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Out of the refuse of modern life—torn scraps of outdated magazines, destined for obscurity—Muniz has assembled an ode to one of the first paintings of modern life.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.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

"All Immigrants Are Artists"

"All Immigrants Are Artists" 

"That experience of touching down in a totally foreign place is like having a blank canvas: You begin with nothing, but stroke by stroke you build a life. This process requires everything great art requires—risk-tasking, hope, a great deal of imagination, all the qualities that are the building blocks of art. You must be able to dream something nearly impossible and toil to bring it into existence." - Edwidge Danticat


6 Art References in Jay Z's "Holy Grail" Video (Complex Magazine)

Dog Star re-posts from Complex Magazine:

Jay Z's new Anthony Mandler-directed "Holy Grail" video, which premiered exclusively on Facebook, continues in the overall theme of Magna Carta Holy Grail and his previous, art world-centric video, "Picasso Baby." 

Instead of name-dropping art staples like Picasso, Basquiat, Art Basel, and Christie's on "Holy Grail," Jay Z raps about the downfalls of fame and how easy it is to lose yourself in the opulence and volatility. 

What might not be so obvious are the amount of visual references to the darker lyrics in the song about death, destruction, and mortality. 

From the painting depicting The Fall of Icarus in the background to Justin Timberlake's still life-adorned table, here are 6 Art References in Jay Z's "Holy Grail" Video that may have you rethinking the meaning of the song and visual.

We're only going to post the first one so you'll link to Complex for the rest... 

The Sun or the Fall of Icarus by Merry-Joseph Blondel, 1819
(On the ceiling of the Louvre)

The mysterious painting behind Jay Z in a few shots, where he appears to be in an empty swimming pool, is actually a piece by Merry-Joseph Blondel from 1819 called The Sun or the Fall of Icarus. 

The piece was commissioned for the entrance of the Louvre's ceiling to the Galerie d'Apollon. 

The Greek mythological story of The Fall of Icarus fits "Holy Grail," a song about how easy it is to lose yourself in fame and wealth. As the story goes, Icarus' father Daedalus warned him not to fly too close to the sun, as his wings were secured with wax. Not only did Icarus disobey his father (his wings melted off by being too close to the sun), but he also fell into the ocean and drowned. 

In the earliest known painted version of The Fall of Icarus, thought to be by Peter Bruegel in the 1560s, Daedalus is not present, yet in Blondel's version, he is. 

What's even more striking about Jay Z's inclusion of this painting in his video, beyond the way this classic story connects to the struggle he depicts in his contemporary life, is that he includes a quick close-up of Icarus falling without the other characters around him. The fall is as lonely as Jay is throughout most of the visual.

RuPaul Drives...Henry Rollins

Any RuPaul fan worth his or her salt knows that for years his tagline has been “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” But that’s not the only love-related advice he’s proffering. In a recent episode of webseries RuPaul Drives…, in which the drag pioneer gives rides in L.A. to hitchhikers, friends, and celebrities, Henry Rollins is the passenger. Ru beseeches him to open himself up to love, suggesting that he give romance a shot even though Rollins considers himself a failure at it for “not trying hard enough.”

FREE! New City Park Honors F.D.R. & His Famous Speech "Four Freedoms"

Dog Star admires F.D.R. and knows he is an important man during the Great Depression and at the start of World War II.  He is also the former governor of New York State.  His family's estate north of New York City - Hyde Park - is open to the public and a great way to spend a Summer or Autumn Saturday with your family.  Of course, F.D.R.'s wife - Eleanor Roosevelt - is also an important figure and she had a huge role in drafting the Universal Human Rights delivered at the United Nations.

It's been 40 years since New York has been planning a memorial park for 32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the east end of Roosevelt island. Originally designed by Louis Kahn in 1974, New York's almost bankrupt economy put the project on hold until the release of the documentary "My Architect" when enough support was fostered to fund the completion of the project carried out by local firm Mitchell Giurgola Architects.  

The triangular site of the 'FDR Four Freedoms Park' funnels visitors along a white granite plinth lined in linden trees to an open-air courtyard, at the entrance to which is thick block with a 28-inch bronze bust of FDR's head, sculpted by Jo Davidson, facing the united nations headquarters only 300 meters away. On the backside, the four freedoms speech is engraved as a symbol of the president's legacy to the building blocks of contemporary democratic principles. The project is planned to expand in the future, transforming a 19th-century small pox hospital to an auxiliary visitor center. The park is now open to the public.

Read more about F.D.R. here.

Go here for directions to the Four Freedoms Park!

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is an enduring tribute to the life and work of President Roosevelt. In the late 1960s, during a period of national urban renewal, New York City Mayor John Lindsay proposed to reinvent Roosevelt Island (then called Welfare Island) into a vibrant, residential community. The New York Times championed renaming the island for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and constructing a memorial to him, remarking: "It has long seemed to us that an ideal place for a memorial to FDR would be on Welfare Island, which...could be easily renamed in his honor... It would face the sea he loved, the Atlantic he bridged, the Europe he helped to save, the United Nations he inspired."

FDR's Famous Speech on The Four Freedoms On January 6, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a speech that shaped this nation, now known as the Four Freedoms speech. He looked forward to a world founded on four human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.  Today, by building Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, we have the opportunity to honor this man and these essential freedoms.

Friday, August 30, 2013


Inside Lincoln's auditorium - Notice the ceramic murals on either side of the stage.  On the left side is Mercury and the on the right side is Apollo.


Dog Star recently visited Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island, Brooklyn and was amazed at these cermaic murals.  Here's a bit more about the school and the murals.  By the way, playwright Arthur Miller ("The Crucible," "All My Sons") is a Lincoln graduate.

Lincoln High School, Bayside High School, Samuel J. Tilden High School, John Adams High School, and Grover Cleveland High School were all built before or during the Great Depression from ONE SET of blueprints, in order to save money.

Abraham Lincoln High School, vast neo-classical building, is studded all around with Art Deco motifs by architect Walter C. Martin was built in 1929.

In the 1950s the school's pipe organ in the auditorium was removed to make room for electronic sound equipment.  It left unsightly gaps on either side of the stage.

The principal then, Dr. Mason, invited painter and ceramist Henry Varnum Poor to design a mural project.

The twenty by twelve-foot gaps had to remain more or less open in order for sound to be projected from the new equipment.  Poor proposed covering the holes with wire mesh on which he could place ‘cut out’ heroic-sized figures composed of ceramic tiles joined and braced by metal strips.

They would, he explained, resemble stained glass windows.

On the left of the stage is the god Mercury in Roman Armor.  In his right hand, however, he holds thunderbolts; Poor, with the new sound equipment in mind, decided to extend the god’s protectorates to electricity.

On the right side is laurel-crowned Apollo, holding aloft a lyre.

Both figures are stylized, their colors unrealistic browns, ochres, green-blues--a considerable departure in design and tone from Henry’s realistic murals.  The last pic shows the artist's signature (initials) - HVP on a ceramic "plaque."


Edward Burtynsky's WATERMARK

Your body language shapes who you are

Dog Star knows devoted readers will find this very interesting!

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” -- standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident -- can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

Amy Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply by changing body positions.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Brooklyn Artist "Remixes" Salvador Dali's Famous Paintings

Hello, Dali! Brooklyn artist brings Surrealist legend into the 21st century 

It's not plagiarism, but a sincere form of homage as Bushwick artist Brian Kirhagis updates the Spanish master.

Cory Booker Calls BULLSHIT on Homophobia

And shows how ALL men including BLACK MEN should stand up for what's right!

FREE Fall Reading Series at NYU

Photo above:  Washington Square Park

FREE Fall reading series at NYU open to the public 
 - don't get hung up on the fact that you may not have heard of some of these writers. It's free, after all, and going to a reading may turn out to be a wonderful surprise. 

With that said, I STRONGLY recommend these writers who will astound and engage you. These are either writers I have seen in person and LOVED or have read their writing and love their work: 

Anne Carson on 9/12
Ayana Mathis on 9/26
Poets on War: A Reading for Refugee Youth in South Sudan on 10/4
Mitchell S. Jackson on 10/25
Sherman Alexie on 11/7
Tao Lin on 11/14
Natalie Diaz on 11/22

Dog Star Selects Ceremonial Parade Helmet

Burgonet “ALLA ROMANA ANTICA" Created for The Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol, Ambrass and Innsbruck.  Ceremonial Parade Helmet designed and created by the famed studio of Filippo Negroli, a Sixteenth Century Armorer in Milan, Italy.  Bronze, Steel, Gold and Brass.

Poetry Everywhere: "Facing It" by Yusef Komunyakaa

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gays & Hip Hop

Wow....once again we get a serious dose of WHITE PRIVILEGE AND MYOPIC VISION... So White-owned tumblr/Yahoo thinks Macklemore - the straight White darling who made the "bold" track on same sex love - is the FIRST (meaning he's WHITE) rapper to support the LGBT community.

Ewwww, White people stop it.

Your token White boy isn’t the first rapper to stand up for the LGBT community.

EMINEM: I think if two people love each other, then what the hell? I think that everyone should have the chance to be equally miserable, if they want

Kendrick Lamar: You know it’s crazy man. I don’t give a fuck about people doing what they gotta do…I can’t help the way you was born if you was gay. And I can’t change that so do what you gotta do to be happy

Jay Z: It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination plain and simple…I think [supporting gay marriage is] the right thing to do, so whether it costs Obama votes or not – again, it’s not about votes. It’s about people. It’s the right thing to do as a human being

A$AP Rocky: It’s 2013, and it’s a shame that, to this day, that topic still gets people all excited. It’s crazy…I treat everybody equal, and so I want to be sure that my listeners and followers do the same if they’re gonna represent me

Too $hort: I just feel like at this point in time we should allow gay people to get married, we should not ridicule anyone who comes out, just go with it, it’s just a lifestyle

...and lets not forget Nicki Minaj, Eve, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Fat Joe, T-Pain, T.I. The Game and several others who have openly expressed their support for the LGBT community.

NOT TO MENTION ALL THE LGBT RAPPERS OUT THERE: LE1F, Mykki Blanco, CakesdaKilla and the list goes on.

Health Tips: 20 Healthy Habits To Adopt Before You Turn 20

Dog Star likes this very sensible "slideshow" from HuffingtonPost Teen (go here for details).  From the post:  Your teenage years are often when you're at your healthiest: You're young, probably haven't experienced a big health scare yet, and any unhealthy habits may not taken a toll on your body. But that doesn't mean that you should take good health for granted. Adolescence is arguably the most important time in your life to start developing healthy habits that will benefit you years down the road. From the annoying stuff you've been told a million times (remember to floss! eat your veggies!) to big preventative measures that can set the stage for great health later in the life, we've compiled 20 nutrition, fitness and wellness habits that everyone should adopt by the age of 20.

1.  Learn to love your veggies.
2.  Protect your skin.
3.  Limit your sugar intake.
4.  Get active.
5.  Get serious about sleep.
6.  Stop worrying.
7.  Moisturize.
8.  Maintain a healthy weight.
9.  Develop strong relationships.
10.  Floss regularly.
11.  Monitor your screen time.
12.  Eat breakfast.
13.  Put safety first (i.e. seatbelts).
14.  Drink lots of water.
15.  Ditch the processed food.
16.  Stay away from smoke.
17.  Listen to your body.
18.  Protect yourself (i.e. condoms).
19.  Learn when to say "no."
20.  Accept your body.

