On May 12th, DANSPACE Project at St. Mark’s Chuch on East 10th Street held it’s annual fundraising gala honoring Brooklyn Museum’s Deputy Director for Institutional Advancement, Cynthia Mayeda and her long-term friend and ally, the Evel Knievel of dance, Elizabeth Streb. The night got started with cocktails in the garden followed by dinner in the main sanctuary of the Church. An ecstatic program of special performances brought down the house including CRASH AND SLIDE, choreographed by Elizabeth Streb and performed by STREB; FOR ELIZABETH, choreographed by Trisha Brown and performed by Trisha Brown and Elizabeth Streb with costumes by Elizabeth Cannon; FIRE DANCE, written and performed by Anna Deavere Smith; and N’DANSPACE, created and performed by Savion Glover and Carmen Estevez.

DANSPACE Project has been supporting experimental dance and performance in New York since 1974 provoking choreographers to take risks and for the public to engage in and be transformed by the work of these artists. They hold in esteem Lucinda Childs, Douglas Dunn, Bill T. Jones, Eiko & Koma, Bebe Miller and Meredith Monk as some of their alumni and challenge young emerging talent from the downtown dance community to follow in their path.



Kevin Larmon's band Joan performing on stage at Goodbye Blue Monday, Buschwick

The artist Steven Parrino would have celebrated his 51st birthday this coming June 3rd. Almost 4 ½ years after his death, Kevin Jones, one of Parrino’s closest friends, thought it was time to celebrate his life and the energy he brought to New York and the International world of art and music. On Saturday night, together with the alternative post-punk garage band, Airport Seven, he organized an amazing evening of entertainment: The After Party at Goodbye Blue Monday in Buschwick. Bob Nickas and John Tremblay were spinning some of Parrino’s favorite tunes at the bar while live performances from Good Greasy and Baked featuring Jennifer Sirey (formerly of Blood Necklace that featured Parrino), set up in GBM's outdoor garage. Around 11 o’clock, people crammed back inside the bar to give it up for Kevin Larmon, former gallery mate of Parrino’s at Nature Morte, who took the stage with Joan. Joan, an eight-piece psychedelic storm of a band named after the painter Joan Nelson, was one of Parrino’s favorites.

The venue looked like it had been transplanted from the East Village circa 1982. Cluttered with 50s thrift shop finds, battered toys, stacks of old books and vinyl and an intimate crowd of mostly close friends of Parrino’s who gathered together, clanged their beer bottles and caught up on old times. I kept over-hearing people say Steven would have loved this.



Filmmaker Alex Mar at The Norwood Club, NYC

On the eve of the opening of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, I caught up with New York filmmaker, Alex Mar, who is currently in post production on her debut feature documentary American Mystic, a project she produced and directed for empire 8 productions, a film company she co-founded with producer Nicholas Shumaker. Edited by Andy Grieve of Standard Operating fame, American Mystic follows three unconventional twentysomethings, each a member of a fringe religious community who have separated themselves from mainstream America to become immersed in spirituality. Mar’s subjects lay down roots in quintessentially American landscapes – the former revivalist district of upstate New York, old mining country in the mountains of northern California, and the badlands of South Dakota. From lush green hilltops to bleak flat terrain, the diverse landscapes artfully play host to illuminating narratives that call into question America’s dysfunctional relationship with religion where too often public debate on the subject is quashed by extreme disdain or near heretical obsession with the idea of faith.

In addition to American Mystic, Mar will also shop around a new project, a psychological thriller set in the art world. As a former reporter and journalist for titles such as ArtForum, Frieze, Art Review and as culture and arts reporter for National Public Radio, Mar surely has loads to draw on to rattle the art scene.




The New Museum on the BoweryArt sellers may be lowering the bar at recent sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s but HELL YES is too right at the New Museum who raised $1.2 million at their spring UN-GALA held downtown in the penthouse at Seven World Trade Center on April 29, 2009. A host of artists donated editions that were crucial to the success of the benefit and the Museum had the added bonus of presenting a singular work for the live auction, a generous donation from the artist, Karen Kilimnik of a Special Portrait Commission. Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s Worldwise Head of Contemporary Art, took to the podium cracking the opening bid at $50,000. With great deft he brisky sold the commission for $260,000, above the high estimate and a remarkable deal for the rare opportunity of a personal portrait done by the artist. The painting, oil on canvas, will have a minimum size of 11 x 14 inches. The commission was courtesy of 303 Gallery with all proceeds benefitting the New Museum.

Also unveiled at the UN-GALA was an exclusive Limited Edition by Ai Weiwei titled Kui Hua Zi (Sun Flower Seeds), 1,000 sculpted and hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds in a handmade glass jar. It’s an edition of 30 with 12 APs and priced at $7,500. The edition is being offered to a wider group of collectors and what remains from the edition will be on view at the booth of Carolina Nitsch at the upcoming Basel Art Fair in Switzerland. All proceeds from the sale of the edition benefit The New Museum.



Dave Hickey

Last weekend I had the pleasure of soaking up the rays in LA with the cool, southern voice of Dave Hickey ruminating on his newly updated The Invisible Dragon at Art Catalogues at MOCA at the Pacific Design Center. On Saturday promptly at 3pm, Art Catalogues’ owner and front of house Dagny Corcoran introduced Hickey to an intimate crowd made up of die-hard fans: students; artists; and critics who all scrambled after the talk to get one of the 100 hard-backed copies on sale at the front desk (they sold out in 5 minutes). Even in LA where manners tend to err on the side of mannerly people were cutting the line to get Dave’s signature proving true that Hickey is one of the most beloved of this country's public intellectuals. His mantra from the original printing that the vernacular of beauty, in its democratic appeal, remains a potent instrument for change still rings true.

Musician and Poet, Richard Hell

The red eye pulled me into Kennedy just in time to get out to Brooklyn for a special evening Tuesday night at Issue Project Room where legendary contemporary music producer Hal Willner tapped some of New York’s biggest talent to take part in his BEGATS: Readings of the work of Williams S. Burroughs, Marquis De Sade and Edgar Allan Poe. Stunning in its seamless weave of some really raunchy speak spewed by Tim Robbins, Chloe Webb, John Ventimiglia, Steve Buscemi and the preeminent punk wordsmith Richard Hell who all performed pitch perfect accompanied by back-up musicians Sean Lennon and Yuka Honda orchestrated by Willner who was mixing it up with MAC downloads and old school percussion instruments. The sound was beat-jazz-punk-pop all brought to the fore by Issue’s brilliant Artistic Director, Suzanne Fiol. It fixed me right back into a New York state of mind.

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