Mother Nature decided to send the citizens of New York one last heat wave before letting us take our black turtlenecks out of mothballs. Lucky me–I rubbed my nose in it Friday morning. Rarely am I absolutely required to take crowded subways, but I had a 10:30 appointment in the section of Brooklyn known to scenesters and the cognoscenti as “Dumbo” (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), and unless your trusty chauffeur is waiting patiently at curbside, the only way to get there from here on a weekday morning is via subway. That’s how I did it, and I hated every second of the ride. The subway car was hot, smelly, and crowded, and the humidity at street level was so high that I felt as though I were being garrotted by a vicious odalisque in a Turkish bath.
The one good part of the trip was that I saw Middagh Street, the site of the now-legendary Brooklyn residence where W.H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Carson McCullers, and Gypsy Rose Lee all kept communal house back in 1940. (Sherill Tippins wrote about it earlier this year in February House.) Alas, 7 Middagh was torn down in 1945 to make room for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and nothing now remains of it but an unmarked spot on the sidewalk. Still, I got to stroll past that historic address on my way to St. Ann’s Warehouse, where the Builders Association is currently rehearsing its new show, Super Vision, which opens November 29 at BAM Harvey in Brooklyn.
I got interested in the Builders Association after seeing its last show, Alladeen, about which I raved in The Wall Street Journal, so when I was invited to a private runthrough of two sections of Super Vision, I jumped at the chance, heavy weather notwithstanding. It’s a multimedia documentary-fantasy-tone poem about “dataveillance” in the twenty-first century, and if that sounds a bit off the wall to you, I strongly suggest you go here and view the trailer, which will tell you more about Super Vision than I possibly can. All I’ll add for now is that having seen fifteen minutes’ worth of Super Vision, I intend to see the whole thing at least twice when it comes to BAM.
I returned to the Teachout Museum from Dumbo to discover that I’d bought a new piece of art. Specifically, I turned out to be the high bidder on a 1942 color lithograph by Pierre Bonnard called Femme assise dans sa bagnoire, one of the long, increasingly phantasmagoric series of paintings, prints, and works on paper in which Marthe, Bonnard’s mistress, is shown bathing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to pick up my latest acquisition–I had to spend the rest of the afternoon at my desk–so I’ll be stopping by Swann Galleries to collect it some time today.
(Speaking of art, I spent part of Friday sifting through my accumulated snail mail of the past couple of weeks, and was thereby reminded of two gallery shows I mean to go see as soon as possible, Jules Olitski’s Matter Embraced: Paintings 1950s and Now, up at Knoedler & Company through Nov. 5, and Neil Welliver: A Memorial Exhibition, up at Alexandre Gallery through Oct. 22. I’ll report back to you in due course, but don’t wait for me–I’d bet the rent that both shows will be well worth a visit.)
Once I wrapped up the day’s work, I caught a crosstown bus to the Upper East Side and met my friend Meg at the Metropolitan Museum, where we looked at a very important show that nearly slipped past me, Matisse: The Fabric of Dreams, His Art and His Textiles, which closes next Sunday. I can’t believe I came so close to missing this breathtaking exhibition, one of the finest of the Met’s “teaching shows,” an orgy of color that is at once highly informative and enjoyable in the extreme (unlike, say, MoMA’s recent C