100 Enchanting Views of the Moon

Moon Above the Sea at Daimotsu Bay, from 100 Views of the Moon by Yoshtoshi. Image courtesy of Ronin Gallery

Moon Above the Sea at Daimotsu Bay, from 100 Views of the Moon by Yoshtoshi. Image courtesy of Ronin Gallery

Last week the Print Club of NY invited me to their members reception at the Ronin Gallery.  In addition to seeing the wonderful exhibit One Hundred Views of the Moon, we were also treated to a lively and informative talk about the show by the gallery President, David Libertson, son of the owners who founded Ronin forty-two years ago.

On exhibit are about half of the 100 prints which comprise One Hundred Views of the Moon, one of the masterpieces by Japanese artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.

Born in 1839, Yoshitoshi was one of the last great masters of the ukiyo-e genre of wood block printing.   Bridging the Edo period, the Meiji Restoration, and modern Japan, he was noted for his imaginative and innovative style. His prints are imbued with emotion and elegance, portraying people realistically. While his art focused on  traditional scenes from history and kabuki theatre, as well as images of foreigners, Yoshitoshi used the new, aniline dyes that were being introduced into Japan from the West. 

Not only did he live though the political and economic upheavals of 19th century Japan, his own life was incredibly tumultuous, punctuated by periods of precarious finances, personal instability, fragile physical and mental health.  From the age of three, he was raised by an uncle;  at age eleven, he apprenticed with Kuniyoshi, one of the grand masters of the Utagawa School of woodblock printing. In his early twenties, he lost both his father and his teacher, and thereafter knew several years of bitter poverty, living – at different times – with two mistresses, both of whom hired themselves out to brothels to support him.

Jade Rabbit - Sun Wukong, from 100 Views of the Moon by Yoshitoshi. Image courtesy of Ronin Gallery.

Jade Rabbit – Sun Wukong, from 100 Views of the Moon by Yoshitoshi. Image courtesy of Ronin Gallery.

Yoshitoshi made his first print in 1853, the year that Admiral Perry arrived and forced Japan to open to the West.  The 1860’s were a period of political upheaval, and many bloody battles, which Yoshitoshi reflected in his work (his “grotesque period”)  – nonetheless, his prints were quite popular.  But tastes change with the times.  In the early 1870’s his work was no longer in demand, and the artist was severely depressed.  However, in the mid to late 1870’s he began working steadily, as newspapers commissioned him to design woodblocks with scenes of  graphic violence and death to accompany their “true crime” stories (I guess gore always sells).

The 1880’s were a period of financial stability, personal stability (he got married) and artistic output:  in 1883, Yoshitoshi  created the Flute Player Triptych, and between 1885 and 1891, the images for three series: One Hundred Views of the Moon; 32 Aspects of Women; and 36 Ghosts, while also creating prints of historical subjects. 

In 1892 he entered an asylum, and in 1892, he died at age 53 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

During his lifetime, woodblocks prints, whose production is very labor intensive, were facing increasing competition from photography and lithography.  Yoshitoshi’s work is concerned with what was being lost – in subject matter and artistic process – as Japan modernized.

The Yugao Chapter from "The Tale of Genji" from 100 Views of the Moon by Yoshitoshi. Image courtesy of Ronin Gallery.

The Yugao Chapter from “The Tale of Genji” from 100 Views of the Moon by Yoshitoshi. Image courtesy of Ronin Gallery.

One Hundred Views of the Moon is a series of one hundred single sheets, depicting a wide variety of subjects – Japanese and Chinese history and myth, Noh and Kabuki theatre, contemporary Japanese life – linked only by the presence of the moon in each print. While its imagery hearkens back to a softer time, invoking Old Japan, the series employs the more intense colors made possible by the new dyes. The moon was very important in 19th century Japan – in the Meiji period, moon viewing parties were raucous affairs, so it’s no surprise that this was one of Yoshitoshi’s most popular series. People would line up before dawn to buy each new design, only to find that the edition sold out (and you thought only today’s teenage sneaker buyers do things like that!)

