Events October 14, 2009 By Gabriel Bell

fillers1 Mad Paper Ball

madpaperball cover Mad Paper Ball
Noriko Ambe for MAD Paper Ball

madpaperball title Mad Paper Ball

Paper is traditionally the gift for a first anniversary and, if all is well with the young union, a quiet night out at a fine restaurant, white wine, and an evening between the sheets are in order. For the first anniversary of the Museum of Art and Design, however, paper may be the theme, but the festivities will be anything but quiet. Already a growing destination for lovers of chic, finely crafted objects, the new location of the Museum of Arts and Design — it’s housed in the revamped 2 Columbus Circle, once deemed the “ugliest building in New York” — will play host to the MAD Paperball, a charity event benefiting the institution and marking the opening of the new exhibit, Slash: Paper Under The Knife. In keeping with the general two-dimensional motif, the exhibit features works crafted of paper using laser etching, burning, and myriad other techniques by artists such as Kara Walker, Olafur Eliasson, and Pietro Ruffo. That’s all well and good, but back to the party — hosts Coco Rocha, actor Bryan Batt, Harley Viera-Newton, Cassie Coane, Leo Fitzpatrick, and the ever-present Paul Sevigny will set the mood as attendees bid on paper-based works by Frank Tell, Jeffery Monteiro, Greg Lauren, Issey Miyake, and many more. Naturally Jean-George will provide the nibbles and all are invited to partake. Bring your wallet from 6pm to midnight and get ready to tear the roof off the place (just try not to rip the artwork while you’re at it).

The MAD Paperball is tonight at The Museum of Arts and Design. For tickets click here

Art October 13, 2009 By Gabriel Bell
ericwhite cover2 eric White
Houses of the Holy Eric White, 2009. 12″ x 12″ oil on panel 2009

ericwhite title2 eric White

Pity the poor album cover. Once the artistic and marketing doorway to many great (and less than great) musical experiences, and the site of many a rolled joint, the old 12”x12” canvas has now been reduced to a little collection of pixels on your iPod screen. Seeing classic covers in their full size, from Houses of the Holy to Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is no longer part of our day-to-day musical experience, but part of our collective past.
     That’s where Eric White’s latest exhibition, LP, comes in. Grabbing the classic covers of his childhood, the Brooklyn-based painter has taken the totemic images of classic covers, such as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, and rendered them in oil paint, mutating and twisting the familiar with a modern eye. Harry Belafonte’s Belafonte, a mainstay of baby-boomer collections, features a melted portrait of the singer, his mouth — his instrument — now gone, and the title reprinted in Arabic. Similarly the made-for-radio faces of The Knack are now swirls of paint and the title of their Get the Knack is now “Too Much Content”. And there, over these twisted faces, is the greatest clue to the mystery of LP.

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Art October 7, 2009 By Gabriel Bell

mackinnon cover William Mackinnonmackinnon title William Mackinnon

Most of us would regard a months-long, 1,800-mile commute a chore, an undue burden. For Painter William McKinnon, though, the long drive from his home in Melbourne, Australia to his post in the Northwestern town of Fitzroy Crossing — a cross-continental trip — was a creative goldmine.
     A Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship laureate, MacKinnon spent months on the road, fulfilling the terms of the award by working with local Kimberley schools and tribes at a latitude and longitude so far from his urban digs that he logged days, not hours, on the road each time he went to teach painting classes or provide local groups with cultural outreach programs. Perhaps a less attentive, imaginative, or industrious driver would have spent the time calling, emailing, video watching, iPod browsing, or all those other pursuits that have made their way into our driver’s seats over the last decade. Instead, McKinnon kept his eyes on the road and, through that inspiration, delivered a series of oil paintings and collages that capture the velocity and constantly changing inner landscapes inside the driver’s eye.

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Design October 6, 2009 By Gabriel Bell

filler4 Man Shops Globe

filler4 Man Shops Globe
manshopsglobe title Man Shops Globe

In a lineup of socially conscious programming, the Sundance Channel’s “Man Shops Globe” sticks out like a finely manicured sore thumb. While the Newark-based civic crusaders of “Brick City” struggle and strive, “Globe” protagonist Keith Johnson raids far-flung caches of time-weathered furniture to fill Anthropologie’s stores (the show is both a revealing look at high-end retail and an advertisement for the clothing and curios chain). Refreshingly devoid of the made-for-tv attitudes of his reality-show peers (“The Rachel Zoe Project”, “Flipped Out”), Johnson lacks the guile to make himself a pre-packaged star or wax romantic on the provenance his targeted bookcases, tables, and fashionable bric-a-brac. He
calls himself a “treasure hunter”, though he is less Indiana Jones than a pitiless hyena scrounging for ver-di-gris flowerpots and wire bed frames. Naturally you begin to plunder along with him, wondering how that wardrobe from Provence would look under your television. Bookended by socially conscious programming like “Brick City” and “The Lazy Environmentalist”, “Man Shops Globe” comes off as proudly irresponsible–the “finds” that give Johnson a brief contact high are bound for mall stores and not a second is granted to self-conscious grumbling about commercialism, psychological motivations, or anything other than where to find the next watercolor painting or cup of strong coffee. Regardless, at a time when shopping for shopping’s sake is no longer an acceptable pastime, “Man Shops Globe”offers sophisticated, heedless jollies without a credit-card statement. Dig in.

