Saturday, January 31, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

Saturday, January 17, 2015

On the Streets of Manhattan:

Walking through the streets of Manhattan: A borough of New York City that is now, so very familiar to me. Having lived in the East Village, back in the late 2000s, I have my usual haunts; they are always ever changing though, as is the entire city; people and places, it seems, are always on the move in Manhattan, in that it is rare, that any sort of establishment here, stays, in one place for too long. Certainly as the gentrification around Union Square pushes eastward, toward Alphabet City. I know how the subways work; I know which to take to go where; I have favorite street corners; and I have favorite paintings in the city. With those painted centuries ago, by Frans Hals, Rembrandt, and Velasquez, being some of my favorites. I have favorite parks in the city, and delis in which (if they're still there, when I visit) I know the bagels and breakfast sandwiches are always bound to be delicious; I have friends in the borough; friends I often miss. I strolled through the East Village, having already strolled through Avenues A and B, and then down south, along Tompkins Square Park, before I slowly shuffled back north, in the direction of St. Marks Square. I then meandered from that square to Astor Place, crossing the street quickly, with zoom-lens camera in hand, and my Stetson hat, bedecking my head. My hat gave me away, he said. As, just as I was about to raise me camera to my face, to capture streams of gorgeous sunlight, I heard my name being shouted from what seemed a short distance, just behind me. I turned around to see my friend Jamie, standing with his significant other and their child–that is, their tiny fluffy-haired four-legged friend, named Bella–whose collar and leash both were pink, and whose shoes were the same color. Bella's entire outfit, matched. So serendipitous was it that I stumbled into my friend, while visiting this most beloved of borough of New York City. But that's how Manhattan works; so much energy is fumbling around the city's streets; the serendipitous is the everyday; the capricious is cultivated.

Friday, January 16, 2015

6th Avenue & W 59th Street, Manhattan:

I'm currently in New York City, to see a few paintings, and being here reminds me that I was American and American only, for the first 28 years of my life. It also makes me realize how special it is, that I’m now Dutch–to be a citizen of both the USA, and the Netherlands. I feel at home, within both countries. NYC reminds me just how fun life is oaths side of the ocean; I've even ran into a friend I haven't seen in years, in the East Village. We then walked about 25 blocks, just talking about everything we haven't over the past few years, catching up. How serendipitous this city is in those ways–the city gives one the sense that at any moment, anything could happen. I leave this weekend for Amsterdam...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age:

In the last week I've been to the Frick Collection and Met Museum in Manhattan, the Rijksmuseum, and today to the Hermitage Museum–which all, in their own way, exalt their collections of Dutch Art. Today I revisited the latter, to once again look at a carefully curated collection of about 20 immense group portraits from the Dutch Golden Age. They're so immense that they were imparted through the roof during their installation. Titled the Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age, the lights are dimmed within the main gallery space, which is double heighted, with tiny glass balustrade defined voids, which allow one to look down below, and in some instances behind, the paintings on display. The dimming of the lights lends the atmosphere a certain dramatism, which in turn makes the paintings seem much more overwhelming than they considerably are. Indeed these paintings are complex and difficult to understand; so many subjects within one work confuses and overwhelms the eye. When hung side by side, within such a two story space, these massive portraits–which portray civic guard groups, as well as society and guild member–are overwhelming. In the best possible way. The floor above, with the lovely overlooks, tells the story of the making of the modern Dutch city, and how it was then inhabited, focusing much on its bourgeoisie. These paintings have a certain specialness to them; they're sort of Dutch national treasures that have given so much to this Kingdom, including pieces of its identity. Invested with meaning these paintings are. To behold them clustered in such an absorbing space requires spending time with them–getting familiar with their many faces, and and settings, is what this exhibition is all about. There's also numerous paintings similar in composition, though from the sixteenth century, which adorn intimate galleries that lead to the main gallery space. Group portraits from that century are much less animated; meaning that those portrayed in them seem, to the viewer, much less 'alive'. Those paintings work in tandem with the narrative about the city and its inhabitants above, to add information to the period of time just before the Golden Age. It's helpful. What would really make this collection complete, would be a similar piece by Frans Hals, such as his De magere compagnie, currently in the RijksmuseumYet the exhibition does applaudably include a few portraits from this genre with traces of eighteenth century fine painting beginning to show, most are from the seventeenth, and specifically the Dutch Golden Age of painting–which is defined, art historically, as from 1590-1670. The exhibition is on display until about the end of the year, and so far I've visited it twice. Though I'll need subsequent visits to be able to form a holistic opinion about it, that the history surrounding the lives of those who inhabit these gorgeously oversized portraits has been included in the exhibition, will strengthen their meaning, for those who take the time to learn of their original context.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It Begins, With Brunch:

Last week I brunched with Amanda–the perfect way to start off the new year. Our conversation endlessly flowed. So much so, that we've decided that for all of 2015, every Friday will be brunch day. That way, our conversation will be continuous...