Artists Call to Action for Central America

In the early 1980s, socially minded artists living downtown in New York couldn’t handle the news coming out of Central America and did something about it. The United States government was intervening in the affairs of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and everyone was worried that the situation was going to devolve into another Vietnam.

This is just one part of the story told by the dynamic, timely, informative exhibition, Art for the Future: Artists Call and Central American Solidarities, on view at the University of New Mexico Museum of Art in Albuquerque through December 3.

1981 pamphlet Mujer Revolución by Association of Nicaraguan Women. Private collection
1983 Print of Contra (after a drawing in Rock Comics, 1979) by Jerry Kearns, depicting communist fears stoked by the US government

In 1982, a group of New York artists collaborated with Latin American artists to create a show with contemporary art and cultural artifacts to draw attention to the escalating crises in Latin America. By 1984, organizers launched a national call to artists to raise money and awareness of what was happening.

Artists responded with performances, music concerts, films, poetry readings, and exhibition. In New York alone, over 1,100 artists participated in over 30 exhibitions.

Nationally, artists in 27 cities organized chapters and events and tried to build alliances in Latin America.

Videos, photographs, sculptures, paintings, and ephermera pulled from archives (like posters, buttons, mail art, and pamphlets) bring the story of artist-activists to life – their concerns about US government intervention, their efforts to organize artists across the United States, and their attempts to help artists living in oppressed Central American countries.

The Tufts University-organized show resurrects a largely forgotten story of artist activism, illuminates the tribulations of indigenous communities in Central America at the time, introduces us to contemporary works from artists inspired by their indigenous heritage, and gives us an idea of what’s happening in those countries now.

Two contributions to Solidarity Art by Mail project, a fast, cheap solution to boost Latin American and Caribbean participation in a 1984 New York exhibit at Judson Memorial Church. Private collection.

The three-floor show is packed with arresting images, works, and histories. The art work and documentation push and pull visitors between the international political crises of the 1980s and social-justice issues being addressed by artists today.

Take a look at the show on our Flickr site.

The installation features work by heavy hitters of the 1980s New York art scene – wall-size Vietnam-era work by Leon Golub, images documenting Ana Mendieta’s performance pieces, and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s sketches, maquettes, and exploding-banana image that branded the Artists Call Against US Intervention initiative.

The first-floor exhibition area includes Nancy Spero’s dramatic scroll-like drawing that calls attention to the oppression of Salvadorean women.

1984 Arts Magazine cover with Oldenburg’s image promoting Artists Call. Private collection

Downstairs, there’s another 1984 work that similarly unfurls the length of the gallery – an accordian-book project led by Sabra Moore that is a collaborative reconstruction of a rare 16th-century Mayan codex by 22 women. It’s the first time the codex has been displayed since 1984.

1984 “Reconstructed Codex,” a project organized by Sabra Moore with contributions from 22 diverse female Latin American and US artists. Courtesy: Barnard

The third floor packs a punch, installing revolutionary images and publications around the infamous (and censored) Hans Haacke piece that questions the aftermath of the 1983 US invasion of Grenada.  Across the room, visitors pour over Carlos Motta’s 2005 wall-sized chalkboard installation Brief History of US Interventions in Latin America since 1946. 

Although the 1980 artist-activists did not achieve all of their utopian goals, the contemporary selections show that social consciousness, pride in indigenous heritage, and artistic futures are still alive – including a beautiful feathered immigrant history dome by Batriz Cortez, stitched by a team of immigrant collaborators.

2021 sculpture 1984: Space-Time Capsule by Salvadorian artist Batriz Cortez and immigrant collaborators – a shelter for immigrant histories.

Learn more about how the curator Erina Duganne and her collaborator Abigail Satinsky created this remarkable show:

Art for the Future will be on display at Chicago’s DePaul Art Museum from March to August 2023.

Carlos Motta’s 2005 detailed chalkboard installation Brief History of US Interventions in Latin America since 1946. Courtesy: the artist

O’Keeffe Museum Shows Georgia at Home

One of the most photographed artists of the 20th century, everyone is used to seeing Georgia O’Keeffe in her “formal” pose and gear – angular black hat, stark wrap dress, punctuated by her modernist Calder pin, standing against the New Mexico sky peering solemnly into the future.

