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Out of the refuse of modern life—torn scraps of outdated magazines, destined for obscurity—Muniz has assembled an ode to one of the first paintings of modern life.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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

GO SEE these Exhibitions at NYC's Museums this Autumn/Winter

Dog Star's mini-guide to the Fall/Winter museum exhibitions.

THIS IS A PRINTER-FRIENDLY POST.  Just the one image above and all text in black to make it easy to print the list.  

Keep it in your agenda or refer to it and make dates to see these exhibitions with family and friends.

All of the museums have a free or pay-what-you-wish (it can be just $1) night so be sure to check the website - it is linked in BOLD in the name of the museum.

You may read about artists here that you've never heard of before - that's a good reason to check it out.  Read the list and make a plan to see at least three to start - pick one you are excited about seeing and invite your family.  Choose another one and invite two friends to join you!  On the third go by yourself - it will be an entirely different experience and you would be doing less socializing, less talking, less talking ABOUT the art and MORE LOOKING. 

And always keep your phone in your pocket.  It's tough to make a real connection to the artwork if you are texting, taking pictures or researching.  Give yourself the chance to have a "phone-free" experience with art. 

While we encourage everyone to see as many of these exhibitions as possible we know that's not likely to happen.  (There are about 35 exhibitions listed here.)  Here's FIVE that we think are DO NOT MISS SHOWS.  If you had to be selective - because of work schedules and school - we recommend these FIVE TO SEE IN THIS ORDER OF PRIORITY:

1.  Matisse at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
2.  Romare Bearden at the Wallach Art Gallery (Columbia University)
3.  Nam June Paik at the Asia Society
4.  Sebastião Salgado at the International Center of Photography (ICP)
5.  Annie Leibovitz at The New York Historical Society

Finally, we've added one line called WHY GO? to encourage Dog Star readers to see an exhibition.

Under Another Name
Studio Museum in Harlem
Jul 17, 2014 - Mar 8, 2015
Under Another Name borrows its title from a line that appears in Renée Green’s letterpress print William Morris. In it, she cites William Morris, a 19th century English artist, writer, textile designer and socialist. In his novel A Dream of John Ball (1888), which Green quotes, he writes: “I men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name…” Under Another Name considers work in multiple media, focusing on the relationship of various genres and media to one another. Here, ephemeral sculptures are captured as photographs; letterpress prints invoke the aesthetics of video; performances are recorded as drawings; sound is captured in objects; and photographs are abstracted into paintings. Rather than privileging one medium over another, the exhibition looks at their interdependence and what happens when a work is understood through the context of a new medium.
WHY GO?  Don't miss the inventive and creative ways artists make images and objects.

PLAYING WITH FIRE: Political Interventions, Dissident Acts, and Mischievous Actions
El Museo del Barrio
September 4, 2014 – January 3, 2015
Tracing the founding of El Museo del Barrio by Raphael Montañez Ortíz at the end of the 60s, an era of social unrest and radical activism in the United States as well as throughout the Americas, the works in this exhibition target colonialism, imperialism, urban neglect, and cultural hegemony with a vast array of weapons, including irreverence and humor. The artists confront the status quo with a wide range of disarming conceptual strategies and aesthetic detonators. The fire that surfaces in some of the artworks points to an equally dangerous and alluring element that consumes and transforms, one that must be handled with care.
WHY GO?  Go to discover how activists expressed their rage and social agenda in their artwork.

Francesco Clemente: Inspired by India
Rubin Museum of Art
September 5, 2014 - February 2, 2015
The first museum exhibition devoted to the Indian influences in Clemente’s work and how they relate to the artistic practices and traditions of various regions in India features approximately 20 works, including paintings from the last 30 years, and four new, larger than life-size sculptures created especially for the exhibition. In contrast to leading conceptual art practices of the 1970s, Clemente refocused attention on representation, narrative, and the figure, and explored traditional, artisanal materials and modes of working.
WHY GO?  Don't miss this opportunity to see an amazing artist's paintings and sculpture inspired by the traditions of India - there will be a spiritual component to the whole exhibition.

Egon Schiele: Portraits 
Neue Galerie 
October 9, 2014-January 19, 2015
This autumn Neue Galerie New York will open "Egon Schiele: Portraits," a special exhibition devoted to portraiture created by the masterful Austrian artist Egon Schiele. This is the first exhibition at an American museum to focus exclusively on portraiture in Schiele's work.
WHY GO?  Egon was the bad boy artist of his times - like Basquiat in 1980s New York City.  Life during Egon's time (end of the 19th century, early years of the 20th century) was very conservative but he had an open, fresh and liberal idea about how to show people and their personalities.  The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterize Schiele's paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism.  He is a true original who died of the Spanish Flu at age 28.

Matisse:  The Cut-Outs
Museum of Modern Art 
October 12, 2014–February 8, 2015
Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs is a groundbreaking reassessment of this important body of work. The largest and most extensive presentation of the cut-outs ever mounted, the exhibition includes approximately 100 cut-outs—borrowed from public and private collections around the globe—along with a selection of related drawings, prints, illustrated books, stained glass, and textiles. The last time New York audiences were treated to an in-depth look at the cut-outs was in 1961.
WHY GO?  DO NOT MISS THIS EXHIBITION -  An opportunity to discover and re-discover this great modern master.  Go see his masterpiece "ZULMA" - completed at age 80!

