Dog Star / A Creative Arts Guide






Image above: Vik Muniz

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère after Édouard Manet, from the Pictures of Magazines 2 series, 2012.

Out of the refuse of modern life—torn scraps of outdated magazines, destined for obscurity—Muniz has assembled an ode to one of the first paintings of modern life. Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, painted in 1882, explores the treachery of nineteenth-century Parisian nightlife through the depiction of a bartender attending to a male patron reflected in the mirror behind her. Muniz plays on Manet’s style, replacing Manet’s visible brushstrokes with the frayed edges of torn paper and lending the work immense visual interest.

“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 content.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Friday's Class!

Mr. Gagnon will NOT be in school on Friday, May 1. Complete the S.A.T. writing practice prompt to be distributed in class. Prepare an essay response for Monday.

Click here to see more graphic design from Chicago-based Ork Posters!

Free Summer Acting Workshop

Still looking for fun things to do this summer?

Fast action now means you could have a meaningful summer activity!

FREE SHAKESPEARE WORKSHOP in the heart of the East Village!

If you, or someone you know, is a teenager (ages 13-19) who lives in one of the five boroughs and attends a NYC Public School, then The Public Theater’s Shakespeare Lab, Jr. Program may be right for you!

DATES: Session One, JULY 6 - 10 OR Session Two, JULY 13 - 17

What is this fantastic program all about?
Over the course of one full week, participants will come together with The Public's teaching artists to:
EXPLORE Shakespeare’s most powerful plays, plots, themes and characters;
PLAY theater games and interact with their peers in a safe environment;
LEARN acting, movement and voice skills;
WRITE and perform their very own original Shakespeare-style sonnets!
Students who complete this program will have the opportunity to:
PERFORM onstage for family and friends;
JOIN Summer ShakeUp on July 10, a special one-day event at the famous Delacorte Theater in Central Park, home of the world renowned Shakespeare in the Park. Summer ShakeUp includes an exclusive backstage tour of the theater, workshop with Public Theater Artists, and lunch - ALL for free; Get two FREE tickets to see a Public Theater summer production without having to wait in line!

Shakespeare Lab, Jr. is FREE, and is open to students attending a NYC Public High School.

Click here for the application and more information!

Monday, April 27, 2009

What's Happening?

Celebrating Our Classmates
Last Friday I joined Hassan and Stefan at Museum of Modern to help celebrate the exhibition of student artwork in the MoMa classes. Alberto Vargas displayed a kinetic sculpture with whizzing lights. Raymond Morel exhibited a collage-like photo array of a street scene (at night?) mounted on canvas. Ismael Lugo exhibited one sculpture on global warming (a sea of trash in a desprate global landscape) and a non-representational sculpture using mixed media (toothpicks!).

Luis Gonzalez, in a digital photography class at Guggenheim Museum, will present his work as part of a student exhibition at the museum on Tuesday, May 5 from 4-6. Do join us!

Field Trip on Wednesday
If you are going on the trip, remain in the classroom (our meeting point) for travel to the Belasco Theater on West 44th between 7th Ave. and 6th Avenue (almost at the corner fo 6th Avenue or Avenue of the Americas). We will travel to Times Square area for lunch then meet at theater by 1:15 for tickets distribution.

Articles for April/May Issue
As we come to the end of the second marking period, it is a critical time for turning in your drafts of articles. TWO are required for passing the 2nd marking period (40% of the grade). Please turn these in no later than Friday, May 1 to be counted in the 2nd marking period. On Tuesday, April 28, we will spend class time addressing questions / concerns.

Are your genes your destiny?
Begin reading the articles in the toolbar at left for our third marking period projects. Read them in order as they appear in the links. If you have trouble linking to them, note the article headline and date of publication and search for it on

Go see Picasso! - You won't be disappointed!
If you can pull yourself away from Godfather II for an hour or so (click here for review) then go to the Gagosian Gallery to see the last work painted by Pablo Picasso at the end of his life. You may never have the opportunity to see (1) these paintings together again or (2) this many Picassos together in one place. Don't be short-sighted - even if you don't think you are a Picasso fan now - go and enjoy the memories of the visit later on when you DO become a Picasso fan! I visited on Saturday and plan to return (since I am not a gamer I have a lot of time on my hands, LOL!)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Free Central Park Summerstage Concerts Announced Today

Summerstage has announced their summer lineup of free shows and events. The best access is to enter Central Park at 69th Street and Fifth Avenue. The shows start in June!