Even though we think of the artist when we think of wood block images, in the 1800’s it was the publisher who was the driving force – he hired the artist to create a sketch or painting, which was then handed to block carvers, who, using cherry wood, carved a block for each color; the printer then printed the images on paper made from the bark of the mulberry tree.  After 200 – 250 prints, the block is degraded; after 500 are made, the prints are no longer considered to be in excellent condition.  In 19th century Japan, prints were not framed and hung on the wall;  rather, collectors would put them in a chest, and take them out to view.

David Libertson, Ronin Gallery President speaking to the members of the Print Club of NY

David Libertson, Ronin Gallery President speaking to the members of the Print Club of NY

The Print Club of New York is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.  It brings together a group of avid print collectors – membership is limited to 200 – offering an educational program that includes lectures by artists, curators and conservators, as well as visits to galleries, auction houses, print shops and artists’ studios. Every year the club commissions a print for it’s membership. Check out their website for more information.

New African Photography

Untitled # 17, by Sammy Baloji

Untitled # 17, by Sammy Baloji

The Expanded Subject: New Perspectives In Photographic Portraiture From Africa at Columbia University’s Wallach Gallery, is an exciting show of four contemporary African photographers.  While they adhere to some of the formal conventions of portraiture, these photographers reject the notion of portraits as documents of identity; rather they expand the definition of portraiture to include fiction and decontextualization, as well as documentary and theatrical tropes.

The curators are to be congratulated not only for the quality of this show, but also their tenacity in making it happen – this exhibit had its genesis during a visit the curators made to the Photography Biennale in Bamako, Mali in 2007. Nine years is a lot of patience, but I can see why they were determined to make it happen. I attended a tour led by two of them.

Photographic portraiture in Africa goes back to the 1840’s. The first section of the show provides some historical context through a small group of portrait photos from the 1800’s and 1900’s – mostly formal, some ethnographic, with their subjects almost always facing forward.  Hanging nearby are two very large (∼ 5’ x 5’) contemporary photos of sitters who don’t meet the traditional conventional standards, but who are imbued with dignity by the photographer: in one we see two young men in suits and hats, sitting in a rather bare kitchen in a shanty town; the other depicts a young man standing defiantly in the middle of a dusty street, holding a hyena on a chain leash, looking straight at us.

Then we moved on to work by the four photographers featured in this exhibition.

The Warrior, by Saïdou Dicko

The Warrior, by Saïdou Dicko

Saïdou Dicko, from Burkina Faso, has five photos of a man getting on his bike – but we just see his shadow, and that of his bike, projected on a bright green wall. In another photo, against an orange building wall we see the shadow of a young boy, seemingly posed for battle. By not giving us flesh & blood subjects, the photographer doesn’t let us see their race, identity, or status, but he has, nonetheless, given us portraits of modern African urban dwellers.  Through their shadows we can, perhaps, grasp their essence. 

Cactus de Noel #3, by Mohammed Camera

Cactus de Noel #3, by Mohammed Camera

Mohammed Camera hails from Mali, and the show has images from his Malian Rooms, a series of domestic scenes – some unkempt, some posed – taken in his residential compound.  Framing and composition are very important in his work.  Because we’re always looking at the subject through something, i.e., a doorway, a window, the pictures reveal not the subject, but the photographer and his process.  In another room are photos from the series Some Mornings, in which he creates little mise-en-scènes, many without people, using this device to investigate the status of the subject (which doesn’t always match the title) resulting in images that are often isolated, dreamy, reflective.

Ogony Boy, by George Osodi

Ogony Boy, by George Osodi

The last room has several very large format (2’ x 3’ and larger) extraordinary works by two photographers where the human element is the anchor.  George Osodi is a Nigerian photojournalist who creates environmental portraits set in the Niger Delta.  He places his subjects in an electric, swirling, menacing background of intense colors, imbued with extraordinary tension.  In these images, he personifies the link between political decisions, environmental degradation, and their human consequences.  The show also includes two images from Hall of Fame  in which he’s pieced together head shots of political leaders to create a new portrait that you can’t really see if you’re too close.

Untitled #12 by Sammy Baloji

Untitled #12 by Sammy Baloji

Sammy Baloji, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, is represented by work from his Memoir series.  In these digital photo montages, he takes figures from colonial black & white photos – often prisoners doing hard labor – and places them in apocalyptic, color photos of present-day abandoned uranium and copper mines in Katanga Province.  This juxtaposition is a bit disconcerting at first, but it lets you piece together the history that links these photos from two different eras.  In this way he honors the early workers and indicts colonial and post-colonial rulers. The photo at left, is a riff on one of the historical photos at the beginning of the show.

The exhibit runs through December 10th. Be sure to get up to the Wallach Gallery, Schermerhorn Hall, 8th floor, Columbia University, 116th and Broadway before then.

On Friday, October 21st, from 1:00 to 6:00, The Wallach Gallery will host a  symposium,    bringing together artists, scholars, curators, critics, and cultural producers, to discuss current developments in photographic and video practices in Africa and the African Diaspora.

Artist Grants and Call for Artists

The Bronx Council on the Arts   invites Bronx-based individual artists and nonprofit organizations to apply for 2017 project funding through the Artists for Community Grant,   Arts Fund, and Community Arts Grant.  Each grant program supports projects and activities between January 1 and December 31, 2017, that enable Bronx communities to experience and engage with the arts. Grants range from $1,000 to $5,000.

The Bronx Council on the Arts’ Longwood Arts Project is looking for original, thought-provoking submissions by NYC visual artists whose artworks are influenced or inspired by film noir for the upcoming  group exhibition “Noir: Defining Melodrama.”  The exhibition is scheduled to open February 1, 2017 and will close on May 3, 2017, at the Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos Community College in the South Bronx. For more information on submission criteria, and how to apply, click here .

Theatre Review – Quietly

img_1227It’s very strange when life seemingly imitates art, which happened to me this past Saturday; when the bomb exploded on 23rd Street, I was in the Irish Rep on 22nd Street watching Quietly, a play with a character who threw a bomb when he was a teenager.  If you haven’t seen this play by Owen McCafferty, be sure to see it before it closes this Sunday.   Set in a bar in Belfast, there are only three characters – Robert, the Polish bartender, and  two bar patrons, Jimmy and Ian, who were on opposite sides – and hence enemies – during The Troubles.  Now Jimmy and Ian are meeting to revisit that time – what they did, what they didn’t do, who they lost, how it changed their lives.   

The tension unfolds softly, steadily, then  erupts as old events are relived, and Jimmy and Ian are forced to come to terms with their actions and consequences, and say “sorry” for inflicting wounds that will never heal.  The play illustrates how our unwillingness to see someone else’s point of view, or to even try to understand it, leads to a cycle of violence – societal and personal – that can only be broken when individuals are willing to face up to what they have done, and their victims are willing to try to reconcile.  Quietly also clearly demonstrates how easily youth are recruited and coerced into doing monstrous deeds by adults intent on political gain.  The economical writing and acting make for a superb production (this subject material could easily be over-written and over-acted);  you feel like you’re in the bar with the characters. I heartily recommend seeing it.

Quietly  runs through September 25th, and is part of the 1st Irish Festival.

