Tag Archives: new york

The Frick Collection: Guido Cagnacci’s ‘Masterpiece the Repentant Magdalene’ (October 25, 2016, through January 22, 2017)


Often times we get lost in the glamour and beauty of the collections from the likes of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art that we forget about the off the beaten path works that are just down the street that can offer just as much creative inspiration when you are on holiday.

Have you ever heard of The Frick Collection?  The Frick is known for its distinguished Old Master paintings and outstanding examples of European sculpture and decorative arts.

The collection was assembled by the Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919) and is housed in his former residence on Fifth Avenue. One of New York City’s few remaining Gilded Age mansions, it provides a tranquil environment for visitors to experience masterpieces by artists such as Bellini, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Gainsborough, Goya, and Whistler. The museum opened in 1935 and has continued to acquire works of art since Mr. Frick’s death.

A collection that inspired me during my visit to The Frick Collection was from Guido Cagnacci.  His ‘Masterpiece the Repentant Magdalene’ is swoon worthy and a true exhibition of a great master series.

Guido Cagnacci (1601–1663) is among the most eccentric painters who worked in seventeenth-century Italy. His works, mostly religious in subject, are known for their unashamed, often unsettling, eroticism. Even though his pictorial style was influenced by some of the greatest Italian baroque painters—the Carracci, Guercino, and Guido Reni—his figurative language always remained individual and highly recognizable. The unconventionality of his work led to his being almost entirely forgotten during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. After exhibitions in Rimini and Bologna in 1952 and 1959, respectively, Cagnacci was rediscovered by Italian art historians and writers, but he still remains unjustifiably little known outside of Italy. Cagnacci’s ambitious Repentant Magdalene, a large canvas acquired in 1982 by the Norton Simon Art Foundation in Pasadena, CA, is considered a masterpiece of seventeenth-century Italian art.   Accompanying the exhibition in the museum’s East Gallery will be the publication The Art of Guido Cagnacci by Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator. Principal funding for the exhibition is generously provided by the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation.

Trained between Bologna and Rome, Cagnacci spent most of his life producing idiosyncratic pictures for religious and aristocratic patrons in his native Romagna, an area of northeastern Italy between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. He worked in different cities of the region, in particular, Rimini and Forlì. For nearly ten years, in the 1650s, he was based in Venice, after which, in 1658, he moved to Vienna, where he died in 1663. Cagnacci was known for his unconventional lifestyle. In 1628, he was caught after unlawfully eloping with an aristocratic woman, and he was often described as living with attractive young women disguised as male apprentices. 

 Highly theatrical in composition, The Repentant Magdalene is based on contemporary literary sources and religious plays. It depicts an event from the life of Mary Magdalene, the courtesan who converted to Christianity and gave up her sinful life after her encounter with Christ. Shown in her room after meeting with Jesus in the Temple, Mary is on the floor at the center of the composition, her long blonde hair cascading down her side, her face reddened by high emotion, her body barely covered by a white sheet around her waist. She has discarded her worldly possessions, throwing away her luxurious clothes and jewels, which are scattered all over the floor, creating an astonishing still life. Her sister Martha has found her in this state. Simply dressed, Martha sits on one of the cushions on the floor, consoling Mary. Behind them, two servants are leaving the room after having found their mistress in such a state. To the left, two allegorical figures are depicted: a standing angel, its hair blown by the divine wind that ruffles its evanescent wings, banishes a levitating devil, complete with horns and tail, who approaches the window in an attempt to flee the room. These fighting figures represent Virtue and Vice locked in combat as Mary chooses to follow her virtuous new Christian life.

The Repentant Magdalene was probably painted in the early 1660s in Vienna for Emperor Leopold I. By 1665, however, the canvas was in Italy, in the collection of Carlo II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, at La Favorita, his villa outside of Mantua. The Gonzagas were closely related to the imperial family, so this may have been a diplomatic gift to them, or an acquisition from Leopold I. In 1711, it entered the possession of the Bentinck family in England, first at Bulstrode House and then at Welbeck Abbey, where it remained until 1981, when it was sold at auction.

The next time you are in New York, make some time to check out The Frick Collection.  Its boutique beautifully curated works will give you a lot to reflect upon in the days that follow.


Review: National Museum of the American Indian in New York

Like the U.S., Canada has it’s own historical connections with our First Nations roots. But there is also a history that is so dark and painful that even now deacdes later our First Nations people are experiencing the grief, loss and devastation inflicted upon them by Canada’s first European settlers.

When I visited the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian I was wary of what I may see and experience.  Instead, I immediately felt an instant emotional connection.  The beauty of the arts, costume and honour of America Indian culture is a beautifully curated in an inclusive and diverse manner.  The space also serves to kindly educate the public locally and abroad about what it means to be an American Indian and how important it is to dwell upon as one of America’s own First Nations.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan, the George Gustav Heye (pronounced “high”) Center, opened in 1994 in the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, one of the most splendid Beaux-Arts buildings in New York. The museum features year-round exhibitions, dance and music performances, children’s workshops, family and school programs and film screenings that present the diversity of the Native peoples of the Americas and the strength of their cultures from the earliest times to the present.

