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.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Photography 2010 Opening at MOMA

Life affords few greater pleasures than being free to wander the galleries of a museum, a glass of wine in hand, conversation bursting in the air all around like tiny bubbles. Well, it is too good to be true, you can't actually drink in the galleries. So we began our evening at the New Photography exhibition at the bar, like civilized people. It was a lively scene for people watching while scarfing white wine and plantains. On to the show!

The New Photography exhibit featured the work of four artists—Roe Ethridge, Elad Lassry, Alex Prager, and Amanda Ross-Ho. Alex Prager's work was the real highlight. Her photos share some sensual qualities with Cindy Sherman- thick, shiny synthetic bouffants, a smart cinematic vintage aspect, and an undeniable modern appeal. Her short film, "Despair", of a woman with impossibly red lips, dashing through a window was a retro, pulp confection. Her inviting, filmic tableaux had the effect of elevating the viewer. The artist herself flitted through the crowd, a blonde stunner with a big 'do and a little black dress. (Below: Prager on the left, on the wall: Prager's Susie and Friends)

Coming out of the exhibit you find yourself in the next room in which "Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography" is on view. The flow from Prager's work to Nan Goldin, Dorothea Lang, Diane Arbus, and Cindy Sherman et al. is appropriate and illuminating. The transition implies Alex Prager as the next generation to follow these great photographers. How splendid to spend moments in the world generated by their perspectives, and for Ms. Prager, what a swell party it is.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Uranian Phalanstery

It is not often you see art for which age has done so much. Entering the Uranian Phalanstery and First New York Gnostic Lyceum Temple, an art collective on East 4th and Avenue D, we see not just the work of its creators, but the effects of time. The art on display includes found treasure (mummified cat anyone?), sculptural assemblages, paintings and all manner of strange objects. These bear the signs of the half century that artists Richard Oviet Tyler and Dorothea Tyler inhabited the house. Folded and frayed, figures made creepily mute by the wearing off of their faces. Everywhere the eye rests are ornate carvings and figures in the spirit of the "temple".

These works are housed within walls that have never been repainted, the floors layered in musty and faded oriental carpeting. There is an tantalizing hint of madness here in the cracked gazes and yellowed paper, flaking ceilings and gorgeous parlor furniture. But proprietress Dorothea is lucid as a dream talking of the wonders of collecting and making art independent of the desire for fame and the white walls of the gallery. She is sweetly grand, dangling a sparkling champagne flute in the dim light of the Temple where she is holding court at her going away party for artists, curious visitors and neighborhood misfits, as she has done since 1957. The value of the property, a tax lien she cannot afford, means Dorothea has to move on and take her work way uptown, tragically leaving much of its ambience, a lifetime's worth, behind in in the walls and creaky stairwell.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hilary Harkness at New York Academy of Art

Hilary Harkness is an accomplished figure painter on many levels. She shows at Mary Boone and gets good press for her beautiful and complex narratives of women cavorting in intricate, precisely drawn architectural constructions. Perhaps her best known of these depicts sailorettes in detailed vignettes in the hold of monstrous warships from the second world war. She is also notorious for a painting she made while getting her masters at Yale, depicting a certain Professor in flagrante delicto with a bull (at Yale, this story is passed down like the hunt for Skull-n-Bones). Harkness was last night's lecturer in the New York Academy of Art visiting artist program.

She discussed the world of detail in her work, the bull and whether or not one can be a feminist and still paint hot ladies. (Answer: yes, of course.) Details on upcoming lecturers at NYAA here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Backstage With Prabal Gurung

Prabal Gurung's collection for Spring of 2011 is exciting and otherworldly yet sophisticated and down to earth. One spectator described the show as having "a sci-fi landscape with hues of sand and the sea".

The gradual building of energy and excitement in the hours leading up to the show was something we all felt backstage.

The process of getting ready for the catwalk is precise with a focused frenzy. Once the models start donning garments, the atmosphere takes on new life, in stunning hues.

A material which looks like scales of a fantastic mythological character glistens with a subtle iridescence, a sheer black strap of a gown is delicately sewn onto a body, and...

the girls line up in a color pallet ranging from neutral cremes to those you may see on a tropical fish daring and elegant.

Check out the show! -- http://www.prabalgurung.com/home.php

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Irony and Ecstasy: John Waters talks about Role Models, dinner seating, and his career of celebrating tastelessness

"It is impossible to live without irony in New York City. You can't have a real biker bar. You can't have a real redneck bar. It would just be people dressed like rednecks. Real rednecks are too stupid to come to New York!" -- John Waters

During the book signing (sponsored by Greenpoint's WORD to kickoff the Brooklyn Book Festival), a pretty young thing offered up his clavicle to be signed, ostensibly for a tattoo, dashing his modeling career.

