Available Light || Lincoln Center

Available Light was a 1983 creation, a collaboration between three American icons: choreographer Lucinda Childs, composer John Adams and architect Frank Gehry, commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Los Angeles.

The work was revived in 2015 and it was this updated version that we had the chance to enjoy as part of Lincoln Center’s ”Mostly Mozart Festival”, in 2018. Lucinda Childs’ interpretation of John Adams’ music that moves and unfolds like an expanding universe, was a deceivingly simple – in reality highly complex, energetic choreography, wonderfully complemented by Frank Gehry’s architectural set design.

A compilation of interviews with with John Adams, Lucinda Childs and Frank Gehry, with photographs of the original production, can be found in this 2015 article, by Julie Lazar, curator of the original work, in 1983.

Jazz @ Lincoln Center

July 13th, 2018

 

 

The Clearwater

And the sun setting on the Hudson

The story:

Clearwater was founded by Pete Seeger, legendary musician, singer, songwriter, folklorist, activist, environmentalist, and peace advocate, and one of the most influential people of the twentieth century. In 1966, in despair over the pollution of his beloved Hudson River, Seeger announced plans to “build a boat to save the river.”  At the time, the Hudson was rank with raw sewage, toxic chemicals and oil pollution; fish had disappeared over many miles of its length. Seeger, along with many other concerned individuals, believed a majestic replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson in the 18th and 19th centuries would bring people to the river where they could experience its beauty and be moved to preserve it. Inspired by that vision, the organization began with the launch of the sloop Clearwater in 1969 —a majestic 106-foot long replica vessel. [source]

June 29th, 2018

The Delectable Dorilton

That looks like an ornate, luxurious birthday cake.

The plaque reads:

THE DORILTON
THIS BEAU ARTS APARTMENT HOUSE WAS DESIGNED BY THE
ARCHITECTURAL FIRM OF JANES & LEO, AND COMPLETED IN 1902.
THE DORILTON WAS HOME TO LOCAL ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS
WHO APPRECIATED THE LARGE SOUND-PROOF ROOMS. THE
BUILDING FEATURES A FIVE-STORY CENTRAL BAY WINDOW
EMBELLISHED BY TWO ELABORATE LARGER-THAN-LIFE FEMALE
SCULPTURES AT ITS BASE. THE ENTIRE STRUCTURE IS CAPPED
BY A TWO-AND-ONE-HALF-STORY CONVEX MANSARD ROOF
EMBELLISHED WITH DECORATIVE COPPER RIDGE CAPPING.
NEW YORK LANDMARKS PRESERVATION FOUNDATION
1989

 

W 71st Street & Broadway, Manhattan, New York City

June 23rd, 2018

Birds of a Feather

Feathers: Fashion and the Fight for Wildlife, was an exhibition exploring the history of the ground-breaking Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which aimed to protect millions of migratory and song birds that were being driven to extinction, simply for fashion’s sake.

The exhibition ran between April and July 2018, commemorating the centennial of this landmark, lifesaving act. It delved into the circumstances that inspired environmentalists and activists, many of them women and New Yorkers, who lobbied for the legislation and was an eye-opener for me, as it threw light on the brutal killing with intent of millions of birds – on a yearly basis – for the delicate beauty of their feathers.

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Aigrette hair ornament (from a Snowy or Great Egret), 1984 – J.H. Johnston & Co. (1844 – ca. 1910)

Aigrettes are elegant plumes worn as hair or hat ornaments. They became especially popular among fashionable women during the late nineteenth century. Mature Snowy and Great Egrets develop these wispy feathers along their breasts, heads and tails during breeding season. Because of this seasonal plumage, the feathers were highly coveted by milliners. This delicate example, accented with five tiny diamonds and mounted on a gold headband, was worn by a bride on her wedding day.

When plume and game hunters killed adult egrets for their feathers, they also condemned their offspring. The deaths of adult egrets during breeding season left their eggs unprotected. Unattended, orphaned eggs succumbed before reaching maturity, while baby egrets died of starvation. This cruel method of harvesting earned aigrettes the scornful moniker, the ”white badge of cruelty”.

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Lady’s hat, ca. 1915 by Arnold, New York (ca. 1915-30). Felt, silk, ribbon, bird-of-paradise, glass
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Red-legged Honeycreeper earrings, ca. 1865, probably London, England. Preserved bird, gold metal

Late-nineteenth-century jewelers often used insects and animal parts to decorate jewelry. Exotic nectar feeders and native to the Americas like hummingbirds, honeycreepers are closely related to tropical tanagers and are found from Mexico to Brazil. They fascinated scientists, hunters and collectors. In 1865 London jeweler Harry Emanuel patented a method to inset hummingbird heads, skins and feathers into gold and silver mounts. As objects of beauty, hummingbird heads and feathers were prized as earrings, necklaces, brooches and fans. Earrings similar to this pair featuring male Red-legged Honeycreepers were shown at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.