The museum is a branch of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The National Museum of the American Indian was established by Congress in 1989. The Heye Center in New York opened in 1994; the Cultural Resources Center, six miles from the National Mall building in Suitland, Md., opened in 1999; and the National Museum of the American Indian opened in September 2004.


The museum’s permanent exhibition “Infinity of Nations: Art and History from the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian” showcases some 700 objects from Native North, Central and South America. Objects include an exquisite Olmec jade head, a rare Anishinaabe man’s outfit and a remarkable Charles and Isabelle Edenshaw (Haida) spruce root hat. This unparalleled assemblage of American Indian cultural material represents the tremendous breadth of the collections and the richness of Native art.

In addition, the museum hosts a selection of changing exhibitions that present and reaffirm the Native voice. The schedule includes exhibitions developed by the museum from its collections, installations of contemporary Native art and significant traveling exhibitions from other institutions.


Cultural Arts

The museum hosts Native musicians, dancers, artists and elders in presentations of their art and cultural heritage and in informal programs that invite them to share directly with museum visitors the life ways and world views of Native peoples. Programs include dance presentations, hands-on workshops, storytelling programs and annual events, including the Children’s Festival and the Native Sounds Downtown concert series.

Film and Video Center

The Film + Video Center of the National Museum of the American Indian is dedicated to presenting the works of Native Americans in media. An international leader in the support and presentation of indigenous film and video projects, the Heye Center hosts the Native Cinema Showcase, an annual presentation of films held at the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico. Screenings and discussions with filmmakers are also periodically held in the museum’s auditorium.


‘Circle of Dance’ exhibit (October 6, 2012–October 8, 2017) Consistent across time and cultures is the use of the body to communicate and express—to tell stories, participate in the cycles of nature, mourn, pray, and celebrate. Throughout the Americas music and dance have always been an essential part of the spiritual, cultural, and social lives of Native peoples.

During your time at the National Museum of the American Indian, please check out their amazing and informative tours.  Specifically the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House Tour.  Tour highlights include a discussion of the history of the site, architect Cass Gilbert, and sculptor Daniel Chester French; viewing the Collectors Office with Tiffany woodwork; Reginald Marsh murals; and the 140-ton Rotunda dome by Rafael Gustavino.  It is a free tour and a great way to go a little bit deeper into what the museum has to offer on site.

Calendar of Tours:  http://nmai.si.edu/calendar/?trumbaEmbed=mixin%3d452896&filter1%3d_166522


Review: The Brooklyn Museum’s ‘Iggy Pop Life Class’ (November 4, 2016, to March 26, 2017)


At the Brooklyn Museum you can explore an extensive and comprehensive permanent collection that includes ancient Egyptian masterpieces, African art, European painting, decorative arts, period rooms, and contemporary art. You’ll also experience intelligent, cutting-edge exhibitions and programs that reflect a fresh view of traditional and historical works as well as engagement with today’s most important artists and artistic practices and ideas.

This was my second time to the Brooklyn Museum.  I love that I can navigate the space within a few hours, dwell on works that that I want to see without hovering over people and also be guaranteed with some interesting pieces I can take away with me in my memory bank.

An exhibit worth checking out before March of 2017 is the ‘Iggy Pop Life Class’.

In Iggy Pop Life Class, Turner Prize–winning artist Jeremy Deller uses the traditional life-model drawing class to stage a performative event with Iggy Pop as model and subject. The resulting drawings, created by twenty-two participating artists, will be shown at the Brooklyn Museum from November 4, 2016, to March 26, 2017. Along with works depicting the male body selected from the Museum’s historical collections, the exhibition examines shifting cultural representations of masculinity across history.

Deller’s collaboration with Iggy Pop as a nude model is essential to his concept. A pioneer rock musician—as a singer, songwriter, musician, and actor—Pop began performing in the 1960s, becoming known for strenuous and unpredictable stage performances—highly physical, deliberately aggressive events that often left his body battered and cut. These corporeally charged acts radically confronted the rock and roll trope of male sexual appeal. As Deller notes, “Iggy Pop has one of the most recognizable bodies in popular culture. A body that is key to an understanding of rock music, and that has been paraded, celebrated, and scrutinized through the years in a way that is unusual for a man. It is also fair to say that it has witnessed a lot. It was for these reasons that I wanted him to sit for a life class.” For Deller, the life drawing class offered the opportunity to study his body in direct and palpable terms.

On Sunday, February 21, 2016, the twenty-two participating artists gathered at the New York Academy of Art, where Pop was the unexpected model. The artists represent New York’s diverse community, ranging from 19 to 80 years of age with varying backgrounds, and include undergraduate and graduate students, practicing artists, and retirees.

