Culture: January 2003 Archives

When I was at La Mama recently, I saw a flyer that mentioned a group called THAW - Theaters Against War. I see several groups I support -- and I mean through donations, not just buying tickets -- on the list of members, which makes me very happy.

They're planning an event called "Thaw out for peace" on March 2.

  1. Go see The Plank Project. I saw it tonight and it was hilarious. Smart play, great cast, $15 tickets. Here is a review.
  2. Go see Weimarband at Joe's Pub on Tuesday, Feb. 4 -- Kurt Weill meets Hanks Williams
  3. Go buy art for $99 or less at Cynthia Broan's $99 Bargain Store Show -- opens Feb. 1 at 10am
Be it thy course to busy giddy minds With foreign quarrels.

-- Shakespeare, Henry V

Matthew Callinan's "White Angel":

matthew callinan - white angel

Installation view at White Columns: "Cheap" show (with other works by Matthew)

callinan installation

These sculptures are made only from plastic bottles and metal screws. For my readers in the Chicago area, the White Columns show is moving to Gallery 312 next.

I dropped by an opening tonight at my friend Kim's shop Johnson tonight. She has an exhibit of photographs by Anthony Gasparro. If you're on the LES, stop buy and buy a photo or two -- they're priced to sell -- or if you're a girl (or just girly) pick up some of Kim's fashion stylings.

Click MORE to see the invitation image.

I'm feeling very good about the state of NYC theatre after two nights in a row of interesting work. Last night we saw Art, Life & Show Biz, by Ain Gordon, at P.S.122. It's subtitled "a non-fiction play", and the substance of it is the lives of Ain Gordon and three fabulous women performers: his mother Valda Setterfield (modern dance), Lola Pashalinkski (downtown theatre), and Helen Gallagher (Broadway/musicals).

I've seen the first two several times, but, not really being a musicals person -- don't take my homosexual membership card away -- I had never seen Helen Gallagher before. It's amazing that certain people just have "it" when you see them in person. She was a star, and you couldn't help but feel her presence even when she was just sitting still.

I think I was most moved by Lola, since hers is the world to which I'm most connected. She was a member of Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company. It was wonderful to hear her stories of being a teenager in the 50s and coming out, realizing that there were others like her. I saw her at one of the memorial events for my friend Paul Schmidt, but I didn't go up and introduce myself, because it felt weird to be at such an event and run up to tell her I was a big fan. One of her stories involved the Ridiculous doing a play at Christopher's End, a gay bar at Christopher and West Streets, in the early 70s. One night Lotte Lenya came to see it. She was in NYC starring in Cabaret at the time. She told people she loved it -- that it reminded her of the old days in Berlin.

I also liked some of the stories from Helen about older days on Broadway. When she talked about Jerome Robbins, she said he was very talented, but he was very mean. He was the reason Equity rules require performers to be paid for rehearsals.


Tonight we saw The Ladies, by The Civilians, at HERE. It's a look at four women who were famous (or infamous) for their relationships to dictators: Eva Peron, Imelda Marcos, Madame Mao and Elena Ceaucescu. The work was created by Anne Washburn and Anne Kauffman, and the two of them are characters in the play as well. I know Anne (Annie) Kauffman, so it was wacky to watch someone play her on stage. I talked with Jennifer Morris (the actress who played her) afterward, and she had noticed me laughing and reacting to her performance.

There is a lot of interesting material in this. James commented on one of the things that Anne K's character mentions that is so interesting about them: they didn't care what people thought of them -- which is a very powerful thing. It's also interesting to think about whether these women were the product of a very specific time in history: the point of the simultaneous decline of traditional monarchies/aristocracies and the rise of women's independence and power. Will there be any more of these -- to use Anne W's phrase -- "glamourpuss wives" in the future?

