Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mostly Fanfare, Almost a Memory

Still from Mostly Fanfare, courtesy of Monica Bill Barnes.

The most engaging things always seem to be the fleeting ones, the ephemeral, the ones you can only grab at wistfully in your memories, and these eight short dance films, juxtaposed and mashed together in the most delightful way, are no exception. Created by dancer/choreographer and eponymous dance company artistic director Monica Bill Barnes and dancer/filmmaker Celia Rowlson-Hall, Mostly Fanfare is like a glittering dream tinged with melancholy, the way all the best dreams are. The 30-minute collaboration will only exist online for another week—it disappears August 24—so watch it now.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sidewalk Catwalk: Meet the Mannequins

The Fashion Center opened, "Sidewalk Catwalk," its long-in-the-making summer public art exhibition, today, and I was on hand to see the unveiling of 32 mannequins dressed by superstar designers--including Kenneth Cole, Betsey Johnson, Isaac Mizrahi, Nicole Miller, Rebecca Taylor, and Donna Karan--and local fashion students. The mannequins will posed in the plazas of the Fashion District, along Broadway from 35 Street to 42nd Street in Manhattan, through September 3.

The project, meant to highlight New York's fashion industry, is brilliant in several ways:

1) It presented a real and compelling challenge that many of the designers probably hadn't faced before: creating "outfits" out of durable materials that could remain outside and stand up to the city elements all summer long (some designers were successful at that, incorporating a variety of materials from a parachute to bricks, but I foresee a sad fate for others' garments). Essentially, the mannequins became sculptures and the designers, many of whom often use visual arts to inspire their clothing collections, had to turn the tables and use their vision for clothing as the impetus for an artwork.

2) It's the kind of public art project that, when stumbled upon by the unsuspecting pedestrian, is likely to provoke wonder, curiosity, and awe, in the much same way that this Sarah Sze sculpture did for me in 2006.

3) The custom Ralph Pucci mannequins were the perfect muses for the designers, given their streamlined shapes, faceless figures, and their already well-established connection to the art world.

4) The juxtaposition and close proximity of the mannequins to Antony Gormley's much less commercial public exhibition, "Event Horizon"-- 31 sculptures of the artist naked, standing in Madison Square Park and peering somberly down from nearby rooftops-- makes me chuckle.

5) It's for a good cause. All of the mannequins will be auctioned to benefit Materials for the Arts.

Pictured above is Prabal Gurung's mannequin design-- now go see the rest!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Save The City Reliquary!

Photo courtesy of E. Bartholomew, via Flickr.

The City Reliquary is one of those places that can make a Brooklynite feel smug about "discovering" one of the sweetest secret hangouts in the borough. Meandering down Metropolitan Avenue a couple years ago, I felt exactly that way when I ducked into this tiny museum and found, behind its yellow and red awning, the coolest, quirkiest, old-timiest collection of NYC ephemera I'd ever seen--everything from a crazy collection of kitschy Statue of Liberty replicas to chunks of long-gone buildings. But later, when I attended my first event at the Reliquary (a reception for the exhibition "76 Kisses " in February, 2008), I found out this hangout wasn't my little secret after all. The place was packed, bursting at the seams with revelers. Turns out that lots of New Yorkers were onto the spot waaay before I marched in, and all its parties, concerts and films draw a big crowd. In warmer weather, people even spill out into the backyard.

While its steady increase in popularity is a good thing, the Reliquary is also experiencing its share of growing pains, according to the museum's president, Dave Herman, who founded the Reliquary as a nonprofit museum--originally a single display window and recorded "tour"(which still exist) at his Williamsburg apartment--and civic organization in 2002. "Our needs are growing larger," Herman says. Among other things, the museum needs to hire an administrator to apply for larger grants and city funding, and if it doesn't raise $60,000 by December, it might have to consider moving out of its current storefront digs at 370 Metropolitan (where it has been since 2006). Although Herman says the Reliquary won't close, its collection might have to seek a home in a public library or other alternative space.

Besides the awesomeness of the Reliquary's permanent collection, rotating exhibitions (past shows have included giant pencils, an impressive display of copper Jell-O molds, and photos and interviews with former Miss Subways), and parties, its mission alone is enough to make anyone want to keep it alive: Connecting visitors to both the past and present of New York. "People have been here [in Williamsburg] for hundreds of years, and I think it's important to acknowledge that," Herman says. "We want to add to the culture and highlight its rich history."

So how can you help? Donate some money or head over to this benefit concert:

What: St. Patrick's Day Benefit Concert for The City Reliquary
Wednesday, March 17th 2010, Doors 6:00PM/Show 7:30 PM
Where: Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn
Who: Bands will include: Cecilia Brauer, Drink Me, Brian Dewan, Frankenpine, Lucky Chops and more.
How Much: $20

If you're too broke to do either, just visit and voice your support-- you'll be glad you did!