We're going to post this every few weeks to remind devoted teen readers (and some who aren't teens anymore but like the reminder to stay healthy) of these great healthy tips!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Transgender Teens

Transgender Teens Transgender Teens, transgender, life in the 21st century, life as a teen, teen behavior, teen bodies,

PHOTO ABOVE:  At fourteen, Skylar, born a girl, adopted a boy’s name; at sixteen, he started taking testosterone and had a mastectomy. Not concerned with being a “macho bro,” he plans to date boys. Photograph by Pari Dukovic.

Transgender surgery at 16. 

I don't know how I feel about this - I don't think anybody should be blocked from getting the surgery. Life is filled with choices and we embrace the consequences of these choices. Age 16 does seem like such an early age to begin such dramatic changes to one's body!

My own experience with a "trans man" - (a biological female transitioning to a male) is that he suffered psychologically and emotionally for so many years before he could FULLY transition (yes, that) to a man in his late 30s. Maybe he would have been happier in life if he could have transitioned sooner. 

So I am torn. And I fully trying to be compassionate and understanding?

When WE ALL SAY say, "Hey, this freaks me out a LOT but I will read this article" then we are really starting to confront our personal biases, fears and sexual insecurities. I think this really tests a person's level of TRUE tolerance, acceptance and open-ness.  Do you make room for all kinds of people in the world?

When we intentionally STOP thinking of transgender folks as freaks and embrace everyone's humanity then we are another step toward peace and harmony in the world.

The New Yorker had this article LIMITED to subscribers only. Margaret Talbot’s piece on transgender surgery and teens is now unlocked. Read it. 

BTW there is a very famous celebrity couple with an openly TRANS son (F.T.M. - female-to-male) referenced in the article. Some may already know this - for others it will be a surprise. 

About a Boy

Transgender surgery at sixteen.

by Margaret Talbot

Skylar is a boy, but he was born a girl, and lived as one until the age of fourteen. Skylar would put it differently: he believes that, despite biological appearances, he was a boy all along. He’d just been burdened with a body that required medical and surgical adjustments so that it could reflect the gender he knew himself to be. At sixteen, he started getting testosterone injections every other week; just before he turned seventeen, he had a double mastectomy.


Imaginary Dog Star Soundtrack: Dead Prez - Mind Sex

Wall Dogs: A Story of Mural Painters in New York City

Saturday, August 24, 2013

West Indian Day Carnival: Join the largest street parade in the nation on Labor Day in Brooklyn!

This annual parade and street festival is the largest in the United States and attracts over a million visitors to Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn each Labor Day.  Organizers present several activities, concerts and even a Children's Parade on the Friday morning before Labor Day.

The parade and street festival has its roots in traditional Caribbean carnival celebrations and was introduced by Brooklyn's West Indian immigrants in the 1960s.  But it wasn't the first West Indian carnival party - as early as the 1920s carnival celebrations were held indoors, first, and later, on the streets of Harlem.

The organizers website has a very good history of carnival celebrations.  Dog Star recommends taking the subway 2/3 to Grand Army Plaza and walking up Eastern Parkway at least by noon.  Food and merchandise vendors are lined up on either side of the street and since this is the END point for the parade you won't have missed any of it.  If you continue any further into Brooklyn you may find the subway entrance HIGHLY congested and the crowds up on the street very, very large.

Let us know if you go and send us your pictures and we'll post them here!

Oh, the pics above are pulled off Google images but they give you a fairly good idea of the extravagant, um, costumes you can expect to see at the parade!  It's great fun with live bands and we even saw Sean Paul two years ago on top of one of the floats!

Here for official event website
Here for Google pics from past years

Bushwick Bookstores

Molasses, 770 Hart St.

Human Relations, 1067 Flushing Ave.

Catland, 987 Flushing Ave.

Mellow Pages, 56 Bogart

Blonde Art Books, 92 St. Nicholas Ave.


