Senior Citizens Getting it On in the Art World

Seniors in Lisbon meet Street Art

Photo taken from Twitter

Below:  Frank Stella (age 79) Retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art (Oct. 30, 2015-Feb. 7, 2016)

Frank Stella
Photo: Gayle Alstrom
Frank Stella at the Whitney
Photo:  Gayle Alstrom
K37, 2008
Photo:  Gayle Alstrom
Fedallah, 1988, Mixed Media on Aluminum
Fedallah, 1988, Mixed Media on Aluminum
(Photo:  Gayle Alstrom)
[You might want to read my post entitled “The Frank Stella Retrospective at the Whitney,” on my other blog “One American Mind.”]
This is a very short video about Stella that really helps tremendously in understanding his work:
Richard Serra turns 76 on November 2, 2015

Richard Serra, The Matter of Time (2005). Image: Guggenhiem Bilbao Museoa 2015, Richard Serra Arts Rights Society (ARS) New York.
Richard Serra, The Matter of Time (2005).
Image: Guggenhiem Bilbao Museoa 2015, Richard Serra Arts Rights Society (ARS) New York.
Serra’s monumental sculpture, Sequence (2006), is already installed in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s (SFMOMA)  new building.

My Thursday Night at the Whitney

(above:  The Hudson River with New Jersey buildings–from the South side, 5th floor, of the Whitney.  Photo taken around 7:00 pm., which is why buildings are in shadow.)

The Whitney is open till 10 pm Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays this summer.

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street,
New York, NY 10014

An anterior shot of the New Whitney that I took on opening day 5/1/15. The Whitney Museum of American Art building was designed by Renzo Piano.
An anterior shot of the New Whitney that I took on opening day 5/1/15. The Whitney Museum of American Art building was designed by Renzo Piano.


Last night I attended a delightful lecture at the Whitney entitled     Writing Art History: The Whitney’s Collection and Exhibitions, 1970 – Present .  The lecture broadened my art history knowledge, considerably, of what was going on in art in the 1970’s and 80’s, which I had no idea of–really   Not only that, but I had no idea that I had no idea of what was going on

Performance art became a big thing during these two decades, which is something I never really took to, probably because I didn’t understand it.  Performance artists usually document their work with photographs, which many are on display at the Whitney. The lecture lasted about a 1/2 hour, then we went to the fifth floor to look at examples of work on display that had been talked about in the lecture.  All by artists with whom I had been totally unfamiliar until last night.  These lectures are free to members of the museum.  It’s certainly worth the price of joining just for them.

These performance artists express some kind of social agenda, like Aids, or women issues.  The women’s movement became big in the 70’s after the Vietnam war ended, and women performance artists dug their nails into it.  Performance art is a much more in-your-face” type of thing than looking at a painting.  However, when I think of the 80’s in art, the first people who come to my mind are Basquant and Warhol.  I don’t think any performance artist would come to any one’s mind.


This photo of the Whitney shows the different levels and the people standing out on the balconies. The Pink art on the 5th Floor wall is called "Sunset" by Mary Heilmann, who lives in San Francisco.
This photo of the Whitney shows the top 5 floors and the people standing out on the balconies.  The views of the city from the balconies are tremendous.  On the 8th floor is a restaurant where you can take your cocktail out on the balcony.  Bring money.  Multi-colored plastic chairs on the 5th floor balcony help enjoy the view.  Also there’s a ground-floor restaurant that you can sit at without paying to get into the museum.

"Sunset" by Mary Heilmann. These work my Heilmann, who lives in San Francisco, is on the wall overlooking the 5th floor balcony, where the chairs are.

“Museums are places to hang out.”
Mary Heilmann, whose site-specific installation, Sunset, inaugurates the Museum’s largest outdoor gallery


The 5th floor of the museum has two wonderful wall-to-wall windows on each side.  One faces south and the Hudson River, and the other East.  The windows have long couches in front of them for people to sit and contemplate and take photos if they want, which is what I wanted.

This is the view from the South window on the 5th Floor of the Museum. That's the Hudson River with Jersey City in the background. It was about 7:00 p.m. when I took this.
This is the view from the South window on the 5th Floor of the Museum. That’s the Hudson River with Jersey City in the background. It was about 7:00 p.m. when I took this.


