Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Former Mayor, Now Artist RJ Rosegarten Returns to Great Neck With ‘Lost & Found: the Art of Assemblage’ Exhibit

Artist RJ Rosegarten with Jude Amsel, curator of ‘Lost & Found: the Art of Assemblage’ at the Gold Coast Arts Center, Great Neck © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

When RJ Rosegarten left Great Neck 17 years ago, where he had gone to school, raised a family, had a career in advertising and served as Mayor of the Village of Great Neck Plaza, he was finally free to pursue an ambition from childhood: to be an artist.

He returns to the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck Plaza – which as mayor he helped bring fruition – with a show, “Lost & Found: the Art of Assemblage” which draws upon his strong sense of design and construction. The exhibition is on view through March 12.

“Assemblage involves the thoughtful combination of elements to create something new and original,” states Jude Amsel, the curator who installed the massive exhibit of some 50 works.

RJ Rosegarten (better known by Great Neckers as Bob) claims that the pieces are not intended to hammer home a theme or message or story, that he approaches the work from the point of view of design, color and form, meticulously choosing objects that together form the image he has conceptualized in his mind.

At the end of it, he says, he comes up with a title. “That’s often the most difficult part,” he says.

“It’s Great to be King” by RJ Rosegarten © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

His humor comes through with the titles (“it’s Great to be King”), but don’t read in a theme or moral – it’s for the beholder to find your own meaning.

But if the piece is built around an aesthetic, the choice of objects – each with their own meaning – the title, in fact, broadcasts a mood, emotion or message even if was subconsciously in Rosegarten’s mind, or resounds in the viewer’s own head. The design captures your attention, but then you keep going back to explore and discover and your head forms its own patterns and themes.

These aren’t objects. These aren’t randomly selected. Each element is meticulously chosen – sometimes involving longtime searches.

He describes his effort obtaining just the right red delicious apples (so realistic you think they are actual fruit), for his piece, “Legacy of the Red Apple,” (2016). He had two heads that he fused into one, like Siamese twins. Why apples? “In the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Knowledge had fruit.”

Artist RJ Rosegarten with Gold Coast Arts Center Founder/Executive Director Regina Gil and his piece, “Legacy of the Red Apple.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

He can tell you the provenance of each object in the piece – where he obtained the silver head in “Sarah Silverstone Presents” and how it took a long time before he found just the sunglasses he wanted for the piece, how the drawer it is assembled in came from a factory (the writing is on the side). He sees Sarah as a person, referring to Sarah as “her”. Indeed, the two gauges and thermometer evoke her personhood, even symbolically.

There is a story behind every piece – about how I got there, where the pieces came from – can tell you where every piece came from – glasses – looked for it a long time – looked for a long time where to put – fit on Sarah – gauge, knew where it would go – design them, lay them out, do not glue them, leave for a week, come back and keep looking at them, move around, put pieces in/out, then glue, last stage – once glue, sign name, over – can’t go back and say I wish I put a ball in there.

“Sarah Silverstone Presents,” by RJ Rosegarten © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

“Sarah Silverstone has a twin sister,” he says, explaining that he bought two of the metallic faces. “Sarah represented to me the absolute woman, a sexy woman; her sister is so sexy, every time I pass her, I talk to her, ‘Hope you have a nice day.’”

He has the same personal connection with the “Wizard of Odd” and the “Thought Collector”.

The personal connection is manifest in his work, Dorzi/Dorzi, built around a vinyl record, but not just any 1950s 45rpm. His friend made the label to suggest it was made by the Bobby Randall 3 band. You learn that Bobby Randall, he explains  was non-ethnic name Rosegarten was going to use when got out of college and was going into advertising. (He was discouraged from changing his name by his grandmother.) There are 3 hands – for the three band members, in a pose as if they are snapping their fingers to the beat.

Dorzi/Dorzi by RJ Rosegarten © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

His grandmother and grandfather appear again in small photographs that are embedded into a series of four “Junk Drawer” works.

Junk Drawers may look like a hodgepodge, but are not random, he says.

“I visualize what junk drawers have,” he says. “Everyone has junk drawers – in bedrooms, kitchens, desk drawer, basement.” He chooses the items that fill the drawers (which he builds) independently, and over time, lays them out and photographs them. “Then I take everything out and glue back the items one by one.”

The Junk Drawer series each has a photograph of grandmother and grandfather at Rockaway Beach.

One of the boxes has a plastic Howdy Doody figure, while another has the Princess character from the show. He says he goes for colors, shapes and looks for holes.

“It’s not nostalgia,” he insists. But as he knows the provenance of every piece – some have personal connection, like the photos of his grandparents and a John Lennon/Imagine photo.

“Every time you look, you see something else.” Or actually, you “find” something new.

RJ Rosegarten with one of his “Junk Drawers” © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

But looking at the items, it is hard not to become nostalgic as you find items that spark memories of your own past. The Junk Drawer series and his Americana series are like mini-Smithsonians of American cultural icons of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and so forth.

Rosegarten says he loves making the Junk Drawers and would customize for someone on commission. “I would go to your house and if you didn’t have the elements I wanted, I would ask if I could use some of mine.”

The pieces he chooses are specific – he combs particular shops (he has his favorites for manikins in the Garment District), antique stores, flea markets, garage and barn sales, which “are entertainment in the country and have become an essential part of my new work with found objects. One day I might find a rusted scythe with a broken wooden handle; the next day a box of glass dolls’ eyes or a red View-Master. I put the material in labeled boxes and store them to be rediscovered.

“When I select objects for a new composition, I may sit with them for days, moving them around like pieces on a chessboard until they take shape. Placement and balance are key. I remove pieces; add others, balancing shadows, shapes, textures and color until I know instinctively that the work is completed: the new composition has taken on another dimension, a unity of its own and gained strength and character.”

RJ Rosegarten with one of the Americana series on view in ‘Lost & Found: the Art of Assemblage’ at the Gold Coast Arts Center, Great Neck © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Rosegarten, who grew up in Great Neck (he graduated high school with movie director Francis Ford Coppola), now lives “in the country” in upstate New York, in a house he built 17 years ago where he has a 30 x 30 ft studio off his bedroom that opens to a deck and pond, and a 2500- sq ft basement work area.

His collected objects are neatly organized in labeled tubs under tables – machine parts, metal parts, extra toys, manikin hands.“Everything has a place, a place for everything.”

Often, he visualizes the entire piece in his head before he starts his assemblage.

“I just finished a piece Thursday. It doesn’t have a name (or does it have a name): The Quick Brown Dog Jumps Over the Lazy Fox. Why? Because part of the visual – a box,with 2 white hands, at the top has the keyboard of a very very small typewriter –a  vertical piece, a piece at bottom, a nodule on top hands,. The sense of design is perfect. It was in my head.”

“I never went to art school, except for a month at the Art Students League, Bruce Dorfman, teaching there since early 60s – he said, push the envelope. It’s ok if off-center, if you don’t have anything there and want it to sit there.”

Indeed, it is so ironic considering that most people move to Great Neck from New York City because of the public schools, that his big regret is that when his family was still living in the Bronx, he was accepted into Music & Art, but before he could attend, his family moved to Great Neck.

