Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Penny Marshall 1943-2018


Monday, December 17, 2018

Recent Photographs 2018











Sunday, December 16, 2018

December 2018 new collages




Saturday, December 15, 2018

Oddball December 2018

Friday, December 14, 2018

Nancy Wilson 1937-2018

Lovely Singer

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt Tenemental (With Sighs Too Deep For Words) Howl Gallery.







This is the perfect show for the Christmas season. Joyous, glittery, shinning and fun but with deep emotions running under and through this unique display. I gladly took it in yesterday leaving with a big smile on my face and deep gratitude for this wonderful artist. I'm feeling a bit lazy so I will repeat my long review of his big show at P.S. 1 from a few years back which should stand today as it did back then. The show (and that's what it is a show of shows) is only on until December 19th, they should extend the run to at least after New Year's. That said my previous review from 2012.
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt: Tender Love Among the Junk. P.S 1. Moma
This is an extraordinary overflowing beautiful retrospective of the art of Thomas Lanigan- Schmidt that is full of marvelous sculptures, drawings and objects that are generally made from everyday materials that one might find at home or in the street. The images and themes that have interested Schmidt for over 40 years include religion, pop culture and sexuality of the gay kind.
His work is also political and kind, sweet and caring. Its also emotional and all embracing, something that the Catholic Church which plays such an important part in his life and art, constantly fails to do. The first thing of course one notices is the wild and garish use of color and surfaces, tinsel and foil shinny and hot. Our lady of the 99 cents store. This show is an eyeful and is overwhelming in its imagery and beauty. There is plenty to get just from the surface of his objects, and I suppose one can enjoy them in a superficial and camp way a chuckle here a giggle there, but deep down underneath this surface is also a running stream which is full of hurt, joy, hope, loss, remembrance and emotion.
I don’t think I have ever seen such a raw and open autobiographical display by a contemporary artist or a body of art as profoundly moving as Schmidt’s. Obsessive (that’s putting it mildly) and childlike in its craft, this is a childhood never lost, no matter how painful it may have been, Schmidt is an artist who taps into his background for inspiration and ideas, and then lays it out like a banquet for us to pick from. Brought up in the Catholic church this upbringing as I said plays a huge part in his artistic oeuvre, so everywhere we look we see icons, chalices, Madonna’s alters, nuns, angels and religious artifacts and images mostly made of the ever present color foils and tinsels. Religion and the church meet up in pieces with tinfoil rats and amazingly big and colorful cockroaches along with homoerotic images and faded photos of movie stars.
There is a large and wonderful series of vivid beautiful drawings set in tin foil pans that form ready-made frames for the drawings, I mean what else would one use tin foil pans for? I should mention that I’ve known Tommy for over 40 years and our paths probably first crossed the night of the Stonewall Riots in which he played a pivotal role and turns up in some of Fred McDarrah’s iconic photographs of that event. I was there also but only as an onlooker a 22 year old pretty Jewish boy from Brooklyn new to the city just coming home (and coming out) from the bars, I often wonder if Tommy ran by me as I nervously watched these brave street kids and drag queens take back the night. I was on the cusp of my art world baptism and a few months later my poet friend would take me to meet Tommy or Mr. T, as he was then known at his Lower East Side apartment.
I was thrown off guard by him and his art and his place both actual and otherwise, and he gifted me with a pair of foil sunglasses that I hope I still have somewhere. I think my poet friend brought me to meet him for a number of reasons one of which was to show me that there was another way to be an artist, another way to make art, and that it was fine Ira Joel for you to hang out with your big shot art world friends in their big Soho lofts and to be the youngest artist to ever be in a Whitney Annual, but please take note that this is not the only way to be an artist and that nothing last forever. Eventually I did get it.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Roma part 2.



