Month: May 2014

Rare Photographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Andes, NY

Re-posted from Short Compositions on Life, Art, PR and More (originally posted on 7.22.2011)

“This summer, Andes is a destination for Beatles memorabilia. A collection of 23 never-before-published images of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in their West Village apartment in New York City are displayed at Andes Art & Antiques. Merna Popper owns the gallery, which is in a barn attached to the back of her house on Main Street in the Delaware County town. Popper’s life has revolved around art. She grew up surrounded by art in New York City, graduated from Sarah Lawrence college with a degree in art and has spent most of her life as an art collector and dealer.When the opportunity came to purchase the rights to the 23 negatives of Lennon and Ono, she was intrigued.”    

Read full article I wrote about this photo exhibit in this week’s issue of The O-Town Scenemagazine at page 10: http://www.epageflip.net/issue/37074/1

Four Art Documentaries You Won’t Regret Watching

Re-posted from Short Compositions on Life, Art, PR and More (originally posted on 7.26.2009)

Since it’s summer and vacation time – that period of the year when we feel like accumulating new experiences, seeing and learning new things – I feel like recommending a few documentaries I watched recently and enjoyed a lot.

What I propose today is: “Mark Twain” (2000), “Stravinsky: Once at a Border” (2008), “The Impressionists” (2006) and “Frank Lloyd Wright” (1998).

“Mark Twain,” a 2000 PBS production directed by Ken Burns, is a fabulous depiction of Twain’s extraordinary life and literary legacy, covering Twain’s childhood in Missouri, his years as a journalist in California, and eventually his settling down in Hartford, Connecticut.

One defining moment in Twain’s life was his trip to Europe and the Middle East, initiated in 1867. The trip was funded by a local newspaper, and resulted in a detailed collection of travel stories called “The Innocents Abroad,” published in 1869.

The second part of the documentary focuses on Twain’s masterpiece “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” published in 1884. Writers and scholars discuss at length its significance for the American literature, with all its subtle meanings and underlying premises, as well as the victory of friendship over prejudice. To understand a literary masterpiece it seems quite essential to actually get the historical context in which it was written, as well as its setting and geography.

Overall, Twain is portrayed as the prototypical American, a man who knew financial success during his lifetime as a result of his writings, was interested in science and ventured in business enterprises, had a beautiful family and owned a big house, a man who has seen and done it all.

“Stravinsky: Once at a Border” is a 2008 documentary produced by Studio Kultur and directed by Tony Palmer, a fine compilation of Stravinsky’s most famous pieces and defining moments, both from a personal and artistic perspective. The documentary covers Stravinsky’s upbringing in Saint Petersburg, his encounter with Diaghilev, his years in Switzerland and France, and eventually his arrival to the United States. Interviews with family members, artistic collaborators and friends do reveal the great genius’ personality, how he used to work, and what he loved to do. Interviews with Stravinsky himself are used in the program, and reputable performances of “Les Noces” and “Petroushka” are also included.

“The Impressionists,” a 2006 BBC production, tells the story of Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet and Paul Cezanne, their friendship as well as their animosity and quarrels, and the naissance of a new artistic movement. 1874, a defining moment in art – a group of extremely talented painters, rejected year after year by the Salon – the official academic art show, decided to organize their own, independent event. As it often happens in life, the Impressionists weren’t at once recognized and appreciated for their talent and innovation in art. It took some time for the public to show full appreciation and fall in love with masterpieces such as “Woman with a Parasol” (Monet, 1875), “Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe” (Manet, 1863), or “A Modern Olympia” (Cezanne, 1874).

I will conclude today with “Frank Lloyd Wright,” a 1998 PBS production, again directed by Ken Burns. Family members, architects and astute architecture critics and writers discuss Wright’s masterpieces one by one. From his rising as a young architect in Chicago to the culmination with Guggenheim Museum in New York City, Wright had shown a brilliant mind and a constant determination for what he called “organic architecture,” that is harmony between human habitat and natural environment. Wright was so involved in every project he created, so that he didn’t only design the house, but everything inside it: furniture, windows, doors, tables, chairs, carpets, lamps, and even napkins. Masterpieces such as Taliesen Wisconsin and Taliesen Arizona, Larkin Building (Buffalo, NY), Johnson Wax Building (Wisconsin), Kaufmann House known as Fallingwater (Pennsylvania) and Usonian housing projects are depicted in a way that fully reveals what kind of architect Wright really was, a visionary who liked putting people in places that were both aesthetic and functional, spacious and distinguishable.