Earl Sweatshirt: A Leaf in the Wind

Meet '80s Mega Star BOY GEORGE

Friday, August 23, 2013

FREE! Go See Alexis Rockman's RUBICON Paintings @ Sperone Westwater

“I come from a tradition of activism and the idea that art can make a difference in terms of political change.” - Alexis Rockman

Dog Star first saw Rockman's giant paintings of environmental disaster in 2004 at the Brooklyn Museum.  In that exhibition he imagined scenes from a not-too-distant future of post-disaster wildlife surviving by any means necessary.

He's still painting these wild scenes and we URGE devoted readers NOT TO MISS THIS SPECTACULAR OPPORTUNITY TO SEE TWO LARGE-SCALE PAINTINGS "Bronx Zoo" and "Gowanus."

Of course, it's ALSO FREE!

Take the F train to 2nd Avenue - you will come out on Houston and then walk west to Bowery (it's on the other side of Whole Foods) and then walk south to 257 Bowery.  Easy stuff!

Sperone Westwater 
257 Bowery
September 17-November 2, 2013

Concurrently with Rockman’s exhibition at Sperone Westwater, The Drawing Center, an easy walk from the gallery at 35 Wooster Street in SoHo, will show “Drawings from Life of Pi” from 27 September - 3 November 2013. Rockman recently collaborated with director Ang Lee on the prize-winning film “Life of Pi,” preparing conceptual sketches of a dreamlike journey into the depths of the ocean to serve as visual inspiration.

For almost three decades, Rockman has depicted a darkly surreal vision of the collision between civilization and nature. The artist’s epic paintings of apocalyptic scenarios, once described as “toxic sublime,” demonstrate his signature subject matter as well as his meticulous technique depicting scientific detail, skillful use of intense color, and monumental scale.

The show’s title “Rubicon,” an expression originating with Julius Caesar’s passing of the Rubicon River in 49 BC and thereafter becoming synonymous with “the point of no return,” alludes to the artist’s belief that our natural world has suffered irrevocable damage, beyond repair.

“Rubicon” features two epic paintings thematically focused on New York City, where the artist was born in 1962 and has lived ever since.

The monumental painting Bronx Zoo, 2012-2013, measuring 7 x 14 feet, depicts with virtuosity and wit an anarchistic scene amid the ruins of New York’s most legendary zoo, founded in 1899. The zoo’s neoclassic buildings and court have been overtaken by animals that inhabit it. Although human figures are absent in Rockman’s painting, their existence is implied by the decay of their buildings and the debris of their society. Bronx Zoo suggests the savage moment that occurs at the intersection of human culture and the natural world.

To the artist, the zoo is “the last bastion for biodiversity,” a place for protecting and conserving those animals whose natural habitat has been destroyed. This dystopian narrative expands the visual language and scope of traditional natural history painting into themes of contemporary relevance, most prominently the environment.

By contrast, the second epic painting in the exhibition Gowanus, 2013, measuring 6 x 7.5 feet, focuses on what is discarded and/or discharged as a result of urban development and mechanization. Once a rich and prosperous wetland with a thriving ecosystem, Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal “has become one of the nation's most extensively contaminated water bodies” (EPA, 2013).

Since its completion in 1869, serious environmental problems have ravaged the area. It has become a putrid reminder of New York’s industrial past, contaminated by PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics – the water burns green at times and has a sulfurous smell in the summer.

Rockman was inspired to portray this site when in the winter of 2013, a dolphin swam into the polluted waterway and died the same day – an event chronicled in The New York Times on 26 January 2013.

There will also be two series of watercolors: a set in sepia and grisaille related to Gowanus in the East Gallery and a suite of larger watercolors, 75 x 52 inches, each, on the second floor.

Non-Profit Groups Reenacts Trayvon Martin Shooting In Ad For Gun Reform

First, let me just say I was worried this was going to be too graphic and tough to watch. IMO it is delicately and tastefully handled!

