With a shared eye for the unusual and spectacular, Kelsey Bennett and Heather Morgan dive deeply to unearth the pearls of the city. As though escorting you on a road trip to discover the oddities of our metropolis, Bennett and Morgan shine light on artists, musicians, and events which need to be seen.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Soul Survivors

The line trailed down the block for Lee Fields and the Expressions and Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band. It took a long time for the crowd to be admitted, but the mood was jubilant for a night of Daptone soul. Charles Bradley, Brooklyn's own "Black Velvet", opened the show with his heartbreaking wail and sultry dance moves. His anguish and redemptive love elicited the stamps and shrieks of an adoring crowd. Bradley performed songs from his upcoming album, "No Time for Dreaming," but his impassioned expressions seemed extemporaneous, conjured just for us in the moment.

Bradley brought such tender meaning to Neil Young's Heart of Gold

I want to live, I want to give. I've been a miner for a heart of gold.

Lee Fields followed immediately with a captivating performance. The highlight of his set was when he came a bit unhinged at screaming end of "Love Comes and Goes".

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cast Your Votes!

Who wins?...

The Wiccan teenager (circa 1996) or

Rhoda from "The Bad Seed" all grown up?

These photos were taken at The Flag Art Foundation (545 W. 25th Street) an exhibition space for contemporary art. The above installation by Damián Ortega is entitled Controller of the Universe. Each object hangs still in space and every sharp tip, blade, or hatchet face away from the participant. Oddly enough, while standing within an orb of deadly weapons I felt safe and focused.

"The dynamic spherical formation of outward facing blades and points evoke connections between power and violence..."

Also on view at The Flag Art Foundation is, Obsession (New Drawings and a Historical Survey) by artist Cary Kwok -- stay tuned for our account.

Monday, November 15, 2010

OCD: The Art of Obsession

Astral Massachusetts, Jesse McCloskey

"Cut and paste, cut and paste, that's all I do all day," muses artist Jesse McCloskey. Then there was Olek, who sits and watches movies while crocheting her pieces for countless hours at a time, a bottle within reach, maybe some snacks and cigarettes. Finally we heard from Florent Morellet, famed not only for his meatpacking district restaurant of a bygone time, but also for his meticulous map renderings. Were we in the dayroom of a madhouse? On the anxiety couch? No! We attended a Dialogue in the Visual Arts Program sponsored by BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center and moderated by gallerist, Christopher Henry.

Empty Lichen, Florent Morellet

Intensity, earnestness have seemingly gone out of style in the age of "idea" art and the coronation of irony and cynicism. But not for these three. It was refreshing to hear artists speak passionately of their unshakeable belief in systems that are eccentric and obsessive. Florent, who has been creating amazingly detailed maps of great cities of his imagination by hand for thirty years, had the audience rapt with a story of a great failure of city planning in the time of aristotle.

Obsession makes for charming discourse. But best of all, is that such work in which skilled hands are evident, speaks for itself.

Above, detail of Olek's work

On the Lam: The Photography of Kelsey Bennett

Pearl Diving Ladies and Gawker Artists (above photo by Kyle Dean Reinford) celebrate Kelsey's opening with decadent head pieces in front of the large flat screen TV's in the Gawker offices. These screens usually stream stats and news, but on this evening they feature Ms. Bennett's Cases series on a slide show surrounded by five other images which narrate a frantic and youthful adventure on the road.

The figures in Bennett's photographs appear suspended in a moment of apprehension and excitement, as though at the very tippy top of the first great hill on a roller coaster, poised to drop or careen through space.

On the Lam represents selected work from two of Bennet's photo series, Cases and Runaway. The people and objects depicted in these deeply personal works capture a sense of escape, the cinematic and gritty allure of life on the road, emblematic of the passage from youth to adulthood.

(Above: Suitcase installation featured at the opening, photo by Kyle Dean Reinford)

These images beamed brightly from large screens on the main wall of Gawker HQ in Nolita, where the smart crowd was dotted with many of the cast of Miss Bennet's glamorous world, enlivening a rainy night with red sequins and champagne fringe, the artist topping her gown with a leopard gladiator helmet. In the presence of Bennet and her work, at a party no less, one feels the excitement of the journey.

Check out GAWKER'S coverage of the show!

Monday, November 1, 2010

...If 300,000 people are willing to rally at the National Mall for a vague purpose than 300,000 people should be willing to rally for a purpose.