Yung Yung Tsuai: The Difference in Butterflies

Re-posted from Short Compositions on Life, Art, PR and More (originally posted on 8.14.2011)

“I would love to be as soft and free as silk,” Yung Yung Tsuai

Monday, August 15 from 1 to 2 pm I will have another special guest on WIOXYung Yung Tsuai – Chinese dancer and martial arts expert. Born in China in 1948, Yung Yung was raised in Taipei, Taiwan. She started to take dance lessons at the age of five. She excelled both in Chinese traditional folk dance, as well as European ballet. Yung Yung distinguished herself from her peers, and won many dance competitions at an early age. The stage became her “power spot,” as she remembers today.

Soon, Yung Yung was to become a child star in Taiwan, and had her own weekly television show, for which she also did the choreography. In her youth, Yung Yung also worked as a stuntwoman for kung fu movies in Taiwan.

Growing up on the beautiful island of Taiwan, Yung Yung had a fascination for Hollywood, starting at an early age; she grew up with “The Wizard of Oz” and Dorothy, and she admired Judy Garland.

In 1969 Yung Yung was taking tap dance classes at the American Center in Taipei, when she met Martha Graham. The following year, she embarked on a plane to come to New York on a Martha Graham scholarship. At the Martha Graham School in New York City Yung Yung remembers: “Dancers learn to use their bodies as instruments. We push to the limit of our physical capacity. If we break through the barrier of physical limitation, there is a chance to glimpse the enormous unknown energy locked within our bodies. Martha Graham created a technique which I believe is more difficult than any other dance form.”

Although she came to master Martha Graham technique, and has taught for many years at the Martha Graham School, and many other schools in the United States, Yung Yung developed her own choreography and founded her own dance company, managed by her husband Martin Lerner.

Yung Yung met Martin shortly after she moved to New York – she was the first Chinese Martin ever met. In the early 1970s, Yung Yung remembers, there weren’t many Chinese in the City. Yung Yung married Martin shortly after; they’re still together today, after 40 years.

In the United States, Yung Yung has known success as a dancer and teacher, and has met many famous people. Her daughter Tysan is also a dancer.

In 2007, Yung Yung wrote her memoir The Difference In Butterflies with co-author Marilyn Meeske Sorel. This is what the publisher IUniverse says: “In this memoir we experience the fall and resurrection of a professional dancer / choreographer who, with the help of Martha Graham and an unconventional psychotherapist, Shepherd Hoodwin, escapes outer and inner tyranny, to find passionate love and the ultimate – identity as her own woman: free to be.”

Tune in this Monday for a lovely conversation!

Faye Lane’s Beauty Shop Stories Come to Roxbury

Re-posted from Short Compositions on Life, Art, PR and More (originally posted on 3.3.2011)

“Have you ever thought of the beauty shop as more of a parlor than a place where women go to get a haircut? Faye Lane did more than that: as a chubby yet sweet little girl growing up in her mama’s beauty salon in Texas, Lane imagined that the beauty shop’s floor was her stage. And the ladies sitting quietly under the hood dryers were her audience. Lane would grab a hairbrush to use as a microphone, and then start singing songs that she heard on the radio or at the church. The ladies in the audience, sometimes delighted sometimes unconvinced, would hand her a couple of banana Moon Pies, her childhood favorite dessert.
Meanwhile, the little girl from Texas went to London, Los Angeles and New York to study voice and drama, and replaced the hairbrush with a real microphone. Instead of performing in front of eight ladies sitting under the dryers, now Faye Lane performs in front of hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people.
Faye Lane is many things: a talented singer, a beautiful actress, a comedienne, but above all she is an exquisite storyteller. In 2007 she won the Moth StorySlam award in New York, and in 2008 she won it in Los Angeles, being the only storyteller to have won this prestigious award on both coasts.”