With giddy hearts did we step into the back room at Coco66 in Greenpoint, and note the intimate setting: a kitchen table with 2 chairs and glasses on a small stage. He would be seated at one of those, the king of the lunatic fringe. Our hero, John Waters, the filthiest mind alive!

He takes his seat before the adoring assembly, ever the dandy in his slim dark suit and creepy 'stache. He more than once referred to himself as being taken for a child molester. Well, he loves going to see the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie at Christmas. By himself.

He tells us he was seated by a young Martha Stewart at a dinner and they didn't know each other. They could only eye each other quizzically as the photographers went wild to snap them together, the trash master and she-of-complicated-napkin-folding. Waters touched in his heartfelt way upon the subjects of his book, Role Models, from Zoro the irate lesbian stripper ("what the F@#$ are you people lookin' at?!"), the parade of deeply weird people who inspired him in his Baltimore youth, to Leslie Van Houten, about whom he is no less candid than eloquent. The talk is breezy, filled with classics of observation, the wit flows like Malbec and we each feel as though we spent some time hanging out in our living room with our best friend. Who is INSANE.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Photographer Sheila Metzner: On The Marble Walls of the Conde Nast Lobby (through October 15th)

Sheila Metzner is known for her use of Fresson color printing. Fresson "tirage au charbon" is a rare method developed in France in 1900. Using layered oil pigments in gelatin, the process requires multiple separate negatives. The prints are developed in a solution of water and sawdust. The result is a luminous, soft glow which gives the photograph the appearance of a painting.

When I asked Grace Coddington, (Creative Editor of American Vogue, pictured above) if I could photograph her in front of her favorite Metzner photograph she gently responded "Well, this one I worked on." as she leads me over to Uma Patau Dress (1986), a feature of the evening.

This is Beatrix Ost. She is an author and an artist with a phenomenal and sophisticated personal style. Her latest book is a memoir entitled "My Father's House". It is her account of growing up in post-war Germany. When I asked Beatrix if she has a getaway where she likes to write, she perplexedly responded,

"No, I don't need a getaway, I am my own getaway"

Ost is also a good friend of Metzners. Below you will see her posing with a photograph of her gloved hand. She comments that the photo was taken in the 80's and exclaims "The 1980's, so much fun!"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Infused With Jalepenos at Hotel Delmano

I was told by the bartender to not take any photographs. When I inquired as to his reason, he replied, "This is a dark place". Indeed! But there is just enough candlelight to illuminate its oak corners and a wall festooned with antiquated portraits. Walking into Hotel Delmano (82 Berry street, Williamsburg) is a fine step away from the modern world.

The "Telenovela" cocktail is made from fresh lime, agave nectar, jalapeno infused tequila, with a cava float. Like a Latin American soap opera, it is bright and spicy, but not overpowering. A birthday party at the Hotel Delmano calls for formal attire. One lovely reveler appreciates the Latin flavors with an elegant twist.

The Dirty Fences play Lit Lounge & meet the silver screen

When did punk rock begin? Some say the 70's . . .

I'd say the beginning of time... or on second thought f*&% that question.  The Dirty Fences play punk rock off all ages and they don't need spikes or studs to fly their flag, they know what they're doing.  With Dee Dee Ramone's 1,2,3,4 and a contemporary underground east coast sound, The Dirty Fences have you dancing, stomping, and feeling like you snuck out your bedroom window to come see them play.


The East Village's Lit Lounge has a gallery in the back and a music venue downstairs.  Lit has preserved the rough and inviting feeling the neighborhood was always known for.

Filmmakers Remy Bennett and Emilie Richard-Froozon double-exposed at Lit. Their most recent project, Rufur, is ready to go. Emilie based the short on a dream she had. Remy, who stars in the film, was also featured in the actual dream. She's a busy lady. Stay tuned for the trailer of Rufur as well as the premier happening at the end of the month!

Dancing to a Dirty Fences song which will be featured in Rufur.  I won't give the title away, but I will say the film and the song together are like a car that has "just married" written all over it.

Lara meets a lot of people and a lot of bands, stamping hands at Lit. One of the favorite bands she discovered there are called Forgetters.  Lara's tattoo on her chest says (in an Italian accent) "Forgive never forget".