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February 8th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Art, Film, Photography, Fine Printing & Design; Urban Life & New York City

Fun Friday Night Seeing Art on the Bowery


LuloffHad fun seeing art last night with Kyle, and the city was surprisingly quiet, especially for a Friday. The subways, sidewalks, and galleries were not so crowded, which made getting around in the cold and ice almost a piece o’ cake.

The exhibit I tweeted about by Laurel Luloff was a highlight of the art we saw. Her paintings are a breath of summer, with several of them hung as floating, transparent, colored sails. We also enjoyed the mouse drawings of Jashin Friederich. The show is up through March 1, at The Hole, 312 Bowery. Here are the pictures I took, including one of Kyle and Luloff, plus info on Skit, curated by Tisch Abelow, the other exhibit currently at the gallery.

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December 8th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Art, Film, Photography, Fine Printing & Design; Urban Life & New York City

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Abandons Renovation of Metro Theater in NYC

Despite earlier reports from Austin, Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse NYC that they would be renovating the Metro Theater on Manhattan’s Upper West Side on Broadway at 100th Street, word came today that actually the movie chain has abandoned those plans. This is a big disappointment for all denizens of my neighborhood who lament the lingering blight of recession upon our neighborhood, and had hoped that this new establishment would bring renewed life to this part of town. More’s the pity, since my wife, artist Kyle Gallup, had some years ago created a visual homage to the theater’s facade, which we hoped to see back up in lights sometime in 2014. Alas, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Below you can see images of the banner on the Metro marquee that will presumably come down soon, a photo of the facade, and Kyle’s painting. Alamo MetroMetro Theater facadeMetro Theater marquee Kyle Gallup

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November 1st, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Art, Film, Photography, Fine Printing & Design; Urban Life & New York City

Atmosphere and Color–Painter Greg Kwiatek’s Exhibit at Lynch Tham Gallery

2 GregOn Wednesday night Kyle and I went to the opening of a new exhibit of work by her longtime friend, painter Greg Kwiatek (shown here, in glasses). It’s a gorgeous show, at Lynch Tham Gallery, 175 Rivington Street on the LES of Manhattan, where it will be up until December 22. As Kyle put it, Greg’s work “alludes to landscape painting, but they are also quite abstract.” Skyscape might be even more accurate, as there is little land in these pictures, instead they are atmospheric renderings of sky, cloud, and light, both from sun and moon.

On the Web page devoted to his exhibit Greg writes,

My recent work is a continuation of issues that have been of interest to me for many years – atmospheric light, tonal color, saturated color, and the moon as an icon. It is against my nature to simply be a painter of the moon, even though I’ve great respect for those who have done so. That said, I’ve attempted to employ the moon, and the sun in full form and circular abstraction as well. This gives me more latitude through the working process and prevents me from painting myself into a corner. It is my nature to drift with the sky, the ocean and sand. These forces are powerful springboards and they humble me. They are timeless and it is my mission to respond to them as best I can.

These are challenging paintings to photograph, especially in a crowded opening with an IPhone, but here are some pics I took. I recommend you see the show for yourself. It’s beautiful work.

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October 28th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Art, Film, Photography, Fine Printing & Design; Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels

“There’s plenty of time…to take the difficult and slower route.”—Remembering Anthony Caro, Guest Post by Kyle Gallup

Tony&Kyle photo-Philip TurnerThe news of Sir Anthony Caro’s death last week at 89 was startling for me. I knew him for more than thirty years and wasn’t prepared to say goodbye. The photo at the left was taken the last time we met, on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011. From what I’ve read, he was busy working in the studio until he died. To so many artists, Tony showed abundant goodwill and an inclusive view of art and art-making. He conveyed a sense that we were all in this together. These qualities are what drew me toward him when we first met.

My initial encounter with Tony’s sculpture came in 1980, at Boston’s Christian Science Plaza where twenty-three works from his ‘York Sculpture’ series were presented by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts for the city’s ‘Jubilee 350′ celebration. Later, I heard his commencement talk to the graduates from the Boston Museum School where I had enrolled as a transfer student and then tagged along as he gave critiques to more advanced students who were waiting in their studios to engage with him about their work.

What Tony offered to all those who came in contact with him was a way to think about art, and the process of creating, as something personal yet large and deeply connected to the world. Art for him was something indelible, permanent, and real. I believe this gracious view grew from his generous spirit and desire to make a contribution.