The Trayvon Martin tragedy caused Americans across the nation to question Stand Your Ground, the self-defense law that is currently legal in 16 states across the nation. Various groups are working to speak out against the law and an ad supporting the efforts has gone viral where participants reenacted and used actual audio from the Trayvon Martin trial.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) is a non-profit group that is currently working to encourage certain states to “oppose this immoral legislation.” In the commercial, parts of the actual 911 calls of Zimmerman and witnesses are used during the reenactment. Towards the end of the ad the camera pans out showing different gun violence victims dressed in hoodies and the name of states with Stand Your Ground laws flashes over each body.

JUST ONE MONTH LEFT! GO SEE Ken Price's Elegant & Strange Little Sculptures @ the Met Museum

Dog Star is excited about this Ken Price exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum because we don't know anything about him!

The Met is ALWAYS FREE FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS - just show your school ID at the cashier desk.  Located at 82nd Street and Fifth Avenue - take 4, 5, or 6 trains to 86th & Lexington and walk west to Fifth Avenue.  OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK 10am-5:30pm, Friday and Saturday 10am-9pm.

 This long overdue retrospective, the first major museum exhibition of Ken Price's work in New York, will trace the development of his ceramic sculptures with approximately sixty-five examples from 1959 to 2012. The selection will range from the luminously glazed ovoid forms of Price's early work to the suggestive, molten-like slumps he has made since the 1990s. In addition to the sculpture, the exhibition will feature eleven late works on paper by the artist. Price's close friend, the architect Frank O. Gehry, designed the exhibition.  On view until September 22, 2013.

FREE! JUST THREE WEEKS LEFT! Go See Drawings by Bill Traylor & Discover a Unique American Artist!

Dog Star is excited about this Bill Traylor exhibition because we just learned about him recently!  This is an ideal opportunity for devoted readers to discover this unique American artist.

American Folk Art Museum
2 Lincoln Square
(Columbus Avenue at 66th Street)
Take #1 train to 66th Street
Closed on Mondays, Tuesday-Sunday Open 12pm-7:30pm,
except on Sundays closes at 6pm


Drawings by self-taught artist Bill Traylor, one of the most iconic 20th century American artists, are on view at the American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square (across the street from Lincoln Center) in New York City, from June 11 through September 22, 2013.

More than 60 drawings from two distinguished public collections are on view in Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, a traveling exhibition.

These exhibitions provide a special opportunity to see these works of art that have seldom traveled beyond the southeastern United States. Complementing this, Traylor in Motion: Wonders from New York Collections features additional works from private lenders.

Commented Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice, Executive Director of the American Folk Art Museum: “We are especially pleased to present works of art by a man who was largely unheralded in his own lifetime. Bill Traylor’s unique vision can be seen in his drawings. His imagery defies comparison with any other artist or art movement.”

Bill Traylor, whose drawings are widely considered one of the most important bodies of work by a self-taught artist ever created, was born into slavery on an Alabama plantation in the mid-1800s. During a short period of astounding creativity he produced visually powerful works that drew upon a wellspring of life experiences. Sophisticated narratives as well as keen observations were masterfully compressed into the most minimal of representations, sometimes with a burst of brilliant color.

The traveling exhibition is organized around themes from Traylor’s life: people he knew or saw in his community; farm animals he remembered from his early life; and the animated, multi-figure compositions that many have termed “exciting events.” Traylor’s drawings are mysterious and compelling in their ambiguity and viewers often provide their own narratives, which sometimes greatly diverge. These are powerful expressions, unique in style, filled with movement and imagery. Bill Traylor is a storyteller.

Documentation of Bill Traylor’s birth year varies, and it has been stated that he was born in 1854; more accurately, records show that he was born between 1853 and 1854 and his earliest years were spent on a Dallas County plantation in Alabama.

After emancipation, he continued to live and work there until sometime before 1928, when he moved permanently to Montgomery to be closer to some of his children. He worked first as a laborer and then in a shoe factory until he was physically unable to continue.

