What I’m Reading – January 22, 2017

Minoru Niizuma, Yoko Ono and others at the Chambers Street loft, 1962. Gelatin silver or digital print, printed 2016, 8 x 10 in. Collection of Yoko Ono, New York. © Yoko Ono Left to right: Toshi Ichiyanagi, Toshiro Mayuzumi, Yoko Ono
Minoru Niizuma, Yoko Ono and others at the Chambers Street loft, 1962. Gelatin silver or digital print, printed 2016, 8 x 10 in. Collection of Yoko Ono, New York. © Yoko Ono Left to right: Toshi Ichiyanagi, Toshiro Mayuzumi, Yoko Ono [Source: Inventing Downtown:Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952–1965 – Grey Gallery]

  • Review: Remembering the Tenth Street Galleries – WNYC News – WNYC 011317
    Deborah Solomon: Can we ever go back to Tenth Street? Probably not. I refer not to a specific place but to a vanished era in New York’s cultural history, a romantic time when the art scene was still centered in Greenwich Village. This was in the mid-1950s, when rent was cheap and the concept of the art market had nothing to do with American art. The main art galleries, up on Fifty-seventh Street, favored pedigreed French landscapes and portraits. Desperate to show their work, New York artists began opening galleries in nothing-special spaces along Tenth Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues. The Tanager Gallery was across the street from the Brata; the Hansa was around the corner.
    Now we have an exhibition about exhibitions. “Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965,” at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, offers a piquant and all-important chronicle of the years before the art world became its current investment-crazed self. Curated by Melissa Rachleff, the show is an energetic and even exuberant mix of 200 works by nearly as many artists who belonged to some 14 galleries, all but one of which were located downtown. You can go through the show seeing it as a history of a defunct gallery scene; or you can see it instead an as alternative history of the painting and sculpture of the ‘50s and early ‘60s. Either way it will broaden your understanding of an era that tends to be packaged by our major museums as the story of Jackson Pollock & Company.
  • Inventing Downtown:Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952–1965 – Grey Gallery
    Between the apex of Abstract Expressionism and the rise of Pop Art and Minimalism, the New York art scene was transformed by artist-run galleries. Inventing Downtown presents works from fourteen of these crucibles of experimentation, highlighting artists’ efforts to create new exhibition venues for innovative works of art—ranging from abstract and figurative painting, assemblage, sculpture, and works on paper to groundbreaking installations and performances.
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda Performs at the White House Poetry Jam: (8 of 8) – YouTube 2009
    Writer and star of the Broadway musical In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda performs “The Hamilton Mixtape” at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word on May 12, 2009. Accompanied by Alex Lacamoire. (public domain)
  • The Meaning of Michelle: A Homage to the First Lady – The Takeaway – WNYC 011817
    Author Veronica Chambers has compiled an homage of original essays from a diverse group of contributors, like filmmaker Ava DuVernay, chef Marcus Samuelsson, and WNYC’s Rebecca Carroll, in a book called “The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own.”
    Chambers is an author of numerous books, including the critically acclaimed memoir “Mama’s Girl.” Currently a JSK Fellow at Stanford University, she has also been a senior editor at The New York Times Magazine, Glamour, and Newsweek.
  • What Will the Trump Administration Mean for People With Disabilities?
    Julia Bascom: Naturally, at the top of the nightmare list is a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA is arguably second only to the Americans With Disabilities Act when it comes to game-changing disability rights law. No insurers would meaningfully cover us, so many disabled Americans historically had to live in poverty in order to qualify for Medicaid. By banning discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, the ACA made it possible for millions of Americans with disabilities to enroll in commercial insurance, afford needed medical care, move, and change jobs. I can vividly remember a health insurance broker sitting in our kitchen with my parents when I was a teenager and urging them to kick me off our insurance and put me on Medicaid (and into a life of enforced poverty) as soon as possible, to bring our premiums down and take the burden off my father’s small business. They didn’t, and under the ACA, that nightmare was relegated to the past where it belongs—unless, of course, Trump brings it back.
  • When Outside Art Became In: Obama’s Cultural Legacy – WNYC News – WNYC 011817
    In the spring of 2009, the White House held a poetry jam. Out walked a young man, sporting short hair and a sharp black suit. Looking like he was just out of college.
    “I’m actually working on a hiphop album,” he said. A concept album, he added, about the man he felt best embodied hiphop: Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.
    The crowd giggled, unconvinced. President Obama, just a few months into his first term, covered his mouth in an effort to suppress a smile.
    “You laugh! But it’s true!” insisted Lin-Manuel Miranda, before finally launching into song. This was six years before “Hamilton the Musical,” well before Miranda became a household name. He looked nervous.
    Outside, the U.S. economy was in free fall. The unemployment rate was about to hit ten percent. But if there was one place where the Obama administration was consistently ahead of the curve, it was in the cultural sphere: over eight years, the White House served as a staging ground for countless artists, intellectuals and activists, especially those from communities of color, especially cultural producers from New York, long exiled from Washington.
  • Vladimir Putin Cold Open – SNL – YouTube 012117
    Russian President Vladimir Putin (Beck Bennett) and Olya Povlatsky (Kate McKinnon) assure Americans that everything will be fine under President Donald Trump.

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