Tony had a clear and concise way of thinking about process and one’s connection to art of the past in all its variety and its visual, expressive possibilities. He mined all kinds of art and culture, calling forth universal themes, reworking them and making them new. He conveyed this, not only through his work, but also in studio visits with other artists. He encouraged others to look at the world with an open mind, to engage and connect with it. His interest in sharing ideas made talking with him a pleasure, always lively and interesting.

I was fortunate to twice attend Triangle Workshop, the two-week summer residency that he founded in upstate New York. While working there, if an artist asked, he’d come around and make suggestions, never saying too much but hinting at possible ways of approaching a piece differently. Triangle spoke to his sense of art-making as a collaborative enterprise. Even though Triangle met for just two weeks every year, it was a way for him to foster community. The workshop allowed him to share his passion for exchanging ideas. He was keenly aware of the isolation artists feel because we spend so much time on our own in our studios, and he related to this personally. He may have felt this in his own life as a young artist working in England. He relished the opportunity to travel and make changes to his working methods after meeting American artists.

Tony encouraged me to write to him and his wife–Sheila Girling, a painter–in London to let them know what I was doing in my studio and what was being shown in New York galleries. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote about in my letters, what questions I may have asked him, or the views of art I may have offered, but he always answered my letters with long thoughtful replies. I’ve saved his and gone back and reread them over the years, always surprised by his honesty about himself, and his kindness and encouragement to me. Below is a scan of a letter Tony sent me in 1983, lines from which I’ve borrowed for the title of this remembrance.

On trips to New York, Tony and Sheila visited me when I lived in Union City, New Jersey. It was way out of the way, but they somehow made it through the Lincoln Tunnel to my place there on Summit Avenue. They spent time looking at my work, bought pieces for their collection, and even enjoyed cubano sandwiches from the bodega across the street from my apartment. When I think of all the time and thoughtful support they showed me over the years, my sadness at his passing lightens. Anthony Caro spent his life creating art. He never tired of experimenting and sharing the richness of his experience with other people. I hope some day I will meet a young artist and offer the kind of open-hearted encouragement I received from him over the many years we were friends.

So long, Tony.
Tony letter page 1Tony letter pg 2

Kyle Gallup is an artist living and working in New York City.

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October 22nd, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Canada; Food & Spirits

Best Pumpkin Pie Ever, Baked by Kyle Gallup

Posted yesterday at HonouraryCanadian.com, sister blog to this one, a brief post with a photo of some amazing baking done by my wife Kyle Gallup, an artist in paints and pastry. Pumpkin Pie post

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June 30th, 2013

By Philip Turner in: Art, Film, Photography, Fine Printing & Design; Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels; Urban Life & New York City

Motown to Def Jam, a Quartet of Harlem Art Openings

Kyle and I had a great time this past Tuesday at a group exhibition where she showed a new painting of hers, “Brick by Brick.” The reception was at Strivers Gardens Gallery in Harlem, one of four galleries that have held openings over the past two weeks, all part of African American Music Appreciation Month and the Harlem Art Crawl. These Motown to Def Jam exhibits have been curated by the impresario Sou L Eo. who beginning last spring asked more than forty visual artists to take inspiration from songs from major record labels (Motown, Stax, Chess, Def Jam, etc.) that over the past several decades have fueled African American music, from Motown to the Philly Sound to blues to hip hop. Sou L Eo asked each artist to choose a particular song, and allow it to inform a new work for these shows. I’ve been to two of the openings by now, and have found the work consistently bold and interesting throughout.

Kyle’s song was “Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto,” a 1977 release by the Philadelphia All-Stars with Lou Rawls on the Philadelphia International Records label. While viewing at the Strivers Gardens Gallery is generally by appointment, it will be open to the public from 1-4 PM on two upcoming Saturday afternoons, July 13, and July 20. There is also a gallery talk there on July 17 from 7-9 PM. Strivers Gardens Gallery is at 300 West 135th Street between St. Nicholas & Frederick Douglass, less than a block east of the 135th Street station stop for the ‘B’ and ‘C’ subway lines. Here are some photos from the reception starting with a shot of Kyle and “Brick by Brick,” in a photo taken by artist and writer Daniel Maidman, followed by a group shot with many of the participating artists and friends, and a shot of an informational postcard. If you’re interested in seeing more of Kyle’s work, you may visit her website at http://www.kylegallup.com/.Kyle w/Brick by BrickMotown to Def JamIMG_0729

 

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October 15th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Music, Bands & Radio; News, Politics & History; Urban Life & New York City

A Beautiful Saturday at Brooklyn’s Green-wood Cemetery

Green-wood Cemetery is a NYC landmark I’ve been keen to visit for years and last weekend an ideal opportunity arrived for my wife and son and myself to finally get there. The complex, 478 acres of rolling hills (making it more than half the size of Manhattan’s Central Park), big hardwood trees, and sparkling views of Manhattan and NY Harbor, was founded in 1838 as a non-denominational burial ground that also offered what was described then as a “rural” location. To the urbanites who conceived Green-wood*, it was important to create a pastoral, soothing place for mourners to say goodbye to their loved ones. The three of us discovered on Saturday that it is still pastoral and still a balm to the daily cares of city-dwellers.

