Thursday, November 19, 2020

Titus Kaphar and Mexican Muralists - Artists Show Bring the Plight of the Poor


Detail from Tropical America by David Alfaro Sequeiros

During the fall of 2020, COVID numbers in New York City have remained relatively low (so far). That has allowed for the reopening of museums and galleries, and provided them with the opportunity to bring new shows and continue shows that were scheduled back in the spring. Two really strong exhibits are currently going on, one at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the other at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea.

The Aftermath

The Gagosian Gallery is a global network of exhibition sites. Their space on West 21st Street in New York City, is currently showing From a Tropical Space, a new collection of works by Titus Kaphar. Mr. Kaphar (b. 1976) is an African-American artist who transforms classical art tropes in ways that bring the experience of of Afro-Descendants to the forefront. I first encountered Titus Kaphar’s work when I visited the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC for his 2018 show - Unseen: Our Past in a New Light. He has also presented a TEDTalk  - “Can Art Amend History?”, which was highlighted at The Brooklyn Museum of Art.


His current show is a series of portraits of Black women and their children. However, most of the children have been physically removed from the paintings. The canvas has been cut, leaving holes where the children had been. His paintings use the physical spaces in the works to represent the actual “fear and trauma” caused by the loss of family members in American society today. His painting “Analogous Colors” was featured on the cover of Time Magazine after the murder of George Floyd. 

Final chapter

Braiding Possibility

Not My Burden

Analogous Colors

The Whitney Museum is currently hosting a show that opened back in February 2020. VIDA AMERICANA: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art 1925-1945 is a deep dive into both the work of the muralist movement in Mexico and its effect on artists in the United States.

Flower Festival: Feast of Santa Anita by Diego Rivera

Lily Vendor by Alfredo Ramos Martinez

José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros are the three most noted members of the Mexican Muralist Movement, which sprang out of the post-revolutionary era in Mexico. They were known for the quality of their works and for their progressive politics. All three spent significant amounts of time in the United States during this 1920’s and 30’s. Their paintings and murals had a great influence on the style and content of many painters as art moved from impressionism to different forms of expressionist paintings. 

Prometheous by José Clemente Orozco

Bandolier, Corn, Sickle by Tina Modotti

The show at the Whitney includes over 200 pieces. Many are by the three primary artists, including recreating Orozco’s mural “Prometheus” which is in the dining hall of Pomona College in California; Siqueiros’ “Tropical America” which was deemed too political to remain over LA’s Olivera Street and was painted over; and a recreation of Rivera’s mural at Rockefeller Center, which included portraits of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, and which John D Rockefeller had destroyed before it was seen by the public. Also included are works by many artists from the United States. Ben Shahn, Tina Modotti and Eitarō Ishigaki are just a few of the painters included, who drew inspiration in both style and subject matter from The Muralists, using their works to promote the struggle for social justice.

Mine Strke by Thomas Hart Benton

Soldiers of the People's Front by Eitarō Ishigaki

Man at the Crossroads by Diego Rivera

Study for Jersey Homesteads Mural by Ben Shahn

Bonus March by Eitarō Ishigaki

Tropical America (Photo) by David Alfaro Siqueiros

Zapatistasa by Alfredo Ramos Martinez

Uprising by Diego Rivera

I hope that the COVID numbers stay low, because these are shows that are well worth seeing, and you should get out if you have chance.

One piece struck me in particular. That was Proletarian Mother by David Alfaro Siqueiros. I have no knowledge of any connections, but I was immediately struck by its similarity to the famous photo by Dorothea Lange and to the statue Pietà by Kathë Kollwitz

Proletarian Mother by David Alfaro Siqueioros

Migrant Family by Dorothea Lange

Pietà by Kathë Kollwitz

Nuts and Bolts
Both the Gagosian Gallery and The Whitney Museum require visitors to acquire timed tickets in advance through their websites

Gagosian Gallery - 522 West 21st Street, NYC - Free Admission Exhibit open through 12/19/20

Whitney Museum of American Art - 99 Ganesvoort Street NYC
Adult $25/ Senior, Student, Visitor with Disability $18/ Under 18 Free Exhibit open through 1/31/21

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Leaf Peeping in New York State



One thing that I love about living in the the northeastern part of the United States is autumn. The days start off cool, but turn really nice in the afternoon. But even better, is the process of changing leaves. While everywhere in the country goes through this beautiful time, it feels like this part of the country does it best. We have such a wide variety of trees that the hillsides explode into a burst of multiple colors. The reds, yellows, and oranges mix in with the green of the pines and firs. Here are some of the colors I found this fall in New York. 


Boscobel Mansion, Gsarrison NY

US 20 near Sharon Springs NY

Poughkeepsie NY

Lake Keuka

NY-15 near Honeoye NY

US-20 near Sharon Springs NY

NY-36 near Hornell NY

Lake Keuka

Highland NY

Mid-Hudson Bridge Highland NY

Highland NY

Highland NY

Poughkeepsie NY

Highland NY

Highland NY

Boscobel Mansion, Garrison NY

Boscobel Mansion, Garrison NY

Mid-Hudson Bridge


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge


Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a right of passage in New York City. It is something that is almost all New Yorkers do at some point. On a recent early fall afternoon, I took the opportunity to enjoy the experience again. 


The thing about the Brooklyn Bridge is that it is beautiful. It would be worth walking across even if it didn’t also offer great views of lower Manhattan and New York Harbor. It is the only major bridge in the city built before the use of steel construction techniques. Its stone support towers are unique in New York, and they are gorgeous. Adding to that is the spider-web design of the support cables and you have, in my opinion, the most striking bridge in the world.


A Girl and her Rabbit

Approaching the bridge from the Manhattan side

South Street and Lower Manhattan

Eagle Warehouse clock


A Rooftop Wedding


The old Fulton Fish Market

The Municipal Building

Nuts and Bolts:

The easiest access to the bridge is from the Manhattan side. Take the #4, 5 or 6 train to City Hall.