Tuesday 7 July 2009

Mega update

It was never my intention to turn this blog into a travelog whilst I was in the States but seemingly this has happened. I promise to return to more illustration related topics when I get back to reality!

But for now I'll summarise what I've been upto in-between dropping my portfolio off at places such as the New York Times and Pentagram Design.

The highlight of last week was a rather haphazard spontaneous remoulding of a planned event. Essentially I turned up to Cringe Night at Freddy's Bar in Brooklyn expecting an amusing, albeit Office-esque night of squirm inducing tales only to find out that the host hadn't shown up. This left a rather large group of disappointed people unsure of what to do. Luckily for us I had invited along Doug Stone: documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, producer extraordinaire who also has a wicked line in comedic tales and the gift of delivery. With little regard for his own reputation Doug took over the mic stand and christened the evening 'Salvaging Cringe Night' before opening with a tale from his own teenage years. Despite the fact that only one person had brought along any prepared material and the rest of us had arrived purely to spectate, what followed was one of the funniest evenings I have experienced in a long time. Adroitly hosted by Doug, one person after another stepped up to the mic to share tales from their teenage years that were embarrassing, shameful or in a few cases just shocking!

What was notable besides the humour of the event was the atmosphere that prevailed. Despite the lack of preparation and the nerves that beset one when it is time to step up to the mic and share a tale that has never been shared before, people confidently braved the moment and were cheered on by the watching crowd. It was definitely a supportive atmosphere and momentum really built, so much so that the 'show' lasted nearly two hours. It was great to be involved in such an organic process, although I have to confess that I didn't take the opportunity to indulge in the comedic therapy on offer, but I did really enjoy the evening and appreciated the willingness of the majority to give it a shot and get involved. Maybe unfairly I couldn't help thinking that if such a thing had occurred in my local pub at home it was highly unlikely that a similarly successful night would have ensued without copious amounts of alcohol being involved.

Art wise I took in a few galleries in Chelsea, the standout one being Brazilian artist Adriana Varej√£o's exhibition at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery

"O Iluminado"(The Shining) seen above, was the focal point of the exhibition, monopolising over 5 metres of horizontal wall space. The use of light in the image doesn't really translate on the web but I was transfixed for a long time, tilting my head back and forth in wonder at the way it was so beautifully captured. I found the image stunning and the sense of depth and space so lightly conveyed was a delight to behold. As someone continually concerned with colour use the limited colour palette on show throughout the whole exhibition was interesting to me, as it brilliantly accentuated the stillness of each piece whilst also bringing a vitality and life to the space. A great show to experience first hand.

On Friday I left behind Manhattan and joined a throng of New Yorkers enjoying a day off to take the ten minute ferry over to Governors Island, the ex-military base of the US Army and later the Coastguard. The island was closed in 1996, but in 2003 most of the Island was sold to the people of New York and the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation oversees the majority and is tasked with redeveloping and preserving the island.

I had a great time exploring the island, it was a veritable treasure trove of textures with a great deal of the buildings being in a state of disrepair so I was in my element snapping away and capturing doorways, windows and gates. I had initially intended to hire a bike as part of free bike friday provided by Bike and Roll but in the end I followed the walking tour and enjoyed a investigative wander across the island. I found the experience fascinating, the whole place had an eerie feel to it (despite the crowds) and it would make the perfect setting for a horror film. There is a real sense of isolation even with the proximity of Manhattan and Brooklyn and the absence of traffic means the ensuing stillness takes on a mysterious quality when coupled with the desolate buildings. Brilliant!

4th July pictures to come soon...

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