The Art of Calligraphy

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's current special exhibition "Brush and Ink: The Chinese Art of Writing" (September 2, 2006–January 21, 2007).

It's interesting to take time out to appreciate the art of writing. Is this something that is lost in today's typeset computer-driven culture? True, there are interesting typographical fonts and some designers use them artistically, but what about the art of handwriting? Is it lost today?

I spent a lot of time as a child thinking about the way my handwriting looks--I wanted to make it unique and beautiful. Though it's a bit messy (due to disuse and being left-handed), I believe there are still little artistic flourishes in it (or is it just entirely sloppy?). Do children still think about this, or is it a dying art?

Is the same issue true in Asia? Undoubtedly. But it seems that it would be different, somehow, because of the pictographic elements of the characters, which lend themselves to artistic enterpretations far more intricate than the Western alphabet.

Though the exhibit at the Met spans centuries (and as the same type of show about Western writing would be inherently similar), it's still important to take time and think about language and how it is represented. It can be extremely basic, or so beautiful that it conveys much more than the words themselves.

Towards the end of the show, there are pieces by the contemporary artist Xu Bing, whose work is extraordinarily interesting in the context of the Met's show. He has developed a way to arrange western letters so the words look like pitctograms, and at first glance, to someone who can't read Chinese, it looks like yet another scroll in a slightly different style. But upon closer examination (and reading the key), an wonderful world opens up--a magical, beautiful new way to read and represent the English language.


Quiet Places I Probably Shouldn't Mention: The Garden at St. Luke's

(Barrow & Hudson Streets) A quiet sanctuary (behind a sanctuary) in the midst of the West Village, and a great spot to read or take a break from the hubub of the city.

Built behind the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, which dates to 1821, the first verifiable planting was in 1842 (a Glastonbury thorn, which blew over in 1990, though cuttings live on in other parts of the garden).

Gallery Hopping 9.9

With the end of summer comes the beginning of the new gallery season, and my first pass (after Thursday’s insanely crowded evening of openings, which was unusable as far as actually seeing art goes), offered some worthwhile things, some shows worth checking out, and one particularly wonderful show.

Jennifer Dalton’s “Would You Rather Be a Loser or a Pig?” (Winkelman/Plus Ultra Gallery, 637 W. 27th St.), is a fascinating installation that deals with the plight of artists in today’s society—particularly women. The pieces turn studies into art: a slideshow that shows the results of an internet study about how artists live and survive; a look at two months of the “Chelsea Art Guide” that highlights the disparity of men vs. women that have solo shows (there are more men than women, at a ratio of almost 2:1); and an installation that highlights the number of women graduating from art schools (more than half) vs. number of success stories (much lower).

The highlight of the afternoon was Vik Muniz’s “Pictures of Junk” at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. (530 W. 22nd St.). Muniz uses of cast-off items that all look like what you’d traditionally find in a junkyard (such as tires, telephones, bits of machinery, an old army jeep, and even a rocket), and arranges them in an area about the size of a basketball field to be photographed. Muniz captures the dichotomy between “waste” and beauty, creating almost unbelievable recreations of famous mythological paintings. In this age of Photoshop, it’s wonderful to see something so creatively real.

Also worth checking out:

Sonamu by BAE Bien-U at Galerie Poller (547 W. 27th St., 2nd Fl.)

Walter Niedermayr at Robert Miller Gallery (524 W. 26th St.)

Andrea Robbins & Max Becher: “Brooklyn Abroad” at Sonnabend (536 W. 22nd St.)

Nathan Lyons: “Trilogy” at Silverstein Photography (535 W. 24th St.)

Alessandra Exposito at Mixed Greens Gallery (531 W. 26nd St.)


My Favorite Sign

I've loved this sign for YEARS, and I've finally recorded it for posterity. Ahhh, the Hotel Carter...


I was walking across 43rd Street yesterday and decided to photograph the progress of the new Bank of America building for my brother, who's working on it from afar. Seeing my camera, Ralph's friend says, "Take a picture of this guy!" So I did!


From the Inside Out

Parades are such interesting, mysterious things. What is it about a cheerful bunch of folks walking down a main street that makes everyone so happy?

Here are just a few of my photos from this weekend's Beacon Hat Parade...


A little break in the nothing that's been my brain.

I haven't said much for a while. Period. But today, it's time for me to say a little.

First of all, to my friends: if I ever disappear, the neo-fascists probably have me.

Secondly, why aren't we more responsive to what's going on in our country? Look at France. The government makes pension, etc. changes, and there's rioting in the streets. But in the US, the government slowly takes away our civil liberties, our money, our right to be good citizens of the earth, and we sit and stare blankly at our televisions, wondering who's going to win this season of American Idol.

What is it going to take? Why isn't there revolution in the streets? Another Iraq War anniversary is here, and I didn't even know there was a march going on this weekend. Where are the true opposition leaders? There are so many little factions of progressive thinkers, there's no real figurehead or organization to rally everyone together. And the Democrats are so afraid that they won't get re-elected if they grow some balls and speak out, that they just roll over and play dead. When are they going to bloody realize that speaking out and fighting for what is right is what the people need and want?! Didn't they listen to all of those so-called "swing voters" in 2004, who said they didn't know what Kerry stood for, but heck, Bush spoke "frankly," so they'd vote for Bush? If they'd just friggin' speak out and fight for the real cause, they'd win some elections! Perhaps people would actually tune in and pay attention if something ever happened in Washington (other than rampant abuse of power).

Sometimes I think the Democrats are in on it--the destruction of the middle and lower classes. It really is turning into 1984, and nobody's doing anything. Soon enough, we'll all just be cogs in the wheel--too scared to speak up, be different, or fight for justice.

What do we do?! How can we drive this thing? Why can'y we get a competent person at the helm?


Which Muppet Are You?

You Are Miss Piggy

A total princess and diva, you're totally in charge - even if people don't know it.
You want to be loved, adored, and worshiped. And you won't settle for anything less.
You're going to be a total star, and you won't let any of the "little people" get in your way.
Just remember, piggy, never eat more than you can lift!

Kind of scary that it turns out that I'm Miss Piggy, as my brother tormented me throughout my childhood calling me Miss Piggy and making oinking noises.

Though, the above definition of said Miss Piggy is very much me, so who can argue?!