Plan to arrive at least one hour before a show begins to get the best seats either on the ground in front of the stage or in the bleachers. I have been to many shows and the space is not so large - any seat is a good one!

For those of you who went to the Chanel Mobile Art Container last fall, the concert series is held on the same spot; it is called Rumsey Playfield.

Spoken word artists, dance performances and many of our favorite singers / bands: Ledisi, Q-Tip, Ziggy Marley, Budos Band (from Brooklyn!), Chrisette Michelle, and many others!



Late Picassos, Go Early

FREE PICASSO EXHIBIT - See the last work he painted before his death in 1973! Never before collected in one place - now in Chelsea!

Location: Gagosian Gallery - 522 West 21st Street betwen 10th & 11th Avenues, Open Monday to Saturday, 10-6pm (Closed Sunday)

Plan a mini-field trip with a small group of friends!

Picasso’s late period has often been dismissed by critics as irrelevant, but “Picasso: Mosqueteros,” at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea, intends to serve as a corrective to that notion.

Curated by Picasso’s biographer John Richardson, the exhibition is “one of the best shows to be seen in New York since the turn of the century,” Roberta Smith writes. “The 50 paintings and 49 prints on view demonstrate that in the decade preceding his death in 1973 at 91, Picasso painted, as usual, for his life.”



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Last Conversation Piece

On a recent visit to Washington, D.C. I saw these sculptures outside the Hirshorn Museum on the Mall. Created by the Spanish artist Juan Munoz, "Last Conversation Piece" presents an intriguing array of figures who attempt communication but seem to be held inside a bag or a sack.

For more on the artist - see the Wikipedia entry here.

More complete information is available in the Guardian newspaper obituary for Juan Munoz (he died of a heart attack at age 48 in 2001). Click here for the obituary.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

NY Times Review of "Joe Turner"

August Wilson's play "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," now playing on Broadway, has received a glowing review in The New York Times.

If you are joining us to see the show next week - you may want to read the review before you go. Even better: Wait until AFTER you have seen the show!

Click here for the review!

In picture at left: Roger Robinson and Marsha Stephanie Blake in Bartlett Sher’s revival of the August Wilson play "Joe Turner’s Come and Gone," at the Belasco Theater.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Teen Pirate Lands in NYC

One of the Somali pirates - the group who seized the Maersk Alabama ship - has been captured by Navy SEALS. He is 17-years-old and will go on trial in NYC for piracy. He faces life in prison.

Click here for the New York Times story!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Art of Brian Jungen: Air Jordans Become Aboriginal Masks

In a recent conversation with Alberto, Hassan, Sarah and Evelise, on looking at African masks, I mentioned the work of Canadian-born artist Brian Jungen. He does many kinds of sculptural work but the one that related to our conversation is the use of Air Jordan sneakers to make Aboriginal masks.

In the 1988 TV campaign for Nike’s Air Jordan IIIs, Spike Lee played an awestruck basketball fan named Mars Blackmon. “Yo Money, it’s gotta be the shoes,” was Blackmon’s explanation for Michael Jordan’s unparalleled finesse. Forget hard work or good genes — the implication was that for a mere $150, anyone could fly.

Of course, anyone knew better. Still, the black, red and white shoes promised a taste of hope, fame, money, success, enlightenment. In their wake, footwear and advertising would forever change, with the profits from Nike’s Jordans ushering in shoe genealogy, guerilla marketing campaigns and all-out “lifestyling.” Ask any kicksologist (i.e., running shoe aficionado): AJs changed the world.

Or ask Brian Jungen.

“Air Jordans were the perfect product to address what I wanted to talk about,” the artist says, “I wanted to address commercialism and the fetishization of trainers and of Aboriginal art. I also wanted to address the division of labor, the production of goods and the relationship between the First and Third Worlds. There is a developing world within the First World on First Nations reserves.”