Also at MoMA:
Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor - October 4, 2014–January 18, 2015
The Heart Is Not a Metaphor is the first large-scale survey of Robert Gober’s career to take place in the United States. Gober (American, b. 1954) rose to prominence in the mid-1980s and was quickly acknowledged as one of the most significant artists of his generation. Early in his career he made deceptively simple sculptures of everyday objects—beginning with sinks before moving on to domestic furniture such as playpens, beds, and doors. In the 1990s, his practice evolved from single works to theatrical room-sized environments. Featuring loans from institutions and private collections in North America and Europe, along with selections from the artist’s collection, the exhibition includes around 130 works across several mediums, including individual sculptures and immersive sculptural environments and a distinctive body of drawings, prints, and photographs. The loosely chronological presentation traces the development of this remarkable body of work, highlighting themes and motifs that emerged in the early 1980s and continue to inform Gober’s work today.

The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters - Through March 1, 2015
This exhibition is the first MoMA exhibition in 30 years dedicated solely to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and features over 100 examples of the best-known works created during the apex of his career.

El Greco in New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art
November 4, 2014–February 1, 2015 To commemorate the four-hundredth anniversary of the death of El Greco, the Metropolitan Museum and the Hispanic Society of America are pooling their collections of the work of this great painter to provide a panorama of his art unrivaled outside the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The Frick Collection will display its paintings contemporaneously. This is a unique opportunity to see this artist's work, which exerted such a strong impact on modern painting and especially appealed to New York collectors.
WHY GO?  A unique opportunity to see in one place several paintings by the Greek painter ("El Greco") who moved to Toledo, Spain and painted with such power and energy.

Cubism: The Leonard Lauder Collection
Metropolitan Museum of Art
October 20, 2014–February 16, 2015
Cubism, the most influential art movement of the early twentieth century, still resonates today. It destroyed traditional illusionism in painting and radically changed the way we see the world. The Leonard A. Lauder Collection, unsurpassed in its holdings of Cubist art, is now a promised gift to the Museum. On the occasion of this exhibition, the Collection will be shown in public for the first time—eighty paintings, collages, drawings, and sculpture by the four preeminent Cubist artists: Georges Braque (French, 1882–1963), Juan Gris (Spanish, 1887–1927), Fernand Léger (French, 1881–1955), and Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973).
WHY GO?  DO NOT MISS THIS EXHIBITION -  It will be a very long time before you see this collection together again.  It will show the best of the best by these four Cubist artists.

Also at the Met:
Madame Cézanne - November 19, 2014–March 15, 2015
Madame Cézanne, the first exhibition of the paintings, drawings, and watercolors by Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) of his most painted model, Hortense Fiquet (1850–1922), will open at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on November 19. The exhibition will trace Cézanne’s lifelong attachment to the woman who was his model, his wife, and the mother of his son, Paul. She profoundly inflected his portrait practice for more than two decades, yet despite this long liaison, she was not well received—by either his family or his friends.

Paul Cézanne: Drawings and Watercolors from the Metropolitan Museum’s Collection will be on view from November 18, 2014 through March 15, 2015.
WHY GO?  Cézanne is the "godfather" of European modern art and had a big influence on Picasso, Matisse and the Cubist painters.  Go to enjoy a painter who has one foot int he 19th century and the other foot in the forward-looking modern age of the 20th century.

Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey
Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University
November 15–December 13, 2014 and January 21–March 14, 2015
Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey presents and explores the artist's 1977 cycle of collages and watercolors based on Homer's Odyssey. One of the most esteemed and beloved African American artists of the 20th century, Romare Bearden (1911 – 1988) underscores the epic text in the service of his most significant artistic theme: searching for a way home. Bearden works with and against Homer, translating the ancient stories through a 20th–century visual voice while considering their enduring relevance. Bearden's black characters raise the issue of race, inviting us to consider the Odyssey as a truly global classic.
WHY GO?  DO NOT MISS THIS EXHIBITION -  Bearden is a true American original - an artist with his own vision and style and always engaging.  Go to see his incredible use of collage to create scenes from this mythical tale.

Sebastião Salgado: Genesis 
International Center of Photography (ICP) 
September 19, 2014–January 11, 2015 Genesis is the third long-term series on global issues by world-renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado (born Brazil, 1944), following Workers (1993) and Migrations (2000). The result of an eight-year worldwide survey, the exhibition draws together more than 200 spectacular black-and-white photographs of wildlife, landscapes, seascapes, and indigenous peoples—raising public awareness about the pressing issues of environment and climate change.
WHY GO?  Salgado is one of the great masters of large-scale photography and this exhibition will be engaging and informative.

Two Exhibitions at The Frick Collection

Frick Collection
El Greco at The Frick Collection
November 4, 2014 to February 1, 2015
To celebrate the 400th anniversary of El Greco’s death, the Frick continues its 2014 focus on the artist, which began with Men in Armor: El Greco and Pulzone Face to Face (August 5–October 26, 2014), with an installation organized in conjunction with El Greco in New York, opening in November at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Frick will unite its three remarkable El Greco paintings — Purification of the Temple and portraits of Vincenzo Anastagi and St. Jerome — showing them together, for the first time, on one wall of the East Gallery.
WHY GO?  Not sure why the Frick didn't loan these El Grecos to the Met for the big show up the block but they have agreed to put their El Grecos on display at the same time.  Think of this as El Greco Part 2 for the Met exhibition.

