Monday, December 21, 2009

dannon lids?: contemporary art for skeptics

so, have you ever been to a gallery or museum and thought, why is that/that object (maybe one or a display of a grouping of commercially "ready-made" objects) art? who said that's art and why are they saying that? or, you may have felt that what's being presented as "art" lacks any demonstrable technical virtuosity or talent. the "i could have done that" phenomena (i got that in a forest of two by fours at the whitney biennial a couple of years ago). for many folks outside the contemporary scene, myself included, our most common idea or experience of visual art is of objects that stand alone, standing in for, or and representing the artist. we may expect to have our experience, or may enjoy the sensation of being, in the presence of the object (i also like to touch and hug sculpture, but that's another personal issue). we may also want the object to be beautiful, understand it to reflect an ideal or standard of beauty, recognize it as a symbol, react emotionally or intellectually to it, or it may just match the couch (in a good way). to start to get my head around conceptual and contemporary art (of the it's the idea not the object sort), i've just read seven days in the art world by sarah thorton and art's prospect: a challenge of tradition in an age of celebrity by roger kimball. ms. thorton's book is a fun insiderish tour of the clannish contemporary art world from cradle (art school) to grave (auction house). i got the most insight from the chapter on a graduate school seminar at calarts which shows you how artists are being taught how to think and think about the use of technique and object-making. she a wonderful writer who makes you feel like you're right there at an auction, art school, art fairs, etc. roger kimball is a "conservative" academic and social critic; his book looks at contemporary art institutions and some of what passes for art these days (much of which, in his view, is too infatuated with theory (over intellectualized?) at the expense of aesthetic appreciation and a more traditional view of the ennobling power of art. i loved this book too; it's pretty intellectually rigorous (as is his writing in general).

if you're not up for a book, there are plenty of book reviews and articles that highlight the debate and discussion addressed in the books, including: agony and ecstasy: the art world explained by barry schwabsky and the end of art by roger kimball. here's my takeaway (and pet peeve), artists are not just makers of art objects. visual artists, at best, are philosophers, documentarians, or social commentators and critics who use visual media to express their views, ideas, experiences, and criticism of the world in all its aspects. these things may may be visually expressed/represented by an object or not. my pet peeve (and perhaps it's because i love objects, especially paintings by ingres, david and vermeer), if you're going into the idea business, i expect you to be able to articulate and defend your work (take a page from mr. kimball, please). i may not agree, but if there is a concept or idea worth getting on the table (or wall), let me hear it. if you have a different view, let me know too; i love a good debate.

in the phoenix area for the holidays and hungry for soul food? check out mrs white's golden rule cafe or lo-lo's chicken and waffles. ok, i haven't been in phoenix for years and am a total late adopter of any technology, but with the piles and piles of snow in nyc this weekend, i poked around on itunes and discovered free podcasts--from blogs and public radio, etc. i'm now obsessed with the splendid table (where these restaurants were mentioned) and i'm trying out 3 wine guys and there's plenty more on politics, health, art, and another favorite--football. now i can watch football (sound off) while listening to public radio while looking at magazines and searching the world wide web and drinking tea (just discovered the delicious organic, japanese green tea with matcha and roasted brown rice, genmaicha matcha-iri . it has a mellow, round (really!) flavour that's less astringent and tannic than plain green tea or matcha so it's great without food. green tea is great with food, but too much for me on it's own.)

do the grey days of winter make you long for a little color? check out the top name in the color business, pantone, with a standardized color matching system so different folks (and in ny this is the way artists and design folks talk about color) refer to the pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another. fun stuff they do are color forecasts: color of the year 2010, turquoise and fashion forecasts from nyc's fashion week, like the fashion color report for spring 2010. looking for a gift for someone in or aspiring to be in fashion, design or arts, look at the fun pantone-inspired accessories: a pantoneapp for iphones for color on the go, iphone/ipod covers, cool color block mugs and espresso cups , cufflinks, typhoon peppermills and a fun "colorstrology" (about me: september, generally: color: baja blue 18-3946; divine, discerning, artistic; for the 24th, cornflower blue 16-4031: "love is very important to you as is the need to connect with others. you are highly romantic and function best when you are in a healthy relationship. although you can be emotional, you have a keen mind and a sharp wit. harmony and a happy home and family hold great comfort for you. your personal color resonates with clarity.")