Iggy Pop Life Class expands on the ways in which different cultures have traditionally considered the male body by including objects from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection, chosen by Deller, that represent male figures from different cultures and periods around the world. Works include sculptures from ancient Egypt, Africa, India, Japan, and Mexico; prints and drawings by Egon Schiele, Max Beckmann, and Daniel Huntington; and photographs by Eadweard Muybridge, Horace Bristol, Jim Steinhardt, Robert Mapplethorpe, and John Coplans. “Pop’s use of his body in his performances, and Deller’s multifaceted approach to examining it through this project, offers the opportunity to discuss maleness, and to consider how feminism has expanded to apply not only to women, but  to all genders on the spectrum,” said Sharon Matt Atkins.

Jeremy Deller is a London-based conceptual artist Jeremy Deller (English, born 1966) is known for orchestrating large-scale collaborative projects. In 2001, Deller worked with former miners and members of re-enactment societies to restage a violent confrontation between the police and striking miners that had occurred in 1984 during the yearlong miners’ strike in the United Kingdom. For It Is What It Is, commissioned by The Three M Project and Creative Time in 2009, Deller toured the United States with a car destroyed in a 2007 bomb attack in Baghdad, inviting journalists, Iraqi refugees, soldiers, and scholars to share their experiences. He has developed several music projects including Acid Brass (1997), a brass band performance of acid house music. More recently, he created Sacrilege (2012), a life-size inflatable Stonehenge, and we’re here because we’re here (2016), a modern memorial to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. Winner of the 2004 Turner Prize, Deller represented Great Britain at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. His appreciation of academic drawing can be traced to his art history studies at the Courtauld Institute of Art and the University of Sussex.

Iggy Pop is a pioneer of rock music, Iggy Pop (American, born James Newell Osterberg, Jr., 1947) is a singersongwriter, musician, and actor. Born and raised in Michigan, Pop began performing in the 1960s. In 1967, he formed The Stooges, a band that significantly influenced the trajectory of rock music in the 1970s and 1980s. Pop became known for dynamic and unpredictable stage performances, a trademark throughout his career. His music has encompassed a number of styles over the decades, with well-known albums such as The Idiot (1977), Lust for Life (1977), Blah Blah Blah (1986), Brick by Brick (1990), and Skull Ring (2003). In 2010, The Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. March 2016 marked the release of Pop’s seventeenth album, Post Pop Depression, a collaboration with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age.

Iggy Pop Life Class is organized by Sharon Matt Atkins, Vice Director, Exhibitions and Collections Management, Brooklyn Museum.


Review: The New York Botanical Garden and the Holiday Train Show®

The New York Botanical Garden is an iconic living museum and, since its founding in 1891, has served as an oasis in this busy metropolis.

As a National Historic Landmark, this 250-acre site’s verdant landscape supports over one million living plants in extensive collections. Each year more than one million visitors enjoy the Garden not only for its remarkable diversity of tropical, temperate, and desert flora, but also for programming that ranges from renowned exhibitions in the Haupt Conservatory to festivals on Daffodil Hill.

The Garden is also a major educational institution. More than 300,000 people annually—among them Bronx families, school children, and teachers—learn about plant science, ecology, and healthful eating through NYBG’s hands-on, curriculum-based programming. Nearly 90,000 of those visitors are children from underserved neighboring communities, while more than 3,000 are teachers from New York City’s public school system participating in professional development programs that train them to teach science courses at all grade levels.

NYBG operates one of the world’s largest plant research and conservation programs, with nearly 200 staff members—including 80 Ph.D. scientists—working in the Garden’s state-of-the-art molecular labs as well as in the field, where they lead programs in 49 countries.

The year 2016 marks the 125th Anniversary of the founding of The New York Botanical Garden.



After hustling it all over New York during my first week, I decided to have a quiet Sunday and grab the Metro North train from Grand Central station and check out the New York Botanical Garden.  It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday away from a busy city and some relaxed time in nature.

I made a point to inhale the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory which houses tropical and desert plants.  I took my time walking through the space which was humid, damp and laden with a quilt of chirpy plants all dewy in their presentation.  The space is beautifully laid out and perfect for the whole family.  There are quiet nooks for you to sit down and take everything and friendly staff to answer questions.

I sipped my tea as I made my way over to the forest on the property.  This experience proved to be the most therapeutic experience on my trip.  Resembling that of Kew Gardens in England – the sleepy trees, a well maintained path, a rose garden, streams, a bridge and quiet respites made me feel at ease and welcoming of the peaceful quiet.  I took a moment to stand in a pile of fallen Fall leaves and make a memory for when my work week get’s me down.  NYBG is brimming with memory postcards and I was sure to snap them all up like collector cards.

Once I felt the Zen washing over me, I made my way over to the piece de resistance for the holiday season, The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show®.  It is a beloved New York City tradition and it enters its 25th year with the exhibition’s first roller coaster. The Coney Island Cyclone will join NYBG’s collection of more than 150 replicas of New York buildings that are all made out of plant parts and enlivened by large-scale model trains. The Holiday Train Show opens to the public on Saturday, November 19, 2016 and runs through Monday, January 16, 2017.

