Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Every year there comes a moment when I think this little tree can't get any more flamboyant. Then it does.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cooper Union / New Neighborhood Architecture

I basically like this new addition to the East Village. It is certainly a big improvement on much of what has been going on around here for the last several years. Maybe at some point I will get some photos from inside to see how that is functioning.
It was designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis and has gotten pretty glowing reviews for its looks, its green-ness, and its embrace of inspecific pockets of interior space. It reminds me a little bit of a kind of candy called a Chunky chocolate bar, which you don't see around too much anymore. These pictures show an approach from the back, where it is more rectilinear, more sober; appropriate to abut the St. George's Ukrainian Catholic School.
The building's front has loads of fun angles. Most people mention the vertical gash that breaks up the space, but my favorite bit is just to the right of that, which is sort of a flap that curves just a tad at the bottom edge. Reminds me of a pocket protector, icon of the 70's-80's nerd culture. Appropriate since, among other things, this building will house Cooper Union's School of Engineering, which, at least image-wise was the poor stepsister of the flashy art & architecture programs.

The skin is made up of panels reminiscent of circuit boards, and the part which reflects color from the sky is no changed material, but only the non-perforated parts of same.

The cutaway lettering of the building's name is high-tech crafty and looks great at night.

I like the empty wedge of space where one column sways back from the other.

It's a shame that part of the facade is already falling apart.

WFMU Record Fair

It's mostly all vinyl at the fair, but I did manage to get a bunch of cheap stuff and have some fun.

Seeing some of my favorite radio friends in the flesh was fun.

d.j. Franco was a little over it, but his table looked awesome, though way pricey. Norton records guys kind of maniacs, in a nice way. Richard from Wax Poetics - thanks for the free stuff.

Free vinyl feeding frenzy as the fair winds down . . . .

soon I will be able to watch "Samurai Rebellion" with the subtitles off ( except I will probably have all the dialogue memorized by the time I get through these tapes ).

The Art of The Samurai @ Met Museum

This exterior photo of the banner for this show, which just opened is, I guess, the only one that's really allowed. Yes, dojo-girl has once again employed stealth and subterfuge to bring sub-par photos to clay lovers everywhere. Many of the works presented here are of an extreme rarity, and the show itself has been ten years in the planning. Things that have never before left Japan, and are only very occasionally shown at home are now in nyc, so it is no surprise that photography is discouraged.
I did not photograph any of the extremely numerous sword blades, which are intense. There is also a dvd presentation showing the process by which these were forged. One good thing is that the video provides great information and isn't overlong.
If you can make it, this show really is a must-see. You will witness things of unimaginable strangeness and refinement.

Somehow, this beautiful example of a haniwa warrior in terracotta (!) has made it through the ages, from the fifth century, to get here for us to see each other. Immensely moving, simple, strong. Great clay. I have a feeling that something about this work will stay with me always, and that lots of ideas, or new ways of thinking about other ideas will result from my having experienced it. Does it get any better than that?

This lacquered saddle and stirrups has a beautiful, fluid motif of undulating grasses in gold. The shapes of the decoration are so perfectly in harmony with the shapes of the support that I can't make up my mind if it is simple, refined and understated, or lushly flamboyant.

A braided silk cord in a complex rigging of knots.

An unsteady hand did its best to capture this golden helmet whose front features an enormous praying mantis. My theory is that the effectiveness of this piece on the battlefield may have been due less to its capacity to inspire fear than to its wow-factor. Wow indeed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Out Of State Plates

In the same week, two super-great vehicles - right in my neighborhood. In the "more is more" vein: I love this Mondrian- themed car that I saw parked in front of Anthology Film Archives. From its wacky, boxy roof ornament to its detailed hubcaps, upholstery & dashboard, no surface has been spared the boogie-woogie treatment. In the "perfect just the way it is" vein: this red Jeep was a heart-stopper on Houston Street.

Yeah, but you should see the other guy

When I talk to people about my pottery, they often seem most interested in knowing about things exploding during kiln firing. How does it happen? Does it happen a lot? I usually say that while it is a risk, the reasons for its happening are not that mysterious, and are mostly avoidable, thereby putting a damper on the most fascinating aspect of the conversation.
But when working in a communal setting, where kiln loading and firing are done by someone else, and there is work in each batch done by many different people, the chances of a mishap are harder to calculate. And so I offer this photo of a couple of recent casualties sustained by yours truly. The gist of what happened seems to be that a thick-walled, perhaps insufficiently dry piece ( somebody else's ) was fired in close proximity to these mug shapes, which show the sort of fussy, laborious decorative scheme on the theme of waves that I have in mind right now. When that piece exploded, it took mine out too. Weirdly, these two mugs look like they were sliced by a guillotine down the middle, much neater than I would have expected. I am kicking myself right now for not taking a picture of the piece that caused the explosion, because it was literally in smithereens, and could not have been a more perfect, sensationalistic illustration of what the people really want to see sometimes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fox and His Friend

These pieces from the mid 1740's are featured in the Met's outstanding small show " Watteau and Music ". Although it might be tempting to imagine a kooky absurdity as the basis for featuring this musically gifted animal, the facts are more revealing. The singer, Faustina Bordoni, was a recognizable and renowned mezzo of her day. Her spouse was an equally famous composer, whose name is legible ( though not in my photo) at the top of the sheet music which is being interpreted by the harpsichord-playing fox. Well enough known at the time for the porcelain-loving public must have been the fact that the singer was carrying on an extramarital affair with a man named Fuchs, which means fox.

This dancing couple also comes from the performance world, possibly representing players in Rameau's "Les Indes Galantes". I find the painting, and the color combinations, particularly the yellow on that dress, to be enchanting. These Meissen men, and women were living it up. Of course, then came revolution.

Wood or Wire?

Maya Lin's current show at Pace Wildenstein in Chelsea is entitled " Three Ways of Looking at The Earth ". The three large sculptures seem a little cramped in the space. Each addresses a specific site that has significance for the sculptor/architect, and in addition to mapping the contours of a terrain or underwater scape the materials used look to issues of sustainability. It is always good to see what she is thinking about and making, but the lack of breathing room here somewhat detracted from being able see the pieces as more than analytical/didactic, but beautiful.