Sunday, April 23, 2017

New York City Arts Round-Up #3

Getting ready for the 2017 Open Studios program
Open Studios, 2017
The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council was formed in 1973. I don’t know exactly when it began presenting its now annual Open Studios arts program, or their other major summer festival, the annual River to River music series, but both events provide much needed exposure to dozens of up-and-coming artists, dancers, writer’s and performers. While the River to River festival line-up is yet to be announced, the Open Studios season is begins this coming weekend (April 28-29, 2017), with Workspace Artists-in-Residence.

This free, two-day event shines a spotlight on the work of over 30 artists who are working across all disciplines and genres from painting and sculpture, to poetry and fiction, to dance and theater. The artists have been working in their studios at 28 Liberty Street since last September. They will open their studio doors to the public for two days only, offering a unique, behind-the-scenes window into their creative practices in the visual, literary, and performing arts. 

The opportunity to meet them and see their work is not to be missed. But this is just the beginning. LMCC will host Open Studios events from April through September—click here to see the full calendar of Open Studios this year—all of which are free and open to the public.

If You Go: Open Studios with Workspace Artists-in-Residence
WHERE: In The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Studios at 28 Liberty, 24th Floor.
WHEN: Friday, April 28, 2017 from 6:00–9:00pm
WHEN: Saturday, April 29, 2017 from 1:00–8:00pm

"The Silence of High Noon — Midsummer," 1907–08. By Marsden Hartley
Marsden Harley at The Met Breuer

The Met Breuer presents Marsden Hartley’s paintings of his home state, Maine
Marsden Hartley (1877-1943), was an icon of American modernism, He was born in Lewiston, Maine, and died in Ellsworth. In the early 1900s, he painted the state’s western mountains in a Post-Impressionist style. In his later years, he aimed to do for Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park what C├ęzanne did for Mont Sainte-Victoire in Aix-en-Provence. For this exhibition, seven painted views, showing seasonal change, close the show and represent the culmination of a lifelong fascination.

In the 1930s, Hartley became increasingly aware of his legacy and strove to not just paint Maine but to “be recognized as Maine’s greatest modern interpreter,” the show’s co-curator, Randall Griffey, writes in the catalog.

The show at The Met Breuer is a hyper-local collection of rivers, hills, churches, logs and lobster traps. The mountainscapes — and logscapes — are characteristically devoid of people, unlike the Fuji views of Hartley’s heroes Hokusai and Hiroshige, which are sometimes peppered with small figures (eight gorgeous prints are on display).

If You Go
WHAT: “Marsden Hartley’s Maine”
WHERE: The Met Breuer, 945 Madison Ave., at 75th Street
WHEN: Through June 18, 2017

Is Chinatown the next Chelsea?
Is Chinatown the New Arts District?
Lily Haight, posed the above question this week while writing for Chelsea News
Chelsea's gallery district has reigned as the heart of the city's contemporary art movement since the late 1990s. But could skyrocketing rents, coupled to the availability of cheaper options in other parts of the city, mean the district is losing some of its cachet with gallerists?
An August 2016 report by StreetEasy found that real estate prices near the High Line had increased by nearly 50 percent since the park's opening in 2011. Longtime Chelsea gallerists have recently made the move to the Lower East Side, and new galleries are skipping over Chelsea altogether and setting up shop downtown.
However, not everyone is happy with the prospect of Chinatown become the new Chelsea. 
According to the Chinatown Art Brigade's ManSee Kong, residents of Chinatown and the Lower East Side are concerned that the influx of galleries will gentrify the neighborhood and raise residential rents.
“Chinatown is a working-class, ethnic immigrant community. Folks depend on these kinds of immigrant enclaves as a social network of cultural and ethnic resources,” said Melanie Wang, who works as an organizer with the Chinatown Tenants Union. “When galleries come in and are displacing businesses that provide those services and those employment opportunities, it represents a significant threat to the fabric of Chinatown's social community.”
Untitled. c.1968, by Alma Woodsey Thomas. In MoMA's current exhibition, Making Space

Not Only — But Also in April


Friday, April 21, 2017

South Australian Weekender #2

A weekly or occasional series of blog posts, promoting events and activities around Adelaide and South Australia. Posts will highlight not just those things taking place on the weekend the post is added, but for the following week or month.

This SA Weekender not only reminds you about the Wonderwalls Festival, but looks at a number of other activities you can participate in while you are in and around Port Adelaide. The best thing about the activities listed below is that they are open and available throughout the year, so if you can't make it this weekend, head down to Port Adelaide and sample the great museums and Port River cruises whenever time allows. You'll be happy you did.

Wonderwalls Festival Kicks off Today
Yes, yes, I know I wrote about this just this past Wednesday, but I’m giving it another plug anyway. As already noted, the hugely popular Wonderwalls street art festival takes place this weekend (April 21-23, 2017). If you are planning to go, make sure you download a PDF copy of the Festival Map…, although printed maps will be available from various locations around the port.

IF YOU GO
Friday, April 21
Art exhibition, 6pm–11pm

Saturday, April 22
Canon photo tours, 9am–11.30am / 3pm–5.30pm
Artist talks, 3pm–4pm
Art exhibition, 11am–11pm
Street party, 6pm–11pm

Sunday, April 23
Canon photo tours, 9am–11.30am / 3pm–5.30pm
Artist walking tour, 11am–12.30pm
Art exhibition, 11am–5pm


A Whole Weekend Worth of Fun

Dolphins and River Cruises
While you are in Port Adelaide, you can make the most of your visit by embarking on a cruise on the Port River on one of two cruise boats—the Dolphin Explorer, or the Port Princess. Both pleasure craft travel down as far as the Outer Harbor entrance. Along the way, you will get entertaining commentary from the captains as the cruise boats pass shipping docks, container terminals, the Torrens Island Power Station, Techport Adelaide (Australia’s Naval shipbuilding hub), and the ASC shipyard (builder of Australia’s Collins Class submarines).

Oh, and yes, you may also get to see some of the Bottlenose Dolphins that have made the Port River their home for many, many years. When not out on the high seas, the Adelaide pod of Bottlenose Dolphins are protected by the 120-square-kilometre Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, which includes the inner Port, Barker Inlet, Outer Harbor, and the North Haven Marina. The sanctuary also extends North up St Vincent Gulf some 30km or so to Port Gawler.

Both cruise boats leave from Fisherman’s Wharf (look for the old lighthouse).

If You Go
Cruise Only: Adults $8.00; Children $6:00
Cruise & Main Course Meal: Adults $20.00; Children $15.00
Cruise & Full Meal*: Adults $25.00; Children $20.00; Seniors $23.00 
(Full meal includes Main course, dessert, tea and coffee)
Note: Refreshments and snacks are available for purchase on board

Cruise Only: Adults $8.00; Children $6:00
Cruise & Full Meal: Adults $26.00; Children $19.00; Seniors $24.00

Aviation, Railway and Maritime Museums
But wait—there’s more. Much more. As you walk around Port Adelaide checking out the new Wonderwall murals, you are almost certain to pass one of three major museums located in the area, and all are within easy walking distance of each other. In fact they are all located along Lipson Street, Port Adelaide. Let’s take a quick look at them,

Closest to the Port River is the National Maritime Museum at 126, Lipson Street. The South Australian Maritime Museum is a state government museum, part of the History Trust of South Australia. The Museum opened in 1986 in a collection of historic buildings in the heart of Port Adelaide, South Australia’s first heritage precinct. The Museum presents exhibitions in a pair of adjoining stone warehouses, built in the 1850s. It offers visitors the opportunity to climb the Port Adelaide lighthouse that was built in 1869 and originally stood at the entrance to the Port River.

Exhibitions focus on the exploration of the southern coast and the voyages of Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin, the experiences of immigrants coming to Australia in the 1830s, 1910s and 1950s, health and medicine at sea, the colonial navy of South Australia of the 19th century, the world wars of the 20th century, the ketch trades that served southern ports from 19th century to the 1960s, life in port, and the ecology of the Port River dolphins.

If You Go
126, Lipson Street, Port Adelaide
Open Daily: 10:00AM - 5:00PM (closed Christmas Day & Good Friday)
Adults $12.50; Concession Cards $8.00; Children (under 16) $6.00
Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) $29.50

Take a journey into railway history at the National Railway Museum, Australia's largest railway museum with over 100 exhibits representing State, Commonwealth and private railway operators on the three major rail gauges used in Australia.

The museum houses its large static collection in two pavilions and the historical goods shed at the site of the original Port Dock railway station. It also has rolling stock from the Silverton Tramway and Victorian Railways. Climb into the cabs of giant steam engines, walk through elegant carriages, enjoy free train rides and interactive and educational displays.

The Museum also operates the Semaphore to Fort Glanville Tourist Railway, which runs from late October to April as well as during school holidays. Mini-steam trains depart between 11am and 4pm, roughly every hour or according to demand.

If You Go
76, Lipson Street, Port Adelaide
Open Daily (except Christmas Day): 10:00AM - 4:30PM
Adults $12.00; Concession Cards $9.00; Children (3-15 yrs) $6.00
Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) $32.00

The South Australian Aviation Museum displays aircraft and aircraft engines of relevance to South Australia and Australian aviation in general. Since 1996 the Museum became the home of the heritage rocket collection associated with the Woomera Test Range in the period 1950-1980. The heritage rocket collection is the property of the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

The Museum's origins can be traced to 1984 when it was started by a group of enthusiasts interested in aviation history and aircraft restoration. In 1990 it became the official aviation museum for South Australia when it was awarded Provisional Accreditation by the History Trust of South Australia. The following year it became responsible for the State's historical aviation collection.

If You Go
66, Lipson Street, Port Adelaide
Open Daily (except Christmas Day): 10:30AM - 4:30PM
Adults $10.00; Concession Cards $8.00; Children (under 16) $5.00
Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) $25.00

Fishermen’s Wharf Market, is a waterfront site near the Lighthouse at Port Adelaide. Generally only open on weekends, the site provides a vibrant mix of stalls, sights, food and sounds for the whole family to enjoy. If you enjoy fossicking around for unique items, the market may be just the place for you.

If You Go
Free entry
Open weekends only

Thursday, April 20, 2017

New York City Street Food

Kabir Ahmed cooks to order during the early shift in his food cart. Photo: An Rong Xu, for The New York Times
A Day in the Life of a New York City Food Vendor
Great story in a recent edition of the New York Times profiling Kabir Ahmed, one of New York City’s more than 10,000 mobile food vendors. Now 46, Mr. Ahmed, a Bangladeshi immigrant who moved to New York 23 years ago, operates a halal food cart with two partners on Greenwich Street, close to the World Trade Center. They are there all year long, rain, hail, snow or shine.

If you have ever been to New York City, you will of course, have seen many of these vendors on the streets of Manhattan, and to a lesser extent in the other four boroughs. In four extended visits to the city, I think I have eaten a New York hot dog just once, but I have eaten many ‘chicken over rice’ meals from food carts similar to the types in this New York Times feature.
These vendors are a fixture of New York’s streets and New Yorkers’ routines, vital to the culture of the city. But day to day, they struggle to do business against a host of challenges: byzantine city codes and regulations on street vending, exorbitant fines for small violations (like setting up an inch too close to the curb) and the occasional rage of brick-and-mortar businesses or residents. Not to mention the weather, the whims of transit and foot traffic, and the trials of standing for hours, often alone, with no real shelter or private space.
The location of Mr. Ahmed's food cart
Using Google Maps and their Street View software, I took a ‘walk’ down Greenwich Street using as my guide, clues in the article—“near the World Trade Center”, “in front of the BNY Mellon building”—and found what I am certain is Mr Ahmed’s food cart on the corner of Greenwich and Murray Streets.

If you have ever wondered, like I have, about the source of food used by these vendors, the article provides the following:
The food comes from a commissary kitchen attached to the garage in Long Island City, Queens; the city requires that food carts be serviced and supplied by a commissary, and there are many of them, of varying sizes, with different owners, all around New York. At an extra cost, this one has provided everything Mr. Ahmed needs for the day: heads of lettuce, a few dozen tomatoes and potatoes, ready-sliced halal lamb, several bags of boneless chicken thighs, two 12-pound bags of basmati rice, four large plastic containers of potable water for cooking and washing, clamshell containers and napkins.
While I have had many a ‘chicken over rice’ plate, the article praises Mr. Ahmed’s chicken biryani:
“…regulars know to ask for the chicken biryani, flecked with fried onion and cilantro, garnished with half a hard-boiled egg, all for $6, with a drink. He’d like to raise the price, but worries that he would lose customers.”
Stock photo of food cart meals
Wow, six dollars! This must be one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest meal of this type in New York City. Later in the article readers learn that after paying the man who delivers the cart to Greenwich Street (and then returns it to a secure garage at the end of the day), and also paying the garage, Mr. Ahmed earns about $125 after splitting the day’s takings with his colleagues.

Again, Wow. For an eight-hour shift this works out to around $15/hour, which may seem good given the low wages most American workers receive, but to me this seems low given the amount of work that goes into running such a food service.

The article, by Tejal Rao, provides a fascinating glimpse into a way of life that millions of visitors to New York—and millions more locals—have come to rely on for their daily meals and snacks. I will be back in New York for almost three months from mid-June, and you can be sure that I will make a point of seeking out Mr Ahmed's food van for one of those chicken biryani meals.

Read the full article here… 

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