Culture: August 2008 Archives

hanging out with the man in Chelsea, but only for a bit

We still don't have our Second Avenue subway or public toilets, despite promises going back decades, or almost a century in the case of the subway, but it didn't take long to see the colorful and varied site-specific shapes of David Byrne's bike racks pop up around the city. Hooray for David - and for all bikes and bikers! Now, if we hope to save the streets for people, we just have to figure out how to secure these wonderful machines from thieves.

I saw this particular grouping last Friday on West 25th Street, in the midst of the Chelsea gallery neighborhood. I like the friendly or family mix of cute bikes.

Wait, wait! I wrote those two paragraphs before I had looked for a link to use with this post and only just now did I see in the NYTimes story that the racks will only be installed for 364 days. That's bunk!

The nine racks will be removed about 11 months from now; they were made of durable materials but are intended as temporary public art, not a permanent installation. (A temporary art project cannot remain on public land indefinitely without approval by the city's Public Design Commission.) Mr. Byrne arranged to have the racks fabricated and hopes to have the chance to sell them, eventually, as works of art.

Once again it seems that in New York money "trumps" (choice of word is deliberate) both art and the public good.


I spotted this simple, beautiful tape piece by Aakash Nihalani on the way back from a special lunch with Barry and visits to a few galleries on this very fine August afternoon.

For more on Nihalani, see Hrag Vartanian's piece in the ArtCal Zine.

Poster Boy & Aakash Nihalani collaboration (2008 collage on subway car floor)

Hrag Vartanian has written a terrific debut piece for his column, "Re:Public", which will be appearing regularly in the Zine section of ArtCal.

The subject of his series will be street art, most of it found in New York, most of it of the moment. Today, in "Masters of the Ephemeral" Vartanian writes about and includes images of work by Poster Boy, Aakash Nihalani and the Poster Boy/Aakash Nihalani collaboration.

Vartanian's own excellent site should already be on the feed of anyone interested in the art and ideas of our time.

[image from Poster Boy's Flickr site]

Mary Heilmann The First Vent 1972 acrylic with bronze powder on canvas 20" x 32"

I found a lot of treasures in the "WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution" show when it made its stop at at PS1 last spring. Maybe I'm stuck on her aesthetic, but Mary Heilmann's work, not surprisingly, looked to me like some of the freshest and most beautiful things to be found on the two large floors of galleries.

Besides, it really lightened up my week as I going back over some of the images I had wanted to post much earlier, and after my last few entries it looked like I needed some light. This acrylic was done back in 1972, when all we had to worry about was Nam and the bomb.

After another look at Heilmann's painting and its title, while finishing the two paragraphs above I realized that the idea of the representation of ventilator screens of any kind started to possess me, as it had more than once before. I remembered Doug Wada, who has used quite plain vents as the subject of a number of his trompe d'oeil paintings, in addition to this somewhat-less-generic A/C screen, but I know there are many others out there. Who can't use more ventilation, even if only imagined? This thing probably started with the Romans, where the tradition continues.

This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from August 2008.

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