Browsing the archives for the Art category.

Surveying Judy Chicago:1970-2010 at the ACA Gallery

Art, Lily's notes, exhibit

Judy Chicago at the ACA Gallery by Jeff French Segall

Judy Chicago at the ACA Gallery by Jeff French Segall

Surveying Judy Chicago: 1970-2010 at the ACA Gallery is a small exhibit with excellent examples of Ms Chicago’s creative, extensive and very personal works in several media. It is very clear why she has been an important influence in the art world, and for women especially. Her humanist and feminist portrayal of women and their physical essence  stands out as a beacon of light against the usual art world’s women as either pretty (or sometimes “mysterious”) sex objects, or still life dolls.

Ms Chicago delicately explained to the opening attendees, that the lithograph called “The Crowning” referred to the moment that a baby’s head first appears during birth, those us us who have had children needed no explanation, it is probably the kind of piece that makes some uncomfortable, really unfortunately, since it is strong and powerful visual statement.

It is so important to have a woman depict women and their experience of the world.

Judy Chicago has had the outstanding courage to deal with topics such as sexual abuse during the Shoa. For more on this ignored topic, please see Remember The Women Institute and the new, impotant book edited by Sonja M Hedgepeth and Rochelle G Saidel titled SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST JEWISH WOMEN DURING THE HOLOCAUST.

Judy Chicago’s most moving work in this exhibit is her acrylic and oil on canvas called “The Fall”, which depicts a summation of history from prehistoric times through the evil of the Shoa.

I also love her newer work in glass and included in the exhibit is a set of lithographs which are a mini-survey in themselves. There is an example of her “life-saver” paintings, as well.

Ms Chicago commented at the opening, that her art teachers didn’t like her subject matter which at the time was feminine “butterflies” and that they did not like her color choices: they wanted her to become an abstract expressionist. It is a great example of how art schools can have a tremendous damper to creativity…something really new is often not appreciated…But Judy Chicago survived that experience and clearly many more challenges.

She may be best known for her The Dinner Party, which is on permanent display at the Brooklyn Museum, and this current exhibit has many fine works you should get to know and enjoy by this unique artist and person. Ms Chicago is an author of over 12 books, and her latest book is Frida Kahlo: Face to Face, written with Frances Borzello.

ACA Gallery, October 14, 2010 – November 27, 2010, 529 West 20th Street, 5th floor.

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Monet’s Water Lilies at the MoMA

Art, Events

The current exhibit of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies at the Museum of Modern Art fills  one small gallery with the lucious color, light and the timelessness of Monet’s masterpieces.  It will run from September 13 through April 12, 2010. There are two triptics of the waterlilies and four smaller paintings. This is the entire group of the museum’s collection of his late paintings, exhibited togther for the first time, plus two which are on loan.

Take your time to look at these so that they can unfold to you, and look at them from different angles to appreciate the light play across the paint surface. This gallery feels like a chapel to Monet and to  the art of painting.  No matter how many times I see these paintings they are always fresh and new.

Try to take your time and really see them even if the exhibit gets crowded and check out the MoMA website for tips on visiting the museum.

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Carole Eisner’s Monumental Scultpures on the Broadway Malls

Art, Events

Sculptor Carole Eisner’s nine monumental works,  made from twisted and curved steel, will be on view in the Broadway malls from 64th to 166th Streets from September 9 through December 8 2009.

To view the Installation Map, and locate where you can see these please go to:

Remember to call the toll-free number while you are viewing the scultures and  listen to artist recordings, describing the sculptures.

The Susan Eley Gallery, our most favorite uptown gallery, is a sponsor of this exhibit.  Kudos to Susie for bringing this to the malls on Broadway!

This show is made possible by Broadway Mall Association, in conjunction with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and Susan Eley Fine Art.

