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At NYC’s French Embassy, New Bookstore Celebrates ‘La Joie des Livres’

Starbucks is a pauvre excuse for a reading room. Writer Nancy Lazarus visits a splendid new place to curl up with a good livre.

(Jess Nash)
(Photo: Jess Nash)

albertine exteriorThe replica of Michelangelo‘s Young Archer in the entry rotunda of the French Embassy in New York is about to attract a bookish new cohort of admirers: visitors to Albertine, a bookstore, reading room, and event space that opened Saturday in the Stanford White-designed Beaux Arts mansion. It’s located a few blocks south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the original Young Archer has resided (on loan through 2019), after it was moved from the embassy five years ago.

“The goal for Albertine was to open the space to the public and make French culture more accessible to Americans,” said Antonin Baudry, the French Embassy’s cultural counselor and creator of the project, during a recent interview. Visitors will mingle with authors and browse a selection of 14,000 contemporary and classic books from 30 French-speaking countries. Most are English translations, with some titles in French. “We also plan to host two events per week, so it will be a lively place,” he added.

“Albertine will be unique and not have an institutional look,” Baudry said. The space originally served as a grand private library, the same goal as for the redesign. “The spirit of the place was already here,” he noted. “We selected French designer Jacques Garcia since he can manipulate classical forms with contemporary ambience, to give the place its original charm and purpose.” Atelier Premiere, a Brooklyn-based firm of French craftsmen, painted and detailed both floors.
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Mark Your Calendar: Open House New York

(Mikiko Kikuyama)Whether you live in the NYC area or need an excuse for a fall visit, check out Open House New York weekend on October 11 and 12. The event, now in its twelfth year, invites the public to explore architecture, design, and cultural sites throughout the five boroughs. Among the more than 200 sites that will open their doors (many typically closed to the public) are the 425-square-foot “Manhattan Micro-Loft” atop an Upper West Side brownstone, the meticulously restored Williamsburgh Savings Bank building at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, and Kickstarter’s new Brooklyn headquarters, located in the remnants of the historic Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory. Listings of all OHNY Weekend sites will be posted on the OHNY website on September 30, and reservations can be made beginning at 11 a.m. on October 1. Be quick, because once the event guide hits newsstands on October 2 as an insert in Time Out New York, the waitlists—and disappointments—are bound to follow.

Museum Masterpieces Head Outdoors with Art Everywhere’s U.S. Debut

Works by artists ranging from John Singleton Copley and Thomas Eakins to Jasper Johns and Cindy Sherman take to the streets this month with the launch of Art Everywhere U.S. Nancy Lazarus sizes up the coast-to-coast campaign that’s being billed as “the largest outdoor art show ever conceived.”

Art Everywhere Times Square Chuck Close Phil and Edward Hopper Nighthawks
Art Everywhere U.S. Times Square rendering, featuring Chuck Close’s Phil (1969) and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks (1942).

Can’t make it to a museum this August? Fear not. The art is coming to you thanks to Art Everywhere U.S., an extensive outdoor art show highlighting the nation’s artistic heritage. Throughout the month, images of 58 selected U.S. artworks are being projected on billboards and public spaces such as buses, trains, airports, and movie theatres across the U.S. “This is an unconventional program to promote museum experiences and to encourage the discovery of art history so it becomes part of everyday life,” said Maxwell Anderson, director of the Dallas Museum of Art, at yesterday’s kickoff event. “The goal is to continue the enthusiasm every summer.”

Inspired by the success of the 2013 Art Everywhere UK campaign, Anderson enlisted the participation of four other major U.S. museums: New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Aside from the five partnering museums, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) was also instrumental in launching the initiative, which marks the organization’s largest public service campaign to date.
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Katz Marks the Spot: New Art Billboard to Welcome Whitney Downtown

katz
Alex Katz’s 2012 painting Katherine and Elizabeth (Photo courtesy Gavin Brown’s Enterprise)

Worried that the spindly and shape-shifting “W” of the Whitney Museum’s fledgling graphic identity will be insufficient to guide visitors to the door of its new downtown home? Alex Katz to the rescue. The artist (and erstwhile J. Crew model)’s 2012 canvas, Katherine and Elizabeth, will welcome the museum to the Meatpacking District in the form of a 17-by-29-foot billboard on the facade of 95 Horatio Street, located directly across Gansevoort Street from the southern end of the High Line and the Renzo Piano-designed Whitney. Announced today, the public art installation will be the first in a planned five-year series organized in collaboration with real estate developer TF Cornerstone and High Line Art.

Friday Photo: Monkey on Board

(Garry Winogrand)In 1959, Bronx-born photographer Garry Winogrand (1928–1984) captured what is surely one of the most wonderfully—and perplexingly—absurd scenes in the history of photography: a snow monkey perched on the rear of a Chevy convertible paused at an intersection on Park Avenue in Manhattan. The man and the woman in the car look over their shoulders to regard the primate with gazes of barely suppressed annoyance, as if poised to answer the are-we-there-yet? whines of a bored child. Meanwhile, the monkey, having spied Winogrand and his trusty Leica, looks straight at the lens with his mouth open.

