The Birth of 1@111 and the Rebirth of the New York Art Salon

Last night, I attended the launch of 1@111, a Manhattan-based art salon, hosted in an apartment setting by salonnières Madeline Djerejian and Rachel Gugelberger. The inaugural presenters were Berlin-based curator Berit Fischer and Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art Contemporain artistic director Kevin Muhlen, who together presented to a small group (over wine and cheese, and incredible homemade edamame dip) their upcoming project "Hlysnan: On the Notion and Politics of Listening."

The invitees included Nathalie Anglès, co-founder and executive director of Residency Unlimited; Mark Tribe, artist, founder of Rhizome and newly-appointed chair of MFA Fine Arts at SVA; and Lauren Rosati, co-curator at ((audience)) and curatorial assistant of modern and contemporary art at the National Academy Museum. If the event is indicative of the quality of the recent salon-type gatherings that have been cropping up around the city, the New York art scene is getting richer, more dynamic and whole lot more intimate. (Please pass the marcona almonds.) 

Several of these small alternative events have recently emerged, offering not only a fresh and more convivial way to experience art and exchange ideas, but also a welcome respite from the weekly grind of gallery openings, art fairs, lectures, panel discussions and open studios (not to mention the art market blah blah blah)—all of which gets extremely exhausting. (No wonder Douglas Kelly couldn’t keep up with the very valuable DKS List.)

Some salons are itinerant, with no fixed address. Some meet at bars. Some are invite-only. Some are only by appointment. And while they involve people working in the "approved arts system" in some capacity (Djerejian served as a visiting artist fellow at Newport School of Art Media and Design in Wales; Gugelberger has curated exhibitions at Ballroom Marfa, Exit Art and Artspace New Haven), these new spaces operate outside of the institutional purview.

At last night’s gathering, Fischer and Muhlen treated the assembled guests to something unique: a glimpse inside the curatorial process, which for them is currently a work-in-progress. (Their exhibition opens in May 2014.) Though most of the work is lined up—confirmed artists include Lawrence Abu Hamdan (UK), Daniela Brahm & Les Schliesser (Germany), Clare Gasson (UK), Udo Noll (Germany), Emeka Ogboh (Nigeria), Yoko Ono (US), Susan Schuppli (UK) and Christine Sullivan & Rob Flint (UK)—they are still booking studio visits and figuring out at least one fundamental structural element: what kind of seating, if any, to include in the exhibition.

According to the 1@111 website, the exhibition "emphasizes the conscious act of listening as opposed to that of hearing, or passively perceiving sound." And since there will be a lot of listening, the practical issue of seating poses a challenge. But whether you use folding chairs or make them a part of the overall visual design is just one small aspect of the overarching challenge: How does one present an exhibition about listening—and the representational space of sound—without resorting to visual imagery or the musical references associated with sound art projects?

These types of thorny conceptual questions are par for the course for curators, but for the rest of us, hearing them and, more importantly, being able to give them our own opinions on the matter, is truly a rare occurrence. Indeed, the guests were engaged in a way that they probably wouldn’t be if it had been merely a lecture about a show that was already in the can. It ended up being what I had perceived an art salon to be: dynamic, somewhat unscripted, conversational and most importantly, thought-provoking in ways that the "normal" art institutional infrastructure just can’t deliver.

 

Of course, salons have a long history, going back at least to the 17th-century Iberian and Latin American tertulia, which brought together a small group of intellectuals for informal discussions about the literary and artistic issues of the day. In the late 18th century, Benjamin Franklin made waves when he attended the decadent grand salons of Paris while serving as the French ambassador. In Germany in the latter half of the 19th century, the Stammtisch (literally, "regulars’ table") was a popular form of unstructured group meeting meant to discuss politics and philosophy, perhaps over a game of skat.

