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Category: essays

07.27.10

For the PEOPLE

One of the latest contributions to New York City’s Public parks truly carries within it the democratic spirit. Designed by Deconstructivist architects Diller +Scofidio, the High Line is akin to the humor and joy of the Park de LaVilette.

And much like Mitterand’s City of Light program for Paris, the High Line exemplifies a Utopian ideal; evident in the re-purposing of dead infrastructure for use as a public park that winds through a dense urbane backdrop.

04.13.10

Spring Light

This  past winter was exceptional for me as I did not retreat into the malaise due to the lack of light.  I happen to love to collect all things.  And one winter evening as i took a visual inventory, I realized lighting happens to be one of “those things”.  I’ve decided to share a few of my personal decorative lighting pieces that carried me through the season of cold dark skies.

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"24 Karat Blau" designed by Axel Schultes for Ingo Maurer

First shown is the 24 Karat Blau hanging lamp. It is a flexible design by Axel Schulte for the famous House of Ingo Maurer, the German lighting studio who for the past three decades has been creating whimsical lighting designs.  Maurer’s designs are even included in the Harry Potter films to decorate and light the Great Hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  The effect created by Maurer’s single-lit dangling candles from silken thread is absolutely ghostly.  Read more…

03.09.10

“ART” can fail when REALITY is more beautiful Part 1

Last week I joined several hundreds of New York City’s art crowd mafia at The Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial opening. As I arrived after 9 pm the atmosphere was still hot and steamy. Unfortunately the heat was not radiating from the majority of the work produced by the artists.  It was the result a climate control system (in one of the city’s most fantastic institutions built by Marcel Breuer  in 1966) desperately in need of an upgrade.

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The Whitney Museum of American Art designed by Marcel Breuer

To imagine the existential courage and vision of patron Gertrude Vanderbilt-Whitney, in pioneering the foundation of an institution to house and pay tribute to the works of American artists, is awe inspiring. I guess that is why I am so confused. Why, during our present American climate, ripe with difficult economic, social and environmental negotiations, is the absence of a deeply emotional connection between the artists and their works so blatant? We are in the midst of battles over territory, struggling the care of tens of thousands of ailing American’s, and dealing with the damage we have caused our living earth. The unflinching apathy, on the part of the artists and curators actually fills me with rage. And perhaps the board of directors of this institution is at fault. If the hands of the curators had not been tied they may have unleashed a demographic of artists who dared to tell the truth, rather than linger in the mall-like safety of the majority of works currently on view. It is sad and even suspect that such a rarefied and privileged  group, made up primarily of young people, find themselves producing banal works, barely transgressing beyond the prismacolor and sharpie markers they once used to doodle flowers.  Yet there is hope.

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"Self-Immoliation: A Cry For Help" by Stephanie Sinclair

Stephanie Sinclair’s photo journalistic project captures images of Afghani women who, in desperate acts of self preservation from their abusers, set themselves on fire. The piece depicts a truth about the terms of living life and its most fundamental act of consciousness, CHOICE . What at first seems graphically disturbing becomes frail and healing at second glance. Sinclair glimpses an ephemeral world. She sees a moment where women are completely present in their body, mind and spirit.  Here the oppressive cultural artifice of male domination over the female body evaporates like smoke.  Nothing more than mere illusion. The artist, acting as medium, extracts herself, in order to reveal a violent  and poetic narrative. creating a monument to these heroes of self.

10.06.09

a walk in istanbul.1 URBANbody

One year ago this week I headed off to Istanbul, almost one year to the date.  This was my first venture into a predominantly Muslim country, here is a bit of my story .

View of the "Old City" from The "Galata" bridge

View of the "Old City" from The "Galata" bridge

Until this time my experience of the rich ancient Islamic culture has been filtered through art and media that converge into the New York City melting pot Mecca.  Words like “sofa” and “bazaar” come to mind.  The movement of a belly dance, and the texture and sweetness of honey cast chewy pistachio candy.