Under the challenging conditions of the Depression, and with modest assistance from the government, Traylor survived on the streets in the then primarily black enclave of Monroe Avenue (now called Monroe Street).

He slept in the storage room of a funeral parlor, and later in a shoe repair shop. He spent his days making drawings.

Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts documents the area in which Traylor worked, which was a lively and bustling, chaotic and thriving center for middle-class African Americans seeking the latest music, fashion, and style.

Using meager materials, Traylor created a visual autobiography, recording past events as well as observations of the Monroe Avenue area. Many of his drawings depict farm animals—highly expressive chickens, pigs, goats, cows, horses, and mules, among others. Houses and architectural features such as fountains, clocks, and other urban structures are also potential sources for his imagery.

Traylor, who did not title his drawings, offered them for sale to passersby. He also gave or sold most of the works to Charles Shannon, an artist who had befriended him. Shannon provided Traylor with supplies he needed to create the drawings, including clean poster board (among other materials). But Traylor preferred the irregularly-shaped, smudged and stained cardboard, or cut-up boxes, or old advertising signs he found on the streets.

During a four-year period, Traylor produced some 1,200 drawings. Shannon told art critic Vivien Raynor that Traylor “went inside himself and it just began to pour out; it was like striking a spring.” Shannon, who died in 1996, preserved the drawings he received from Traylor for approximately 40 years and conscientiously worked toward bringing them to the attention of the art world and larger public audiences.

Don't Regret Regrets

Dog Star likes this TED Talk!  The number one thing people most regret in life? Decisions they made about their EDUCATION - not enough, not taking advantage, not finishing...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

MY VERSE by Wilson Santos - WARNING: Disturbing Footage of Children

Five Paintings We Love @ The Frick - Bring your friends and family!

Dog Star enjoys The Frick Collection because it NEVER changes its permanent collection - it always has on view the paintings Henry Clay Frick selected and placed within his home.  

This does not mean the Frick doesn't have room for special exhibitions; it has separate spaces for temporary little shows.  We want devoted readers to visit the Frick to see these paintings in person - for yourself.  

The descriptions of the paintings are taken from the museum's website.  

Here is a photo of the West Gallery - imagine having this room in your home as your private art collection.  It's just ONE of the rooms you will see at the Frick:

The Frick welcomes quiet and respectful teens who put away all electronics, check their coats and bags and enjoy this very special museum as if they are visiting a stranger's home.  The Frick is open to ALL NEW YORKERS!

The Frick Collection (more here) is EASY TO REACH at 70th Street and Fifth Avenue - take the 6 train to 68th Street / Hunter College and walk over to 5th Avenue from Lexington & 68th. Admission for teens is $10 (students with valid identification).  Dog Star says go early on Sundays and pay just $1!  On Sundays, pay what you wish from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Learn more about the Frick family and origins of the collection and museum here.  The museum was planned as a permanent art collection to be open to the public by its founder Henry Clay Frick!

PAINTING #1 - ABOUT THE PAINTING ABOVE:  Lodovico Capponi painted by Agnolo Bronzino. This proud young aristocrat is Lodovico Capponi (b. 1533), a page at the Medici court. As was his custom, he wears black and white, his family's armorial colors. His right index finger partially conceals the cameo he holds, revealing only the inscription sorte (fate or fortune) — an ingenious allusion to the obscurity of fate. In the mid 1550s Lodovico fell in love with a girl whom Duke Cosimo had intended for one of his cousins. After nearly three years of opposition, Cosimo suddenly relented, but he commanded that their wedding be celebrated within twenty-four hours.   

WHY WE LOVE IT: We like to think that Frick chose this painting of Capponi because of its association with one of the most powerful families in history.  The Medici family of the Italian Renaissance ruled over the region of Florence / Tuscany and nobody did anything without their permission.  They made a fortune owning farms, mills, textile (tapestry) companies and family members were even connected to the Vatican in Rome.  Frick most likely admired this young man and may have seen an aspect of himself in the picture:  bold, proud and ready for the upper classes!

