Category Archives: New York

Scenes From Around Town: Laurie Anderson Talks Spirituality

Mark C. Taylor, Laurie Anderson, Irving Sandler and Gregory Amenoff talk art and spirituality at Columbia University. February 10, 2011. (Image Credit: Tempestt Hazel)

It was a hard decision to make.  Do I miss going to the Metropolitan Museum and mingling with all of you amazing CAA Conference attendees or do I indulge my love for new media and performance by seeing Laurie Anderson speak at Columbia University?  It was hard, but I ultimately realized that I may never get this chance again so I headed over to Columbia University to hear the artist talk.

Thursday evening Columbia’s School of the Arts partnered with the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life to present Refiguring the Spiritual with 1972 alumna Laurie Anderson.  Art historian Irving Sandler, Chair of the Visual Arts Program Gregory Amenoff and Chair of the Department of Religion Mark C. Taylor eventually joined Anderson on stage for a conversation about her work and the ways in which it flirts with the spiritual, invisible, subversive and unknown.

Laurie Anderson discusses her garden proposal. February 10, 2011. (Image Credit: Tempestt Hazel)

Anderson started off alone on the stage, taking about her experience as Artist In Residence at NASA and the first time she was invited to design an interactive, multi-media garden.   As you can imagine, Anderson was a very dynamic and humorous speaker–often getting laughs from the audience when recalling her memories of these challenging and enlightening moments in her career that took her from solid ground to the far-reaching, often unfathomable corners of the universe.

Once the other three joined her on stage for a conversation it was still dominated by Anderson, which was fine with me.  My issue with the discussion was not only the lack of true conversation between speakers, but it also seemed to be in a constant state of tug-of-war between her current beliefs as a Buddhist who tries to live in the moment and “see things as they are”, her Christian upbringing and the Christian-dominated comments and questions.  Although I felt that there was a certain something missing from the equation of the group on the stage, there were several great moments from the talk where Anderson gave insights that I will be packing in my suitcase and taking with me to Chicago.  Here are a few:

“I, in many ways, don’t know a lot about art, what it’s for, who it’s made for, what it’s doing.  I do know that I don’t think it’s to make the world a better place because it seems like such a 19th Century concept.  If you do think that as an artist, as a working artist, then you have to ask yourself, ‘Better for who?’.  For you?  For me? For the people over there who are analyzing what it is?”

“It is the frightening and fantastic feeling that this is all there is…” – Laurie Anderson discusses the joys and fears found in meditation and living in the moment

“Art is sensual.  What if you experienced art so intensely that artists didn’t have to make things?”  - Laurie Anderson discussing what art could be hundreds of years from now

Posted in New York | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Getting into the New York Flow

Typically, I’m pretty open to the everyday challenges life in New York throws at you. Before moving back to the slower, quieter San Francisco Bay Area, I fought it out here for seven years. Yet, these past 2 days have been challenging, even for me.

As a blogger, wireless access is essential. However, I’m relegated to just a couple of spots where access is “free,” and find that many, many people have the same idea. My poor, 7-year old computer slows to a crawl from the heavy internet traffic, if I can even find a place to sit down long enough to log on and write. A smartphone, you ask? Maybe an iPad? Or dare I say, pay into the hotel’s wireless service to work anywhere? Ah, only when I’m no longer among the millions of unemployed, and I can actually afford such beautiful devices and services!

In conferences past, my agendas for attendance have been fairly predictable: to present a paper, to chair a panel, to serve as chair of a committee and steer the committee meeting (and make sure it’s session ran smoothly). As a graduate student, it was great to do all this and meet new people. And share a cushy hotel room close to the conference with fellow students, hit the events, the museums, etc. As I moved up the educational administrative and managerial mountain, my institutions paid my hotel bills in exchange for the assistance I provided for the alumni receptions, the hiring committees, etc. One could get used to this level of luxury, as I continued to build upon my CV with more papers, panels, and service.

It all crashed, along with the economy, in 2009.

I have been out of graduate school for a long time. Yet, this year I feel more like a student than ever before. With no institution supporting me, in fact no job at all, it was a difficult decision to even come here this year. My spouse (who is job-hunting here for the first time) and I scraped together airline miles. We are staying with friends in Park Slope, Brooklyn—not an easy trek when sessions start early and events run late. We are even frugal with food—tough in NYC. It’s a fact we knew going in.

Am I happy to be here? Absolutely! With or without fancy electronic devices. Unemployment brings with it an unpleasant and lonely isolation, interpersonally and intellectually. So, while I am finding it stressful at times to be the dutiful blogger, my inner art nerd is definitely being fed, and seeing dear friends and colleagues is filling me with much-needed camaraderie.

Posted in Bloggers, CAA, Hotels, New York | 1 Comment

ARTspace Media Lounge “Band of Outsiders”

The publication created for "Band of Outsiders" at the ARTspace Media Lounge at the CAA Conference. Feb. 10, 2011. (Image Credit: Tempestt Hazel)

If you have not had the chance to see the ARTspace Media Lounge, there several opportunities to.  This Jean Luc Godard inspired collaborative exhibition brings together artists, curators and more to create a special conference and city-wide multi-media installation in honor of the centennial College Arts Association Conference.

