Monthly Archives: August 2019

New York Travel: The New York Botanical Garden – Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx (Saturday, June 8, 2019 – Sunday, September 29, 2019)

The New York Botanical Garden is a botanical garden located at Bronx Park in the Bronx, New York City. The 250-acre site’s verdant landscape supports over one million living plants in extensive collections. The garden has a diversity of tropical, temperate, and desert flora, as well as programming that ranges from exhibitions in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory to festivals on Daffodil Hill. As of 2016, over a million people visit the New York Botanical Garden annually.
If you are planning on being in New York in the next month, be sure to check out the Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx exhibit. Roberto Burle Marx (1909–94) was a force of nature in Brazil—through his bold landscapes, vibrant art, and passionate commitment to plant conservation. His powerful modernist vision produced thousands of gardens and landscapes, including the famous curving mosaic walkways at Copacabana Beach in Rio and the beautiful rooftop garden at Banco Safra in São Paulo. Feel his artistic energy and love of plants during our Garden-wide exhibition of lush gardens; paintings, drawings, and textiles; and the sights and sounds of Brazil that inspired his life and work.

Hot Tips:
You can get to the NYBG by using public transit quite easily. It is a good 20 minute walk from the train station to the gardens. There are quite a few signs leading you to the gardens, so you can feel quite confident getting there in one piece. The neighbourhood is also safe. You can also get to the gardens using Metro North Rail.
Before you make your way around the NYBG, grab the NYBG tram which runs around the perimeter of the gardens. You can get a feel for the sights and then make decisions on which areas you would like to explore. The gardens cover a huge space; if you have time check out all the gardens has to offer. Make a note, the earlier in the day you visit the gardens, the easier it will be to access to tram en route.
First stop, the Mitsubishi Wild Wetland Trail which offers a chance to get a closer look at natural wetland habitats from swamp to marsh to pond. Here you can learn about the important role of wetlands—natural water filters that remove debris from the water supply. Enjoy views of common reed cattails and keep an eye out for ducks, turtles, and other animals as you make your way along the boardwalk. Many birds, including red-winged blackbirds, can be spotted here.
I always love getting lost in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. It is a stunning example of Victorian-style glasshouse artistry, and a New York City Landmark. It is home to A World of Plants, which showcases the wonders of the Garden’s living collections in lush tropical rain forests, cactus-filled deserts, curated displays of palms from around the world, aquatic and carnivorous plants, and much more. From early summer through fall, the Courtyards come alive with vibrant hardy and tropical water lilies and graceful lotus.
Check out the Conservatory courtyard pools which houses water lilies and lotus in brilliant yellow, pink, purple, and even blue float serenely next to waving grasses and reeds. Dominating the tropical pool is the Victoria amazonica, the world’s largest water lily, whose leaves can span seven-feet across.
I always make sure that when I visit the NYBG that I bring a baseball hat, water, granola bars, good sneakers and bug spray. If you are going to be out in the sun, be sure to protect yourself from heat stroke.
Lastly, I also visited the old-growth Forest which will show you some Native American hunting trails, marks left by glaciers and trees dating back to the American Revolution. The Forest remains a magnificent reminder of the beauty and resilience of nature in the face of complex human-caused disturbances. To preserve the Forest for future generations the Garden manages invasive species, plants native plants, and performs research.
Make sure you make time for the NYBG the next time you are in NY and the Bronx!

New York Travel: Whitney Museum of American Art – The Whitney Biennial (May 17–Sep 22, 2019)

The Whitney Museum of American Art, known informally as the “Whitney”, is an art museum in Manhattan. It was founded in 1930 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a wealthy and prominent American socialite and art patron after whom it is named.
The Whitney Biennial is an unmissable event for anyone interested in finding out what’s happening in art today. Curators Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley have been visiting artists over the past year in search of the most important and relevant work. Featuring seventy-five artists and collectives working in painting, sculpture, installation, film and video, photography, performance, and sound, the 2019 Biennial takes the pulse of the contemporary artistic moment. Introduced by the Museum’s founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932, the Biennial is the longest-running exhibition in the country to chart the latest developments in American art.
Check out, Iman Issa’s series Heritage Studies. It is based on objects the artist has encountered in museums around the world, typically those devoted to archaeology and ethnography. Made of materials such as painted wood, copper, and brass, the resulting works typically do not resemble the objects that inspired them; instead they take on new forms that probe the contemporary resonance of their sources. The sculptures are accompanied by didactic texts that draw on the conventions of museum labels while further highlighting the relevance of the historical objects to the present.

