a city of islands: beaches and art

Sometimes I forget that New York City is a city of islands with easy access to water because I spend the far majority of my time surrounded by skyscrapers in Midtown or Lower Manhattan. But yes, Manhattan is an island. Queens and Brooklyn are part of Long Island (a rather giant island). Staten Island is an island. Only the Bronx is not an island … and coincidentally it’s also the only borough I’ve never been to. But there really is water everywhere. Which means beaches! And since it’s still New York, it also (sometimes) means art! Woot!

160806 a160806 b

The Rockaways (Rockaway Peninsula in Queens) were pretty devastated during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, so it’s nice to see how it’s recovered. Over at Fort Tilden is the site-specific installation Rockaway! by Katharina Grosse. Basically it’s an abandoned structure full of sand that got a spiffy red and white paint job. Cool. Kinda random, but still kinda cool. I mean, if it’s going to be abandoned, it might as well be pretty.

So far I’ve been to Rockaway Beach, which has a pretty spiffy new boardwalk, and Jacob Riis, which is less crowded with better/closer food options, but is harder to get to (we took the Beach Bus to Jacob Riis; Rockaway Beach is accessible by train). But getting out of the city in any manner feels AMAZING! And if I’m being technical about it, we never really left the “city” since we were in New York City the whole time!

Oh, and while at Rockaway Beach, we created a masterpiece. What do you get when a group of architects builds a sandcastle? Why, a ziggurat of course.

160806 c

Happy summer!

Advertisements

chicago o’hare: my most hated airport

With the crazy weather out East, I’m thankful as heck to be way over in Nevada! Although I’ll actually be going out East next week, so hopefully things are better by then. A few weeks back I spent a few days in New York (no snow at the time), and on the way back had a layover at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport … reaffirming ORD as my most hated airport. Then again, they do have this amazing tunnel, which is by far the coolest thing at O’Hare!

160127 a

The tunnel connects United’s B and C concourses, has a mirrored ceiling and neon lighting installation by Michael Hayden (Sky’s the Limit, 1987), backlit colored panels on the wall, and was just wow. It almost made up for a delayed flight, horrendously long trek across the airport, and lackluster chicken quesadilla I wolfed down. Rainbow colors, mirrors, and neon lighting? It’s like I was back in China! It was also a complete surprise to me because even though I’ve been to ORD many times before, I normally don’t fly United and had never had the pleasure of seeing the tunnel before.

So why, might you ask, do I so dislike Chicago O’Hare? Three reasons: A) I always seem to have a delayed flight (either to or from there), B) It’s such a crazy large airport that it takes forever to get anywhere, and C) I’ve only ever been to ORD on layovers, and layovers inherently suck. It’s not the airport’s fault that it’s a major hub, it’s incredibly busy, and Chicago weather causes a lot of delays, but I still prefer to change flights elsewhere … especially in winter.

160127 b

My flight into Chicago was delayed an hour because it had just started snowing in Chicago and ORD was backed up, but thankfully my layover was long enough that the connection was ‘a bit tight’ rather than ‘run like you’ve never run before’. My flight out boarded on time, but was delayed due to the de-icing process, which was actually pretty cool to watch from my window seat on the wing (my favorite seat). Basically a giant mechanical arm with a bright light and sprayer head on a pivot just went back and forth spraying the wing down.

In the end, my flight landed on time due to favorable winds, so all in all the experience wasn’t that bad. But I still just do not like Chicago O’Hare. Because as much as I bemoan the pretty-much-given delays and borderline-incompetent staff at some Chinese airports (oh PVG, will you ever get your act together?), I always feel like Chicago should be better. But alas, one change the weather.

Safe travels to all you out there!

shades of grey and gray

Calm your fluttering little hearts, I’m not about to go into a discussion about that smutty little novel-turned-film. No, instead I’m going to talk about spelling and one particularly annoying variant between British English and American English: the difference between grey and gray.

150605 a

Yang Yongliang (杨泳梁), From the New World (来自新大陆) (detail), 2014

If you check the dictionary, it’ll probably list ‘grey’ as chiefly British and ‘gray’ as chiefly American. So … what of those who use both? I am a proud American English user and use the American spellings of color (v. colour), organization (v. organisation), traveled (v. travelled), inquiry (v. the inquiry/enquiry divide), and meter (v. metre). Oh, and the last letter of the alphabet? That’s a ‘zee’, not ‘zed’.

But ya know what? I use both ‘grey’ and ‘gray’. I also use both ‘theatre’ and ‘theater’ – although for different things. The stage ends in ‘-re’ and cinema is ‘-er’ – a distinction that I’m not alone in making. Yet when I use both ‘grey’ and ‘gray’, drawing a difference between ‘gray’ for a warmer hue and ‘grey’ for a cooler/lighter/steelier/bluer variant, suddenly I’m a complete weirdo. Am I? Really now? I checked on the web and there are others who think like me. Then again, on the internet you’re bound to find someone who agrees with you.

150605 b

Pang Yun (庞云), Portrait of Trees No. 3 (树的肖像3) (detail), 2014

150605 c

Li Jinghu (李景湖), Sea Breeze (海风) (detail), 2009

In general, I use the spelling ‘gray’ to describe the colors on a ‘grayscale’. I fully realize that I am in the minority with my double usage of theatre/theater and that I am practically alone on a deserted island for grey/gray, so as a rule, if I’m writing something official or for publication (peer-reviewed, academic, in print, or must conform to CMOS), then I only use ‘gray’ and ‘theater’ for the sake of consistency and not confusing everyone with my non-standard spelling distinctions. But I guess this duality is what happens when you study so much (British) English that both end up feeling quite natural. Although serial commas are a must.

chandeliers in treehouses (tbt)

141030 a

Toshihiro Oki Architect P.C. with Toshihiro Oki, Jen Wood, and Jared Diganci, “tree wood,” 2013

This was a pretty cool project, and one that I almost didn’t see. The last summer I was in New York, I was living in Astoria, but didn’t explore much of my neighborhood until the last few weeks I was there. It was July (2013), and it was hot, but it was also so green and beautiful. Ah, how I miss TREES in Shanghai! Anyhow, it was my first time to the Socrates Sculpture Park, and for the most part I found the park to be just so-so – nothing wildly impressive, but a nice stroll.

This particular project “tree wood” was pretty cool, although it blended in so well with the trees I almost completely walked past it. Socrates is a sculpture park, but this was more along the lines of installation art or temporary architecture than sculpture. Basically it was a tree house structure of sorts, framed with two-by-four studs, with a chandelier, which just won the whole thing. With the streaming sunlight and the quiet tranquility of the park and the sheltering of all those leaves and branches, the project had a really interesting quality to it, natural yet manufactured, unfinished yet refined, public yet secluded.

Not sure if this is still up since it’s been over a year since I visited, but regardless, I love the idea of the project.

141030 b

141030 c

And whaddaya know, the project was designed by architects … I wonder if that’s why I appreciate it so much. I think it’s true that there’s no such thing as a ‘former architect,’ because even though there are many of us who have moved on to other fields, I feel like there’s some sort of weird bond/understanding between architects (past or present) where we just ‘get’ each other. I was talking to a jewelry designer whose pieces I admired, and whaddaya know, she was trained as an architect. Maybe it’s suffering all those hours in studio that gains one entry into the imagined community of architects.

rubber ducky, you’re so fun!

141028 a

Rubber Ducky, you’re the one, you make bathtime lots of fun!

Sometimes I just love contemporary art. Like this. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is indeed a giant floating yellow rubber ducky in a lake in Shanghai. And yes, it is amazing. And pretty darn adorable too. The art piece was created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman in 2007, and has been touring the world ever since. Note that I called it an art piece. Because … what else would you call a giant floating yellow rubber ducky?

141028 b

I read an article about how it was coming to Shanghai, and since it’s one of those unusual ‘when else are you going to see this?’ kind of things, I just had to go see it. It’s in Century Park in Pudong … and yes, I actually went all the way over to Pudong to see a giant floating yellow rubber ducky. But it was worth it.

It’s only been in Shanghai a few days, and will stay here until November 23. And tickets to the park are only 10 RMB! There had been talk of raising the ticket price to 40 RMB, but eventually the powers that be backed down due to public pressure. The one downside of those cheap tickets were the crowds and crowds of people. But 40 RMB would have been ludicrous, because really, it’s just a giant rubber duck. You see it, you take some pictures, and you’re done. Very cool, but … that’s about it.

141028 c

Aw, but look at that cute duck bum! Although its size relative to those buildings makes it seem a bit Godzilla-like …

clowns, color, and more clowns

Clowns. Lots and lots of clowns. Are you afraid of clowns? Let’s hope not.

140914 a

Over at the Rockbund Art Museum, there’s a trippy new solo exhibition by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone called Breathe Walk Die. It’s part performance art and part installation, with 40 people dressed as clowns seated, lying down, or reposing against railings and columns. The bright gradient walls and circular paintings of the museum’s four main gallery floors complete the bulk of the exhibition.

I wouldn’t say I have a particular phobia about clowns, but … there’s something about the falseness of a clown, that supposed ‘harbinger of happiness’ that makes me uncomfortable. It’s just too fake; there just has to be something supremely dark and twisty underneath it all. The exhibition is pretty cool though. It’s just … oy. Clowns.

Ugo Rondinone: Breathe Walk Die
September 13, 2014 – January 4, 2015

Rockbund Art Museum
rockbundartmuseum.org
20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai
Tuesdays to Sundays, 10 AM – 6 PM

‘the equinox’ at moma (tbt)

From last summer at MoMA: seven sculptures grouped together in an installation called The Equinox by Swiss-born American artist Carol Bove. Technically The Equinox is an arrangement rather than an installation (id est, an exhibition rather than a work in itself). When I first walked into the room and saw it I was like … what am I looking at?  The sculptures aren’t impressive ‘wow’ kind of pieces, but there were a serene, beautiful kind of harmony. And I’m a sucker for modernism.

140904 a

140904 b

Carol Bove, The Equinox (installation view and detail), 2013

the hypnotic power of strung-up rice

140810 a

Sayaka Ishizuka, Rice Deity, 2014

There’s some cool stuff from the Japanese artist Sayaka Ishizuka over at Pearl Lam Galleries in Shanghai. Unfortunately the exhibition is ending soon (August 15) … so I better post pictures now!

Her works use everyday things like grains of rice and chopsticks to create this supremely tranquil, almost spiritual feeling. The installation piece that is undoubtedly the focus of the exhibition, Rice Deity, is definitely worth noting, with strands of rice hanging from the ceiling. As you walk amidst these rice strings in the darkened space … it’s pretty darned hypnotic.

140810 b

140810 c

140810 d

Sayaka Ishizuka: Life Threads
May 12 – August 15, 2014

Pearl Lam Galleries
pearllam.com
G/F, 181 Middle Jiangxi Road
Huangpu District, Shanghai
Monday to Sunday, 10:30 AM – 7 PM

cafa undergrads: experimental art

Previously I posted about works from the CAFA postgraduate students’ exhibition. Well, the undergraduates had exhibitions too, although they were less refined and less interesting. Here are two works from the Experimental Art Department’s show. There was some weird stuff. Even more crappy stuff.

140720 a

140720 b

Do other schools have experimental art departments? When I first read it, I thought I was mixing up the translation … but nope, it’s actually called the Experimental Art Department (实验艺术系). How do you teach someone to be experimental? It was mostly installations, so maybe that’s what they were getting at, but there were also paintings and sculptural works … and it’s not like you could call the works from other departments ‘traditional’.

In art school, aren’t most students experimental to some degree?

cafa art for the soul

140707 a

Life, it’s always getting in the way of things, eh? Here are more pictures from the CAFA show last month in Beijing! I gotta say, I was duly impressed. Not only were the students’ works amazing, but the museum itself was beautiful. White walls, good lighting, and high ceilings make my day any day!