Archive for March, 2009

Sentimental Journey

March 29, 2009

www.brooklynmuseum.orgboard_of_trustees_banner1Have you been to the Brooklyn Museum recently? Why not? You need some joy, and this is the place to find it. Inside the grand classical facade (McKim, Mead, and White), lies the foundation of a spectacular  day trip—perhaps even a weekend. Located near the source of a grand parkway (New York’s rival to the Champs Elysées, with side roads, century-old trees, and modest apartment houses that keep the area flooded with the kind of light so rapidly disappearing in Manhattan), its immediate neighbors include the Botanic Gardens, the Brooklyn Public Library (an Art Deco landmark), and Prospect Park. And that’s only on the outside.

Inside, Gustave Caillebotte is the current headliner, with many paintings held privately by his family seen for the first time — along with a series of model hulls for the sailboats he designed (when was the last time you found art and hulls by the same artist in the same space)? oarsmen-in-a-top-hat_color-corrected-3

Then, move on to the world-class collections and friendly, knowledgeable guards (who act, and sound, suspiciously like former curators at the Hermitage). Here’s some of what you can get: Egypt, America, Africa, Asia, contemporary art (including Judy Chicago’s entire Dinner Party), all carefully edited and displayed, the better to take it in. And there’s more: some nifty industrial design, and yes, a terrific shop.

And the joy comes not only from the art itself: on a recent visit, there were children everywhere — sitting on the floor entranced by a docent describing long-ago Brooklyn, 9713_colorcorrected_sl12running enthusiastically through the Luce Design Collection, drawing everything in sight, and posing proudly for photos in front of the objects that inspired them. bowden_spacelander_542

It can be done in one day but—if you’re smart and curious—leave time to walk around Park Slope and sample some local cuisine. Traveling is easy, with a parking lot in back  and a subway in front: the 2 and 3 trains make it back to Midtown in under half an hour. The station itself (Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum) has been turned into a gallery, with sculptural fragments embedded in its walls. (More full disclosure: I spent part of my childhood, and many delerious hours, exploring this treasure from cellar to attic. The big news: it hasn’t gotten older — only fresher, brighter, and exponentially better.) See, and love, it for yourself!

All Singing, All Dancing, and Out of This World!

March 19, 2009

thais0809_075For those of you (and I count myself among you) for whom operas have usually been a last choice for go-to events, there’s now a definitive go-to option! The Met’s new broom has swept in all the potential of HDTV (taped live, in real time) broadcasts and reruns projected on the big screen in movie theaters. This is a life-changing experience that will revise your take on both media (opera and television). In short, the concept of opera as bigger-than-life has become a reality. Without binoculars (which magnify the singers while cutting off the naked eye’s 180-degree view ), you can have it all: razor-sharp closeups in saturated color that heighten the material, and long shots that reveal the sets and costumes; the continuous tension of high-wire art in real time, along with gorgeous digital sound.

It’s an intoxicating,  deeply sensual encounter that propels you beyond some pretty silly stories right into the stratosphere inhabited by artists who can act — and even move — as compellingly as they sing. It’s the theater that opera was always meant to be; a little like Olympus, and it’s addictive. If you go to the Met’s voluminous (but easy-to-navigate) Web site, you will find not only the programs remaining for this season’s roster, but next season’s goodies as well. There are nine of them, and they are mouth-watering, both in terms of content and casts. And here’s the best part: they will be available in a country, city, and theater near you. No matter where in the world you live.  Don’t miss the chance to see and hear:

33 Variations

March 11, 2009

What to do about NYTimes’ Ben Brantley? He’s often on-target but, in reviewing Moises Kaufman’s 33 Variations (now on Broadway), he describes it as “often soggy.” DON’T BELIEVE HIM! The play — directed by the author — is a fluid marvel. It engages thinking adults intellectually and emotionally, and boasts a fine cast, 74173-33-variations_341x182including music director/pianist Diane Walsh. It’s that rare example of perfectly-tuned theatre, in which actors, text, music, and set design pulse with life and offer abiding  satisfaction. Yes, it  includes Jane Fonda; she’s very good, but so is everyone, and everything, else. Kaufman knows exactly what he wants, and he gets it, for those lucky enough to see the play. It’s leaving town on May 24th; don’t miss 33 Variations!



The Beaches of Agnes

March 10, 2009

agnes042Agnes Varda is not just one of France’s National Treasures — she belongs to everyone who relishes sinking into her rich brew of imagination, technical genius, a lifetime of singular experience, and a really wicked (and wonderful) sense of humor. Don’t miss her new film: The Beaches of Agnes.

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