It is going to be a busy semester. As students, we are traveling all over NYC. This term I will be posting twitter trips to the blog. This one is a sample of many more exciting posts to come!
On Friday, as we completed the last stretch of the sprint to the end of term, we did a little victory lap, so to speak, of our neighbourhood before finally disbanding for the summer. Moseying down to the Highline, we stopped en route for some grub to fulfill the cravings of the last two week, during which very little other than coffee and (urgh) candy was consumed as the hours of manic production consumed our days, and sadly, nights as well. Walking uptown for a few blocks, we took a short detour to check out some of Chelsea’s best and brightest building’s twinkling in the gorgeous indigo sunset sky. Our first stop was Frank Gehry’s curvaceous, kinetic creation of glazing and cream on 550 West 18th Street. With its apparently seamless, sloping sculptural surfaces, the AIC building adds a dash of Gehry’s characteristic LA sparkle to New York. Its form is reminiscent of a gleaming white boat with its sails rippling softly in the breeze blowing in from the Hudson. As we walked towards it, we stopped to admire the frit patterns that fade in and out at the top and bottom of each panel of glass to allow the vision glazing to meet the spandrel below it in a much subtler fashion than that seen in most horizontally coursed, curtain wall buildings.
Next, we stopped by to peer into Shigeru Ban’s “Shutter Houses” – a 9-unit condominium building adjacent to the AIC building, which is famed for its dynamic mobile façade featuring a perforated metal shutter system that lets residence open and close their spaces according to their fancy. The eleven-storey block contains eight duplexes with balconies looking out onto the street. The individual perforated motorized shutters slip down over each balcony to shield the facades of the double-height apartments behind them allowing the building to have a kind of a removable skin. Its mobile façade of 2 storey shutters give it a different look and feel at different times of the day as these shutters are operated by the owners of the duplexes who have the privilege of living there. Peering into the building and watching the glow from an aquarium in one apartment, and a couple eating their dinner in another, we noticed the other shutters in the building were down, suggesting that the residents of the other apartments were out. Hence, it was interesting to note that the shutters create a façade that creates a trace of the patterns of inhabitation which the building is subject to at different times of the day.
Finally, we walked over to the High Line, watching it come to life as New Yorker’s filed in after work on a balmy summer evening to kick off their weekends. With views of the Hudson to the West, and the city to the East, the High Line is celebrated for the fact that it reclaimed and restored a section of the former elevated New York Central Railroad called the West Side Line into a linear park. As we traversed this aerial greenway, walking towards Gansevoort street, we stopped to take in the startlingly unexpected vistas that the High Line provides of the city – allowing it to be perceived at a mid-level height. The project’s planters, inspired by the wild grasses that used to grow on the disused tracks, were in full bloom, rustling softly in the breeze, interspersed with remnants of rail tracks – calling to mind the area’s former program. In fact, it’s interesting that all over the Village, Chelsea and the Meatpacking districts, one can find sites that deliberately hint at programs that used to exist on these sites before these areas were repurposed. For instance, some of the luxury boutiques that we spotted in Chelsea featured clothes hanging on hooks which were reminiscent of the hooks that were used when meat was hung from the meatpacking stores in this district. The High Line of course, with its constant referencing of rail tracks, continues this tradition of referencing the history and the context of the neighborhood it is situated in.
Back on the High Line, as we arrived at the steps close to 14th street, we listened in as a group of New Yorker’s held a community gathering and as we moved on, we found ourselves staring at the façade of the Standard Hotel, peering in voyeuristically to see evidence of the exhibitionism that the building and its guests have become infamous for! As we reached the end of the tracks, we thanked Bob Balder, the Executive Director, of our program for an incredible semester, and for taking the time to show us around this incredible city – our only regret being that we didn’t get to spend more time here!
It’s hard to keep you posted about all the incredible things we get to experience in our classes. I’m going to focus on two classes for this blog post- our New York Seminar class with Jane Benson and our Professional Practice class with Jane Farver. These classes are both on Thursdays and usually we run around the city from 10 am to 5 pm visiting artists studios, museums and galleries where we get to meet an abundance of important people in the art world. I thought that I should give an overview of what we have done and who we have met so far in the semester. I’m breaking it up per week per class so it will give you a picture of how classes work and how busy we are!
Farver’s class: We meet Jackie Battenfield, author of “The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love.” Every person who wants to make a career through art should read this book. Really. Go buy it. Right now. It’s a perfect book to reference for any questions you may have, especially if you are young and just beginning your career. We engaged in a long conversation with Jackie and since our class consists of only four people she was able to hear more about what type of artists we are and what are individual goals are, thus offering personalized advice. It was probably the most eye-opening conversation in terms of what I have to do to make in the art world in or an art field.
Benson’s class: We meet at Paula Cooper Gallery where there are two exhibitions going on: Meg Webster and Julian Lethbridge. Webster’s “Sand Bed” is attention-grabbing and memorable and I can still smell the oil paints coming off the Lethbridge’s canvases of choreographed brushstrokes. Amazingly, we are invited to go to the second floor of the gallery, and get to meet Paula Cooper herself in her office, filled with rarely seen artwork. The perks of having a small class! Then we check out the Sascha Braunig show at Foxy Productions.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Farver’s class: We stay in the classroom and Farver takes us through the projects she worked on when she was a curator at MIT’s art museum. It’s great to hear about the public art projects Farver has completed- she is a brilliant curator and I’m honored to have her as a mentor and teacher.
Benson’s class: After a quick lunch we head off to Queens to meet Shaun Leonardo, Director of Public Programs and Community Relations at the Socrates Sculpture Park. He gives us a personal tour of the park which is dedicated to provide space for large-scale sculpture and also has a beautiful view of Manhattan across the water. Then we run to the PS1 MoMA where we see the current exhibitions such as “Confettisystem: 100 Arrangements” and “New Pictures of Common Objects.” Then we get to meet Christopher Lew, Assistant Curator, and have a conversation about the “New Pictures” show that he curated.
Farver’s class: Sung Hwan Kim comes into the class to talk to us about his life and give us advice about how to get where you want to be as an artist. He takes us through the abundant amount of experiences he has had and focuses on how it is important to do many things that interest you. You can do it all, if you want.
Benson’s class: We get to personally visit Robert Melee’s studio, who takes us through his past artwork and gives us a preview of artwork that hasn’t been exhibited yet. Melee has prominent overarching themes in his artwork and it was nice speaking to such a consistent artist who knows exactly what his aesthetic is and continues to expand on it.
Farver’s class: A busy day! We meet at Apexart and get a personal tour and mission statement from one of the directors. Then we head to Art in General, where we meet Anne Barlow who takes us through the space and answers our questions about alternative spaces, discussing the differences between these type of spaces and galleries, and the pros that come along with an alternative space. Next we go to The Drawing Center and meet Brett Littman who graciously invites us into his office and speaks about the past and current conditions of The Drawing Center and where he hopes to see it go into the future. Littman also speaks to us about his personal career and how he got to this position, and talks about his side writing jobs that he picks up for different art publications.
Benson’s class: The busy day continues! We head to Brooklyn to check out three different artist studios. Each artist talks about past work and work that they are currently making. First up is Ellen Harvey, then Blane de St. Croix, followed by Diana Shpungin.
Today Jane and Jane combine forces and take us to three different art fairs. We start our day at the Armory Show. Next, we head to the Independent Art Fair. Lastly, we go to the Volta. We are overwhelmed with art…art, art and more art! But it is the best experience because we are all able to discuss what we see and get an overall feel for contemporary art from around the world and of all different calibers. By the end of the day, we are worn out! But I am happy because we each picked up our own Andy Warhol Brillo Boxes from the Armory Show- large pieces of cardboard we trucked along with us the entire day!
The classes combine forces once again. First we all head to the Guggenheim, and although it’s closed on a Thursday we are lucky enough to get to meet Christina Yang, Director of Education & Public Programs. Christina talks to us a little bit about what she does here at the Guggenheim and her personal career history. Then she takes us to see the current shows being exhibited.
Later that afternoon we head back to AAP NYC and meet with Mari Spirito, Founding Director of Protocinema and past Director of 303 Gallery in Chelsea. Mari is a wonderful, energetic person to talk to about her involvement in the Istanbul art world and her non-profit experiment with Protocinema where she makes exhibitions in New York and Istanbul.
SPRING BREAK: I head to Miami to get some warmth and some much needed rest!
Farver’s Class: We meet with art critic Eleanor Heartney who talks to us about topics that she usually focuses on with her writing such as religion, feminist art and contemporary art in general. It’s helpful to speak to Eleanor because we usually have to write exhibition reviews as our homework assignments. We are required to visit the show, and then write a piece on it. And how common is it to meet someone whose work we have researched and read and then question her about it? Pretty amazing.
Benson’s Class: We use class time to volunteer for the Guggenheim’s performance piece “Sanbaso, Divine Dance,” by artist Hiroschi Sugimoto and actor Mansai Nomura.
I’ll stop here because that’s quite a lot to take in! I hope I got to give you just a small glimpse at our life here in AAP NYC and I’ll keep you updated!
As someone who spent much of her childhood periodically relocating to different spots around the world, I developed a real sense of respect for the idea of being able to see a process through from start to finish in any one place. I think I was probably hit hardest when I graduated from high school because, at the time, I watched waves of nostalgia wash over my peers as they made commemorative trips back to the kindergarten and lower grade branches of our school to reminisce about the time they had shared there together. I had just spent two years at that high school, and therefore only felt a very casual sense of ownership and attachment to it. My peers, on the other hand, shared a much deeper bond with the school and with each other, due to their mutual history with the school.
I guess the reason that I find myself mentioning this memory is because it was something I was reminded of when we woke up to the sad news of Prof. Kevin Pratt’s passing away on the night of Tuesday, February 19th. Kevin (or KP, as he was fondly referred to by his peers) was the first face that greeted the M.Arch I Class of 2014 on our first day of school – at our very first class in Balch Hall. Later that week, he took us on an extensive tour of the plantations nearby, walking at a furious pace that few of us could keep up with – all the while giving us an exhaustive and amusing lecture about the historical evolution of the ecological and geological systems around us. We didn’t know it at the time, but that tour was to become his most enduring memory for many of us. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of sustainable design projects and lively and engaging mannerisms that enlivened his Environmental Systems Class throughout the term. Those of us who had attended his class couldn’t help but feel saddened by the thought that the person who kicked off our Cornell experience, wouldn’t be able to see us through to the end of it.
So in order to pay tribute to his life and his enduring passion for environmentally friendly design, we decided to make a commemorative trip to a site that he was genuinely fond of mentioning quite frequently in his lectures: we visited the steps in front of the Low Library at Columbia University. KP must have spent some time sitting on the great expanse of those steps (while he was at Columbia) because he thought they performed remarkably well as a thermal mass: storing heat during the day and re-radiating it later in the evening. He believed that this thermal property gives the steps a kind of magnetic appeal for hordes of Columbia students who continue to sit on them in order to soak up their warmth. On that Wednesday, we sat on them to honor Kevin’s memory and in doing so, we were able to make ourselves feel ever so slightly better considering the heaviness that had settled on us with the news of his passing.
Many of us had visited Columbia previously, but before we were to leave its strikingly manicured quads that day, with the aid of AAP NYC’s Executive Director Robert Balder we discovered more than a handful of things about Morningside Heights that we had been completely in the dark about before. For instance, we had never realized that the reason this area always seems windier and colder than some other parts of Manhattan is because of its topographic isolation: it is situated on an elevated plateau that rises above the Harlem lowlands. There was once an insane asylum situated right in the middle of the plateau, which had the adverse effect of lowering land values in the area and deterring real estate investment for much of the nineteenth century. I also learned that before the neighborhood settled on its official name, it was alternatingly dubbed Bloomingdale Heights, Riverside Heights, Columbia Heights and University Heights etc. As we left “New York’s Acropolis” to return to studio, it was not without a sense of wanting to come back to the neighborhood to explore its many remarkable buildings in more detail at some point soon.
Hi guys! Hands down the best part of NYC is the art in the galleries that is open to the public. So far, we have been to a number of galleries inside and outside of class time. I’d like to talk about some of my favorite gallery exhibitions that we have seen, in no specific order (It was hard to choose):
Glenn Ligon: Neon
October 26, 2012- January 19, 2013
In this exhibition, Glenn Ligon explores neon lights and text. He finds inspiration from Gertrude Stein’s novel Three Lives, past neon sculptures of Bruce Nauman and current general Americanisms. Historically relevant text that he uses such as “I sell the shadow to sustain the substance,” is specifically evocative in this current day and age. Ligon also addresses politics in America through pieces such as “America” and “Nov. 6, 2012.
Doug Aitken: 100 Years
February 1, 2013- March 23, 2013
Doug Aitken has created a gallery site-specific installation for his latest show. This site-specificity requires interior destruction of the gallery walls and floor in order for his art to have a home. The first thing that catches the eye is a humongous crater in the center of the gallery space. The crater is filled with water and functions as a basin for his “sonic fountain,” where water drops abstractly from the ceiling and produces an eerie dripping sound that sounds like the interior of a cave. Adjacent to the crater is a circular hole in the wall that centers the word sunset made out of weighty rock that appears to be volcanic. Another piece displays the word “ART” in an open tank, where it appears to function as a chocolate fountain. An orange-brown milky substance consistently melts down the letters into the tank also filled with rocks. Bold letters that spell out “MORE” hang on a wall, appearing to be made out of glass that has also been demolished, or shattered. The destruction of letters produces a beautiful piece that reflects light in geometric gradients.
Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors
February 1, 2013- March 16, 2013
Ragnar Kjartansson’s nine-screen video installation, titled The Visitors, exists dually as a hauntingly beautiful performance art piece and an emotional portrait of the “art” that occurs through music production. The video installation takes place in a large, darkened space of the Luhring Augustine Gallery, a theater-like room that allows for drama and intimacy with the piece. Each of the nine screens displays a single musician in a different room of the long-standing elegant mansion known as Rokeby Farm, located on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. Although fragmented by screens, the musicians play the same song, either contributing their voice or instrument to produce a beautiful adjoined melody. Stand in the middle of the room to hear all the parts merge into one sound, or concentrate on one screen to hear the parts produced by a single musician above the others.
Sascha Braunig: Wrister, Blister, Plaster
January 12, 2013- February 9, 2013
Sascha Braunig’s paintings represent a strange, yet successful, mixture of portraiture, surrealism, abstraction and optical art. Braunig paints busts of ambiguous human figures that are transformed in different ways. The figures, masked by patterns and luminescent colors, merge into analogous backgrounds. Braunig shows sophisticated handling of space and color. She blurs the boundary between the figural foreground and the background, thus creating both 3D sculpture-like figures and intriguing spatial optical illusions.
El Anatsui: Pot Wisdom
Jack Shainman Gallery
December 14, 2012- January 19, 2013
El Anatsui’s massive textile pieces, or “sheets” abstractly hang on the walls or the floors of the gallery. Made of bottle caps his pieces are interesting in its wholeness and its details. The metallic-like effect of the combined and woven bottle caps are quite stunning and its difficult not to spend time mesmerized by the beauty in the movement of the “fabric.”
Hauser & Wirth New York
January 23, 2013- April 13, 2013
The first thing noticed when walking into the exhibition is a pungent sugary smell. Next thing noticed is the mini chocolate and candy factory sitting in the center of the gallery, where two workers or performers produce chocolate sculptural busts through the pouring and heating of chocolate molds. The chocolate busts are then added to a structure towering to the gallery ceilings holding hundreds of these identical busts. Another structure holds these same busts yet made with multicolored sugar, sustaining itself with only these sculptures and sheets of glass in between each row. A larger and messier structure sits on the opposite end of the gallery, a whimsical busy lived-in workspace that encourages the viewer to move about the space and try to imagine the how one worked in this space. Roth’s paintings and framed sculpture-painting pieces also cover the surrounding walls, making for an intricate and captivating exhibition.
January 10, 2013- February 16, 2013
Throughout his 50-year-long career, Buren is known best for his use of stripes, often transforming an environment for which it is site-specific. Bortolami Gallery exhibits his fabric works while Petzel Gallery displays his works with paper and transforming an architectural space. He stays within a specific color field with his “awning” type contrasting stripes, thus expressing the importance between the slight differences of his work and the importance of their relationship with the space.