In the Paris of Appalachia

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy performing at The Andy Warhol Museum Auditorium, Saturday, August 21, 2010, Pittsburgh, PAOn a dead-hot August night in what’s affectionately referred to as the Paris of Appalachia, Louisville, Kentucky native and icon of the indie folk-rock music scene, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and his Cairo Gang, paraded down the aisle of the 130-seat auditorium at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh taking the stage and then the audience with an acoustically faultless rendition of ‘Like Kids’ a track off the new album ‘The Wonder Show of the World.’   Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy also known as Will Oldham captivated the audience with his exquisite vocal range scaling low to high with precision while invoking an emotional tone that gave rise to the profane, witty and often enigmatic lyrics that mine heartache, loneliness and sex.  The Cairo Gang’s lead guitarist Emmett Kelly held down the fort with disciplined yet colorful riffs that every so often broke into vivid noise segments creating an energetic fusion.  His vocal accompaniment colored the set with a choirboy’s innocence especially as back-up on Oldham’s radically reworked ‘I See a Darkness,’ famously covered by the master of hardscrabble, Johnny Cash.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy with a fan post concert at The Andy Warhol Museum, August 21, 2010, Pittsburgh, PAIn northeast it was a beat of a different drummer.  On a breezy late afternoon day, an intimate crowd reclined on velvety navy blue beach towels on the lawn at the Watermill Center in Watermill, New York for the 2010 fundraising concert ‘Last Song of Summer.’  The Canadian-American singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, (the offspring of celebrated folk singers Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright the Third), headlined the event.  After an astounding 45-minute set of original songs and cover music, Wainwright welcomed to the stage his special guest, the Australian pop icon Kylie Minogue.  The unlikely pair performed duets like Hoagie Carmichael’s ‘Stardust’ and a pumped-up version of Elton John’s ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ that brought the audience to their feet.  Kylie took center stage and performed ‘All the Lovers’ a single from her recently released album ‘Kylie Aphrodite.’  But it was her 2001 disco-pop hit ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ that blew the crowd away.  The event raised $200,000 for the Watermill Center.


Kylie Minogue leaving the stage, Watermill 2010 Concert ‘Last Song of Summer,’ August 28, 2010, Watermill, New York


Party 101: The Prequel

The northeast corner of Spring and Mercer Street was bubbling with excitement last Thursday night when Rainer Judd, President of the Judd Foundation (and daughter of Don Judd) announced to a room full of Judd family, friends and followers that this day, June 3, her father’s birthday, begins the public phase of a capital campaign developed to help fully restore Donald Judd’s historic home at 101 Spring Street, a major landmark in preserving Judd’s legacy.  The space will be closed during the estimated 3-year restoration period but the Foundation will remain active through various programs, events and projects including work on developing the Judd catalogue raisonné. 

Rainer Judd wearing a black column dress by award-winning fashion designer, Yeohlee Teng aside ‘Untitled,’ 1978 a classic Donald Judd stack piece. 101 Spring Street, New York City, June 3, 2010.The ground floor of the building was transformed into a summer picnic area complete with Judd-designed tables and benches made from unfinished modest pine with a buffet of rare steak, fries, arugula, and prosciutto served by Giorgio Deluca, one of the founders of the pioneering SoHo gourmet food emporium Dean & Deluca.  Rainer Judd took center stage and kicked off the campaign with a tribute to her parents: “101 Spring Street has been called the ‘jewel of SoHo’ because it glows at night with a Dan Flavin sculpture made especially for the 5th floor, and because an artist named Don Judd and his wife Julie took a stand, along with a small renegade community of artists, against Robert Moses’ plans to raze the entire neighborhood to build the Broome Street Expressway – and won!  If there’s any surviving building in SoHo that captures the vision of a single artist, the spirit of loft-living, and the art of a generation, it is 101 Spring Street.”  It would be undeniably worthy if the new guard of SoHo, major brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Chanel, J Crew, etc., stepped up to the plate and contributed to the restoration of this visionary building where one artist had the brilliant idea to merge art, architecture and life and in so doing rescued what is now the world-famous cobbled grid SOuth of Houston, SoHo.  Donate to the Judd Foundation at:


Thus Spake Otto Dix

‘This is the way the fucking world ends! Look at this fucking shit we're in man! Not with a bang, but with a whimper. And with a whimper, I'm fucking splitting…’ the Photojournalist portrayed by Dennis Hopper in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 war film epic Apocalypse Now.

