While in New York City I often get a super-size dose of art and music, whether expected and familiar or not. This most recent trip really surprised me. They were all so tantalizing and most of them new discoveries. I’m posting about them and plugging the artists all together in order of my adventure and may mention some of them again at a later date.
Until someone had mentioned it, I didn’t know about the Brooklyn Museum so I was intent on checking it out this time around. Through its permanent collection of artwork and crafts I visited Africa, Asia, and the US and viewed Diego Rivera’s Copalli, several works by Georgia O’Keeffe, and Tiffany stained glass windows and lamps. Thanks to my mum, and trying my hand at it, I’ve formed an appreciation for cutting and soddering glass. Current exhibits I meandered through were Egypt’s Pagan and Coptic Sculpture, the Fertile Goddess, Feminist Art, and the Black List Project, which explores being Black in the US. One neat thing is the visible storage where one can walk through rows of giant cases that house 1,500 pieces organized by medium and type. If one isn’t intent on seeing paintings by Monet or Picasso and the like, then the Brooklyn Museum makes for a good visit, especially at the reasonable suggested donation of $8 for an adult. Established in 1824, the museum is one of the oldest and largest in the United States and resides next to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park Zoo, and Prospect Park, which I wouldn’t mind seeing when things are green again.
Earlier this year I mentioned the then-upcoming release of Catherynne M. Valente’s urban fantasy Palimpsest and its soundtrack, Quartered by SJ Tucker. Well, the gates have recently opened and the launch and release party was a fantastically fun evening of readings, music, guest performances, and then some. It was so enchanting that even the mice decided to grace us with their presence. Their entrance behind Catherynne while she was reading about squirrels, chipmunks, and mice was perfectly timed, and the cause of a fraction of the laughter from that night. Catherynne and SJ will eventually make their way west during the release tour and if their caravan is in your area, I highly suggest seeing them. The New Orleans show will also have Michelle Dockrey from Vixy & Tony, celloist-extraordinaire and SJ’s fellow Tricky Pixie, Betsy Tinney, and a few other special guests. I wonder if fire-spinning will be allowed there.
While we were partying upstairs at the Brooklyn Lyceum, a jazz band was playing in the coffee shop below. If I was local I could see myself going to catch some live jazz a couple nights a week. Their soup and muffins smelled good, too bad I was full from supper. Leave it to me to stumble upon their theatre space- a giant black box.
While wandering in the West Village I found a music store so jam-packed from floor to ceiling with instruments there’s barely any room for customers. With the didgeridoos, harps, sitars, and tribal instruments I don’t even know the name for, I felt like I was in a “touch and make noise” museum. As tempting as it was, I was good and didn’t get anything. I will be perusing Music Inn World Instruments at 169 W. 4th St. another time though. Djembes and taikos and bodhrans, oh my!
To Gibran’s and my surprise, I happened to step onto the subway platform where he was busking. Several months ago, we played some blues and rock together in Union Square Park. Since I didn’t have my drum with me this time, I leaned against a post and listened to some acoustic “ghetto folk” and R&B for a spell. While we were chatting another guitarist who came to say hello said that he’d been shooed away by the cops. Luckily, through the Music Underground New York contest Gibran Soul was one of 23 acts who won a special permit, which was properly displayed in his guitar case. Now that I know how to properly spell his name, I can listen to Gibran from a distance thanks to a video of his acoustic stylings at NYC Sound Tracks and a few recorded songs. I look forward to jamming with him again, when James Bodhran won’t tinnily whine about the cold. He gets so uptight sometimes.
With the weather being more autumnal than wintry, Union Square Park was ringed with paintings, portraits, and crafts for sale. One vendor had signs and t-shirts imprinted with U.S.A, Union Square Artist. As they tend to do, faeries caught my eye. Dolhathai Srijamcharoen paints fae folk from photographs and also sculpts faeries, mermaids, and miniature dolls from polymer clay. One can peruse her little folk and glass and stone jewelry at Littlepooh Gallery.
A friend and I went to see the 3-D Coraline, an animated film based on the nightmarish novella by Neil Gaiman. It’s good, worth seeing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it receives an Academy Award or a Hugo Award next year. Its cast even includes the hilarious Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French as the elderly old biddies next door. Notably, Coraline is the first stop-motion film to be shot in stereoscopic 3D. Henry Silick, who directed the Nightmare Before Christmas, really kept to Neil’s style. I’ve heard from others that it stands up well to his Alice-like fairy tale, which I have yet to read.
Later in the evening, we ended up catching the tail end of Sheryl Bailey at the 55 Bar, which hosts nightly jazz performances. I wouldn’t mind hearing and seeing her on the guitar again. Sheryl and a couple others are doing a live recording of Jimi Hendrix covers this Thursday, of course. I believe it was my first time indoor jazz experience, usually it’s on the street or grass at the Montreal Jazz Festival.
I’m slowly recovering from sensory overload. My little adventure was more art-filled than I could have anticipated, and I reveled in every second. Aside from that, I got to spend time with friends and loved ones, walk a lot, and have ramen that’s almost as good as that from my favorite hometown soba shop. I have no interest in living in New York City or Brooklyn, but I love visiting. Besides, I have yet to find any good Caribbean or Creole food up here.
Since finishing Ungodly Child on the train, I’ve been slowly savoring the taste of Catherynne’s words and imagery called forth in Palimpsest and look forward to enjoying more of her delicacies. Much like a fine wine, SJ’s sultry vocals, subtle tones, and use of electronica and opera for the multi-dimensional Quartered is a fine pairing to the novel from which its inspired. Along with taking her music in a different direction, SJ is also making the album available in an unusual manner. Through April, songs will be uploaded as they are written and recorded. Although unmastered for the time being, they are available to hear and purchase online only. If after the album is purchased and new songs are added, just download the desired additions.
And that they say is that.