This morning, I joined in on the walking tour held by Atlas Obscura titled “Exploring the Poison Cauldron of Newtown Creek,” the infamous polluted waterway separating Brooklyn from Queens. Starting with a good bit of history, tour guide, activist, and resident Newtown Creek “historian” Mitch Waxman, gave an in-depth look at oil companies in Brooklyn (often referring to John D. Rockefeller, the man behind Standard Oil, as “the monster,”) and traveling the gauntlet of the many spills, explosions, and fires that have ravaged the area. As history passed into present day, so we passed through the back alleys of the oil and waste transfer zone. It was clear, tours were not a normal thing here. In fact, people, in general were not a normal thing. Passing truck drivers leered and then quickly gunned passed. At several points, Mitch paused to give us instructions about what to do if someone started to come after us. Luckily, we passed through with little trouble, sometimes even hailed with a smile and a “Welcome!” The workers seemed friendly enough, even if the landscape itself, was hellish. Peering out from a clearing onto Newtown Creek, Mitch points out the homeless people living in the giant abandoned industrial structure across the river in Queens, and talks about the quantity of bodies littering this waterway. What’s funny, Mitch notes, is Newtown Creek used to be where people visiting Calvary cemetary would come to get out of the industrial hellscape of 1800’s Manhattan. This used to be the country.
Passing from the oil zone to the “recycling” zone seated directly under the Kosciuszko Bridge, was like entering a portal into a dystopian nightmare. Everything was metal, barren, sparks and flames flew out from behind recycled sheet metal walls, the smell was at times, unbearable, and the sound, a loud metallic pounding. This is 24/7 Mitch reminds us, it never stops. Once in a while you had to look out for things like dead cats littering the dirt pathways, already blanketed with trash. Mitch mentioned he had a beer with one of the waste workers the night before to prepare for the tour and when he asked what we can do to help in regards to recycling, the worker’s answer was simple and chilling, “It’s to late. All you can do now is keep recycling and try to make it better for your children.” As we continued towards the end of Meeker ave, Mitch pointed out the homeless camp that inhabited the stretch underneath the bridge, one of the largest in New York.
Entering the coolness of McGorlick park, surrounded by coffee shops and dog salons, we are reminded “This entire tour, even now, we haven’t been more than 8 blocks from Newtown Creek.” Beadel street, where a one bedroom is priced at around $1600, runs directly through the heart of Newtown Creek, and it’s tree-lined tranquility, is truly disturbing in the face of the hostility that surrounds it. Admittedly, it’s easy to forget what surrounds us only blocks away but after this tour, I don’t think there is any way to wipe the memory of what’s there or what exactly our children will be inheriting. It’s encouraging to know people like Mitch are taking the time to educate both residents and visitors to New York. His approach, tempered by a very clear understanding that these industries are important and vital to New York and the community, is to make changes that allow the industry to continue without poisoning the surrounding residents. As Mitch wrapped up the tour he reminded everyone that the Newtown Creek Alliance offers public meetings, to work towards raising money and taking action against things like illegal dumping in the river and much more. Riverkeeper also plays a vital role in this process, and will be having an upcoming beach cleanup in Red Hook. For more information visit. To see more of Obscura’s tours visit their website or sign up for the mailing list.
NY Studio Gallery is pleased to present Al Wadzinski’s third solo show in New York. Wadzinski’s False Idols refer to the predominantly Judeo-Christian concept of idolatry, the worship of a physical object as a god. Here these carefully assembled icons are comprised of humanity’s abandoned cast-offs, the remnants of our bloated consumer culture now repurposed as inert fetish objects. The centerpiece of the exhibition revolves around a massive golden calf, referencing the Old Testament story, but this god-proxy’s body is a shopping cart filled with gold-painted bones, its undeniably bovine head an amalgam of odd parts ranging from boots to a Christmas tree stand. (READ MORE.)
LZ Project Space is pleased to present Convergent Evolution, a solo sculpture exhibition by Deborah Simon. Inspired by viewers miscatagorization of Simon’s animal sculptures, she began to group together her pieces along those lines – also known as convergent evolution. This exhibit contains both king penguins and northern fur seals, both animals that have arrived at seemingly alike solutions for locomotion despite coming from different and unrelated ancestries. Simon’s animals float between taxidermy, toy, and art object; their life-sized bodies represent hours of meticulous multi- processed work in the form of sewing, molding, and painting of their almost ethereal clay faces. (READ MORE.)
After the United States detonated an atomic bomb at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the U.S. government restricted the circulation of images of the bomb’s deadly effect. President Truman dispatched some 1,150 military personnel and civilians, including photographers, to record the destruction as part of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. The goal of the Survey’s Physical Damage Division was to photograph and analyze methodically the impact of the atomic bomb on various building materials surrounding the blast site, the first “Ground Zero.” The haunting, once-classified images of absence and annihilation formed the basis for civil defense architecture in the United States. This exhibition includes approximately 60 contact prints drawn from a unique archive of more than 700 photographs in the collection of the International Center of Photography. The exhibition is organized Erin Barnett, Assistant Curator of Collections. (READ MORE.)