In the early 20th century, the modern New York salon emerged, notably with a salon hosted at the home of Mary Cadwalader Jones on East 11th Street. Jones, who was Edith Wharton‘s sister-in-law and known nationally for her advocacy of nurses, brought together several of the leading artists and intellectuals of the time, such as the writer Henry James, the painter John Singer Sargent and the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

In a 2009 article in Artillery magazine, Los Angeles-based artist Anne Martens reported on domestic art salons cropping up in her neck of the woods:

"’Domestic’ means humanness, and relates to the word ‘interiority.’ That’s intriguing when you think about it, because exhibiting art is such a public thing. I’ve often wondered how people hosting art shows from their homes balance privacy with inviting the spotlight. It looks as though it could be fun, like throwing a party, but it also seems potentially intrusive, not to mention lots of work. Lately, I’ve become obsessed with these spaces. Maybe it’s the thrill of standing on the doorstep of a total stranger’s house, wondering what there is to discover beyond the threshold. Or maybe it’s the built-in comfort when visiting a domestic space I’ve already been to, like hanging out with a good friend who also loves art. Pets, family members, house plants, privacy signs, personal decor—it all adds up to a subjective context opposite the hermetic air of a typical gallery. There’s an irresistible ambience to domestic settings that belie serious intent."

Martens may want to book a trip to New York if she hasn’t done so lately to check out a new crop of intimate art gatherings. In addition to 1@111, there’s The Canal Series, an "occasional evening at Canal and West Broadway" organized by curator Summer Guthery (in April, she presented a short film and a reading "with drinks and discussion," bien sur).

Across the river, there’s Bunker259, an appointment-only space that presents a single artwork in conjunction with a text, meant to provide artists and writers with "a platform and outlet for collaboration." Their website notes that "the purpose of the appointment is to foster an intimate and focused viewing experience." And of course, "light refreshments will always be served."

Ad Hoc Vox is a not-for-profit started by Colleen Asper and Jennifer Dud­ley and envisioned as an "ongo­ing series of dis­cus­sions and events with­out a fixed loca­tion that addresses a wide range of issues in con­tem­po­rary art." Their last event—an "evening of films and discussions" at 16 Beaver Group in the Financial District—looked at "cin­ema as a spring­board to col­lec­tively rede­fine the mean­ings and tac­tics of strike in response to the inter­na­tional call for a Gen­eral Strike on May 1st[2012], which in New York has also been named A Day With­out the 99%."

And then there’s the nebulous #ArtSalonSunday, which recently rounded up Lisa Schroeder, founder of Schroeder Romero, and Todd Florio, the digital communications director of Creative Time, among others, at Big Bar in the East Village.

But of these alternative gatherings, only 1@111 is hosted in a domestic setting. I have a feeling that there will be more to come in New York. We experience art in a personal way. What could be more personal than experiencing it where we live?

Jonathan Jones, who covers art for The Guardian, recently asserted that New York is "still the capital of art world cool." Citing a "mix of high and low coming out of New York [that] recalls the city’s energy in the 1980s…or the 1960s," Jones, a 2009 Turner Prize juror, declared, "The greatest art of the modern world belongs to New York. The art of this century is finding its way home."

As 1@111 so warmly proved last night, home is where the art is.

Bronx Bomber: Thomas Hirschhorn’s ‘Gramsci Monument’

For his final work in a series of projects dedicated to his favorite philosophers, Thomas Hirschhorn erected a monument in honor of Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci right in the middle of a housing project in the Bronx. Produced by Dia Art Foundation with major support from the Andy Warhol Foundation, "Gramsci Monument" was a sprawling public space work which included academic seminars, poetry readings, workshops and a daily newspaper. It drew together communities which rarely interact and sparked serious conversations about race, power and capitalism—as well as criticism from both sides of the socioeconomic aisle.

Hirschhorn’s previous temporary monuments were erected to honor Baruch Spinoza in Amsterdam, Gilles Deleuze in Avignon, France, and Georges Bataille in Kassel, Germany.

Gramsci is famous for his Prison Notebooks, a series of more than 30 notebooks that he penned while imprisoned by Benito Mussolini‘s Fascist regime in 1926. The writings detail Italian history and nationalism filtered through Gramsci’s reading of Marxist theory; specifically, his concept of "cultural hegemony" as a strategy used by the power elite to maintain the capitalist state.

Raised some four or five feet above ground level, with multiple ramps and stairs as access points, Hirschhorn’s "Gramsci Monument" buzzed like a small self-sufficient community, complete with an art workshop for kids staffed by volunteer teachers; a print shop that printed daily Gramsci Monument newspapers; a library of books on and by Gramsci, Italy and Marxist theory; a gallery that included photographs, belongings (hair brush, prison shoes) and various ephemera from Gramsci’s life; an online computer study center (two kids were listening to music on SoundCloud.com when we were there); an outdoor theater space for lectures and poetry readings; and even a comfortable place to eat (fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and non-alcoholic beverages were served at the outdoor bar).

The structure had a solid feeling, if temporary, and had all the hallmark sensibilities of an immersive Hirschhorn experience: an expansive installation constructed out of everyday materials like plywood, cardboard, duct tape and aluminum foil. Built in the middle of a field at the Forest Houses low-income housing complex in the Bronx, the work brought the art world cognoscenti to a neighborhood that they would probably never have experienced. Some of the criticism was directed at the art-industrial complex. One friend commented on the "contemporary art colonialism" of the work, while another saw one systemic lesson: It’s pretty easy to introduce positive change. Last Saturday, as people engaged in political-theoretical debate following the final Gramsci Lecture, delivered by Frank B. Wilderson III, children were making art and getting time on the computer. Not bad for a temporary "monument."

Was the work a success? Considering Hirschhorn’s stated goals of the project—establish a new term of monument, provoke encounters, create an event and "think Gramsci today"—it’s mission accomplished. To paraphrase the refrain from Field of Dreams: He built it, they came.

BlackBook dropped by "Gramsci Monument" on Saturday. Check out the video below to get a glimpse of the installation and some of the final Gramsci Lecture, delivered by Frank B. Wilderson, professor of Drama and African American studies at the University of California, Irvine.

Robert Montgomery on Poetry, Berlin and Why He Loves John Ashbery

Looking at the work of London-based artist Robert Montgomery, it’s clear that while he may be connected to his YBA predecessors, he’s part of the conceptual text-based tradition of such artists as Jenny Holzer and Lawrence Weiner. But a closer look at the textual content of his work uncovers an elegant and insightful wordsmith behind the bold visual artist. Montgomery certainly has a way with words. According to the press release of his recently opened solo exhibition at New York’s C24 Gallery, "scores of people across Europe and America…have used his texts as the basis for tattoos."

The exhibition includes texts from billboards that appeared on the streets of Berlin, London and Paris alongside major new neon works, which together reveal the 41-year-old Scottish artist’s canny use of verse to explore the consumerist strategies of modern-day advertising. Finding inspiration in the Situationist International movement of the 1960s, he offers his own twist on Guy Debord‘s concept of "the spectacle," which the French Marxist theorist generally defined as the mass media—"its most glaring superficial manifestation."

Matilda Battersby, online arts editor for The Independent, described Montgomery as "an artist who sneaks around London plastering verses of poetry over advertising" in an article about a new movement called "brandalism." But there was no sneaking around last Thursday evening at the artist’s packed opening at C24 Gallery. BlackBook dropped by to take a look and had a chance to ask Montgomery about his work. Check out the video below to get a glimpse of the exhibition opening reception, some of the work in the show and a short interview with the artist, including an impromptu recitation of Montgomery’s favorite poem—John Ashbery’s "So Many Lives"—which he recited from memory.

Montgomery’s solo exhibition—his first in New York—is open to the public through October 19, 2013, at C24 Gallery, 514 West 24th Street, New York. For more information, click here.

image: Robert Montgomery, "The People You Love," 2013 (oak, polymer, 12 volt LED lights, 69 x 72 in.)

Ten Reasons AMC Shouldn’t Cancel ‘The Killing’

AMC has announced that it is canceling The Killing, a gritty police procedural based on the Danish television series Forbrydelsen (literally, "The Crime") and starring Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman as Seattle detectives Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder. This is not good.

Simply put, it’s the best crime drama I’ve seen on TV in a long while. (I loved the dark and existential Parisienne policier Spiral, but that was released in the U.S. by Netflix—thankfully—last fall.

"We have made the difficult decision not to move forward with a fourth season of ‘The Killing,’" the network said in a statement. "We want to thank our great partners at Fox Television Studios, creator Veena Sud, an extraordinary cast and the dedicated fans who watched."