Masterpieces from the Scottish National Gallery
November 5, 2014 to February 1, 2015
In November, The Frick Collection will be the first venue to present a touring group of masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland. The ten paintings to be featured in New York include a Botticelli never before on public view in the United States.
WHY GO?  Because you have never seen these paintings unless you've been to Scotland.

The Morgan Library - Fall/Winter Exhibitions

The Morgan Library
From Here to Here: Richard McGuire Makes a Book
September 25 through November 9, 2014
The exhibition combines original drawings for the strip and the novel with source photographs, books that influenced the form and content of McGuire's invention, and collages and sketchbooks that afford glimpses into his creative process.

The Untamed Landscape: Théodore Rousseau and the Path to Barbizon 
September 26, 2014 through January 18, 2015
Comprising seventy works from private and public collections, including the Morgan Library & Museum, this exhibition will consider the artist's wide-ranging achievements as a draftsman and his particular approach to the open-air oil sketch.

Cy Twombly: Treatise on the Veil 
September 26, 2014 through January 25, 2015
This exhibition showcases Cy Twombly's monumental painting Treatise on the Veil (Second Version), executed in Rome in 1970, and its related drawings, all from the Menil Collection in Houston.

The Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece 
October 17, 2014 through January 4, 2015
The spectacular Crusader Bible is one of the greatest illuminated manuscripts in the world, renowned as much for its unrivalled and boldly colored illustrations as it is for its fascinating history.

NY Historical Society - Two Exhibitions

New York Historical Society
Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion
September 26, 2014 - April 19, 2015
Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion explores the centuries-long history of trade and immigration between China and the United States—a history that involved New York from its very beginnings—and will raise the question “What does it mean to be an American?” The exhibit narrative extends from the late eighteenth century to the present and includes all regions of the country, thus interpreting the Chinese American saga as a key part of American history.
WHY GO?  An important history that deserves to be told - this museum always does a superb and complete job of presenting all kinds of history and this will be an eye opening and engaging experience.

Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage
November 21, 2014 - February 22, 2015
Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage charts a new direction for one of America’s best-known living photographers. Unlike her staged and carefully lit portraits made on assignment for magazines and advertising clients, the photographs in this exhibition were taken simply because Leibovitz was moved by the subject. The images speak in a commonplace language to the photographer’s curiosity about the world she inherited, spanning landscapes both dramatic and quiet, interiors of living rooms and bedrooms, and objects that are talismans of past lives.
WHY GO?  Go to discover what happens when a legendary portrait photographer takes a new path to investigate new subjects and new experiences in her photography.

The Jewish Museum - Two Exhibitions

The Jewish Museum 
From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952
September 12, 2014 - February 1, 2015
Through select paintings by both artists, this exhibition offers a revealing parallel view of two key Abstract Expressionists. Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, a woman and an African American, each experimented with approaches that joined abstraction and cultural specificity. Their work similarly brims with gesture, image, and incident, yet was often overlooked by critics in their time.
WHY GO?  Finally we have an exhibition that honors the place of both women and African-American men in the story of abstract expressionism.  Most exhibitions of these painters have only the circle of white men who huddled together at the Cedar Tavern.

Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power
October 31, 2014 - March 22, 2015
This is the first museum exhibition to focus on the cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein (1872 – 1965). Rubinstein – as businesswoman and arts patron – helped break down the status quo of taste by blurring the boundaries between commerce, art, fashion, beauty, and design. Her innovative business and style challenged conservative taste and helped usher in a modern notion of beauty, democratized and accessible to all. Beauty Is Power will reunite much of Rubinstein’s famed collection, including modern artworks by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Elie Nadelman, and Joan Miró, among others, as well as her iconic collection of African and Oceanic sculpture, miniature period rooms, jewelry, and fashion.
WHY GO?  Go to find out more about a powerful female role model who used his wealth to collect great modern art.

Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond
Brooklyn Museum
October 3, 2014–January 4, 2015
Reflecting the rich creative diversity of Brooklyn, Crossing Brooklyn presents work by thirty-five Brooklyn-based artists or collectives. The exhibition and related programming take place in the galleries and on the grounds of the Museum, as well as off-site in the streets, waterways, and other public spaces of the borough. While acknowledging Brooklyn’s heightened profile, Crossing Brooklyn presents a multigenerational picture that recognizes the borough’s long-established role as a creative center. Other themes explored in the exhibition include history and memory, place and geography, community, nostalgia, exchange, ephemerality, and politics, both local and remote.  
WHY GO?  Brooklyn artists get much respect in this borough-wide exhibition that features new and long-time artists in a giant show together.  Go to see the wide talent and creative expression coming out of Brooklyn.

Also at the Brooklyn Museum:
Judith Scott - October 24, 2014-March 29, 2015
Born in Columbus, Ohio, with Down syndrome, Scott (1943–2005) was also largely deaf and did not speak. Judith Scott’s work is celebrated for its astonishing visual complexity. In a career spanning just seventeen years, Scott developed a unique and idiosyncratic method to produce a body of work of remarkable originality. Often working for weeks or months on individual pieces, she used yarn, thread, fabric, and other fibers to envelop found objects into fastidiously woven, wrapped, and bundled structures.
WHY GO?  Don't miss an opportunity to see the work of an unconventional artist - Scott is not someone we normally think of as being artistic or an artist and yet she creates powerful and strange work.  She demands we respect all kinds of expression from the fullest range of human beings.

