Saturday, June 28, 2008

NY Pride

Pride Week 2008 has been a wonderful time for some new experiences for me. On Tuesday, I attended my first invitation to Mayor Bloomberg's Pride Reception at Gracie Mansion. Jason, my perennially sunny friend, had arranged the invites and the weather cooperated spectacularly. There was a large tent set up on the lawn and beyond, bars and barbecue beckoned along the rivers edge. The crowd was a wonderful mix of men and women who work for the City, work for LGBT and related non-profits or just know someone.

I met up with Jason, Suzanne, Jamie and John; bumped into some other folks I knew; listened to the Mayor, the Speaker and Isaac Mizrahi (!) speak; chatted with some non-profit folks; met the NYPD liaison for LGBT Youth; ate some barbecue and generally enjoyed the spirit of pride and community. Then it was off to the Hispanic Institute for a dose of Dia art - but that's another story.

On Thursday, I attended the GLLC Annual Fundraiser at the behest of Andy Tobias, Treasurer of the DNC. At the Waldorf, I found a couple of hundred people I didn't recognize at all. So much for not having been a contributor before. Gradually some friendly faces emerged and the it was time to sit down. The speaker roster was superb - Michelle Patterson (First Lady of NY), Michelle Obama (the next First Lady of the US), Howard Dean (Chair of the Democratic Party), Linda Ketner (Congressional Candidate for South Carolina), another guy called Barack who is the Head of Community Outreach for the DNC and, of course, Andy Tobias.

The issues discussed were a little narrow for my taste, tailored mostly to the audience. A little political pandering goes a long way. I do wonder how we'll be able to get beyond "politics as usual" as long as we keep playing politics as usual. Then again, look who our candidates are this year - change takes time. Here's a link with some good pictures of Michelle Obama speaking - notice the studded leather belt.

I came away fired for the election season ahead, clinging strongly to my wish for real change and the message that will send across the country and into the world. I also came away again proud of my community and grateful for my place in it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

NYC Tales

So here I am, back in NYC, taking the lessons I've learned so far and putting them into the projects that lie ahead. The four weeks since my return have been hectic, starting with the final preparations for Four-Handed Lift.

Four-Handed Lift is a benefit exhibition and silent auction which I conceived as a fundraiser for the HIV Law Project where I am a Board member. We kicked off last year with a show of 54 artists at the Moti Hasson Gallery in Chelsea. This year, we featured 60 artists at the same gallery, sold 31 works and had a powerful evening for all. The evening showed the progress that comes from experience and having a great team featuring a new Development Director at the Project and three great co-curators, Almond Zigmund, KJ Baysa and Jess Frost. It also demonstrated to me the support of my community of friends who turned out to support the vent with grace, charm and a dash of style.

Since then, I have moved back into my apartment and have been finalizing interviews and negotiations for my next career move. News to follow shortly.

This last week was particularly rich in experience and community. I attended another powerful event, the annual Stonewall Community Foundation dinner held at the UN Delegates Dining Room. I was a guest of Bob Beleson who has generously sponsored the the Law Project exhibition in the past and has become a friend. The crowd of 400 was highly energized and I was surprised at how many faces I knew and the event was flawless with rich media content and two very moving awards. The skies even produced a rainbow for the event. I was proud to belong to this community and inspired to participate with the Foundation's efforts. I was also gratified to find an exhibition of Body Maps in the UN Lobby - my first exhibition was one where I introduced Body Maps from South Africa into the US.

On Friday evening I joined 10's of thousands of my fellow New Yorkers for a picnic in Prospect Park and a concert by the Metropolitan Opera. Only in NYC can this many folks gather in a small place and have the whole experience transcend its limitations.

Yesterday, I went to PS1 to see 1/2 of the Eliason exhibition which was the expected mix of surprising stimulants for the senses and insightful lenses on perception. The unexpected moment was my viewing of PF1, the summer installation that is created each year by the Young Architects Award process. The urban farm complete with plants, waterfall and pool, live and virtual animals and solar recharging station for cellphones. I can't wait to frolic on this set during an outing to Warm Up.

I finished the afternoon with a visit to Crane Street Studios, across from PS1, for their annual open studios. I visited with Marshall Harmon whom I met recently at a show of his work held in a private apartment. Marshall was a blast and the rest of my stops included the usual mix of high and not so high works and yet overall the characters were inspiring.

Next week is shaping up to be another doozy and I look forward to sharing more with you.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Many Mansions

Memorial Day Weekend signaled the end of my first desert foray. It also signaled my first exhibition - a group show at the Art Queen organized by Shari Elf and Randy Polumbo. The show had a loose theme of spirituality and the title referred to the many guises in which spirituality is embodied. I had a print – Free Tibet – that I could have submitted yet I decided to produce something fresh. My collages had been progressing into various forms of authored work – the prints, drawing, watercolors – and I had been yearning for a larger canvas to work on than the 8 ½ x 11 sheets I was using as backgrounds.

As I looked around the cabin, I noticed a reserve of brown shopping bags. I decided to cut them open, form a canvas and then sew them together. The first one of these I had made was quite large and the submission request had included a request to keep things manageable. So, I made a smaller canvas from a Trader Joes bag John Luckett had used to wrap a gift. The shopping bags made a good canvas, particularly owing to the handles which allowed for easy hanging.
I drew, collaged, watercolored and sewed onto the canvas. I then located a deep frame at a thrift store, scraped off the alpine decal that it sported, framed the work and oiled the frame. It was as good as…well, you get the idea. Just as I finished up, I noticed that a hair had become trapped under the glass. I tried to shake it free to no avail. I just couldn’t face opening the whole thing up again and went with the flow. So much so that I ended up calling the piece ‘Untitled: Hairy Problem”.

On the Friday before the opening, I dropped into the Art Queen to see if I could help. Shari has already hung more than half the show in one gallery and I helped her get most of the second gallery done. Not only was this fun, it helped me score rime real estate for my piece, right next Randy’s brilliant corner of many spiritual and other delights.
Saturday dawned, I had a delightful coffee date at Regina and Dimitri’s. Then it was time for the main event. The Art Queen was wonderfully decked out with seating in the courtyard, fires in braziers and the outdoor fireplace, a bar and great catering by Chantale. A new stage had been built and there were several musical acts, some twirling and chanting accompanied by a harmonium.

The crowd was diverse, the conversation fun and the action energizing. I bartended a bit, talked a lot, ate a lot, twirled and chanted and generally had a ball. Toward the end of the evening, Shari performed accompanied by Randy and the evening drew toward a close with a performance by Anne Magnuson. Lovely. The show will be up for several months – drop by if you’re in the area ;)