“I should have gone to Music & Art. I would have had an art background and the chances are I would have gone to Pratt, School of Visual Arts, or Cooper Union.” He said his father was not keen on Rosegarten going into advertising, but had he had an art background, he would have been on the creative side, instead of a “suit.” “I would have been more Don Draper than the account guy.”

He was doing painting until 1990s, then, around 2000, he went to an antique show on 6th Avenue and came upon wooden patterns which were used to make metal parts in the early 1900s. “I bought 20 of them –they were inexpensive – I didn’t know what I would do with them. I washed them off, That’s when I started.“

It fit into his overarching philosophy of reuse, repurpose, renewal – “an ability to use things that have been tossed away and have them come back and serve another purpose – Lost and Found (is what I call it). I’m not interested in what is sold in dollar store but things that have age, patina, character. Snapshot” is built around an antique folded camera and tractor parts.

“I take individual pieces that by themselves are utilitarian and they become a “body” – a personality. Each has its own personality.”

Two in RJ Rosegarten’s “Americana” series © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The exhibit also includes Rosegarten’s paintings, which have the look and vibe of Pop. “Just as I have reinvented myself a number of times in the past 30 years, so too has my art undergone a metamorphosis. Over the last ten years, it has moved from post-Pop paintings to a more muscular sculptural medium, where form and design take precedence over color.”

Regina Gil, Founder/Executive Director of the Arts Center, writes in her introduction to the catalog:

In this latest chapter of his creative life, RJ Rosegarten draws upon the rich fabric of his imagination, strong art and design skills, and solid knowledge of carpentry that lets him execute what he already sees in his mind fully formed. And the results are impressive.

“Here is a man who grew up in a small town, absorbing all the qualities of civics, ethics, and community values that one associates with such an upbringing. He married young, had three sons and led the life of the American Dream. He even went on to work in the advertising world; that fabled Madison Avenue bastion of the creative idea sellers; but not as an artist, as a ‘suit’. So, without knowing it, he was adding to his arsenal of skills by including leadership, salesmanship, and public speaking to his repertoire. But he was fascinated by and engaged with the artists and designers.

“When he left advertising, he became a beloved and respected mayor of that same town, bringing his love of the town and business acumen to the job. He demonstrated that the world of politics and government were new fields on which he could impose his creative eye. As a result, the town grew and he was elected and re-elected time and again.

RJ Rosegarten’s paintings and assemblages are on view at the Gold Coast Arts Center, Great Neck, Long Island through March 12 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“It was only when he left the town again, retiring from public life that he began to fully realize his longtime dream of being an artist in his own right. And he is an artist in the fullest sense of the word. Not only are his technical skills the very best; but his thoughts, ideas and vision are on display, inviting the viewer to enter his carefully constructed world; challenging the viewer to understand his point of view, to embrace it or to disagree.  A lifetime of thinking and living, of humor and wit, of deep, serious emotion and also of playfulness; the full range of the human experience in a construction of wood and found objects.

“As a longtime friend, I am delighted to see RJ ‘Bob’ Rosegarten come home to Great Neck. Without his friendship and assistance, mentoring another dreamer through the shoals of politics, fundraising, and community engagement, it is doubtful that this Gold Coast Arts Center could have found its home here. It seems fitting that we honor him with this exhibit that introduces the people he served as mayor to the man he is now —  the artist.”

“RJ Rosegarten, Lost & Found: The Art of Assemblage” is on view through March 12 at The Gold Coast Arts Center, 113 Middle Neck Rd, Great Neck, NY, 516-829-2570 or www.GoldCoastArts.org.

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© 2017 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

Nassau County Museum of Art Exhibitions Celebrate Century of Iconic Photography

One of the most famous photos of all time, Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother, Nipomo California” (1936) is on view in “Light Works: 100 Years of Photos” at NCMA © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
One of the most famous photos of all time, Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother, Nipomo California” (1936) is on view in “Light Works: 100 Years of Photos” at NCMA © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

For the first time, all of Nassau County Museum of Art’s galleries are devoted to the art of photography, collectively giving a retrospective and perspective on 100 years and some of the most important photographs and photographers in history. The exhibit is on view through March 5, 2017.

On view in the Main Galleries on the first floor are two exhibitions drawn from the collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts (KIA), Kalamazoo, Michigan: Ansel Adams: Sight and Feeling and Light Works: 100 Years of Photos. On view in the Second Floor Galleries is New Photos: Long Island Collects, important photographic works of the last half century from private Long Island art collections.

Ansel Adams: Sight and Feeling: Ansel Adams’ ability to create photographs with a remarkable range and subtlety of tones is legendary. Yet for all his technical mastery, Adams recognized that what made a compelling photograph was far more elusive. This exhibition of Adams’ photographs from the KIA collection suggests how his intuitive and emotional response to the landscape resulted in powerful and enduring photographs. 

Ansel Adams, Vernal Fall, Yosemite Valley, California, 1920, gelatin silver print. Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts; Gift of Wm. John Upjohn. ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.
Ansel Adams, Vernal Fall, Yosemite Valley, California, 1920, gelatin silver print. Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts; Gift of Wm. John Upjohn. ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.

Light Works: 100 Years of Photos: From Eadweard Muybridge’s 19th-century photographic studies of animal locomotion to Richard Misrach’s contemporary chromogenic prints, this exhibition spans the history of photography. Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Curtis, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson and many other celebrated photographers comprise this survey of photography processes and subjects from 1873 to 2000.

Eadweard Muybridge’s breakthrough photo, “The Horse in Motion,” from 1878 is on view at the Nassau County Museum of Art © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Eadweard Muybridge’s breakthrough photo, “The Horse in Motion,” from 1878 is on view at the Nassau County Museum of Art © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Coincidentally, the opening at NCMA occurred the same day as Time published its “100 Most Influential Photos of All Time,” and notably, several in this exhibit have been included among those deemed the most influential including Eadweard Muybridge’s breakthrough photo, “The Horse in Motion,” from 1878; Edward Steichen’s “The Steerage” (1904), Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare” (1932), Dorothea Lange’s “The Migrant Mother” (1936) among them.

New Photos: Long Island Collects focuses on significant photographic works created from the 1960s through the present day, from private collectors. Among the artists included in New Photos: Long Island Collects are John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Robert Mapplethorpe, Vic Muniz, Cindy Sherman and William Wegman.

Dr. Harvey Manes poses with Andre Kertesz’s “Chez Mondrian,” a print which he also has in his collection © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Dr. Harvey Manes poses with Andre Kertesz’s “Chez Mondrian,” a print which he also has in his collection © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Museum is offering a variety of public programs to amplify the experience of visiting these three exhibitions. Two films are screening daily: Stryker’s America: Photographing the Great Depression and Cartier-Bresson’s Century. Three Brown Bag Lectures illuminate the art and the artists included in these exhibitions. Other public programs are inspired by the exhibitions: Sketching in the Galleries, and The River, a concert performed by the musical ensemble ETHEL. The Museum’s family programs from November 19 to March 5 similarly draw inspiration from the exhibitions: Neiman Marcus Family Sundays, February Break for Art and two Super Family Sunday offerings, Winter Wonderland and Merrynaking in a Gold Coast Mansion. For further information on these programs, visit the Museum’s website, nassaumuseum.org/events.

