Dog Star / A Creative Arts Guide for Teens





Image above: Joseph Stella, Battle of Lights, Coney Island, Mardi Gras (detail), 1913–14, oil on canvas, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, Gift of Collection Société Anonyme, 1941.689



"Thank you for DogStarNYC, in general. The site speaks to so many kinds of interests; it discerns which qualities will appeal to many different tastes in a tremendous number of activities. I love how it encourages young people to pay attention to the unusual.

In New York we let so many teens walk around the periphery, mildly shell-shocked by life, while the information that they need to make sense of their world sits in the center of the room. DogStarNYC welcomes them into the middle of the room; the blog tells them how to walk there." - Stacy L.


DOG STAR is the creation of a high school English teacher in New York City. This blog began in 2008 as an online community for a journalism class and has since evolved into a curated site on the creative arts, arts-related news and a guide to free and low-cost events for teens. Our mission is to offer teens real-life options for enjoying all the creative arts in New York City. May wisdom guide you and hope sustain you. The more you like art, the more art you like!

IMPORTANT NOTICE OF NON COMMERCIAL & EDUCATIONAL CONTENT Unless otherwise stated, we do not own copyrights to any of the visual or audio content that might be included on this blog. Dog Star is for criticism, commentary, reporting and educational purposes under the FAIR USE ACT: Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. If you own the copyright to any images and object to them being included in this blog, please advise and the content will be removed. No attempt is made for material gain from this blog's contents.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mr. Duckett and Dr. Jones

Together 46 years, Lewis Duckett and Billy Jones wrote coded letters to each other during Dr. Jones's deployment in Vietnam. They adopted a baby, became grandfathers and then, finally, got married.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dog Star Wants You to Discover Carlos Andrés Gómez

Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood

Inspired by the award-winning poet and actor’s acclaimed one-man play, a powerful coming-of-age memoir that reimagines masculinity for the twenty-first-century male. 
Award-winning poet, actor, and writer Carlos Andrés Gómez is a supremely gifted storyteller with a captivating voice whose power resonates equally on the live stage and on the page. In one of his most powerful spoken-word poems, Gómez recounts a confrontation he once had after accidentally bumping into another man at a nightclub. Just as they were about to fight, Gómez’s eyes inexplicably welled up with tears. Everyone at the scene jumped back, as if showing vulnerability was the craziest thing that Gómez could possibly have done.

Like many men in our society, Gómez grew up believing that he should be ready to fight at all times, treat women as objects, and close off his emotional self. It wasn’t until he discovered acting that he began to realize the true cost of squelching one’s emotions—and how aggression dominates everything that young males are taught.

Plummeting graduation and employment rates and dire teen suicide statistics show that young males in our society are at a crisis point. Gómez seeks to reverse these alarming trends by sharing lessons about life, love, and vulnerability. Man Up galvanizes men—but also mothers, girlfriends, wives, and sisters—to rethink the way all men interact with women, deal with violence, handle fear, and express emotion.

Gómez urges men of all ages to break society’s rules of male conformity and reconsider not just what it means to be a man, but what it means to be a good man.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gray Room by Wallace Stevens

Although you sit in a room that is gray,
Except for the silver
Of the straw-paper,
And pick
At your pale white gown;
Or lift one of the green beads
Of your necklace,
To let it fall;
Or gaze at your green fan
Printed with the red branches of a red willow;
Or, with one finger,
Move the leaf in the bowl—
The leaf that has fallen from the branches of the forsythia
Beside you…
What is all this?
I know how furiously your heart is beating.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Matisse and French Polynesia

It was in dream-like terms that the painter Henri Matisse viewed one such lagoon when, ordered to take a complete rest, he arrived in 1930 on the battered English mailboat, Tahiti, with a sullen captain, abysmal food and a bunch of Australian sheep farmers. 

'It is as if the light were immobilised forever,' he revelled. 'It is as if life were frozen in a magnificent stance.' 

He used the words pulpy, pithy and caressing to evoke the sunlight - and reckoned that it felt like plunging your eye into a goblet. 

But it's the color of the water that stays in the mind. 

To Matisse, the sea was a talismanic blue - 'a blue like the blue of the morpho butterfly'. The Tahitians call it ninamu. 

Sixteen years later this experience shows up in a cut painter paper collage called "Polynesia."

