Grafting To: Joohyun Kang

Grafting To: Joohyun Kang
Gallery d’Arte, NYC
10/18-22, 2016

Gallery d'Arte presents "Grafting To: Joohyun Kang," an exhibition of wall works, paintings and ink drawings that display natural imagery imbued with mythological motifs, narrating tales which source the genesis of humanity, and our struggle to forge beauty and meaning in life despite inexorable odds. Paradoxically, the works sparkle with sequins and beads, materials that suggest inspiration from the fashion industry. It is as if the insights of fashion and art fuse to express an expanded statement. Although the artist has lived in the US for twenty years and received an MFA from a Korean University as well as from Pratt Institute, the forms in this body of work clearly originate in Korean culture. Kang taps various references including beautifully articulated knobby tree trunks and roots that comingle with domestic pagodas. Dragons, which are a Korean power symbol, chase each other in circular movements in an endless feud to establish dominance. These forms symbolize her experience of establishing herself in a demanding life in a new country. Read more »

Song of the Week: Dusty Wright - "Fly"

The uplifting folk-pop song "Fly" was based on the emotional hardships of a religiously repressed woman from New York City who took her own life last summer. Her tormentors would not afford her the comfort of acceptance and she couldn't fly free of the repression. Tragically, she could only find one way out. We all know depression hurts, let's reach out to those in need of support. Please feel free to share it with your loved ones. Artwork by French artist Frederic Leduc. Thanks to Martin John Butler for playing bass, co-engineering and mixing the track. The amazing Sammy Merendino played the drums and singer/songwriter Queen Esther provided the hook vocal. Next up... Miss Stephanie Riggs will direct the 360 VR music video.

You can contribute to our 360 VR (virtual reality) video project for suicide prevention and fighting depression. All proceeds will be used to produce the video and leftover funds will be donated to a suicide prevention organization. It's a tax deductible donation set up through our friends at First Mondays and The Florence Belsky Charitable Foundation.

peace, Dusty

On the Other Side of Trump's Wall

Playing the Traveling Groupie with Woodhead & Echo Moth

If I were a Christian, then I would say I was blessed, but I'm not, so I'm going to say I'm lucky instead. I'm lucky to have some amazing friends in my life who also happen to be phenomenal musicians, so when three of those friends flew out from NYC to play a short tour ranging from Tijuana to San Francisco, I was thrilled to fly down from Seattle for both the reunion and the music. Read more »

Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends: Woody Allen's Godson Tries to Direct a Comedy

Quincy Rose, the godson of Woody Allen and the offspring of the late Mickey Rose (an Allen collaborator on films such as Bananas and a writer for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson), has just scribed, directed, produced, and edited his second feature film, Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends (FEFEF) so roll out the red carpet and blow the horns. Such an amazing lack of talent has seldom been contained in a mere 117 minutes. Read more »

Woman: Mother, Daughter, Wife, Friend…

Woman: Mother, Daughter, Wife, Friend…
Curated by Dr. Thalia Vrachopoulos
President's Gallery - 
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
September 15 - November 4, 2016

The exhibition "Woman: Mother, Daughter, Wife, Friend," curated by Thalia Vrachopoulos, investigates the diversity and complexity of women’s multiple roles in their private and public lives as they confront societal constraints, requirements and misconceptions with their own strategies. The participating artists, George Pol. Ioannides, Orestes Kourakis, Lena Morfogeni, Dongyeoun Lee, Vangelis Rinas, Frandy Jean, Jason River and Helene Pavlopoulou, respond to the theme with images that resound with deep sincerity, sympathetic rendering, and uncliched, unbiased depictions. The eight international artists, who hail from Greece, Haiti, America and South Korea, bring their individual cultures into focus, bypassing the generic stereotypic impact of "globalization" in art. There is no trace of the usual gratuitous images of sexuality or abuse, ubiquitous when women’s issues arise. There are no nudes on view. Read more »

Laughing at Mental Illness

Maria Bamford
Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA
September 16, 2016

The last decade and a half has seen an interesting shift in popular stand up comedy styles. While all styles of stand up offer at least some representatives every decade, even the unfortunate genres of prop and insult comedy, there are particularly popular styles and tones that can define a generation. All through the nineteen seventies almost up to the end of the last millennium, many of our legendary comics like Richard Pryor, George Carlin, & Bill Hicks were filled with righteous indignation, poignantly attacking society's ills in an aggressive, outward manner from their own personal perspectives. Many of today's popular comics continue to speak out against those same human and societal flaws, but the manner of attack has shifted: instead of pointing the finger of blame outward, they partially point it at themselves.

