I’m back in NY on a break before we begin a European tour. Went to Museum, a gallery with changing exhibits showcased on shelves in a former elevator shaft on Cortlandt Alley, south of Canal Street. My friend Alex Kalman is one of the founders, and the stuff on display is great, very much worth seeing—though determining when it’s open is a challenge. I knew they’d be open recently because there was a talk on Sunday afternoon by a man who collects counterfeit money.
Did you know that there are magnetic particles in paper money? On the $5 bill these are located in Lincoln’s beard and hair but NOT in the dark seal on the left side. And did you know banks throw money away? It’s cheaper than doing the paperwork the government requests if old bills get sent back.
The New York Times wrote the place up yesterday.
Museum is really small, so the talk took place in the alley, and there was no car traffic. The video screen on the right showed close ups of the bills and other small stuff.
James Turrell at the Guggenheim
I see his work as often as I can—I even visited the crater in Arizona where he is creating an observatory within the inner core that illuminates the natural phenomena that take place there. When I went, construction had yet to begin.
Turrell, Doug Wheeler, Robert Irwin and some others became known as members of the Light and Space movement. They deal with light itself as a medium and perception as a subject. This “show” is mostly one giant piece—the large upside down cone that is the main part of the museum has been transformed into a light sculpture. There are some other pieces in side spaces, but the atrium is the main deal.
There are lines to get in, but FYI, if you buy tickets online ahead of time, you can get in a shorter line, and the wait is only about 15 mins—well, it was on Friday morning.
Caught Young Jean Lee’s music theater piece at Lincoln Center called, We’re Gonna Die. I’d seen it previously at Joe’s Pub and loved it, so when she asked through mutual friends if I’d read one of the monologues on the album version I said yes. It took me many tries to get it right—unaffected and natural. I think it’s sold out, but it’s a terrific mix of pop music and theater—and very moving.
Caught the latest film by Jem Cohen. I loved his earlier one, Chain, a very impressionistic piece about a girl who lives in a shopping mall. Well, I have a thing for shopping malls so maybe not a surprise there. This one takes place in a museum in Vienna and revolves around what would seem to be the lonely life of a museum guard, except that he seems pretty happy and content with his situation—watching people and playing online poker in the evenings. He does make friends with a woman played by Mary Margaret O’Hara (if you’ve never heard of her, check out her record “Miss America”).
It’s a movie that has almost no story and many long digressions, but something about it is beautiful and uplifting. I saw that Patti Smith is one of the producers!
Takes place in the early ‘80s when there were no cell phones, and computers needed to be lugged around on AV carts. It is shot with what seems to be a Sony Portapak—the earliest “portable” video recorder. I did some art school videos on one of these things. They’re portable if you think a hotel mini bar is portable. Black and white, sort of fuzzy, and beautifully bad looking it is almost a documentary at first—covering a competition amongst computer geeks from MIT and Caltech etc. As it develops, there are hints of a ghost in the machine and some other weirdness. The hair, clothes, props and sets (a nameless motel) are perfect.