Abstract Animation

Yesterday an exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York on the post-war German, and eventually international, network of artists called Zero closed.  I had never heard of the group or most of its members, but it was a great exhibit and an interesting moment in (art) history…

One of the recurring themes for the group and many of its members was movement in art, either literally art with moving parts, or optically, creating the impression of movement.

Vision in Motion / Motion in Vision exhibit at Hessenhuis, Antwerp 1959

Vision in Motion / Motion in Vision exhibit at Hessenhuis, Antwerp 1959

As such, it was interesting that one of the earliest group shows, whose distinctive installation (seen above) the Guggenheim mimicked in part of their own exhibit, was called Vision in Motion – Motion in Vision.  Held in an old industrial building in Antwerp in 1959, it included some moving pieces, proto-op-art pieces implying movement, and one abstract animation by the American Robert Breer.

The Breer piece included in the Guggenheim was Phase Forms IV, from 1959, and the above animation, Eyewash, was from the same year, the earliest piece I could find by him online…  The piece I saw at the Guggenheim, maybe more than this one, reminded me a tiny bit of a better known 1965 semi-abstract animation by that American animation giant, Chuck Jones:

Kindred spirits-ish…

The Late Children Speak

Just a quick post about tomorrow’s New York Comic and Picture-Story Symposium event with Marguerite Van Cook talking about her new multi-generation autobiography The Late Child and Other Animals adapted into comic form by James Romberger.  Beyond the author’s own childhood, the book starts with her mother’s experience living through the Nazi bombing of the UK port city of Portsmouth, and subsequently having two children on her own when her soldier husband dies en route back home.

The Late Child and Other Animals by Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger

The Late Child and Other Animals by Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger

It sounds like an interesting life story and story-story, and the team of Van Cook and Romberger have created some real lovely, trippy art before in 7 Miles a Second, another autobiographical comic created with artist David Wojnarowicz before his AIDS-related death in 1992.  I’ve been planning a separate post about that book for a while, so tomorrow’s event comes at a good time to learn more about Van Cook and Romberger’s collaborative process, and about this exciting new book too!


Kirby PopUp Museum

A Kickstarter-funded temporary pop-up location for the Hoboken-based Jack Kirby Museum is up and running this week at 176 Delancey Street in Manhattan, with exhibits, events, and even a scanner for you to digitize any Kirby art you may happen to own!  It’s up through next Monday, the 11th.

It’s a home-coming for the museum, since Kirby grew up on the Lower East Side himself, later creating an autobiographical comic of his childhood there called Street Code.  The museum has a great post about the history of Street Code, an unique part of his oeuvre as Kirby’s only self-produced autobio story.

Jack Kirby, Street Code spread

Kirby’s Street Code

I remember seeing Street Code at MoCCA’s 2010 Neo-Integrity exhibit, and it’s an amazing alternative account of that moment in the city’s history; a bit jarring because of the superhero-ish qualities of Kirby’s art, but incredibly dynamic and full of details.

The original Kickstarter‘s purpose was to remodel a storefront in the Lower East Side to create a local hub for rotating pop-up events, and the Jack Kirby Museum is their tenant for this week.

Two Boys Live Stream

(Not the porny kind!)

Tonight is the stateside premiere of Nico Muhly‘s Two Boys, commissioned by the Met Opera and given a workshop world premiere at English National Opera.  Tonight’s performance will be live streamed on the Met’s site at 8pm.  Here’s the NYT review of the premiere.

Two Boys at ENO poster

Poster from ENO’s Two Boys premiere

There’s a neat behind-the-scenes article about the development of the piece since ENO.  It also mentions some of the outside-the-box promotion the Met’s been doing (TV spots during Catfish seem appropriate), including an “Ask me Anything” session with Muhly on Reddit!  Strangely engrossing…   He elaborated on some of the questions on his own site too.

PS: “Two Boys One Cup” was definitely a Google autofill suggestion today…

EDITED TO ADD:  Britten‘s final opera, Death in Venice, is streaming until Friday on BBC Radio 3, which I mention here because of Muhly’s self-proclaimed love of Britten’s operas and the centrality of a boy character to each.  Maybe by listening to the two you can play spot-the-influence; I heard some gamelan-like touches are appear in both…

Also, here’s a video from the Met with the most music and footage from the actual opera as I’ve yet seen…  To put some visuals to the disembodied music you’ll hear tonight…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C80eJCaNedY&w=350&h=300]

MoCCA Fest Award Winners

Ghost Hotel by Kim Ku

Ghost Hotel, copyright Kim Ku, 2013 MoCCA Fest Award winner

If you remember as far back as this year’s MoCCA Fest (the first under the new leadership of the Society of Illustrators), you’ll remember one of their new additions was a juried award for exhibitors.  Well, the lucky 7 winners are the subject of a new exhibit at the Society opening today, but partiers-in-the-know will wait for the free reception tomorrow night, from 6 to 10.

I sadly missed some really neat sounding exhibits at the Society in the mad dash that was the end of last semester, so I’m ready to get back in the swing of things… And coincidentally, I know someone in my library science program who knows one of the winners!  So looking forward to blending my library and comic museum worlds in one night…

And since I’ve been slacking on the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month front, here’s Kim Ku, one of this year’s MoCCA Fest Award winners!  As a future librarian, I find this cardigan zine very compelling…

Ghost Cardigan zine by Kim Ku

Ghost Cardigan zine, copyright Kim Ku

It’s also neat to see that her silkscreened books have been collected by the Brooklyn Museum Library and Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library; those are some cool librarians!

