A Brazilian teenager who started playing the piano after watching videos online, a musician from Australia, and many, many others are happy to sit down and perform as millions of people stream through the station.
Archives for December 2017
Portman’s buildings “often evoked oohs and aahs from the public, but were not always a hit with critics, who called them concrete islands, self-contained cities within cities — serving their patrons yet insular, even forbidding to outsiders. But by combining architectural talents with the savvy of a real estate entrepreneur, Mr. Portman was hugely successful and a rarity among contemporaries: both an artist and a tough businessman.”
What We Liked in 2017
When Doug McLennan asked me to write a description for my blog that ArtsJournal would begin hosting in 2017, I thought about the topics which move me to spend time writing—the things that I feel … read more
AJBlog: The Bright RidePublished 2017-12-30
Recent Listening And Viewing: Ernie Watts
Ernie Watts, Wheel Of Time (Flying Dolphin) From his years with Buddy Rich in the 1960s through his long membership in the late bassist Charlie Haden’s Quartet West and for years since, … read more
AJBlog: RiffTidesPublished 2017-12-30
Some Home Thoughts from Abroad as Hurricane Hamilton Hits Britain
The hoop-la surrounding the London staging of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is almost as interesting as the musical itself. The ticket-tout-defeating instructions for admission to the Victoria Palace Theatre that came with my pair of … read more
AJBlog: Plain EnglishPublished 2017-12-30
Helen Garner, after James Wood praised her in The New Yorker: “I used to have all sorts of secret, spiteful feelings because I never won any prizes in Australia for my non-fiction. I put a lot of energy into acting like I didn’t care. I did, quite a lot. It has literary value and I have worked on it as hard as any fiction I’ve written. So I felt deeply gratified and relieved of enormous amounts of anxiety and mortification.”
The artist, Hugo Crosthwaite, wore a shirt that made him more approachable – more like a sign painter, less like an artist – and hoo boy, was he ever approached. His interactions with people changed the huge mural. “The mural, created in partnership with the California Historical Society, features a singular mix of images — rendered in the artist’s preferred black and white — inspired by Mexican pulp comics, 19th century French illustration, Southern California visual iconography and current political events. It also features elements drawn from the artist’s dialogues with the hundreds of people that stream through the space on a daily basis.”
The comics Amar Chitra Katha (or The Immortal Stories) got started when a newspaper executive watched a quiz show where kids knew little to nothing about the Hindu epic The Ramayana. Now ACK has been a kids’ entertainment empire for decades – but it’s an empire built on bigotry: “ACK’s writing and illustrative team constructed a legendary past for India by tying masculinity, Hinduism, fair skin, and high caste to authority, excellence, and virtue. On top of that, [the] comics often erased non-Hindu subjects from India’s historic and religious fabric.”
California was more than a rumor; it was a way to change history. “For African Americans dreaming of opportunity in the early part of 20th century, that lure, the music in California’s new-start promise, was embedded into the consciousness. It burrowed deep. It was the necessary fuel — inspiration — to carry onward beyond known possibilities. Roughly between 1910 and 1970, in two great waves of migration, six million African Americans would journey out of the nightmare of the American South, fleeing post-slavery horrors: Jim Crow segregation, lynching, nonexistent or stunted economic opportunities.”
This is a great description of where we are … and an idea for how to look for fresh ways to deal with it: “To loudly insist that Hollywood cut it out with the reboots is, unfortunately, to waste your breath. It is, however, at least worth asking the question: If this is the world we’re stuck with, how should a reboot be? Some have begun to resemble something like the filmed equivalent of an oral tradition, passing down different versions of the same story over and over—at least while the story remains immediate. … Our current options for ‘best’ Hollywood reboot are, at best, pretty good. (Batman Begins.) But a better North Star for reboots is out there, and its name is Blazing Transfer Students.”
Anthony Tommasini: “Even though it was done under studio conditions, Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano (as the idealistic Mario) and Tito Gobbi (as the villainous police chief Scarpia) are thrillingly alive and subtle for the towering maestro Victor de Sabata and the forces of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. It’s hard to think of a recording of any opera that nails a work so stunningly, that seems so definitive.”
That’s not the only idea, of course, but: “Offering a full range of activities will help to combat the stereotypes and ‘cultural norms’ that are putting girls off sport before they reach junior school, according to Ruth Holdaway, who is chief executive of Women in Sport. In addition to giving female pupils the option to play cricket and football,’boys should also be asked what they want, and given the opportunity to do a zumba class or whatever,’ she said.”
Words refer to objects, and they don’t actually live in our brains – only experience does, and we use words to convey our experiences. Or so is the claim. For instance: “What is an angel but a juggling of past experience: beautiful body, plus wings, as in a dream? What is dark matter if not a piece needed to complete a puzzle, a theory, made up of endless complex objects in the world? Sometimes, the imaginary object is a reshuffling of real objects and thus it is real in its own way; sometimes, it is nothing.”
The piece, by artist Carolina Falkholdt, had been commissioned, but it didn’t last long. “The painting appeared on the wall of a building on Broome Street, between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets, on Christmas Eve. By Wednesday afternoon, it was being painted over, and by Thursday it had completely disappeared.” (Read much more about the mural’s background and planned focus in this Hyperallergic piece.)
Albert had a long history of working in theatre, including, before Court Theatre, as “the longtime managing director at Hartford Stage in Connecticut, an assignment that followed similar leadership posts at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and the Alley Theatre in Houston. At Court, he presided over a robust period of growth, coupled with the cultivation of a much closer alliance with the University of Chicago, on whose campus the long-independent theater is housed.”
