Monday, June 26, 2017

REVISITING CALDER at Whitney Museum: Review by Polly Guerin

Elements of Calder's mobiles vibrate, sway, or unfurl creating a captivating visual dynamism. His airborne mobiles hang from ceilings and stand on floors, their elements rotating independently and at times causing chain reactions with their composition. They are fascinating structures that intrigue, but when these metal sculptures move they become airborne masterpieces.
     CALDER: HYPERMOBILITY at the Whitney Museum of American Art, focuses on the extraordinary breadth of motion achieved by Alexander Calder (1898-1976) in his works from the moment he turned to radical abstraction in 1930 and continuing throughout his career. The exhibit is extended to October 23, 2017.
     Thanks to an unprecedented collaboration with the Calder Foundation, this exhibit, enchanting as it is, engages visitors with a rare opportunity to experience works set in motion by motors or air currents and further animated by touch.     

In 1931 Calder set abstract forms in motion, using motors to re-imagine the spatial and temporal relationships of compositional elements.  The mechanized sculptures on view here are newly restored for this exhibition, and several are operating for the first time since they were initially presented by the artist. Each work, driven by a hidden electric motor, consists of components that transform and interact, either within a designated open space or as offset by a monochrome backdrop.
      These subtly oscillating shapes create the sense of a painting in motion, and as with his earlier mobiles, many of the sculptures feature circular forms inspired by the dynamics of unseen forces in nature.  Always experimenting, Calder would soon push beyond the repetition of the motorized works and by 1932 he made his first suspended mobile, Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere, which quickly led to various other mobiles incorporating spontaneous movements activated by air currents, human intervention, or chance. 
 BIRTH OF THE MOBILE: Calder began with kineticism in the 1920s while living in Paris, where he developed a close association with leading European avant-garde artists, including Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian, Edgard Varese and Fernand Leger.
     In 1931 Calder invented the mobile, an entirely new mode of sculpture. The term was coined by Duchamp, the friend of American Artist, Florine Stettheimer. In French, mobile is  pun that means both "motive" and "that which moves."  Combined with carefully balanced components of wire, metal and wood, each mobile performs is own set of movements, enacting an infinite series of potential forms. 

In tandem with his kinetic works, he also made stabiles, sculptures that while stationery nonetheless convey a heightened sense of implied movement through their composition. 
     For this exhibition, musician Jim O'Rourke has composed a works in response to Calder's sculpture.  Listen on the mulimedia guide and  A complete  schedule of performances and activations for updates and to purchase or reserve tickets in advance, visit
    Ta Ta Darlings!!! Calder's mesmerizing mobiles engage, enchant, entertain and move our imagination into spheres of uncharted beauty.  Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at Just click in the left-hand column to topics that resonate with your interest on fashion, beauty, women determined to succeed, visionary men, and poetry.

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
    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  Visit Polly's Blogs at 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
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
     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 Visit Polly's Blogs at 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. 
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 Visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the links in the left hand column to visionary men, womendeterminedtosucceed, poetry from the heart and others.