In its latest offering, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is giving fans a special treat (and a different view) through its exhibition, Georgia O’Keeffe, a Life Well Lived: Photographs by Malcolm Varon, on display in Santa Fe through October 31.

2021 print of Varon’s 1977 photo of Georgia relaxing at Ghost Ranch. Courtesy: the artist
Georgia’s 1946 Part of the Cliff, a painting inspired by the view through her studio window.

The show features a smiling, at-ease 89-year-old surrounded by family, friends, companions, and pets – images quite apart from the GOK that we all admire and revere. How did this happen?

In the 1960s in New York, photographer Malcolm Varon established quite a reputation for documenting painters’ works in a way that captured a lot of their spirit. No wonder that in the mid-1970s, he was summoned out to Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu to document some of Georgia’s huge body of work.

While he was working with the artist during the summer of 1977, a journalist arrived to interview the icon for a feature in ARTnews.

No photographer had been attached to the story, so Georgia came up with hew own solution – ask her colleague Malcolm to shoot her in the setting of her Ghost Ranch home.

Since Malcolm was already familiar with the operations around Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu, he ended up taking about 300 photos of her homes, the landscapes that inspired her, and the people who kept things humming.

2021 prints of Varon’s 1977 portraits of Ida Archuleta, Candelaria Lopez, and Estiben Suazo, the people who managed Georgia’s homes and properties. Courtesy: the artist.

Despite Georgia’s reputation as a loner living out in the middle of nowhere, Malcolm appreciated that the day-to-day operations in the outback were quite fun, busy, natural, and happy at her two studio compounds.

ARTnews made a few selections from Varon’s photographs and ran them in the feature, but the majority of the 300 shots were never printed or seen…until now.

Visitors at the GOK museum pour over every detail of the portraits and landscapes, enjoying a new, different glimpse of the artist and her world – Varon’s portrait of Georgia’s sister, beautiful portraits of her property caretakers (whose families still take care of the GOK home for the museum), and her assistant Juan Hamilton.

The curators present several paintings from the 1940s showing the same cliffs, landscapes, and skies that Varon captured in the summer of 1977. Visitors have fun shifting back and forth between the oil paintngs and photos.

2021 print of Varon’s 1977 photograph of the tall ladder at Georgia’s Abiquiu home – a platform from which she surveyed the world. Courtesy: the artist

2021 print of Varon’s 1977 fun photograph of Georgia at Ghost Ranch with her friend and assistant, artist Juan Hamilton with the Pedernal as backdrop. Courtesy: the artist

Take a look at some of our favorites in our Flickr album.

Listen in as the curators of this delightful show draw back the curtain on the legendary O’Keeffe, her relationship with photography, and what happened when a trusted friend got her to smile for the camera:

Fashion Manifestos by Carla Fernández

What does “slow” fashion look like? A revolutionary Mexican haute couture designer shows how it’s done in Carla Fernandez Casa de Moda: A Mexican Fashion Manifesto, on display at the Denver Art Museum through October 16.

As a young woman, Carla met and got to appreciate Mexico’s indigenous communities as she traveled with her father, a renowned anthropologist. She loved collecting hand-made indigenous garments reflecting the distinct local styles she saw. 

As a student of art history and fashion design, the complex indigenous textile techniques in these out-of-the way communities seemed to stand in contrast to the ever-changing, always-disposable cycle of Western fashion.

Carla Fernández 2014 jacket collaboration with Juanez Lopez Santis (San Juan Chamula, Chiapas) over digital-printed silk top and leggings.
2003 wool poncho – a Carla Fernández collaboration San Juan Chamula (Chiapas) artisans ­– over a 2009 pantsuit. From the collection of photographer/model Luisa Sáenz

Why not use these indigenous “haute couture” techniques for a high-fashion collection? Why not create a mix-and-match aesthetic using traditional, geometric shapes? Why not credit the artists?

As presented in her first-ever museum retrospective, the results are dramatic, detailed, intriguing, and one-of-a-kind – a completely different kind of fashion system that incorporates indigenous work, pays and credits community makers, and gives artisans the time to create pieces that collectors cherish.