They have been labeled Alternative Comedians but are so popular and prominent on today's stages and films that it's hard not to see them as potentially establishing a new normal. Read more »

RIP, Caroline Crawley

I knew Caroline Crawley and Jemaur Tayle who were Shelleyan Orphan through my brother Jeremy. They were making a video for their single "Cavalry of Clouds." I painted for pop videos and fashion shoots. They'd found this little unsigned drawing by the lesser known Pre-Raphaelites Simeon Solomon in a flea market and wanted me to paint something like that on an easel in the video. Read more »

Vinyl of the Week: Syd Arthur - On An On (Harvest)

Syd Arthur - On an On (Harvest)

If one makes the pronouncement that their band "hails from Canterbury, England," one might assume that progressive rock might ensue. And while their Wikipedia page lists them as a "psychedelic jazz band, formed in Canterbury in 2003 by brothers frontman Liam and bassist Joel Magill, drummer Fred Rother and violinist Raven Bush," they sound more like a prog-pop band to my ears, albeit one of the best I've heard in ages. I happened to finally catch them in concert last week opening for the most-excellent UK-based singer-songwriter Jake Bugg at Terminal 5 in NYC. Strange pairing, but having missed them last year at the Mercury Lounge, I simply had to go. I admit that their name alone -- Syd Arthur, named after The Madcap Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett and Love leader Arthur Lee, who may or may not be construed as a prog rocker -- was intruiging enough for me to spend some time with their music. There is no doubt that they drink from the same fresh waters of their homeland, from the fertile springs that nourished early prog pioneers Caravan and Gente Giant with a touch of the "jazz" textures of Hatfield & The North and National Health. Read more »

Quote of the Week: Vin Scully

"It's a wonderful feeling to be a bridge to the past and to unite generations. The sport of baseball does that, and I am just a part of it."

Vincent Edward "Vin" Scully (born 29 November 1927) - American sports broadcaster and Brooklyn/LA Dodgers MLB play-by-play baseball announcer for 67 years!

Hedda Hedda Hey!

Hedda (Gabler)
Adapted by Matt Minnicino
Directed by Joseph Michael Parks
Presented by Wandering Bark Theatre Company
At IRT Theater, NYC
September 23-October 8, 2016

Henrik Ibsen's dramatic critique of bourgeois domesticity, Hedda Gabler, which premiered in 1891, remains probably his most often revived work. Hedda is still going strong 125 years later, now reincarnated in a fleet, fluid refresh written by Matt Minnicino and directed by Joseph Mitchell Parks, who played Lucius in 2015's inventive and memorable Titus Andronicus for the New York Shakespeare Exchange. In a play in which the name that someone is called signals ownership (or independence) and degrees of intimacy, Minnicino has rendered the protagonist's unmarried, titular name a parenthetical: Hedda (Gabler). When the play begins, Hedda (Valerie Redd) is more properly known (propriety being another of the play's thematic touchstones) as Hedda Tesman, having married ernest historian George Tesman (Kyle Schaefer), a "paragon of acceptability." George's rival, professional and otherwise, is Eilert Lovborg (Quinn Franzen), who is the Romantic genius to George's meticulous collator, including in his inclination towards alchoholism (a word no one in the play ever speaks). Hedda also has a rival, in Thea Elvsted (Susanna Stahlmann), the former, in this production, icily blonde and the latter a brunette with, in Hedda's words, wounded doe eyes who has helped Eilert conquer his demons and publish an acclaimed history of the world. During this process, Eilert and Thea have become "companions" under her husband's roof, much in defiance of social mores. While Thea actually has the courage and conviction to forge her own path in despite of propriety and patriarchy, Hedda, with a bit of a Madame Bovary complex, longs for the sublime, describing her desire to, just once, pull the strings of another person's fate. To this end, Hedda tries to meddle in Eilert's new work and new self, and ends up caught in a trap that is partly social and partly of her own making. Read more »

The Black Crook

The Black Crook
Conceived and Directed by Joshua William Gelb
Abrons Arts Center, NYC
September 17-October 7, 2016

