Time to refill your coffee cup or wine glass, there is a lot of blogging to catch up on. I’m drinking a sample of the rum that my roommate brought back from Puerto Rico, lucky girl. The snow has mostly melted and there are some signs of spring and New York is right in the middle of its most arty time of year, with tons of art fairs and the big Whitney Biennial. I’m going to attend the Armory show on Sunday and check out Williamsburg tomorrow night. But tonight, I’m taking a much needed rest to recharge after a very busy week.
Last Sunday was the Works Progress Artist Announcement Party for Recession Art, the organization for which I volunteer some PR work that does recession-themed art exhibits. The next exhibit is going to open in April, and while it has a WPA-inspired title, the art will be a more modern agrarian collection. Check out the website to get links to the individual artist websites. I’m looking forward to it and hope anyone in NYC reading this will make it out! Anyway, the party was at The Redhead in the East Village and there was a pretty good turnout. Before the party started, the US/Canada Olympic hockey game was playing over the bar. When the US scored in that final second, people went insane. I’ve never been crazy about hockey, but that was riveting. I’m very sad that the Olympics are over, although now I can spend my time doing more productive things than watching five hours of Bob Costas every night. Those closing ceremonies, by the way, were out of control and way more interesting than the opening ceremonies. The part where the giant inflatable beavers came out almost made me lose my mind.
Earlier on Sunday, I swung by Williamsburg to my old apartment to pick up some mail. That’s when I took these pictures of the snow in McCarren Park that was completely covering the running track. I am heartbroken to hear that my beloved Bagel Store, aka the robot bagel place, is apparently going to be replaced with a Starbucks. I’m afraid that Williamsburg will be like the East Village soon, with just shadows of the exciting things that made people want to be there in the first place. I guess it kind of is already. Now that the Gowanus is a Superfund site, will all the cool kids start moving my way while the rent stays cheap? I mean, I’ll pretty much be living on the Riviera of the East Coast in a few years, right?
I did my taxes on Monday and had a deadline on Tuesday, but Wednesday I went to the Bowery Ballroom to see one of my absolute favorite bands, Rogue Wave. JBM was the first opener, and I really liked his sort of Sun Kil Moon voice and that it was just him with his eyes closed, playing a guitar and a harmonica. The second opener was Avi Buffalo, who I wasn’t crazy about. I found the lead singer’s voice to be really grating, like he was trying to reach for Devendra Banhart, but didn’t have an interesting enough voice. And there was a really pointless piano that just added jarring, shrill notes. And inexplicably a fifth band member came on stage to play the guitar for one song, before silently slipping away again. Oh well, I guess they were high school kids, but last time I saw Rogue Wave they had a killer opener called Midnight Movies that just tore through a cover of “Nights in White Satin” that was unbelievable.
Rogue Wave, however, definitely did not disappoint. I last saw them in 2008 at the Opolis in Norman, where the show was mostly acoustic and had songs off their three previous albums, and I was both nervous and excited to hear the music off their new, more “dancey” album. I’ve always loved how upbeat Rogue Wave’s music is, especially when their band’s history is full of so many hurdles. Their former bass player died in a house fire, their drummer Pat had to get a kidney transplant that was documented in the D-Tour film, and lead singer Zach Rogue injured his neck and was partially paralyzed for months. That injury is what in part created the dance-leaning album, as it wasn’t as easy for him to play guitar. However, I didn’t see any signs of that in their performance, which was energetic and musically sharp. The new music isn’t as sonically gorgeous as some of their older songs like “Every Moment” and “Publish My Love,” but after thinking about everything they’ve been through, it seems like they just wanted to make an album that would be fun to perform live. And they definitely did, even getting a rather old man in the audience to rock back and forth violently to the beat like a hyped up canary. For one of their better known songs, “Lake Michigan,” Ira Elliot the drummer for Nada Surf joined them wearing a marching band hand and playing the snare drum. The lead singer of Nada Surf, Matthew Caws, later joined Rogue Wave during an encore performance of “Chicago x 12.” There were actually four encore songs and the band still seemed happy to be there. I think that’s one of the things I love best about Rogue Wave is they always are just as excited as their fans about the music. And there’s something so interesting and creature-like about Zach Rogue’s voice; I don’t think anyone sings like him or has the sort of presence he does. Well, it was a simply wonderful concert. I can’t find any decent recordings of the concert, but the NYC Taper was at their performance the night before in Brooklyn and there are some good pictures on Free Williamsburg.
Unfortunately, getting home that night was horrible. I took the N from Prince Street, thinking it odd it wasn’t running local in Brooklyn like it usually does after midnight. When I got to Atlantic-Pacific, there was an announcement that the line was only express to 36th, and I didn’t realize until the train had left me on the platform that meant that the R wasn’t running to my stop. So I ended up taking the D train to 36th, hoping to get a northbound R from there. An R did pull up, but then the conductor said it was the last stop and wouldn’t be going north. Then for some reason a 1 train, which I didn’t think even ran to Brooklyn, pulled up on the opposite side of the track and wasn’t moving. So I just decided to walk the 10 blocks home. And of course, since I was walk/sprinting, my heart rate was up high by the time I got back and couldn’t sleep. Still, a small price to pay for such a good evening.
There has been some controversy recently over the city’s removal of the giant REVS/COST graffiti over the High Line in Chelsea. As you can see from the above picture, its faded to look almost as old as the “vintage” paint behind it. It was underneath this disappearing street art that me and my friends met to go on an art gallery opening walk. The walk was organized by ArtCards and Culture Shock and even included a tote bag with a dog-headed person hulahooping by artist Lauren Bergman. I always get overwhelmed by choice in Chelsea, so this was a great way to make the massive arts district manageable.
The tour started with geometric paintings at Von Lintel Gallery and then continued with some optical art (if that’s defined by dense lines that make you feel like you’re walking into infinity) at Margaret Thatcher Projects. Then we saw some really cool light and what I think was crumpled metal at Gladstone Gallery and cute paintings at Julie Saul Gallery. Finally, we ended up at the huge Independent-Hybrid Forum art fair/exhibit, where this glorious giant rodent waved his claws and harassed you on entering.
There were quite a few pieces I really liked at Independent, with really interesting textures on paintings and a video of things seen on the streets in France, and then the usual odd performances like a guy tearing pages from a book and handing them to you while a girl stands on roof shingles. I feel like I can get a little jaded with art, since I write articles about it every week and have seen just about every found art assemblage possible, so I love it when I’m surprised by a new technique or something that is so simple or complicated it stops me in my tracks.
We then got some Vietnamese food and walked by this stretch-hummer, that may or may not have been art. I’m going with may.
Today was uneventful, just work. Which is still going really well. I love waking up in the morning and having a job. Maybe that will wear off soon, but I’ll make it last as long as possible. Well, get ready for a whole lot more art as this weekend is going to be boiling over with it.