Guggenheim Museum - Two Exhibitions

Guggenheim Museum
V. S. Gaitonde: Painting as Process, Painting as Life
October 24, 2014–February 11, 2015
Comprising 45 major paintings and works on paper drawn from 30 leading public institutions and private collections across Asia, Europe, and the United States, this is the first retrospective exhibition dedicated to the work of celebrated Indian modern painter Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde (1924–2001).

Wang Jianwei: Time Temple
October 31, 2014–February 16, 2015
Wang Jianwei: Time Temple comprises an intricately designed exhibition space, a film, and a performance art event, exploring the role of time-based art practices in contemporary Chinese art for the first commission of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative at the Guggenheim Museum. Wang Jianwei was born 1958 in Suining, Sichuan Province, Southwest China, and is widely recognized for his bold experiments in new media art.

Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot
Asia Society
September 5, 2014 through January 4, 2015
Nam June Paik (1932–2006) was a visionary artist, thinker, and innovator. Considered the “father of video art,” his groundbreaking use of video technology blurred past distinctions between science, fine art, and popular culture to create a new visual language. Paik’s interest in exploring the human condition through the lens of technology and science has created a far-reaching legacy that may be seen in broad recognition of new media art and the growing numbers of subsequent generations of artists who now use various forms of technology in their work.
WHY GO?  Don't miss this show - this guy practically invented video art and everything we have today such as arena sized video projections and music videos comes directly from his pioneering ideas and artwork.

Chris Ofili: Night and Day
New Museum of Contemporary Art
Ocgtober 29, 2014 through February 1, 2015
“Chris Ofili: Night and Day” will span the artist’s influential career, encompassing his work in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Over the past two decades, Ofili has become identified with vibrant, meticulously executed, elaborate artworks that meld figuration, abstraction, and decoration. In his extremely diverse oeuvre, Ofili has taken imagery and inspiration from such disparate, century-spanning sources as the Bible, hip-hop music, Zimbabwean cave paintings, blaxploitation films, and William Blake’s poems.
WHY GO?  Go because this is going to be fun.  Chris has a bad rep but this will show peopel he does more than one kind of artwork.  (Go here to see why he got into trouble - at the link scroll down to New York section.)

New Territories:  
Laboratories for Design, Craft and Art in Latin America
Museum of Art & Design (MAD)
November 4, 2014 to April 6, 2015
The term “new territories,” as evoked by Italian architect and designer Gaetano Pesce, refers to the state of making in today’s globalized society, a phenomenon that has helped to spur a confluence of art, design and craft. The exhibition New Territories: Laboratories for Design, Craft and Art in Latin America will examine this trend in several distinct cities throughout Latin America, where some of the most pertinent new directions in arts and design are emerging today. New Territories explores the collaborations between small manufacturing operations and craftspersons, artists, and designers, and demonstrates how the resulting work addresses not only the issues of commodification and production, but also of urbanization, displacement and sustainability. The exhibition will explore a number of key themes, including: the dialogue between contemporary trends and artistic legacies in Latin American art; the use of repurposed materials in strategies of upcyling; the blending of digital and traditional skills; and the reclamation of personal and public space.
WHY GO?  Don't miss this opportunity to see inventive new forms and materials.

Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art
Queens Museum of Art
September 21, 2014 through January 4, 2015
Anonymous is an exploration of changing attitudes towards self-expression, attribution, and identity in contemporary Tibetan art. Traditional Tibetan culture placed little emphasis on individuality or artistic self-expression. Art adhered to a formal system of production to support the transmission of Tibetan religious culture and was, by and large, unattributed” artists remained anonymous. However, in the global contemporary market, the creativity of the individual has become the primary basis by which we produce, interpret and consume art. Innovation and novelty are often valued more highly than technique and tradition. Attribution ”the artists name” has become a fundamental aspect of the work. Within the new social reality as part of the Peoples Republic of China, art is becoming a vital medium of self-expression for Tibetans. Artists are increasingly focused on the experience of the individual and a cautious 21st-century visual language steeped in irony, metaphor and allusion has fully emerged.
WHY GO?  We don't always get the chance to see Tibetan art and this show will offer a chance to experience this culture in a large exhibition.

Mac Conner: A New York Life
Museum of the City of New York (MCNY)
September 10, 2014 - January 11, 2015
The New York saga of one of the original "Mad Men."
McCauley (“Mac”) Conner (born 1913) grew up admiring Norman Rockwell magazine covers in his father’s general store. He arrived in New York as a young man to work on wartime Navy publications and stayed on to make a career in the city’s vibrant publishing industry. The exhibition presents Conner’s hand-painted illustrations for advertising campaigns and women’s magazines like Redbook and McCall’s, made during the years after World War II when commercial artists helped to redefine American style and culture.

