Our final location was Brooklyn and the trip down was lovely. (despite messing up the subway direction at first but we figured it out). Our trip to Brooklyn was superb from the breath taking views to the incredible art we had a great time in the downtown borough.
So lets discuss the Art. 4x4 walked into the iconic Brooklyn Museum. (Which by the way I was incredibly excited for considering I hadn't been there since I was 10) We focused on 3 exhibits at the museum. The first exhibit we visited was named Infinite Blue. The Brooklyn museum describes this exhibit as "The spiritual and material aspects of blue combine to tell us stories about global history, cultural values, technological innovation, and international commerce" The infinite Blue is part of A year of Yes:Reimagining Feminism a the Brooklyn Museum which is a year long series celebrating Elizabeth A. Sachler Center for Feminist Art. 2 notable pieces of art was first the modern neon tubing and electrical wire quote, the first piece in the exhibit, by Joseph Kosuth. This striking piece of art sets the mood for then entire blue aesthetic of the exhibit. (which I guess is ought to arouse our suspicions) The other art piece I loved from the exhibit was an oil canvas painting by Russian painter Borris Anisfeld. When I first saw this painting I thought it was the sky but with further inspection I realized that the blue was actually the ocean. In this painting Anisfeld challenges the perspective of traditional landscape paintings. The painting has no illusion of depth, as all the elements of the painting appear flat. The scene is painted from Aiou-Dagh Mountain in the Crimean Peninsula. And of course you can't miss the rich blue painted as the ocean.
After leaving the infinite blue exhibit and on our way to the mummy exhibit we saw a series of gothic paintings. Two I found intriguing was The Edge of Doom painting by Samuel Colman which depicts the destruction of the world. Interestingly, all that survives in the painting is a sculpture of William Shakespeare. The other gothic painting that intrigued me is named The Road of the War Prisoners by Vasily Vereshchagin. This painting from far away appears to be a beautiful picture of snow but then when you focus on the details you realize that it is a painting of crows and dead soldiers, painting the true horror of the Russo-Turkish War. This painting is a Russian interpretation of French Realism- which was a movement that embraced truthful portrayals of contemporary themes to bring about social reform.
After we entered a new exhibit named: "A Woman's Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt. This exhibit, "tells the remarkable story of gender transformation in the ancient world, exploring the differences between male and female access to the afterlife." According to Egyptian history, "The ancient Egyptians believed that to make rebirth possible for a deceased woman, she briefly had to turn into a man" This exhibit explores that transformation and has it very own mummy exhibit. The Egyptian art work was magnificent.
Next we explored the Radical Women: Latin American Art exhibit. The museum says, "This is the first exhibition to explore the groundbreaking contributions to contemporary art of Latin American and Latina women artists during a period of extraordinary conceptual and aesthetic experimentation" The most beautiful piece of art was The Dinner Party. The Dinner Party is a banquet, arranged on a triangular table with a total of thirty-nine place settings, each commemorating an important woman from history. Each table setting resembles a uterus to represent the power of women. This exhibit was not only breathtaking but extremely powerful.
The art we found in Brooklyn was bold and powerful. It made political statements and all had a purpose. Overall the trip and art made the Brooklyn Trip incredible.
SPOTTED: 4x4 bloggers venturing down 5th Avenue and through central park to the Upper East Side.
The best way to describe the Upper East Side is Boujee from luxury retail to astounding architecture from 5th to Park Ave we were living for the opulence. (totally giving us a gossip girl vibe)
Speaking of gossip girl nothing is more iconic then (the met steps) the Metropolitan Museum of Art. However, before we were inside the Met we walked through an outdoor gallery of paintings. The paintings were striking for the contrasting yet vibrant color palette. After looking at all the art outside we walked up the steps and entered the iconic museum.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the US . In 2016 it had over 7 million visitors. Its permanent collection contains over two million works.
The two exhibits we spent the most time at was the Met Gala or Met Ball ( by the way the name is very unclear, but I guess you have to be actually invited to know) Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and Catholic Imagination and we visited the Public Parks, private gardens Paris to Provence exhibit.
We will begin with the Heavenly Bodies Exhibit and the Met Gala. Now I might be stepping on Alex's fashion toes a little bit but it was in the Met so I will be discussing the fashion as well. The Gala took place on May 7th, 2018 and the Catholic/Heavenly theme was executed masterfully by designers like Versace. (this years chair designer) The purpose of the Met Gala is to raise money for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute; however, for our intents and purposes we got to view the fabulous art work and fashion inspired by the theme. The Met describes this collection as a "dialogue between fashion and medieval art from The Met collection to examine fashion's ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism." Well the exhibit was phenomenal, I truly got goosebumps by the gothic ambiance accompanied by the opera music. Some of my favorite art works was the Blue Yves Saint Laurent worn by Madonna representing the Virgin Mary, and the beautiful Jesus and Mary painting and sculptures by the Bequest of George Blumenthal carved and painted in 1941.