In addition to the famous Cyclone, new this year are Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel (complete with LED sign) and the Elephantine Colossus, a gigantic elephant-shaped hotel from the 1890s. The Holiday Train Show already features several Coney Island structures, including the Galveston Flood Building, the Luna Park Arch, the Luna Park Central Tower, and the Luna Park Ticket Booth. All of the collection’s Coney Island models will be displayed in the Reflecting Pool of the Palms of the World Gallery in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. This year the 30-foot-long Brooklyn Bridge will be relocated to the Palms Gallery, completing the Brooklyn scene. The Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge will also make its exhibition debut.

In the Holiday Train Show, more than 25 G-scale model trains and trolleys will hum along nearly a half mile of track past re-creations of iconic sites such as the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, The New York Public Library, and Radio City Music Hall. Artistically crafted by Paul Busse’s team at Applied Imagination, all of the New York landmarks—which include Hudson River Valley houses and other buildings from New York State as well—are made of natural materials such as bark, twigs, stems, fruits, seeds, and pine cones. American steam engines, streetcars from the late 1800s, and modern freight and passenger trains ride underneath overhead trestles, through tunnels, and across rustic bridges and past waterfalls that cascade into flowing creeks. Thomas the Tank Engine™ and other beloved trains disguised as large colorful insects delight children as they zoom by.

The next time you are in New York – push yourself to get outside of the bubble of the city and take the trip to the Bronx.  The New York Botanical Garden will make everything right in one visit.


Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Manhattan View Long Island City


Did you know that Queens is now the new Brooklyn? Well, whilst I was in New York I wanted to stay outside the city, save some money, be close enough to the subway and still feel safe as a single girl travelling on her own. I stayed for 11 days at the Holiday Inn Manhattan View Long Island City and it was a perfect fit to my needs.

Holiday Inn Manhattan View sets the bar high for Manhattan area hotels. With views of the unmistakable New York City skyline,  the hotel is an exceptional backdrop for both business and pleasure.  This Queens hotel is just minutes from Manhattan, New York City’s legendary landmarks.  Explore the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway, and Madison Square Garden. Holiday Inn Manhattan View is a nearby neighbor to many Fortune 500 companies, offering easy access to Citibank, MetLife, the United Nations, JetBlue, Delta, and Mount Sinai Medical Center.  The hotel is conveniently located within a short drive of all the major New York airports: LaGuardia, JFK and Newark.  I was at the Holiday Inn Manhattan View within 45 minutes of arriving at LaGuardia Airport.

I loved being able to get into the city in ten minutes in the morning.  Even during those long days in the city – I would roll back to the hotel around 11 p.m. and walk the two minutes back to the Holiday Inn Manhattan View.  I never had any issues in regards to safety.  The street was quiet but the hotel is in a sleepy neighbourhood alongside a few other hotels nestled within the same block.

The Holiday Inn Manhattan View offers free high-speed Internet access. Ideal for international travelers and vacationers, this Astoria, Queens hotel is located just one block from the N and Q subway lines and just a few blocks from the E and R subway lines. Start planning today and enjoy the great room rates and deals at Holiday Inn Manhattan View.

I’m never going to hesitate to book another with the Holiday Inn Manhattan View Long Island City the next time I am in New York.  I hope you consider them as well!


Review: The Woolworth Building Lobby Tour


In 1913 the Woolworth Building, hailed by architectural critics as an engineering marvel, soared 792 feet high into the lower Manhattan skyline, making it the tallest building in the world at that time. The awe-inspiring, technologically advanced steel frame structure was designed by renowned architect Cass Gilbert. In addition to the skyscraper’s mechanical underbelly, which featured high-speed elevator service, self-sustaining electrical power generation, heating, cooling, water supply and fire protection, its grand lobby was recognized as a stunning and picturesque work of art.

Today, the lobby’s spectacular stained glass, Byzantine mosaics, sculptures and murals are being appreciated by architectural enthusiasts and professionals, historians, artists and visitors from around the world due in part to the passion and perseverance of Cass Gilbert’s great-grandchildren Helen Post-Curry and Chuck Post. Upon the 100-Year Celebration of the Woolworth Building, named a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and a New York City Landmark in 1983, the interest in the building’s intricate and preserved lobby was overwhelming. And so, the Woolworth Lobby Tours were introduced in the summer of 2013 and are operated by the descendants of Cass Gilbert.

The lobby had been closed to the public for a number of years due to security issues and general traffic within a building that houses professional offices and soon to be residential tenants. But there was no denying the public’s interest in this “Cathedral of Commerce”, as its Gothic exterior beckoned passersby into its Romanesque cathedral style lobby with its magnificent marble staircase. Frank W. Woolworth, the chief executive of the F. W. Woolworth Company and owner of the popular five-and-ten-cent stores across the globe, commissioned Cass Gilbert to build the Woolworth headquarters. And while the skyscraper became a beacon for commerce and prosperity, the architect and the building’s principals upheld a sense of humor and pride which visitors can see amid the lobby’s many carved stone caricatures (Corbel sculptures include Gilbert with a model of the building, engineer Gunvald Aus taking a girder’s measurements, and Woolworth counting nickels), theatrical faces, symbolic animals, documented dates and trusted allies. These fun facts and details, and so much more, are exposed during the Woolworth Building Lobby Tours.


When you are on holiday in New York and want to slow it down a tad whilst also immersing yourself in the gorgeous historical architecture that is in the downtown core – pick up tickets for the Woolworth Building Lobby Tour.

The tour guide who greeted my group and I was energetic and was quick to usher us into the elements and look up at the Woolworth Building and all of its ornate detail.  We were given behind the scenes historical tidbits of the goings on between Woolworth and Gilbert while also honouring their legacy with a nod to their decisions that carved out the building that we took in during the tour.

Within such close proximity to the 9/11 site I was amazed that the building still stood almost untouched. Although under current refurbishment for a condo extension – we were advised by the tour guide that the units were worth millions of dollars and promised beautiful views within a listed building.

Make sure you look up at the ceiling in the lobby when you are on the tour.  It is laden with a rich and exquisite mosaic.  It will be something you will want to capture for your social media accounts and write home about.

The vault at the bottom of the Woolworth Building will make you giddy.  These are the vaults that you see in films – grandiose, intense and terrifying.  Well worth the price of admission to the tour.

The Tiffany elevator doors are also a piece de resistance.  Truly amazing and will give you a wonderful snapshot into a time where craftsmanship and finite detail was held in such regard.

The gargoyles and head statues outside of the building are perfect portraiture into what makes New York architecture unique.  Be sure to take some time after the tour to dwell on their beautiful faces and lifetime home on the Woolworth Building.

The building aches secrets and stories.  Stories of bygone time, styles, tastes, political discourse and changing times.  Secrets of whispers, affairs, hiring and firings and death.  The building is beautiful, a reverent stoic structure and keen to shine its best light on us and remind us that ‘they just don’t make buildings like me anymore.’

The Woolworth Building Lobby Tour is a must see whilst you are in New York or better yet if you are a local.  The Woolworth Building is a landmark building and can often be seen poking its peak at you whilst you are on your travels.  It is worth to make some time to pay it some homage for being one of the best architectural marvels in New York City.

Tour Pricing 

30-Minute / $20 – Exterior, lobby, history, questions and photographs

60-Minute / $30 – More in depth history about the construction, its owner and the architect

90-Minute / $45 – Includes mezzanine level and a brief walk to the Broadway Chambers building Days

There are now daily tours at 2:00 p.m. and extra ones on Saturdays.  Check out the private tours that are available for groups of 10 or more!


Review: ‘The Grand Paradise’ by Third Rail Projects

Critic’s Pick. “The latest and lushest of the many immersive theater spectacles to set up camp in New York… This interactive tour of an imaginary Floridian pleasure palace from the 1970s manages to summon romantic promise and regretful retrospection in a single, ocean-air breath.” — Ben Brantley, The New York Times

Critics’ Pick. “A captivatingly sensual interactive adventure… This escapist world is our oyster, where each grain of sand in an hourglass has a shot at becoming a pearl.” — Time Out

“Extremely impressive.” — amNewYork

“This is one you absolutely cannot miss.” — Huffington Post

“A fun, hip and sensuous two-hour holiday with a cast of 20, all attractive, some barely clad, in a cleverly designed beach resort from the hedonist 1970s.” —  NewYorkTheater.me

“A little disorienting, a little exotic, a bit joyful, sometimes a bit frightening. It is like traveling in a foreign country with a culture very different from your own. ‘The Grand Paradise’ does all this. It’s worth the trip.” — WNYC

Third Rail Projects follows up its critically acclaimed, long-running production of THEN SHE FELL with the World Premiere of THE GRAND PARADISE, a fully immersive, multi-sensory experience in which visitors travel to a tropical paradise. Performances take place at The Grand Paradise, a venue in Bushwick, Brooklyn custom renovated for the production.

Set in those hazy and culturally luminal years of the late 1970s becoming the 1980s, the experience begins as you are handed a vintage plane ticket by a polyester-clad airline attendant. You and other guests find yourselves transported to THE GRAND PARADISE, a tropical resort that purports to be the home of the original, genuine Fountain of Youth.  Greeted with a tropical drink, a garland of flowers, and an overly-cheerful Activities Director, visitors encounter the resort’s resident population, characters who embody the era’s shifting and blurring values — a rogue’s gallery of eccentrics, hustlers, eternal youths, gods, monsters, disco queens, and con men. Visitors to THE GRAND PARADISE are invited to explore the grounds and the beaches, watch a floorshow, quench their deepest longings, follow performers into one-on-one encounters, and trade their faded ideals for shiny new illusions. Ultimately, THE GRAND PARADISE offers a pas de deux of desire and death, a midlife crisis, a coming of age, and search for the revitalizing waters of the Fountain of Youth at the resort of the eternally broken-hearted.

Based on a concept by Tom Pearson, THE GRAND PARADISE is directed, designed, written and choreographed by Zach Morris, Tom Pearson, and Jennine Willett in collaboration with The Company: Erik Abbott-Main, Elizabeth Carena, Alberto Denis, Ashley Handel, Roxanne Kidd, Jeff Lyon, Rebekah Morin, Lauren Muraski, Marissa Nielsen-Pincus, Tara O’Con, Wil Petre, Joshua Reaver, Katrina Reid, Edward Rice, Ashley Robicheaux, Sebastiani Romagnolo, Jessy Smith, Tori Sparks, Niko Tsocanos, and Carlton Cyrus Ward. The production features production design by Zach Morris, Tom Pearson, and Jennine Willett, original music & sound design by Sean Hagerty, costumes by Karen Young, environment design Elisabeth Svenningsen, project management by Andrea Dohar Corbett, production management by Brittany Crowell, stage management by Kristina Vnook, and technical direction by Jordan Schulze.  It is produced in association with Bill Caleo and Zach Stern.

The full company of performers includes: Matthew Albert, Erika Boudreau-Barbee, Elizabeth Carena, Guilia Carotenuto, Elisa Davis, Alberto Denis, Benjamin Freedman, Lea Fulton, Amy Gernux, Joseph Harris, Julia Jurgilewicz, Roxanne Kidd, Madison Krekel, Justin Lynch, Rebekah Morin, Krista Morgenson, Zach Morris, Lauren Muraski, Taylor Myers, Marissa Nielsen-Pincus, Tara O’Con, Tom Pearson, Joshua Reaver, Katrina Reid, Edward Rice, Julie Seal, Bre Short, Jessy Smith, Bryan Strimple, Jeff Sykes, Jake Szczpek, Simon Thomas-Train, Niko Tsocanos, Carlton Cyrus Ward, and Jennine Willett.

Hailed as one of the foremost companies creating site-specific, immersive and experiential performance in the US, Third Rail Projects, led by Artistic Directors Zach Morris, Tom Pearson, and Jennine Willett, is dedicated to re-envisioning ways in which audiences can engage with contemporary performance. They have made work in New York, internationally, and abroad for over 15 years, and their long-running, award-winning work, Then She Fell, was named as one of the “Top Ten Shows of the 2012” The New York Times and acclaimed as one of the best theater experiences of 2013 by Vogue Magazine. Third Rail Projects has been the recipient of several prestigious awards, including New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards for Then She Fell (2013) and Vanishing Point (2008). For more info, visit thirdrailprojects.com.

THE GRAND PARADISE runs thru December 31, 2016. Performances are Thursday – Sunday at 7:00pm, with 10:30pm shows on Friday and Saturday.. The Grand Paradise is located at 383 Troutman Street at Wyckoff Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn — just off the L train at Jefferson Street. Tickets are $110 – $135, available at http://www.thegrandparadise.com. Private events are also available; visit the website for more information. Performances begin promptly and there is absolutely no late admittance and no refunds. The show features nudity and adult themes, so admittance is strictly limited to audience members 18 years of age and over; all audience members must bring valid government-issued photo IDs. The performance lasts roughly 2 hours. Because of the immersive nature of this piece, audiences may be standing for significant periods of time over the course of the performance. Audiences are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes. This performance is not recommended for audience members who are not comfortable standing, walking or being alone. For more information call 718-374-5196.



Therapy?  Self Care?  A Night Out?  A Theatre Experience off the Beaten Path?  Perhaps a little bit of all of that.

Immersive theatre is not for the faint of heart.  If you are familiar with ‘Then She Fell’ you know that immersive theatre will get under your skin and perhaps even trigger you into reflecting on some thoughts that you were not willing to entertain on a night out with friends.  Be ready to be freaked out a smidge but also to have an experience you will live to tell.

Think hazy, hot and sweaty .  A late 1970s tropical resort. A fountain of youth that promises to quench your deepest longings.

When I got off the train at Jefferson in Brooklyn and turned a corner to lead me to a non descript door with a tiny lobby space where I had to drop off my purse, phone and jacket – I was already feeling naked and slightly deaf.  Fellow guests and I were ushered into a tiny hallway and were greeted by a video flight director who laid out the rules for the night in a Kubrick meets Chappelle cheeky delivery.

We were then greeted with Hawaii style lays and drinks as we waited for the fun to begin.  My fellow guests looked uneasy.  I was ready for anything.  I felt like the troupe members were eyeing the guests and I up to see who they could split up during the course of the performance so we can all have a layered customized experience.

My openness must have been exuded because I was quickly asked to go into a room with a woman with Farrah Fawcett flared locks and was given a tarot card reading.  Something  I would normally run away from.  But instead I sat comfortably on a stool and listened closely as the woman explained my cards to me.  Goddess, water bearer and warrior.  Bang on.

When that experience concluded time seemed to speed up and a group of my fellow guests and I watched other guests arrive who were part of the troupe and were in outfits out of the 70’s.  I felt high, but I was completely sober.  The vibe was beginning to change.  The air felt a tad more sinister.  Freewheelin.  Dusty.

Fellow guests and I were broken up into smaller groups and asked to go into spaces with different members of the troupe.  We were asked to drink juice, water and partake in activities which always seemed to have an air of ‘what’s going to happen next?’.  The actors were asking us a lot of questions to ruminate on or better yet to giggle at.  We were all there to have a good time.

Voyeurism was encouraged.  Often times we could peek into windows, landscapes and rooms to see what other guests were doing with one another or with other actors.  I observed there were guests like myself who may have been alone and were open to interact with the other actors.  Whereas there were some guests who were a part of a couple and clung to their partners even after the actors tried to gently pry them apart.

I was asked to follow a troupe member into a cave where at first he was going to snort cocaine from a bottle.  Instead it proved to be an aromatherapy bottle.  It soothed me as he asked me to lie down as he quickly covered the wood panelling around me with what resembled a coffin.  He asked me ‘Are you ready to let go?’.  I did not respond but I didn’t feel like I needed to fill the space with how I was feeling in that moment.  Nervous, fearful, reflective but also at ease.  I was given a bouquet of flowers to hold as he left the room.  I lay there in the semi darkness wondering if I should bolt but I couldn’t move.  It felt like a few minutes and he returned and guided me out back into the common area with another guest who had also gone through a similar experience with another troupe member.

We were then taken into a closet which was laden with sand and shelves of hourglasses.  I felt very open and vulnerable in that moment.  The troupe member spoke to us about time and as it passes – losses we may encounter and moving forward.  It felt like every interaction was deliberate or was customized to my life even though clearly it wasn’t.

The Grand Paradise is a must see before it comes to a close at the end of December.  I encourage you to grab a drink at the start of the performance to loosen you up a little.  Wear comfortable shoes and dress to kill.  Open your mind and heart to the theatrical experience and don’t be shy.

Hang out at the Shipwreck Lounge after the performance and have a cocktail to reflect on what you experienced along with the other guests.  Everyone will have different experiences and reactions to what unfolds.

Immersive theatre can be as immersive as you make it.  The Grand Paradise is truly a place to let go of your inhibitions.



The Central Park Conservancy’s ‘The Art of The Park Tour’

I was in New York three years ago and was determined to make my way around Central Park in an afternoon.  As ‘bad’ luck would have it, I got lost in the Ramble and was in tears as I stood on a path looking up into the trees.  I eventually found my way out of Central Park and vowed I would try again one day.

That I did!  With the help of the Central Park Conservancy, I took one of their wonderful tours and was fully immersed in a true Central Park experience.

As per the Central Park Conservancy, ‘The mission of the Central Park Conservancy is to restore, manage, and enhance Central Park in partnership with the public. We aspire to build a great organization that sets the standard for and spreads the principles of world-class park management — emphasizing environmental excellence — to improve the quality of open space for the enjoyment of all. The Central Park Conservancy is committed to sustaining this operating model to provide a legacy for future generations of park users.’

The tour I took was the ‘The Art of the Park Tour’ (http://www.centralparknyc.org/events/parent-events/the-art-of-the-park-tour.html).  Central Park has long been revered as a masterpiece of living art. Visitors on this tour will admire Park vistas as if walking through a landscape painting, all while learning about the Park’s intricate design features. The Park’s most artfully executed landscapes on this tour led by Central Park Conservancy guides. Highlights of this tour include: Sheep Meadow, the Mall, Bethesda Terrace, Bow Bridge, the Ramble, and Belvedere Castle.

The tour started at the Dairy Visitor Center (mid-Park between 64th and 65th Streets) and ended at Belvedere Castle (mid-Park at 79th Street).  It was approximately 90 minutes.  The cost was minimal at $15 a ticket (Members $10) and was worth every penny.  Check out, http://www.centralparknyc.org/tours/ for a tour that may tickle your fancy!

What did the Central Park Conservancy teach me on my ‘The Art of the Park Tour’?

  1. When and why was Central Park Conservancy founded? Central Park Conservancy was founded in 1980 by a group of civic and philanthropic New Yorkers who were determined to end Central Park’s dramatic decline of the 1970s and restore it as America’s first and foremost major urban public park.
  2. What is your relationship with the City of New York? In 1980, Central Park Conservancy was founded with the purpose of managing the restoration and maintenance of Central Park. Eighteen years later, in 1998, we signed a management agreement with the City of New York, formalizing their public-private partnership and our responsibilities.
  3. What are you responsible for? As of 2016, Central Park Conservancy is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance and operation of Central Park, along with the continued restoration of its landscapes. Currently, 90 percent of the Park’s maintenance and operations staff are employed by Central Park Conservancy, which also provides 75% of Central Park’s $67 million annual operating budget. More specifically, Conservancy crews: care for 693 acres of land 150 acres of lakes and streams 20,000 trees    install hundreds of thousands of plantings annually.
  4. We also operate five visitor centers throughout Central Park, where visitors can get information and resources to enhance their Park experience.
  5. What have you accomplished during your 36-year stewardship of Central Park? Since 1980, Central Park Conservancy has overseen the investment of more than $800 million into Central Park, privately raising the vast majority of that amount from individuals, corporations, and foundations. We have developed and implemented a management and restoration plan for the 843-acre Park, created educational and enrichment programs for visitors, and shared our experience in urban park management with other parks throughout New York City and around the world to encourage accessible urban parkland wherever possible.
  6. What’s next for Central Park Conservancy? Sustaining our restoration of the Park will never end — it’s a 24/7 job. We are dedicated to making sure the Park never re-enters its historic cycle of restoration and decline. In addition, we are in the midst of two new campaigns.  Central Play seeks to fund the renovation and reconstruction of each of Central Park’s 21 playgrounds, many of which haven’t been updated in decades. The Woodlands Initiative seeks to restore Central Park’s 80 acres of woodlands, which play an important role in maintaining the Park’s biodiversity and serving as a peaceful respite from the chaos of  New York City. We also are excited to continue formally sharing our expertise in urban park management with parks groups around the world.

The next time you are in New York, please make a stop at Central Park and most importantly take a tour with the Central Park Conservancy.  It is truly a magical and healing experience.


Contest: Win 2 New York CityPASS Ticket Booklets from Thirty Four Flavours & CityPASS!

nyI’m off to New York in a few weeks and I can’t wait! It’s been a year and a bit from my last holiday and I’m looking forward to kicking back and enjoying myself.

I’m ready for my trip to New York City with my trusty CityPASS in hand.

Visitors to New York City can find it overwhelming, but not if they have CityPASS – the very best attractions hand-picked and wrapped up in an easy-to-use ticket booklet. Because CityPASS is valid for 9 days starting with the first day of use, there’s no need to feel rushed – save time on your research, see the city that never sleeps at your own pace, and truly enjoy the experience.

Getting a New York CityPASS ticket booklet is simple. No matter how, where or when you buy, you’ll see the same huge savings and get the same price.

Using New York CityPASS is easy. Simply show up at the attractions with your booklets or voucher. The pros at each place will know just what to do.

Once you have your booklets, your party can split up and visit the attractions in any order you wish. And your New York CityPASS booklets are good for nine (9) days starting with the first day of use, so there’s no need to rush through the attractions; you can see them at your own pace. A CityPASS booklet you buy today expires February 28, 2018. A voucher you buy today must be exchanged for a booklet within 6 months of purchase.

The tickets in your booklet are actual admission tickets good for one visit (unless otherwise noted). You’ll want to leave them in place for the pros at the attractions to tear out. If tickets are removed, they’ll be considered invalid. Sorry, but rules are rules.

You’ll love CityPASS. They have hand-picked the top attractions for you, so you don’t need to spend time researching. And with CityPASS, you’ll save up to 40% over regular admission prices.

Because your New York CityPASS booklets are good for nine (9) days, you can visit the attractions at your own pace—see several attractions in one day, or spread them out over your whole trip. You’ll be able to fully experience the attractions and still have plenty of time to explore the city.

What am I checking out with my CityPASS booklet? Voila!

The Empire State Building Experience +Exclusive Feature

American Museum of Natural History

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Top of the Rock Observation Deck   or   Guggenheim Museum

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island   or   Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises +Exclusive Feature

9/11 Memorial & Museum   or   Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Thank you to the generous folks at CityPASS who have gifted Thirty Four Flavours with two pairs of CityPASS ticket booklets to New York! Send an email, tweet, or inbox me whilst I am on my adventures in New York and let me know you why you would like a New York CityPASS for your chance to win two New York CityPASS ticket booklets. Contest closes on Monday November 28, 2016.

Good Luck! See you soon!


No Sleep Till Brooklyn

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is my last NYC piece.  Thank goodness you must be thinking.  😉  Enough with NYC.

But I saved the best for last.  Alix took me to Brooklyn on one of my last days in NYC.  I was so excited to see DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge, the Smorgasburg food market and Park Slope.

I can’t put my finger on it but I got a great vibe in Brooklyn.  The next time I go to NYC – I’m going to stay in Brooklyn and commute into the city.  I was lucky this time.   I was able to crash at Alix’s flat but next time I won’t have the luxury of free accommodation.  I need to do some research on Brooklyn bed and breakfasts in the future.  Does anyone have some good spots they’d recommend?

I already have plans to check out the new Rough Trade NYC shop, spend some more time learning about Brooklyn neighbourhoods and getting lost in a smaller space.

At one point Alix and I stood at DUMBO and looked over the river at the NYC skyline.  I said to Alix, ‘Gosh I wonder what it must have been like seeing that skyline the day of 9/11?’.  It was a very moving moment.

It was a great day just walking around, chatting, having drinks and taking in a lower key Brooklyn.  I especially loved travelling under water to get to Brooklyn from Manhattan.  Next time – I walk the Brooklyn Bridge!

Gosh I miss it.