Depuis le Library Conference


So I’m going to a conference today about libraries and I’m reading up on the speakers, and oh wait, what’s this, one of them works at the freakin’ Metropolitan Opera Library!!!  Tanisha Mitchell, a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, works as a music librarian in three different NY libraries, and get this, she sings opera too!  That profile on her includes a link to an unlisted YouTube video of her singing “Depuis le Jour” from Gustave Charpentier‘s 1900 opera Louise…  so here’s Leontyne Price performing the same aria at the Hollywood Bowl in 1958:


Oh man, I am going to have to geek out about opera with her…

Speaking of the Met Opera and libraries, here’s the Met Opera Online Database, with archival materials, histories of Met performers, and statistics on house repertory.  Not the most user-friendly interface, but tons of great info laying in wait…  If you want to just jump in and look at pictures, I recommend clicking on “New Photo” on the left sidebar; lots of good jumping off points from there!

After a bit of scrounging around, I did find some information on the Met premiere of Louise, in 1921.  No pictures or designs, sadly, but there is a full-text review by Richard Aldrich of the New York Times:

For the first time Charpentier’s opera of “Louise” was given at the matinee performance at the Metropolitan Opera House yesterday. The audience was very large and full of curiosity and interest to witness a performance in which Mme. Farrar made her first appearance as the wayward heroine, and Messrs. Harrold and Whitehill and Mme. Bérat took the other leading parts. It was apparently pleased with the results and was liberal in its applause.

Geraldine Farrar as Tosca at the Met, 1909

Geraldine Farrar as Tosca at the Met, 1909

Misguided Mercy: The War of Currents and the Electric Chair

I made this!  (That’s my lovely mumblecore voice, even!)

This was a final group project for one of my classes in library science school; pretty nifty no?  You can see three semesters’ worth of these podcasts on the miNY Stories blog, so lots of interesting quickies about New York history to choose from.

Anyway, it’s my last week of the semester, so bear with me as posts are a bit fewer and further between. I’ll be all done after next Monday! Until summer classes start at least…  : P


Chantalle Uzan, Sebastian Moya, Jenny Ferretti, and Leah Castaldi

At the turn of the 19th century, Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and their associates raced to electrify the world. Out of their patent wars, company rivalries, and competing currents, the electric chair was born.

Edison and Westinghouse were fierce rivals, as businessmen and inventors. The meat of their competition lay in the electrical currents used by their companies; Edison Electric Light Company used the Direct Current while Westinghouse Electric Corporation used an Alternating Current.

“All generators produce AC internally. In this basic AC generator, the arms of the loop cut lines of force in opposite directions, causing electromotive force of opposite polarity to be generated in the conductor.”

Edison’s Direct Current was transmitted by expensive, heavy copper wires, which they buried underground. Westinghouse’s method could deliver electricity over greater distances more cheaply, but their wires were kept above ground…

View original post 1,157 more words

Carmine St. Comics

From my old MoCCA friends on Facebook I just learned about today’s grand opening of New York’s newest comic book shop, Carmine Street Comics!  It’s going to be an all-day affair, from 10 to 10, with special guests like writer Brian Wood, artist Declan Shalvey, comics scholar Arlen Schumer, and my friend, cartoonist Mindy Steffen, popping in throughout the day.

I’m not super-familiar with this part of town, so the write-up on the Vanishing New York blog helped contextualize it.  Sounds like it was the old Beat stomping ground, and is just now undergoing some heavy gentrification…  But Carmine Street Comics will be renting space from local landmark Unoppressive, Non-Imperialist Bargain Books, so joining the fight to keep Carmine Street funky (incoming IHOP notwithstanding).

For more information on the opening day festivities, visit their Facebook event page, and mark your calendars for Free Comic Book Day this Saturday, May 4th!

Carousel Reminder

It sure has been primary sources week on Bizarro Twins, huh (guess my library research classes are getting to me).  To remind you about PBS‘s airing of the New York Philharmonic‘s semi-staged performance of Rodgers & Hammerstein‘s Carousel tonight, here are some resources from the NYPL Digital Gallery from the original production on Broadway in 1945.

1945 Carousel cast photo, from NYPL Digital Gallery

Jan Clayton and John Raitt in Carousel, 1945, from NYPL Digital Gallery

As I mentioned last time, NYPL’s Library for the Performing Arts is a predictably amazing resource for Broadway history, and lots of that is on the Digital Gallery.  A search of “Carousel” there brings up cast photos, set designs, playbills, etc., from the original 1945 production and from 1949, 1965, and 1994 revivals too.

Set design for Carousel, 1945 on NYPL Digital Gallery

Set design sketch by Jo Mielziner for Carousel, 1945 on NYPL Digital Gallery

For some wider entry points into NYC Theater history, you can see NYPL’s digitized archival collections of Jo Mielziner, including his set design drawings for plays and musicals, and the Vandamm Studio, for backstage photography of NYC theater from the 1920s to the ’50s.

Happy Birthday Will Eisner!

The creator of The Spirit and a pivotal figure in the development of the American graphic novel, Will Eisner would’ve been 96 today.  (Centennial only four years away!  I have centennial mania this year…)  As the namesake of the most prestigious awards in the comics industry, the Eisners, you get a good feel for his stature in the field.

Will Eisner Week is an annual celebration of his legacy as well as a time to promote comics, literacy, and free speech, and as such is held in association with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.  This year’s theme is “read a graphic novel”, which shouldn’t be too hard for most of us, right?

New York, being Eisner’s hometown, is naturally an epicenter for celebrations, with three events, including…

And of course, there are events elsewhere (tellingly, Portland comes in second place, with two events).  And wherever you are, you can at least do your part by reading a graphic novel!