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Felt, and Wallpaper for Children at The Cooper-Hewitt National Design

Art, Lily's notes

The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is housed in the landmark Andrew Carnegie Mansion on Fifth Avenue at 91st Street, NYC. Visiting this mansion is much part of this museum experience as the exhibits themselves. Do not miss the huge Wisteria vines on the south side of the mansion visible from the museum cafe. If your first love is architecture, you could find that this mansion overpowers anything on exhibit.

Atchoo! Despite my allergy to wool, I enjoyed the smallish exhibit of items made of felt, which is made completely of wqool, and about the process of felting. Examples of both modern and traditional felt items and felting methods are included. Felting is the process of turning wool into felt-there was a video of the traditional Mongolian method which made use of camels, horses, shearers, combers and other workers, also there is a video of the modern industrial method of felting—no colorful camels and horses needed.

If you are allergic to wool, I would suggest thatyou remember to take an anti-histamine before going to any exhibit in the museum since you must pass through the Felt exhibit to reach the museum cafe, and considering that this is pollen season, it is best not to pile on the allergens.

The exhibit on Children’s Wallpaper has historical wall-papers and the first ever (was it the last?? Hope so) scented wall-paper of repeating bright cherries meant to be scratched and smelled. 

It was Interesting to see the idea of what to put up in children’s rooms change over time. There are papers which claim to be  “sanitary” paper, that is, it was supposed to be germ-resistant so that it would not have to be removed after an illness – this takes us into quite a different era. 

The museum shop is very well stocked and fun to look through.

Atchoo! I left with itchy eyes but happy to have seen the shows.

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Free Fine Concerts at the Mannes School of Music

Art, Concert, Events

We walked by the Mannes School of Music on West 85th Street, as the sky was darkening and glowing that beautiful electric blue, and were drawn right inside by the sound of lovely music. We skipped our dinner plans and instead enjoyed a concert by the students of Susan Woodruff Versage who were performing an Evening  of Opera Excerpts. Ms Versage accompanied them on piano.

These students have splendid voices, great talent and were lively performers with the beautiful grace of youth. Exerpts from 13 operas were performed. This was a true pleasure.

There is so much excellent free music available in New York, it would be  smart to check out all of the music schools performance schedules and select some free concerts in these difficult financial times.

Don’t let the financial downturn limit the pleasures of music and art. It is probably just what you need to better cope with the present times.

Here are some schools and others ideas to check out:
The Julliard School of Music, The Mannes School, The NY Philharmonic Open Rehearsals, The Manhattan School of Music. Remember, the Metropolitan Museum of Art still has a pay-what-you-wish entrance policy.

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The Valmadonna Trust Library at Sotheby’s

Art, Events, Lily's notes, Literary event

The Valmadonna Trust Library is on display at Sotheby’s (72nd Street and York Ave, NYC) until Thursday February 19th at 5pm. Rush over and see this extraordinary collection while you can. This exhibit is for lovers of old books, manuscripts, Jewish learning, world and Jewish history and beautiful hand made book bindings.

If you cannot go, take the time to read this exhibit catalog.

The shelves are lined floor to ceiling with unique books, many open to particularly fascinating pages for viewing. The collection includes examples of nearly half of all of the earliest Hebrew printing, books from the Ottoman Empire, all of Europe, India and the Far East and Africa.

Open Haggadda

Open Haggadda

Each book is a story; it is awesome to see the complete Bomberg Babylonian Talmud, originally acquired by Henry VIII (hoping to find something in support of divorce), which arrived too late to help him out of his dilemma. These volumes of Talmud sat unused for 400 years in Westminster Abbey until acquired by the trust in exchange for a copy of the original charter for the Abbey. They are in perfect condition. It is wonderful to see them in great condition, especially after considering the  history of Talmud burning and censorship in Europe by Christian authorities.