peace out, flatsie


Sunday, December 13, 2009

christmas crazies

hey y'all! can you believe the holidays are upon us? as much as i love to shop, the forced march towards 17 presents presenting by a date certain even makes me allergic to shopping. so, this past weekend, i headed into the woods to hide with a lovely stack of books and beethoven's symphonies conducted by john eliot gardiner. in the woodstock, ny area (my town is shady, ny, the post office address is bearsvilles, ny, but we call it woodstock--don't you love small towns? :0), there's such dreaminess as country music radio stations on the radio, a lovely proper-sized grocery store (hurley ridge market in west hurley--santa was there offering a plate of cookies and bob's candy canes--who's bob, btw?) where you can push the cart through the aisle (not allowed in the city) and piles of powdery snow. as it turns out, cleaving by julie powell had a major plot line around fleisher's, a butcher shop in nearby kingston, ny. for me, the book was a little too much "technical" information about her extra-marital personal life disconnected from any information that that gave me any understanding of why she's doing this stuff, much less telling the world about it. the good news is that she seems to be finding her voice as a writer. in the first few chapters, there's a bit of awkward, and perhaps defensive, sprinkling of sat-preparatory vocabulary that i think may result from criticism she took for the writing in her first book (it was a blog of course, and who of us is tolstoy in that context?). once through that she settles into herself and moves forward with her tale which was interesting enough. it's hard to be compared to julia child and even though she made the comparison herself, i'm trying to get over it and judge her writing and storytelling on its own merits.
if you're in the city and can use a break, head to the shambhala center for the weekly $5 (meditation and lecture) dharma gathering on tuesday nights; even for me, a bit of a mexican jumping bean (remember those? we used to get them at the unbelievable south of the border on the way to nyc from gainesville) those two hours spent in contemplation and conversation gives a calm that can last into the next few days. there's no preaching a la "sign up here for inner peace" but a cool respite from the to-do list lives we live.
peace (inside and) out,



Thursday, December 10, 2009

random retail redux

so, I said our next stop was mexican silver and scoop about sterling markings and their meaning, but what's a journey without a little detour? (If you need to know now, go to the wonderful website for the full scoop. The marks can tell who, when, where and what. scandinavian and american companies product are particularly collectible, btw. I'm obsessed with danish silver jewelry (with enamel) from the 1970's (pricey usually, but very good quality) and tiffany's stuff (love that classic american brand when I find it for $20 at my favorite little nyc flea and farmer's market at 66/67 streets and 1st avenue every saturday!).

but I digress: here's what's happening. there's something good going on at club monaco. The staff can be uneven, but there's a ton of very wearable, well-fitting professional clothes and great accessories (gloves, hats and scarves) for women of all ages (the men's clothes have been more consistently good over the years). Nice little black dresses, skirts, thin v-neck sweaters and cutes tops (in all colors) you can mix and match. The things are nicely detailed and many things go on sale because they're bringing in a lot of product and turning it over pretty quickly. The jewelry is nice looking, but I feel expensive for the quality (super into rhinestones? pop over to or pop online to m and j trimming for a strand of rhinestones you can tie into bolero, choker or bracelet.) supposedly, cm has a new designer, whatever it is, it's nice to be able to go there again and count on being able to find something again.

for hosiery, I'd skip cm and other boutiques and go to h&m (italian stockings and tights often get marked down to $2 (!) in ny, but even full priced, they have nice, good quality options that don't approach the $75+ wolford levels). Or, my favorite staple is a very good quality, small gauge black fishnets and other fancy hosiery and tights from the canadian website shapings. the last for 10 wears fishnets are made by philippe matignon; i literally buy them in bulk for everyday wear.

bloomingdales is also going a little crazy--in a good way. by and large their staff is very professional and customer oriented and in ny (everywhere?), we're now in the minimum of 40 percent off mode. plus there are private sales and other coupons floating around for extra 10-20 percent off. even if you don't have the coupons, i just mentioned that i forgot my coupon and got an extra 10-20 percent off. this was extra good at the stuart weitzman boutique--fun, over the knee, soft nappa leather boots ended up being 60 percent off at the same time zappos and bloomingdales own website has them at full price $500+ depending on the style.