The L.A. Times’ Christopher Knight worked hard to convince the Border Patrol that he should be able to see the wall prototypes – and that an architecture critic’s experience and expertise were relevant. But once he got there, he says, “my critical instincts seemed divided against themselves. The slabs in front of me seemed at once the most and least architectural objects I’d ever seen. They were banal and startling, full and empty of meaning. Here were the techniques of Land Art, medieval construction, marketing and promotion, architectural exhibition and the new nativism rolled uncomfortably if somehow inevitably into one.”
Playwright Ayad Akhtar: “I am not hopeful about where we are as a nation — as a species (if I can be so presumptuous). I’m not hopeful, because I am increasingly of the mind that even my hope is being monetized. That which is most enduring, most noble, most human about me — my urge for something brighter, more vivid, more loving, more alive — all of this is being used against me.”
Year-end lists go against this year’s tide: “For many Americans, 2017 has amounted to a permanent kind of jet lag: bodily schedules misaligned with social ones. There is so much happening, always. There is so much to know, unceasingly. There is so much that won’t be known. Which is also to say that there is so much that won’t be paid attention to. If one of the functions of the American media is to give order to the world’s messiness, to help people make determinations about what—and who—deserves their attention and care, 2017 was the year in which that ordering function lost some of its stability.”
There’s still a little time, and even after the new year, there’s still a pretty big reward: “The stolen paintings are valued at more than $500 million, and the museum has long offered a reward for information that will lead authorities to recover all of the paintings in good condition. The reward was $5 million until May, when it was temporarily doubled. But that $10 million reward – and like Cinderella’s coach – reverts to a $5 million pumpkin on January 1.”
A bookstore is many things that Amazon’s Kindle store is not: “‘a miniature city,’ a centre of resistance and a battlefield where commercial value and authorial prestige are contested every day. It’s ‘a condensed version of the world,’ and a ritual space for ‘a community of believers.'” Does anyone believe in the bookstore anymore?
Frankly, it’s a bit more boring – and less dangerous in an overt sense, though it’s certainly dangerous for some of the theatre-makers. “Independent-minded leaders of scores of theatres and other cultural organizations across the nation have been replaced by apparatchiks—including at the emblematic National Theatre, where popular actor-director Robert Alfoldi was sacked in 2013 after being outed as gay and decried for ‘treason’ and ‘inciting and discrediting Hungarians.'”
The artist John Wullbrandt and his partner had spent 15 years planning for fire at their California ranch near Carpinteria. When it came, they saved their house and their animals. But his studio? No. “It was burned into oblivion. Wullbrandt knew the studio and shipping containers had wood floors, but he was certain there was metal beneath them. That was not the case. The fire blew underneath and ignited everything inside, turning decades worth of paintings into ash.”
This falls into the category of what you’ve learned that you wish you’d known when you started out as an artist.
Husband Stephen Humphrey said Grafton had been struggling to find an idea for “Z’’ while undergoing treatment and losing weight. “Nothing’s been written,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “There is no Z.” He added with a laugh, “Nobody in this family will ever use the letter Z again.”
“Most computer scientists think that consciousness is a characteristic that will emerge as technology develops. Some believe that consciousness involves accepting new information, storing and retrieving old information, and cognitive processing of it all into perceptions and actions. If that’s right, then one day machines will indeed be the ultimate consciousness. They’ll be able to gather more information than a human, store more than many libraries, access vast databases in milliseconds, and compute all of it into decisions more complex, and yet more logical, than any person ever could.”
Vin Diesel has been named the top-grossing actor of 2017 by Forbes. His global ticketing receipts were listed at $1.6 billion, largely in part to being the face of the “Fast and the Furious” franchise.
“David Bakula, who oversees Nielsen’s industry insights operations, said the changes in digital habits mean the CD is representing a larger share of the declining album sales market. He believes that writing the obituary for the CD is premature as labels look to bolster album sales however they can, while older listeners stick to their usual buying habits.”
I love books that make me backtrack my own declarations of preference, ones that catch me off-guard, surprise me, keep me on my toes. I want stories that don’t fit into easy boxes, ones that defy their own ostensible categorization, that make those who recommend them stumble, before finally saying, “Just trust me.” The problem, of course, is that in most cases, we aren’t offered this kind of tailored option.
“George C. Wolfe and Joe Mantello go back to the 1990s, when Mantello, as a young actor, starred as Louis in Wolfe’s Broadway production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. In the years that followed, Mantello found himself acting less and directing more. Now, they’re formidable colleagues in their prime, as well as great friends, to boot. In the latest edition of TheaterMania‘s Artist to Artist series, Wolfe and Mantello discuss what their successes and failures mean to them, how they approach actors in the rehearsal room, and what it takes to maintain a level of joy that carries them through adversity.”
“3D mapping manipulates the look and feel of a 3D object. It’s been done on castles to make them look like they’ve fallen down. Now people can experience being on the stage with the artists. Or the gig could move off the stage. We are a generation spoiled with possibilities.”
Kyle Buchanan: “I met with Scott recently in Beverly Hills to discuss how he did it, and what I found was a filmmaker who has the stamina of a man half his age and an octogenarian’s give-no-fucks bluntness.”
Every year the list of most powerful in the art world is read with interest. But who are the least powerful?