I also enjoyed, Nicole Eisenman’s sculptural ensemble Procession. We view the downtrodden and how they carry on and move forward. For the artist this tension poses questions about what it looks like to be disenfranchised, but also part of a community, and about how to protest when protests feel like a constant cycle. Eisenman often combines traditional materials such as bronze and plaster with foam, sneakers, clothing, fog machines, and fountains that hint at bodily realities that sculpture has traditionally worked to transcend. Ultimately Eisenman seeks to pull the viewer into her mirrored view of the world, which she has created as a means of carefully examining our own.

Procession also features a live video feed of the Museum’s eighth-floor gallery where Gamma Delta (1959–60) by Morris Louis is on view as part of the exhibition Spilling Over: Painting Color in the 1960s. The video presents a thermal mapping of the gallery overlaid with an animation. Museums and art institutions have often been characterized as secular temples dedicated to the vision of the historically male “genius.” In the video feed Eisenman subverts the sanctity of that space and questions the cultural framework that has been built up around such places.
Hot Tips: Try to get the museum first thing in the morning when it opens. The lines tend to get long and busy. After you visit walk along the High Line for some great shots of NYC and the Whitney from the outside.
I also enjoy starting at the top floor at the museum and working my way down using the stairs. You miss a lot of the crowds that way.
Don’t forget to check out the terrace and have a coffee in their café. These visits only add to the experience at the Whitney. Take your time, there is no rush. The Whitney is pretty epic!
Make sure you put the Whitney Museum of American Art on your schedule when you next visit New York.

New York Travel: Coney Island

Coney Island is a residential and commercial neighborhood and entertainment area in the southwestern part of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. The neighborhood is bounded by Sea Gate to its west, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to its east, Lower New York Bay to the south, and Gravesend to the north. Coney Island was formerly the westernmost of the Outer Barrier islands on the southern shore of Long Island, but in the early 20th century it became a peninsula, connected to the rest of Long Island by land fill.
I took the train from Queens directly to Coney Island on a whim. It was not on my schedule on this recent trip. This was some great learning for me; sometimes we can overschedule ourselves on holiday. It’s worth going off schedule to push yourself a little bit and try out some new experiences.
The trip to Coney Island took close to an hour from Queens but it was a relatively easy journey. When I got to Coney Island, I checked out the Aquarium first (grab a reduced ticket from their website to use at anytime). I went to the Aquarium mid day and caught a few shows, took my time watching the fish and slowed my pace down. Keep in mind that the Aquarium closes by 5 p.m.. Leave yourself a lot of time to explore.
Once the sun was less intense, I left the Aquarium and took a stroll down the boardwalk, drunk in the cheesy rundown buildings, people watched and walked up to the pier to get a tad more sun drunk as the cool breeze washed over me. On my way back to the main strip, I popped into Ihop and had some waffles and hash browns. It was hardly memorable. But after a few too many lemonade and ice tea refills I grabbed the train back to Queens. It was a lovely day, soaking up the sun and going back in time to an old school beach experience.

New York Travels: MoMA PS1

MoMA PS1 is one of the largest art institutions in the United States dedicated solely to contemporary art. It is located in the Long Island City neighborhood in the borough of Queens, New York City. In addition to its exhibitions, the institution organizes the Sunday Sessions performance series, the Warm Up summer music series, and the Young Architects Program with the Museum of Modern Art. MoMA PS1 has been affiliated with the Museum of Modern Art since January 2000 and, as of 2013, attracts about 200,000 visitors a year.
I enjoy visiting MoMA PS1 every time I am in New York. It always feels like the more accessible little sister to MoMA in Manhattan. It is easier to navigate and I appreciate how much love it shines out in maintaining the school house and the eccentric art that it holds.
Long-term installations at MoMA PS1 can be seen year-round. These site-specific installations range in scale and medium; some are obvious to the eye while others are more subtly placed. Many installations have remained on view since the 1970s, when MoMA PS1 was The Institute for Art and Urban Resources Inc. Since MoMA PS1 is the largest non-collecting contemporary art institution in the world, these works belong to the artists. Be sure to check out the hallways, the floors, the stairwells and the brick work in the space. They hold beautiful nuances from artists perfectly hidden but always willing to tell a story to you.
On my recent visit I revelled in Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds “Surviving Active Shooter Custer (Through September 8) exhibit. For more than three decades, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne and Arapaho Nation, b. 1954) has worked as an artist, activist, and teacher. Based in Oklahoma City and on tribal land, where he has lived since 1981, Heap of Birds consistently creates works that confront repressed or unacknowledged histories of state and settler violence against Native communities in the United States. His work often draws parallels between historical violence and ongoing injustices today. By employing the contemporary term “active shooter” to characterize massacres committed by U.S. troops against Native Americans over a century ago, Heap of Birds reanimates the past in the language of the present. In so doing, he points to the violence of history itself: the power of a dominant culture to erase, forget, or otherwise obscure its own acts of oppression.
Across his drawings, prints, and spatial interventions—such as the steel parking signs that appear throughout the building, alluding to the forced relocation of Native communities, including those in New York, to Oklahoma in the 1830s as part of the Trail of Tears—Heap of Birds harnesses the power of familiar forms and expressions for political ends. In his recent installations of monoprints and their corresponding “ghost prints,” the artist culls poetic fragments from a wide range of sources, appropriating popular music, sayings taken from reservation social gatherings, written accounts of historical events, and political speeches, among others. By transforming vernacular language into monumental works of art resembling grids of protest posters, Heap of Birds blurs the boundaries between aesthetics, pedagogy, and activism, creating a body of work that opens new critical perspectives on American histories and cultures.