SPOILER ALERT.
Some more notes on the movie of the year. Alfonso Cuaron is giving us a memory piece and like all memories they are intimate, personal and isolated. Here the director who grew up well off in a rich area of Mexico City in the early 70’s called Roma remembers it well. The family lives in a very large quite ugly house with a carport where their big neglected dog roams free and dumps his doo all over the place.
Cleo the well loved maid and cleaner upper must pick up the doo as part of her duties. This memory piece is really about Cleo played by newcomer Yalitza Aparicio who the children and the mother and grandmother who also lives with them love. Cleo does everything for the four children and she is treated almost as one of the family. This love piece is for her, she is central and center of this movie and in fact Cuaron dedicates the movie to his real nanny Liboria Rodíguez, now seventy-four years old. “For Libo” is the last credit we see.
The father is a doctor. He is like a phantom he appears and then disappears, and eventually he will disappear for good. Cleo meets her problems and fate,with faith and with spirit and is tested when she meets the only villain in the movie who is really horrible.
He does have a nice naked body which we see as he demonstrates his martial arts in the nude for Cleo after they have sex in a rented room. He is the villain and I hated him, his deeds are bad. Cuaron is most likely the youngest child in the film, (he makes poetic statements throughout the film) but it doesn’t really matter.
There are two trips to the movies; one is where Cleo is left stranded after she tells her villain that she thinks she is pregnant. I’ll be right back he says he has to take a wicked pee, and he never comes back. The movie theatre is big and ornate and packed with people watching a silly British army comedy with Terry Thomas. The other movie clip is from “Marooned” an early 70’s space move that the children insist they must see. This time all we see is a short clip of Gene Hackman floating in space and some of us might pick up on this “Gravity” remark from Cuaron.
Mexico City is teeming with activity and humanity, there is not one empty area of space where we can rest, it just flows and pulses. Those of us who are New Yorkers will almost feel comfortable and familiar with this mess, and others will want to get the hell out of it. Cuzon does pans and tracking shots of the city’s busy and collaged streets. The story is intimate and small but with huge startling sequences that are like seeing movies for the first time and realizing what they are capable of doing.
There are set pieces that will be classics (they are already some would say) and will be talked about for years to come. Cleo’s visit to a martial arts training field to tell her villain that she is indeed pregnant, the sad delivery of her child, the Corpus Christi massacre of students and protesters by the army and seen high above in a furniture store as Cleo and the family’s loving grandmother shop for a crib for Cleo’s unborn child, A large New Years family gathering that is surreal with dog heads lining the walls, and a scary fire and a shooting party gone berserk, an earthquake that covers an incubator in a hospital with stones, without harming the baby within. There are others. What is also remarkable is the cinematography, so crisp and black and white, insolated figures far and near in landscapes and beaches.
Intimate little scenes in kitchens where maids and cooks chat and giggle, family quarrels over dinners. The final scene where Cleo climbs a long outdoor staircase to the roof to hang the family’s laundry as an airplane flies overhead. Sounds come to us from all parts of the film and the theatre where we sit transfixed by the absolute beauty of what we are watching. Is that someone in the audience talking no its coming from the movie. Is that crying from the screen or is it from the audience? It’s both. The film should be seen on a big screen in a theatre and not streaming on a t.v. or a God forbid computer screen, but Netflix which “owns” the film has other plans, and right now it is being shown in a few theatres around the country for a short time. I suggest you make plans to see it where it should be seen, on a big screen.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Favourite 2018


Saw another big ticket movie of the year and I pretty much ate this one up with a big spoon and a napkin tucked under my chin to catch all the wonderful drippings. Set in the court of Queen Anne, who is eccentric, difficult and very ill with the gout and who is also quite lesbian. Here she is playing rub my legs with her childhood friend and top advisor Lady Sarah played with great sarcasm and nastiness by Rachel Weisz who also shares her bed. That is until Emma Stone shows up who is Lady Sarah's cousin and a once upon a time lady who is tired of waiting and works her way up the royal ladder taking down anyone who gets in her way. Its rowdy and ribald with a great All About Eve like script that many critics have picked up on, how can one not see the similarities? Its solidly directed by Yorgos Lanthimos with a finger in our eyes. The film is also gorgeous so rich and detailed in everything royal 18th Century from the wigs to the make-up and oh Mary those costumes. This film should also be seen on a big screen and before I go I must mention how great the great Olivia Colman is as Anne. You can't take your eyes off her when she is on screen and for me a big Colman admirer (hell I love her) this was the treat of the year seeing her give this great great performance. One of the best films of the year for sure.

Children Draw

Children Draw a new book on children's art by Marilyn JS Goodman has just been published and I have a full page drawing that I did when I was well a child in it. I "copied" it from the cover one one of my favorite books I had when a kid. A little back story. I've known Marilyn since High School see the posed photo of us taken for the high school yearbook. I'm on the far right and Marilyn is next to me. We were both in art classes and for two years we had scholarships to go to Pratt Institute on saturdays for art classes. We lost touch but Marilyn popped up in my life in the early 80's when I ran into her at the college art assoc during my going on interviews for teaching gigs. In 1984 when she was the director of the Philadelphia Art Alliance she organized a retro. of my art. The photo of us was taken at the opening where I didn't want to pose, and Marilyn is saying to me "Just stand there and look pretty." We are facebook friends and I am delighted to be in her book, which is really a nice looking job with 115 full color repros of kids drawings and well written from what I've read so far.







Roma 2018

ira joel haber. Just a short note on this movie which is for me the movie of the year. It must be seen in a theatre on a big screen because it is incredibly beautiful to look at, also the sound design is great. I went not jumping up and down to the IFC which is not my favorite place to see movies, but I was ok with it because it was in the biggest theatre, compact but not uncomfortable. It was sold out so if you are planning to see it there (where else can you see it) allow yourself an hour, to get tickets and wait on the ticket holders line. I hate those awful reclining seats, they hurt my back, so I always sit in the last row because there's no where for them to recline. Two seats on either side of me were left empty so that was good, and I noticed John Tuturro was in the audience. Only had to scream at one person in front of me who was taking pictures with his phone during the opening, can you imagine, and I was thanked by several people for doing so. I might write more about it.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Robert Morris 1931-2018


Elly Weiss





I just found out that one of my favorite facebook  friends and one who I actually spent some real time with has passed. I'm heartbroken to have her gone from this earth and I won't foul this post with the reality of someone who is still with us but shouldn't be. This is for dear Elly, and I was so hoping to have more time with her. She was very supportive of my art, and her intelligence and smarts and life experiences were so impressive to me. We spent an afternoon together a few years ago on a hot day summer day at the Met, where Elly showed me the secret door to allow us to skip all the lines and crowds. This loss hurts. Rest In Peace fine lady.