also, hit the shiseido counter for a simple winter skincare routine: ultimate cleansing oil is a great nondrying makeup removing wash and i'm liking the new future solution lx night cream (for day and night). to get out the door quickly use that moisturizer, a touch of advanced hydro liquid makeup (as light foundation and concealer) with the white lucent brightening eye treatment. add a touch of blush (the line has a color stick that's a bit glossy and in pretty colors) on cheeks and lips and i'm out the door (well, +/- another 10 minutes of putting on jewelry, which brings us back to mexican silver...).

query du blog: will mexican silver ever get its due in this blog or will it suffice that i wear 7 lbs of it almost every day?

peace out, flatsie

Monday, December 7, 2009

vintage miami beach

everything old was new again in miami beach this year. locals dress circa 1981 whilst snacking on export sodas with guava paste and cream cheese (yum!), tried and true artworks predominated (like warhols) at art basel miami beach, nada set up shop at the deauville beach resort and the vintage stores were overflowing with good quality, well priced items. head over to 650 lincoln road to enjoy the calm and curated fly boutique ; i had gone first to the stuffed to the gills recycled blues around the corner at 1507 washington avenue and became a little overwhelmed by all the coats (abandoned shearlings and furs abound), tee shirts, jeans--a lot of everything really. if you're patient you can get some great stuff (everything was 50% off), my "ny state of mind" needed lunch first. grab a delicious and authentic buckwheat crepe at a la folie tucked away on the nearby and very charming 516 espanola way that's right off washington avenue. there are a lot of cute boutiques and restaurants on espanola and washington; a couple of blocks away is lincoln road that's a bit fancier (there's even the parisian patisserie paul on lincoln along with boutiques with selections that would play well in the "expensive" part of barneys).

i had a tooled leather bag on my to-do list so i was excited to find one in black (i live in ny for goodness sake!) at fly as well as an awesome 70's metal belt (both in the picture) that i'm sure will look great on a black dress... the owner and salesclerks at fly are very accommodating and are happy to pull jewelry, belts, rings, bags and other accessories for you to try. the clothes range from last season gucci to more vintage selections; there are also comfy chairs if you (or your shopping companion) need a break. they also were flexible on prices for items that had been in the shop for a bit.

next time, "what's mexican silver?" and a bit about the markings on silver jewelry.

peace out, flatsie

Saturday, December 5, 2009

wiseman's la danse

i love paris and ballet so i couldnt wait to see the new documentary by frederick wiseman, la danse: paris opera ballet. i was lucky enough to attend the almost 3 hour film with my client, also a documentary filmmaker, who just finishing a film project about a hungarian choreographer. (i'll see a sneak peek of her project next week--cant wait!) this film had its moments and glimpses, but was such a string of missed opportunities. why clip conversational sidebars between former dancers (i guess) comparing notes whist coaxing today's performers to more nuanced work; who are these folks? you also get peeks into the business side (and the fascinating woman at the helm) and backstage areas of the institution. you also hear the middle of a conversation (important to the arts especially these days) about american and other financial vip supporters; how does it start or end? even if he couldnt tell all the stories, i wish he had told one in full. why not connect a narrative via the artists, supporters, and/or business operations of the company? it felt like i was watching a trailer for at least 5 films that might be great. i felt sad that for folks who dont know or care yet, this film doesnt help and doesnt show why this company and these people/artists are even worth learning about. im not saying the film had a duty to promote ballet or this company, it's not a pr piece. i had expected a story about identifiable characters that we relate to or not, or possible to learn something specific about all the process of producing this technically grueling, exquisitely delicate and ephemeral art. when it didnt, i felt disappointed. in new york, the film forum showings of the film were sold out and filled with insiders and balletomanes who waxed on about how great the film was. maybe it was for them. but what about the rest of us? by failing to tell who's on the screen, giving context to the comments being made or finishing one of the many stories passing by the lens, i wasnt sure who the intended audience for the film is and what point of telling the story was in the first place. dont go to the film, go to (your local) ballet instead.

peace out, flatsie