Brian Jungen, Prototype for New Understanding #8 (1999). Nike Air Jordans, hair. Collection of Colin Griffiths. Photo Trevor Mills/ Courtesy Vancouver Art Gallery. Brian Jungen, Prototype for New Understanding #8 (1999). Nike Air Jordans, hair.
Prototypes for New Understanding (1998-2005), Jungen’s series of West Coast Aboriginal masks are made entirely from re-stitched Air Jordans. The masks are stunning, with Nike’s iconic kicks transformed into a raven, killer whale, thunderbird, eagle and more.

Jungen starts with a simple premise: re-contextualizing consumer products to give them new meaning. Fine, nothing new there — Marcel Duchamp popularized “ready-made” art when he signed a urinal in 1917; most every artist thereafter has run with the idea in some direct or indirect way. Jungen, though, has found a way to up the stakes. By starting with a loaded palette — Air Jordans have more history than some small countries — and reconfiguring Nike’s shoes into coveted, spiritual Aboriginal symbols, he’s breeding mythical objects from two antithetical sources. He’s also, amazingly, doing it with his tongue delicately planted in his cheek.

The subversion of the commercial into the sacred raises questions of authenticity, manipulation, identity, abuse and the power of symbols and objects; all this from masks with tufts of free flowing hair sprouting from their Jordan tongues. It’s nice to find an artist who can comment on consumer fascination with cultural differences with such ease.

Click here for the Google Image search on "Brian Jungen masks"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What's Ahead (IN PROGRESS)



Our schedule for this week:

Monday - April 20

Tuesday - April 21

Wednesday -
April 22

Thursday - April 23
Chloe Hilliard meets with small groups
Team meetings for articles due (April issue, 2nd marking period)

Friday - April 24

Brigitte Dion (Lincoln Center Theater) returns for final pre-show workshop for August Wilson's play "Joe Turner's Come & Gone."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Discover new music!

Bergtraum graduate Sebastian has continued to work hard in his band GeniSwing!

They play "merengue typico" and he is a tambor player.

Sebastian is the one at the bottom of the flyer in the white shirt.

We're giving them a little space here to promote their upcoming all-ages show at St. Elizabeth Seton (Tully Hall) in Bushwick in May.

Click here to see their latest video on YouTube!

Click here for the band's website!

Click here for the band's MySpace page!

Slate Magazine features

Slate is Microsoft's online magazine. It covers arts, technology and business with many interesting features. Bloggers also post regular columns.

Two recent features may interest you:

"YouTube for Artists" is what one feature calls Video artists working in hi-def post terrific work of very high quality. Click here for this feature!

Since we're in the Easter season, you may find it interesting to check out Gory Easter productions. Churches around the country stage large-scale, Broadway-style productions of the Passion of Christ. The writer, Patton Dodd, points out how these productions - with their emphasis on blood and violence - miss the meaning of Christ. Click here for this feature!

I've included a gratuitous photo of Maximus and Achilles after dinner tonight!

Teens Locked up for Life!

CNN reports on teens who committed crimes at age 13 or 14 and will never see the outside of prison again. Is it fair? is it unconstitutional?

Click here for the CNN story and interactive!

Electric car coming soon!

For all you car fans - a new electric and hybrid vehicle is coming to the market this year. Called APTERA, the car is technically a 3-wheeled motorcycle that runs on household electricity or on a hybrid/gasoline model.

Currently it is only available in California and costs start at $25,000. Visit the website for specs and videos: click here for website!

Friday, April 10, 2009

We met at the Met!

Thanks to the crew who joined me at the Met today! We had a brief "highlights" tour - including this statue of a young Hercules in the Greek & Roman Collection. Remember: the Metropolitan is open until 9pm on Friday and Saturday nights. You pay only $1.00 ("One please," and hand the cashier your dollar - you could hand a dollar and also say, "Four please.") Audio Guides with headphones are free for high school students and can be picked up at the desk in the main lobby on request!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Meet at the Met on Friday!

Metropolitan Museum tours will be offered on Friday, April 10. The museum is open until 9pm so we won't have to worry about closing hours!

Meet at the Information Booth (shown at center in photo) in the main lobby!

