A day trip to Poughkeepsie

First, I was intrigued by the Native American name. Looking for its meaning, I found out that it is a mispronunciation of a Native American word referring to the location of a spring of fresh water that was used by the first travelers as a rest stop on the trail that ran along the river. Poughkeepsie is derived from ”uppuqui ipis ing”, uppuqui pronounced oo-poo-kee, and it means ”the reed-covered lodge by the little water-place”. [source]

Then, came an episode of the ”Great American Railroad Journeys”, a BBC travel documentary in which Michael Portillo crosses the United States by train using an 1879 copy of Appleton’s Guidebook. In this episode, Portillo makes a stop on his way to Albany, to walk across the former Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, built in 1889.

In Appleton’s time the bridge existed on paper only but, just ten years later there it was, the first Hudson River rail crossing north of New York City, intended to move mostly freight from Midwest to New England. In peak times, as many as 50 trains a day used to cross the bridge, but by 1974, when it was destroyed by fire, the traffic had dropped to one train a day.

The fire may have been extinguished but the damaged bridge remained closed, in disrepair for 35 years, until October 2009 when it was reopened as Walkway Over the Hudson with funding by the State and Federal government bodies responsible for historic preservation, private philanthropic organisations, but mainly the initiative and extensive support  by local residents.

At 1,28 miles – just over 2 km long, it claims the first place as the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. Open daily from 7 am to sunset, easily reached from Manhattan: a two-hour trip running mostly alongside the Hudson, on Metro-North from Grand Central Terminal.

Attention, however, you need to plan accordingly: except for the obvious breezy conditions one may expect on a bridge, it can get really hot (as in boiling) on this particular one. There is nowhere to hide from the sun and relief will come only once you’ve crossed on either side and especially Highland, where the Hudson Valley Rail Trail continues for miles under the welcome leafy shade.

August 13th, 2017

Zender’s Winterreise || Jazz @ Lincoln

It was August but Winterreise was about to take us on a journey back in time, through Hans Zender’s Dark Mirror; I had a feeling it would be dark and cool, just what one needs in August in the City – and I was right.

Schubert’s Winterreise is a work shockingly ahead of its time, with a strongly expressionist flavor and prescient hints at the progress of music into the 20th century. Zender’s interpretation brings out and clarifies these extraordinary aspects and creates sonic associations for a modern audience. The rich cabaret feel draws on elements already there, and allows for a reflection on the piece itself—it is a work of art about a work of art.” (source)

Before looking into ”The Dark Mirror”, we lingered around the Ertegun Jazz Hall Of Fame, a space honouring the life and work of jazz legends with photos of the men and women who dedicated their lives to jazz, and a video series on the media wall, designed and animated by Nate Milton. Walking by, it occurred to me that I have yet to discover New York’s jazz scene. Now, a year-and-a-half later, I’m still in the dark and not sure where to start. If you have a recommendation, please do drop me a line in the comments – I would love to find out! 

Jazz at Lincoln Center

August 12th, 2017

Puppy’s First Birthday

*Recent Resident Posting* (September 2018) on the bulletin board of my building’s website:

Title: Puppy’s First Birthday Party Meet-up

Hi guys! My chihuahua is turning one and I’m throwing her a party this Saturday 9/22 at 11am in Washington Square Park! Check out the attached facebook event link. It would be awesome to see some familiar faces there and just let our dogs have fun! Please text me with any questions (number deleted). RSVP on Facebook or text me so I know how many party favors to bring. 🙂

**

Photos from a walk in Hell’s Kitchen. It was not the same man but it could well have been…

August 12th, 2017

The Titan’s Goblet

One of my favourite paintings, is on view @The_Met. Both mythical and realistic, surreal yet, somehow, familiar. I feel like it would take me many moon phases – or may be forever – to complete a full circle around the lush wooded rim. I feel like I’ve been there many times before; I go there often – in my dreams. Almost always in twilight, instances before it turns completely dark.

The Titan’s Goblet, 1833
Thomas Cole (1801–1848)
Oil on canvas

August 6th, 2017

Bakst-[age] @The_Met

Looking for Rei…

1/
Costume Design by Léon Bakst for Vaslav Nijinsky in the Role of Iksender in the Ballet “La Péri” (The Flower of Immortality), 1922 (first performed in Paris, 1912). Watercolour and gold and silver paints over graphite

With his distinct Eurasian features, Nijinski effortlessly portrayed protagonists of various ethnicities, such as Iksender in La Péri, set in Iran. However he never actually performed as Iksender, because Diaghilev cancelled the entire production when Nijinski’s female counterpart could not match his talent in dance.

2/
Fantaisie sur le costume moderne‘: Two female haute couture figures, 1910. Graphite, brush and watercolour and gouache 

Although better known for his costume and stage designs for the Ballets Russes directed by Diaghilev and the performances of Ida Rubinstein, Bakst was also influential in fashion design during the early decades of the 20th century, and designed garments himself. The designs in this drawing show the bold, sensuous colour, characteristic of his style, with geometric patterns and rich textures.

3/
Costume Design for a Woman from the Village, for the Ballet ‘Daphnis and Chloé‘, performed at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, 1912. Watercolour and graphite

This ballet by Fokine was first performed at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in 1912, as part of the repertoire of the Ballets Russes for the season. The costume designs for the ballet were inspired by Ancient Greece, and Bakst drew inspiration from ancient vases, both for the costumes and the poses and movements of dancers

4/Ida’s stylish fans in mutual admiration.

5/
Mme Ida Rubinstein1917. Watercolour, gouache, and graphite on paper, mounted on canvas

Bakst was a gifted portrait artist and captured the likeness of many of his friends and colleagues. In this almost life-size watercolour, he depicts the Russian heiress Ida Rubinstein, who danced with the Ballets Russes for two seasons after an introduction by her teacher, the choreographer Mikhail Fokine.

6/
Design for the Set of the Ballet ‘Narcisse’, premiered at the Théâtre de Monte Carlo, 1911.  Watercolour, gouache, and charcoal

Bakst designed this impressive decor for Narcisse, a one-act ballet about the Greek mythological figure Narcissus, who falls in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. The story is set at the shrine of Pomona, a mythological goddess associated with the abundance of nature. The rich green landscape Bakst created echoes the sensibilities of the Art Nouveau style.

***

Images from ”Performance as Escape: Léon Bakst and the Ballets Russes”, an exhibition featuring a small selection of costume and set designs by Léon Bakst for the Ballets Russes, we happened upon on our way to The Met’s 2017 blockbuster, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.

You can see photos from that show, in nine sections, by going to the Search button at the end of the page and simply typing ”Rei Kawakubo”.

August 6th, 2017