Before They Close

I can’t believe that 2015 is almost over!  Since many of you will be leaving soon for other locales to celebrate the holidays, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza or another tradition, I wish you happiness, merriment and peace in this holiday season and in the New Year.  In the holiday spirit, I’ll be taking a bit of a rest, and will resume publishing mid-January.  ‘Til then….

While your intrepid blogger has been active, I’m afraid I haven’t been able to write a fuller review of some of the exhibits I’ve seen, but, in the tradition of the year-end round up, I’d like to offer a few recommendations for shows before they close. 

Over by Lincoln Center the American Folk Art Museum,  is hosting a splendid exhibit “Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean Dubuffet,” featuring over 150 pieces by 35 artists from the Collection de L’art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland.  Many of the works – pen and ink, pencil, embroideries, mixed media – are incredibly detailed, highly patterned and very imaginative.  A small but fulfilling show.  It closes on January 10th.

On the evening of January 5th, the Museum will show Bruno Decharme’s film, Rouge Ciel, the story of unconventional artists.  There will also be a talk back with the director after the screening.

Across the way at Lincoln Center, the Library for the Performing Arts has an exhibit about “Alice in Wonderland” in performance and song, which runs through January 16th.  My previous review is here .

At Columbus Circle, The Museum of Art and Design  I caught two excellent exhibits.  Wendell Castle Remastered is a wonderful show of the work of this master furniture maker, designer, sculptor, educator, and acclaimed figure of the American art furniture movement, who deftly merges sculpture and furniture.  The show pairs new works in which Castle combines hand craftsmanship—such as carving, rasping, and finishing—with digital technologies—including 3D scanning, 3D modeling, and computer-controlled milling – with the earlier pieces that inspired them. 

Japanese Kōgei | Future Forward   showcases the work of 12 established and emergent kōgei artists. Kōgei is a genre of traditional artisanal crafts that is associated with specific regions and peoples in Japan.

Figure of a Mother Holding a Child, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 19th cent.

Figure of a Mother Holding a Child, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 19th cent.

If you’re at the Brooklyn Museum, the Francisco Oller show, (here’s an earlier review)  continues through January 3rd.  Be sure to leave time for “Arts of Africa, Double Take”  a small but innovative exhibit that pairs African art from the 19th century (and earlier) with works by modern African artists.  The show is grouped around themes such as “The Art of Portraits,” “The Art of Trauma,” “Art that Moves,” which gives it a more nuanced feel than the usual chronological/linear displays that are so often used in museums.  The beadwork, especially on the beaded crowns from Nigeria and the man’s corset from South Sudan are standouts, as are many of the masks and carvings.

If you’re looking for theatre, I’d recommend the revival of The King & I  at Lincoln Center;  if you like dance, An American in Paris   is a delightful show, with some wonderful old songs, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night is compelling.

In the book department, I’m currently reading “The Boy is Gone:  Conversations with a Mau Mau General”  by Laura Lee P. Huttebach.  I picked it up after hearing her speak about her visits to Kenya to understand the General’s story, and make it known to the wider world.  As its title implies, the book recounts the many conversations Ms. Huttenbach had with Japhlet Thambu about his life and his participation in the Kenyan independence movement.  The story is told in Mr. Thambu’s voice and makes for a fascinating look at an episode in African history that has been too often misunderstood and distorted in the West.