Stranger On the Third Floor 1940











            A sixty minute slap in the mug. Made by RKO with some great character actors, and 2 unknown leads, this squirt in the eye movie is considered by some to be the first film noir before the term existed. Possible since it is severe, dark, expressionistic and cheaply made on the backlot of RKO.  Known as an A and B studio making those great Astaire Rogers musicals along with those classic Val Lewton flickers featuring leopard men, cat people and zombies. The studio also had Radio City Music Hall as their crown theatre where most of their product played during the 30’s and 40’s.  John McGuire nicely forgotten today plays Michael a hungry for glory newspaper reporter who just happens to walk into a crime at his favorite neighborhood dive and later gives eye witness testimony that helps convict the hapless dude accused of the murder, played with pity by the great Elisha Cook Jr.
                     Michael’s attractive girlfriend is nicely played by Margaret Tallichet who has her doubts about Elisha’s guilt and is torn up when Michael’s testimony helps send Elisha to an appointment with the electric chair.
              Meanwhile Michael is also having doubts about his testimony and Elisha’s guilt and his inner thoughts yell at us as he passes time in his crummy room in his boarding house. He broods and sweats and has terrible rows with his cranky landlady played by Ethel Griffies and his nosey difficult neighbor acted with full speed ahead by the great character actor Charles Halton who we’ve seen in a million movies. Halton who goes by the perfect name of  Meng complains about the noise that Michael makes typing away late at night on his articles and there is a big row between them when Michael brings Jane to his room one late and rainy night.
                Hey they’re on their way to marriage but its 1940 and bringing gals to your room was not the proper thing to do according to his landlady and Meng. Meanwhile Peter Lorre is lurking around in the streets and on the third floor where Michael and Meng live. Later that night Michael and Jane decide to go for a walk to Washington Sq. to clear their minds and commiserate next to a giant photo blowup of the Washington Sq. Arch, which is so charming and outsider art.
             The best art though is coming up in a expressionistic nightmare that Michael has after he discovers the dead body of Meng and is worried that he will be blamed and tried for the crime. This montage is so wonderful and brilliant that I wanted to hang it on my wall or carry it in my pocket to take out on those long subway rides into the city. This sequence is sophisticated and lavish in it’s cheap budget way: lots of cutting diagonals of light, small figures in large spaces, unforgiving jurists who sleep through his trial just like they really did in Elisha’s trial, and huge newspapers blaring out the headlines to mention just a few of the bold images that would make Fritz Lang jealous and Dr. Caligari weep tears of envy, that’s how good it is.
                  The great Nathanael West  is uncredited for the screenplay, and the beautiful cinematography is by the important cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca who started in movies in the late 20’s and did many important Noir films along with the cinematography for “I Remember Mama” which got him his only Oscar nomination. Also noteworthy and of note is the great art direction by Van Nest Polglase who did the restrained realistic interiors and the startling nightmare. There’s not much suspense in guessing who the real murderer is, and the ending might be a little too cute for some. The director Boris Ingster did only 2 more movies and a bunch of TV before disappearing from view. Speaking of disappearing the actress Margaret Tallichet did a few more films before retiring forever from films after marrying William Wyler in 1938 and remained married to him for 43 years until his death in 1981.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Cakemaker 2017










Trying hard not to give too much away. A young handsome German Baker who lives and operates a charming Cafe in Berlin starts an affair with an equally attractive Jewish businessman who comes to Berlin often and loves the baker’s cookies. The businessman lives in Jerusalem with his plain wife and son and one day he returns to Jerusalem but is never heard of again. It gets dicey for me at this point because as I said I’m trying hard not to give much away. I will tell you that sweet Thomas the baker goes to Jerusalem where most of the film takes place and integrates himself in his lover’s family. He even starts working in the wife’s cafe, and bakes up a storm making it the place to have coffee and cake in the city. Everyone with the exception of his lover’s orthodox brother takes to Thomas and its not hard to see why, Thomas is as appealing and sweet as those fabulous cakes and cookies he creates. This film mixes in the batter (sorry couldn’t resist) politics, religion, love, affection and the complicated laws of kosher cooking with just the right amount of sugar that sometimes I might add is a little hard to swallow. Small quibbles on my part as I was completely taken with this first film by Ofir Raul Graizer and the charming performance of  Tim Kalkhof as Thomas the baker. If I’ve made it sound like this is a simple one level movie, it isn’t, the layers like a great cake is full of surprises and keeps on giving with every bite.

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