The second Exhibit we explored was the Public Parks, Private Gardens exhibit. This exhibit features 19th century artists who celebrated the out-doors as a place of inspiration. The Met describes this exhibit as exploring "the horticultural developments that reshaped the landscape of France and grounded innovative movements- artistic and green- in an era that gave rise to Naturalism, Impressionism, and Art Nouveau". This exhibit shows the important role of parks and gardens in French life in the 19th century featuring 170 works by more than 70 artists. Artist's responded to industrialism, the French Revolution and World War I, by painting the beautiful and tranquil parks and gardens. The Exhibit also offers parallels to New York's central park, "which was designed in the spirit of Parisian public parks of the same period."
One oil-canvas painting I personally loved by Claude Monet of the Parc Monceau in 1876. The Parc Moceau is a public park situated in the 8th arrondissement of Paris at the junction of Boulevard de Courcelles, Rue de Prony an Rue Georges Berger. Not only is the aesthetic of the painting beautiful but the incredible detail and fresh pastel color palette makes it utterly breathtaking. Another Calude Monet painting that caught my eye was another oil-canvas painting of the Garden at Sainte-Adresse painted in 1867. This painting depicts Monet's father, brother and cousins during the Summer of 1867 on the English-Channel near Le-Hevre, France. The smooth brush strokes and spots of pure colour make this painting unique.
The last painting I'll focus on is by Camille Pissarro of the Garden of the Tuileries on a Winter Afternoon painted in 1899. The Tuileries Palace was a royal and imperial palace completed in Paris in the 1860s. This oil-canvas painting my Camille Pisarro shows a stunning view of the Parisian Garden. It gives the spectator a realistic perception through the intrinsic detail painted of the landscape.
The Met and the Upper East Side definitely did not disappoint. I felt like I was right out of gossip girl and could not have felt better about it. (if you didn't notice Gossip Girl is my ALL TIME favorite show and takes place in the Upper East Side) However, despite being in Manhattan through the paintings of Parisian parks and gardens have made me want to book a trip to Paris. 4x4 takes Paris?! Only time will tell!
On the streets and walls of Harlem are murals rich in culture and history. Although technically considered grafiti, the art that surrounds Harlem is the scenery of daily walking tours. The funny part about our Harlem trip is that considering the murals on the walls we passed was not my initial intention to blog about. I had planned 3 art gallery tours, but unfortunately they did not work out as planned. Our first pick was the Studio Museum in Harlem. However we soon learned that they were closed for construction during May. Then there was La Maison d'Art, which we could not find. We walked back and forth passing the location multiple times until we decided that it was just too hard to find. (I'm still not sure if the place was supposed to be a password baring hidden art gallery or if the address was no good) The last place we tried was the Elizabeth Dee Gallery which claimed to be open but when we made the 20 minute walk it was also boarded up and all the doors were closed.
Disappointed by our three fails, I thought we struck out. Until I started to notice a walking tour looking at a mural on the wall of the famous Apollo theatre and artists who performed there (Pictured below). The Apollo theatre is a music hall which is a noted venue for African-American performers also located in Harlem. It became the Apollo in 1934, when it was opened up to the black community (formally white-only). Not only did African Americans begin to come to shows they also took over the stage and performances. Artists like Duke Ellington, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin. See below Stevie Wonders 1985 performance at the Apollo!!!
Not only did this remind me of the rich African-American culture in Harlem, but it also introduced me to the thriving street art all around us. On every corner there was art work, from cultural and political messages to art inspired by the Harlem Renaissance.
The Harlem Renaissance was the spread of intellectual and artistic expression in Harlem, New York spanning the 1920s, especially in the African American community. Through Black's new found expression came inspiring poetry, books, art and music! A Harlem stride style of piano playing developed in this time and the rise of spiritual blues and jazz. The Harlem Renaissance created a new identity for Blacks in the US and spread Black culture around the world. This identity was still displayed in the artwork painted on the walls of Harlem that surrounded are long walk.