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Paddle fan of Marabou feathers with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 1869
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Feathers: Fashion and the Fight for Wildlife, an exhibition exploring the history of the ground-breaking Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918
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Evening dress with swans’ down accents, 1885 by R. H. White & Co. (1853-1957)
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Evening dress with swans’ down accents, 1885 by R. H. White & Co. (1853-1957)

This satin evening dress, with elegant back bustle and lavish paisley velvet underskirt, is adorned with the diaphanous under-feathers, or down, of a swan. Intended for formal winter events, the regal, body-hugging dress is ornamented with down accents at the neck and along the train. Swans were an attribute of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. A dress decorated with swans’ down connoted wealth, status and mysterious sensuality, but put swans in jeopardy.

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Hat with Greater Bird-of-Paradise trim, ca. 1920-25, by Hickson, Inc. (1913-35)
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Folding fan of orange and tan Horned Grebe feathers, ca. 1905
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Hat with a Masked Booby, 1900-05
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Sheet music, The Bird on Nellie’s Hat, 1906. Jos. W. Stern & Co., New York (1894-1919), Arthur J. Lamb (1870-1928) and Alfred Solman (1868-1937)
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Under the auspices of The Audubon Society…
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… protection for the bird is being preached broadcast
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4:00 p.m. Mrs. Frances Rosep, 309 E 110 St., New York, 1991
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Making Hats for the Wholesale Trade, 1907-33
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Cluttered Workroom in a Feather Factory, 1907

Reproductions of photographs by Lewis Wickes Hine (1874-1940)

Female feather workers toiled in factories and in tenement apartments. Inside hot and unventilated workshops, labourers continuously inhaled feather dust and particles. Preparing and decorating plumes was dirty, arduous work, often carried out by immigrant women and children. Piece-workers who cleaned and dressed feathers at home often engaged their children in processing plumes.  In the first photograph, Mrs. Frances Rosep teaches her son and daughters, ages 7, 10 and 12, to ”willow’ feathers, a painstaking process of lengthening plumes. Pay for willowing ostrich feathers was determined by the overall finished length. The Rosep family earned $ 2.50 a week. Ostrich feathers fell outside of the purview of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

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Feathers: Fashion and the Fight for Wildlife, an exhibition exploring the history of the ground-breaking Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918
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Audubon Millinery

Mrs. Frothingham – Do you think that Audubon Millinery will ever be the vogue?

Mrs. Hungerford – Certainly I do. All that is necessary is to make the birdless bonnets the most expensive.

Waterbury Evening Democrat, April 23, 1898

Regional Audubon societies addressed the feather craze by promoting birdless hats trimmed with a variety of ribbons, flowers and fabric. State chapters extended invitations to leading milliners to manufacture ”Audobonnets”, which were often exhibited to the public. After the Pennsylvania Audubon Society’s 1896 exhibition of birdless millinery, Gimbel Brothers in Philadelphia sold the ”beautiful hats made without the help of plumage” in a separate department. Not to be outdone, Saks & Company in New York City offered humanitarian ”hats in the newest shapes”, ”gayest colourings” and ”richest of trimmings”.

Avian activism encouraged the invention of alternative trimmings. In New York, feather and ribbon traders promoted collections of colourful, textured decorations designed to emulate plumage. ”Ostraigrettes”, made of ostrich feathers in lieu of heron or egret, were among many clever imitations. Others were approved ”Audubon Society Millinery Feathers”, ”Neagrettes” and ”Pomponettes” fabricated from horse hair, patent leather, spun glass, chenille and silk, and hemp.

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Shoppers on Sixth Avenue, New York City, ca. 1903 (unidentified photographer)

This image captures late nineteenth-century New York’s most stylish shopping district. Ladies’ Mile, as it was known, ran along Broadway and Sixth Avenue between 14th and 23rd Streets.

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Men, Women & Feathers
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Accessory set, including muff and tippet, decorated with four adult Herring Gulls harvested during breeding season
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Bird Reservation, U.S. Criminal Code, Section 84
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Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja), Study for Havell pl. 321, ca. 1831-32; 1836. John James Audubon (1785-1851)

John James Audubon, original name Fougère Rabin or Jean Rabin, baptismal name Jean-Jacques Fougère Audubon, (born April 26, 1785, Les Cayes, Saint-Domingue, West Indies [now in Haiti]—died January 27, 1851, New York, New York, U.S.), was an ornithologist, artist, and naturalist who became particularly well known for his drawings and paintings of North American birds. [source]

New-York Historical Society

June 23rd, 2018

Celebrating Bill Cunningham

… the legendary journalist, one of New York City’s most beloved photographers, who started his long career as a milliner.

At once elegant and whimsical, Cunningham’s hats were favoured by upscale clients who enjoyed wearing fashionable works of art. His beach hats were, in his words, ”a bit outrageous”. Woven raffia show-stoppers topped with cascading sprays of feathers or chiffon, the hats sported deep crowns created to to fit comfortably over the high-piled bouffant hairstyles of the early 1960s.

Cunningham opened his first millinery shop in a brownstone on East 52nd Street, where he cleaned for his landlords in exchange for living and work space. He then moved uptown o West 54th Street and to West 57th Street, before relocating to the Carnegie Hall Studios. In addition to hats, he also made muffs and masks, often of feathers. Cunningham regarded feathers as the ultimate ”objects of beauty”. 

Bill Cunningham is remembered today as a milliner, photojournalist and social anthropologist. His most treasured, life-long pursuit, however, was that of a loyal friend. Over the nearly seventy years he lived in New York, he touched a wide circle of friends with his energy, creativity, kindness and quiet humility. 

New-York Historical Society acquired a number of objects, personal correspondence, ephemera, and photographs reflecting the life and work of Bill Cunningham, including his bike, camera and iconic blue jacket. They were all on display between June and September 2018.

New-York Historical Society

June 23rd, 2018

Walk this Way

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Walk This Way…

… was an exhibition of footwear from the vast Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes, on show at the New-York Historical Society between April-October 2018. Over a 100 pairs of these (mostly) wearable artworks were on display and I was in shoe heaven, barely able to restrain myself from trying them on – and walking away.

Scroll down and tell me you wouldn’t…

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Sharon Von Senden, Jewels at Work – Swarovski crystals, stained glass, vintage stones
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Robert Steele, Corrugated Curves, Cardboard
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Unidentified maker, open-toe mules, ca. 1950s – Leather, plexiglas, rhinestone, elastic Spring-o-lator. These shoes  belonged to Ginger Rogers
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Unidentified maker, Mary Jane shoes, ca. 1926 – Silk and metallic patterned fabric, embossed metal buttons

”Mary Jane” was originally a character in a popular newspaper strip, Buster Brown. In 1904, the Brown Shoe Company licenced her image to market children’s shoes. Eventually, any shoe with a chunky low heel and a strap across the instep became know as a ”Mary Jane”.

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Terry de Havilland, Peep-toe platform shoes, ca. 1972 – Suede, leather
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David Evins, Column-heel pumps, ca. 1970 – Plastic
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Unidentified maker, Pumps, late 1920s – Silk, leather
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Unidentified maker, Laced pumps, 1910 – Silk brocade, laces
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Peal & Co., Buttoned boots, ca. 1920 (left) & Lace-up boots by an unidentified maker, ca. 1910-20 (right)
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Unidentified maker from China, Ankle-strap sandals, ca. 1930s – Silk, kid leather, embroidery
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Delman Shoes, Peep-toe evening shoes, ca. 1935 – Leather and mesh net
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Fenton Footwear, T-strap pumps, ca. 1937 – Velveteen, leather
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Unidentified maker, Buttoned boots, 1870s
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Unidentified maker, Lace-up boots, ca. 1900 – Silk and silk brocade
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Fenton Last, Open-toe slingback sandals, late 1970s – Leather, silk
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Knight Shoe Ltd., Lace-up boots, 1910-15 – Leather, canvas, laces
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C. P. Ford & Co., High-top shoes, 1905-10 from Rochester, New York – Leather, buttons
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Krohn-Fechheimer & Co., Red Cross Noiseless shoes, ca. 1918, Leather
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Enzo of Roma, Thong sandals, 1960s – Leather, synthetic
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The Chelsea Cobbler, Peep-toe platform shoes, ca. 1972 – Suede
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Frank Brothers, T-strap shoes, ca. 1930 – Silk satin, kid leather, mother-of-pearl button
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Unidentified maker, T-strap evening sandals, ca. 1940s – Leather, silk, rhinestones
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Herbert Levine Inc., Kabuki platform shoes, 1964 – Suede, wood
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Robert Tabor, Cabfab – Acrylic, vinyl, rhinestones
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The Red Carpet
Unidentified maker, Stilted bath clogs (qabâqib), 19th century. Ottoman, possibly Syrian – Wood, inlaid mother-of-pearl

Women throughout the Islamic Middle East wore stilted wooden bath clogs such as these for over four centuries. An adaptation of ancient Roman shoes called sculponea, qabâqib were similarly associated with bathing and bath houses. Nineteenth-century European orientalists considered these highly desirable collectibles, symbolizing an imagined ”Eastern” exoticism and eroticism.

Freed of London, Toe shoes, 1994-95 – Silk, canvas, leather

The ballerina Heather Watts wore this pair of pointe shoes on January 15, 1995 for her farewell performance as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, which she joined in 1970. Watts afterwards told the New York Times, ”I need to live in new shoes.”

Gregg Barnes, designer. T.O. Dey, maker. ”Kinky boots” ca. 2013, from New York City. Paten metallic leathers, rubber, fabric, metal

”The sex is in the heel / Fierce as you can make it / The sex is the appeal”, sings Lola, the drag queen at the heart of the musical Kinky Boots. The hit Broadway show is based on the true story of a struggling shoe factory that survived by producing high-heeled fetish footwear in men’s sizes.

New-York Historical Society, New York City

June 23rd, 2018

The Queen of Burlesque

There was glitter, feathers and Swarovski crystals. There was titillation. There was rich lather and sensual bubble dance. There was riding a giant red lipstick on a patent leather costume. There was the famous martini glass number. Dita and her team of sexy teasers were in Manhattan. And Manhattan was under their spell.

Last pic from Dita’s facebook page.

Dita von Teese Copper Coup Tour, Beacon Theater, New York City

May 1st, 2018