Monday, July 28, 2014

Meet Me at the Plaza

Here again are photographs I took, this time of the Plaza Hotel, at the foot of Central Park, in New York.

Grand Army Plaza, Fifth Avenue between 58th and 60th Streets "gateway to Central Park"
In front of the Plaza Hotel

The "clouds" behind the monument are some kind of "contemporary installation." I tried to avoid them, but they're cleverly positioned so that all photographs have a view of them.

This piece of "art," competing for space and view with the grand sculpture, is by:

Olaf Breuning
[who's] photographs, videos, performances and installations play with codes of mass production with references to publicity, fashion and cinema and “high” and “low” art. Between fiction and reality, fairytales and triviality, nightmare and bad jokes, the artist immerses his viewers decidedly into a pop and kitsch culture which is constantly being revisited. His works, made up by quotations, collages, and sampling are highly built. Often hyper-aestheticized, they work as "script-machines" reminiscent of special effects from the film industry. The artist frequently holds up a distorting mirror to his viewer, posing several questions of critique and play.
Olaf Breuning was born in 1970 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. He lives and works in New York and Zurich. [Source]
My, my: codes, "high" and "low" art, from fiction to reality...Such grand ambitions for cardboard cut-outs of cloud shapes!

And about Kadist Art Foundation, which represents Breuning:
Kadist Art Foundation encourages the contribution of the arts to society, conducting programs primarily with artists represented in its collection to promote their role as cultural agents.
Artists as cultural agents!

Such is the fate of cities these days. Look at these "installations" on Park Avenue, recently subjected to a documentary film: Paley on Park Avenue: New York City, and funded by important cultural institutions:
In October 2013, the Peabody Award-winning series Craft in America, airing nationally on PBS, will feature Paley as their final Forge artist in Season 5. In the series, Forge artists reveal in their own words what makes their work – and the lives they lead – unique. [Source]
I feel sorry for New Yorkers.

Back to the Grand Army Plaza, and the beautiful Plaza Hotel (photos are below).
The bronze statue, regilded by the Conservancy in 2013,
depicts Union General William Tecumseh Sherman by American artist
Augustus Saint Gaudens. When the Civil War ended, Sherman moved to
New York City and rode his horse and carriage through Central Park daily. [Source]
The female statue is:
"Victory", her one hand holding a palm frond and the
other pointing the way forward. [Source]

Pomona, Roman goddess of orchards
The fountain is topped by the bronze allegorical figure Pomona,
the goddess of abundance, who is seen holding a basket of fruit.
Sculptor Bitter died in a car accident while working on the figure
and it was completed by his assistant, future Parks monuments
conservator Karl Gruppe and also Isidore Konti.
The fountain was dedicated in 1916. [Source]

Entrance to the Plaza Hotel, on 5th Avenue and 59th Street
The French Renaissance ch√Ęteau-style building was
designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh and opened
to the public October 1, 1907. [Source]

Portrait of Eloise, painted by Hilary Knight, ca. 1956
Ever since the original Eloise book,
“Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grownups,”
was published in 1955 by Simon and Schuster,
Eloise’s spirit has imbued the halls of the Plaza,
the hotel where the fictional character roamed and
the real author, Kay Thompson, lived.
(In 1998, the Plaza was deemed a literary landmark
for its role in the series.) [Source]

Mosaic floor tiles in the lobby

Mosaic floor tiles in the lobby

Floral carpet in the Palm Court

Gold chairs in the Palm Court

Palm leaves and marble

Marble caryatids representing the Four Season
Most guide books describe these figures as "caryatids." [Source]
But that is technically incorrect, since
Caryatid is the name given to an architectural column
which takes the form of a standing female figure.

At least two of these figures are clearly male
(one old and one young)

Stained glass ceiling in the Palm Court

More on the architectural and cultural history of the Plaza here.

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lalique in New York

[Photo By: KPA]

Here is a Lalique vase I photographed at the Madison Avenue Lalique store. In my enchantment, I forgot to see (or ask - just out of curiousity) what the price was.

The Lalique online store has it listed:
Poseidon vase
Limited edition to 99 pieces
Turquoise crystal
16.53 lbs / 7.50 kg
H 11.61" L 14.17" W 6.73"

Item Currently Not Available Online
I guess I missed my chance in NYC.

There's also a tiny seahorse figurine (height 3.82"), which goes for $340...But, I wouldn't even bother with that, given its inferior design (look at the crude cut of the seahorse's head).
Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Movies and Morals

Woody Allen, Mia Farrow and Soon-Yi in 1992

Allen Family, 2014

I've been a fan of Woody Allen for a while. I think I've watched all his movies, and I've written about his recent films (here, here and here). But, these films are his post-scandal movies, and don't have that biting, self-depracating humor that was quintessential Allen.

He got caught in an incestuous scandal with the adopted daughter of his mistress (Mia Farrow's Korean adopted daughter Soon-Yi). He continued his affair with Soon-Yi (who was 19 by then) after his split with Farrow, and later married Soon-Yi in 1997.

History repeats itself, and Allen and Soon-Yi adopted two children together, who are now in their early teens. One is "Asian" the other blonde and white. One for each of them, I guess.

Below is Allen with Soon-Yi in 2014. Granted Allen is now seventy eight, but he looks like an centenarian. Morals have a way of catching up with you.