A Novel Evening Indeed

Tony Macaulay (top) and Daniel Mallen

Tony Macaulay (top) and Daniel Mallen

One of the things I love about festivals in New York, is the chance to hear new voices alongside more established ones.   That’s what happened earlier this month, at a reading by two Irish authors, at the National Arts Club, sponsored by 1st Irish  and the WB Yeats Society of NY.   First up was Tony Macaulay  who hails from Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he grew up at the top of Shankill Road during “The Troubles.”  Tony spoke with understanding and humor about growing up in such a dangerous, divided place, and how those years provided the fodder for two of his three memoirs:  Paperboy, about his experiences as a 12-year old delivering The Belfast Telegraph in his neighborhood; and Breadboy which recounts  his experiences  from age 14 to 16, delivering bread for the Ormo Minishop in Belfast.  His third book, All Growed Up, follows him as a university student in Coleraine.   In addition to writing, Tony lived on the “peace line” in Belfast for many years, working with youth on a community development project, and he’s also worked conflict resolution in post-conflict countries such as Montenegro and Bosnia.  Yet, he is hopeful for humanity, and hasn’t lost his keen wit and sense of humor.

Then Daniel Mallen, a firefighter in Cork, a published songwriter, and a first-time novelist, read from his book, The Judging of Abigail Perdue.  The story revolves around Abigail Perdue, who has just died, and now finds herself in a place called Stasis, where she will be judged by five other new arrivals, who will examine her life and vote on her fate – and she will have a vote on theirs. However, there are only three outcomes: eternal peace in Heofon; rebirth on Earth; or destruction in Gehenna…

Being a firefighter made Daniel realize how quickly life can be taken, and how little we know about each other.  It also started him thinking about what happens in the afterlife, and led to this book.  He recounted some of the coincidences which arose while writing this novel. I’ll tell you one.  A character in the book is a firefighter named Michael Roberts, who has a sister named Karen. Daniel took this name from a t-shirt one of his colleagues gave him that is inscribed with the names of the firefighters from Engine 214, Ladder 111 who died on 9/11.  It wasn’t until after the book was published, that Daniel was contacted by the real Michael Roberts’ mother, only to discover she was the  woman who brought the t-shirt to his firehouse some ten years earlier, and that her late son’s sister is named Karen. 

It was delightful to listen to both authors, who, having dealt with people under very trying circumstances, evince a strong empathy for their fellow human beings, and maintain a positive outlook.  I’m looking forward to reading their books! 

Pop Up Art in Park Slope

Attendants/artists Annie Pettinga and Kati Rehneck at Not For Sale

Attendants/artists Annie Pettinga and Kati Rehneck at Not For Sale

On my way to the library, I stopped at the Soldiers and Sailors Arch at the entrance to Prospect Park, to check out what seemed to be a newsstand – but it was painted pink, and had a sign saying Not for Sale.  Turns out, this is part of the Park Slope Art Festival, and in fact, the structure (constructed and painted by artists Annie Pettinga and Kati Rehneck in photo at left), is modeled after a newsstand, but instead of the usual candy and reading materials, it holds art made only by artists – over 90 from 10 countries – who identify as female.  The brainchild of Girl on Girl Collective,  an art collective based in Brooklyn, the newsstand features works which can’t be bought – however, it is possible to acquire some by fulfilling certain conditions, the idea being to create interaction between the artists and the public.

For example, I got one of Hadley Leary’s mini matchboxes, which are mostly covered with photos of women in water, simply by speaking with one of the attendants/artists, and expressing interest in it. If, however, you wanted to get the “Lucky Alive” candy cigarettes, then you would have to be a smoker, so the artist could talk to you about the dangers of smoking.  In a nod to the newsstand theme, there was a giant cookie onto which the news had been “printed.”   There were some lovely hand-painted postcards, and several art zines.  Not for Sale will be open through September 25th, which is also the last day of the Park Slope Art Festival.  Stop by and chat with the artists – you don’t have to buy anything, and you might leave with something of value.

Opportunities for Artists and Writers

The Center for Book Arts  is accepting applications for their Letterpress Printing & Fine Press Publishing Seminar For Emerging Writers. The seminar, taught by Master Printer Barbara Henry, runs twice a year for five consecutive days in early May and early November. The seminar is tuition-free for participants and includes the cost of materials. Selected participants must attend the entire five-day workshop.  Applications are due October 7th.  More information here.  