Carla travels to mountain and desert communities to collaborate with textile artists.

With her fame growing, communities now invite her to drive over, see what they’re doing and brainstorm about potential collaborations. It’s an approach that involves time, dialogue, and mutual respect between the artisans and Carla-as-fashion-facilitator.

In her mobile studio (Taller Flora), they create hand-woven, dyed, and painted works of wearable art that Carla brings to the runway, but always with an eye toward collectors who value innovative, indigenous craft traditions.

The exhibition features runway looks, accessories, and videos of performance art that showcase different facets of her fashion manifesto – that artisan-made is the true “luxury” in a “fast fashion,” throw-away world.

2021 hand-painted coverall and digital-printed jumper and coat with Leonardo Linares (Mexico City); embroidered jumper with Antonia Vasquez (San Pedro Chenalhó, Chiapas).

Fiesta masks, leather caballero fretwork, whimsical basket-purses, and fuzzy handmade pom-poms provide home-grown Mexican flair to the cinched, draped, easy ensembles.

Take a look through our Flickr album, and enjoy this video of the installation at Denver Art Museum:

Every section of the exhibition demonstrates her commitment to stimulating innovation and creativity among indigenous makers.

Inspired by decorative fretwork on rodeo apparel, a 2022 wool poncho and pants done in collaboration with calado master Fidel Martínez (Chimalhuacán, State of Mexico).

As of 2022, Carla’s collaborated with more than 164 artisans in 39 communities in 15 Mexican states, with more to come. The show presents a map and identifies all of her collaborators.

To see and hear more about Carla’s collaborative process, watch the Denver Art Museum’s 2019 seminar on culture, cultural appropriation, and fashion in this YouTube video.

And join in on Carla’s beautiful, expressive fashion revolution by checking out her current and past collections on her website.

Jeffrey Gibson at SITE Santa FE

What happens when a Native American MacArthur genius is asked by SITE Santa Fe to create an art exhibition during a time of a global pandemic and social justice marches? And invite him to a location where Native Americans make up a significant percentage of the population?

The result is Jeffrey Gibson: The Body Electric – a constantly surprising gallery journey where shape-shifting, cultural disassociation, beadwork, kitsch-image appropriation, gender-identity questions, and science-fiction inspiration reigns.

The show is filled with life-size beaded dolls and garments, films, pulsing papered walls, mysterious film experiences, and social statements either woven or stamped onto clothes (or are they banners?).

Gibson’s 2021 White Swan mixed-media painting in wall-papered gallery with a beaded, life-size, genderless “doll”
2020 Red Moon and Desert Sky minimalist sculptures created from strands of dance fringe.

Gibson, who is based in New York, is an intertribal artist who is a member of Mississippi Band of Choctaw and half Cherokee. However, his influences were forged from prestigious art schools, international travel, and living in non-Native societies.

The opportunity to come to Santa Fe, host a cinema series and several performances, and stay out West for a while was an open door to explore inter-cultural influences, host discussions with appreciative audiences, and show off his wide intellectual and artistic breadth.

In many of his works, Jeffrey mixes traditional “Indian” materials like beads or fringe with slogans, sayings, dime-store “Indian” images, and big-time art-world references.

See some our favorites from this exhibit in our Flickr album and hear Jeffrey explain his influences in SITE Santa Fe’s audio guide.

The little beaded birds that greet visitors in the first gallery and the big beaded life-sized “dolls” in the second were inspired by Jeffrey’s early work in the ethnographic collections of the Field Museum, where he encountered Haudenosaunee-made beaded tourist-trade whimsies and traditional “third gender” dolls for the first time. Why not make his own, but over-size them?

2021 My Joy My Joy My Joy, a mixed-media beaded bird inspired by Victorian-era Native American tourist whimsies

The nearby video gallery features a kaleidoscopic multichannel video of Sarah Ortegon, an award-winning Eastern Shoshone/Northern Arapaho jingle dress dancer, performing to the energetic Sisters track by A Tribe Called Red. This piece – She Never Dances Alone – refers to the dancers who came to the Standing Rock Reservation and lent their support to the 2016 pipeline protests though dance.