“One day I asked Winogrand what actually was happening when he made that now-classic photograph,” said Jeff Rosenheim, a former student of Winogrand’s who now serves as curator in charge of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s department of photographs, at the recent press preview for the museum’s exquisite Winogrand retrospective. “He smiled at let rip a common refrain: ‘Forget about the original situation, Jeff. It’s gone. Look at the picture. A photograph is a new thing. An illusion. A lie. A transformation.’ It was important lesson for me to learn then, and even today I revisit its truths as I work to understand this ever-changing nature of this medium of photography.”
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‘Detroit—Bruce Weber’ Exhibition Debuts at Detroit Institute of Arts

(bruce weber)The Detroit Institute of Arts has been busy lining up pledges—$26 million from Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, and General Motors Foundation; $10 million from the Mellon Foundation; $3 million from the J. Paul Getty Trust—toward its goal to raise $100 million as part of a “grand bargain” that will help the City of Detroit emerge from bankruptcy, support city pensioners, and protect the museum’s art collection for the public. An exhibition that opens today should bolster hometown pride. The DIA has partnered with Condé Nast to present “Detroit—Bruce Weber,” an exhibition of approximately 80 photographs by the celebrated fashion photographer, filmmaker, and golden retriever enthusiast. Weber began photographing the city and its citizens in 2006, and the images range from portraits of famous locals such as Aretha Franklin and Patti Smith to legendary locales such as Belle Isle, where he came upon a wedding and captured a poignant image of the flower girl. “Detroit—Bruce Weber” is on view through Sept 7 at the DIA.

Pictured: Christopher Gardner, Artist, and Von Jour Reece, Fashion Designer, at Bert’s Marketplace, Detroit, Michigan, 2006, gelatin silver print. © Bruce Weber

SEN One Creates Cover for Time Out New York

Time Out New York - Uptown coverYou’ve still got more than two months to catch the Museum of the City of New York’s “City as Canvas” exhibition of graffiti from the Martin Wong collection. For a bite-sized dose, pick up a copy of the latest issue of Time Out New York, on newsstands today, which features an original cover by George “SEN One” Morillo. The graffiti artist, a lifelong Upper West Sider, was an ideal fit for TONY‘s uptown-themed issue. “Being born and raised uptown, and seeing the gentrification process all my life and seeing everybody coming up, it fits who I am,” he tells the magazine. “That story connects to my story.”

As for how that story connects with the street art of today, Morillo points to the humble origins of slick tools with names like Krink and Grog. “We made markers by popping the balls out of roll-on deodorant, putting in the soft stuff from school erasers, and filling the containers with ink. Those techniques, as primitive as they might seem, led to the markers they sell now,” he says. “Vandals created an industry, and it all comes out of the Upper West Side.”

Hauser & Wirth Has Big Plans for Los Angeles

hauser wirth schimmelHauser & Wirth is heading West. Nearly a year to the date that the gallery announced the hiring of Paul Schimmel, formerly chief curator of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, comes word that the planned Left Coast outpost—Hauser Wirth & Schimmel—will occupy a historic 100,000-square-foot flour mill complex in L.A.’s downtown arts district.

The site, located a few blocks from The Broad in progress, is home to seven late 19th and early 20th century buildings and outdoor spaces. The gallery promises “innovative exhibitions, museum-caliber amenities, and a robust schedule of public programs that contextualize the art on view,” beginning with a pop-up exhibition in January of next year. The L.A. venue is slated to have its grand opening in January 2016.
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Documentary Focuses on NYC Cab Driver-Turned-Street Photographer Matt Weber

(Matt Weber)
Van Gogh (1989) by Matt Weber, the subject of More Than a Rainbow.

Matt Weber got his start in photography with one hand on a camera and the other on the wheel of a New York City taxi cab. He soon went from being a taxi driver with a camera to a photographer with a taxi, eventually making photography a full-time pursuit. Weber—and the fate of photography in a digital age—is the subject of More Than the Rainbow, a new documentary that opens today at New York’s Quad Cinema and heads to Los Angeles later this month. Set to the twisting melodies of Thelonious Monk, the film combines live action with still photography and interviews with Weber and fellow photographers such as Ralph Gibson and Zoe Strauss.

“For me the essential thing was to create something that would have its own feel,” says director and producer Dan Wechsler. “We interspers[ed] musically driven montage sequences—some in color, some in black and white—where the audience could feel itself moving along the sidewalks and through the subways of the city that our main subject has been roving for the past quarter century, with a camera around his neck at almost all times.”
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Tavern on the Green Reopens, with Central Park as Its Centerpiece

Following a brick-by-brick renovation, NYC restaurant Tavern on the Green is back, and its formerly over-the-top interiors have been transformed with a “robber-baron-meets-sheep-barn” aesthetic and the aspiration to be “food-centric.” We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to take a peek under the famous red canopy.

totg Central Park Room 2
The sunny Central Park room at the new Tavern on the Green was formerly known as the Crystal Room. (All photos courtesy Robin Caiola)

totg Bar Room Horse Mobile“Now we can be part of the park,” said restaurateur Jim Caiola, referring to the recently reopened landmark, Tavern on the Green. He and partner David Salama of Emerald Green Group were awarded a 20-year lease to the legendary restaurant, long associated with Broadway show parties, special family occasions, and a role serving as movie backdrop.

“Only the name, the beams and the shell of the Victorian building remain from the old Tavern”, said spokesperson Steven Hall. “Everything else was handpicked by Jim and David.” The pair renovated the interior, while the property’s New York City landlord worked on the exterior. Others involved in the restoration were architect Richard Lewis, lighting designer Ken Billington, and landscape architect Robin Key. It’s been a major investment and long haul.
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