On display are many volumes from various cities in Italy from the golden age of printing, also a small volume which was first book ever published in Africa, there are ”broadsides”, that is, calendars and public notices and a charming Alef-Bet chart with illustrations of animals for teaching young children to read, all meant for temporary use which have somehow survived for so many centuries, and there are books from every community that had a Jewish population.

Samaritan Torah

Samaritan Torah

Also, a room of fine manuscripts which includes a  Samaritan Torah Scroll in the original ancient Hebrew alef-bet. The Samaritan Torah contains an eleventh commandament: to meet at Mount Seir for the annual sacrifice of a lamb for Pesach (Passover). There are other much less dramatic differences as well.

The books are secular as well as religious.

This is the largest collection of Jewish books in private ownership. The Trust intends to sell this as one collection to an institution. This photo was taken with the permmission of Mr. Lunzer and his daughter, when we went back for a second visit.

Jack Lunzer and Daughter

Jack Lunzer and Daughter

A steady stream of visitors fill the galleries of the exhibit and the curator gives a tour full of explanations and colorful stories about this wonderful collection. You can feel the viewer’s pleasure with these volumes. It feels like a pilgrimage of love of the book, a love of learning and Jewish history. We are going back again today and take our time looking over favorite parts of the exhibit.

Why is it called the Valmadonna Trust? The Trust’s custodian, Jack Lunzer of Britain,  considered buying land near Valmadonna, Italy before WWII, he didn’t buy but he liked the name and used it for the Trust.*** Before you all ask: He made his money in industrial diamonds.

Let’s hope that this library is acquired by a great institution, a university or museum and available in the future. Perhaps it belongs at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

*** Caroline corrected this and says that Mr Lunzer did buy the land near Valmadonna Italy after WWII.  Please see her full comment below the photos.

Since the exhibit is now closed, I have added these photos, all by Jeff French Segall, for those of you who were not able to see this exhibit at Sotheby´s.

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Limmud NY 2009 at the Nevele Grande in Ellenville

Art, Events, Film

We will be heading off to the extremely frozen Catskills for a warm, long MLK, JR weekend to attend LimmudNy 09. I hope to tell you about it as it occurs.

There is so much scheduled for the convention ….a constantly running Film festival, theatre, classes, workshops, musicians and a cafe to sit around with friends, catch up and compare notes and choose what to do next.

About 1000 people will be at the Nevele Grande for this four-day convention.

We will drive 2 hours north and west from NYC, park the car, and let Limmud and the resort absorb and take care of us for the next few days.

No work. Just art, Shabbat and learning, a true pleasure.

My 7 year-old neighbor, Hannah,  informed me during an elevator ride yesterday, that the Nevele Grande will shut down after this coming summer season.

This was shocking. First because this savvy 7 year-old was in the know. Her friends summer there each year and they are very sad that this will be their last summer, and the Nevele is among the very last of the old time Catskill resorts.

It is so remarkable to learn that such young New Yorkers care so much about this and that we all share such affection for “the mountains” and for this not-new resort.

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Bella Luna Restaurant and the Eley Gallery on West 90th Street

Art, Restaurant review

The Susan Eley Fine Art Gallery is a salon-style gallery located in a brownstone at 46 West 90th Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.

We dropped by with friends for the opening of the new show called Passages in Black and White, featuring photos by Jessica M. Kaufman and Heather Boose Weiss.  We enjoyed the photos of both photographers, the very positive crowd and the warm atmosphere. You must call in advance to see the show.

Afterwards, 6 of us went to a nearby local favorite: Bella Luna Restaurant ( Columbus Avenue between 89 and 90th Streets) for dinner and we really lucked out. It was Jazz night! This welcoming, delicious, northern-Italian style restaurant has live Jazz guitarists on Tuesday nights. They are excellent.

The hostess welcomed our group and sat us, even without reservations, the food was quite good as always, the service is always positive, and the same gang seems to be at the bar anytime you drop in adding to the welcoming ambiance. The price is very reasonable too.