One viewer used the comments section on the New York Times article reporting on the cancellation to write a little note to the station: "To AMC: your audience is too important to alienate. You’ve cancelled excellent show after excellent show while leaving "Walking/Talking Dead" on and cutting seasons up into small pieces so you can make more money." Clearly we need more zombies.

I’ve seen every gray, rain-soaked episode and I am bummed—as I think are many of the 1.5 million viewers of the Season 3 finale.

Here are ten reasons that AMC shouldn’t cancel The Killing.

1. There’s a refreshing lack of violence and jump cuts.

In a world where we have been desensitized to violence and given a steady diet of quick-cut shootouts and chase scenes, it’s refreshing to experience a slow-paced crime drama that focuses on little things like narrative and character development—and not the blood splatter, gunshots and screeching tires.

2. The suspense.

One of The Killing‘s best attributes is that it’s extremely hard to guess the killer. But perhaps the grinding suspense was part of its downfall. The show "has been plagued since the end of its at first critically acclaimed initial season by declining ratings and a mutiny by once-supportive critics and fans when its central mystery—the grisly murder of young Rosie Larsen—was left unsolved until Season 2," writes Greg Braxton of The Los Angeles Times. But it’s exactly the long, drawn-out suspense that made it so compelling.

3. Mireille Enos.

Experiencing Enos’ steely embodiment of the single-minded and emotionally withdrawn detective Sarah Linden was nothing short of a revelation. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter praised her trailblazing performance: "It’s not until you watch Enos play Sarah for a while that it sinks in—there hasn’t been a female American character like her probably ever."

4. It’s a new art form.

Mireille Enos may look eerily like Helga in the famous "Helga Pictures" by painter Andrew Wyeth, but there’s much more visual artistry to the show than just a pale, blank-faced redhead in turtleneck sweaters. Newsday‘s Verne Gay spoke about the third season as an art form: "Everything fans loved about it the first season is back. The rain, the gloom, the pervasive sense of doom…The colors, or lack of them—the ALMOST reds and greens, smudged by deep shades of gray and brown…you start to think this isn’t a TV show so much as the palette of a seriously depressed artist."

5. Joel Kinnaman.

The rangy Swedish-American actor (who stars in the upcoming Robocop remake) seems as comfortable inhabiting the wise-cracking, street smart, recovering addict detective Stephen Holder as his character does in his XXL hoodies. And the chemistry he has with Enos is riveting. One New York Times commenter wrote, "I’d like to see them resurrect the series with just Holder & Linden but doing something else, maybe opening a pet store together. They were the reasons I tuned in."

6. Vegetarianism.

Holder is not only the show’s fearless tough guy, he’s a committed vegetarian ("I don’t eat meat, bitch!" he barks in one episode). It’s an unusual character trait that crops up throughout the series, like when he’s munching on a veggie burger while on a stakeout. Though I seem to recall him eating a fish sandwich, so perhaps he’s a "pescatarian." Either way, it’s different—and cool. UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, who has urged the world to eat less meat to save the environment, would be pleased.

7. Seattle.

From its rain-slicked streets to its fog-steeped forests, the Seattle of The Killing is a perfect setting for solving grisly murders. It’s like an urban version of the creepy moors from The Hound of the Baskervilles. Plus, the only other current television show that is set in the Emerald City is Grey’s Anatomy, which is a snoozefest at best. Aqua Teen Hunger Force was recently set in Seattle, but for its current season, moved to Chicago. And that doesn’t really count, since it’s a cartoon.

8. Depth.

One of the most interesting factors about The Killing was that it took 20 episodes to cover one single case. Yeah, I know it’s kind of crazy, but that’s the kind of depth you just don’t get on regular American TV dramas, which are "chickletized" for short attention spans—and heaps of commercial breaks. The show was a standout in this sense, and it’s a pity that more Americans didn’t tune in, since it could’ve helped, in a small way, combat our collective ADHD. Now where was I? Oh right…Number 9…

9. Veena Sud

The show was developed by the incredibly talented Canadian-born Filipino-Indian-American television writer, director and producer Veena Sud, who served as a writer and executive producer (and cut her teeth as a writer, story editor and executive producer for the TV crime drama Cold Case). With The Killing—which earned her nominations for both an Emmy and a Writers Guild of America award—the multi-talented, multi-hyphenated Sud has established herself as a sort of lone wolf in the forest of American TV crime drama. Paramount Pictures announced that she is writing a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1941 thriller, Suspicion. Sounds juicy. She’s one to watch.

