Week of November 7-13, 2011


The Tree was already up in Rock Center, but shorter & squatter than in previous Holidays, with Decoration Underway.

The great Electronic Snowflake was hung over Fifth & 57th Street while Decent People Slept, early in the week. But it was not Lit at first. That followed Midweek

Many Boutique Windows were already featuring Christmas Trimmings, but the Most Important Windows of the whole Holiday Season were In Progress, also waiting a Pre Thanksgiving Unveiling.

Usually, the very best windows are at Bergdorf Goodman--crammed with all kinds of Antiques & Oddments, but Saks & Lord & Taylor displays are also always eagerly awaited.

Bloomingdales is not as inventive as it used to be, nor are the Macy*s windows so impressive. The same old Miracle on 34th Street animated windows are getting a bit tired by now…

The Round of Annual Holidays is in danger of becoming a Marketing Bore:

It was only Labor Day, but they already had Skeletons & Witches, as well as Turkeys, Pumpkins & Scarecrows & even an early Plastic Christmas Tree in some Low End Stores like K Mart…

The Christ Child is Born in Bethlehem: Can Santa Claus be far behind?

How about the Easter Bunny & the Crucifixion?

Coming up soon…



•Diego Rivera's 1930s MoMA Murals Again at MoMA: But No Frida Kahlo…

•Two Nights Downhill from Grant's Tomb: Creationism from Haydn + Opera Arias!

•New York City's Oldest Museum Now Its Most Digitally Modern: NY Historical Society.

•Art Plunderer Sherrie Levine Uses Walker Evans, Plywood, & Four Billiard Tables…

•The Tower of Brooklyn Could Be Our Tower of Babble On: BAM's Brooklyn Babylon.

•On Forty Second Street, Once Again TAPS IS TOPS! Untapped at the New Victory.

•PETA Alert! Check Out Venus in Fur! Did Any Foxes Die for This S&M Romp?

•Park Avenue Armory Transformed with Pavilion of Art & Design New York: Deco & More!

Atmosphere of Memory Not So Spherical--Nor Empirical…

•Before 1984: George Orwell on British Imperialism in Burmese Days.


End of Week Rambles Summary:

Diego Rivera's Commie Murals Out of Storage & on display at MoMA!

The Daring Foresight of the Founders of the Museum of Modern Art!

They recognized the Genius of Diego Rivera, as well as the importance of Modern Mexican Mural Art, which was to have its own Counterpart here in America with the WPA Mural Projects.

The immediate Problem about showcasing Rivera's Talents & Subjects was that his Major Works had been painted on Mexican Walls. That's why they are called Murals, or Murales

So MoMA commissioned a series of Portable Murals, which Rivera created in a special studio on site at MoMA. This was, in itself, somewhat Revolutionary.

But the Subjects of the new Murals were also somewhat Revolutionary, in that Rivera saluted the fabled Mexican Revolution, as well as depicting the Labor & Life of the American Depression in New York, which some feared might well lead to a Revolution on Native Ground

Rivera also was commissioned to paint the Major Murals for the new Rockefeller Center Skyscraper.

VI Lenin in the Lobby of Rock Center!

No, No, No!

An outraged John D. had the offending images scraped off the walls. They had been painted onto wet plaster, so they could not be peeled off.

Nelson Rockefeller, it is said, tried to save them. In vain…

But they were not Lost Forever!

Diego Rivera recreated them in Mexico City, where you can still see them in the Palacio de Bellas Artes!

Nonetheless, because of his espousal of The Revolution & the Cause of the Workers, Rivera was regarded by many--those who at least had heard of him--as a Commie!

This was especially pronounced in San Francisco, where his SF World's Fair Mural--although saved Post Expo--was hidden away for years.

Not to overlook the SF School of Art Mural that had to be painted over


Making Marvelous Music at the Manhattan School of Music!

No doubt you've heard of the Amato Opera?

For many, many years, it was the Premiere Cultural Attraction down on the Bowery.

Eventually it was overshadowed by nearby LaMaMa & The Clubs

Well, Tony Amato has written a book about it all.

Unfortunately, he wasn't able to be with us at the Manhattan School of Music, where Italian Arias & Duets with Tony Amato was being presented recently.

Nonetheless, Elise Jablow [Soprano], Mingjie Lei [Tenor], Yixuan Pang [Mezzo] & Ivan Conrad [Bass] were outstanding in various Challenges set by Mozart, Donizetti, Rossini, & Bellini.

Not only were the gems from L'elisir, I Capuleti, Don Pasquale, Figaro, Così, Giovanni, & Cenerentola strongly sung, but they were also interestingly acted.

Mingjie Lei--a charming, magnetic performer--looks like a Star of Tomorrow!

This delightful program was followed a few days later by a magnificent reading of Haydn's Die Schöpfung, conducted by the dynamic Kent Tritle.