The Black Crook, subtitled An Original, Magical and Spectacular Musical Drama, begins with playwright Charles M. Barras (Steven Rattazzi) stutteringly pitching the play The Black Crook to William Wheatley (Merlin Whitehawk), producing manager of Niblo's Garden, a theater that stood, in several incarnations, on Broadway near Prince Street from 1823-1895. This current production of The Black Crook adapts Barras's 1866 original and weaves throughout the adaptation a frame narrative that tracks the origins and success of what was a hugely influential piece of theater. Wheatley and his business partners combined Barras's melodrama with performances by a Parisian ballet troupe and other spectacular interludes, and the result, because of its single unifying plot, is often credited as the first book musical in American theatrical history (the program notes that the song "I Said to My Love," written by Giuseppe Operti for an 1870 revival, includes the male protagonist's name in an early effort to integrate song and plot). While some dispute the designation of first musical for The Black Crook, no one disputes the fact that it was a tremendous, unprecedented hit, running for 474 performances and in numerous revivals. Read more »

ANNIVERSARIES: Dmitri Shostakovich Born 110 Years Ago

shostakovichMany consider Dmitri Shostakovich the greatest composer of the 20th century. Born September 25, 1906, he might not have lived past his teens if he hadn't been talented. During the famines of the Revolutionary period in Russia, Alexander Glazunov, director of the Petrograd (later Leningrad) Conservatory, arranged for the poor and malnourished Shostakovich's food ration to be increased. Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1, his graduation exercise for Maximilian Steinberg's composition course at the Conservatory, was completed in 1925 at age 19 and was an immediate success worldwide. He was The Party's poster boy; his Second and Third Symphonies unabashedly subtitled, respectively, "To October" (celebrating the Revolution) and "The First of May" (International Workers' Day).

Read more »

Innovative, Acrobatic Twist on The Little Prince Takes Flight in NYC

(Ezra LeBank, Cynthia Price & Taylor Casas )

20th New York International Fringe Festival Encore Series
Barrow Street Theatre, NYC
September 24-30, 2016

A quest. A love story. A search for meaning and connection. In the sweetly uplifting Flight, three performers from the California-based company Curbside pay homage to Antoine De Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. In this sequel of sorts to the classic but still timely fable, the Prince is a girl -- why not? -- cleverly evoked through a sleight of hand, and human bodies transcend the limitations of the physical universe, becoming zebras, cacti, airplanes, and the embodiment of past memory and future potential. Read more »

I Won't Forget Blossom

Written and directed by Spencer Lott
At Dixon Place, NYC
September 9-September 24, 2016

No one wants to hear the phrase "end-of-life decisions."  Moments after being introduced to us via a daring act of heroism, James Blossom (voiced by Rowan Magee), is being advised by a doctor to make his as soon as possible. James, the eponymous Blossom of puppet artist, director, and filmmaker Spencer Lott's new play, developed with support from the Jim Henson Foundation, has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and we follow James and his daughter Kathryn, a.k.a. Katy, a.k.a. Katy Bee (Jamie Agnello), as they do their best to navigate the practical, psychological, and emotional fallout of James's disease.

The advance of his Alzheimer's precipitates James's move into assisted living facility, against his wishes, of course.  There, he meets fellow residents Maisey and Ronald.  The symbolism around loss of control generated by all three of these elderly characters being embodied by puppets (while the puppeteers play the other various roles) may be intentional or accidental, but it is hard not to see.  Just as Maisey was once a senator and Ronald a CEO, James, we discover, had a storied career as a painter in the film industry, a past to which he reconnects with the help of Kelly (Chelsea Fryer), a young volunteer who runs art classes at the nursing home. Read more »

Song of the Week: Don DiLego - "Don't Bury Me Alive"

Sometimes you gotta wait for it. Sometimes it's not all that immediate. And sometimes you just luck into it and your pretty darn happy you did. So it was with the new album Magnificent Ram A (Velvet Elk/One Little Indian Records) by singer-songwriter Don DiLego. Now I've come to find out that he's right here in my own backyard in NYC and I'm not sure why this is the first time I'm hearing about him, but I'm mightly glad I finally did. There's an urban angst in the Americana fabric of these tunes and certainly the simple lyrics and stripped down accompanyment means nothing, if you don't have the chops to fill those spaces with the right colors and textures. Mr. D has a real knack for it, too. Waiting on the vinyl for my full review, but in the interim please purchase said song here:

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