Also at the Museum of the City of New York:
Assembled Realities: Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao's New York
October 15, 2014 - February 15, 2015
Assembled Realities: Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao's New York features more than 40 works by this Taiwanese artist, who came to New York at 18 to study photography. Pushing the boundaries of traditional documentary photography, Liao (b. 1977) creates large-scale panoramas by combining multiple exposures of the same location taken over the course of several hours. The resulting composite photographs are often fantastical; complex, hyper-real views that no single shot—or the eye—could capture. Liao has spent the past decade honing his distinctive style, making images of his adopted city from the Grand Concourse to Coney Island, the old Shea Stadium to the 72nd Street Subway.
WHY GO?  Don't miss the old time "Mad Men" artwork and the wild photos.

Ernest Cole: Photographer
NYU - Grey Art Gallery
September 3 through December 6, 2014
Ernest Cole (1940–90), one of South Africa’s first black photojournalists, compassionately but unflinchingly portrayed the lives of black people as they negotiated apartheid’s racist laws and oppression. Ernest Cole: Photographer features over 100 rare black-and-white gelatin silver prints from Cole’s remarkable archive. While many of the photo-graphs expose segregation, destitution, and violence, others depict intimate moments of children at play, mothers smiling, couples dancing, and friends joking. Cole was arrested and fled South Africa in 1966, never to return. This is the first major solo museum show of his striking images, which are illuminated by incisive captions from his book House of Bondage (1967).
WHY GO?  Don't miss this chance to see the photos of an important South African photographer.

Garden of Unearthly Delights:
Works by Ikeda, Tenmyouya & teamLab
Japan Society
October 10, 2014 through January 11, 2015
A monster tsunami uproots a city. Modern tough guys lock samurai-style in battle. Candy-colored streams of animals and flowers hyperpixilate. These dramatic visual moments are among many to be encountered this fall in our new exhibition Garden of Unearthly Delights. The featured artists Manabu Ikeda (b. 1973, Saga Prefecture), Hisashi Tenmyouya (b. 1966, Tokyo) and the art and technology collective teamLab (est. 2001) are today's takumi, or master artisans, taking pride in the execution of dense and precisely detailed works requiring time and contemplation to grasp. Their creative imaginations travel through time, finding inspiration in a range of styles; from medieval Buddhist paintings to contemporary anime and manga. Come stroll through their fantastical visions.
WHY GO?  Go to see current artwork by major Japanese artists!

Beyond the Supersquare
Bronx Museum of the Arts
May 1, 2014 to January 11, 2015
Beyond the Supersquare explores the indelible influence of Latin American and Caribbean modernist architecture on contemporary art. The exhibition features over 30 artists and more than 60 artworks, including photography, video, sculpture, installation, and drawing, that respond to major Modernist architectural projects constructed in Latin America and the Caribbean from the 1920s through the 1960s. Beyond the Supersquare examines the complicated legacies of modernism through architecture and thought—as embodied by the political, economic, environmental, and social challenges faced by countries throughout Latin America—through the unique perspective of artists working today. This exhibition is co-organized by Holly Block (New York City) and María Inés Rodríguez (Colombia), and designed by Benedeta Monteverde (Mexico).
WHY GO?  This place is amazing and it's so easy to reach on the Grand Concourse - go discover it for yourself!

Also at the Bronx Museum:
Here I Am: Photographs by Lisa Leone
September 11, 2014 to January 11, 2015
The Bronx - Paris - Los Angeles - early 1990s - hip hop. This culture of music, dance, art and fashion is forever in its nascent and most authentic in Here I Am: Photographs by Lisa Leone. From Nas in the first studio recordings for what would become his iconic debut album Illmatic, to Snoop on the set of his first video, from ingénue Debi Mazar on the subway to Grandmaster Flash at a RockSteady reunion, Leone’s photographs open portals to the sounds, places and, most importantly, the people who forged and continue to influence the energy that is hip hop.

Berenice Abbott: Yuban Warehouse, Brooklyn NYC (1936)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Discover Thomas Cole's THE COURSE OF EMPIRE

The Course of Empire is a five-part series of paintings created by Thomas Cole in the years 1833-36. It is notable in part for reflecting popular American sentiments of the times, when many saw pastoralism as the ideal phase of human civilization, fearing that empire would lead to gluttony and inevitable decay. 

Devoted Dog Star readers who live in New York City can visit the New York Historical Society at Central Park West and 77th Street to see this series of five paintings called THE COURSE OF EMPIRE.

It's usually on view upstairs in the Society's Visible Storage area so be sure to ask for specific directions at the front desk.

We're showing you just ONE - the center painting (two come before and two come after this scene).  Go here to see all of them with an explanation.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The poet always stands naked before the world

At a reading in Los Angeles in the late 1950s a heckler harassed Ginsberg throughout his reading (of Howl) and was quieted only when Allen promised to give him the chance to express his opinions after the reading. However he continued to disrupt the reading after Allen had turned it over to Gregory Corso. At one point, Gregory proposed a verbal duel with the heckler, the winner being the one with the best “images, metaphors (and) magic.” The heckler was more interested in engaging Corso in a fistfight. He taunted the poets, calling them cowards, insisting they explain what they were trying to prove onstage.

“Nakedness,” Ginsberg replied. When the heckler demanded further explanation, Allen left the stage and approached him. He accused the man of wanting to do something brave in front of the audience and then challenged him to take off all his clothes. As he walked towards the drunk, Allen stripped off all of his clothing, hurling his pants and shirt at the now retreating heckler. “Stand naked before the people,” Allen said. “The poet always stands naked before the world.” Defeated the man backed into another room.

- from Michael Schumcher, Dharma Lion — A Biography of Allen Ginsberg.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Something to Declare: MICHELANGELO’S PIETA

This marble sculpture, handcrafted by the talented Michelangelo, was the only work he ever signed. it was the first and last time he deemed it necessary to sign his work. On the night it was revealed, the artist crept into the chapel, and signed his name across the girdle of Mary.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Little Drummer Boy - Pentatonix

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.

Paris, 1950 …looking like a Hollywood movie set (Photo by Ken O’Brien)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

THE THINGS BY Donald Hall (poem)

When I walk in my house I see pictures,
bought long ago, framed and hanging
—de Kooning, Arp, Laurencin, Henry Moore—
that I’ve cherished and stared at for years,
yet my eyes keep returning to the masters
of the trivial: a white stone perfectly round,
tiny lead models of baseball players, a cowbell,
a broken great-grandmother’s rocker,
a dead dog’s toy—valueless, unforgettable
detritus that my children will throw away
as I did my mother’s souvenirs of trips
with my dead father, Kodaks of kittens,
and bundles of cards from her mother Kate.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Photo:  Ness Rhyme photographed by Alberto Vargas

What an odd coincidence that two of the most highly-anticipated albums this summer, Ness Rhyme's GOD'S PLAN and J. Cole's BORN SINNER, both choose the Bible and the Christian faith for introspective explorations of the street life, haters, self-doubt and the struggles they face in life. 

The fact that they share a similar THEME is where the similarities abruptly end.   Where J. Cole's album is an over-stuffed diabetic in a wheelchair at an all-you-can-eat buffet, Ness Rhyme's album is a lean prize fighter with muscular flows that crackle in unexpected ways.

GOD'S PLAN is one of the best rap albums to come out so far this year (for another deeply satisfying album download CHURCH BOYS by Queens rappers 85th) and while we do have the rest of 2013 to go there is NOT ONE major label artist who will come close to Ness Rhyme's rage and intensity. 

This is a fire entirely under his control - where J. Cole allows his album to flame out and spread recklessly, Ness has a keen watch on the production and it never burns needlessley, vaguely or carelessly.

J. Cole's release serves as a fine contrast for talking about several aspects of both albums.  First, J. Cole and his collaborators decide early on that laying heavy on the Christian references (already one of the most tiresome devices in hip hop for the last 25 years) is going to be a way to stretch a track to the point of boredom.

Let's pause a moment and check what the Dog Star Dictionary says:

A cliché is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning, or effect, and even, to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.

And the Dog Star Dictionary offers this illustration of a Christian cliché in hip hop music:

This is is an important image to keep in mind because we will return to it later.  We will come back to it when talking about Ness Rhyme's far more original and innovative representation of Christ.

Second, J. Cole has a second theme on the album that is given equal weight to the Christian one but is just as uninteresting:  the hard life of a hip hop insider and the snakes who try to bring him down. 

While this post isn't going to go through every song on either album J. Cole rarely succeeds at bringing his two themes together (his half-baked redemption and his insecurity over fame, money and his career).  When the two do come together - as in the track "Trouble" - they get mashed together in terribly corny ways ("gettin' to the promised land, you don't want problems, man").  

J. Cole thinks these Christian references will be a thematic thread that expands on every track.  It never happens.  The end result is an album lacking emotional and intellectual complexity.

As one example, the interlude of the preacher's infomercial for the "Personal Prayer Package," whether fictional or real, is both an unfunny comedy sketch and a sad indictment of how blacks leech off other blacks in their own community.  

J. Cole doesn't hint at his own point of view.  How he might view it is left to the listener.  Cole's choice to include it appears to be merely because it fits with the theme of the album rather than having anything meaningful to say. 

And that's an important distinction to make:  J. Cole is a gifted rapper with superb timing and sharp wit but ultimately the album doesn't have much to say.  Ness Rhyme, by contrast, has much to say and depends less on the Christian clichés.  Ness handles these references as a coherent metaphor with a much lighter touch.

Let's take a closer look at a few tracks on J. Cole's BORN SINNER:

J. Cole opens the album with ILLUMINATI, a reference to the secretive and conspiratorial international group that runs the world.  He doesn't explain anything about it but we do find out that he is sick of everybody asking him about Hov and Illuminati.  

This song includes references to Tupac, fake niggas, Boy Meets World tv show, Trinidad James, Rap City, faggots, a college degree, fucking models, Machiavelli, Iraqi / Israeli, Black president, preacher man, Jesus, soul, Devil, retards, white billionaires, summa cum laude, the Oscars, target audience, Justin Timerlake and Timbaland.  It's a pointless list that is only made worse by the gospel choir.

At one point he raps, "the devil's got his hands on me" and perpetuates ideas in his lyrics that hip hop can't seem to retire at all: sexual promiscuity, denigrating women, black male nihilism ("I'm holdin' on desperately" and "In this life there ain't no happy endings."), the white man's power over blacks (isn't it time we REALLY retire this racist stereotype?).  

On SHE KNOWS he includes another ill-chosen reference to African-American historical icons ("This is Martin Luther King in the club / Getting dubs, with a bad bitch / In his ear sayin' she down for whatever / In the back of his mind is Coretta").  The lack of respect might be forgivable if it were even funny or smart but it ends up denigrating the man, his marriage and his wife.

Adding King himself is another Christian cliché that doesn't offer anything fresh or insightful.  He was rumored to be a cheater?  Not news!

FORBIDDEN FRUIT is a notable standout but mostly because even Kendrick Lamar cannot save J. Cole from himself.  Again, we have a truckload of Christian clichés: "I walk through the valley of death" and "my little black book thicker than the Old Testament" and "Eve had Adam."

CROOKED SMILE with T.L.C. does offer a refreshing tale of the streets and women are respected. 

MISS AMERICA samples President Kennedy's famous speech and strains for a political and social conscience (like his hero Nas) but it turns into a pointless litany of how nasty and cruel the "come up" has been.  He falls short of any Nas-level serious critique of white racist power structures and sticks to "fuck the man."

THE NEW YORK TIMES is laughable as a blatant attempt to capture some of the rap-pop shine of Hov's "Empire State of Mind."  Has there even been a more colossal waste of a guest artist than 50 Cent's part on this track?  He is merely included here to SING the tiresome verse that, again, repeats clichés about how NYC is so great and if you can make it here you can make it anywhere.  The song is an obvious grasp at a radio hit but lacks Hov's imaginative snapshots on "Empire" of the ever-changing city landscape.

Ironically, for all of J. Cole's "faith" there isn't any redemption (something we see in abundance on Ness Rhyme's GOD'S PLAN).  Redemption is a cornerstone of Christianity (another, of course, is the resurrection without which there would be no Christianity).  Redemption is  forgiveness for past sins and protection from damnation through personal sacrifice. 

Redemption is when a sinner admits to the sin, asks for forgiveness and accepts the responsibility of personal sacrifice ("I will deny myself this sin in the future") and accepts Christ as a spiritually cleansing divinity.  The sinner is now redeemed to live life more fully aware and not in sin but in Christ's love.

In J. Cole's world redemption is limited to merely voicing and owning the sins as if to say "Yeah, I'm bad but I'm not going to change so love me or hate me."

Not on any single track does J. Cole express a redemption or offer a path toward redemption.  It may be that the entire point of the album is that he is beyond redemption.  Maybe he is ultimately saying that he "cannot be saved."  Neither can this album.

Look closely at Ness Rhyme's album cover for GOD'S PLAN co-created by Ness and the extraordinary young photographer Alberto Vargas (go here for more from Vargas).

Now, scroll back up and look again at J. Cole's album cover.  The difference isn't just a location.  J. Cole goes with the safe choice  - the cliché choice - and settles for nothing more than an ordinary pose in front of a church alter.  For an artist signed by Hov, it's absurd he would have anything to do with Christ and church imagery after the wildly popular hit "No Church in the Wild."  Like, WTF, really, don't you listen to the music?  So, we know with J. Cole it's all been done before.  J. Cole is following a standard set by Jim Jones and T-Pain who shot similar promo photos in the past few years.

So to present ANY image of Christ, Christianity and a church an artist MUST MAKE IT FRESH.  Otherwise it will add up to nothing more than a lazy band wagon effort.

Ness achieves an album cover that successfully offers a creative and original take on an ancient image:  a crucified martyr figure in what may be a hotel room. 

The only artist who comes close to anything as fresh and engaging as Ness and Vargas's image is the 2012 album cover created by The Game.  His version is a stained-glass image of Christ with a Jesus piece, sacred heart and references to the palm trees of Southern California over each shoulder.  The Game adds a nice touch with "Christ as gangster" in a bandanna but ultimately it's too cartoonish to really be taken seriously.

Ness and Vargas's image pulls in all the Christ / Christian references and others:  Scarface, the hood, street life, unseen lovers, unseen wifey, haters, Bible as salvation, the streets as a judgment and crucifying experience for young men, a post-murder scene, salvation through the streets, gangster as messiah, the successful cat who make it out of the hood as messiah, the blood in the streets, gun violence / gun victims, street martyrs, martyrdom, Latino male struggles, the burdens of responsibility - family - the crew and so many more...  And like all great art the GOD'S PLAN artwork raises many more questions than it answers.  

I'm not sure it answers any questions at all but it certainly contains mystery, fragility, vulnerability, power, promise and, perhaps, an unspoken prayer.  This is an album cover that crushes J. Cole's safe and commercial effort.  J. Cole's album cover is ready for Walmart's shelves.  Ness Rhyme's album cover wouldn't even be allowed in the store.

An artistic achievement both conceptually and in execution (no pun intended), Ness and Vargas can be very proud that they have raised the standard of creative and artistic artwork in hip hop.

Ness opens the album with THIS IS ME.  Where J. Cole's album-opener Illuminati was all about his insider status among rap royalty, Ness boldly asserts his album's theme and force.  THIS IS ME is thrillingly aggressive and absolutely confident in a persona unchanged by the rap game.

As an opening track he asserts an individualism that is another kind of religion in America.  Ness's choice is a superb one.  He sets up precisely what any serious fan of rap music wants to hear:  YOU ARE NOW LISTENING TO A LEGEND-IN-THE MAKING AND I WILL DELIVER.