After arriving in Istanbul, the airport was my last vaguely western landmark. Istanbul is full of the most incredible sounds and smells. Melodic prayer and exotic scents emanate from the hundreds of mosques. Read more…

07.27.09

A Blessing Sent From Hephaestus

Cooper Union Blog 8

Photo:Leyden Ynobe Lewis

My friends Willie and Billie and I were heading back to Brooklyn driving south on 3rd Avenue just below St. Marks Place. We were at one of those places where cross sections cut diagonally into the famous gridiron of New York City, a wedge in the urban fabric.

Always difficult to navigate as a pedestrian but a relief from the relentless one and two point perspective streets. The wedge serves as the plot of land (come wafer -thin island) dedicated as the plinth for the “zaftig” 19th century building. Built by Peter Cooper  and home of The Cooper Union For The Advancement Of Science And Art.

Read more…

05.11.09

the beauty uncommon

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Blue Billie 2003, Lyle Ashton Harris-Portrait of the artist as Billie Holiday channeling the state of bliss between life and death. Pigment on paperh: 28 x w: 24 in / h: 71.1 x w: 61 cm Image courtesy of Adamson Gallery/ Adamson Editions

I have always enjoyed demonstrations of the perverse, tragic, sad and explicitly graphic visuals in all forms of art. European culture by way of ancient mythological allegory exemplify these concepts in classical works and are at the core of this modern heritage.

Abstracting terror and the ensuing emotion to the highest level can have  rapturous  value. The tragedy and despair in the love story between Romeo and Juliet just  about  says  it  all.

Queer warped objects and creatures are buried and littered in the work of Salvador Dali. His visions destabilize what we assume about “reality.” The physics of gravity do not limit  the possibilities of new landscapes and cities in his dream world. Narratives referring to the trials of martyrs within religious text can compete with the gore in any of Wes Craven’s horror flicks.

Dali’s gruesomely surreal imagery is also reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s visual requiem in Passion of the Christ. The film was so shocking to me because the brutal destruction of the Jesus character remains a vivid memory from my childhood. Growing up with a mother who quoted many a Shango-Baptist rhetoric, I believed that I had an intimate relationship with Him. Read more…

04.03.09

reflection as an act of creativity

As a creative person, I nourish myself by seeking out inspiration. There are many ways to accomplish this necessary creative refueling.

Julia Cameron, the famous author of the Artist Way series of books refer to these moments spent with one’s self as the “artist date”. These are indescribably critical to my sanity as an artist and design professional.

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Family heirloom, an old cracked and stained photograph of one of the most beautiful women in my life. My aunt, Rosie Palmer, Trinidad and Tobago ca. 1960, photographer Unknown

For example, have you ever gazed into a thing?

Perhaps searching into the eyes of another person, or into a painting. Looking in anticipation for your own creative self-reflection. I have, and do.  Bundles of cash are not a prerequisite for this exercise.

In fact, a meditative walk at a nearby park, or losing yourself in the white noise of the city just may do the trick.

The point only is to stay present in your body, pay attention, try not speaking, immerse yourself in complete meditative observation. Slow down!

Read more…

02.26.09

arrival

Ahhhhhhhhhhh!   The magical light and the warmth of spring’s arrival, and falling in love….

Lucas Samaras • Photofictions Conflict 23, 2003 • Photo Courtesy of the artist and Pace Wildenstein Gallery

Lucas Samaras • Photofictions Conflict 23, 2003 • Photo Courtesy of the artist and Pace Wildenstein Gallery

Like the ice beginning to melt, permitting room for seedlings to blossom, it is a great time to be around my studio as ideas, unlocked, begin to flow uninterrupted.  I tend to be more flexible, and everything and everyone can do no wrong.  So act quickly!

And I now pose the question to you as well as myself: ”What is value?”

Read more…

Leyden