Monday, February 6, 2012

Seeing Spots

Larry with Spots

Last week I did a brief Chelsea  gallery walk with my friend, Larry.  While at the Damien Hirst exhibit, 
Gagosian Gallery    , the guard informed me that I could  take a photograph of the exhibit only if I had someone posing in front of the work. This rule was to protect the art from being copied. Hummm ????

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jewel on the Lower East Side

Eldridge Street Synagogue

In early December I visited the Eldridge Street Synagogue,  a wonderful Moorish-style building,  rich with history and architectural detail. The synagogue first opened its doors on Sept 4, 1887, just in time for the High Holidays.  Hundreds of Russian and Polish immigrants prayed and worshiped freely here for the next fifty years.
From 1920-1940's the membership began to dwindle and the building deteriorated. In the early 1980's a group formed to save this treasure.  In 1996, the building was made  a national historic landmark, Since then, 18.5 million dollars have been raised and The Eldridge Street Synagogue has been restored to its original grandeur. A crowing element of the restoration is a stain-glass window designed by artist Kiki Smith and architect Deborah Gans.

Kind of Cool

GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at
GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator

Check out The New York Public Library website to create an animated GIF.

NYPL Stereogranimator

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dark Room with a View

I  have been working on a course that I am developing: The History of Photography. My research began with the camera obscura. I am amazed by the amount of information that I was able to gather on the internet and never leave my chair

 All this research got me thinking about the wonder of this simple  and revolutionary device  that was developed during the Renaissance. Camera obscura - literally, a dark room - that light enters and through a pinhole (aperture) and an inverted image is projected on the opposite wall.  This is the basis of all cameras. Artists and astronomers used the camera obscura as a viewing aid  over 200 years before the invention of photography in 1839.

Now,  I am inspired to make a camera obscura. I have worked with a pinhole camera; it's the same concept - only much smaller. I have never transformed a room into a camera. I chose the bathroom of my apartment. I covered the window with black foil and cut  a dime- sized hole from the foil, blocked any light that could leak around the door frame, closed the door and sat in the darkness, waited for the magic image to appear and ...nothing, just a vague spot of light. It was a gray day and there was not enough light. For the next two rainy days I visited  my bathroom / camera obscura and stared at the wall ....nothing.

This morning was bright and sunny. I entered again, sat and waited for my eyes to adjust to the dark. There it was!  The Williamsburgh Savings Build was projected upside down on my bathroom wall!  To me this is truly a marvel!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Indian Summer

A gift from nature after the frost.
Gentle golden days.
Sensuous and saturated
A souvenir to savor.

These are the days when birds come back,
A very few, a bird or two,
To take a backward look.
These are the days when skies put on
The old, old sophistries of June, --
A blue and gold mistake.
Oh, fraud that cannot cheat the bee,
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief,
Till ranks of seeds their witness bear,
And softly through the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf!
Oh, sacrament of summer days,
Oh, last communion in the haze,
Permit a child to join,
Thy sacred emblems to partake,
Thy consecrated bread to break,
Taste thine immortal wine!

Emily Dickenson

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wabi -Sabi Quilt

Last week I was looking through my fabric stash and came upon an old quilt top stuffed in a bag at the back off the closet. It is tattered, stained, worn and torn. It has no special history or memories for me. I don't even remember how or where I acquired it, maybe at a thrift shop or a late night EBay purchase. My first thought was, " I should throw this thing out!”

And then I noticed that this anonymous quilt top was hand sewn. Someone spent hours   stitching bits of scrap fabrics, perhaps from her blouse, a worn-out but favorite dress, curtains that once covered a kitchen window.  Someone cut the shapes and with needle and thread joined the pieces of cloth to create Ohio Star quilt blocks and then stitch-by-stitch sewed the blocks together to make this quilt top.  A labor of love, patience, and determination that did not reach its final purpose, to be layered with batting and backing and quilted together to make a quilt that would provide warmth and security for someone. On no, I couldn't toss this quilt top into the trash without giving it a chance to  a purpose.

After a washing, I hung it on the line, sat down on the steps and watched the tattered quilt top .  As it waved and flapped in the breeze, the words wabi-sabi came to mind.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese esthetic that finds beauty in the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. “ If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of melancholy and a spiritual longing, the object could be said to wabi-sabi.” [1]

I watched the   wabi-sabi quilt dry in the wind as the words; nothing lasts, nothing is perfect, nothing is finished, went around and around in my mind. 

[1]Koren, Leonard (1994). Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers. Stone Bridge Press.