Monday, May 20, 2013


Our Banner in the Sky, 1861, Frederic Edwin Church
With the Memorial weekend coming up it seems a fitting time to remember the heroes of all the wars and the exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum considers how the Civil War Changed American Art, the evolving role of photography during the American Civil War and takes a leap of faith celebrating The Cloisters’ 75th Anniversary. Only in New York my friends, the best of culture to tweak our cultural pursuits. Here’s the scoop!!!

THE CIVIL WAR and AMERICAN ART which will be on view at the MET beginning Memorial Day, May 27th, considers how American artists responded to the Civil War and its aftermath through landscapes and genre scenes which capture the war’s impact on the American psyche. Works by Frederic Edwin Church and Sanford Robinson Gifford’s landscapes and Winslow Homer and Eastman Johnson’s painting of life on the battlefield and home front are spellbinding venues. Church may have created the small-scale work ‘Our Banner in the Sky,’ 1861, in response to the valiant defense of the American flag during the Confederate shelling of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. The artist transformed the evocative sunset into nature’s memorial, the very landscape mourning the dissolution of the Union and the nation---like the edges of the flag—in tatters. The civilian artist-correspondent for Hamper’s Weekly, Winslow Homer visited the Union front several times during the Civil war, making sketches that would serve as reference in painting oils, such as Home Sweet Home (ca.1863). Some bands in the conflict would strike up that melody, ‘Home, Sweet Home,” and every band within hearing would join in that scared anthem.”

PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR featured more than 200 of the finest and most poignant photographs of the American Civil War. The camera recorded from the beginning to the end the heartbreaking narrative of the epic four-year war (1861-1865) in which 750,000 lives were lost. This exhibition explores, through photography, the full pathos of the brutal conflict, which after 150 years still looms large in the American public’s imagination. Included are the intimate studio portraits of armed Confederate soldiers preparing to meet their destiny; battlefield landscapes strewn with human remains,; rare multi-panel panoramas of the killing fields of Gettysburg and destruction Richmond, with ground breaking works by Mathew B. Brady and many other wartime photographers. Through September 2, 2013.

UNICORNS IN MEDIEVAL and RENAISSANCE ART mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of The Cloisters museum and gardens—the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. The exhibition, Search for the Unicorn includes some 40 works of art in diverse media drawn from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, other public institutions and private collections. Among the Museum’s most treasured objects, the seven individual hangings collectively known as the Unicorn Tapestries are the most beautiful and complex works of art surviving from the middle Ages. The magical unicorn continues to inspire with folklore and legend. Beatrix of Aragon presents an image of the unicorn as a metaphor of love and marriage, with the couple’s entwined coats of arms reinforcing the idea of a happy alliance. A pair of unicorns drawing a golden chariot represent Chastity on a Florentine desco da parto, a tray or salver paint in the celebration of the birth of a child. During the opening weeks of the exhibition, a special May-blooming millefleurs planting and a potted display of plants depicted in the tapestries will be featured in the Bonnefont Garden

Ta Ta Darlings!!! I’m off to catch up with the Unicorn tapestries. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly’ Blogs on fashion, menremarkablevisionaries and womendeterminedtosucceed@blogspot. Just go to www.pollytalk and click on the links in the left-hand column of the page.

Monday, May 13, 2013

PALMER, POTTER: Retail Pioneer (c) By Polly Guerin

While retail theater on television is currently celebrating the rise of the department store, viewers would be served better to know that the true story of the man you brought retailing to the pinnacle of showman ship was Potter Palmer. He was the creator of what we now know as the modern department store. (It was not Marshall Field or Harry Selfridge) Palmer ranks highest among the remarkable visionaries who made shopping an adventure and entertainment destination. However, he was more than just a merchant king he also gave Chicago, the grand Palmer House Hotel and many other ‘firsts’ including introducing impressionism to the United States. RETAIL ORIGINS Palmer invented many of the retail practices we take for granted today. He was the first captain of the merchant class to allow women to exchange merchandise. He created the motto, “the customer is always right,” originated a liberal credit policy, opened the bargain basement concept and last but not least installed dazzling window displays. A man ahead of his time, Palmer hired one of the first female architects to construct a building for the World’s Columbia Exposition in 1892. Bertha Honore, Palmer's wife, was a remarkable woman who shares in the limelight of historical significance in the legacy of the Palmer saga.
LOVE UNDER FIRE Such a story is worth historical reverence and to this end Corn Bred Films has set the record straight about the lives of Bertha and Potter Palmer, one of the first and foremost power couples in the United States. Corn Bred film’s new 30 minute documentary film, LOVE UNDER FIRE, tells the epic love story between young socialite Bertha Honore and Potter Palmer, a self-made man twenty years her senior. Their passion for Chicago, the city they loved is a riveting saga that reveals more than meets the eye. PALMER ARRIVES Potter Palmer came from upstate New York and was interested in retailing. He stopped off in Chicago a burgeoning Midwest town with mud roads but a growing community. Palmer saw opportunity and decided he wanted to be part of the city and prospered in real estate and retailing. At one point Palmer reached an elevated level of business social success, and when he was thirty-eight years old he was worth millions of dollars, a fine catch to say the least. Due to Palmer’s social ascendancy, he was invited to dinner at the home of real estate maven, where in her father house; Palmer met thirteen year old Bertha Honore, which would forever change his life.
PALMER HOTEL Bertha Honore was a remarkable woman, determined to succeed and did so when years later she married Potter Palmer. Palmer was a man of grand gestures and he built the Palmer Hotel as a wedding present for his bride. During the raging fire that destroyed Chicago in 1875 and the Palmer Hotel, Bertha seemingly rose from the ashes, a woman of great fortitude. She was the first woman to appear before Congress to petition the government for funds, and traveled throughout Europe, influencing royalty and industrialists. Palmer let Bertha shine in the limelight. She continued to be a great supporter of women’s education, wages and working conditions. This powerful couple’s story is breathtaking and illuminating as to how two people forged a legacy that makes them important figures in the historic documents of our country’s evolution into a great nation.