The College Arts Association presents

Band of Outsiders

Organized by Sabina Ott and Cindy Smith of the CAA Services to Artists Committee

ARTspace Media Lounge
7:30am-5pm Feb 10-12
Concourse F, Concourse Level
Hilton New York
1335 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10010

The Center for Book Arts
February 1 – April 2
Weekdays: 10am – 6pm
Saturdays: 10am – 4pm
28 West 27th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10001

The Big Screen Project
Selections from Band Of Outsiders
Feb 9-12, 5-9pm
Public Plaza behind Eventi Hotel
6th Avenue b/w 29th and 30th
New York, NY

The following are some photos of the collaborative publication made in honor of the ARTspace Media Lounge and Band of Outsiders.

Posted in ARTspace, Centennial, Exhibitions, Hotels, New York, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Not Homesick Yet: Finding Chicago Art in New York

The CAA Conference offers many reasons to get excited. The amount of information and art combined with the excellent list of people presenting it–that alone is more than enough to bring out the geek in any art historian. Add the fact that the conference is held in one of the most culturally rich cities in the world and you’ll end up with a sensory explosion.

The task I have challenged myself to during my time in New York is not only to attend most of the sessions I am interested in, but also venture out to other places. I started yesterday during a late night studio visit with Columbia University MFA candidate, Chicago native and friend Caitlin Cherry. Sometimes it is nice to see the things on the opposite end of art history—the history in the making. For me, being at the Columbia University studios and then coming to the conference provides a balance between past, present and future.

In the Studio with Columbia University MFA Candidate Caitlin Cherry. February 8, 2011. (Image Credit: Tempestt Hazel)

What I love most about Cherry is that throughout her undergrad at the School of the Art Institute and now at Columbia University, she has stood firm for her love of painting. In an age of new media it takes a certain amount of courage to do that, in my opinion.

Reclining on Baroque Couch (Portrait of Mayor Richard M. Daley), 36 x 48 inches, acrylic gouache and oil on canvas, 2011. (Image: Courtesy of the artist)

At Cherry’s studio I got to see works in progress, including a very timely portrait of Mayor Richard M. Daley that she has been working on. In case you have not had a chance to catch up on your Chicago politics, the Windy City art community has been preparing for a big switch of administration from Chicago’s decades as a Daley-run city. The art community, which Daley’s reign has proved beneficial for in many ways, is doing what it can to let the incoming administration know that the arts are important in Chicago, and we will be heard. (See Mayoral Meet & Greet by Chicago Urban Arts Society or Arts Power Chicago).

The other places outside of the conference I plan on stopping at include the David Hammons show at L&M Arts, Dawoud Bey’s Harlem U.S.A. show at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Ellen Gallagher show at Gagosian Gallery.  See you there?

Posted in New York | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A conference in my very own backyard

Living in the city where a major conference is being held is a dream. I get all the frills and thrills of a place like New York with few of the added costs and troubles. For instance, even in wintry weather such as this, I get to experience the incredible pleasure of riding my bike to the first early-morning talks. Decked out in my tie and gloves, with a pack of books and papers strapped to my back, I peddle like mad down the wide-open trails that crisscross Central Park. Fueled by the coffee I made in my slippers just a few minutes ago, I make pit stops here and there at my favorite bagel shop or fruit stands and wave hello to the ladies opening the doors to their pastry shop. The city is wide awake and ready to start a new day!

Knowing all the back-alley shortcuts and dead-end scurries, I arrive exactly at the time I expect. No unfamiliar train routes or expensive taxis, and no second-guessing if I’ll make it there on time – just the comfort of knowing this is my town and I know all its little secrets . . . Oh, so you’d like to try some street meat from one of the nearby carts during break? Well, don’t go to those guys on the corner wearing yellow jackets: they charge a dollar more and sacrifice half the love of the guy wearing the greasy apron just down the block. Oh, you’d like to get your shoes shined before your talk? Well, don’t go to the guys in Grand Central near the Lexington Passage. They charge a lot and won’t make conversation. Instead, go to Brooks Brothers on Madison and 43rd St., where you won’t pay a dime and you can swaddle yourself in a cashmere robe while some mustachioed gentleman regales you with great stories. Yes, this city has a thousand shortcuts and twice as many comforts, just as long as you know how to find them. So stay agile and keep your head up!

But don’t be fooled, there are some drawbacks of living in the city where a major conference is being held. Not every day can be a holiday and it’s not all fun and games. After all, you’re never quite untethered from your workaday responsibilities. For example, I still had to teach a class today in the early afternoon and, as a result, had to forego a whole bevy of treasured talks. To be sure, it’s a shame to have to make such sacrifices. (Not to mention the sacrifice of trying to live off a graduate student’s stipend while living in such an expensive city . . .) But I gladly accept my duties and damages, because if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have a reason to be here. These are the very things that give me an agenda, and these are the things which afford me an opportunity to attend such meetings as these. Plus, I like my students this year. And who knows? Maybe one of them will present an amazing paper at the CAA conference next year . . . That would be the real thrill, wouldn’t it?

Posted in New York | 1 Comment