Hot Tip:  Go down to the basement and check out the boiler room! 🙂

Take your time at MoMA PS1. Enjoy a meal in their cafeteria and be ready to leave with an education.

New York Travel: Hot Tips (New York Yankee Tickets, How to Research and Where to Find Deals)

My key piece of advice when planning for your trip to New York is to do you research. I know, a headache but it will serve you well when you are on the ground.

I would suggest making a list of everything you would like to do and then map the ideas out by neighbourhood per day in a written schedule. I would pay attention to open and closing times of establishments. Make reservations where you can. Some establishments won’t take reservations as a side note.

I also like to follow social media sites for musuems, galleries, restaurants etc.. Sometimes you can get deals or special promotions if you keep an eye out in advance. Additionally set mobile alerts to these accounts. I liked the and TimeOut NY mobile alerts.


In terms of sports tickets, if you are travelling from overseas you may want to buy your tickets in advance. I lucked out and grabbed $12 USD Yankees tickets against the Blue Jays on the same day when I used my Mastercard. I simply walked up to the window at Yankee Stadium  and scored the deal. Now a bit of a risk but my pocket book thanked me.

In terms of planning out your day’s using the New York Subway, my suggestion would be to grab a subway map and pick a neighbourhood location that you are planning on visiting that day. Then walk around that neighbourhood and visit alternate points of interest. Take your time and visit local coffee and food establishments. Then get back on the train (or walk!) and visit the next closest neighbourhood in your itinerary. This way you can get to know neighbourhoods, their local arts and cultural spots and eateries. You can cover more ground and have a more through understanding of neighbourhoods. If you are in NYC for seven days grab a MetroCard with a 7 day unlimited window. After the 7 days has passed and if you are staying longer in NYC, top it up a few dollars everyday as necessary.



New York Travel: Roosevelt Island Tram

The entrance to Roosevelt tram is at 2nd Avenue and 60th Street. The aerial tramway resembles a ski gondola. Walk up and pay with your subway pass. If you have an Unlimited MetroCard, you pay nothing extra. The gondola / tram takes you to Roosevelt Island in four minutes. Roosevelt Island is a small island in the East River. It is a place where 16,000 people work and live. On Roosevelt Island you can take a wonderful (and quiet) walk. If you want to do this, then walk to the river and then left. There are many benches and a nice view of Manhattan. Perfect for relaxation. You can use the tram again on the way back, but there is also a subway station just behind the tram between the first apartment buildings. Another option is to take NYC Ferry. You can board on the east side of the island. It first stops at Long Island City and then continues to Manhattan.

New York Travel: The Museum at FIT presents “Minimalism/Maximalism” (May 28, 2019 – November 16, 2019)


Fashion & Textile History Gallery
May 28, 2019 – November 16, 2019
Share using #MinimalismMaximalism on Twitter and Instagram.

Sir Issac Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Similarly, every fashion movement is a response to what came before it, perpetuating a design cycle that alternates between exuberant and restrained. Sartorial expression ranges from minimalist to maximalist, with some designers identifying almost exclusively with one aesthetic over the other. Calvin Klein, for instance, was known for fashion minimalism, while Christian Lacroix was famous for his elaborate maximalist fashions.

Minimalism/Maximalism is the first exhibition devoted to the historical interplay of minimalist and maximalist aesthetics as expressed through high fashion. The exhibition begins with the eighteenth century and proceeds through the history of fashion, examining relationships between the two aesthetics that have moved fashion forward.
Minimalist and maximalist fashions represent extremes on a design continuum. Both, however, seek to challenge perception and, as mediums of cultural expression, are linked to the times in which they occur. Minimalism and maximalism differ in their design approaches, but connect to broader movements of sociocultural, economic, and technological change. As they adapt to new eras, each stimulates and defines the other.

Minimalism — the aesthetic of “less is more” — celebrates purity and restraint, promoting qualities such as truth, order, and harmony. Calvin Klein explained minimalism as “a philosophy that involves an overall sense of balance, knowing when to take away, subtract.” Minimalist fashions prioritize reduction and function, using clean lines and silhouettes to accentuate the relationship between body and garment. As Donald Judd aptly described it, minimalism is the “simple expression of a complex thought.” Minimalist designs do not eschew ornamentation outright, but often employ it to enhance structure and construction. Gilbert Adrian, known for broad-shouldered suits based on the austere lines of menswear, manipulated pattern to render garments that stimulate the viewer’s interest.

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Adrian suit, circa 1945, USA. The Museum at FIT, Gift of Jeannette Swift, 66.110.1
Maximalism revels in spectacle. Its beauty lies in excess and eclecticism. “I believe in Maximalism,” proclaimed Lacroix. “Minimalism has never had a place for couture clients.” Throughout history, maximalist fashion has been associated with extravagance, artifice, and non-functional style. Eighteenth-century Rococo fashion, for example, projected an ethos of “more is best.” As a journalistic term, “maximalism” is often used in reference to audacious, intricate aesthetics or exaggerated silhouettes. However, maximalist fashions may also embrace varied visual references to synthesize new meaning. Composer David Jaffe explained maximalism as “embrac[ing] heterogeneity and allow[ing] for complex systems of juxtaposition and collusion.” While it is not associated with a definitive art movement, “maximalism” was used by art critic Robert Pincus-Witten to characterize a reaction to minimalist and post- minimalist art.

Examining the history of fashion, we discern alternating periods of excess and restraint. During the early twentieth century, the minimalist aesthetic of streamlined wartime fashions and Coco Chanel’s modernist jersey knitwear were reactions to the extreme silhouettes and ornamentation of Belle Époque fashion. Similarly, the ostentatious glamour and self-confidence that took hold in the 1980s — realized in a variety of extravagant looks by designers such as Thierry Mugler and Gianni Versace — was countered during the 1990s by the austerity of designs by Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela, and by the “invisible luxury” of Prada.
The line between fashions we consider minimal or those we think of as maximal can be quite fine. Inspired by the grandeur of the couture, Raf Simons’s spring 2011 collection for Jil Sander explored the boundaries between minimalism and maximalism. “It almost challenged me to the opposite, to do the idea of maximalism,” he admitted to Women’s Wear Daily.

As the exhibition progresses into the second half of the 20th century, it turns to the emergence of minimalism as an art movement across media. Designer Michael Mott echoed the reductive approach of Minimalist art with a 1960s black-and-white mini-dress created for the boutique Paraphernalia. Andre Courrèges’s white Space Age dress alludes to youth culture and optimism for the future; it is characterized by a streamlined silhouette and monochromatic palate typically associated with minimalist fashion. By the end of the decade, the psychedelic movement was promoting a maximalist sensory experience — often through the use of mind-altering drugs — that found expression in fashion, as seen in a maxi-dress by Thea Porter.

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Céline, ensemble, fall 2015, France. The Museum at FIT, Gift of Céline. 2018.42.1
Today, fashion is in the midst of a maximalist revival, after years of a decidedly minimalist movement championed by the likes of Phoebe Philo, formerly of Céline. Modern designers such as Richard Quinn are experimenting with pattern, volume, and proportion. The popularity of Balenciaga’s supersize “Triple S” sneaker is a sign that fashion is having a maximalist, “bigger equals better” moment. Yet even now, fashion trendsetters predict the imminent resurgence of minimalism.
Minimalist and maximalist aesthetics appeal to fashion designers throughout the globe. Fashion cycles are accelerating as trends are driven by a multitude of sources, from social media platforms to celebrity “influencers,” fashion editors, and bloggers. Irrespective of design aesthetic, recent collections have shown that this is not a time for quiet clothes. In 2018, journalist Alexander Fury described the spring collections as “hysterical, scatterbrained, and lunging toward extreme opposites . . . just as global political parties have become more polarized themselves. The collections telegraph post- national, post-history, and post-internet ideas.” As designers continue to redefine minimalist and maximalist fashion, this exhibition invites visitors to explore the history of these shifting aesthetics, so that the past may illuminate the present.