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Bard Graduate Center: English Embroidery from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Art, Events

The Bard Graduate Center Museum will have on exhibit English Embroidery from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Twixt Art and Nature through April 12, 2009. The exhibit features extraordinary examples of embroidery from 1580 through 1700. Many materials are used: tiny pearls, hand made spangles, gold wire wrapped cord, silk and other threads etc. It is a mixed media of it’s time. The skill level is amazing, it is as if the sewers thought that they could hold together the very order of society with their tiny stitches.

There is a stunningly embroidered woman’s jacket that seems to be so tiny, perhaps today it might be girl’s size 10.  A video of sewers re-creating this jacket plays in the next gallery, and there is copy of a painting of a woman wearing this style jacket, plus the thoughtful information cards makes this exhibit satisfying and special. The exhibit explanation cards are excellent, locating the objects in time and in culture.

The embroiderers created 3-D figures, and faces of cherubs which reminded me of the type of needle work seen on old Torah Mantles which  often have lions and arks but not human figures. There are portraits of British nobility whose heads are surrounded by gold reminiscent of halos in Byzantine mosaics of saints. There personal items such as gloves and purses and household decoration some with biblical scenes.

Adam and Eve were popular motifs as was the story of Queen Esther.  It is remarkable to think that the English of that time period thought of the story of Queen Esther as glorifying obedience to one’s husband (the King), since in Esther’s story the King Ahashverosh is clearly described as a distracted king easily manipulated by his aide, Haman. Actually, the story of Queen Esther has quite a different meaning.

Bard Museum

Bard Museum

The Center also offers an exhibition-related education program of workshops and lectures and there will be an all-day Symposium on January 23 held at the MAD Museum on Columbus Circle relating to this exhibit.

This small museum is located in a town house at 18 West 86th Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. Admission is only $3 and less for seniors.

The Bard Graduate Center and this museum are treasures of New York.

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Visiting MADMuseum:The Museum of Arts and Design


The newly re-opened, MADMuseum, The Museum of Arts and Design is a lovely exhibit space and the current exhibit called Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary is the inaugural exhibition. It features works by artists who have created objects and installations comprised of ordinary items, our society’s throw-aways for the most part.

These are those items that we are frequently mostly blind to seeing, simple combs, buttons, plastic spoon empty bottles, etc, and they are transformed by the creativity and imagination of the artists in to their second life as something meaningful and wonderful. This show is exiting, fun, creative and a pleasure. Good for children as well as adults.

The permanent collection of the museum includes a terrific jewelry section and lovely works in glass and pottery, not to be missed.

The building is the former Hartford Museum which NYers called  ”the Lollipop building” . Generally speaking, this was not any sort of compliment.  

The renovation is excellent and has unique views of Columbus Circle looking up up Broadway, and Central Park and down the street, across the Hudson River to New Jersey. Here are “before” and “after” photos of the building. If you look carefully on the first floor, you can see that the lollipops have been kept, perhaps they are structural, but they are embedded in the new design.

The shop is if fun for adults and children. There are no lines to enter the museum. Pay admission ($15, $12, kids free)  or pay what you wish on Thursday evenings after 6pm.

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Marc Chagall Exhibit at the MOBiA

Art, Lily's notes

Currently there are two museum exhibits featuring the work of Mark Chagall in Manhattan. This post is about the Chagall only show at the Museum of Biblical Art.

For notes and comments on the current superb show at the Jewish Museum which includes work by Chagall and many other fine artists, and places their work in the context of  time and place and most interesting in politics as well, please see my previous post by scrolling down below past this post. The interaction of the art work and the intelligent notes are excellent.

The MOBiA show titled Chagall’s Bible: Mystical Storytelling,   has beautiful works of art by Chagall which includes the lithographs of his famous windows and paintings, the works are well displayed, and you can pay as you wish when you enter the museum. No problem- all nice.

