Thursday
Mar082012

Remembering Patricia Cockram

In June, English professor Patricia Cockram died of cancer at the age of 67. I first met Professor Cockram while writing my English honors paper on James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. She pushed me to go well beyond the original scope of my outline. She wanted me to familiarize myself with the seemingly insurmountable Ulysses. She then told me to purchase Richard Ellmann's huge biography of the author and added several critical essays and articles to the list. As the pile of materials grew I thought, "She's gotta be kidding."

She wasn't. 

 

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Thursday
Mar082012

Reflective Architect

James Polshek stands atop his nearly completed Museum of American Jewish History at Independence Mall.While reporting for a story about the National Museum of American Jewish History, I asked architect James Polshek how he feels at the end of a project. Click below for his response. 

 

Friday
Aug202010

Caito's Calling

Friday
Aug202010

Taylor Mead's Forgotten Ass

Taylor Mead appeared in several of Andy Warhol’s films, but his performance in Taylor Mead’s Ass is his least recognized work. The silent film was shot at The Factory in 16mm black and white. Warhol keeps Mead’s naked ass in frame for seventy minutes. Coming as it did on the heels of Empire, which featured the Empire State Building in the same manner, Taylor Mead’s Ass is the flipside to its phallic forerunner.Empire runs for a total of eight hours and five minutes. At the time Warhol was relatively new to the art scene

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Saturday
Jul242010

Rosa's Turn

Friday
Apr022010

Anne Collier Cuts Loose  

The piece calls to mind the shocking scene from Louis Buñel’s 1929 Surrealist film, “Un Chien Andalou.” In the film, a man slashes a woman’s eye slowly with a razor blade.  For generations, art students who have dissected the film have discussed technique. The director tightly edited the film to shift from one frame showing a woman’s eye about to be mutilated, to another frame showing a closely cropped eye of a dead cow as the razor slides through it. Now, when shocking images are a click away, Collier’s straightforward analog image taken within sterile environs of her studio suggests the violence rather than presenting it. The photographer’s self-referential use of darkroom materials questions a world where digital technology rules. She does not use Photoshop to feign cutting an eye in the manner that Buñel used the film cutaway.  No smoke and mirrors here; the suggestion suffices. Her references to dark room technology in the photo–the black and white print and old-school cropper­–place the photo within a twentieth century time frame. However, regardless of how an image gets produced, whether bathed in photo chemicals or transmitted in 0’s and 1’s, the meaning behind the medium matters most: the eye stars in this show.

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Sunday
Mar022008

Old Hollywood in the Heights

Bernhoft shows one of his many stereoscopes.

The Washington Heights townhouse, built in 1897, and shared by Peter Mintun and Eric Bernhoft retains most of its original woodwork and fixtures. The interior décor is somewhat streamlined, not having the curvaceous bulkiness usually associated with the late Victorian period. It is an appropriate environment for a collection that could have easily been left behind by the original owners. Mintun, a pianist, maintains a huge assortment of sheet music, magazines, and memorabilia from the early part of the last century. Bernhoft, a former telephone technician, has gathered together an extraordinary assortment of hand-colored photographic glass slides and their accompanying music on Edison wax cylinders that were shown in movie houses during the silent film era, usually when the projectionist was changing the film reels.

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Thursday
Aug092007

Hispanic Society Stays; Its Art Travels

Originally published in Manhattan Times 

View of the society's central court from the mezzanine.Fernando Martin Diez-Cabeza, a Spaniard who currently resides in Germany, is a painter and a designer for the fashion label Escada. On a recent Saturday morning, he moved swiftly through the galleries of The Hispanic Society of America calling out the names of the artists without glancing at the nameplates, offering anecdotes along the way. In front of Velázquez’s “El Duque de Olivares” he remarked, “Important people were afraid to be painted by him, he revealed too much.” He compared the galleries to “a homey palace.” But it was the Sorolla murals that truly arrested him. In 1911, Archibald Milton Huntington, the founder of the Hispanic Society, commissioned the Spanish neoimpressionist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida to paint a panorama of murals depicting various provinces of Spain. Pointing to one mural Diez-Cabeza noted, “That is the light of 5:00 p.m.” Turning to another he said, “Look at how his shadows are never black, but instead they conjure light.” Circling once again he pointed emphatically, “He is the best at portraying the sheen of things when they are wet.”

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