Here’s Sarah Ortegon in Gibson’s 2019 Times Square installation of She Never Dances Alone here…wait for it:

2021 They Play Endlessly mixed-media crazy quilt of paint, beads, words, and found objects.

And here’s another look at Gibson’s 2020 exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, where he mixed works from his studio with artifacts and art from Brooklyn’s own collection.

And check out Gibson’s work our album documenting the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian exhibition of Native painting, Stretching the Canvas.

Dior Brings Opulent Extravagance to Brooklyn

With lights dancing across dozens of floral dresses and sequined classical gowns in an over-the-top Beaux-Arts setting, visitors to the Brooklyn Museum generally stand speechless in awe of the extravagance before them in, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, closing February 20.

It takes a minimum of two hours to travel through the galleries, and much more time to absorb the wonders of this must-see fashion exhibition, drawn largely from the Dior archives in Paris.

Take a look at some of our favorites in our Flickr album.

Haute couture in Brooklyn’s Beaux Arts court. Courtesy: Dior heritage collection.
Nevelson’s 1956 sculpture and 1952 Dior dinner dress. Courtesy: Dior.

The exhibition begins in a traditional gallery format, showcasing Dior’s epic haute couture works of the Forties and Fifties.

Print and film media document Dior’s ecstatic reception in America, including custom client fittings and retail showings in New York and San Francisco.

Some of the most spectacular evening and cocktail looks are paired with modern sculpture by Nevelson and design by Eames from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection.

Turning the corner into the photography gallery, visitors encounter the full spectrum of photographers who have documented Dior couture from the Forties until today.

Visitors are ecstatic when they see the dress next to the Avedon photo that is one of the most iconic fashion images of the 20th century – Dovima modeling Dior’s spectacularly sinuous black-and-white gown, caressing massive, animated elephants that surround her.

After Dior’s untimely death, a succession of fashion superstars led the creative side of the house. The show pays tribute to YSL, Bohan, Ferré, Galliano, and Simons with dramatic installations showing their inspirations from French film noir, modern art, opera, and art history. 

1955 haute couture, worn by Dovima for Avedon. Courtesy: Dior.

The garments are over-the-top, highly embellished, and smartly paired with Egyptian and Gilded Age works from the museum’s extensive permanent collection.

John Galliano haute couture for Christian Dior, inspired by ancient Egypt, the Belle Epoque, and other historical references. From the Dior Legacy gallery. Courtesy: Dior heritage collection.
Three 2020 ensembles by Maria Grazia Chiuri against Judy Chicago banners. Courtesy: Dior

There’s a special installation reserved for Dior’s current artistic director, Marie Grazie Chiuri, who has long used her platform in the fashion world to ask probing questions about culture, society, and women.

In this gallery, her dramatic haute couture work is surrounded by shimmering banners that she commissioned from Judy Chicago, whose epic The Dinner Party is the centerpiece of Brooklyn’s feminist art center.

A major set of galleries evokes the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles – a source of inspiration for Mr. Dior.

The curators use the space to show off Dior’s Miss Dior perfume product displays and pairings of old and more recent haute couture inspired by 18th century glamour of the French court. If the exhibition ended right there, you’d be satisfied.

Haute couture from House of Dior: John Galiano’s 2000 dress in embroidered antique satin and Christian Dior’s 1952 satin cocktail ensemble. In the 18th-century gallery. Courtesy: Dior heritage collection.

But there’s much more – a gallery segmented by color to show off fashions, accessories, shoes, and miniatures; and an Instagram-ready all-white infinity room with dozens of white toilles made by the Dior ateliers from the designer’s sketches.

It’s another unforgettable gallery experience that pays proper tribute to the teams of behind-the-scenes experts who bring these fashion visions to life. 

Although the gallery of celebrity Dior looks is the final stop in the show, it almost feels like an after-thought compared to the magical displays of the Beaux-Arts Court.

Wall of 2007-2020 toiles for haute couture dresses, jackets and coats.

Haute couture is everywhere – clustered in the center, surrounding you on all sides, and artfully displayed on two-story-high walls and balconies.  One area features floral gowns, another shimmering gold ensembles, and another mysterious, dramatic black drama.