J. Cole lacks Ness Rhyme's arrogance and confidence.  Ness knows he's the boss.  J. Cole wants to claim to be the boss but he is too insecure.  If this were a rap battle between J. Cole and Ness Rhyme, Cole would be shook and scurry away.

Where J. Cole keeps a tight grip on the Christian references, Ness's lighter touch results in a smoother and more coherent overall song construction.  For Ness the Christian references are allowed to be impressions, merely hinted at to suggest a thought or image.  

Even on HAIL MARY there is an oblique reference to the believer's eternal life in heaven - "real niggas last forever."  If this lyric were on a J. Cole track it would have been ruined with heavy-handed phrasing and use of the words "everlasting" and "eternal" and "Christ in heaven."  J. Cole would then add "seated at the right hand of the lord."

Not Ness.  He has constructed - with his talented collaborators and producers - spirited and creative tracks that express imagery without straining and songs you can bump to without being pummeled in the head with the message "we're taking you to church."

Let's take a closer look at a few tracks on Ness Rhyme's GOD'S PLAN:

Two tracks are ready-made for radio play:  ALL OR NOTHING and LONG WAY are highly entertaining and charged songs that shine brighter than anything on J. Cole's album (including Cole's dumb-ass NEW YORK TIMES).

LITTLE STAR is a hilarious rapper-boast of Ness's sexual prowess and rap skills.  He riffs on the children's nursery rhyme to smart effect to make an infectious joint that demands you get the fuck up off the couch, grab a shorty and push up.

HAIL MARY is the kind of track that J. Cole was aiming for but never pulls it off:  Christian references that lift but are not depended on to carry the lyric throughout the track.  The track opens with "When I die I want no roses / Just my niggas takin pictures in a hundred poses" - like Christ himself, Ness encourages his followers, his crew, his haters and his female lovers to celebrate him in death as in life.  He seeks a blessing - through the briefly referenced Hail Mary prayer - for success in the rap game for him and his crew.

Similarly, on HIGH, he chooses terms like "dear holy father, Jesus piece, Jesus please, my thesis on humanity, laugh at me / laugh at we" to express the pain and humiliation of his life ("feeling high never felt so low.")  His producer Mikey Kush creates a low-key beat with a thumping bass that expertly joins Ness's lyric and the down-tempo mood of the track.  Ness is a marauder on most other tracks but this one is slower, meditative and deeply reflective.

On REASONABLE DOUBT Ness brings back a 90s rap sound but doesn't rely on a sound-alike beat to elevate it:  "You better stay on your grind / Better open your mind" and "I swear to god you better love that shit." Ness likely pays homage to early Hov in the track's title but J. Cole doesn't come close to the same sincerity.

PAID IN FULL features rapper 21 Quest on a track that celebrates the rap game with the street game as a metaphor for what great MCs do:

I got that lyrical crack / Niggas be callin me back
Like, Dog how much for a verse, matter of fact how much for a track
Homey rap is like the dope game
Some niggas sell weed, some niggas sell molly or that cocaine
And my shit is like propane
Shit is fire get you higher than that motherfuckin Soul Plane 
I can supply, I got them merciless verses, them hooks for the crooks

21 Quest joins Ness with his hallmark flow:  a rapid cypher that leaps over language the way a sprinter leaps over the hurdles.  (Other images flash in the mind, too: 21's voice sounds like a young man running through crowded daytime Fifth Avenue blocks to catch a chain snatcher...and does!  Weird, though, right?)  He is in especially fine form here.  Because the timbre of 21's voice is so markedly different from Ness 21's verse offers an instrumental-like counterpoint to Ness's gruff and lurking sound.

Ness Rhyme has such a clarity of vision on GOD'S PLAN that he has few peers among major label artists.  The only immediate peers that come to mind are Kendrick Lamar and Nas.  Sadly, none of the recent albums from J. Cole, Drake or Kanye West come close to Ness's achievement.  We will never, in fact, hear anything like Ness's honesty and ambition from West again.  Of course, his life has changed and so West will rap about different things.  But it is Ness's intense street-level dispatches and raw truth that will always be missing from any future West album.

As Ness raps on KING OF THE FLOW:  "I can never see another rapper like me.  Give me my credit where it's due."

In any kind of review or critique there's always the danger of going too far and sounding stupid.  (It is entirely possible in this review as well!)  After all, the quickest way to ruin the experience of standing in front of a great painting is to start talking about it. So let's end with the title track GOD'S PLAN, a track produced by the incomparable Ken-I with vocals sung by the talented Candace Lee Camacho.  GOD'S PLAN begins with a plaintive cry and then Camacho's vocals come in:

Been waiting on you
Been praying on you
I know who I am 

That my life is in his hands
Glory, glory I am free
Glory, glory God's in me
Each step I take
Was already made
Into the earth in which we stand

In the soil I'm God's plan

Then we hear what may be a roulette wheel that hints at a universal truth we all know and understand: as much as we want to believe we are living God's plan, we cannot ever truly know this plan before it happens.  We must live these apparently daily random acts that add up to a life.

In so many ways Ness's choices on this track reveal an artist taking risks and reaping the rewards.  Camacho's voice is an earthy and singular chorus that feels and sounds organic; a life force bending towards the light that also bleeds but goes on breathing.