Toward the other end of East Broadway, I'm always excited to see the 1912 building of the Jewish Daily Forward, the socialist newspaper founded in 1897, designed by George Boehm with bas reliefs of Marx and Engels at the top of the columns. How ironic and perfect that this building was converted into luxury condos in the 1990s! I always associate this building with The Rise of David Levinsky, the novel by Abraham Cahan, then editor of the Forward, about the Jewish immigrant community of the Lower East Side. It's filled with compelling details of Jewish immigrant life, and the struggles of immigrants to rise above poverty, language barriers, and exploitation in the workplace through education and personal striving. The story is centered around the hollowness of profit as a motive for individual ambition. How quaint! Are we at a tipping point when the collapse of the extractive logic of accumulation will redeem the socialist ideals of the early 20th century industrial workers movements and unite us around a post-human recognition of our mutual ecological dependency? What will it take for us to defeat the banks, real estate interests, and industry lobbies, determined to keep us divided by a poisonous partisanship in order to maximize their extraction of profits?
East Broadway from one end to the other is a marvel of neighborhood cultural and small business preservation. This orange kitty Brandy waiting insistently at the door of Sam Wai Liquor Store knows these streets up and down. @jamesandkarla
Saskia Sassen spoke at the New York premier of the Careforce One Travelogues about the empowering results of Marisa Jahn's Careforce project, helping make visible a workforce that is essential to the livelihoods of everyone from high-income earners who require an incredible coordination of household activities to support their economic production to the unpaid childcare of mothers (and fathers), children caring for parents, those who clean up after us, nurses who care for our loved ones, partners who care for partners. The Careforce One Travelogues make a powerful argument for the value of this care through narrative, painstakingly assembled through millions of minute details and decisions about how to convey messages in cooperation with the immigrant workers who are among the most important stakeholders, frequently lacking in legal protections against exploitation. It's an incredible coup to have done this in an upbeat, aesthetically compelling form that has the tone of a Wes Anderson film rather than being didactic or preachy. But, to be preachy, as Sassen points out, we can decide as a society to support this care not only with labor protections but with subsidies of the kind we give to agriculture, industrial production, housing, and banking, just as we can protect students against the gun industry and ease the burden of college loans. @marisa_jahn @thecareforce
Much, much better film than anything I have read about it, go see The Young Karl Marx by Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro, Lumumba). Great, detailed, well-told, timely period drama about the formation of the Communist Manifesto. More than that, it's really about a critical examination of what is urgent in the present moment, how to best understand it in order to spur political change. Seeing it on the day that children in this country had to rise up in order to not be murdered in their classrooms because of the massive multigenerational propaganda campaign by the gun manufacturing industry having captured our government is particularly inspiring. As a prod to analyze how best to organize against the capture of the government by owners of industrial conglomerates rather than a naive celebration of communism as an economic and political theory, it's really profound and important. Also, how late am I to the Metrograph party? What an amazing retro movie theater! #youngkarlmarx #metrographtheater #enough #raoulpeck #communistmanifesto #industrialconglomerate #gunreformnow
I pass by this building regularly on the Newtown Creek jogging up Metropolitan Avenue toward Bushwick and Ridgewood, which recently got covered with a building-scale mural by this company Sky High, apparently part of a company called Colossal Media that paints hundreds of murals around the world every year. Cool example of street artists making beautiful work and making a living through their work by employing good marketing and business sense. Worth looking them up and figuring out how they do it. @colossalmedia @flintpublicart @sandrabranch1 @flintundergroundkid @schipanijoe @aerosol_and_audio @rayallrod
One takeaway from the preview of the Dimensions of Citizenship exhibition for the American Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale is that we can expect intellectual seriousness and inquiry--even academic rigor--as opposed to cocktail party radicalism. They're digging critically into the concept of citizenship and its implications at different scales. I'm excited to be moderating a panel on Humans vs. Robots during the vernissage!
Sculptor Mark Parrish is working on these skypods for the next phase of his Point B residency program in the Hudson Valley, which would be attached to trees as places for immersion in nature and meditation.
Peek into the mossy inflatable natural oasis by Brook Landscape and Jesse Seegers at Collective Design Fair, plus Alex Schweder's inflatable sofa and Lauren Nauman and Ahryun Lee's sculptural porcelain vessels at J. Lohmann Gallery's booth.
A study of three intersecting spheres became a guest house for Steven Holl's T Space residency and exhibition program in Rhinebeck, NY. Story with photos in the upcoming Abitare. Thanks Dimitra Tsachrelia for the tour and hike through the deep snow to Steven's watercolor hut on the lake.
Someone tag the creator of this excellent luggage fountain. @springbreakartshow
Melissa Maddonni Haims at Spring/ Break Art Show @maddonnihaims @inliquidart @springbreakartshow
Alina and Jeff Bliumis, Cultural Tips for Americans Under Trump at Spring/ Break Art Show, written in ink on sandblasted wooden ethnic souvenirs. @springbreakartshow
Funny piece by David Kramer at Spring/ Break Art Show @springbreakartshow @dkramer5000
Lots of excitement in Williamsburg and Greenpoint about starting to envision Bushwick Inlet Park as an ecological connector for the neighborhood and a way to link low-income and diverse constituencies. Susannah Drake's presentation of the historical flows of water and her Queensway, BQGreen, and Lower Manhattan visions inspired this group's aspirations for the park to be a model of ecological waterfront design. One takeaway is that the design process should involve a systematic, holistic look at integrating the waterfront and local parks to address resiliency, flood levels, and connectivity. @dlandstudio @bushwickinletpark
Another note about the mid-century modern Union Carbide building designed by Natalie de Blois for Skidmore Owings and Merrill and its planned destruction by JP Morgan Chase: Prior to the 1960 SOM tower, a 12-story luxury apartment building and hotel by Warren and Wetmore (architects of Grand Central) was constructed on the site in 1917 on top of the newly covered railroad tracks on Park Avenue, half of which was known as 270 Park, the other half Hotel Marguery, both sides sharing a private garden and drive. This was supposedly the largest and most expensive apartment building of its time, designed by one of the most important architectural offices of its time, and destroyed before the establishment of the Landmarks Commission. As much as Jane Jacobs is celebrated in the architecture profession and her values championed, it's astonishing that the destruction of the architectural heritage and human scale of the city continues exactly as it did before 1960. Doesn't this have to do with something bigger and more important than architectural history or an aesthetic judgment about the value of preserving any particular building? Reminds me of something Walter Benjamin wrote: This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.
Amanda McDonald Crowley curated a cool little show called Beautiful Obsolescence at Cluster Art Space with beautiful printed photography by Jeanette May and Adrianne Wortzel and sculpture by Mary Mattingly. Great collection of work by women about obsolete consumer products that all find unexpected beauty in castaway and no longer useful objects that carry traces of another time, are tamed as collected masses, or evoke the uncanny in contrast with nature.
What's undeniably underscored by Ruby Latoya Frazier's documentation of a family's experience in Flint is that Flint has gone from a national symbol of corporate irresponsibly and abandonment in the 1980s to a symbol of the black community's experience of disempowerment, racism, neglect by public institutions, failure of government at all levels to adequately address urgent needs, withdrawal of services, exploitation by financial institutions, disintegration of community, and utter lack of trust or belief in any agency, institution, policy maker, or political leader to tell the truth. If I heard correctly, at this talk Obama was called a mass murderer for drinking the Flint water at a press conference. This total collapse of the public's trust in institutions will be the most lasting and difficult-to-repair legacy of the water crisis, long after the pipes are replaced and the testing indicates water as healthy--or still flawed in ways one can or cannot live with--as any other city. The secondary impacts to economic development, abandonment of public schools, defunding of arts organizations, vacancy of homes, and loss of family wealth will exceed by many orders of magnitude the direct impact of drinking the water on health and educational outcomes. As a native of Flint and organizer of Flint Public Art Project, seeing T-shirts with Flint being identified with racial oppression is difficult, seeming to miss the incredible spirit of cooperation, friendship, and civic engagement across racial divisions that I experienced in Flint as a child and going back as an adult. I hope that one day this story, which Diego Rivera's murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts always powerfully symbolized for me, will also be told, and that without the need for empty boosterism, another Flint will be visible in its renovated downtown, Farmer's Market, community farms and gardens, Land Bank which has been a national model for management of vacancy, and reviving University Corridor connecting its engineering school with the campus of University of Michigan-Flint. Since the water crisis, our organization started an after-school arts program to engage K-6 kids.
A few blocks from where JP Morgan Chase plans to demolish the 52-story Union Carbide building (1960) designed by Natalie de Blois for Skidmore Owings & Merrill--an important landmark of early glass architecture (despite its perfect embodiment of death-corporate environmental catastrophe and exploitation)--to replace it with a 70-story building, the 1,400-foot One Vanderbilt Place skyscraper is currently under construction next to Grand Central Station. To clear the site, they demolished seven smaller buildings, including ones by Carrere & Hastings and Warren and Wetmore. The lecture by James von Klemperer of Kohn Pedersen Fox at Pratt Institute School of Architecture on Monday focused on KPF's supertall buildings in New York, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Seoul, as well as the massive Hudson Yards development, from the point of view of multilevel public spaces that create a vertical integration of a diversity of functions accessible for public use. As he pointed out in regard to many of them, however, all of these public spaces are actually privately owned and in most cases only accessible for patrons of commercial businesses or through payment of entrance fees: in other words, public space as a term has become stretched so far beyond its commonly accepted meaning as to become fairly meaningless as a term. As we as a society increasingly rely on public space as a rare universally accepted good that is supposed to benefit everyone and is supposed to have all sorts of shared benefits, it's time to look more critically at what public space actually is and whether its impact is really a benefit to democratic society. The building owners paid $400 million for the development rights to the city and agreed to fund $200 million in transportation connections and improvements to Grand Central in exchange for a massively profitable land grab and destruction of architectural heritage. While the public review process was extensive and the design may be ostensibly beautiful as an object with many public advantages, who was really aware of this project and who had a voice in what kind of city was being made to replace what was there before?
Creative Time co-founder Karin Bacon, Lower East Side Garden Preservation Coalition founder Felicia Young, art historian Amanda Douberly, and curator of Inventing Downtown Melissa Rachleff joined a lunch hosted by artist Phyllis Yampolsky at Le Gamin to celebrate collaborations together when Yampolsky was organizing Hoving's Happenings at the New York City Parks Department in the 1960s and advocating for preservation of McCarrren Park Pool in the 1980s and 90s. Initiators in the 1960s of what later became known as socially engaged art or social practice art, they did hundreds of events and collaborative projects in neighborhood parks and public spaces across the city, proving the ability of culture to work across divisions and spur agency and social change.