Above:  POLYNESIA, 1946.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Top 50 Cities to See in Your Lifetime

Dog Star re-posts this from Huffington Post:

With our ever-expanding bucket lists, it's sometimes easy to lose sight of the essentials. Well, we've gone to the community of travelers at with a simple goal: find the greatest destinations on Earth. From the great ancient capitals to the modern cities of Asia, the Americas, and beyond, here are the 50 cities you must see during your lifetime.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Discover CAMP MANITOU - A week-long summer camp for grieving boys

Experience Camps are one-week summer camps for boys who have lost a parent, sibling or loved one that help build confidence, encourage laughter, and navigate grief through friendship, teamwork, activities, and the common bond of loss.

We provide support to grieving boys through summer camps, year-round programs, and online support.

Read an article about Camp Manitou in the Wall Street Journal:

WILEY CERILLI always experiences a little bit of nervous excitement the first day of summer camp.
There is usually some anxiety in meeting new people, said Mr. Cerilli, a 34-year-old venture capitalist and entrepreneur. At the same time, camp is a blast, he said, with swimming, soccer and nightly s'mores. Central Maine's Belgrade Lakes area is stunning during the waning days of summer, he said, and Camp Manitou itself, a 67-year-old upscale sleep-away summer camp for boys, is the kind of place you'd happily pay to visit to as an adult (and bring all of your friends) if you're an outdoorsy, athletic kind of guy, as Mr. Cerilli is. 

But for the New Yorker, the magic is not the 100 acres of pine-and-birch woods, cool lakes and big grassy fields, but the chance to meet boys and teenagers who are reluctant members of Mr. Cerilli's tribe: young men who have lost a parent, sibling or other loved one. Mr. Cerilli was 16 when his father died of lung cancer. 

As he has for the past five summers, next month Mr. Cerilli will volunteer as a camp counselor with the Manitou Experience, a program begun in 2009 that takes over the site for one week a summer and hosts about 300 grieving boys, ages 9 to 17. The mission of camp is to "play games, be a kid and not feel different," explained Mr. Cerilli, who recalled not wanting to "stand up" and admit he needed help when his father died. "You're the kid in school that lost a parent," he said. "I didn't want people feeling bad for me." Today he serves on the board of the organization, which holds camps in Maine, California and, starting next year, New York.


from Camp Manitou's website:

Experience Camps provide boys who have lost a parent, sibling or loved one with a program that helps build confidence, encourage laughter and navigate their grief through friendship, teamwork, athletics, and the common bond of loss.

It is a safe environment where kids can explore their grief, break the isolation they may feel with their non-camp peers, and have a whole lot of fun. They have the opportunity to meet and connect with kids who are coping with similar challenges, while getting all of the benefits of the traditional summer camp experience. Through team sports, individual challenges and community living they learn about leadership, confidence and cooperation. Under the guidance of professional bereavement staff, campers have the opportunity to share stories and remember the one who died, while exploring skills that will help them after camp.

The program is designed to maximize each camper’s time with his bunkmates to give him time to bond and build the trust that leads to open communication. Boys often build those bonds through sports and activities, which are a main component of the day. Campers can play their favorite games, such as basketball, soccer and baseball, as well as explore new activities, like rock climbing, waterskiing, and archery. A full day of fun and rewarding activity takes place in the beautiful outdoors, surrounded by accepting friends, supportive counselors and fresh air.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Adapting A Novel with an Autistic Hero for the Stage (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time)

Dog Star loves the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and read it after another teacher said she loved it, too.

The novel has been popular with readers (first in Britain) for a few years and was recently adapted into a stage play.  The play began at London's National Theater, then transferred to their theater district called the West End and also played in NYC at a Broadway theater.

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow. 

This improbable story of Christopher's quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years. 

In the video clip below the cast and crew share their experiences trying to bring the autistic hero's world to the stage.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Discover Photographer WILLY RONIS

Willy Ronis, a Lithuanian/Jewish descent French photographer. In 1953 he was also one of the “Five French Photographers” selected by the curator Edward Steichen for a show at the New York Museum of Modern Art, the others being Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, Brassaï and Izis.

Above:  A view of Venice.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Something to Declare - Your Passport to Global Culture: Sir Arthur Evans & Ancient Greece

British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (far left in photo above) did not begin his famous excavations at Knossos until 1900 when he was forty-nine. 

In 1878 someone had discovered a small portion of the ruins but it was only after Crete became an independent state free of Turkey that Evans was able to purchase the site and organize a dig on a necessarily massive scale. 