Even the museum’s gift shop artfully presents items that evoke the exhibit.

A Destination

The Nassau County Museum of Art is a destination in itself.

Most of the 145 acres that are now the Nassau County Museum of Art originally belonged to poet, lawyer, conservationist, political activist, patron of the arts and preservationist William Cullen Bryant, who settled in Roslyn in 1843.

The long-time editor of the New York Post built his home, Cedarmore, and founded Roslyn’s public library.

In 1862, he built a cottage for his friend and fellow poet, Miss Jerusha Dewey (you can see the cottage when you explore the hiking trails).

In 1900, Lloyd Stephens Bryce purchased Bryant’s ‘Upland Farm’ and commissioned architect Ogden Codman, Jr. to design Bryce House, the present mansion. Henry Clay Frick, co-founder of U.S. Steel Corporation purchased Bryce House in 1919 as a gift for his son, Childs Frick, a Princeton graduate who became a vertebrate paleontologist and naturalist.

Be sure to make time to explore the grounds of this magnificent estate:

Sculpture Park: Approximately 40 works, many of them monumental in size, by renowned artists including Fernando Botero, Tom Otterness, George Rickey and Mark DiSuvero among others, are situated to interact with nature on the museum’s magnificent 145-acre property.

Walking Trails: The museum’s 145 acres include many marked nature trails through the woods, perfect for family hikes or independent exploration.

Gardens: From restored formal gardens of historic importance to quiet little nooks for dreaming away an afternoon, the museum’s 145 acre property features many lush examples of horticultural arts. Explore expanded gardens and beautiful new path to the museum.

Nassau County Museum of Art is located at One Museum Drive in Roslyn Harbor, just off Northern Boulevard, Route 25A, two traffic lights west of Glen Cove Road. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors (62 and above) and $4 for students and children (4 to12). Members are admitted free. Docent-led tours of the exhibition are offered at 2 p.m. each day; tours of the mansion are offered each Saturday at 1 p.m.; meet in the lobby, no reservations needed. Tours are free with museum admission. Family art activities and family tours are offered Sundays from 1 pm; free with museum admission. Call (516) 484-9338, ext. 12 to inquire about group tours. The Museum Store is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Red Maple Market Café is open Saturday and Sunday, noon to 3 p.m. Call (516) 484-9337 for current exhibitions, events, days/times and directions or log onto nassaumuseum.org.

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

New York City’s 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade Inspires Reverie

New York City’s 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade, the largest in the world, was themed “Reverie” © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
New York City’s 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade, the largest in the world, was themed “Reverie” © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade, the largest Halloween event in the world, got underway with extraordinary precision, as all the skeletons, ghouls and monsters – some 50,000 in all – got into order for the march up New York’s 6th Avenue to the rhythm of a host of bands.

New York City’s 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
New York City’s 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade is living art © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The theme this year invited participants to “Sink into Reverie —that liminal space in which one creates.”

Skeletons on parade in New York City © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Skeletons on parade in New York City © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“One thinks of Halloween as a chance to fantasize, but more than anything Halloween lets us realize, allowing us to play ourselves, leaving the remainder of the year for sleepwalking…. In these moments of reverie, our eyes are fresh, a child’s eyes. Our thoughts unfettered by habit, ideas and inspirations swirl in. So this year we celebrate Reverie, inviting one and all to recreate their waking dreams.”

Fantastical figures delight parade watchers on 6th Avenue. Tens of thousands turned out to watch the 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Fantastical figures delight parade watchers on 6th Avenue. Tens of thousands turned out to watch the 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Indeed, this is one day a year when New Yorkers, en masse, release their inner exhibitionist, their inner Action Hero. It’s Body English, when your entire being is a placard to transmit your message. For some, it is a way of releasing inner rage, anxiety, and confront demons. For others, it is a way to convey spiritual blessings, cheer.

Skeletons join the 43rd annual Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Skeletons join the 43rd annual Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

This year had its Willy Wonkas, the Egyptian Pharoahs (one carried a “10 Commandments for the 21st Century that included “gender equality” and “no more wars”), Action Heroes and Cartoon characters, spirits from myth and folklore, and a good smattering of political characters and commentary, with candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (more mocking him than her), Anonymous, and against the NRA.

More than 50,000 join in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 50,000 join in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Tens of thousands of people lined the route, which extended a mile from Spring Street up to 16th Street, delighting all as the bigger-than-life skeleton puppets poked into the crowd and stilt walkers and costumed characters engaged.

Gay Lesbian Marching Band join the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gay Lesbian Marching Band join the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Creativity is on full view, a mischievous spirit in the air – this is New York City’s Carnival and Mummers wrapped into one.

Fantastical figures delight Village Halloween Parade watchers © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Fantastical figures delight Village Halloween Parade watchers © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

It is amazingly artful, marvelous to behold – indeed, producer Jeanne Fleming, who took over the planning for the parade after its 8th year when the crowd reached 100,000, saw the Village Halloween Parade as an art installation.

More than 50,000 join in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 50,000 join in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

And the scenics! with the lights of the Freedom Tower downtown, the church at Greenwich with its giant spider crawling down the side and the tower lighted, and the Empire State, lit in crackling light show for the occasion uptown, and the buildings lining 6th Avenue like canyon walls – creating a fantastical atmosphere in which the walking creatures and monsters feel most at home.

Parade producer Jeanne Fleming has made the Village Halloween Parade into an art installation that inspires a sense of community © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Parade producer Jeanne Fleming has made the Village Halloween Parade into an art installation that inspires a sense of community © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“New York’s Village Halloween Parade is committed to the cultural and imaginative life of New York City and to the advancement of large-scale participatory events in the belief that such events, when artistically inspired, can play a major role in the resurrection and rejuvenation of the City’s spirit, economy and the life of its people,” is the mission statement. “Fleeting as it may seem, the Annual Village Halloween Parade provides a subconsciously experienced time structure that lends a sense of durability, continuity and community to New York City life.”

The Village Halloween Parade is a rhythmic musical extravaganza © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Village Halloween Parade is a rhythmic musical extravaganza © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Indeed, it is a collective giggle, a communal hug against the forces beyond control, and while you are in the spirit of it, you forget everything beyond.

Ghostly presence in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Ghostly presence in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Walking around Manhattan, with the oddest sights (half the time, you don’t know if people are wearing costumes), just adds to the special thrill of Halloween in New York City.

More than 50,000 join in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 50,000 join in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

From humble beginnings in 1974 when Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee started a walk from house to house for his children and friends, the Village Halloween Parade, now headed by Artist and Producer Jeanne Fleming, has become an iconic event of New York City, with some 60,000 participants and tens of thousands of onlookers.