#Educationisnotacrime is a campaign that works with street artists to produce murals, linking different communities of struggle to uphold the universal right to education. Three murals I saw was one by David Torres (who goes by Rabî) of the giant ruler, Erik Burke aka OverUnder who painted a mural of flowers surrounding a mother with her child (the mural Alex and Zoe is in front of) and Marthalicia Matarrita of the children in a classroom setting and a man playing a trumpet. These murals are supposed to draw parallels from the between the human rights and education crisis in Iran and the civil rights and struggle to overcome inequality in the United States. Notice how the ruler states Made in Iran.
Another side of art that we saw was African art in the local shops. (pictured below). The emergence of appreciation of African culture has also increased in Harlem and was represented through the art work sold in many shops. In addition to African art there was also paintings highlighting the black cultural experience in New York. Through this art we got to take a look inside the homes of those who lived in Harlem.
Overall, although this trip wasn't exactly what I expected. I got to see a unique aspect of the art that makes up Harlem without stepping foot in a gallery or museum.
The first week of our city exploration began in Greenwich Village. Through our extensive walk through the village we (gained 20,000 steps) and traveled through cobblestone walkways and passed brownstones and bright NYU flags and libraries. The first art we encountered was a gallery located on Bleaker street. One particularly striking piece of art was a modern art portrait in the window, which reminded me of a Frida Kahlo (shown below). The subject was characterized by her dark eyebrows, eyes, and lip color contrasted to the saturated peach and orange painted skin. The painting almost seems not finished and fragmented but the portrait still carries its own vivacity and beauty.
After our delicious dinner (read more about that in the food section). We walked over to 3rd street to the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) for an improv show. So, a little bit about the Upright Citizens Brigade before I get into the show we saw. UCB began in Chicago. After its success there, they relocated to New York City, where they started not only performing but offered classes for those who wanted to be trained in improvisation. With growing popularity, the improv troop was able to open up their own theatre in New York in 1999. What is so incredible about the space is all the stars who got their start at UCB, including Amy Poehler, Donald Glover, and Kate McKinnon.
Now that we understand the space, a little explanation about Improvisation (for those who do not know). Improvisation is a 100% spontaneous performance without any script of preparation. It encourages creative behavior and makes the performers think and act on their feet. So there is no way of knowing where a show will go. Beyond being an art form, improvisation can be applied to many different fields, as it is just solving a problem on the spot without instructions or help.
The show our group saw was a comedic improv show called. Take It Personal: The Hip Hop Improv Show started by and hosted by Cipha Sounds (Luis Diaz). Although Improvisation is spontaneous there is always a framework for how the show will work. In this show, Cipha Sounds invites Hip-Hop personalities to come tell real life stores, and then watch the experience improvisers perform a comedic set based off the stories. Accompanied by a DJ this show truly is the mix of comedy and Hip-Hop. The experienced improvisers come from the tribe YES all trained through UCB. The Hip-Hop personality we saw was a rapper and actor who appeared on shows like House and Are we there Yet. He shared a story about his first concert he saw when he was 12 and him and his friends tried to hit on girls way older them, and were not so successful. After he told his story the improv players played a long form tap in tap out style game. One person would start a scene with 2 other players and then the one player not in the game would "tap in" and start a completely new scene.
What I thought was done well...
The improv players ability to switch from one scene to the next, adopting a completely new character as the show went on. It was also evident that the improv tribe was completely comfortable with each other and was able to pull from each others strengths on stage. Although asking questions, which I've learned is a big no-no in improv, they were always setting up each other for success or just a good laugh. I also loved how even though each "tap-in" started a new scene they were always pulling from not only the story but from lines said earlier in the improv show, using an improv technique called "call back." Casey Jost one of the tribe members was a stand out comedian and player within the group.
What I thought took away from the show...
The hip-hop personality they had for the show was hard to understand and story did not really make any sense. His story dragged on and on which took away from the professional improv portion (which I came to see). It was clearly his first take at improv but it really was not a great start to the show. I also did not love the crude jokes (especially from the hip-hop personality) used to get a cheap laugh from the audience. I know it was a 10:30 show and the title was called "take it personal" so I knew I might get a little offended but the parts that were less crude and more organic were my favorite by far. PSA: Rape/overtly racist and sexist jokes are not funny (the audience definitely agreed with me).
The show was hilarious and all but I definitely enjoyed the improv performance over the Hip-hop aspect. I'm excited to go back and see another show at UCB but I wouldn't necessarily go back to this specific show. The improv group was really impressive and kept me engaged and laughing non-stop the entire performance.
Check out UCB East: https://east.ucbtheatre.com/
After our late night and busy day I was definitely ready to go home, but overall I got to see an in depth look about the visual and performance art that can be found in Greenwich village.