Most of these photos I took last night 8/13/15.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns–Part II.

I couldn’t leave this topic alone without including Frank Lloyd Wright, my favorite all-time architect, whose work exemplifies ‘Lines to Patterns.”  These are photos I took at the Frank Lloyd Wright Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Looking into room from outside the FLW designed window. Notice the guy on the other side. (funny!).  Lamp designed by FLW.  FLW designed all the furniture that went into his designed houses, and placed it where he thought it should go.
Window Detail. Is this lines to patterns or what!
Inside FLW room in the American Wing at Met.
Inside FLW room in the American Wing at Met.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns


This photo was taken when the sun was about centered overhead thus making the square shadows from the ceiling windows so uniform in size in the courtyard of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.  The building in the middle facing the viewer is where all the galleries of the American Wing are located, including the great “Washington Crossing the Delaware.”

El Anatsui’s Summer In New York City

(header work:  entrance to El Anatsui exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum)

As I’ve mentioned before in several of my blogs, I’m a great admirer of the Ghanaian artist, but based in Nigeria,   El Anatsui (b. 1944).  I think why I love him so much is because he uses found objects in his art and I like to do that, too.

His first solo exhibition in a New York museum at the Brooklyn Museum of Art features over 30 works in metal and wood that transform appropriated objects into site-specific sculptures. El Anatsui converts found materials into works of art that are breathtaking.  I can hardly show anything here, to see more,visit the Brooklyn Museum’s website.  It was very hard to choose what to show.

He also has a work exhibited on New York City’s Highline this summer.  Following are photo’s I’ve taken of his work at these two places.

Earth's Skin
Earth’s Skin (2007). Aluminum can tops that are attached by copper wiring. (click on photo to enlarge and see the can tops up close.

El Anatsui doesn’t cut and attach all these can tops by himself. He has an army of assistants who do the hard labor. I’ve heard that as a criticism of his work, how he makes these African workers do this tedious work to impress the Western Art Market. My opinion is that almost any work is better than no work at all. I think the work isn’t so bad if one knows that they are making a contribution to something grand, like a great piece of art. Like the men who built the Brooklyn Bridge, which was horrible work, but after it is done, they can look at the bridge and be proud that they were part of building such a grand and beneficial object.

Red Block (2010) Aluminum and copper wire.
black block
Black Block Aluminum, copper wire
"The Peak" again, tin can tops
“The Peak,” again, tin can tops
Drifting Bags"  These look like gigantic shopping bags.  They are made out of newspaper and other kinds of paper.
“Waste Paper Bags” Aluminum printing plates, paint, copper wire. These look like gigantic shopping bags. The printing plates have newspaper print on them.

“The forms resemble large woven bags that became known as “Ghana must-go” bags in the early 1980’s, when Nigerians hostile toward Ghanaian refugees…suggested they pack their belongings in such sacks and return home.”

"Drifting Continents, 2009.  Linked screw-top liquor bottle caps.
“Drifting Continents, 2009. Linked screw-top liquor bottle caps attached by copper wire.
closeup drifting continents
“Drifting Continents” closeup. “The title evokes a theme that runs parallel in his bottle-top works:…how the world is interconnected, or, more specifically, how the historical trade in alcohol links the continents of Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

Now we move to the Highline in Manhattan. The Highline is an elevated park that runs between the Hudson River and Manhattan’s Chelsea and Meat Packing Districts.

Broken Bridge II
Broken Bridge II, 2012 — Recycled Pressed tin, mirrors. 37′ x 157′  

I was surprised that this work is covered up from the front by trees and bushes. As you can see it’s on the side of a building. El Anatsui said that he used the mirrors to reflect the buildings of the city so as to make it a reflection of the city.

broken bridge II closeup
Closeup of Broken Bridge II. As you can see these look like rusted metal tiles.

Also check out, on line, the Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, which shows much of his work.  You might also like to check out my other two posts about him:  “El Anatsui’s Masterpiece at the Met,” and “Why Art.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

[header photo:  5th Avenue at Sunset on a normal day]

Once a year on Fifth Avenue in New York City, traffic is cut off for a mile along an area called the Miracle Mile, which is a mile where all the art museums are located. This mile includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim.