New York City’s Annual Village Halloween Parade is the largest nighttime Halloween event in the world © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
New York City’s Annual Village Halloween Parade is the largest nighttime Halloween event in the world © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Village Halloween Parade, the only major night parade in the country, is the largest public Halloween celebration in the world. It has been named as “The Greatest Event on Earth” for October 31 by Festivals International, and has been listed as one of the “100 Things to Do Before You Die.”

Three guys who know something about the afterlife. The Village Halloween Parade has been listed as one of the "100 Things to Do Before You Die." © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Three guys who know something about the afterlife. The Village Halloween Parade has been listed as one of the “100 Things to Do Before You Die.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The ghouls and ghosts in the parade certainly would agree.

A wink and a nod from some of the fantastical characters in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
A wink and a nod from some of the fantastical characters in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

36 Hours in Pittsburgh: Andy Warhol Museum is at Center of Revitalized City

The Andy Warhol Museum pays homage to a native son of Pittsburgh © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Andy Warhol Museum pays homage to a native son of Pittsburgh © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

I have come to Pittsburgh for the three-day, 120-mile Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Spring Sojourn on the Great Allegheny Passage, and used it as an opportunity to explore Pittsburgh, a city that once was known for steel mills, but which now has won accolades as “America’s most livable city.” 

I am fascinated to see how it made such a transition from grey to green. 

With only one full day to explore, I specifically seek out attractions that define Pittsburgh, all walkable within the downtown, getting advice from the Omni William Penn Hotel concierge. 

I start on its two remaining funiculars, going up the Monongahela Incline and down the Duquesne Incline, dating from the 1870s, and stroll Grandview Avenue that links the two, and continue on to Point State Park and the Fort Pitt Museum. (This is third in a series) 

The National Aviary

I continue my walk from the Fort Pitt Museum, over the Fort Duquesne Bridge toward the National Aviary (it was the “national” that got my attention), fascinated how city planners  managed to turn a city designed for industry and machines into one that can be so walkable and bikeable.

Children delight at the exhibits at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Children delight at the exhibits at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The National Aviary, America’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated to birds, offers a lovely exhibit of birds, including being able to walk through massive habitat-style exhibits, where the birds – like the Victoria Crowned Pigeon (amazing headdress), Golden Breasted Starling (nesting) fly freely about you, often landing very close by.

Bats at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Bats at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There is also a bat exhibit (you can watch bat feeding), poke your head up into the penguin pen, As I walk about, I am surprised to read a marker that states this was the site of the Western Penitentiary (1826-1880) and held confederate prisoners here 1863-64.

The National Aviary (www.aviary.org), which was designated  “national” by President Clinton, would certainly be a highlight for family travelers and am having such an amazing time taking pictures, seeing some birds that I had never seen before in such close proximity without cages, I lose all sense of time (which is why I didn’t have enough time to visit the Heinz History Center).

The National Aviary in Pittsburgh lets you see up close, without any caging between you, such exotic birds as the Victoria Crowned Pigeon © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The National Aviary in Pittsburgh lets you see up close, without any caging between you, such exotic birds as the Victoria Crowned Pigeon © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Warhol Museum

The National Aviary is also just a short walk to my next stop: the Warhol Museum. I had not realized that Andy Warhol was a native son of Pittsburgh (born to a Slovakian family of modest means, he attended Carnegie Mellon which was Carnegie Technical at the time) – this museum is in the tradition of the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, totally extolling the life of one artist. It basically continues what Andy Warhol did most successfully his whole life: market his art to inflate prices. The best part, for me, was learning more about his biography – what made him “tick”, his creative process and about his techniques.

The Andy Warhol Museum, a 7-story temple to the artist which opened in 1994, was created by the Andy Warhol Foundation, Dia Center for the Arts, and the Carnegie Foundation which operates the museum © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Andy Warhol Museum, a 7-story temple to the artist which opened in 1994, was created by the Andy Warhol Foundation, Dia Center for the Arts, and the Carnegie Foundation which operates the museum © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

My own belief is that Warhol was more of a marketing genius than an artistic one (at least Salvador Dali was both a marketing genius and an artistic one), but I am willing to be convinced otherwise as I roam the museum.

Indeed, as a placard notes, since the seven-story museum opened in 1994, there has been a steady increasing level of recognition of Warhol’s “singular contribution to 20th century art and his extraordinary influence on contemporary art internationally. The museum is on the forefront of research into Warhol’s work.”

There is a timeline along the massive walls that document in excruciating detail Warhol’s life and learn such tidbits as: Andrew Warhola was born in 1928 to immigrants from Mikona in Slovakia; he graduated Carnegie Tech (which became Carnegie Mellon); in 1956 he met Edmond Walloaitch who used photography in his own works; most of Warhol’s early endeavors were self-published; he was inspired by popular culture and enlarged images from magazines and photographs with a projector, then painted the projection on canvas; he used a rubber stamp, then the silk screen process; the first silkscreen painting based on a photograph was a baseball, in 1962; he “replicated the look of commercial advertising, giving Warhol faithful duplication of his appropriated source image, while also allowing him to experiment with over-painting, off-register and endless chance combinations”.

After graduating Carnegie Tech, he took a “risk” and came to New York City where he got his big break, illustrating a story “What is Success” for Glamour Magazine. “He became one of the most successful commercial illustrators.” A particularly noteworthy item on the timeline: 1972- after publication of his “Vote McGovern,” the IRS audited Warhol annually until his death.” Warhol died in 1987, at the age of 58.

He created the “blotted line technique” – where he could trace or copy and an image “appropriating images from popular culture” – and reproduce any number of them, factory-style.

Warhol, we learn, made a fortune from portraits, once again, getting a giant commercial boost after an exhibit at the Whitney in 1979, curated by his close friend David Whitney consisting of 56 double portraits of artists, fashion designers, collectors, art dealers, which showcased an aspect of his painting “that he characterized as ‘business art’.”

After the 1979 show, his private portraits business hit heights- early 80s – he produced did 50 a year at $40K for 2-panel, or $2 million in annual profits.

“He was unapologetic in his imposition of lucrative business model as part of his art practice.”

I notice a prominently displayed portrait of Prince from 1984, which is up just after the musician’s death.

Andy Warhol was known for his passion as a collector – very possibly an outgrowth of his impoverished childhood and his expropriation of others’ art and design. Over his lifetime, he collected some 500,000 artifacts. There is an immense room, called the “Vault” that is filled with “time capsules” – 610 flimsy cartons, each with 500 objects.

I found it totally ironic, though, that you are not allowed to take any photos since Warhol’s art was based on expropriating the images and designs created by others (ie. Campbell Soup Can, Marilyn Monroe photo). You can take part in workshops to learn the silkscreening techniques he used. The museum is a must-see for anyone who is a fan.

The Andy Warhol Museum was created by the Andy Warhol Foundation, Dia Center for the Arts, and the Carnegie Foundation which operates the museum. It is one of four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh (Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of National History and Carnegie Science Center are the others, www.carnegiemuseums.org).

The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212, 412-237-8300, www.warhol.org ($20/adults, $10/students and children 3-18, half price on Fridays, 5-10 pm; closed Mondays). 

For more information, contact Visit Pittsburgh, 412-281-7711, 800-359-0758, 877-LOVE PGH (568-3744), info@visitpittsburgh.com, www.visitpittsburgh.com.

Next: Pittsburgh Walking Tour Continues to Strip District 

See also:

One Day, Two Nights in Pittsburgh: From Grey to Green, A Proud City Revitalized

36 Hours in Pittsburgh: Point State Park Proves Highlight of Walking Tour

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ Halloween Events – Ghouls & All – Return to Historic Hudson Valley

Halloween in Historic Hudson Valley: Horseman's Hollow at Philipsburg © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Halloween in Historic Hudson Valley: Horseman’s Hollow at Philipsburg © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Washington Irving’s macabre tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” is the inspiration for Horseman’s Hollow, a spectacularly produced interactive Halloween haunted attraction at the colonial-era Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

It is one of a series of Historic Hudson Valley’s Halloween season spectacular events taking place over an unprecedented 32 nights. They are the largest Halloween events in the tri-state area and are expected to draw more than 150,000 visitors to Sleepy Hollow Country. They take place in several Historic Hudson Valley venues, each one an important attraction.

Washington Irving’s macabre tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow inspires Horseman’s Hollow, an interactive haunted attraction taking place over 14 nights at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, an estate that dates back to colonial times. But for Halloween, it is stocked with professional actors and state-of-the-art special effects and lighting. Take note: Horseman’s Hollow has a high fear factor, which is why it is so popular with teenagers. (Recommended for ages 10 and up.)

Irving’s ‘Legend,’ recommended for ages 10 and up, brings the master storyteller Jonathan Kruk into the historic, candlelit interior of Sleepy Hollow’s circa-1685 Old Dutch Church, where for 14 afternoons and evenings he offers a dramatic re-telling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow accompanied by live organ music.

The Legend Behind the ‘Legend’ is a daytime experience at Washington Irving’s Sunnyside homestead in Tarrytown, N.Y., that highlights the author of the famous story.

Halloween in Historic Hudson Valley: Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Halloween in Historic Hudson Valley: Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

And continuing for a record 32 selected evenings through Nov. 13, The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze® is the Hudson Valley’s biggest all-ages Halloween extravaganza. A small team of artists comes together to carve more than 7,000 jacks, many fused together in elaborate constructions such as life-size dinosaurs and eight-foot-tall working jack-o’lanterns-in-the-box, all lit up throughout the wooded walkways, orchards, and gardens of historic Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Headless Horseman Rides Again

Philipsburg Manor, is but a few miles up the road from Washington Irving’s homestead at Sunnyside and, legend has it, is the setting for his classic story. The village, which was once known as North Tarrytown, actually changed its name to Sleepy Hollow in 1996.

But here at the 350-year old Philipsburg Manor, one of the Historic Hudson Valley historic sites, you can easily imagine the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” as Irving saw it in his mind.

Now in its 7th year, Horseman’s Hollow, which welcomed more than 30,000 visitors last year, is a haunted experience in the heart of Sleepy Hollow that takes the tale of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to its darkest extremes. Historic Philipsburg Manor transforms into a terrifying landscape ruled by the undead, the evil, and the insane, all serving the Headless Horseman himself.

For 14 nights, historic Philipsburg Manor transforms into a terrifying landscape ruled by the undead, the evil, and the insane, all serving the Headless Horseman himself.

Colonial ghouls inhabit Horseman’s Hollow, at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Colonial ghouls inhabit Horseman’s Hollow, at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 300-year old manor house, barn and gristmill of the Philipses, a family of Anglo-Dutch merchants who owned the 50,000 acre- estate, become the sets and the backdrop for the really, really ghoulish hauntings by colonial spirits.

Haunted house professional Lance Hallowell is back this year to lead a crew of award-winning makeup and costume designers and a 45-member-strong cast of experienced actors to create an immersive, interactive, pleasantly terrifying experience, with state-of-the-spooky-art special effects.

Custom built set pieces and period-correct costumes help orient the experience in Philipsburg Manor’s traditional time period of the mid-1700s.

What is best about Horseman’s Hollow is the sheer number (and talent) of the live spirits – they are very considerate, too – they seem to know just how much to terrify you (though really squeamish and young children should not come). I have found that if the ghouls sense you are easily frightened (like me), they tend to take down a notch their scare factor (I basically announce that I am easily frightened as I enter one of the venues).

But the professional actors and state-of-the-art special effects, contributes to a high fear factor (it’s recommended for ages 10 and up and is not for the squeamish and you need to take heed of the warning: This event is NOT suitable for adults who are claustrophobic, have heart or respiratory conditions, are prone to seizures, or have other chronic health conditions.)

As we start our experience, walking up a dirt path that rings the pond, a faceless colonial escorts us for a time, then goes into the trees to surprise a group of teenagers who are following behind. With each step through the woods, you leave the modern world behind and suspend disbelief.

Timed tickets mean that it isn’t overcrowded (safety in numbers?) – but as we walk through (guided by helpful spirits with lanterns who lead us to the next haunted house), we hear the screams of a pack of teenage girls in the distant dark. It adds to the atmosphere.

The Headless Horseman comes out of the shadows at Horseman’s Hollow, at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Headless Horseman comes out of the shadows at Horseman’s Hollow, at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Look carefully in the deepest, darkest shadow, and there is the Headless Horseman himself, astride his steed, standing quietly as if taking in the scene or simply delighting in the terror of recognition as the clueless passerby realizes who is lurking in the dark.

Horseman’s Hollow dates are Oct. 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 27-31. Online tickets are $20 ($25 on Saturdays).  Fast Track, for a $15 per ticket upgrade, lets visitors skip the line in their timeslot. Historic Hudson Valley members receive a$5 per ticket discount.

Philipsburg Manor is at 381 North Broadway (Route 9) in Sleepy Hollow. (There is a parking field.)

Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

The Headless Horseman, in lighted jack o’lanterns, at Blaze © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Headless Horseman, in lighted jack o’lanterns, at Blaze © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com


The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze, which drew more than 130,000 visitors last year, features more than 7,000 illuminated, individually hand-carved jack o’ lanterns. Elaborate single-pumpkin carvings and huge multi-jack o’lantern constructions are professionally lit throughout the landscape of Van Cortlandt Manor in various themed areas.

Favorite installations such as Jurassic Park and the giant spider web are joined this year by new creations including a plus-sized Pumpkin Planetarium, a Pumpkin Zee Bridge, and a brand-new herd of pint-sized dinosaurs all made of jack o’lanterns.

Creative Director Michael Natiello leads a small team of Historic Hudson Valley staff and local artists who carve. In addition, more than 2,000 volunteers help scoop and light the pumpkins. You can watch Blaze artists carving on site during the event.

Vernon Ford demonstrates pumpkin carving at Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Vernon Ford demonstrates pumpkin carving at Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Café Blazé, by Geordane’s of Irvington, offers culinary treats including soup, veggie chili, muffins, pumpkin cookies, and cider. The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze Shop has a full bounty of Blaze-specific merchandise including hats, notepads, games, T-shirts, magnets, caps, mugs, and jewelry.

New music this year created by professional musician, radio personality, and Halloween fanatic Richard Christy will augment the visitor experience. The new tracks as well as music from Christy’s Blaze: The Soundtrack Volume I & II play throughout the event. (Soundtrack Volume II is available as a CD at the event and both volumes are available as digital downloads and streams from iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.)

Blaze dates are Sept. 30, Oct. 1-2, 7-10, 13-16, 19-31, Nov. 3-6, 10-13. Online tickets are $20 for adults ($25 on Saturdays), $16 for children 3-17 ($20 on Saturdays), and free for children under 3 and Historic Hudson Valley members.

Van Cortlandt Manor is at 525South Riverside Avenue, just off Route 9 in Croton-on-Hudson (A parking field is on site).

Irving’s ‘Legend’

Master storyteller Jonathan Kruk offers a dramatic re-telling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” accompanied by live organ music in the candlelit interior of Sleepy Hollow’s circa-1685 Old Dutch Church © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Master storyteller Jonathan Kruk offers a dramatic re-telling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” accompanied by live organ music in the candlelit interior of Sleepy Hollow’s circa-1685 Old Dutch Church © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Master storyteller Jonathan Krukoffers a dramatic re-telling of Washington Irving’s classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, featuring the Headless Horseman, Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones, and Katrina Van Tassel. Flavored with live spooky organ music by Jim Keyes, Kruk’s storytelling takes place in the historic, candlelit setting of the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow. The circa-1685 stone church is across the street from Philipsburg Manor, where visitors will park. Performances last about 45 minutes.

Irving’s ‘Legend’ dates are Oct. 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 27-31. Seating is very limited and there are three performances each evening. Online tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for children under 18. Historic Hudson Valley members receive a $5 per ticket discount.

Legend Behind the ‘Legend’

Sunnyside, the home of Washington Irving, celebrates its connection to Irving’s classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, at this family friendly daytime event. The Legend Behind the ‘Legend includes tours of Irving’s home – a colorful blend of architectural styles – which showcase numerous objects from HHV’s collection related to Irving’s famous story. Visitors can also enjoy a shadow puppet performance of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and experience one of Irving’s spooky tales on a walk through the woods. Sunnyside is on West Sunnyside Lane, off Route 9 in Tarrytown.

Legend Behind the ‘Legend’ dates are Oct. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30. Online tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for seniors, $8 for children 3-17, and free for those under 3 and Historic Hudson Valley members.

All events are held rain or shine. Proceeds support Historic Hudson Valley, the Tarrytown-based private, non-profit educational organization that owns and operates the historic sitesthat host these events.
Because of the popularity of these events, it is essential to purchase tickets in advance.

Buy tickets online at www.hudsonvalley.org or by calling 914-366-6900 ($2 per ticket surcharge for phone orders and for tickets purchased onsite, if available).

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

The Boundaries of ‘Interiors’ Explored in Art Exhibit at Gold Coast Arts Center

Gold Coast Arts Center gallery curator Jude Amsel with ‘Interiors’ artists Orestes Gonzalez, Laini Nemett and Maxi Cohen © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gold Coast Arts Center gallery curator Jude Amsel with ‘Interiors’ artists Orestes Gonzalez, Laini Nemett and Maxi Cohen © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

What is inside, and what is outside? What are the boundaries that delineate “interiors”. How much of what is interior is our own perception, our own making? These are the questions explored by three artists – Laini Nemett, Orestes Gonzalez, and Maxi Cohen – represented in “Interiors” on view at the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck, through November 20.

Interiors is an exhibition that explores the artist’s relationship with familiar places and how they connect to interior landscapes of personal history, memory and association. The painter Laini Nemett comments that she wants the composite imagery to conjure memory but also to emulate an experience of place. Orestes Gonzalez’s photographs of interior spaces captures moments of loneliness, happiness and a time of innocence. Photographer/videographer, Maxi Cohen captures moments in the ladies room, “as a space of sanctuary and solitude”.

The only thing common to all is that their creative works “serve as a portal to interior spaces that are in plain sight and yet frequently overlooked,” notes Jude Amsel, Gold Coast Arts Center Gallery Director. They offer a portal to a new way of looking and experiencing what we all take for granted.

Laini Nemett: “Last Door on the Right”

Laini Nemett creates her own sense of place and space – literally. Her paintings stem from imagination – memories and relationships – which go into intricate cardboard models models she constructs at the beginning of her process. She then creates bold paintings that realistically represent these imagined places. They take the viewer in, forcing the viewer to contemplate the scene. It is at that point that the viewer realizes the impossibility of the place – a window that is upside down, a ceiling that has the texture and color of carpeting which should be on the floor.

Gold Coast Arts Center Director Regina Gil and Alexandra Gil who curates the Shorts Films in the Gold Coast International Film Festival, with artist Laini Nemett and her painted perspective of the Eiffel Tower © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gold Coast Arts Center Director Regina Gil and Alexandra Gil who curates the Shorts Films in the Gold Coast International Film Festival, with artist Laini Nemett and her painted perspective of the Eiffel Tower © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

One of the most interesting perspectives stems from a whirlwind visit to Paris and the Eiffel Tower. You would never realize it is the Eiffel Tower because the perspective is looking down from a landing through plexiglass casting a reflection made “wobbly” with rain.

Laini Nemett with one of her paintings on view in ‘Interiors” at the Gold Coast Arts Center. © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Laini Nemett with one of her paintings on view in ‘Interiors” at the Gold Coast Arts Center. © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“I assemble my own relics of experience. I discover their logic in the ways they fit together and attempt to make sense of how we decipher place,” Nemett says. One of her paintings in the exhibit is titled “Last Door on the Right.”

“A constant kaleidoscope of imagery the mind sorts at random, concealing and revealing fragments of memories. I choose to disorient myself amidst the puzzle, letting observation suggest the direction.”

One of the models that artist Laini Nemett meticulously constructs out of her imagination which will be realized in painting © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
One of the models that artist Laini Nemett meticulously constructs out of her imagination which will be realized in painting © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“Extended time in different architectural cultures has shaped how I understand the idea of ‘home.’ In downtown Baltimore, buildings are boarded up and left as skeletons of a family’s history, while new constructions incite possibilities of new beginnings. In the boroughs of New York, old facades are painted away or torn down as new anonymous condo projects begin almost every day. The expansive land of Wyoming holds 100-year old ranches and hand-built homesteads that remain as physical mementos of multiple generations.”

But while the constructions hold the histories and the memories of the people, the paintings are devoid of people altogether. Like a dream, you are surveying the scene.

There is such detail that at first glance, you think you could walk in. But these structures don’t exist – and can’t exist.

“It’s more compelling. I don’t want the painting to answer the questions, but get you to think more, ask more, linger longer. That’s why I paint instead of take photographs. I want to do something that can only happen in painting.”

Orestes Gonzalez: Photographs of Havana, Miami

Orestes Gonzalez also challenges people’s perspective. His black-and-white photographic series from Havana, Cuba, “This Island is My House,” (2016) shows interiors which are really exteriors – a barber who has turned a courtyard into his shop, a building without a roof. Exteriors become interiors and vice versa.