But there is a tremendous problem with the information cards which are part of this show. Perhaps this is the best that a museum usual devoted to Christian themes can manage, but I saw this exhibit with two friends, one of whom is an author and Holocaust scholar,  and we all shared the same dismay at the “information” which explained Marc Chagall and his work which were on display.

The exhibit explained the Pale of Settlement of eastern European Jews as “a huge multi-sect Jewish Ghetto spanning thousands of miles”, really wrong and it is a very strange definition- part the the extreme dumbing down of education, I guess, distressing… The exhibit cards refer to “Hasidic Jewish” imagery when referring to symbols from the Torah that are common to all Jews throughout time, that means it is common to Jews for thousands of years. Hasidism is a modern movement originating in what is now Belarus and Ukraine in the 18th century.

Another card refers to the “Yiddish religion”, there is no such thing… and “Yiddish Hasidim” (is there some other kind of Hasidim perhaps?)  It makes one wonder what on earth they have against calling the religion of the Jewish people  ”Judaism”? No mention was made of the Kabbalistic imagery in Chagall’s work, thankfully, I guess.

The beautiful lithograph called ”Mystical Crucifixion“ on display is dominated by the lush deep colors and  has a crucified figure, presumably Jesus, the full moon, and the Red Heifer in the center of the painting.

In Judaism, The Red Heifer is an absolutely rare and perfect animal, without blemish, never yoked, with perfectly straight hairs all of the same color, used in a mystical ritual sacrifice. The ashes of the sacrificed and burned animal are mixed with water for a purification ritual. The portion of the Torah describing the Parah-Red Heifer- are read at special times during the year in the synagogue. It is also an example of a law that has no apparent logic and demands faith.

The  Red Heifer clearly has very special status in Jewish tradition. Certainly Chagall’s painting deals with the special, rare, mysterious, irrational, sacrifice of Jesus and the Red Heifer.

Nothing about this symbolism appeared in the cards.

Neither did the snippet of information that the little goat that dances around Chagall’s world is often the symbol for the Jewish people, or any other cogent explanation of Jewish symbols. I guess it would be asking just to much.

See the art work and spare yourself from reading the  “information” cards about the exhibit.

There is an exhibit booklet written by art historian Tom Freudenheim which is available at the counter (only $4) and it does not suffer from any of these short-comings, of course.

On our way out of the museum, we passed the gift shop which featured large posters which were pro-Creationism vs Darwinism, etc, this is very exotic for the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Also, if you walk just a few blocks north from the museum, Marc Chagall’s tapestries hang in the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center.

Also, the MOBiA wesite explains it’self as follows:

“Unlike many other museums, MOBIA looks at art through the lens of religion, carefully explaining the original context of the artworks on exhibit in order to illuminate symbolism, ritual and history. As an educational institution that takes no position on religion, MOBIA provides a neutral meeting ground where visitors, of all faiths and none, can learn about the history and significance of art that has been have been inspired by the Bible, and explore the symbolism and traditions which, though profoundly influential, have frequently been left unexplained by many of the worldís museums. Here, audiences gather to openly discuss the complex impact of the Bible on art, culture, and society. “

Judge for yourself.


Marc Chagall’s Biblical Visions:
Echoes of Loss, Promises of Renewal Chagall’s Biblical Imagination

Jean Bloch Rosensaft, director of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York discusses Chagall’s interpretations of biblical characters and narratives. Co-sponsored with and held at the Museum of Biblical Art, 1165 Broadway at 61st Street, by the JCC of Manhattan.

Thu, Dec 4, 6:30-7:30 pm Free .This should be a good counterpoint to the inadequate information cards at this exhibit.


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Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theatre


Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theatre at The Jewish Museum  is not to be missed. Most of this exhibit is on loan and has wonderful art not shown before in New York.

This exhibit has Marc Chagall and other fine artists, theatre sets and theatre history, political history and the arts, the Golem, set and costume design, Jews under the Soviet regime, many wonderful old film excerpts, sci-fi and haunting imagination,  Bubbe Yachne (if you have to ask-don’t ask), and something for you  to seriously consider and learn if you haven’t yet learned enough about the cruelty of Stalin.

This exhibit features a time of great creativity in a severe political context. Seriously a terrific exhibit in all aspects. Placing the art in political history is the most special aspect of this exhibit, for instance: We do not think of the stories of Sholom Aleichem as expressing a “ruined past and good Soviet future”, it is certainly not how we have seen or interpreted Fiddler on the Roof and so this raises many very good questions about artist’s intent, context and time.

Also, the artists had to live under the radar of Soviet censorship of ideas. An-Sky’s play, The Golem, who was a monster created with the best of intentions, and expressed the dangers of Kabbalah study, was re-interpreted by the theatre troupe as a comment on the Russian revolution and got past the censors who didn’t get the reference and interpretation. Costumes, sets etc are on display while the moving and haunting score written for the Golem plays in the gallery of the costumes and drawings of fantastic Kabbalistic costumes and sets.

When you see Marc Chagall exhibited in a setting that knows Jewish cultural and religious references you realize that the exhibit cards actually make sense…that his work expresses how the natural world and the spiritual are one and that Chagall’s paintings allows you see the unseen and the seen, human and animal, and deep interconnections…oh..even a cow that moos in Yiddish: “Shagall”, and a fantasy of magical chicken soup (and chickens) in the magical (and natural) realm of a wedding feast. Try to remember that in Kabbalah, the Bride is a reference to the Shekhina, the feminine aspect of God, as you enjoy his stage design,….and that a Bride is also a Bride.


Also at the Jewish museum at this time: Susan Hiller: The J. Street Project.  Susan Hiller researched every German street that has the prefix “Juden” (Jews) in its name. These were the names of the streets before the Nazis took over Germany. The Nazis changed these names and following Germany’s defeat and after de-nazification, these street names were restored to the original names containing “jude..”.

There are no Jewish communities on these streets now, so they mark what once was. 

The exhibit contains the 303 photographs of these streets Hiller created over a three year period, arranged alphabetically by location, along with a map of Germany, a list of sites, and a video documenting the hundreds of locations she identified throughout the country.

It is shocking to see the charming little streets and corners in lovely little towns and contemplate how these communties of Jews where so cruely destroyed. How did the neighbors living in these towns behave? No contemporary local residents appear in the photos, just the empty “charming” streets.


And more at the Museum : The Dead Sea Scrolls: Mysteries of the Ancient World, here is the Museum’s own description of the exhibit:

“The Dead Sea Scrolls: Mysteries of the Ancient World
September 21, 2008 – January 04, 2009

In 1947, a significant discovery of ancient Jewish texts was made in a cave near the Dead Sea. These and other Dead Sea Scrolls found later have shed light on the major transformations and debates that occurred in ancient worship during the first centuries BCE and CE, that contributed to the development of early Judaism and Christianity. This exhibition will present six Dead Sea Scrolls complemented by objects excavated from the site near where they were found. Three of the scrolls have never been exhibited, including a portion of one of the three earliest copies of the Hebrew Bibles in existence, and three others have never been shown in New York.”


Ok, ok you have read this far and you have asked : Bubbe Yachne,  also known as Bubbe Yagga,  is a witch(! ) who lives in a cabin deep in the woods which rests on chicken feet (!) that allows the cabin to turn in any direction! Careful, she causes the black spots on the moon! And possibly in bananas as well (said my older brother). Can be mean or kind. Probably tried to roast Hansel and Gretel or is a relative. She is from Slavic folklore. Told you not to ask. Now if you ever see chicken feet under a building in a Chagall you might get the reference. Aren’t you glad that you asked?