PAINTING #2 - ABOUT THE PAINTING ABOVE: Gilbert Stuart  (1755 - 1828) George Washington, 1795-1796  Stuart earned a fortune producing replicas of the three portraits he painted from life of the first President of the United States. The Frick canvas is thought to be one of two copies painted by the artist for the Philadelphia merchant John Vaughan. It belongs to the group known as the “Vaughan type,” although it differs from the related versions in the color of the coat and in the treatment of the background. Stylistically the portrait recalls the work of Stuart’s English contemporaries, such as Romney and Hoppner.

WHY WE LOVE IT: The first thing to know is that the portrait of Washington on the one dollar bill is by Gilbert Stuart - same artist.  We like this painting because it shows our first president in a red velvet coat and we like to think Frick liked that, too.

PAINTING #3 - ABOUT THE PAINTING ABOVE: Johannes Vermeer  (1632 - 1675) Mistress and Maid, 1666-1667  The subject of writing and receiving letters, which recurs frequently in Vermeer’s work, is given an exceptional sense of dramatic tension in this painting of two women arrested in some moment of mysterious crisis. The lack of final modeling in the mistress’ head and figure and the relatively plain background indicate that this late work by Vermeer was left unfinished. Nevertheless, the artist seldom if ever surpassed the subtly varied effects of light seen here as it gleams from the pearl jewelry, sparkles from the glass and silver objects on the table, and falls softly over the figures in their shadowy setting. Bought by Mr. Frick in 1919, the year of his death, this painting was his last purchase and joined Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait, Holbein’s Sir Thomas More, Bellini’s St. Francis, and Velázquez’ King Philip IV among his favorite acquisitions.

WHY WE LOVE IT: Frick had exquisite taste and bought the very best paintings.  His taste in art is strongly conservative; by the time of his death in 1919 cubism and abstratcion were very popular but he would never have bought those kinds of pictures - he did not have a taste for "modern" art.  But there is just no disputing the beauty of a Vermeer - the way he handles the light so delicately!

PAINTING #4 - ABOUT THE PAINTER/ING ABOVE: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn  (1606 - 1669) Self-Portrait, 1658.  Rembrandt first studied art in his native Leyden and later worked under Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam. Around 1625 he returned to Leyden, but in 1631/32 he settled permanently in Amsterdam. Although he enjoyed a great reputation and pupils flocked to him, he suffered financial difficulties that led to insolvency in 1656. By 1660 most of his debts were settled, and his last years were spent in relative comfort. Rembrandt painted many portraits, biblical scenes, and historical subjects.

WHY WE LOVE IT: This painting was completed about ten years before the painter died.  By the time he painted it his career had long been over.  And yet Rembrandt makes himself look so majestic, so regal like a king who is still at the top of his game.

PAINTING #5 - ABOUT THE PAINTING ABOVE: Jean-August-Dominique Ingres  (1780 - 1867) Comtesse d'Haussonville, 1845Louise, Princesse de Broglie (1818–82) and granddaughter of Madame de Staël, married at the age of eighteen. Her husband was a diplomat, writer, and member of the French Academy, and she herself published a number of books, including biographies of Robert Emmet and Byron. For her time and her elevated social caste, she was outspokenly independent and liberal. This portrait, begun in 1842, was the fruit of several false starts and a great many preparatory drawings, including full-scale studies of the raised left arm, the head, and its reflection. According to a letter written by the artist, the finished work “aroused a storm of approval among her family and friends.” Ingres appears to have surprised the young lady in the intimacy of her boudoir, where she leans against an upholstered fireplace, having just discarded her evening wrap and opera glasses.  

WHY WE LOVE IT: This painter's last name is pronounced eng-ah.  It's so easy to see why Frick would have loved this painting and why we love it, too.  The Comtesse is so beautiful and so charming in this portrait while also hinting that she is ready and willing to have an intelligent conversation.

Words to Live By