Archive for April, 2019

Culture Vulture: Aretha Franklin, Morgan Bassichis, Bi Gan, and Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern

April 15, 2019

Another rich cultural weekend:

Friday night: at the Angelika Film Center saw AMAZING GRACE, the long-lost documentary of Aretha Franklin recording her 1972 gospel album. Sublime!

Saturday night: KLEZMER MUSIC FOR BEGINNERS, performance at the Abrons Arts Center by Morgan Bassichis and Ethan Philbrick. Hilarious, fun, informative, and surprising — klezmer arrangements of Amy Winehouse!

Sunday night: LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, not the O’Neill play but the second film by the extraordinary Chinese director Bi Gan — every bit as trippy and beautiful as his debut, KAILI BLUES, with again a bravura long take. In KAILI BLUES it was a 40-minute shot; in LONG DAY’S JOURNEY, halfway through the movie, the main character needs to kill some time and goes to the local cinema. When he puts on his 3D glasses, it’s a cue for the audience to do the same. What follows is a mind-boggling 59-minute film-within-a-film, shot in one insanely complicated long take (part of which has the camera attached to a drone). David Lynch meets Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Sunday afternoon: after a Gays Against Guns action at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where I participated as one of the white-clad non-speaking Human Beings representing Americans killed by gun violence at their places of worship, I strolled through the Museum of Modern Art. In the “New Order: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century” exhibition, I was intrigued by a series of holograms created by Louise Bourgeois.

But I was most curious to check out “Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern,” a fun counterpart to “The Young and Evil” show at David Zwirner Gallery, which surveyed the same tight circle of artists and friends.

Who knew Paul Cadmus had designed costumes for the ballet? See-through overalls for a dance called “Filling Station.”

Jared French designed costumes for another ballet, one of which looked to me like “Billy the Kid as a Big Girl.”

Karl Free’s costumes for a cringe-making ballet called “Pocohontas” included this strikingly beefcakey rendition of Captain John Smith.

Kurt Seligmann designed some wild costumes for “The Four Temperaments,” including this one called “Fourth Variation/Choleric.”

My admiration for Pavel Tchelitchew continues to expand with this design for a character known as Nervous System in a ballet called “The Cave of Sleep.”

Elsewhere in the show I admired Paul Klee’s “Actor’s Mask.”

Also this touching painting by Ben Shahn titled “Willis Avenue Bridge.”

 

Culture Vulture: A TASTE OF HARRY Queer/Art salon

April 6, 2019

Last Sunday, March 31, Queer | Art presented a salon called “A Taste of Harry: Selected Readings from the Work of Harry Kondoleon” hosted by Mitchell Lichtenstein at his lovely townhouse in the West Village. Five artists from Queer | Art’s mentorship program – Moe Angelos, Jess Barbagallo, Morgan Bassichis, Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, and Everett Quinton – performed a series of excerpts from Harry’s work for an invited audience of 50 guests that included family and friends, theatrical luminaries (John Guare, David Henry Hwang), and Queer | Art supporters.

The very entertaining program comprised excerpts from plays, poems, and fictional work selected by Harry’s good friends Mitchell, Don Shewey, and Stephen Soba. Mitchell directed the reading, and Don co-facilitated a discussion afterwards with Queer | Art’s managing director Travis Chamberlain. For fans, it was fun to revisit Harry’s work; for others in the room, it was a revelatory introduction to his distinctive voice. Big gratitude to Mitchell and his partner Vincent Sanchez for hosting and providing delicious hors d’oeuvres and beverages, to Travis and his staff for shining a light on an artist who has been gone for 25 years but whose work lives on, and to Ira Sachs for conceiving the mission of Queer | Art – see the mission statement reprinted in the program (below).

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