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.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Best Holiday Party of the Season!!!! Lite Brite Neon

We have not yet seen winter's first calendar day, months of darkness and cold stretch out before us with slushy streets and wind howling in the skyscraper canyons. At the Lite Brite Neon party, courtesy of the Brooklyn Guild and Textile Arts Center, the gaieties of the season were on full display. Several artists chiseled ice sculpture out front, a finely detailed owl and a working guitar with strings laid over frets of ice.

Inside, light, precious light. Lite Brite Neon installed neon lights of snowflakes in white and pale blue, and mistletoe. The neon cast a warm, ballroom glow over the wooden floors. Cupcake girls drifted through the crowd with trays of mini cakes in eggnog icing. The bar served a fragrant rum and pomegranate punch.

Then, a chorus swelled in song- the Brooklyn Ladies Choir. No strident glee club, their voices united in soft, clear loveliness. Drifting in their siren hymn, wondering at the impossible beauty of it, I felt this moment of divinity that is a woman's power. They soared through Dear Yoko, S.O.S., and A Place in the Sun.

It is enough to make us stop complaining about winter. Perhaps even for a whole week.

(Above: Ice guitar! complete with string and pick-ups. With the absence of the warm wooden body of a guitar, the sound was in fact icy cold -- like the high pitched sound of a holiday angel!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Small Faces in Chelsea

On Saturday we strolled Chelsea, the one blessedly Santa-free location in Manhattan on the day of Santacon. On our way to see the Anselm Kiefer show at Gagosian, we ran into the "small faces" guy, Felix Morelo. Felix lives somewhere in that no man's land of East Willamsburg/Bushwick where one us keeps a painting studio. We first made his acquaintance at the Chinese takeout on Bushwick Avenue. A few weeks later the sidewalk in front of the studio had a block's length of small faces, drawn in chalk, greeting me by name.

Felix Morelo- artist, local eccentric, and drawer of small faces. And there he was in Chelsea on Saturday. He drew a line of small faces from 20th to 30th street along 10th Avenue, dragging himself on a milk crate as he drew his way down the street, cold hands covered in chalk. Each face is different, there are distinct characters in the rudimentary chalk visages. Some of them give a talk balloon shout-out to the passers-by who stop and talk to Felix while he works. "Hello, Thinley!", "Hello Heather!", they exclaim. The people we encountered passing the spontaneous exhibit all seemed to smile and wonder at the breadth of the display.

Cary Kwok's Obsession (Curated by Prabal Gurung)

Somewhere between ejaculation and elegance we find "Obsession". Who would have thought Audrey Hepburn's angelic face could so appropriately be paired with a semen splattered scrotum? The consistency in Kwok's style is what allows for such a union.

Attention to detail is a definitive quality of his work. When you go to the exhibit at The Flag Art Foundation look closely at the art and you will see how Kwok has beautifully and meticulously incorporated his signature into each piece of work...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Factory @Party XPO

The DIY venue, Party XPO, still carries the eyeball scarring party store sign on the marquee, making it was easy to find amid the dark underbelly of the J train. Last night's organizers pulled out all the stops for a recreation of Warhol's Factory- the walls painted silver and black, giant mylar balloons flying overhead, seats for Beautiful People to lounge, a couple of sequined go-go girls, jerky in that 60's way. A giant, mad fish with glowing eye stared unblinking at us behind a staging area for the bands, who were all playing the Velvet Underground. The guests crowded in and completed the scene- the room was filled with bouffants and beatniks, metallic frocks and much eyeliner.

The Factory house band was played by Twin Guns, Madame Robot and the Lust Brigade, LoveStruck and Daddy Longlegs. The highlight for us was Twin Guns, we can't get enough of their 'verb drenched guitar. The Guns struck the perfect pose, deadpan and dark as the Undergound in their sunglasses and leather. They played some of our favorites, All Tomorrow's Parties and Here She Comes Now, with their trademark bad-assedness.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

From Sunset Park (Reading by Paul Auster) to Sunset Park

Hosted by Park Slope's Community Bookstore and held at a Community Cultural Center -- a place with no stage; therefor, no stage lights and alas you can see every face in the audience. Minus the baby strollers the room is filled with other Park Slope stereotypes -- a whole lot of couples (young and old), academic, and the arts and crafts enthusiasts.

While waiting for Auster to arrive, I notice a woman knitting up near the front. The mention of her is not an attempt to set the scene, it is to say that I DON'T CARE WHAT YOUR HAND CRAFTED HOLIDAY SCARF LOOKS LIKE, LADY! Especially when you continuously drop your knitting needles on the ground while Paul Auster is reading from his latest novel, Sunset Park.

The novel follows a set of characters who are all linked by one man, Miles Heller. Set at the beginning of the economic collapse of 2008, the mood is both contemporary and ghostly. Like a string of coincidences Auster's novels move quickly. His characters who often seem tumbled about by chance, usually end up at a standstill with a great choice to be made, a refreshing change of the novel's fast pace. One of my favorite excerpts Auster reads:

The human body is strange and flawles and unpredictable. The human body has many secrets, and it does not divulge them to anyone, except those who have learned to wait...The human body lives in the mind of one who possesses a human body, and to live inside the human body possessed of the mind that perceives another human body is to live in a world of others.

After the reading I headed over to Sunset Park to meet my sister and friends at a Days Inn where they were filming a short. Auster writes:

"It was a rougher neighborhood, she said, but it wasn't far from where he was living now, and rents were a half or a third of the rents in Park Slope"

...so we figured this would be a cost affordable neighborhood to shoot in. I will update you more on this at a later date. But for now, here are some photos from on the set!

Line Up: Rigging Knots & Glimpses of a Master Class

(Above: Philip Petit in front of his drawings. When I asked him who's idea it was to skew the frame he responded, "Mine, of course!")

The Opening at Clic bookstore and gallery, was a dry one, so the spectators did not have the usual white wine glow, but as if watching the high wire act at a circus their gazes did marvel. On one side of the room we saw Victoria Dearing's black and white prints of Philippe Petit during his master class (taken August of 2010 in Williamsburg) and on the other side of the room was a series of Drawings by Petit of his rigging knots.

Petit, who is known for his high-wire walk between the Twin Towers, did b-line around the room in a kind of shuffle which made you imagine lines below his feet. What immediately struck me about his drawings was the significance of the subject. Daring and confident as he may be, a poorly rigged knot would result in Mr. Petit's downfall. So, with delicate detail and pressure on the tip of the pencil the drawings depict a symbol of survival.

As if watching her subject from a nearby building, Dearing's photographs are soft and unimposing.

The Show will be on view at Clic bookstore and gallery until January 16th.