10. There’s little else like it.

Homegrown American crime dramas just aren’t as good as their brethren born across the Atlantic—unless you want to go back to NYPD Blue or Hill Street Blues. From the French Spiral to the Danish-based The Killing to the British-based Low Winter Sun (which premiered last month on AMC), the European-style policiers are…how shall I say…killin’ it.

So there you have it, 10 reasons AMC shouldn’t cancel The Killing. It’s sad to see such an excellent American version of a remarkable European import be taken off the slate. I don’t care who killed Rosie Larsen anymore. I’m more concerned that the studio heads who killed The Killing are getting away with it. Who knows Maybe Netflix will pick it up. But for now, I’m going eat a veggie burger and watch the latest episode of (let’s see what’s on)…Rizzoli & Isles?! Sigh.

 

Say ‘Hej’ to the Happiest Country in the World

The UN has released their 2013 Happiness Report, the second of its kind, surveying 156 nations. And the world’s happiest country is…

…Denmark! The tiny country of 5.6 million people (less than three quarters the size of New York CIty) snagged the top title for the second year in a row. And as 60 Minutes‘ Morley Safer reported several years ago, the nation has for the past three decades "in survey after survey…consistently beat the rest of the world in the happiness stakes."

Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden round out the Top 5. The United States comes in at 17, behind Mexico and Panama, but beating the United Kingdom by five spots. And coming in last place is Togo.

According to the "Official Website of Denmark": "Back in 1973, the European Commission decided to set up a ‘Eurobarometer’ to find out about issues affecting its citizens. Since then member states have been surveyed about well-being and happiness. Amazingly Denmark has topped the table every year since 1973."

How do they do it? Why are the Danes so darn happy? Is it because they grow up on a steady diet of herring and Hans Christian Andersen? It’s not constantly making whoopie—they’re not in the Top 10 Sexually Satisfied Countries in the World.

Maybe there’s a clue in the welcome message on Denmark’s official site: "Explore the universe of Denmark.dk. The fast track to facts, articles and news about the Danish society." One of the main images in rotation on the site is a picture of people partying in the streets of Copenhagen. One crazy Dane is even bodysurfing.

The description for USA.gov, the official site of the United States, is downright depressing in comparison:

"Official web portal contains comprehensive information on government resources, services and forms for citizens, businesses and government." And it looks like an out-of-the-box site created in 1992.

Could the difference boil down to how elected officials perceive their own country? Or maybe Danes elect happy people and Americans elect…government agents. The Danish site zeroes in on "exploration" and "society," while the American site focuses on "forms" and "government." One is social and exploratory, offering a "universe." The other invites you to wait in line at the DMV.

But making it a beauty contest of websites is exactly something a dumb American like me would do. From Miss America to American Idol to Judge Judy, we are a society that puts an undo emphasis on evaluating others, while rarely taking a long hard look in the mirror. It’s a supremely anti-social and anti-exploratory attitude—the exact opposite of the one our exploratory and socially-inclined Danish friends have. Perhaps that’s where a lot of American discontent is brewed: the grass is always greener, keeping up with the Joneses and all that concern with everyone else’s reality. Not so in Denmark.

“The great thing about Danish society is that it doesn’t judge other people’s lives," says Christian Bjørnskov, an economic professor at Aarhus Business School and expert on the topic of happiness. "It allows them to choose the kind of life they want to live, which is sometimes not always possible in other countries, so this helps add to the overall satisfaction of people living here."