Ducks are sometimes confused with several types of unrelated water birds with similar forms, such as loons or divers, grebes, gallinules, and coots. The word duck (from Anglo-Saxon duce), meaning the bird, came from the verb “to duck” (from Anglo-Saxon supposed *ducan) meaning “to bend down low as if to get under something” or “to dive”, because of the way many species in the dabbling duck group feed by upending (compare Dutch duiken, German tauchen = “to dive”). Duck That were once seen in the same room as Paul Whiteman, although they’d deny it if asked. Angela Sawyer, electronics and game calls, etc… Josh Jefferson, reeds and game calls, etc… Steve Norton, reeds and game calls, etc…
Then Starting at 9, The Super Coda welcomes Yva Lass Vegass, Tooth and Wail, and The Molasses Gospel! They are all touring together. Come Support!
For over a century, Carnegie Hall rented affordable studios to residents like Marlon Brando, Paddy Chayefsky and Isadora Duncan. As a privileged tenant himself, director Astor began to record his neighbors, witnesses to decades of artistic history. But when the landlord served everyone with eviction notices for a conversion to offices, his project became a chronicle of the battle to save the apartments and their rich heritage. (READ MORE.)
The Witch’s Dungeon Cortlandt Hull with figure of his great uncle, Henry Hull, “The Werewolf Of London”
Friday, May 20th may be a dark and stormy night. Brave souls normally catch the coach at midnight from the Borgo Pass to access the lawless and far off lands of Bristol, CT, spoken about in hushed tones as the home of the Witch’s Dungeon. But on this rare occasion the stars have aligned and like the Baba Yaga’s chicken-footed cabin, the Witch’s Dungeon is coming to Observatory! (READ MORE.)
As part of the New York Public Library’s centenary celebration weekend, the Believermagazine will host “QNA: A Roundtable Discussion on the Art of the Interview,” featuring:
DICK CAVETT, legendary host of The Dick Cavett Show, which aired on ABC from 1968 to 1975 and on public television from 1977 to 1982, and author, most recently, of Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets.
CLAUDIA DREIFUS, interviewer for the “Conversation with…” column in the Tuesday science section of the New York Times, former Playboy interviewer, and author of two books of interviews. She’s known for her unusual Q-and-A’s with heads of state, Nobel Prize winners, and quirky engineers. She was called by Dan Rather “one of the world’s great interviewers.” Her latest publication, with Andrew Hacker, is Higher Education?
KENNETH GOLDSMITH, editor of I’ll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews, and author of the underground classic Soliloquy, an unedited, 487-page transcript of every word, um, and yeah that came from his mouth during one week of his life.
LORIN STEIN, new editor of The Paris Review, the beloved source for some of the most in-depth interviews with writers published in the English language since the 1950s, collected in editions such as Writers At Work and The Paris Review Interviews series, he’s also the translator of Gregoire Bouillier’s The Mystery Guest.
There will be a short reading of a self-interview by the author and Saturday Night Live writer SIMON RICH, to be performed by actor PAULO COSTANZO, (of Royal Pains) followed by a presentation of playwright Darren O’Donnell’s relational theater piece, Q+A, in which the audience becomes both the interviewer and interviewee.
The event will be hosted by Believer interviews editors Sheila Heti and Ross Simonini.
Part two is more oriented toward cyclical issues of consumption and spectacle. It can be seen as the crescendo of the exhibition. Here, destruction assumes the more aggressive and dramatic character one might normally associate with it.
Among the works that more directly engage the question of consumption can be found Johannes Vogl’s absurd, homemade contraption Untitled (Machine To Produce Jam Breads, 2007) which produces pieces of bread with jam on them and thus addresses questions of overproduction and consequently waste. (READ MORE.)
Morgan Lehman Gallery is pleased to present, UNREST, a solo exhibition of new works by Andrew Schoultz. This is the artist’s third show with Morgan Lehman Gallery.
Andrew Schoultz’s UNREST stems from the artist’s continuing interest in issues of global turmoil and societal angst. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Japanese Earthquakes and the BP oil spill all fuel this new body of work. Rather than depict literal narratives of these events, Schoultz captures their essence using an ever-expanding arsenal of pictorial symbols. Billowing clouds of smoke create an “all-over” surface reminiscent of abstract expressionism and Op-art. These stylized clouds both unify the composition and veil the reality of the horrors depicted in the background. The obscuring impact that these clouds has on the images they hide may indicate the frustration Schoultz has with the partisan and misleading journalism the press has in disseminating information to the public. Other oft-repeated symbols include crumbling and exploding brick structures and monuments, the rearing horse, the all-seeing Masonic eye, and a lit candle set against green, yellow and red camouflaged backgrounds. The lit candle – a universal sign of hope and optimism-suggests that even in uncertain times the human spirit is nothing if not optimistic. These recurring symbols function as visual cues for a loose narrative the artist has constructed through previous bodies of work. Out of this narrative, Schoultz forms an historical construct that melds contemporary calamitous events with the broad sweep of Western civilization. (READ MORE.)