In Cuba, he notes, roof collapses are common, and the lack of materials nad maintenance has created a landscape of ruins in a city of 2 million people.

By necessity, then, “public and private lines are blurred or compromised,” he says. In Cuba, where interior space is very limited or compromised, “interiors are more symbolic rather than literal.” These are people who live their inner lives in a public setting and deal with their environment – their situation – the best they can. In Cuba, the island is the ‘house’ they live in.”

GPhotographer Orestes Gonzalez poses with his series, ‘Julio’s House’ © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Photographer Orestes Gonzalez poses with his series, ‘Julio’s House’ © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There are also four mural-sized color photographs taken of his Uncle Julio’s apartment in Miami, taken after he passed away. “Julio’s House,” 2007, shows how his interior space was revealing of who he was inside, but afraid to reveal to the outside world.

Maxi Cohen: ‘Ladies Rooms Around the World’

Maxi Cohen, a filmmaker, turned to a different camera in making “Ladies Rooms Around the World.” The series, produced over decades, makes you rethink these customarily private spaces. Her own journey began in 1978 when she was at the Miami Film Festival with her first feature length film documentary, “Joe and Maxi” about her relationship with her father. She retreated to the Ladies room to escape the boring awards dinner and found herself among a gaggle of octogenarians fussing over corsets and false eyelashes. She was entranced by this “tribal dance” and whenever she saw an interesting scene in the ladies room – Australia to Zambia, Bombay to Bosnia, Rio to Tel Aviv, she snapped it. Almost all of them also capture her in the scene – she said she didn’t feel it was right to invade the privacy of others and not include herself. “Since I am recording others in their private rituals, the sanctuaries of women, I have not wanted to separate myself; there is no ‘them’, only ‘we’.” She says.

Maxi Cohen with part of her photographic series, ‘Ladies Rooms Around the World’ © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Maxi Cohen with part of her photographic series, ‘Ladies Rooms Around the World’ © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

She notes that in the 1990s, she was in an Aboriginal bar in the Australian outback, when women took her into the ladies room to confide in her about the incest and rape of the young boys and girls in the community. In Zambia, she watched as a ladies room attendant would be accepting cash all night, and exchanging little packets in blue tissue paper.

The contrast in places, scenes and colors of Maxi Cohen’s photographic decades-long series, “Ladies rooms Around the World,” is artful in a way you would never expect © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The contrast in places, scenes and colors of Maxi Cohen’s photographic decades-long series, “Ladies rooms Around the World,” is artful in a way you would never expect © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The contrast in places, scenes and colors (since she shoots with available light), not to mention the range of women captured in the images – the New York Thruway, 1978; Livingstone Disco, Zambia, 2003; a film festival in 1981 where Maxi Cohen captures herself in a borrowed gown or possibly robe her friend got from Yoko Ono – is artful and aesthetically pleasing in a way you would never expect hearing about a series of photos of “Ladies Rooms Around the World.”

The Gold Coast Arts Center is located at 113 Middle Neck Road (entrance from the Maple Avenue parking lot), 516-829-2570, goldcoastarts.org.

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island Finishes Off With Really Hot Jazz

Charleston lesson at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Charleston lesson at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

Talk about Hot Jazz! The heat and humidity could not dampen the celebratory spirit for the final weekend of the 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island, where the weather was hot but the jazz was hotter. People still turned out in their vintage 1920s outfits, re-creating the Gatsby-era.

Yodoyiohdo. Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Yodoyiohdo. Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra sets the mood with music Arenella has transcribed from original recordings of the era. Arenella re-creates the role of a Big Band leader, taking on the inflection and look, and telling anecdotes about the music and the musicians as if it were now, when this music was all the rage and radio was a new (and dangerous) cultural phenomenon. Within moments, you are transported back to the romance and joie de vive of that time, leaving behind for these precious hours the hubbub of modern times (except for the constancy of cameras, smart phones and selfies).

Gregory Moore and The Dreamland Follies at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Gregory Moore and The Dreamland Follies at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The entertainment throughout the day is topnotch: Gregory Moore and The Dreamland Follies, evoking the Ziegfield Follies, puts on stunning and sophisticated dance routines; Roddy Caravella & The Canarsie Wobblers  consistently wow with fanciful costumes and choreography;

Minsky Sisters © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Minsky Sisters © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Minsky Sisters, a 1920s-inspired sisters tap act in the tradition of classic vaudevillian family acts; Queen Esther, an award-winning vocalist with a four-octave range who is also a songwriter, actor, and recording artist performing regularly in NYC, who sets her own standard of Jazz Great while paying tribute to jazz royalty of yore with her jazz quintet The Hot Five; Peter Mintun, “world’s greatest piano man” and Molly Ryan, known for her silvery voice and lush, elegant vocal style; plus musical interludes on vintage 78 records from the 1920s played on a 1905 antique phonograph.

Roddy Caravella & The Canarsie Wobblers at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Roddy Caravella & The Canarsie Wobblers at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There are special attractions, as well, starting with lessons in Charleston or the Peabody by Roddy Caravella and his wife; dance competition (in Charleston or Peabody); a “High Court of Pie” contest;

Enjoying the private Sheik of Araby Tent VIP Tent in true Gatsby-era style at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Enjoying the private Sheik of Araby Tent VIP Tent in true Gatsby-era style at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Bathing Beauties and Beaus Promenade; Kidland carnival games and prizes for junior gents and Flapperettes; 1920s Motorcar Exhibition (get up close and personal with flivvers, Tin Lizzies and “Buttercup,” Gatsby’s very own 1925 Rolls-Royce “Twenty”); Vintage Portraits  (immortalize yourself while perched upon a Paper Moon); and boutonnieres and mini floral arrangements bestowed upon guests from BloomThat, a flower start-up.

Queen Esther performing with her jazz quintet The Hot Five at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Queen Esther performing with her jazz quintet The Hot Five at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Scores of vintage vendors add to the atmosphere – if you didn’t have your own vintage outfit, you can rent or buy, and if you didn’t have your own picnic blanket, you could purchase from the General Store. Merchants include: Dora Marra, Toucan Hats, Prohibition Clothing, Noble Vintage Clothier , Wildfell Hall Vintage, David Owens Vintage, Howard’s Entertainment, Penumbra Foundation, Zelda Magazine and Art Deco Society of NY.

BloomThat bestowes boutonnieres and mini floral arrangements at the Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
BloomThat bestowes boutonnieres and mini floral arrangements at the Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The bi-annual daytime affair also features an array of Golden-Age inspired cocktails created by mixtress Julie Reiner (Clover Club, Leyenda, Flatiron Lounge) featuring the festival’s signature spirit, St-Germain, including: The St-Germain Cocktail: an invigorating aperitif of St-Germain, sparkling wine, and sparking mineral water with a lemon twist; Strike Up The Band: a refreshing Collins-style recipe blending summer strawberries with gin, St-Germain and fresh citrus; and the Flappers Delight: St-Germain elderflower meets Juniper and mint in this tall summer fizz, and exclusively in “ The Gatsby’s Garden” VIP section: Americano de Robert: St-Germain, Campari, Dry Vermouth, lime, soda & orange peel, served up.

