Browsing the archives for the exhibit category.


Houdini:Art and Magic at the Jewish Museum and a New Musical Drama about Raoul Wallenberg by NYCGuy

Events, Theater, Uncategorized, exhibit

Friday I went to the Jewish Museum to check out the just opened Houdini exhibit, Houdini:Art and Magic. It has all the same kind of oddities, paraphernalia & interesting factoids that made the museum’s earlier Sarah Bernhardt such a smash. Houdini contains video clips, including silent films made by the Budapest-born magician, who like Bernhardt was an early star of the medium.

There’s even a photo of the two together.

A scene from eponymous 1953 movie features a young Tony Curtis in what ironically was the breakout film that launched his career.

The Bronx born actor, the child of Hungarian Jewish immigrants, apparently spoke only Magyar until he was 5 or 6. His 2nd wife, whom he met while filming Taras Bulba, was the German actress Christine Kaufmann, mirroring Houdini’s marriage to German American Bess.

Both the former Erik Weisz & the former Bernard Schwartz who played him escaped poverty. Ironically, the exhibit’s opening was bracketed by Curtis’  death on September 29 and the 74th anniversary of Houdini’s death on Halloween.

Like the Sarah Bernhardt show, this one displays the impresario’s magical hold on our imagination. Late in life, it appears the actor experienced a renewed interest in his Hungarian Jewish roots, establishing a foundation in his father’s name that has among other things, helped restore Europe’s largest synagogue, on Dohany Street in Budapest. (The foundation is based in Queens where Houdini’s buried.) Which leads me to the next unsolicited endorsement, a new musical drama I was invited to see the following evening…..

I would never have pictured a musical being made based on the experience of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who managed to outwit the Nazis & safeguard an estimated 100,000 Jews in Budapest.

This is no Springtime for Hitler. Saturday evening’s world premier is part of a relaunch of the White Plains Performing Arts Center as a venue for new works. Can a theater in a downtown mall challenge New Haven’s role as try-out stage for Broadway? Maybe. It’s an hour closer to Grand Central. The theater is very comfortable but non-descript.

The new artistic director Annette Jolles has two Emmys, six nominations, experience directing,choreographing & producing at major venues in Manhattan & London & a musical theater teaching gig at Yale. Oddly, the 1st thing that made me think this was serious was the set, which frames the stage, with “stones.” When the curtains open there’s a vista of the Hungarian capital. Having seen the real thing from the station platform at 6:00AM on a August morning, while traveling from Prague to Belgrade, it felt like I was again in Budapest.

With artful props, the space becomes various exteriors & interiors with views of the city & its river. But it takes more than architectural tricks & magic of lighting. It seems the librettists, Laurence Holtzman & Felicia Needleman spent several years researching everything they could get a hold of re the Wallenberg story & those rescued, including a scene from drownings in the Danube that brought to mind those of Operation Condor. This pair has done musical theater & cabaret, the latter of which can be very personal & very grand. Add a symphony orchestra & stir. It’s happened at Lincoln Center. Still, a musical about the Holocaust & a hero whose fate was Stalin’s gulag, seems incongruous. Yet, here’s the opening number,: http://bit.ly/cFFJ99 .

The composer, Benjamin Rosenbluth, trained with such masters as Pulitzer Prize winners Milton Babbitt & John Corigliano. Is there an Ernő Rubik to solve the puzzle of bringing this sung story of real life New York sister city Budapest 30 minutes south to a Broadway stage?

Meanwhile, you have through November 21 to escape to this unexpected gem in Westchester.

This post is by guest author NYCGuy

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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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Race to the End of the Earth at the AMNH

Uncategorized, exhibit

Race to the End of the Earth documents the story of the British and Norwegian teams of arctic explorers as they each tried to be the first team of  to arrive at the South Pole, nearly 100 years ago, during 1911-1912.

This is  an emotional story of human capabilities, endurance and limitations.

The  limitations of equipment, communication, and the consequences of decisions made by the team leaders lead to the tragedy of the loss of one team and triumph of the other.  Both teams set out  from the Ross Ice Shelf  for the 1,800 mile trip to the Pole and back and tried to overcome Antarctica’s extreme conditions. Their equipment, which was the fine technology of it’s time, seems so wholly inadequate and impossible, that is is utterly astounding that even one team accomplished their goal. I don’t think that I could take a  winter week in the Catskills or Adirondacks with what they used to get to the pole.

The nicely installed exhibit details the preparations of  Norwegian Roald Amundsen and Britain’s Royal Navy Captain Robert Falcon Scott, and displays their equipment, instruments, photos, film, letters, personal effects etc. It brings us up-to-date to today’s exploration  of the South Pole,  and what scientists are learning about Antarctica’s landscape under the ice, and how people manage to live year-round in this forbidding and fascinating place.

This is an exhibit with real depth that is best for adults and older children, 10 and above. There are lovely depictions of penguins, but this would not be enough to keep young children interested while the adults are drawn into this fascinating story.

Race the End of the Earth at the,  AMNH, 79th Street and Central Park West, in New York,  opens on Saturday , May 29, 2010  and will be open through January 2, 2011. Get tickets in advance.

(Photos will be added today)

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Cosmic Ocean Trip at the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater

Events, Film, Lily's notes, exhibit

Travel through the  the COSMIC OCEAN at the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater at the AMNH with their program: Virtual Universe: The Farthest Reaches of the Cosmic Ocean with Jason Kendall.

The museum says that this is the  world’s largest cosmic atlas, and that we can cruise through intergalactic space, and explore the immense distances between galaxies,  learning about the universe and how it has changed with time. We New Yorkers will just have to accept that the program begins and ends in the Himalayas and not in Manhattan.

Virtual Universe, travels through our solar system and beyond in live, interactive programs that include question-and-answer on the first Tuesday of each month.

A preview is available on YouTube.  Some of the viewers comments on YouTube following the Virtual Universe video are so inane and weird that they seem to map the inner  infinity of the universe of human strangeness, you may enjoy those too.

Tuesday, February 2, 6:30 pm, $15 Adults $13.50 Members, students, seniors

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Travelling the Silk Road at the AMNH

exhibit


This excellent exhibit is now open through August 15, 2009 and it is worth taking the journey along this important old trade route,  and bringing children. This is a fine exhibit: beautifully presented and rich in content. The focus is on 4 major cities on the cross continent route.

Just a mention of the old Silk Road evokes a romanticized  journey in the imagination and this exhibit gives detailed  shape, substance ,  historical context and is aesthetically quite satisfying.

Highlights include LIVE silkworms and an explanation of how silk thread is made and then woven into fabric, old Asian musical instruments ( Sunday afternoons musicians play up-dated versions of these instruments, check the Museum schedule) , a spice market, technical  instruments which are great for both sea and desert navigation by the stars, a lovely large model of a trading ship, an update on the cities covered in the exhibit.

This exhibit works very well if you just want a quick look and is even better if you would want more depth and understanding.

The American  Museum of  Natural History is on Central Park West between 77th Street and 81st Street.

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