What he neglected to mention was that it’s also about choosing the kind of beer they want to drink. And the primary social lubricant is the perfectly balanced and complex pale gold lager, Carlsberg, which has been the nation’s most popular beer since it was first brewed in 1847. Germany, Belgium and England may be known for their world-class brews, but it was Danish mycologist Emil Christian Hansen who originally described the yeast that is used to produce lagers. And since he was working for the Carlsberg brewery at the time, the yeast was named Saccharomyces carlsbergensis. I experienced first Carlsberg in Copenhagen, and it immediately became one of my favorite beers. It’s also a common sight in bars and cafes across France, where it first arrived in 1945.

But before you book a ticket to the fabled City of Spires so you can wash down some fresh herring with a cold one (sitting by the statue of the Little Mermaid, of course), keep in mind that while you will likely get a dopamine boost as a traveler to Denmark, a good part of Danish happiness comes from the fact that Danes enjoy free college education, free emergency hospitalization and free basic healthcare. It’s the kind of satisfying policy that makes some Americans green with envy.

Sure, Denmark may be pretty swell these days. But it wasn’t always so. After all, Hamlet was a Dane.

Watch a TED Talk in which sociologist Emilia van Hauen asks and answers these questions: Why are Danes the happiest people in the world? What could other countries teach us about happiness? And why is the happy life not the same as the perfect life?

image: Denmark.dk

James Shaw: Experimental Design Gunslinger

A gun that shoots liquid metal may seem like something out of Iron Man, but it’s actually one piece of an impressive artistic arsenal recently unveiled by experimental furniture designer James Shaw at London’s Royal College of Art.

In addition to the metal-shooting gun, which emits a stream of molten malleable pewter, Shaw has created a gun that shoots papier-mâché and a third that extrudes plastic. All three "weapons of design" were presented to the public by Shaw as part of the 2013 Royal College of Art graduate exhibition in London. The project was the result of Shaw’s research into radical furniture design and inspired by an essay by Glasgow-based artist and author Jonathan Meuli.

Using these innovative design tools, Shaw has produced a variety of strange and utilitarian objects, such as a papier-mâché lamp and a "pewter squirt" table. The objects look functional, but also otherworldly. And it takes a totally different approach to design. "In work like his," notes Monica Khemsurov of Sight Unseen, "it’s about the journey, not just the destination."

“It discusses the pervading perception of artists, craftspeople and designers as these lone heroic figures,” Shaw told Luxury in Progress. “They struggle away for some spark of originality, for creative territory or simply for survival. It inspired me to create an arsenal of ‘weapons’ with which to equip myself for leaving the Royal College.”

"I have produced a set of weapons (guns of course) to become my arsenal, with these I will fight the fight," said Shaw, a graduate of RCA’s Design Products program in his artist statement.

"We are all fighting for creative territory, for novelty, for some spark of newness. We are fighting banality and the oppression of massive systems within which we are complicit and sometimes complacent. Each gun is an innovation in itself, and each gun shall be capable of producing further innovation. These guns are tools for making, for making images of possible new worlds."

"Often (power) ‘tools’’ seem to fall into the form of guns, think nail gun, spray gun, glue gun, tape gun, tufting gun even the handheld drill has a definite gun-like nature," he says. "This bears an interesting relation to the way in which making is about the human dominance over natural resources and obtaining mastery over materials, but also the notion of a gun fits into this received idea of the heroic nature of the artist in a cowboy gunslinger way."

As any tool-wielders worth their weight in smooth shank stainless steel nails knows, it’s not the tool, it’s how you use it. But it’s also true that a creative vision can best be expressed with the right tools to begin with. As Shaw has proven with his innovative new design "guns," sometimes, to build a different kind of house, you need a different kind of hammer.

Try a Little Tenderness on Otis Redding, Jr.’s Birthday

Born today in 1941, the late, great Otis Ray Redding, Jr., may have been from Dawson, Georgia, but his name will forever be connected with Memphis, Tennessee. It was there where the singer, songwriter, talent scout, record producer and arranger crafted the music that would define the legendary Stax Records sound and launch him into international stardom as one of the most influential soul artists of the 1960s.

Redding is probably most known for his monster hit, "(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay," which became the first posthumous Number One record on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. It was the lead-off track from his posthumously released 1968 LP, The Dock of the Bay, which became the first posthumous album to hit Number One on the UK albums chart.