Ferry is Magic Carpet to Bygone Era 

The enchantment begins as you board the ferry from South Street or from Brooklyn for the short ride to Governors Island. You think you have stepped back to the 1920s – crowds of giddy people are dressed in flapper dresses and linen suits, caps and suspenders cram the ferry. And dancing shoes. And you realize this isn’t just any ride in the park.

The Sokol Sisters –Evita, Stephanie, Katie and Ashley, from New York City get into the spirit of the Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Sokol Sisters –Evita, Stephanie, Katie and Ashley, from New York City get into the spirit of the Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We are back in the Jazz Age, and the setting is perfect, a vast lawn set off by an arbor of trees, surrounded by buildings and forts that date back to the Civil War and World War II when Governors Island was used as a base and military prison (I even happened on Civil War re-enactors), now repurposed for arts and cultural programs.

People come and set out sprawling picnics – some with elaborate fixings like candelabras and crystal wine glasses.

The atmosphere is infectious. Fellows seem more civilized. Gals seem more sassy. And the good feeling just percolates to the beat from Michael Arenella’s Dreamland Orchestra, as this fantastical community defying time forms.

Michael Arenella © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Michael Arenella © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The unquestioned star of the day long festival is Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, one of the world’s great Jazz Age dance bands, specializing in the Hot-Jazz of the 1920s. “Conductor, composer, musician and singer Michael Arenella presents a personally transcribed songbook for your listening and dancing pleasure.” (Michael Arenalla also can be heard Wednesday nights at the Clover Club, Smith Street in Brooklyn and at the Red Room, the last Thursday of the month, 85 E 4th St, NYC, and at the Clover Club, see www.dreamlandorchestra.com).

Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It isn’t hard to believe you have returned to the Jazz Age because of the authenticity and attention to detail. Arenella “transcribes by hand their entire repertoire from period recordings. Their delivery, as well as their instruments, attire, and equipment — are faithfully accurate. Arenella’s strong yet vulnerable baritone lacks pretense or sarcasm. He treasures each lyric, and has faith in the songs he sings. Even the most optimistic Tin Pan Alley tune has a disarming quality in his hands.”

Even the 1928 Graflex, used to take period photos, is an original.

Gregory Moore pays tribute to New York Times Styles photographer Bill Cunningham during Jazz Age Lawn Party © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gregory Moore pays tribute to New York Times Styles photographer Bill Cunningham during Jazz Age Lawn Party © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Now in its 11th year, the Jazz Age Lawn Party has built a history of its own. It started in 2005 as a small gathering of about 50 friends and fans of Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra and their version of prohibition-era music and fun. Not too many years after, it was drawing thousands of fans who revel in the music and zeitgeist of the 1920s and 1930s and has become what is arguably the world’s largest outdoor musical celebration of the Jazz Age, but is undoubtedly one of the highlights in a crammed calendar of summer happenings in New York City.

For more information, visit: JazzAgeLawnParty.com.

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com   and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Letter from Abroad: A Grand Concert at La Scala in Milan, Italy

Seeing a performance at the famed La Scala theater in Milan, Italy, is a grand experience that transports you back to the Belle Epoque. Designed by Giuseppe Piermarini, the theater opened in 1778 (photo by Leiberman-Nemett)
Seeing a performance at the famed La Scala theater in Milan, Italy, is a grand experience that transports you back to the Belle Epoque. Designed by Giuseppe Piermarini, the theater opened in 1778 (photo by Leiberman-Nemett)

By Dave E. Leiberman & Laini Nemett

Seeing a performance at the famed La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy, transports you back to the Belle Epoque.

After collecting our tickets in the box office, we began the night with a perfect Negroni and aperitivo snack in the bar of Ristorante Teatro alla Scala. With about ten minutes until curtain, we walked through the ornate grand foyer adorned with marble columns and tall narrow mirrors lining the walls. We entered the theater itself just early enough to first glimpse the orchestra through the open doors of the palci, the balcony boxes lining the horseshoe auditorium.

The demographic of the crowd skewed older than some opera houses in the United States with most of the audience in their 50s to 80s. Everyone was dressed as you would expect at La Scala: men in jackets and women in dresses.

We walked to our seats in the front right side of the Orchestra. Though we were fairly close to the stage, the sound didn’t feel as full as we imagined it could have. During intermission we were able to move up to one of the balcony boxes, where the sound was significantly richer than in the orchestra section.

First glimpse the orchestra through the open doors of the palci, the balcony boxes lining the horseshoe auditorium (photo by Leiberman-Nemett)
First glimpse the orchestra through the open doors of the palci, the balcony boxes lining the horseshoe auditorium (photo by Leiberman-Nemett)

The amazing acoustics in the gallery is only one aspect of the experience sitting in the balcony boxes of La Scala. We were lucky that the show we saw did not have a sold out house so we were the only 2 in our box and actually got to sit at the front with a great side view of the orchestra. Hundreds of burgundy jacquard-wallpapered cubes line the horseshoe of the 6 rows of boxes. It felt like an elaborate film set with each box its own scene. Sitting in a closed room with only a few others (or in our case just one companion), you are simultaneously watching hundreds of little boxed narratives in the panorama of the audience, while realizing you are within the same composition of boxes and one of these stories yourself. Hundreds of moments all within their own world, theater-goers hang out of the boxes with arms draped around the cushioned ledges, all watching and listening to their shared soundtrack.

The Teatro alla Scala was founded under the auspices of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, to replace the Royal Ducal Theatre, which was destroyed by fire on February  26 1776, which until then was the home of opera in Milan. The cost of building the new theatre was borne by the owners of the boxes at the Ducal in exchange for possession of the land on which stood the church of Santa Maria alla Scala (hence the name) and for renewed ownership of their boxes. The theater was designed by the great neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini  (1734-1808) and opened in 1778.

What is not widely known is that you can visit La Scala’s museum. The current exhibition is “Riccardo Muti: The years at La Scala” (on through October 16). The museum is open daily except on: Christmas, New Year’s and Easter Sunday and certain holidays..  It is open from 9 am to 12.30 pm (last entrance at noon) and from 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm (last entrance at 5 pm). The auditorium can be seen from the boxes excepted when rehearsals or performances are in progress. (Information: Tel +39 02 88 79 74 73).

La Scala’s program includes not only opera, but also symphony concerts, academy concerts, ballet, programming for children, and other cultural events. The programming is also not only the famous Italian composers. Though Verdi and Puccini frequent the lineup (or the season), upcoming performances at La Scala include Benjamin Britton’s Turn of the Screw (Sept 14 – Oct 17, 2016), George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Nov 13-23, 2016), Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Sept 2 – 25, 2016) and Marriage of Figaro (Oct 26-Nov 27, 2016).

You can see the schedule and purchase your tickets in advance online. Ufficio Stampa Teatro alla Scala, Via Filodrammatici 2 – 20121 Milano, tel. +39 02 8879 2412, fax +39 02 8879 2331, www.teatroallascala.org.

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.comwww.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin,www.examiner.com/eclectic-traveler-in-long-island/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin  and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures