Infinity of Nations

Going back to the roots and learning a bit more about Native Americans; peoples, traditions and art that were thriving here before America’s discovery by the Old World.

A sad necessity perhaps but such dedicated museums are the most effective means in rendering these cultures and their history more widely accessible to visitors.

In New York, the  museum is housed in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, one of the most splendid Beaux Arts buildings in the City with a magnificent rotunda dome.

The rotunda skylight
Inuit Woman’s Inner Parka (amauti) also known as a tuilli. It was made from caribu skin for a mother to carry her infant. It incorporates almost 140.000 beads. It was made between 1890 and 1925 when whaling flourished on the west coast of Hudson Bay and the Inuit obtained glass beads from whalers through trade.

Mississippian effigy jar. 1350-1550 AD, Clay
Mississippian long-nosed god maskettes. 1100-1500 AD, marine shell
Sisitonwan Dakota (Sisseton Sioux) gauntlet gloves. South Dakota, ca. 1880. Deer hide, cotton cloth, glass beads, ribbon. Moccasins associated with Peo Peo T’olikt (Bird Alighting, Nimi’ipuu, 1857-1935). Idaho, ca. 1880. Deer hide, glass beads, cotton thread.

”Shortly after the outbreak of the 1877 war with the United States, Chief Looking Glass declared that he wanted peace and moved his camp to Clear Creek on the 1863 reservation. Peo Peo T’olikt, who was in his twenties, was instructed by the chief to parley with militiamen and soldiers who came to the camp on July 1. The Indian camp raised a white flag, but was attacked and destroyed.

Peo Peo T’olikt was wounded in the leg, but escaped and was involved in all the subsequent battles of 1877. He lost a wife and young son in the war, but his exploits were many. Capturing the cannon at Big Hole, stealing General Howard’s mules and horses at Camas Meadows, and protecting the camp at Bear Paw are just a few.”

Allen Pinkham, Sr. (Ni Mii Puu)
Tribal historian and former National Museum of the American Indian trustee

Chilkat Tlingit canoe prow effigy, Alaska ca. 1825-1875. Cedar wood, human hair, paint, abalone shell, opercula. The Haida decorated their boats with clan designs and insignia. A Tlingit might add a canoe prow figure carved in the form of a shaman who would guide the way and warn of the approach of enemies.
Wedding dress worn by Inshata-Theumba (Susette La Flesche or Bright Eyes, Omaha, 1854-1903). Nebraska, ca. 1881. Wool

”Susette La Flesche descended from Omaha tribal leaders on both sides of her family. As a child she lived in an earth lodge, though she also attended a mission school. La Flesche witnessed the expulsion of the Ponca tribe from their homeland to Indian Territory in 1877, and the subsequent imprisonment of Standing Bear and other Poncas who had attempted to return to Nebraska. These events launched La Flesche’s career as a nationally known activist who argued against the involuntary removal of indigenous people from their homelands and for Indian citizenship rights.

La Flesche found a soulmate in Thomas Tibbles, a newspaper reporter for the Omaha Herald who followed the Ponca case. Schooled in Western and Omaha culture and bilingual, La Flesche chose an elegant cream-colored wool skirt and jacket when she married Tibbles in 1881.”

Brenda J. Child (Red Lake Ojibwe)
Historian, University of Minnesota

Mebêngôkre krokrokti (feather headdress or cape). Brazil, ca. 1990. Macaw feathers, heron feathers, cotton cordage.

Mebêngôkre men and women wear feather headdresses or capes during children’s naming ceremonies and boy’s initiation ceremonies.

National Museum of the American Indian

November 7th, 2016

 

Happily FAILEd

This giant mural is the work of FAILE, a Brooklyn-based artistic collaboration between Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller. It covers an entire side wall of a building that happens to be The Record Plant, a legendary recording studio on 44th St. in Hell’s Kitchen, active from the late sixties until 1987, when it closed.

Imagine bumping into Aretha Franklin, Frank Zappa, Jimmy Hendrix, John Lennon, Cyndi Lauper, among others – they all recorded here; these are but a few of the names that emerged when I looked up the address.

Today, it is a high-tech business centre and I am desperate for a time-machine.

October 27, 2016

A spot of very instagramable art

Courtesy of Marlborough Gallery, with the kitchen of Nobu Fifty Seven providing a fittingly urban backdrop.

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JACQUES LIPCHITZ, Mother and Child, 1949, Bronze
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MANOLO VALDÉS, Dama a Caballo B1, 2012, Bronze
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MANOLO VALDÉS, Reina Mariana, 2005, Bronze
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MAGDALENA ABAKANOWICZ, Walking Figures, 2009, Bronze
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TOM OTTERNESS, Cone Fixing Cylinder (large), 2014, Bronze

40W 57th Street

October 1st, 2016

A Gallic touch (with a little help from the Greeks)

This magnificent gilded bronze relief graces the entrance of La Maison Française, part of the Rockefeller Center. A token of friendship between France and the United States, it depicts the two Cities – Paris and New York – reaching towards each other, showered with the gifts brought by the Three Graces, underneath.

According to Greek Mythology, the Three Graces were daughters of Zeus and the Oceanid (daughter of the Ocean) Eurynome. They were:

Aglaia – representing elegance, splendour
Thalia – representing youth, beauty
Euphrosyne – representing mirth

For the purposes of said friendship they became Poésie, Beauté & Elégance, an unwittingly apt transformation judging by their strategic location, watching over Saks Fifth Avenue right across the street.

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Sculpture by Alfred Janniot, ca. 1934 (more reading here & here)

La Maison Française
610 Fifth Avenue
New York

September 28th, 2016

Walking. Dreaming. Adrift.

wp20160925_183304 wp20160925_183305 wp20160925_183350Sleepwalker, 2014
Tony Matelli
Bronze, acrylic, paint

The Sleepwalker will be meandering about in a deep sleep until March 2017 on the High Line. In his dream, people walk past giving him strange looks. Some long to touch him. Others are afraid.

I want to dream like the Sleepwalker. Perhaps I do. Perhaps my whole life is but a long sleepwalk. I’ll know when I wake up. Perhaps I never will.

September 25th, 2016

 

Porky Pies and other Lies

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The Police
1983
Pen, brush mouth atomiser and ink on paper

On 14 January 1983, 26-year old film editor Stephen Waldorf was mistakenly shot five times in the head and body by the Metropolitan Police in Earls Court, West London. The police thought he was an escaped prisoner, David Martin. In 1983 two officers were put on trial for attempted murder; they were both acquitted.wp20160924_143010

Margaret Thatcher. The Last Supposition, 1985
Leonardo da Vinci after Ralph Steadman has had a go at it..
New Statesman, 11 October 1985
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Reagan’s Latest Close-Up
New Statesman, 7 March 1980
Pen and Indian ink on paper

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”The Peacekeepers Are Coming!
The Peacekeepers Are Coming!”
1983
Pen, mouth atomiser and ink on paper

In October 1983 thousands of US troops and helicopter gunships invaded the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada after a left-wing coup. Reagan’s incursion into Grenada, a Commonwealth country, was the only occasion on which Margaret Thatcher and the US president had a serious fallout.

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Donald Trump – Porky Pie!!!
New Statesman, 17 December 2015
Pen, brush, mouth atomiser, acrylic and gesso on paper

This porcine portrait of the real estate billionaire, reality TV game-show host and presidential hopeful [and, by now, President] Donald J. Trump accompanied an article by Laurie Penny, ”There is nothing funny about a Donald Trump rally”. ”By lying through his teeth”, she writes, ”he has managed to persuade thousands of people that he is the one truth-teller in American politics… Trump is selling fascism with a cartoon face”.

In November 2015, the mayor of Jersey City accused Trump of ”shameful politicizing” after the Republican made unsubstantiated claims that in 2001 the watched on TV ”thousands and thousands” of Arab Americans in New Jersey cheering the attacks on the World Trade Center.

”Porkie pie”, or ”porky”, is Cockney rhyming slang for ”lie”.

From A Retrospective: Ralph Steadman exhibition, held at The Society of Illustrators between September-October 2016.

September 24th, 2016