Tragically, Redding died in a plane crash in 1967 at the age of 26. Later, James Brown claimed in his autobiography, The Godfather of Soul, that he warned Redding not to take that ill-fated flight, which took off, despite warnings, in heavy rain and fog. The only survivor of the crash was Bar-Kays member Ben Cauley.

Take a moment to remember the man known as "The King of Soul" and enjoy this video of his performance of his signature track "Try a Little Tenderness," originally written in 1932 by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly and Harry M. Woods and previously covered by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Redding died just a day after this performance. He would have been 72 today.

"If there’s one song, one performance that really sort of sums up Otis and what he’s about, it’s ‘Try a Little Tenderness,’" said Stax co-founder Jim Stewart. "That one performance is so special and so unique that it expresses who he is."

Elizabeth Peyton: What I’m Listening To

Elizabeth Peyton’s rise to fame was partly propelled by her energetic, painterly portraits of rock stars like David Bowie, Jarvis Cocker, Pete Doherty, Kurt Cobain and Keith Richards. But after speaking to Peyton at Bookmarc last night during the book signing for her new collection of photographs, Here She Comes Now, it’s clear she doesn’t find her muse in musicians so much as in music. And you’ll never guess what she’s listening to these days.

"I’m excited that it’s all about music, which is my biggest passion," said the native of Danbury, Connecticut, who splits her time between Long Island and Berlin, in between signing copies of the 112-page book published in July by German art press Walther König.

Edited by Peyton and Danish curator Johan Holten, and featuring texts by Holten and Vogue magazine contributing editor Dodie Kazanjian, Here She Comes Now reveals the stylistic breadth of Peyton’s musical passion, bringing together her well-known rock star portraits with depictions of opera singers like Jessye Norman, Jonas Kaufmann and Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld captured in the midst of a live performance.

Recently, on a friend’s recommendation, she’s been listening to Jackson C. Frank, the late American folk musician who never rose to fame during his hard-knock life, but whose songs have been covered by Nick Drake, Simon and Garfunkel, Fairport Convention and Counting Crows, to name a few.

She’s also listening to Russian opera, and in particular, Prince Igor, a four-act opera about the military campaign of the eponymous Russian prince against tribal invaders in the year 1185. It was left unfinished by 19th-century Romantic composer Alexander Borodin and later completed by his contemporaries Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov.

Peyton’s recent and esoteric music listening choices are a far cry from Babyshambles. They reveal the kind of sprawling curiosity befitting an artist who, according to New York Times art critic Robert Smith, "helped open the floodgates to the painterly, outsiderish, illustrational, art-smart figurative styles that by now has become a crowded genre."

Listen to Frank’s "Milk and Honey," which appeared on the soundtrack to Vincent Gallo’s 2003 art house film, The Brown Bunny. And watch an orchestral and choral performance of "Polovtsian Dances" from Borodin’s Prince Igor, conducted by Valery Gergiev.

 

 

 

Photo of Elizabeth Peyton by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin

Post-War Dreamer Roger Waters Turns 70

Roger Waters turns 70 today. So take a moment to enjoy some of the music from the man who penned lyrics for five of Pink Floyd’s concept albums: Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977), The Wall (1979) and The Final Cut (1983).

In September 2010, Waters began "The Wall Live" world tour, which concludes in Paris on September 21 after being performed a remarkable 219 times—and making a case for 70 being the new 30.

But there is much more to Pink Floyd’s conceptual torchbearer than music that has moved millions (both people and units: the band has sold more than quarter of a billion albums worldwide, and the bassist from Great Bookham has an estimated net worth of $139 million, according to the 2009 The Sunday Times list).

In addition to being a high-ranking member of the rock-n-roll pantheon of deities, Waters has spent much of his time as an activist, raising money for the tsunami victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, raising awareness of extreme poverty and malaria as a spokesman of the non-profit Millennium Promise and leading Stand Up for Heroes, a 2012 benefit for American veterans. (Waters discussed his charitable work when he appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in January.)

Watch David Gilmour’s very special appearance joining Waters at "The Wall" concert at London’s O2 in May, 2011, to perform Pink Floyd’s 1979 hit, "Comfortably Numb." The song was ranked number 314 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.