Like so many hardcore lines uttered in Francis Ford Coppola’s legendary Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now (translated in over 30 languages), the purely visual terms of war paintings by Otto Dix (1891-1969), namely his lost epic painting Schützengraben ‘Trench,’ cast forth in honest detail ‘the horror’ from the front line of war where Dix, a youthful budding artist, went in search of meaning.  No artist is as strongly linked to the historical events of twentieth-century World War I Germany as Dix.  Driven out of his position by the Nazis, he was able to live and paint long enough to see his work hailed again for its unique power.

In his 125-page biography Otto Dix, The Art of Life, the German art historian Philipp Gutbrod concisely examines the artist through the lens of this long lost masterpiece Schützengraben ‘Trench,’ and in so doing provides the reader vast insights into Dix’s creative impulse. Beginning with his childhood and youth in Thuringia, on to art school in Dresden and, soon after in 1915 at the French front in the Champagne region fighting as a machine gunner, Gutbrod eloquently recounts the artist’s fearless creative path.  He writes that in1963, while reflecting on World War I, Dix explained his lengthy participation in the war: ‘I had to see it for myself.  I am a realist to such a degree that I had to see it with my own eyes to be able to confirm that it is how it is.’


Philipp Gutbrod at the Andrea Rosen Gallery, Chelsea, NYC, May 12, 2010, with work by George Condo.

Otto Dix, The Art of Life by Philipp Gutbrod published by Hatje Cantz Verlag is available on May 31, 2010 online at
and at the Neue Galerie bookstore



…while visions of sugar plums danced in my head

Chef Gutenbrunner test-driving his Nürnberg Bratwurst at a Taste of Tribeca preview, April 28, 2010

On the Eve of the 16th annual Taste of Tribeca a celebration of over 60 restaurants and chefs in lower Manhattan, my mouth watered reviewing some of the dishes to be served up like Nürnberg Bratwurst, a mini bratwurst with sauerkraut, potatoes, horseradish and watercress carefully developed by the wildly talented Kurt Gutenbrunner of Blaue Gans, a Tribeca outpost favored by art world cognoscenti. Other menu highlights include a braised lamb neck and carrot ravioli with koppert cress pea shoots, the invention of chef Marc Forgione of two-year old restaurant Marc Forgione and Nobu chef Ricky Estrellado’s chicken karaage with green mango and jicama slaw.

Taste of Tribeca invites food lovers to the annual school fundraiser on Saturday, May 15 from 11:30 am to 3pm on Duane Street (between Greenwich and Hudson). The fabulous outdoor event, centered along Greenwich Street, completely supports arts programs like music and dancing as well as science classes at Tribeca’s PS 234 and 150 public schools. Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 on the day of which buys six generously portioned tastes. It’s a recession special like no other and with a forecast for sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s it’s bound to be the toast of downtown. Tickets can be purchased at


Philip Glass is in the House!

Molissa Fenley performs ‘Variation II’ from “Dreaming Awake,” 2006 a work she choreographed with music by Philip Glass performed by Pedja Muzijevic, at Danspace Project 2010 Gala honoring Philip Glass, NYC, April 27, 2010.

On an unseasonable chilly spring evening, the dance world came out in full force to celebrate Philip Glass, one of the greatest American composers of the late 20th century. On April 27, Glass received the highest honors given by Danspace Project for his significant contributions to American dance and his major impact on international art and culture.   Born in 1937 in Baltimore, Maryland he studied at the University of Chicago, the Julliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud but gained his musical footing in Europe under the tutelage of the legendary pedagogue, Nadia Boulanger  (who also taught Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson and Quincy Jones) and from his work with sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar.  In 1967 Glass returned to New York and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble and the rest is (art) history.

Fellow music pioneer Laurie Anderson and the painter Chuck Close each gave personal accounts of their respective creative collaborations with Glass.  Chuck Close reminisced the early years of his friendship with the composer at the moment in the late 60s ‘before Soho was Soho, when it was just industrial New York [and] so much was shared then, so much was in the air.’  He made the point that ‘it wasn’t direct influence but a kind of back and forth.  There were painters and composers – not just Phil but Steve Reich – and dancers like Trisha Brown.  And we all showed up for each other.  All Phil’s early performances were in museums and art galleries, for example.  The music world was way not understanding.'

Now in it’s 35th season, Danspace Project continues to support a diverse range of choreographers in developing their work.  Danspace Project’s Commissioning Initiative has commissioned over 360 new works since its inception in 1994.  Support Danspance Project at: