's Robert Lehman Wing, is a breathtaking presentation worthy of close examination.  It explores how designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear. I was stunned by the magical world of the haute couture ateliers and equally marveled at the futuristic machine-inspired fashions.
     The space houses a series of case studies in which haute couture and ready-to-wear ensembles are decoded to reveal their hand/machine DNA. Image above: A 2014 haute couture wedding dress by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel with a 20-foot train occupies a central cocoon-like area with details of its embroidery projected onto the domed ceiling. Not to be missed.!!!
      The exhibition is structured around the traditional metiers of te haute couture. It's like getting a sneak insider's view of the haute couture workshops. The first floor unfolds in a series of alcoves, examining the petites mains workshops of the extraordinary embroidery, featherwork and artificial flowers.   

     I was taken aback by the marvel of the featherweight and wondered how many birds has been sacrificed for this kind of adornment and how many may have become extinct by this fashion Image right: Relief came when I saw this Yves Saint Laurent evening dress constructed of hundreds of clear cellophane drinking straws, ingeniously layered; another marvel of the couture.
      The ground floor space is arranged as an enfilade, examining pleating, lacework and leatherwork. A room dedicated to toiles and ateliers of tailoring and dressmaking---the traditional division of a maison de couture---anchors the ground floor gallery.
     Then traditional techniques are discussed alongside innovative techniques such as 3-D printing, computer modeling, bonding and laminating laser cutting and
ultrasonic welding. 
     Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute said, "Traditionally the distinction between haute couture and pret-a-porter (ready-to-wear) was based on the handmade and the machine-made, but recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of each other."  
WHY IS MAXUS X MACHINA IMPORTANT? Bolton concludes: "Manus x

Machina challenges the conventions of the hand/machine dichotomy and proposes a new paradigm germane to our age of technology>" 
    Ta Ta darlings!!! Manus x Machina will resonate with visitors where machine and hand made morphs into something extraordinary.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.
Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and in the left-hand column click on the link to the Blog that resonates with your interest on fashion, visionary men, extraordinary women and poetry.

Monday, April 25, 2016

UNIFORMITY: Dynamic History of Uniform's Influence on Fashion:Review by Polly Guerin


Uniforms occupy a unique place in our society and resonate with high standards of design both to blend in and stand out. UNIFORMITY, the exhibition opening at The Museum at FIT, May 20, explores the dynamic history behind a variety of uniforms, examining their social roles and their influence on high fashion.
   

 Traditional uniforms give an individual several reasons why wearing a proper uniform is important--it provides recognition, a sense of pride, dignity, commonality and status. In a way, uniforms are the antithesis of high fashion.  While standard uniform design focuses on functionality, control and tradition, fashion promotes constant change, creativity, and subversion.  Yes, haven't you observed yourself that fashion has often drawn inspiration from uniforms of all kinds, taking functional features and transforming then into decorative elements.

        INFLUENCE ON FASHION: Naval uniforms in particular have had a marked influence on high fashion ever since the late 19th century, wits "middy" collars and "Breton" stripes appearing on sportswear, children's wear and women's  as well as more contemporary pieces from Jean Paul Gaultier and Sacai that utilize distinctive "Breton" horizontal stripes of the French navy.
      UNIFORMITY is organized thematically to focus on four main categories of uniforms, military, work school and sports. The exhibition opens with a display highlighting each of these four themes, incl ding a full Black Watch (Royal Highland) uniform from 1900, a fireman's uniform from the 1950s, a contemporary schoolgirl uniform from Japan, and an eye-popping professional cyclist uniform from 1985.  The exhibition continues its exploration of military
uniforms in the first display, which concentrates on the importance of modern "dress" uniforms, considering how they have evolved over time, as well as howhey differ among the ranks, genders, and the various branches of the armed forces. These are juxtaposed with designs from Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Perry Ellis that demonstrate  range of fashionable uses for the deep blue woo and gold buttons of dress uniforms. Image left: Chanel, "Brasserie Gabrielle" ensemble, fall 2015, wool, silk, cotton, leather, France, gift of Chanel.
   Another section focuses on the U.S. military implementation of olive drab service uniforms and cotton fatigues during the 20th century These are represented by a U.S. Army uniform from World War I a WAC uniform from 1944, a World War II Air Force uniform that features a shortened "Eisenhower" or "Ike" jacket, and a cotton jeep coat. UNIFORMITY also moves on to school uniforms with collegiate jackets from the 1920s and 1940;s to contemporary Japanese school uniform.  THE CLASSIC UNIVERSITY BLAZER is a fascinating   
 commentary on identifying the college as a brand and the prestigous logo and distinctive color add to the wearer's status.  Case in point, the Russet-red Princeton University blazer, 1994, wool, USA, a museum purchase stands out in a crowd of pedestrians who dress as if they belonged to a people's army wearing worn, tattered, and dreary clothing.   UNIFORMITY gives us pause to remember that logos, insignias, color and style gives us a sense of authority, status and an air of achievement.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!  Uniformity is on view at The Museum at FIT through November 19, 2016. FREE admission. Museum hours: Tuesday-Friday noon-8 pm, Saturday, 10 am-5pm. Closed Sunday, Monday and legal holidays.  
      Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and in the left-hand column click on the Blog link that resonates with your  interest from fashion to poetry, amazing women and visonary men.  
  
      

Monday, April 18, 2016

PsychoBarn:The Met's Roof Garden Installation:: Review by Polly Guerin

PsychoBarn Installation on the Metropolitan Roof
PsychoBarn, The Roof Garden Commission by Cornelia Parker, is set atop The Metropolitan Museum of Art, high above Central Park---providing an unusual contrast to the spectacular Manhattan skyline
     With one foot in reality and the other in fiction the large-scale sculpture, nearly 30 feet high, was inspired by the the painting of Edward Hopper (1925)  and by two emblems of American architecture---the classic, red barn and the sinister Bates mansion from Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film, Psycho.
The Roof Garden Commission: Cornelia Parker, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) is fabricated from a deconstructed red bard and seems at first to be a genuine house, but is in fact a scaled-down structure consisting of two facades propped up from behind with scaffolding. Simultaneously authentic and illusory, the sculpture evokes the psychological associations embedded in architectural spaces.  The installation is on view to the public from April 19 through October 31, 2016 (weather permitting).           
     "For this summer's Roof Garden Commission, Cornelia has developed an astonishing architectural folly," said Sheena Wagstaff, the Museum's Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art, that intertwines a Hitchcock-inspired iconic structure with the materiality of the rural vernacular ranging from innocent domesticity to horror, from the authenticity of landscape to the artifice of a film set. Cornelia's installation expresses perfectly her ability to transform cliches to beguile both eye and mind."

There is no doubt that Hitchcock based his film on Edward Hopper's well-known, "House by the Railroad," a house that was symbolic of the lost that is felt when modern progress leaves an agrarian society behind. 
Ms. Parker has made a career out of taking pieces of material and elaborately combining them in surprising ways. In this instance the primary materials in Ms. Parker's installation PsychoBarn, all came from a single farm building that was once scheduled for demolition in an upstate New York Town. 
     Ms. Parker's  oeuvre is that of an installation-artist and her works have become popular in museums, galleries and art fairs.
Ta Ta Darlings!!! The work of the artist is featured on the Met's website, www.metmuseum.org as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitters via the hashtag#Met Roof.  Head for the Roof Garden Bar and lounge away a daytime visit and for cocktails, when the night becomes bewitchingly enchanting, there is a Martini Bar which is open on the Roof Garden on Friday and Saturday evenings (5:30-8pm).  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click in the left-hand column to a Blog's direct link that resonates with your interest. 
     

     

Monday, April 11, 2016

THREE CENTURIES OF GREEK ART From Alexander to Cleopatra at the Met: Preview by Polly Guerin

The Acropolis of Pergamon by Friedrich (von) Therich 
Once upon a time, in the long, long ago Pergamon and the Hellenistic kingdoms of the ancient world were sophisticated areas of superior intelligence and artistic mastery. One may ask, "How did these cathedrals of culture emerge in this area of the world?" 
        Foremost, it was the conquests of Alexander the Great who transformed the ancient world, making trade and cultural exchange possible across great distances.  Alexander's retinue of court artists and extensive artistic patronage provided a model for his successors, the Hellenistic Kings, who came to rule over much of his empire.  It also took the patronage of the Hellenistic kings which led to the development of new institutions---libraries and museums, in particular---that have become pillars of modern civilization.  Then, too the origins, the concept of art history and the practice of connoisseurship also began at this time. 
      The exhibition PERGAMON and the HELLENISTIC KINGDOMS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD is on view from April 18-July 17, 2016
    Pergamon's sanctuary of Athena, goddess of wisdom, is represented by the 12-foot Hellenistic marble statue of Athena Parthenos, newly restored for this exhibition. Poetry also gets its due recognition with the importance of the epic poet Homer in Hellenistic times. It is highlighted by means of the allegorical sculptural relief known as the "Apotheosis of Homer," which was made to celebrate the victor of a poetry competition.  
Marble Bust: A Royal Head
WHO WERE THESE ROYALS? At the height of their powers in the third and second centuries B.C. the Attalid rulers of Pergamon controlled large territory of Asia Minor. Opulent luxury items in various media were produced by artisans for royalty and other elites Images of the Attalid royal family give face to the people who hosted elegant banquets and sophisticated entertainment in royal palaces.

    CAMEOS: It is interesting to note that the practice of cameo engraving was invented in the Hellenistic period. This artform-is represented by one of the largest and most spectacular examples known: the "Vienna Cameo," which depicts the king and queen from the Ptolemaic Egypt richly attired and imbued with divine symbolism. The mastery achieved by Hellenistic artisans in the employ of royalty includes ancient glass, engraved gems, and jewelry from all parts of the Hellenistic world. A small selection of actual furnishings evokes the lavish decor of the palaces themselves including mosaic floors, decorative sculpture, furniture of wood, marble and bronze; and painted stucco walls feature figural scenes.
Decorative Wall Sculpture
THE ROMAN EMPIRE: The complex history of the formation of the Roman Empire is presented through portraits of historical figures, including Mithradates Eupator
, Pompey, Julius Caesar, and Cleopatra. Although the power of the Hellenistic kingdoms came to an end in the late first century B.C. with the defeat of Cleopatra and Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium, the innovations of Hellenistic artists fostered by their royal patrons would influence Roman Imperial art for centuries. The exhibition is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalogue suitable for scholars and the general public. For updates on programs and events visit: www.metmuseum.org.
Ta Ta Darlings!!! The awesome creativity and the mastery of the artisans in the ancient world gives pause to examine the artifacts that have survived for our education and pleasure Fan mail always welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click on the direct link in the left-hand column to a Blog that resonates with your interest.