The details:

WHEN: Friday, April 10 at 3:00pm - We will wait until 3:10 and if you miss us we will go to Greek & Roman galleries (to the left of the Information Booth).

WHERE: Met Museum is at Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street - Take 4, 5, 6 trains to 86th Street and walk west from Lexington (you are walking in the right direction if you come to Park Avenue, then Madison Avenue, and then Fifth Avenue).

Click here for the Met's website!

Obama Fried Chicken

One of the most enduring racist stereotypes of African-Americans: images of blacks eating fried chicken and watermelons.

Now, a storefront in Brooklyn (Rutland Road and Rockaway Parkway) has changed their name from Kennedy Fried Chicken to Obama Fried Chicken.

The owners - Pakistani immigrants - insist they are merely honoring the nation's first African-American president and have no mean intentions. Neighbors see it differently and have protested the name change.

A German company also makes Obama Chicken Fingers - they deny any racist intent.

Click here for picture of the German frozen food and story.

What do you think? A set back for race relations or no big deal?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Quote for the Day

There are two ways of exerting one's strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)

iPhone in the News

Three stories in today's New York Times feature the iPhone:

First, a story about how young computer programmers are making money by creating apps for the iPhone. Featured is one guy who developed a game that has brought him $800,000 so far.
For this story, click here.

Second, a very funny story about a woman who has turned out to be the wrong customer for the iPhone. She is turned off by how cool, distant and detached the iPhone is to her compared to her old phone, a Blackberry. For this story, click here.

Finally, a City section story on a guy who uses his iPhone to take pictures of people who break the rules on the subway. He posts them on his very own web site with the infraction clearly explained. For this story, click here.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Photographic Dictionary

One of my recent discoveries on the web: The Photographic Dictionary presents the meaning of common words through high-quality and fascinating photography.

The site explains: "the photographic dictionary is dedicated to defining words through the literal, figurative, and personal meanings found in each photograph."

See the site here - and it is included in the ONLINE RESOURCES link list in the bar at the left.

For example, the word "bulge" is defined - through a photograph - this way.

Lighthouses of New York City

As city dwellers we often lose sight of our watery surroundings. This New York Times story on the sale of an old lighthouse called Execution Rocks Lighthouse (The British are said to have chained American prisoners to the rocks at low tide and when the tide came in the prisoners would drown.)
and the slide show with audio tour guide shows us another side to the city we don't see very often.

Watch and listen to a guided tour of the lighthouses around New York City here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

African Culture Exhibit: "Mami Wata" in D.C.

Although this exhibit is in Washington, D.C., today's New York Times has an enthusiastic and very informative review of “Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas.”

The term "diaspora" means all the places in the world where one can find the existence of an ethnic people, regardless how far away - or dispersed - they may be from their original homeland. This exhibit - and the article explains it nicely - shows how the folklore and rituals of the Mami Wata (water goddess) spread to Africa, from Africa and around the globe wherever Africans settled.

Holland Cotter writes:

“Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas” is as rousing as a drum roll and as piquant as a samba.

Who is Mami Wata? She is Mother Water, Mother of Fishes, with sources in West and Central Africa and tributaries throughout the African Americas from Bahia to Brooklyn. Usually shown as a half-woman, half-fish, she slips with ease between incompatible elements: water and air, tradition and modernity, this life and the next.

The New York Times story is here.

The New York Times slide show shows a selection of pieces from the exhibit here.

Won't you take the time to read the review? Let us know your response in class!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What's Ahead!

Tomorrow - Friday, April 3
Mr. Gagnon will be absent. In class you will have a guest speaker for Career Day.

Saturday, April 4
Remember: Free party and activities at Brooklyn Museum starting at 5pm-11pm (send Mr. G an email if you plan to go and we can coordinate!)

Monday, April 6 and Tuesday, April 7
Brigitte Dion from Lincoln Center Theater will visit our class for pre-show workshop on August Wilson's play "Joe Turner's Come & Gone"

Wednesday, April 8
Last day to work on the collage project - if you are not finished, feel free to bring it home and work on it over the Spring Break

Thursday, April 9 through Friday, April 17
NO SCHOOL for Spring Break - Return to school on Monday, April 20