The years change, but our beliefs stay the same…looking back at some of our favorite moments.
Ask almost any New Yorker why they live here, and the concept of endless choice invariably tops the list. When it comes to nearly every realm, we’re spoiled (and a bit jaded) by an astounding number of daily options. An exhibit called Lunch Hour NYC (running through February 13 at the New York Public Library) presents one such area—the Big Apple’s often-taken-for-granted midday meal possibilities. Looking at lunch in the city from the 1800’s on, visitors can stand in a reproduction of the beloved Automat, see photos documenting the genesis of the “power lunch,” check out the original celebrity caricatures from Sardi’s, or learn about the “pizza principle.” (Who knew that since 1960, the cost of a subway ride and a slice of pizza have been roughly equal)? This exhibition reaffirmed a lot of reasons we love NY, and made us more than a little hungry.
One person’s trash is another’s treasure. A visit to the MoMA from now through November 30 would demonstrate that one person’s junk is also another’s art. Sprawled throughout the museum’s second floor atrium is what is being called a “Meta-Monumental Garage Sale” organized by artist Martha Rosler. Over the past year, Rosler has amassed 14,000 standard garage sale items (some of them her own cast-offs and the rest donations from the public, MoMA employees, and other artists) that museum visitors can bargain for/purchase. Prices and merchandise are a mixed bag (A $4,000 engine-less Mercedes station wagon, anyone? How about a $5 box of mismatched Christmas ornaments?). So what makes a garage sale art? In an interview with the New York Times, Rosler answered the question in reverse, noting that, “art is a kind of pinnacle of the idea of the value of objects.” In other words, buyers can determine the relative value of a ceramic kitten cookie jar vis-à-vis art star Jeff Koons’s puppy sculpture permanently installed a few floors above. All proceeds from the garage sale go to charity.
Columbus Circle, one of NYC’s most dynamic intersections, has yet another point of interest through November 18. The nonprofit organization Public Art Fund has commissioned a work by Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi at the circle’s center.
Nishi, who’s known for his pieces that recontextualize statues and architectural details in cities throughout the world, has erected six flights of scaffolding-encased stairs leading up to a functioning living room. There, the 120-year-old, 13-foot-tall statue of Christopher Columbus sits in the middle of a coffee table Nishi has constructed around its base. Visitors (timed reservations required) are able to climb the stairs and spend a half hour in what is, for the next month, Columbus’s home. The room has appointments including magazines, books, a television (tuned to CNN), couches, and floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping north, east, and west views (the perspective from Columbus’s eyes). It also has toile wallpaper covered in pop culture images like Elvis, Mickey Mouse, the McDonald’s arches, and Michael Jackson. This being NYC, in addition to admiring a really clever work of public art, a visit provokes a little envy of the prime piece of real estate Columbus (the statue) lucked into.
Who doesn’t love the 24/7 access of the worldwide web? We certainly do, but sometimes this limitless wealth of material gets overwhelming. With so much to look at, we often have the nagging feeling that we’re missing something important. In an attempt to offer a shortcut around the information highway traffic jam, we’re sharing a few of the sites (watch for periodic updates) that we think are worth a visit.
SideTour: Looking for an alternative to the impossibility scoring a table at some of-the-moment restaurant? SideTour offers customized adventures and experiences, like the opportunity to learn about urban beekeeping at a Brooklyn apiary, train at Gleason’s Gym with a World Boxing Association champ, or craft cocktails with a group of top mixologists. Currently, SideTour programs are only in NY, but the site is soon expanding nationally and globally.
TaskRabbit: Have a kitchen cabinet that’s been broken for a year? Dry cleaning that hasn’t been picked up in months? Boxes that were never unpacked after a move? List jobs like these and more on TaskRabbit, set a price for the tasks, and a local helper/expert (fully background checked) appears at the door to perform them on a designated day.
OhMyRockness: Ever wonder how some people always know where all the best bands are playing? NYC-based OhMyRockness lists dates, venues, and band information. It even has daily ticket giveaways and its own radio station.
Portable.tv: Find it hard to keep up with what’s happening in the worlds of fashion, art, film, music, and culture? Portable.tv curates “groundbreaking” videos across all of these categories.
MoMALibrary: With a huge archive of cool art books at their disposal, which do the Museum of Modern Art’s librarians get most excited about? Find out on this site, described as the “life and times of the MoMA Library.”
Not that we were looking for another way to spend even more time on our smart phones, but consider us obsessed with the free MTA Arts for Transit App. Anyone who’s ever given a passing glance to any of the 236 art installations throughout the NYC subway system can now access information about them (photos, videos, artist bios, audio podcasts, and turn-by-turn directions to help locate the works throughout the stations) with a single tap. And trust us, one tap to look up a single work spotted on a morning commute easily leads to a half hour of investigating others. And unlike, say, Angry Birds, this app lets us legitimize working our opposable thumbs as a cultural activity.
Pedestrians walking through NYC’s Union Square Park are regularly treated to a stop-in-your tracks public art display on the northwest corner. There, artist Joe Mangrum can often be found crouched on the cobblestones making his bright, intricately detailed “sand paintings.” Carefully trickling handfuls of colorful sand through his fist, Mangrum forms an elaborate pattern that often takes him a day to finish. Then, in keeping with the ephemeral nature of his material (and with the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of mandala sand art), he sweeps away his design as evening rolls around. Chatting with the crowds who gather around him, he likes to explain that his work explores the “power of creation in relation to the grid of city structures” and that “each of us is like a grain of sand in the larger context of the city.”
Mangrum is a graduate of the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago and the winner of numerous awards for his installations and pieces in museums and public spaces throughout the world. To see more of Mangrum’s art, including his paintings, sculptures, and videos, visit his website.
Style…Public Awareness…New York City—throughout our almost 30 years in business, Kenneth Cole Productions has rallied around these three pillars. It’s not surprising then that our interest was piqued when one of our team members recently visited the Museum of the City of New York and happened upon the exhibit Activist New York. Dedicated to the stories of ordinary New Yorkers who have banded together to spark change, the show covers the history of activism in the five boroughs from the 17th century to the present. And while it might seem like the style component is missing from the equation, we think the “ladies tailors” marching the picket line in this photo cut a pretty striking figure.
We consider ourselves lucky to work in a creative environment where many of our team members are not just great at their jobs but also happen to be great artists. The personal art of this talented group often inspires the rest of us, and the projects we do at Kenneth Cole. Hoping to share this inspiration, each month we introduce Our Kenneth Cole Featured Artist.
Inga Kytchanova, Creative Team
A formally trained artist, Inga has been drawing and painting since she was a child growing up in Moscow. She has taken classes for many years and has studied at the Art Students League of New York since moving to the United States just before starting high school. Inga says that her work is inspired by “nature, sunsets, and the beach—all great models,” and that her painting sessions are bursts of energy when, with headphones playing (“anything happy—dance, euro, pop or club”), she “moves fast mixing and applying oil paint.” While her work at Kenneth Cole makes it seem like her creativity is boundless, she admits that she can spend hours staring at one of her works trying to figure out her next move. When this happens, she relies on her go-to formula of “sunshine, a good beat, and lots of water” to keep the gears in motion.
A COFFEE TABLE MUST-HAVE
Kenneth’s good friend Elizabeth Taylor was an icon not just for her talent but also for her philanthropy. One of the causes she was most committed to was finding a cure for HIV/AIDS, and she and Kenneth worked toward this goal through their amfAR leadership. Knowing Taylor as someone Kenneth admired, we were interested to see how she was portrayed by another one of her friends, Andy Warhol. A new book by former Interview magazine editor Bob Colacello and filmmaker John Waters, “Warhol: Liz” looks at the relationship between Warhol and his muse. Stories, quotes, and images of Warhol’s famous “Liz” portraits beg the question, did this relationship border on obsession for Warhol? The authors never offer a direct answer, but do note that Warhol wanted to be “reincarnated as a diamond on Elizabeth Taylor’s hand.”