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Van Gogh at MoMA, 535 West End Ave, and the “Unseen”

Art, Lily's notes, Literary event, Theater, Uncategorized

Update: The building crews have been at work on 535 West End Avenue (see previous postings) and there is now visible construction above street level.

Can’t help but wonder how will they sell these $14 Million  dollar apartments during this economic downturn and crisis?

Perhaps they will have to redo their plans and make more apartments that are smaller than 10 bedrooms with 7 baths…time will tell.


The new Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night exhibit now at the MoMA is a lesson in the beauty and skill of painting- like notes from one painter to all others. The show has a small number of works and is in small galleries, and although I saw it at a member’s preview, it was still crowded. But go, and have some patience, it is so worthwhile. 

Each  inch of canvas seems alive. The incredible emotion and color of his work are still, and always, so moving. It is there until January 5, 2009.

If you are not a MoMA member, order your tickets on line in advance and you will be able to see the show on the day of your visit, otherwise you need to get a special timed ticket when you enter the museum and you can not be sure to get in to this special exhibit.


Put this on your go see list:

on Sun, Oct 5, 3 pm

Performing Arts: Sin: A Staged Reading

Starring Academy-Award winning actor F. Murray Abraham
Based on a work by Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer and adapted by Mark Altman from The Unseen. Directed by Robert Kalfin.

A hilarious and moving tale of devilish deeds by a master storyteller who has dwelt in both the old world and in modernity. Co-sponsored with Highbrow Entertainment.

Sun, Oct 5, 3 pm at the JCC of Manhattan

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A Few Notes on the New Season

Art, Concert, Events, Lily's notes

Vacation is over and we are getting ready for the new season of arts in New York City; art exhibits, concerts, films, theatre, readings and other events. Shortly, I will be updating interesting and/or unique listings that might be easily overlooked among all of the events happening in New York City. Please send me information about an event you would like me to list.

The New York Philharmonic has it’s opening night concert tomorrow and tickets are still available. Also, there is a FREE open dress rehearsal in the morning.

Andy StatmanTrio (Andy on clarinet and mandolin, Jim Whitney on bass and Larry Eagle on drums and percussion) are back at the Charles Street Shul (Congregation Derech Amuno)  on Charles St at West 4th most Mondays and Thursdays at 8:30 PM. They play klezmer, of course, and very wicked bluegrass.

The MoMA will have a new exhibit of Vincent Van Gogh titled: Van Gogh and the Colors of Night opening September 21. Hmmmmmm. Paintings of in New York at night need  that soft red sky of summer…or the deep blue sky of October.

Museum of American DesignThe new Museum of Art and Design will September 27 to the public.  Att NYERS: This is the new museum in the former “lollipop” building on Columbus Circle that has had the very beautiful extreme makeover.  I can’t wait to go inside and see this museum and the new interior. Their old museum on 53rd is closed, and they will soon open with 3 new exhibits: Remixing the Old, a Jewelry exhibit and their permanent collection.

An indescribable friend sent me this note: “Hope you’re feeling and doing as close to optimally well (according to your self-definitions) as humanly possible. I expect that this event will be particularly enjoyable if you’re into this type of thing; and even if you’re not. I hope to see you there. ” Havdalah Kirtan this Saturday: Themes of Forgiveness and the High Holy Days with Rabbis Andrew Hahn and David Ingber combines yoga, chanting and Havdalah, which is the Jewish end of Shabbat.
Actually, it is not my cup of tea but I think that I will go once.  Sounds like fun.

High Holidays check list: make appologies, pay up debts, study something worthwhile, decide on which shul you will attend, get tickets, invite friends and family, reply to invitations, give some Tzedakah (Charity)….. try to think about something in addition to the presidential race and the financial markets.

That’s all for now.



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William Steig, Camille Pisarro and I.B. Singer


The Jewish Museum building on 5th Avenue and 92nd St, was once the Warburg family mansion; it has been adapted into a museum, expanded and has kept it’s grace and beauty.