Man Shops Globe premieres Wednesday October 7th.

Fashion September 30, 2009 By Gabriel Bell

spacer1 Lauren Kovin

kovin cover2 Lauren Kovin
Photography by Sari Wynne for Lauren Kovin

spacer1 Lauren Kovin kovin title Lauren Kovin

It was only a week or so ago that Alexander McQueen, one of fashion’s most beloved enfant terribles, launched his spring/summer 2010 collection at London Fashion Week with a simultaneous “virtual runway” presentation over the Internet, offering what would appear to be a fully democratizing experience where the front-row illuminati of the industry were no closer or further away from the action than the 16-year-old fangirl taking in the designs from her bedroom computer. Keen editorials noted it as a step forward. Even keener ones noted that McQueen may actually be behind the times, that the Internet, social networking, and fast video transfer speeds have already brought us to a point where buyers, customers, creatives, and, yes, 16-year-old girls are finding new looks and designers as fast as (or sometimes faster than) top editors. In this new world of networked fashion, video has become key and designers such as Viktor & Rolf and Marc Jacobs, as well as labels low and high have put a great amount of time and money into creating immersive visual experiences that will at once showcase the clothes, capture the attention, and convey the aesthetic behind the cloth. Problem is, in comparison to the world of music videos, movies, and commercials, most “video lookbooks” are gauzy, languid things that manage to be both beautiful and sleep inducing. Lauren Kovin, however, has managed to put together a spring/summer 2010 video lookbook with a razor-sharp edge to match her crafty, clever work.

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Fashion September 28, 2009 By Gabriel Bell
pleet cover Samantha Pleet

pleet title Samantha Pleet

It was a drizzly day late in a New York summer that almost never was when Samantha Pleet unveiled her spring 2010 collection at the Soho Grand this Fashion Week. So drizzly in fact, that the intended outdoor presentation by the young, Brooklyn-based designer was moved to the moody confines of the hotel’s dining room where the lightly dressed models and the rest of the attendees found shelter. No matter — once the waitresses plopped a couple of strawberries in the free Champagne and the clothes were revealed, it was early spring all over again.
     Pleet, who creates her designs with her partner and husband Patrick, has already become notorious and beloved for her particular facility with that controversial piece of womenswear — the romper. It’s a positive, sexy, youthful statement in gray times and, to a more cynical follower of fashion, perhaps just a bit too fun. But Pleet is so very good at capturing a bright mood and orchestrating her merry band of models — which this year included friends like like musician Nicole Atkins, artist Carlin Altman, and designer Angela Barrow — she’s gaining popularity even among a
generation of women who often seem wedded to the Alex Wang school of dark, boyish looks and arch, grungy aesthetics. Her work belongs under patches of sunshine, alongside croquet matches, and wherever Champagne comes with a bit of fruit. Right now, we could all use a bit of that.

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Art September 25, 2009 By Gabriel Bell

junior title Junior Fritz Jaucquet

It’s well known that Postmodernist re-appropriation — or at least the popular tendency to reuse, recycle, and refashion industrial products into art — began with a bit of toilet humor. Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” — a simple urinal presented as a “readymade” sculpture in 1917 — was a watershed (pardon the pun) moment in Dadaism and the resulting movements. Although recycling today has taken on a different meaning, artists are still pulling ideas and materials from that ultimate place of meditation and material —The Can. Take French artist Junior Fritz Jacquet, who fashions spent toilet paper rolls into faces and other sculptural works. Jacquet is practicing the old art of origami with references to African mask styles and a very healthy dollop of French cheekiness. But his “les masques” collection reminds us that in every First-World household, there is a constant struggle to stay green in the bathroom where we waste the most water and discard the most paper products. Consciously or unconsciously, Jacquet has given a human face to this little-talked-about environmental crisis. We are the trash we make, say the little faces. Just think of that next time you run out of TP.

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Architecture, Greenspace September 13, 2009 By Gabriel Bell
detroit page2 Detroit Unbound
Photography by James D. Griffioen

detroit title Detroit Unbound

Perhaps you grew up in a tree-lined, middle-class suburb outside of Cleveland, tiptoeing past a dilapidated Gothic Revival on the way to the bus stop. Perhaps you came of age near New York’s BQE, eyeing weathered, unoccupied row houses with suspicion. Wherever you were, there was a good chance that an abandoned, spooky old house — its lawn gone to seed, its windows boarded — waited for you around the corner or at the end of the lane. Maybe you had the nerve to sneak in or perhaps you just watched sentimentally as the elements turned its walls and wood into something more fascinating and feral. Now imagine that house not being the exception in your ‘hood, but a growing norm.
     In cities across the country, the diving housing market and industrial downturn have had families on the run and leaving properties behind. In Flint, Michigan, Oakland, California, and even Brooklyn, rows of houses that have remained vacant since the mid-90s have welcomed new occupants – ivy, trees, and ruin. As GM and the other manufacturing giants slashed workforces over the last 20 years, the communities around these industrial centers have become eerie memento mori to bygone times when work was plenty, mortgages were cheap, and blue-collar communities thrived. Now the thriving in areas of Detroit and other cities is done by nature.

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