Mr. and Mrs. Allen in 2014, at 78 and 44

Allen has a new movie out called Magic in the Moonlight. I guess it is reflex action, by now for Allen, to make movies. He can probably make them in his sleep. But, a film critic at National Review Online has this to say about the film:
In short, Magic in the Moonlight is thin on plot, dialogue, and characterization, and it cannot persuade us that the central romance is real — but it’s gorgeous to look at. You can’t hope to see anything more beautiful onscreen this year than the lives of the genteel wealthy, in the south of France, 1928.
Which is pretty much my point in my review of his latest films: Allen can make films, and even still has the aesthetic eye, but what is the point of his films? Beauty alone is not enough, as I begin to discover in my literary project, by book: Reclaiming Beauty. Allen has never returned to Manhattan, where his true voice was loud and clear. Yes, those contemporary New York stories, and characters, can be a little annoying, but there was an authenticity about them, and some kind of moral judgment for the judgments they make.

Now, instead, he hops around European cities, and travels as far back as he can in time, as though he's running away from truth.

I suppose that's what we should expect from him from now on. What a pity.

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

At The Cloisters: Summer 2014 Edition

I've been to the Cloisters in New York numerous times. Each time, I never tire of taking photographs of the building, and the sparkling Hudson. The New Jersey Palisades are a formidable view while I have my packed lunch perched on one of the walls surrounding the compound. The M4 Bus looks like it was planned just for me, taking me from doorstep to doorstep, which no car, with the lengthy walk to the parking lot, could offer.

Below are the photos I took of my last visit. It was quiet, even though I went on a Sunday, and at the peak visiting season, in July.

Across on the New Jersey Palisades, on the Englewood Cliffs, is St. Peter's University, a Jesuit institution. It seems proper that the Cloisters should have this view.

The Hudson River

George Washington Bridge, on the Hudson

The New Jersey Palisades, across the Hudson

This looks like a purple finch. It was adamantly fending us off, with its noisy chirping.

The New Jersey Palisades

Saint Peter's University, Hudson Terrace, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Flowers in the Bonnefont Herb Garden

The Bonnefont Herb Garden

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fountains for Everyman

Celebration Square is another of Hazel McCallion's additions to beautify Mississauga. The idea, I expect, was to unify the city through common celebrations.

What we do have is a successful "square" where a large shallow area is filled with water during the summer, with fountains, and a skating rink in the winter. There is a pleasant cafe at one end, and around the three other sides, seats with shelter from the sun (or rain, or snow).

I took the following photographs of close-ups of the bubbling water.

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

New York Public Library, Collections, Architecture, and History

I went to the New York Public Library to view to view the library’s copy of The Declaration of Independence, handwritten by Thomas Jefferson, which was on display from from June 27 to July 3, 2014 in the Celeste Bartos Forum.

I took a photograph of this document, and have provided below a link with enlargements of the document from the NYPL collections. I was surprised at Jefferson's small, neat handwriting. If I were a handwriting analyst, I would say that Jefferson was a precise, meticulous person, who wouldn't pass by details. His input, at assessing all the fine points of the document, would have been essential.

The Celeste Barthos Forum (Room 80)
...with its glass ceiling, is influenced directly by the reading room of the Bibliotheque Nationale (1856-75) [in Paris], designed by Henri Labrouste. [Source: Beaux-arts Architecture in New York: A Photographic Guide. P. 41]

The foot of the marble staircase inside the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

Drinking fountain on the second floor, with a bronze lion's head

A marble wall panel in the Celest Bartos Forum

Thomas Jefferson's autograph copy of the Declaration of Independence
On display in the Celest Bartos Forum from June 27 to Thursday July 3, 2014
Here is the full document, from the NYPL's Digital Collections.

Here is a copy, from the NYPL Digitial Collections, of the top part of the document:

And here is a link to the transcript of the document.

Glass ceiling in the Celeste Bartos Forum of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building,
Showing the marble panels.

[All Photos By KPA, except for the excerpt of the Declaration of Independence]
Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Riverside Drive, New York

While in New York, I stayed very close to the Hudson, in the upper West Side, near the Firemen's Memorial. I went for walks a couple of times along Riverside Drive (around 100-105th streets). Both times, I went later in the evening, and I got a chance to see the setting sun across the river, and the sun's reflection on the trees and buildings.

Below are some of the photos I took.

Below is more background on the memorial, found here
The Firemen’s Memorial (1913) in Riverside Park is one of the most impressive monuments in New York City. The monument was designed by H. Van Buren Magonigle (1867-1935), and its sculptures are attributed to Attilio Piccirilli (1866-1945)...

This monument is said to have had its origins in the remarks of the Right Reverend Henry C. Potter at the funeral of Deputy Fire Chief Charles A. Kruger in 1908. Bishop Potter said that while there were many memorials to public and private citizens there were none “to our brave citizens who have lost or will sacrifice their lives in a war that never ends.” Potter was the first chairman of the memorial committee...The committee raised $90,500, of which $50,500 was through popular subscription and $40,000 was in public funds allocated by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment on July 17, 1911.

Though originally intended for the north end of Union Square, the monument was ultimately built on the hillside facing the Hudson River at 100th Street.

To the Men of the Fire Department
Of the City of New York
Who Died at the Call of Duty
Soldiers in a War that Never Ends
This Memorial is Dedicated
By the People of a Grateful City
Erected MCMXII

This is an interesting image, with a cherub on top, a kind of a dragon in the middle, and a floral motif at the bottom, and with graceful leaves framing the whole thing.

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat