a tale of a few cities

Chilling Moments in Occupy Movement’s ‘Day of Action’

Posted in Crisis, New York City, Occupy Wall Street, Photography, pictures, portraits, Reportage, surrealism by petercombe on November 18, 2011
Photograph: Randy L. Rasmussen/AP

A police officer uses pepper spray on an Occupy Portland protester at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Oregon. 

Photograph: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Brendan Watts is seen with blood on his face while surrounded by three police officers in Zuccotti Park, New York. 

Makes me think about something Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last year – “We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters and we call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain the security forces.”

 The Guardian >

Christo, Over the River

Christo, moments after I asked whether anybody had ever called him the first wrap artist. Tate Britain, 14.09.2011

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Christo, Over the River (Project for Arkansas River, State of Colorado), Drawing 2010 in two parts, 15 x 96″ and 42 x 96″ (38 x 244 cm and 106.6 x 244 cm), Pencil, pastel, charcoal, wax crayon, enamel paint, wash, fabric sample, hand-drawn topographic map and technical data (Photo: André Grossmann) © 2010 Christo

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Federal regulators on Monday approved a $50 million installation of anchored fabric over the Arkansas River in southern Colorado by the artist Christo, whose larger-than-life vision has divided environmentalists, residents and politicians for years over questions of aesthetics, nature and economic impact.

The project, “Over the River,” will include eight suspended panel segments totaling 5.9 miles along a 42-mile stretch of the river, about three hours southwest of Denver. Construction could begin next year, pending final local approvals, with the goal being a two-week display of the work as early as August 2014.

Christo’s projects — from the wrapping of the Reichstag Parliament building in Berlin in 1995 to “The Gates,” a meandering path of orange awnings through Central Park in New York in 2005 — have often generated heated debate in advance of their creation.

“We are elated,” Christo said. “Every artist in the world likes his or her work to make people think. Imagine how many people were thinking, how many professionals were thinking and writing in preparing that environmental impact statement.” [NYTimes]

This past September, Christo gave a rare talk in London about two works in progress, Over the River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado and The Mastaba, Project for the United Arab Emirates. He talked about the concepts behind these two artworks, and the significant process of production and realisation when working on large-scale environmental artworks. I was lucky enough to be sitting in the 2nd row center, it just so happened that he sat directly in front of me narrating while slides of his projects were projected on stage. He spoke much about the Over the River project but I was most intrigued by The Mastaba project (a monumental artwork, set in the Abu Dhabi desert, to be made of approximately 410,000 horizontally stacked oil barrels). I had always thought The Mastaba had been abandoned so was delighted to hear that it is an artwork still in preparatory stages.

During question time I asked how one might volunteer to work on one of his projects (48:55). He immediately pointed out that everybody working on his projects is paid since you could not fire volunteers. Jeanne-Claude (his now deceased wife), made sure that laboring help was paid 25% above minimum wage. I was amazed at Christo’s energy and level of enthusiasm, being that he is 76 years old.

Artist’s Talk: Christo, Tate Britain, Wednesday 14 September 2011
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New Museum Celebrates Marriage Equality on Facebook

Posted in I♥NY, New Museum, New York City, Peter Combe Design, Photography by petercombe on June 27, 2011

The New Museum celebrates New York’s marriage equality with my mug!! (at left)

New York Allows Same-Sex Marriage, Becoming Largest State to Pass Law

Posted in marriage, New York City, new york times, prop 8, Twitter by petercombe on June 24, 2011

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State lawmakers voted late this evening to legalize same-sex marriage, making New York the largest state where gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed and giving the national gay-rights movement new momentum from the state where it was born. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the bill into law.

The marriage bill, whose fate was uncertain until moments before the vote, was approved, 33 to 29, in a packed but hushed Senate chamber.

Senate approval was the final hurdle for the same-sex marriage legislation, which was approved last week by the Assembly. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the measure at 11:55 p.m., and the law will go into effect in 30 days, meaning that same-sex couples could begin marrying in New York by late July.

New York City celebrated.

A huge precedent has been set and I’m sure quite a few politicians’ knickers are in a knot about the signing of the equal marriage legislation.

Lost Bohemia

Posted in appropriation, architecture, Art, Interiors, New York City, Photography by petercombe on May 20, 2011

(Photo: Josef Astor)

Lost Bohemia,” a new documentary by Josef Astor, is a sad and spirited elegy for the Carnegie Hall Studios, which for more than a century provided working, living and teaching space for all kinds of artists on the floors above the famous concert hall. Mr. Astor, a photographer who moved into the building in 1985, pays tribute to his neighbors and friends who made up the last generation of studio residents. He also acknowledges the famous ghosts who haunt the place, ranging from Isadora Duncan and Enrico Caruso to Marilyn Monroe and Martha Graham.

Astor, who’d been in his skylighted space since 1985, was once surrounded by hundreds of creative neighbors—painters and dancers, photographers and composers—who lived and worked in 170 studios built directly above the grand midtown concert hall. The studios are in the process of being gutted and remodeled by the Carnegie Hall Corporation (the building is owned by the city, but the corporation is its primary tenant). According to a CHC spokeswoman, the spaces will be converted to “educational facilities” for young musicians.

When Andrew Carnegie built the Towers over the Hall—the project was completed in 1896—he intended for the studios to be occupied by working artists. It wasn’t cultural altruism—the rents were a source of revenue. But architect Henry J. Hardenbergh (who also did the Dakota and the Plaza Hotel) designed the apartments as studios, with high ceilings and north-facing skylights. The roster of names who lived and worked there is stellar: Isadora Duncan, Agnes de Mille, Garson Kanin, Marlon Brando, Leonard Bernstein.


Editta Sherman is known as the Duchess of Carnegie Hall. The sprightly 98-year-old had lived in her twelfth-floor studio since 1949. She raised five children while working as a successful photographer of the cultural elite. Dramatic black-and-white examples from her collection of 2,500 portraits were displayed against the mirrored walls and bold checkered floor: Henry Fonda, Mary Martin, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. A cast-iron circular staircase led to a loft filled with studio props. Photographer and past fellow resident Bill Cunningham enlisted Sherman as his model and muse for his 1978 book Facades, which fuses fashion and architecture photography.

The corporation promised to find comparable apartments for the seven rent-controlled tenants still living in the Towers, and to pay the difference in rent for the remainder of each tenant’s life, but the 26 non-rent-controlled commercial and residential tenants—including Astor—had no such guarantee.

The last residents moved out last year, and while “Lost Bohemia” mourns their dispossession, it also allows us to spend time in their eccentric, artistic company and to appreciate their contribution to the life of the city. Among them are Bill Cunningham, the New York Times photographer who is the subject of a marvelous recent documentary, and Don Shirley, a pianist who recalls playing with Duke Ellington “downstairs” — that is, in Carnegie Hall itself.

An anonymous, unseen poet who lived above Mr. Astor and left him eloquent phone messages observed that studios and the hall below, though commissioned by a plutocrat, “were built not on power, but on love.” The power of this documentary resides in that proud and fragile sentiment. Photo below is Astor’s studio after demolition.

Jeremiah’s New York >

The New York Times >

New Museum, I <3 NY

Posted in I♥NY, New Museum, New York City, Peter Combe Design by petercombe on December 17, 2010

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My collaboration with the New Museum, NYC., I ❤ NY Tote & I ❤ NY Mug are now available online at the New Museum Store. All due to a post I left on their Facebook wall.

UPDATE: SOLD-OUT

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