It runs next weekend also at HERE -- Friday, Saturday, and Sunday -- and I really recommend going. The text itself is very smart, and the cast is brilliant. It's fabulous to see a group of highly intelligent actors work on a script like this. I hesitate to say more, since I don't want to spoil it for anyone who will see it, but the way the play bounces off of certain 19th "heroines" like Nora in A Doll's House and Anna Karenina is fascinating.

One last quote: The two Annes are talking at one point about how awful most of the books are about these women -- that they are all either "scurrilous or froufy".

We just came back from our second visit to see Christian Holstad's show at Daniel Reich. See the NY Times article, plus some images from LFL Gallery. Great show! There is a lot of creative energy, with a lot of different media in a show titled "Life is a Gift". We had seen some of his work based on erasing NY Times photos and adding drawing in the past at Daniel's, and there are some fabulous examples of those, but there is so much more. It's the first time in a long time that I have bought a work at an opening, and what an opening it was! Daniel's gallery is his tiny studio apartment, and there must have been over 100 people there over the course of the evening, including a huge crowd in the building hallway, chatting, smoking and drinking beer. Christian also did the sets and costumes for a show at P.S.122 this weekend: Stable.

We'll Make Great Mud - Christian Holstad

We went to the party afterward at Simon Watson's loft downtown, and ran into a lot of fabulous people, plus met some new ones. We spent a while talking with charming musician/aesthete Patrick, whom we originally met through artist Joe Ovelman. Patrick recognized Christian as the person he spotted on the L train, crocheting, on a regular basis. Joe has an opening in February at Daniel Silverstein, so watch this space, or the gallery's web site, for more info.

We also met Alejandro Diaz. We just ended up talking to this charming artist, along with Maika from SOUTHFIRST, who was telling us about the fact that he recently had The New Yorker buy some drawings of his for use in little places within articles, when he mentioned his name. We both said, "We have a work of yours, from the White Box benefit!" We also met Eric Stormes, who has some charming little pins made from drawings on mapboard and is in Cynthia Broan's $99 Bargain Store Show which opens February 1.

The Times article mentioned above also talks about a show at Oliver Kamm's apartment, which is three floors above ours. If he can get away with it in our building, maybe we should start having exhibits too! I certainly know of a lot of people whose work I would like to show.


Last night we went to a dance performance by Allyson Green and Ben Wright at Danspace titled "Interim". It had its moments, but I wasn't bowled over by the dance itself. However, the lighting design, by Sarah Gilmartin, was absolutely the best lighting I have ever seen at Danspace. The sound design, by Alan Stones, based on manipulating a recording of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata performed by Paderewski, plus a performance of Bluebird of Happiness by Jan Peerce in 1945, was exquisite - one of the best things I've heard at a dance performance.

We spent most of the afternoon and evening in Williamsburg, going to galleries and ending the evening with Glenn at Galapagos to see John Moran and Eva Müller in "What's Opera Doc?" The performance was great -- cool sound and movement, acting that was scary and good at the same time. I got a little worried at the beginning, especially since we dragged Glenn away from his lesson plans to join us. When we walked in we could smell pot, and Ms. Müller joked in her introduction about John being "over there smoking pot", but it all turned out alright. More than alright -- fabulous! Check out the images on their site of Moran's theatre productions.

We saw some good things in Williamsburg today. I'm feeling the need to spend most of my gallery-going time in Williamsburg rather than Chelsea these days. Recommended:

  • Deborah Stratman's video "In Order Not To Be Here" at Momenta

  • Tricia McLaughlin at Star 67 -- great models, drawings, and animation

  • Lee Etheridge IV at Pierogi 2000 -- He uses an IBM selectric to create patterns of letters and words on handmade paper, in a new phase, on photographs. I liked his previous show at the gallery, but I think this one is better and really strong.

I'm going to see John Moran and Eva Mueller at Galapagos tonight at 9pm. Any takers?

Over the last few days, I've "done some art", plus seen one movie that wasn't quite art, but was entertaining: I went to a preview screening of P.S. Your Cat is Dead from actor/co-writer/director/80s hunk Steve Guttenberg. It's amusing, but I would probably wait to see it on video if I hadn't seen it already. The screening was organized by The New Festival, so it was a big gay crowd there to see him in person. The highlight of the evening was getting to talk to David Drake, whom we hadn't seen since attending his Son of Drakula at Dance Theater Workshop. People like David give me hope for homo culture and art -- he's a pretty face, but he's a smart guy who is much more than a pretty face. Another one of those is John Cameron Mitchell.

OK. Enough celebrity worship -- on to other things.

Several nights ago I saw a cool evening of music at Merkin. The first half was a collaboration of "live animation" by Pierre Hébert and music by Bob Ostertag called Between Science and Garbage. Hébert used an iBook plus web cam and a lot of objects and drawings to gradually assemble an animated film while we watched, using everything from drawings on paper to apples and Coke cans. They were selling Ostertag's CDs in the lobby, so I bought PantyChrist, which I always knew about but had never heard. It's wonderful -- a collaboration between him and Justin Bond. How could you ask for more? I'll put up some MP3s later.

On Friday we went to an opening for Stacy Greene at Plus Ultra in Williamsburg, then hopped back on the L to see puppet wizard Paul Zaloom at P.S. 122 featuring political puppetry and a gay Punch and Judy show, renamed "Punch and Jimmy".

Stacy's new work, as she has told me, is a new direction for an artist who already has worked in several media. We first encountered her at Plus Ultra's inaugural show, titled "Skank" where we picked up a copy of her Rorschach Striptease DVD. There are 3 photographs of abandoned drive-in movie theaters, then the rest of the works consists of pieces assembled from photgraphs on individual panels to form a sort of collage. My favorite piece in the show is called "Los Zapatos de Lorraine", in which the title comes from a pair of chintz-patterned shoes belonging to her aunt Lorraine in one of the panels.

Yesterday we went to a few Chelsea galleries. My favorite things I saw were Devorah Sperber at Caren Golden, Michael Wetzel at Clementine, and Kevin Landers at Elizabeth Dee.

Today we're headed out to Williamsburg to see some shows.

The lovely and talented composer/performer Gordon Beeferman is performing in Williamsburg at Café Right Bank (upstairs) as part of the Avant Tuesday series.

Mixed Greens has a nice interview with a male couple who are collectors as the latest Featured Collectors story.

James and I were interviewed by them last year.

After months of hard work, I present:, featuring the artwork of Charles Goldman.

I supplied the technology, and Charles and I created the design.

I'm hoping to generalize the code into a side business for hosting artists' web sites, but since my consulting job pays much better, it's not the highest priority at the moment.

For those of you who have been to my apartment, Charles did the Formica Painting in the living room.

Maybe I ended that last post about The Blue Flower on more of a down note than I intended. I was tired, it was late, etc.

Also, the period beginning with pre-WW I Europe and ending with the collapse of the Weimar Republic is one of the most depressing episodes in Western civilization. Many artists, politicians, and thinkers believed that war would sweep away the ossified establishment, and a beautiful new order would be founded on the slate wiped clean by the chaos. People believed that the war would be over in a matter of weeks. It lasted four years and 10 million people died.

As we waited in line to go into the theatre last night, someone gave every person a small artificial blue flower, a bit like the red poppies that veterans sell or give away on Veterans' Day -- the anniversary of the armistice. Attached was a piece of paper with these words: Pro Patria Mori.

It's sobering to live in a time where the people in charge of this country think war will make us safer. The European elite in 1914 was much more educated and cultured than our leaders, knew their history better, and yet made a horrible mistake when they thought the same thing.

I was reading the program this morning to learn more about the artists involved, and one of the things that struck me was that most of the people came from places like the plains of Texas, or Memphis, or western Pennsylvania. Maybe there is hope for art in America, as long as people can make it to NYC, and can find a way to afford to be here plus the audience they deserve. I also have to say I am extremely impressed by artists that choose to work with subjects like these, which have great resonance for our time but are not obvious "crowd pleasers." Spend some time on the Weimarband web site. The amount of detail is a bit obsessive -- the kind of site I would build if I were part of it.