The "palace" is a series of 1,000 interlocking rooms. Luckily, Evans lived another forty-one years, plenty of time to unveil the structures he decided were source of the mythic King Minos and his fabled Minotaur; hence Evans' coining the term Minoan civilization from the 27th to 15th centuries BC. 

One aspect of real life there was bull dancing, a tradition in which youths cavorted with angry steers to great honor and, usually within three months, certain death. Mary Renault brings the practice alive in her novel The King Must Die about Theseus's Cretan adventures. 

Evans was Keeper of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum from 1894-1908 and many, many of the treasures he found at Knossos ended up in its collection. 

He is degayed in most accounts of his life but not in Cathy Gere's intriguing Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dog Star Selects Georges Seurat's 'Bathers at Asnières' (1884)

When Georges Seurat painted this monumental picture he was still a young man in his early 20s.

It is a commonly held belief that Seurat ‘painted in dots’, but at this early stage in his career, his painting technique was more indebted to the work of Impressionist painters such as Monet and Renoir. The calm waters of the River Seine at Asnières are painted in short horizontal dashes, while the spiky grass that the bathers rest on is painted using criss-crossed brush strokes.

The huge scale of this work (it is roughly the size of a small van) is less conventional than the way in which it was painted. Works of this size were usually reserved for ‘history painting’, tackling lofty, heroic subjects that were intended to morally elevate those who viewed them.

Seurat has not chosen to paint the classical warriors or athletes traditionally depicted in such grand bathing scenes. Instead, his bathers are everyday men and boys, perhaps on a day off from the Clichy factories in the background.

The bathers sit or recline on the bank and bathe in the polluted river in strange isolation, while the blazing sunshine beats down overhead. The repetition of poses and anonymity of their faces seems to strip the figures of individuality. We can only wonder what their thoughts might be or what faces lie beneath the various hats and heavy fringes.

Only one boy is animated – our attention drawn to him by his surrounding ‘glow’ – as he appears to hail someone on the other side of the river. In fact, Seurat returned to this work some years later (after he had developed his pointillist technique) to repaint the hat of this young boy in complementary orange and blue dots.

However, the work requires you, the viewer, to finish it. The colours have not been mixed on Seurat’s brush. They are juxtaposed and only blend to form the intended colour once viewed from a distance.

Source:  National Gallery

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

George Takei Does TED Talk

Clip recap: When he was a child, George Takei and his family were forced into an internment camp for Japanese-Americans, as a “security" measure during World War II. 70 years later, Takei looks back at how the camp shaped his surprising, personal definition of patriotism and democracy.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Baby Elephant vs. Birds

Look at that tail wagging and that floppy nose! Yes, that baby elephant is disarmingly cute, but that's just to soften you up for his much grander message: appreciate life's little joys.

That's something we say to ourselves when we're feeling down or trying to annoy a friend who is feeling down. But this guy is leading by example and seeing is believing.

He'll never catch those birds and he doesn't even want to. Sometimes the chase, the jump, the hop, the little side-skip is the journey. Sometimes we have to take what's in front of us and make it a game. Thank you baby elephant for giving me a new direction, for today at least.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Discover British Poet DEAN ATTA

He’s been described as ‘one of the leading lights in London’s poetry scene’ and ‘the Gil Scott-Heron of his generation.’ He’s young, gifted and black. And gay. He’s not afraid to tackle touchy subjects like homophobia in hip hop or the ‘reclaiming’ of the ‘N’ word. His debut poetry collection is called ‘I Am Nobody’s Nigger’ – after a controversial poem he wrote commemorating Stephen Lawrence, which went viral on YouTube. Dean Atta doesn’t mince his words.

Can terms of abuse like the N-word ever be reclaimed?
‘The N-word was one of the last words Stephen Lawrence heard before he was murdered in that attack. Some black people may use it as a term of endearment, but many also use it as a way of describing a certain type of black person who has more of a ghetto or criminal mentality. I’d prefer it if no one used that word to describe me.’


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Khalik Allah Featured on TIME's Lightbox

Khalik Allah, a 30-year-old filmmaker and photographer who documents the streets of Harlem at night, has been photographing the corner of 125th and Lexington since 2012; armed with little more than a manual camera and a few rolls of film.

Street photography can often be a daunting or awkward experience – especially when you’re trying to photograph people who might be skeptical of what you are doing and why. However, for this street artist, photography is an immersive experience where he has built hundreds of relationships with members of the community.

One of the methods Allah uses to gain access to the lives of so many people is to show them a book of his past photographs, a technique learned from one of his influencers, photographer Bruce Davidson.