The Center will also be accepting applications for its year-long residencies: up to five New York-based emerging artists are offered space, time and support to explore the production and exhibition of artists’ books and related work.  Applications are due October 15th. More information here.  

Textiles: More Than Fabric for Clothes

Heads of Manatas and Indigo Trinidad in installation by Laura Anderson Barbata

Heads of Manatas and Indigo Trinidad in installation by Laura Anderson Barbata

I started my celebration of Textile Month by taking in Material Cultures, a lovely compact exhibition at BRIC House, which explores how 8 different artists employ textiles in their art.  Most of the featured works tend toward sculptural or 3-D, with only one artist using fabric to create clothing.  Hailing from Mexico, Peru, Canada and the US, many of these artists are re-interpreting traditional materials and/or techniques, allowing them to be seen in a new light, or referencing the collision of tradition and modern life.  Here are some of my favorites.

Laura Anderson Barbata created a group of ten imaginative, fanciful figures garbed in costumes mostly made of hand-woven indigo dyed cotton, thus exploring the possibilities of this widely used fabric, whose designs are often freighted with the political and social implications of the communities in which they are made.   

Luna Park by Adrian Esparza

Luna Park by Adrian Esparza

Adrian Esparza has deconstructed a serape, transforming this traditional garment into a large-scale, modernist “drawing” that is Op-Art in its feel, by pinning different colored threads to the wall, creating lines and shapes that intersect and overlap, resulting in new colors and geometric abstractions.  Despite it’s size, I found his work to have a very open, delicate feel. 

Papel tejido, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia, hand woven acrylic on paper in Material Cultures at BRIC

Papel tejido, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia, hand woven acrylic on paper in Material Cultures at BRIC

Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia  created several joyous brightly colored tapestries made from long strips of painted paper  which he’s woven into complex abstract patterns.   

Oulad Bou Sbea by Marela Zacarias in Material Cultures at BRIC

Oulad Bou Sbea by Marela Zacarias in Material Cultures at BRIC

Marela Zacarias large-scale monochromatic sculpture cascades down one of the gallery walls like a softly-draped piece of white satin, which belies the complexity of its structure.  The artist has fashioned the underlying form from wire screening which she attaches to wooden supports, to which she applies layers of plaster she then sands, polishes and paints.  You’ll also find two smaller works which she has painted with geometric patterns, giving the impression that they’re silk scarves that just happen to be on the wall.

detail of crocheted mandala by Xenobia Bailey

detail of crocheted mandala by Xenobia Bailey

Up the stairs in a small bright room you’ll find the joyful, vibrant hand-crocheted  work of Xenobia Bailey, which references various philosophies and traditions, but is rooted in the African-American popular culture of the American South.  The bright pink walls are decorated with her colorful, concentric mandalas, imbuing the space with energy and the visual rhythms of jazz. In the center of the room you’ll find the Funktional House, a tent of lively, varied patterns crocheted from brightly-colored yarns (unfortunately you can’t go in) that transmutes the energy of funk. 

There are more artists who’s work is on display;  you can find more pictures on my Instagram feed .

On September 28th, at 7:00pm, BRIC will host a panel discussion with several of the artists in the show. FREE with RSVP.

The exhibit continues on until October 23rd, at BRIC House 247 Fulton Street, Brooklyn.

Governor’s Island – Overflowing with Art

One of many views from The Hills on Governor's Island

One of many views from The Hills on Governor’s Island

Scholastically speaking, summer may have come to a close, but on the cultural side, it’s still going strong.  Especially on Governor’s Island, which is one of my favorite spaces – you can hang out and take in the spectacular views (be sure to visit The Hills), or, stroll or bike around, and, on the weekends, catch a performance or check out the art.

