Happy: June 2004 Archives

PS1 and the members of Young Architects Program, responsible for the beautiful courtyard installation, should be delighted to know that the visitor pictured above, relaxing in one of their outdoor spaces, had made the art very much his own for part of the day. (We remembered seeing him earlier inside, very intent upon the work in the Special Projects and Studio Program rooms, but he may have been inspired by the sandy images in Ugo Rondinone's beautiful installation, "Sleep.")

I nearly forgot to post something about our visit to PS1 on Sunday afternoon. We almost didn't make it at all, since neither Barry and I nor our friend Karen were anxious to get the early start our day's ambitions recommended. We started out with a pilgrimage to ATM Gallery in the East Village, hours before the current show was to be taken down. Half of the afternoon had evaporated before we squeezed into the crowd drawn to Long Island City for the Museum's summer show, "Hard Light."

It was a warm urban moment. Summer in the city. People were drawn by the art and maybe the music, but perhaps more than anything else, by each other.

We will have to return to get a good look at the work of some 40 or 50 artists and collaboratives installed in and around the rambling old school building, but judging from what we did manage to see, I'd say that anyone would have to be quite dead not to be delighted, surprised or challenged by much of what's there.

The weekends on Jackson Avenue are great fun, but the weekdays are probably better for serious arties.

arties and friends having fun in the main courtyard on Sunday


I have a certain awe and respect for the hibiscus, although I've never lived with one. My fascination began long ago in Oshkosh on my Aunt Lillian's veranda and it was renewed soon after I first discovered the formal summer plantings above the Swan Boats dock in the Boston Public Garden. A glorious hibiscus "tree" stood at the center of a fascinating group of trailing and spikey plants in one of those giant iron Victorian urns popular at the turn of the 20th century.

The hibiscus always seemed to me to be a survivor from an earlier, gentler time, and it certainly had no place in the horiculturally-challenged garden of my mother's house. It also seemed to be both exotic and surprisingly ordinary, depending upon which of its parts were being observed. Above all, it wasn't the least bashful about its colors, and I loved them all.

Apparently Andy did too. I only realized recently that the Warhol image which probably most rivals that of the soup cans for its familiarity was inspired by the same hibiscus which decorated both Aunt Lillian and Boston.

The yellow specimen in the photo above was waving to me this afternoon from the edge of the sidewalk as I walked pass my local florist on 8th Avenue. I immediately captured it with my little magic camera, but I went inside to ask if there was a chance it would survive in the microclimate of our roof garden. The shopkeepers were encouraging, but a quick Google at home persuaded me it would be an impossible relationship.

Fate keeps me from living with either Warhol's hibiscus or the living original, but it's left me this image.

We dropped ourselves off inside the Drawing Center's "Playpen" Wednesday evening, where we bumped into some old playmates and made some new ones. We had a great time and left only after promising ourselves we'd be back another day - with others.

There are a dozen artists represented in the show, and fully half of the environments they have created are designed to be altered - by creative visitors or the artists themselves - so no return visit will be quite the same.

It's a perfect summer show, but that doesn't mean you'll have to shut down any heavy aesthetic sensors or sophisticated brain cells to enjoy it. They will all be rewarded. Besides, The Drawing Center has AC, so there's nothing to keep you away.

The artists included in the show (and, in one case, beyond) are David Brody, Voebe de Gruyter, Charles Goldman, Alina Viola Grumiller, Valerie Hegarty, Geoff Lupo, Edward Monovich, neuro Tranmitter, Red76, Gedi Sibony, Austin Thomas and Alex Villar.

Just a hint of what we saw on Wednesday:

Valerie Hegarty's shedding bedroom, or at least much of it

Austin Thomas's art classroom, with Shoshana Dentz, Joan Linder and Charles Goldman

Gedi Sibony's assemblage (detail)

Edward Monovich's images with purposed graffitti process well under way

Charles Goldman's corner (detail, and subject to continuous alteration)

Charles Goldman's installation was especially tempting that night. Even though I was already balancing a camera and a conversation I was compelled to move one of his drawings (his "dingers") from the table to the magnetic board on the wall. Below is an image of the table (the blur represents a kid who really got into the creative process) and then one of Barry, just after he announced, "these are too lined up; it's bugging me."



CORRECTION: I was wrong in my original posting; Tony Feher's show continues until Friday, July 2. Also, I've just added descriptions of the two works shown below which were not identified earlier

I was wrong. Tony Feher's really wonderful show at D'Amelo Terras didn't close on Saturday; It was always scheduled to be up through Friday, July 2. So, while I can still throw images of some of my favorites out into webland, those of you who can get to the neighborhood can go see the beauties for yourselves.

This stuff is magic, and not just because it makes absolutely everyone smile, a lovely art of which we can never have enough.

Tony Feher Untitled (2004) nine stacks: forty-six glass jars and lids; dimensions vary with installation - approx. 33" x 27" x 17"

Tony Feher Believe in the Way Things Are (2004) wire hangers, plastic straws, plastic wrap, candy wrappers, magnets, string; dimensions vary with installation - approx. 48" x 75"

Tony Feher Mountain Home (2004) 140 green plastic fruit containers; approx. 26 3/4" x 30 1/2" x 20"


I was in the garden most of the afternoon. No, not the wonderful wild tundra of the High Line represented above, in a picture taken Saturday afternoon, but the 12' x 16' roof which lies outside our apartment.

New Yorkers have many gardens, and almost all of them are communal property. Chelsea however has no real public park, so Barry and I consider ourselves fortunate indeed. We have both the luxuriant garden court of our building, and the far smaller, and far less light-gifted, accidental Eden immediately outside our own walls.

I would describe the exposure outside our second-floor, north and east-facing windows as very deep shade. That's the environment many of us remember from our childhood as the one which accounted for the cement-hard, packed ground lying under the largest shade tree in the neighborhood. Even the ferns and the Lilies-of-the-Valley couldn't make it there.

I've been defeated repeatedly in my attempts at bringing a woodland environment to the perimeters of our urban shelter, but, partly thanks to a little past experience with limited resources, the undaunted Linda Yang and the Chelsea Garden Center, I haven't given up yet.

Pictures will follow, as soon as the latest plantings establish themselves. I'm convinced that's going to happen, or I wouldn't already feel exhilarated by this afternoon's work in "the garden."


The High Line? Looking at these pictures, it's hard not to ask that it be kept exactly as it is. New Yorkers should all be able to run through a meadow, even if much of the horizon is composed of second-story windows.

Grand Central Station

waiting for the Lex express

on board, somewhere above Union Square, er . . . actually, below

transferring to the L

I saw the message captioned, "Photographer's Rights Protest," and I told myself, "I'm in!"

The issue is the New York MTA's recently-announced proposal that photography be banned throughout the system. Of course it would be for our protection, from camera-hefting researcher/terrorists. I was attracted to the issue (how could its lack of merit even be arguable?), but the fact that a demonstration was announced through the internet, the modest panache of its text appeal, and finally my own recent experience with MTA security incompetence, and its photographic documentation, made it a must.

An excerpt from the organizers' webpage:

This will be a peaceful demonstration against the MTA's proposed Photography Ban, conducted in the spirit of Rosa Parks. We will simply ride through Manhattan with our cameras, taking as many photographs as we please, of whatever we please. This is a completely legal protest, as photography within the subway system has not yet been banned (even though the police seem to have been told otherwise).

Participants were asked to bring cameras and, if they wished, "a witty sign." I have to admit that while I had good intentions, I didn't manage to fabricate the cool sandwich-board I had created in my head; I went shamefully textless. So did all but one of the hundred or so people who gathered in the central hall of Grand Central Station early this afternoon. That singular body sign, "the end is nigh," was suitably wry but undoubtedly arcane for all passers- and sitters-by.

But maybe in this action it really was appropriate to just take pictures, especially if the press was already interested, as it seemed this afternoon it was.

The weirdest thing for someone who's been in perhaps hundreds of other zaps and demonstrations was to be in the midst of all these people taking pictures of each other. Right now there must be thousands of shots out there somewhere showing people snapping people snapping people snapping people, and perhaps beyond.

Not incidently, our progress through the system today must represented the safest time and place in the history of the MTA - at least as far as any threat originating with camera-wielding terrorists is concerned. Don't leave those cameras home, good folks; it's for your own security.

For some early-posted, great images go to the dart board]

In the end, I broke down and made this crummy impromptu sign on the site, hoping it might raise us above the "flashmob"-type thing.

[bottom image from Forgotten NY]

Donald Moffett He Kills Me (installation detail), 1987

He's dead, but as the encomiums pile up he's not going to look dead enough.

Reagan virtually spat on people with AIDS throughout his presidency. The epidemic began under his watch, and he ensured that it would ultimately kill millions. For that responsibility alone, he didn't deserve the relief alzheimers must have brought to his memory.

Ah, wait, Barry just turned on Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel Mighty Real." The magical musical legend Sylvester died of AIDS in 1988, so that ecstatic, triumphant shout of delight seems very real around here today. We're dancing on his grave tonight. Maybe me especially. I'm still talking, and now that monster/fool is not. I'm one of the lucky ones. I've been HIV+ for decades, and I'm not leaving yet.

Oh yes, and my memory's just fine.

[image from Richard F. Brush Gallery, St. Lawrence University]

This page is an archive of entries in the Happy category from June 2004.

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