Sunday, May 12, 2013



Rain Room at the Museum of Modern Art
Venture out on your cultural pursuits and New York City never disappoints, it just overwhelms with the rich treasure trove of museum, gallery openings and events that will crowd your agenda. Only in New York, my friends, The Best of New York. Here’s the scoop!

SUBLIMING VESSEL: The Drawings of Matthew Barney, best known for his sculptures and films, but drawing also plays a critical role in his work in this first exhibition devoted entirely to his drawings, created in conjunction with the Cremaster film cycle and his current project River of Fundament that traces his investigation of drawing as an activity both independent from and linked to his sculptural and performance practice. . Also on view is a selection of Barney’s storyboards for his films and videos. Over time, Barney’s work has evolved into multi-character productions that rely increasingly on storytelling related to the folklore and myth of a particular site. Through Sept. 2, 2013. An artist talk, a conversation with Matthew Barney takes place on May 15 at 7pm. For tickets contact 212.685.0009 x 560 at The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison.

RAINING CULTURE: You'll feel like 'singing in the rain.' A new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art basically allows you to walk in the rain in Rain Room and it is quite an experience, as only MoMa can produce. In a carefully choreographed sequence visitors walk through a 1000-square-meter room where 2000 liters of rain pour from 46,000 nozzles above without getting wet. WHEW!!! Wherever you walk a dry area forms around you. The Installation is situated on the West lot as part of MoMa, PSI’s Expo I, New York Festival. HOW DOES IT WORK? Six to seven people can enter the room at the same time. You must proceed slowly, walk too fast and you will get drenched. Bring an umbrella, just in case. Through July 28, 2013. At MoMa, 11 W. 53rd St.

THE MARCHES! 136TH Birthday of Isadora Duncan the dance company will perform The Marches! An evening of revolutionary dances of heroism, strength and like at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre on May 16, 17, and 18, 2013. The program will showcase many seen solos and group works nearly lost to the public. These signature pieces of Isadora Duncan’s career are theatrically staged by Lori Belilove at The Ailey Citigroup Theater, 405 W. 55th St. at 9th Avenue. T 212.691.5040.

THE GREAT GATSBY: POLLY’S MOVIE PICK OF THE WEEK: The Great Gatsby does not disappoint it just overwhelms at first with vulgarity and depravity at its heightened frenzy during the Jazz Age parties at Gatsby’s mansion. But surprisingly, this potent adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel also satisfies as drama with the deep love of the nouveau- rich gangster Gatsby and his tragic pursuit of ex-girlfriend, Daisy, who is married to a rich, philandering lout. The movie lusts with sentimentality and an unwavering unrequited love story. Gatsby has spawned a wide range of fashion incarnations like the Miuccia Prada- designed clothes on display at the 575 Broadway store, Deco jewelry at Tiffany and Deco Parties and 20’s Cocktail revivals.

Ta Ta Darlings!!! I’m off to catch a bit of rain at MoMa. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly’ Blogs on fashion, menremarkablevisionaries and womendeterminedtosucceed@blogspot. Just go to and click on the links in the left-hand column of the page.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel: potograher: David Sims
Just what exactly defines the punk era? Is it anarchy, rebellion or a do-it-yourself venue that continues to engage and excite our imagination? In this compelling and outrageous exhibition, “PUNK: Chaos and Couture,” May 9 to August 14 at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, curator Andrew Bolton argues high fashion has adopted punk style more than any other counter cultural movement. The exhibition examines punk’s impact on high fashion from the movement’s birth in the 1970s through its continuing influence today.
PUNK’S ORIGIN Since its origins, punk has had an incendiary influence on fashion,” said Mr. Bolton. Punk began in the mid-1970s as youth movement centered on the music scene at New York, CBGB club and then moved to London and there it grew full blown and fashion-focused with designers Vivienne Westwood at the helm. Punk broke all the rules in a time when originality was celebrated and championed the individual’s individuality. The museum explores this visually with 100 designs for men and women.
COMPARISON VIEWS Original pink garments from the mid-1970s are juxtaposed with recent, directional fashion to illustrate how haute couture and ready-to-wear have borrowed punk’s visual symbols, with paillettes being replaced by safety pins, feathers with razor blades, and bugle beads with studs, and other hardware. The exhibit is organized around the materials, techniques and embellishments associated with the anti-establishment style.
GALLERY PRESENTATIONS The seven galleries, organized thematically have designated punk heroes. The first gallery is devoted to CBGB represented by Blondie, Richard Hell, The Ramones and Patti Smith., Next gallery is inspired by Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood and their Seditionaries boutique in London. The Clothes for Heroes examines designers who extend the visual language of punk, as it was originally articulated by McClaren and Westwood. Do-it-yourself, punk’s contribution to high fashion is explored in the four final galleries focus on couture’s use of studs, spikes, chains, zippers, padlocks, safety pins and razor blade with Sid Vicious as its icon.
MUSIC and VIDEOS Presented as an immersive multimedia, multisensory experience, the clothes are animated with period music videos and soundscaping audio techniques; original punk pieces and videos showing punk icons wearing their infamous looks. The designers include Versace, Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana and Karl Lagerfeld. It is interesting to note the couture and punk had value handcrafted, individual pieces. Bolton said, “Just as couture has made-to-measure one of a kind garments, punk would take a leather jacket and customize it so that you are the only person in the world who wears it.”