Read full article in this week’s issue of The O-Town Scene magazine at page 18:
http://www.epageflip.net/issue/26296/1

Visit at Guggenheim

Re-posted from Short Compositions on Life, Art, PR and More (originally posted on 5.15.2009)

Situated on Fifth Avenue, nearby the Metropolitan Museum of Art and overlooking Central Park, Guggenheim Museum is one of the main attractions on the touristic map of New York City. The Museum is home to major 20th century art works by Picasso, Braque, Chagall, Miro, Magritte, Dali, Modigliani, Kandinsky, Brancusi as well as 19th century masterpieces by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh and many more. The museum hosts a beautiful collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, expressionist and surrealist art, which ensures Guggenheim’s status as one of the most important museums of modern art in the world.

Philanthropist and art collector Solomon Guggenheim originally opened the museum in 1937, but as his collection continued to grow, he hired architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design a new building. The building designed by Wright, which opened in 1959, is a masterpiece in itself: the gallery is designed in the form of a helical spiral, starting at the ground level and going up to the top of the building. Art works are displayed along the walls of the spiral as well as in small annexes attached to the central exhibition space. A big skylight is placed at the center of the building.

I visited the museum for the first time a couple of years ago and did get to see an important part of its collection. To mention some of the most beautiful, “Woman with Yellow Hair” (Picasso, 1931), “Accordionist” (Picasso, 1911), “Green Violinist” (Chagall, 1923), “The Clarinet” (Braque, 1912) and “Composition 8” (Kandinsky, 1923).
Picasso’s and Braque’s paintings are a faithful reflection of their cubist and surrealist periods, whereas Kandinsky is the expressionist par excellence. As for Chagall, anytime I find myself in front of any of his paintings, I am under the impression that the artist was dreaming with open eyes when painting: houses upside down, planes interrupted and juxtaposed, people floating through space.

Picasso’s “Woman with Yellow Hair” depicts a curved profile of a woman with yellow hair and pink skin (the contrast of yellow and pink always being a striking one). The woman is taking a nap on a sofa, while somehow still in a vertical position. “Accordionist” is an expression of Picasso’s analytical cubism period. The object of this painting is deconstructed into small components, displayed in various geometric figures, on nuances of mainly brown, gray and beige.

Chagall’s “Green Violinist” is a cubist masterpiece as well, depicting a violinist in a position that resembles the shape of a violin. He plays violin in a dream-like scenery, wearing a purple coat with geometric figures, a purple hat and checkered pants with unmatched shoes.

“Composition 8” by Kandinsky is a mix of circles, semi-circles, triangles, quadrilaterals and lines, arranged in various forms and colors, representative for the abstract art of the 20th century. As a matter of fact, this year Kandinsky’s work will be subject to an ample retrospective, hosted by Guggenheim Museum as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

If you are in the neighborhood this summer, you may want to visit.

NYU Exhibition – Artifacts of the Ancient World

Re-posted from Short Compositions on Life, Art, PR and More (originally posted on 12.16.2009)

“The Lost World of Europe, The Danube Valley 5000 – 3500 B.C.” is the name of the exhibition I visited this week at the NYU, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW), 15 East 84th Street. The New York Times wrote a nice article about this here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/science/01arch.html?_r=1
I also have to thank some friends for mentioning this exhibition: it was worth the trip. 

As the ISAW card points out, when we think of the ancient world we pretty much think of Egypt, Mesopotamia, then Greece or Rome. And we tend to forget some of the oldest cultures in Southern-Eastern Europe, like for instance Cucuteni culture, as old as perhaps 7000 years. 

The NYU exhibition is centered around Cucuteni’s famous (and mysterious) miniaturized figurines. The most famous of them all are “The Thinker” and his female partner, dated 5000 – 4600 B.C., Hamangia culture, Romania. I still wonder what was their symbol, their purpose if you wish? Was it religious, social or what else? 

Another part of the exhibition is the Cucuteni ceramics which, according to the ISAW brochure, “had the liveliest and most colorful decoration of any in Old Europe and was widely desired throughout the region.” Thousands of years old, these ceramics are not only in good shape, but still beautiful. 

The exhibition will stay open until April 2010. The admission is free. Guided tours on Fridays. More details here: http://www.nyu.edu/isaw/exhibitions/oldeurope/