I am essentially driven by libidinal and anti-normative desires, coupled with sensitive and concerted attention to materials and to the mechanisms of visual perception. The objects I create both resonate with heroic and cynical strains of object making and seek to undermine these very strains with humility and sincerity.
Each work or series of works is created as a compulsive reaction to the burn of being alive and the spilling over of emotions that accompany the dogged difficulty of managing life. I intend to create visual signs or experiences that approximate the shocks and waves of living.
John McWhinnie at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller is pleased to announce our next exhibition, David Levinthal: Black Again. The show opens with a reception on May 19th, from 6-8pm, and runs through July 2nd, 2011. The exhibition is drawn from David Levinthal’s project Blackface, dating from 1995-1998, featuring blackface Polaroids and the original memorabilia, drawn from the artist’s personal collection, that are the Polaroid’s subject matter.
Levinthal’s collecting of black memorabilia evolved into Blackface, a stimulating and controversial body of work. The title, according to Levinthal, “makes reference to the many facades, poise and physicality of these figures.” The title is also taken from the name of a journal of a black film-making company and is a term referring to both blacks and whites. Traditionally associated with minstrelsy, these images were used to perpetuate negative stereotypes. Levinthal’s work was originally intended to be exhibited at Philadelphia’s ICA in 1997. However, the show was cancelled when it became a cause célèbre as a result of its controversial subject-matter. Subsequently, images from the series were exhibited at the International Center of Photography and at Janet Borden, Inc. in New York. This is the first time that the artist has exhibited this body of work with the original figurines and advertising that inspired the portraits. (READ MORE.)
Destroy All Monsters Sunday, May 22, 2011
12:00 PM to 4:00 PMVideo screening in the first-floor Main Gallery and 3pm book signingwith Cary Loren.In conjunction with the new publication, Destroy All Monsters Magazine 1976-1979, published by Primary Information, MoMA PS1 and D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers present a day-long screening of Shake a Lizard Tail, or Rust Belt Rump, a film created by the band for their 1996 Japanese tour. The film is a collage of horror exploitation videos, Detroit “Dance City” techno dancers, and late night WGPR television commercials of the 1980s. The commercials feature local Detroit landmarks such as Miley and Miley’s Shrimp Shack, the Club Watts Mozambique ladies club, and various funeral homes.
In 1973, the Detroit band Destroy All Monsters was a wild and reckless synthesis of psychedelia, proto-punk, heavy metal, noise and performance art. The collective hailed from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and consisted of Cary Loren, Mike Kelley, Niagara and Jim Shaw (with later members including Ron Asheton of the Stooges, Michael Davis of the MC5 and the Miller brothers of Mission of Burma). (READ MORE.)
Gamelan Dharma Swara w/ Momenta Quartet and Shahzad Ismaily Sun., May 22, 2011 / 7:00 PM
Gamelan Dharma Swara is dedicated to the study, performance and creation of traditional and new works for Balinese gamelan. Through performance and education, we bring Balinese gamelan to the widest audience and participant base possible, and we endeavor to perform with spirit, dedication and gratitude. We are a coalition of master Balinese artists and leading American composers, musicians and dancers. In residence at the Indonesian Consulate in New York, Dharma Swara regularly performs for a wide and multicultural audience in the greater New York City area. We have collaborated with Indonesiaʼs leading artists and have performed in the areaʼs top venues including: Lincoln Center, Asia Society, Japan Society, New York Philharmonic, the Met, Brooklyn Museum, Symphony Space, LaMama, and Columbia, Princeton, NYU and Yale universities. In 2010 the ensemble was invited to perform as the first non-Balinese group in the annual gong kebyar competitions at the Bali Arts Festival. (READ MORE.)
Click here to see an article on Gamelan Dharma Swara from the NYTimes
A green art workshop with artist and Hollow Earth Society co-founder Ethan Gould
Date: Sunday, May 22 Time: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Presented by the Hollow Earth Society
Part one of a four-part series
Post-apocalyptic arts & crafts survival skills workshops, you say!? That’s right: Creative-making for the improvisational, post-industrial future (and present). When the apocalypse comes, these definitely won’t be the first things you’ll need to know… but they’ll be on the list! In this workshop series, learn how to make beautiful objects you’ll actually use out of materials that would otherwise go to waste. (READ MORE.)