The exhibit has William Steig’s  creative, original, delicately colored, beautifully drawn, drawings from his New Yorker cartoons, and from his wonderful children’s books.

The museum information about the work and the artist is unusually good too. Steig’s Bronx childhood and his life in New York, have the familiarity of listening to family story. Part of the exhibit includes his notes with the animators of Shrek and the animators drawings.

Also,  Steig’s gentle voice fills the gallery, from a video interview. Visiting kids had stories read to them in special story rooms at the exhibit. It is wonderful to be absorbed into Steig’s esthetic and humor. Did you know that schrek means “fear” or “scream” in Yiddish? 

Upstairs, there is an absolutely not to be missed video of I.B.Singer. The project was funded as a documentary but the film-maker/photographer, Bruce Davidson, and Singer wanted to produce Singer’s story called “Mrs. Pupko’s Beard”. They produced this ”documentary” in which Singer narrates his story, and we see the story acted out, and meet Mrs. Pupko and her great beard. We get to enjoy what is best about being completely idiosyncratic.

When you watch this video, don’t miss the details of the background in the shots of Singer feeding the pigeons on Broadway: there is the Upper West Side before the banks, drug stores and big mall stores took over the shops. 

The Camille Pisarro show had some startling information about some of the Impressionist painters. They respected Camille Pisarro as a founder of Impressionism, and even called him “Pere Pisarro”.  

When the Dreyfus Affair happened, some sided with Dreyfus: Pisarro, Monet and Cassat while “Renoir, Cezanne and Degas sided with the French government and even made anti-semitic comments against Pisarro, their former friend and colleague.”  This is something one would not learn in another museum.

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Kara Walker at the Whitney


Too often I feel that too much of the art has little actual content at the Whitney, and that it is possible to leave a show with an unsatisfied feeling, but this is not at all true about the Kara Walker show titled: Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love that will be there until February 3.

Her work assaults you with it’s creativity and with the harshness of the content. The materials are  fragile and simple: Black paper cutouts, drawings, films of shadow puppets and the content is the pre-civil war south, slavery and plantation life: racism, sexism, cruelty, the relationship of the oppressed and the oppresser.

She is our “witness” and story-teller. It’s a terrible story which we would like not to have to confront in all of it’s details.

Walker ’s black paper sillouettes on white background are in essence fine drawings and the exhibit is a great reminder of how a poweful message can be made with such simple materials.

Try not to miss this show…if you can’t get to the Whitney, view her work on line.

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New York City Seasonal Street Arts


This is not a “one-tree” town. The streets, atria, plazas and window displays are full of holiday decorations, and the Salvation Army is still ringing bells in the street even though they have received a huge bequest and wouldn’t seem to need to do this type of collecting any longer.

Some decorations are lovely, others like Bergdorf’s windows are so over-the-top that they are thrilling to look at and are hilarious! It looks as though a very creative crew raided a fabric trimmings shop and lost their minds building exotic animals out of upholstery findings. Really creatively funny. Must have been challenging and fun to build. Bloomies and Lord& Taylor have mechanized displays which are essentially made up of dolls and props.

There are large menorahs placed at several locations but I saw the best menorah of the season at a local hardware store on Columbus Avenue. A Hanukah menorah made of brass plumbing parts is squeezed into the dusty, crowded window along with the usual out-of-season Air Conditioners, appliances and paint supplies. The sign  underneath the menorah says “100% Brass menorah, one of a kind, $129. OK, don’t buy me, I’ll sit in the dark”.

The Great Snowflake , sponsored by UNICEF, hanging over 57th Street and 5th is gorgeous and soon will have real snow for company. I wonder if all of the snow that falls on the street this week would add up to the weight of  that Great Snowflake.

The doll-lover/collagist in me really enjoys all of this pizzaz. Only the decorated trees in windows, lobbies and shops are often disappointing, often overly decorated with no “treeness” left to be seen.

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