For a few hours, people are allowed to congregate in the street and visit all the art museums for free. Many street entertainers and vendors also try to capitalize on this event.

The Guggenheim Museum provides free sidewalk chalk for kids, young and old, to draw in the street on 5th Avenue outside the Guggenheim.  

These kids are making a very coherent design, which I think unusual for kids that young.


Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background

53rd Street, Manhattan
When taking a photo of 53rd Street in Manhattan, out of a glass window from one of the galleries at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), I hadn’t anticipated the reflection that includes myself taking the photo. (After all, one can’t think of everything.)

Tomás Saraceno’s Cloud City on the Roof Garden at the Met

Cloud City Poster at Met

Every year from May through October, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has their roof garden open with a new exhibit. This summer’s sweet delight is called Cloud City by Tomás Saraceno, an Argentinian artist.

Today, I visited the exhibit and took a few photos. This year, as it was year before last with the exhibit called Big Bambú by Doug and Mike Starn, It’s an interactive structure. This one instead of bamboo-made is all mirrors, glass and steel (however, visitors couldn’t go up into Big Bambú unless they were a VIP).

Visitors can look at it externally, and/or can get a free ticket and climb the steps up to the top of it on the inside, which I did. The tickets are for the reason to limit the number of people at the same time in the delicate structure that can only hold only so much weight. The Met issues tickets for every 15 minutes, which is about how long the walk from the bottom to the top and back to the base takes, including pauses to take in the views. I went to get my ticket around 1:30 p.m. and couldn’t get a ticket until the 3:00 p.m. climb.

Cloud City makes for a good photo op.

One isn’t allowed to take photos from the inside, only from the outside. If you bring a camera with you, the Met provides a locker for you to lock your camera and belongings up before you go climb the stair up into Cloud City.

looking in from outside. Cloud City has empty spaces as well as mirrors and glass.

Being in the glass, mirror and steel structure feels somewhat like being in a room of mirrors in an amusement park, except you are in a much smaller space in the fresh air and get to see nice views of the City of New York around Central Park.

This shows how some of the window panes are cut in half.  You get a view of the entire city from up there at the top.  A nice place to have a discussion.

Perhaps it’s called Cloud City because one is supposed to feel as thought they are in a cloud, but I couldn’t equate it to that. I imagine a cloud as being peaceful, like when one is flying through clouds on an airplane. Being inside this structure isn’t peaceful. It’s disconcerting.  The purpose of the small panes of glass is to break up the view to the outside and to give one a different perspective of their space.

Cloud City on the Roof Garden at the Met

The entire point of the structure is to give a person a different experience as far as their relationship to space is concerned.

The Met has a bar on the roof near the sculpture where you can buy one of their over-priced alcoholic beverages ($8.00 for a bottled beer, $12.00 for a cocktail–however, the money goes to help support the museum).  I guess that’s for people who feel they need some fortification for looking at Cloud City.  Or else, after you see it, if you feel you need a drink, there’s a bar right there to serve you at $12.00 a shot.  The museum is probably cleaning up.  You are allowed to drink while looking at Cloud City from the outside, but you aren’t allowed to drink while inside. Cloud City could make you feel tipsy without any outside help.

When I paused on my walk to the top, a guide asked me if I were okay.  She said that when people paused on their climb to the top,  it was often because they felt dizzy or nauseous.  I told her I was fine.

This is the entrance to walk the steps up inside. the sign indicates that people who have tickets for 2:00 p.m. can now go up. The module is delicate and not very many people are allowed on it at one time, something like around 10, I think.  The hostess there takes the tickets.
This is one view of 5th Avenue from the Roof Garden. It was a very warm, sunny day today, June 15, 2012

Even if you aren’t interested in Cloud City, just being on the roof of the Met in the summer and looking at Manhattan and the park around you is a wonderful New York City experience.  As for myself, I like these interactive art projects.

You might like to check out my post on last summer’s (2011) roof garden exhibit by Anthony Caro. Or, the 2010 Roof Garden Exhibit called Big Bambú.