This year, the art show, which continues every Saturday and Sunday for the next 3 weekends, is spectacular, taking over the buildings along Colonels Row, as well as spaces in Fort Jay and Castle William (both 1812-era forts). The show, organized by 4Heads, contains the work of 100 artists. There’s a lot of variety – paintings, sculpture, video, fibre art – and a lot to like.  Oftentimes the artists are on-site, and they’re very approachable. 

Phenotype, by Mark Lorah, sculpture from recycled boxes

Phenotype, by Mark Lorah, sculpture from recycled boxes

In the eight casements on the upper floor of Castle William  are site-specific pieces, ranging from Charlotte Becket’s  La Mancha Negra, a  motorized soft plastic piece that inflates, stretching and contracting like a sleeping person, to Chaney Trotter’s   Wan(ing, wax)ing light sculpture nestled in its own environment of tree branches, netting and moss.  Environmental concerns are addressed throughout the show, in works like Phenotype,  a joyous spiraling sculpture  by Mark Lorah made from recycled white cardboard boxes, and the wire sculptures of animals by Elizabeth Keithline.

In Fort Jay, you’ll descend to the magazine (a series of decommissioned stone munitions chambers), where there are several videos and installations which make very good use of the rounded spaces.  I especially liked User Experience by Coalfather Industries, an installation and short film in which beings from the future have excavated 20th century earth, and try to explain things like megastores, parking garages, and cemeteries, using archeological terms (the best is when they speculate that landfills may have been used as ceremonial mounds).   In another space are Pablo Garcia Lopez’s  all-white baroque, theatrical sculptures made of silk, fashioned like figures on a wedding cake.

There’s lots going on in the houses on Colonels Row. I’ll just list some of my favorites. (The numbers and letters denote the house’s address) 

Dress by Patrice Yourdon, silver screws

Dress by Patrice Yourdon, silver screws

404 A – Patrice Yourdon has crafted some very delicate dresses from mesh and metal screws, which I know sounds very contradictory; some of them she’s painted, others are their natural colors.  Ethan Minsker has created a memorial to victims of mass shootings with Ghost Gun, in which handguns made from white paper dangle from the ceiling, moving randomly with the breezes and as people pass through. Visitors are encouraged to take selfies with them and post the images on Instagram, with the goal of starting a wide conversation about gun violence in the US.

404 A also has gift shop, where you can find works for sale by the artists in the exhibition.

404 BSam Horowitz, an environmental artist has a lovely piece he fashioned from circular pieces of wood and metal tubes with openings of different widths, that recalls stained glass in the way it lets in light.  Jia Wang has created an amazing installation, which looks like a machine you’d find in an old-fashioned arcade. Inside a glass case are two levels of female swimmers arranged in circles – when it is turned on, the figures not only move in a circle, but also seem to dive from one level to another. And this was just her thesis project.

406 B – Working in both color and black & white,  Michael James Murray  takes panoramic images – of ruins, landscapes, skyscrapers – and compresses them into a sphere, completely altering them, so it’s not until you get up close that you see what the underlying images are.  Check out his website – this description doesn’t do his work justice.

407 A – Mikkel Johnsen  created a series of desolate imaginary landscapes; into each one he’s placed  one very large brutalist/industrial building (that he constructed using a 3-D printer), which he then photographed in black & white.  The resulting large-scale images are strange but beautiful.

Deadly Poppies by Borinquen Gallo, plastic bags, plastic Danger tape, debris netting

Deadly Poppies by Borinquen Gallo, plastic bags, plastic Danger tape, debris netting

407 BBorinquen Gallo’s two pieces, Deadly Poppies, will catch your eye immediately.  Looking very much like evening wear, on closer inspection you’ll see that the artist has taken red plastic bags and that red plastic “Danger” tape you see at construction sites, and woven them through construction debris netting, sometimes very evenly, to create a kind of fabric; in other places she’s pulled the tape through to create poppies.  Fabulous!!   In another room, Sherman Finch   wants you to play with his art that’s full of kinetic energy.  His instrumentalist sculptures have balls which move when you spin the sculpture, much like the game wheels at Coney Island. 