Among its more than “560,000 permanent residents”–as Green-wood’s literature refers to those interred there–is Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-69), a New Orleans composer and pianist whose kinetic and tuneful music provided our nation’s first examples of such styles as ragtime and stride piano, amid a fusion of African, Haitian, and Cuban rhythms joined with Western music. I get periodic emails from Green-wood and had learned from one message that in the 1970s, a memorial figure then gracing Gottschalk’s burial plot had been vandalized and destroyed. Saturday had been announced as the unveiling of a new figure at his gravesite. Not satisfied to merely place it there, Green-wood planned a program of live piano music in the bright autumn air, played and presented by John Davis; a talk by Frederick Starr, former president of Oberlin College and author of the Gottschalk biography, Bamboula!; an introduction of the sculptors who made the new figure; and finally, the unveiling of “The Angel of Music.” All this was offered to the public free of admission charge.

We emerged from the ‘R’ subway stop at 25th Street and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, walking a block east toward 5th Avenue and Green-wood. Even before reaching the cemetery, we spotted a cool-looking complex of low buildings. Fenced around on all sides, this establishment was topped with a sign reading “McGovern Weir.” We wondered if it had been a business selling gravestones and monuments, though have since learned from the blog “Lost New York City” that it was for many years a florist. This handsome old wreck of a place was constructed in 1880, and was bought for $1.6M by Green-wood in April.

Walking past the Green-wood gatehouse we were met by a friendly young woman whom we’d later see again selling books from an outdoor kiosk. Here, she was handing out programs for the Gottschalk event. Ewan and I made it up the hill first where we saw the crowd gathered, with Kyle a bit behind taking pictures. Soon the three of us were settled comfortably on a grassy slope just a few yards from where a shiny black Steinway piano–lent by the Steinway company, whose forebears are buried at Green-wood–sat gleaming in the sun. Just the novelty of seeing a grand piano outdoors was exciting.

Green-wood President Richard J. Moylan quickly introduced John Davis, who, as he removed his gloves against the chill said he hoped we wouldn’t think he was pulling a pre-performance trick as Gottschalk was wont to do–carefully pulling off his white gloves one finger at a time as he sought to draw the attention of his audience to the very hands that were about to strike the piano keys. Davis launched in to his first Gottschalk selection, “Bamboula,” a sprightly piece based on a Creole song that warmed up the audience. One could hear shades of Chopin, as well as an anticipation of melodies that we’d later identify with Stephen Foster. Introducing “Danse Cubane,” he described Gottschalk as the “father of world music” and the first classical composer in America to break away from an exclusively European model. All this reminded me of what a relatively enlightened and open urban culture New Orleans was in the first half of the 19th century, with free people of color landing up there from the Caribbean and South America. Gottschalk, with a German-Jewish father and a Haitian mother, tapped into and reflected influences from the New World and the Old. Davis also amazed us when he described that in 1938–around 80 years after the peak of Gottschalk’s influence–Jelly Roll Morton wrote of “the Latin tinge” that pervaded his music, in a thread of influence that began with Gottschalk. Davis closed this part of the performance by evoking Mark Twain’s partiality toward the banjo and then playing one of Gottschalk’s signature compositions for solo piano, “The Banjo,” which thoroughly commingled African, Caribbean and European motifs. Here I’m glad to insert the front and back cover of an LP I acquired in the 1980s, with the music of Gottschalk played by Edward Gold. It still sounds great!

With these sounds still echoing in our ears, the program moved through Frederick Starr’s biographical presentation and the introduction of sculptors, Giancarlo Biagi and Jill Burkee. They bid us to walk a few yards along the slope to Gottschalk’s gravesite, ringed with a black wrought iron fence. As Mr. Moylan assured us even he had not yet seen the finished cast of “The Angel of Music,” we saw a pedestal in the middle of the grassy square topped with a figure enshrouded in a green tarpaulin. As we stood expectantly, hands reached out to shuck off the tarp, exposing an elegant bronze figure that looked as if it had set there for much longer than just this day. Applause and shouts of congratulations to the sculptors were heard as we all admired the delicate figure.

With that, we went back to our earlier spots as John Davis sat again at the piano, joined by clarinetist Jeffrey Lederer and vocalist April Matthis. The trio performed “Slumber on, Baby Dear,” a lullaby composed by Gottschalk. As a final round of clapping rang out, Richard Moylan invited everyone to Green-wood’s nearby chapel where refreshments and coffee would be served. We walked down the hill and around the property to the chapel. Along the way, we stopped at the book kiosk where maps of Green-wood are also available. There we asked the same young woman who’d greeted us earlier if she could possibly help us determine where we’d find the grave of one’s of Green-wood’s “permanent residents,”  Thomas C. Durant, who was instrumental in building the trans-continental railroad in the years immediately after the Civil War, and through his corruption became embroiled in the infamous Credit Mobilier scandal of the post-Civil War years. We’d learned about the real-life Durant from the TV series, “Hell on Wheels,” a fictional treatment of the building of the railroad, in which the Irish actor Colm Meaney plays the striving rail baron. One plot thread in the TV series–which is actually true to history, as far as I can tell–is that Durant had corruptly enriched himself at the expense of the US government and investors in the railroad, and very possibly ended his life in some disrepute. In the program, he runs his enterprise with a great deal of secrecy and intrigue, and again, this seems to conform with what I’ve read about the real Durant. Colm Meaney’s Durant is a scheming, self-interested, angry figure who, I daresay, most TV viewers come to distrust and even loathe. The friendly greeter-bookseller helped us locate Durant’s burial plot number and we made a note on our map, indicating where we ought to be able to find Durant’s memorial.

Following some coffee and a snack in the chapel, a vaulted space where mourners at Green-wood gather for indoor memorial services, we thanked our hosts and walked toward Section H, Lot 10400, in search of Durant. After passing some beautiful Civil War-era memorials, we hunted around for quite a while, to no avail. Growing frustrated, but no less determined, and refusing to leave disappointed, the three of kept walking and looking until I finally found a mausoleum bearing the legend, “T.C. Durant.” The form of the memorial was entirely in keeping with the Durant we’ve come to know from the program and our research. Sealed up tight behind a gated door flashing spear points, a stolid and impregnable edifice squats in the brow of a low hill, with trees looming protectively over it. Like the man interred there, it gives off no secrets and yields virtually no information. It doesn’t even use his full first or middle names, no year or birthplace is etched in the stone, and likewise no death date, though we’d read it was 1871. In the dappled light of mid-afternoon, we found it was even difficult to photograph the letters of his name mounted above the gate, and had to take many pictures before we got images that decently bear the legend of Durant’s initials and last name. The successful outcome to our searching left us with more questions than answers about the real Thomas Durant, and we will continue trying to learn about him what we can.

With that, we walked back toward the gatehouse and out on to the ordinary streets of a quiet Saturday in Brooklyn, grateful for the fine program celebrating Gottschalk put on this special day, and struck by the charm and splendor of Green-wood Cemetery, a bucolic urban retreat we hope to return to soon. I hope these photos, most of them taken by my wife Kyle Gallup, will give you some sense of the occasion. And, if you can, check out the music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, a worldly musical pleasure.

*Green-wood shares the hyphen in its name with the New-York Historical Society, a particularly 19th century sort of spelling.

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October 12th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Art, Film, Photography, Fine Printing & Design; Urban Life & New York City

News on Alamo Drafthouse Cinema & NYC’s Metro Theater

After my July 15 post, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Coming to NYC!, I’d seen no evidence of renovation at the Metro theater near my home in Manhattan and so have wondered if the enterprise is really going to happen. Happily for my neighborhood and for NYC film buffs, an Oct. 11 item in DNAinfo.comNewYork brings the good news that a key part of  the process is moving ahead. Emily Frost reports that Alamo, based in Austin, TX–which serves food and drink at their screenings–has received approval for a liquor license from our local community board. Meantime, I also found a June West Side Rag interview with Alamo founder Tim Lee who says they’d begun seeking the city permits required to begin gutting the interior and renovating the space to accommodate the five screens and viewing spaces they envision for the theater which first opened to the public in 1933. For readers unfamiliar with the site, the classic Art Deco marquee–shown above in a photograph and below in a painting by my wife Kyle Gallup–has landmark status and will be preserved as is, though the interior has no similar exemption. I’m very pleased with this news, and look forward to having them in the neighborhood, perhaps in 2013, or the next year.