I was just browing the web site of one of the performers who made me use the word "charismatic" in my earlier post, Jen Chapin. She is a musician and social activist. Check it out.

The Weimarband will be apppearing at Joe's Pub on February 4 at 7pm, and the tickets are only $12.

... in a river every moment passing new ... I climbed the Eiffel Tower, and saw the rooftops from the angels' view. Now things will never, will never be the same. They will never, will never be the same.

I saw Blue Flower by the Weimarband at HERE tonight. It's still a work in progress, but musically it's very good -- they describe themselves as Sturm n' Twang, or Kurt Weill meets Hank Williams -- with strong musicians and talented, charismatic singers. There are samples on the Weimbarband web site.

The visual design, by Ruth Bauer, uses beautiful slides of her own creation plus historic images of people such as Franz Josef and Marie Curie.

The historical context and references range from the events leading to WW I, the Weimar Republic, a fictionalized menage of Franz Marc, Max Beckmann, Hannah Höch, and Marie Curie, plus Dada. Part of it takes place at the Cabaret Voltaire -- the last time Zurich was really interesting.

While watching the performance tonight, I was reminded of the quote I posted earlier. I worry about the ability of artists to create works with historical resonance, or references, given the dumbing down of our culture and the nearly complete lack of historical or cultural knowledge. No wonder people think movies are the highest art form now. Most of them are easy on the eyes, don't make you think too much, ignore history, and give you musical cues about how you're supposed to be reacting. I wonder if I'll have to rely on European culture to keep such ideas alive for a bit longer, at least as long as I live. That's one more reason to work on my languages.

I already saw it, but you should go if you're interested in music or theatre, or music theatre:

The Sandman, a new opera from Target Margin

... as opposed to my theatre post earlier today:

I'm going to see all of these, so email me if you want to know when I'm attending.

At St. Ann's Warehouse in DUMBO:

  • Jennie Richee -- because of Mac Wellman and almost everyone else involved

  • Brace Up! -- because of Wooster Group and Paul Schmidt

  • Barber of Seville -- because of the music and David Neumann

At P.S. 122:

  • Paul Zaloom -- gay puppetry

  • Art, Life and Show Biz -- Ain Gordon

  • Sentence -- David Neumann

  • Bitter Bierce - Mac Wellman and Ambrose Bierce

Plus Panic! at Ontological, since one needs a dose of Richard Foreman occasionally, and I know one of the cast members, Tea Alagic.

A mother to her daughter, on her friend whose parents don't seem to love her:

I know darling... One thing about unwanted children: they soon learn how to take care of themselves.

-- from The World of Henry Orient starring Peter Sellars, Paula Prentiss, and Angela Lansbury. We got it from NetFlix and watched it last night.

I had heard of the movie, and was reminded of it recently when the Times had an obituary of the director, George Roy Hill.

It's a weird early 60s movie with worldly parents drinking scotch, and two 14-year-old girls who decide to stalk a concert pianist named Henry Orient. The way the two girls joke about Chinese stereotypes and speak in funny accents probably helps explain why the film is so obscure today.

One of the two girls went on join the Dark Side as a communications expert, working for the likes of William Webster and Ronald Reagan.

Phil Gyford has turned the diaries of Samuel Pepys into a daily weblog.

An article by him about the project is on the BBC web site.

Yay! Charles Goldman -- we're almost done with his web site, then I'll tell you about it -- has pointed me to a cool weblog by an artist, Tom Moody. He also has a second blog about electronic music here.

I like his post about the lethargy of the art world and Chelsea as an artist-free Brasilia for collectors.

I need to organize my links area. It's time to separate political vs. general vs. cultural ones somehow.

This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from January 2003.

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