Beaded canvas by Marcy Sperry, seed beads, glitter, glue

Beaded canvas by Marcy Sperry, seed beads, glitter, glue

408 A – You’ll be sure to smile at Marcy Sperrys   wonderful abstract canvases, whose colorful, intricate designs are made entirely from seed beads  and glitter which she’s glued to the surface – a long process which demands a lot of concentration.  Melinda McDaniel has taken unprocessed black & white photographic paper, cut it into strips, bundled them together, and, employing a quilling technique, wrapped them around brad nails. to create highly decorative works.  Over time, as the paper is exposed to light, these sculptures will change color.  Ed Grant has created fabulous water fictions by manipulating photos, so they no longer resemble their original subjects, but rather intensely colorful, fantastical, futuristic waves and water flows.  The Lower East Side Girls Club has created a very imaginative installation that speaks to the issue of mass incarceration.  Using wide pink plastic ribbon, they’ve created a jail cell inside their exhibition room, which gives you a real sense of how small a cell is, even though you can enter and leave it freely.  Against one wall  is You Are the Key to Prison Reform, a series of photographs of metal locks with various inscriptions, including names of people in prison.

Detail of Different Nothings by Julia Bland, linen, velvet wool, silk yarn, oil and acrylic

Detail of Different Nothings by Julia Bland, linen, velvet wool, silk yarn, oil and acrylic

Also along Colonel’s Row is another show, The Tide is High with the work of about 25 artists, organized by Empire Historic Arts and Silvermine Galleries.  Taking up two floors of one of the buildings, it includes some terrific fibre art.  Two of my favorite pieces are Different Nothings, by Julia Bland,  who’s painted abstractions on a background of linen, velvet, wool and silk yarns; and  Color in a Form by Jonathan Cowan, who’s embroidered a rainbow in colored threads on his painted canvas. 

Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian by Michael Richards

Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian by Michael Richards

Over at the Arts Center you’ll find the Lower Manhattan Cultural Councils exhibit  Michael Richards: Winged which features sculptures, drawings, and documentation of his work.  The central piece is Tar Baby vs.St. Sebastian, a gilded cast of his body in the uniform of the Tuskegee Airmen, which is being pierced by miniature airplanes. (African-American pilots in WW2, the Tuskegee Airmen were nonetheless segregated from their white counterparts).  In the center of the room is Air Fall 1 – right below the ceiling is a black cloud made of hair from which 50 small airplanes wrapped in hair are suspended over a mirrored bulls-eye target on the floor.  Against one wall is The Great Black Airmen, composed of 5 pilot helmets with both straightened and kinked hair, placed on pedestals, and arranged as if they were a doo-wop group, causing you to imagine the men who would have worn those helmets.  These works, which invoke airplanes are eerily prescient, when you consider that Richards died while working in  his LMCC studio at the World Trace Center on 9/11. There are many other works by Mr. Richards in this show, which is very relevant for today.  Make time to see it.

Through next weekend, you can visit Swale, a floating sculpture and edible forest (with bee hive) on a  barge docked at Yankee Pier, designed to address the question, What if fresh, healthy food could be a free public service?  This is a project you want to get on board with.

I’ve really only covered a tiny bit of the art that you’ll find in these three shows.  There are other shows on Governor’s Island that I haven’t gotten to – I suggest you plan ahead and leave yourself plenty of time. I’ve posted more photos on my Instagram feed.   

All this wonderful work is FREE!!  You can get to Governor’s Island  by ferry from the Battery in Manhattan or Pier 6 in Brooklyn (for only $2). There’s a lot going on, so be sure to get out there before September 25th!