Kent's Creationism filled the stage of the Borden Auditorium with masses of Manhattan School Musicians & Choristers. His Intelligent Design included Mingjie Lei as the Angel Uriel.

What Franz Joseph Haydn's Great Masterwork does not need, however, is a Basso whose German is not clear & crisp.


George Washington & Abe Lincoln Go Digital at Re Invented New York Historical Society!

Did you know that the New York Historical Society is the Oldest Museum in Manhattan?

Thus, its invaluable Collections go all the way back to Colonial Times. First, with the Dutch Colonists. Then, with the British

Its remarkable collection of paintings not only records Great Events & Americans Great & Small, but also Indian Chiefs & Hudson Riverscapes!

It has Historical Busts galore

Now, after a thorough Renovation & Re Design, the Museum & Library has re opened. But, this time, much of the Visual is Digital!

Instead of being installed in Dusty Old Cases, many valuable Artifacts, Maps, Documents, Paintings, & Busts are now mounted on the great Lobby Wall.

History is even Underfoot, thanks to Con Edison!

The Children's History Museum has been colorfully re imagined, with Digital for Digit Powered Interactions

Hey! Even Keith Haring's Pop Shop Ceiling has been glued to the Museum's lobby ceiling!

Great Fun: That Historic Painting of the Citizens of New York Pulling Down the Statue of King George III ha now been much enlarged & Digitized, so that a small dog runs around among the Crowd, while the Statue comes tumbling down…

[Your Arts Reporter has a hand colored copy of that engraving in his own ArtsArchive Collection…]


Four Billiard Tables & Three Balls to Recycle or Recall Man Ray + Marcel's Urinals Gilded

Sherrie Levine has an Entire Floor at the Whitney for her Mayhem!

Following, perhaps, in the Footsteps of Richard Prince & Others, she has raised Copyright Questionable Appropriation into a High Art!

Here's Marcel Duchamps' famous Urinal--nominally by R. Mutt--richly gilded, titled (Fountain) Madonna.

Man Ray needed only One Billiard Table, with Three Balls, artfully arranged.

Sherrie overkills us with Four Tables, with a Total of Twelve Balls & all!

The Best Thing about this temporary Billiard Room is the Marcel Breuer window overlooking the lot.

Then there's that Wall of Walker Evans Depression Era Photos of American Misery

Downstairs, on the Ground Floor, Aleksandra Mir has appropriated Galileo as an Idea for a Series of Documentations of her Demonstrations of the Law of Gravity!

This odd video is called The Seduction of Galileo Galilei

There are also some Kitschy Religious Paintings that Mir has improved with Modern Imagery, including Space Rockets!


Action Painting at BAM: Both Video & Live Painting Unroll To Live Brassy Accompaniment!

Imagine a Brooklyn of the Future where Greed, Development, & Economic Rapacity threaten Old Traditional Neighborhoods!

The Most Awful Challenge of All is that the World's Tallest Tower is soon to be erected in the Heart of Brooklyn!

Lev--a Master Carpenter & Wood Carver--is torn when he wins the Commission for the Carousel that will top this Looming Monstrosity: This Tower of Babble on may kill the Neighborhoods

But what an opportunity to show Lev's Craft!

As silently narrated in Animated Images & actual On Site Painting by Danijel Zezelj, this is a stunning story that could be shown in Total Silence, without losing its powerful Visual Impact.

Some of Zezelj's effects recall those silent black & white mutating images of South Africa's William Kentridge, although his style is his very own: Powerful & then some!

He is His Own Master: More than 20 Graphic Novels! How about Marvel Comics? Harper's

After actually painting a long stage stretching Horizontal Mural of Brooklyn, its Bridge, & its New Tower, with quick daubs of a black roller, Zezelj ends by blotting out the entire work!

The Power of this Vision is much enhanced, however, by the brassy score of Darcy James Argue, whose Secret Society Musicians are arranged in an ascending circle before the Moving Mural!

Not to Argue about the possible Negative Aspects of this Musical & Visual Critique of Downtown Brooklyn Development, when BAM is itself soon to be overwhelmed by the Developments of the Ratner Interests…

Lev's wonderful Carousel, with its remarkably carved figures, flies away from the Top of the Tower, ending up in Coney Island on the beach…


Dapper Tappers from Down Under Enchant Young Audiences at New Victory!

Actually, these Tap Dancing Aussies--while very self assured--were not at all Dapper. Not in the sense that Fred Astaire was definitely dapper…

Instead, they affected Street Smart raffish garb: just Plain Blokes who can't stop tapping.

Billy Elliotts from the Antipodes

It used to be that Real Australian Men would rather die than be caught dancing for other people's Entertainment!

But--as directed, designed, co choreographed, & co danced by Andrew Fee--they were all very good at making Taps look like a Real Challenge for Real Men. Or Blokes

There are, however, just so many Moves you can make with Taps on your toes & heels, whether in shoes or boots. Taps don't work well on Sneakers


No Need for Viagra When Confronted by a Living Venus in Fur: Nina Arianda a Force of Nature!

If you are eager to enjoy Soft Porn as High Art & Laugh a Lot as well, you should get tix at once for Venus in Fur on Broadway!

This is a Limited Run--which certainly ought to be extended & extended, so Remarkable & Sexy is its Two hander Cast!

If you have seen last season's Born Yesterday, or Tower Heist or that Woody Allen Paris Movie, you already know what a Stunning New Star Nina Arianda is!

David Ives has had the ingenious idea of bringing that Early S&M Classic, Leopold von Sacher Masoch's Venus in Fur to the stage.

He imagines a Playwright/Director who has done just that! But this frustrated Male cannot find anyone--among hordes of Auditioneers--who can play a real Masochist's Dominatrix Venus

As a recent John Lahr Profile of Nina Arianda--in The New Yorker--reveals, she turned up breathlessly late for an audition down at the CSC, where Venus in Fur was initially presented. She Was It!

Now, in a new John Lee Beatty designed production for MTC--at the Samuel J. Friedman Memorial Theatre, formerly the Biltmore-- Nina Arianda is a veritable Force of Nature.

But, this time out, her Stage Director is played by the handsome Hugh Dancy--hubby of Clare Danes--so, when this Venus straps him to a Pillar, preparing him for Humiliation & Domination, with Whips & Furs, there is a very real Sexual Chemistry at work!

When this would be Actress transforms herself into The Goddess, a kind of Miracle happens!

Aphrodite is Come!

I think I came

Walter Bobbie directed. I cleaned up myself


Art Deco + Beyond: Handsome Dealer Booths Transformed into Pavilions at Park Avenue Armory!

If you are remotely interested in the Gallery Scene, you've surely heard of Art Basel. Or, at least that SoFlorida version, Art Basel Miami

Well, Manhattan now has its own version of Pavilion des Arts et du Design Paris & London's Pavilion of Art & Design.

Actually, as installed at the Park Avenue Armory, this looks less like a Pavilion than a fascinating collection of attractively designed Dealers' Booths, crammed with Curiosities, Art Deco Objects & Furniture, as well as some interesting paintings by Picasso, Dufy, & Leger, among Other Luminaries…

Curiously, it seemed that most of the Galleries represented had come from France & the UK, rather than from the US.

We were a Presence thanks to Hammer Galleries, Friedman Benda, Michael Shapiro, & Primavera, among a few others.

From the Netherlands came Priveekollektie. From Switzerland, Galerie Smurznyska. From Sweden, Modernity. From Germany, the admired Galerie Thomas!

Your Roving Arts Reporter took some shots for INFOTOGRAPHY™ to illustrate, if not illuminate, this brief Report:


Enough Already of Agonizing Plays About Agonized Playwrights Writing Agonized Family Plays!

Actually, in Other Desert Cities, the Daughter was writing a Tell All Memoir, not an Actual Play.

David Bar Katz has written a Family Memory Play--both Tennessee Williams & Eugene O'Neill are evoked, but not imitated--which the Playwright [not played by David Bar Katz] is directing, starring his Actual Mother [played not by Mrs. Katz, but by Ellen Burstyn], with some Profane & Hilarious Interjections from his Long Absent Father [a raffish John Glover].

Aside from the pleasure of seeing both Glover & Burstyn alive & well on stage, their Family Problems seemed tedious, rather than fascinating…

Oddly enough, for all the fuss & feathers among the Cast, this show's Major Dramatic Action involved the endless moving of furniture around the tiny square of a black stage in a tiny black room down on Bank Street.

Three rows of Black Footlights often tripped up the Audience…


Under the Brits, Burma Was a Bad Posting: On the Road to Mandalay with George Orwell!

George Orwell was no EM Forster & Burmese Days is no Passage To India.

But the Brits were no better in Burma than they were in India: Only there were fewer of them in what was to become Myanmar

Home Rule became a generalized Disaster

In the heyday of the Raj, the Club was the only Refuge, but you wouldn't want to club with a British Man who had slept with a Native Girl & was friends with a Burmese…

As adapted by Ryan Kiggell--who also directed & who plays two roles!--Orwell's cautionary tale becomes a kind of Story Theatre, with short interactive scenes interspersed with Narration by various Characters.

This disperses its possible powers, unfortunately…



This Week's Rational Ratings--

Darcy James Argue & Daniel Zezelj's BROOKLYN BABYLON [★★★★]

Raw Metal Dance's UNTAPPED [★★★]

David Ives' VENUS IN FUR [★★★★]

David Bar Katz's ATMOSPHERE OF MEMORY [★★★]

George Orwell's BURMESE DAYS [★★★]


Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.

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