Haute couture dresses inspired by the divining arts surrounded by dresses inspired by nature, flowers, and gardens. Courtesy: Dior heritage collection.
2010 haute couture hand-painted embroidered evening dress by John Galliano for Christian Dior.

The show is a breathtaking array of light, sound, and visual riches – possibly the greatest feast for the fashion eye since the McQueen show at the Met.  Thanks to Dior for letting us see these amazing works from the archive, and to Brooklyn for giving us such an unforgettable fashion experience in its 125-year-old court.

Next up for Brooklyn’s galleries: a tribute to Virgil Abloh, opening July 1.

Exploring New York with Painter Alice Neel

The sights you’ll see! The people you’ll meet!  There’s nothing like seeing 20th-century New York through the eyes of one of most astute observers of the human condition. It’s why people have been flocking to The Met to see Alice Neel: People Come First, on view through August 1.

Considered one of America’s greatest figurative painters, Alice herself considered her relentless artistic pursuit more in line with history painting.  And what a history you’ll experience, walking through room after room of insightful portraits and cityscapes.

1958 Two Girls, Spanish Harlem with Alice’s neighbors Antonia and Carmen Encarnación. Courtesy: Boston Museum of Fine Arts
1972 portrait depicting Irene Peslikis, a leading Seventies feminist activist. Private collecdtion.

Alice’s colorful, insightful works introduce you first-hand to bohemian life post-WWI, the Great Depression, the socialist fight for workers’ and artists’ rights, the push for civil rights, the art underground, and the rise of feminism.

Through it all, Alice kept raising her family and painting in her home studio, sparing nothing in her portrayals of kids experiencing the world, families just trying to make ends meet in Harlem, marriages, births, and annual trips to the country.

Her earliest artistic influence was her early 20th-century academy training, in which the bravura brushwork of Robert Henri was admired – merging virtuoso painting with unfiltered views of everyday people and sights. Alice drew and painted like a virtuoso herself, sure of her ability of laying down an expressive line. 

Neel’s 1955 A Spanish Boy with Henri’s 1907 Dutch Girl in White.

Throughout her life, her frequent trips to the Metropolitan Museum bolstered her work with the continued influence Cassatt, Soutine, and other grand masters of the brush and the masters of social commentary, like Jacob Lawrence or Daumier.

The result is a decade-by-decade window into the life, times, struggles, and perseverance of a working mother-artist who took the same master, unflinching approach to documenting her pregnant daughter-in-law, civil rights leaders, Andy Warhol, and her own aging body.

Take a look at our favorites in our Flickr album.

Detail of 1978-79 portrait of her son when he worked for Pan Am, Richard in the Era of the Corporation.

Alice and the curators keep the surprises coming through the exhibition, but why not hear from her yourself?  Here is Alice’s own description of her life, times, and what inspired her:

Experience Alice Neel’s New York in the Met’s multimedia primer here, and see all of the works assembled for her incredible exhibition.

1984 photo of Neel as a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Courtesy: Neel estate

Hockney’s Personal Drawings at The Morgan

The drawings at the Morgan, David Hockney: Drawing from Life, on view through May 30, are a tribute to the friendships maintained and the artistic experimentations sustained over the artist’s 83-year lifetime.

Hockney self-portraits through the years.

The show was created by the National Portrait Gallery in London and centers on 100 portraits of five people who sat for Hockney across the decades – his mother and several close friends.

The exhibition is organized by person, so you can compare how each person looked from the beginning of Hockney’s studies, across the years, and most recently when they came to visit him in Normandy, where he lives now.

Most of the works are from the Hockney Foundation or from the artist’s own personal collection, which makes the show extra-special.

The exhibition begins with a series of self-portraits that Hockney did as a teen, and features his etching series about his first trip to America in the early 60s. Then it jumps to the many portraits he did of his mother in England.

Colored pencil portrait, Celia, Carennac, August 1971
Digital wall of Hockney 2010 iPad drawings
Charcoal drawing Maurice Payne, October 9, 2000

Each series shows off his masterful accomplishments in precise colored pencil, mixed-media collage, watercolor, crayon, arranged Polaroid mosaics, etchings, ink washes, tight pencil sketches, and the biggest leap of all – digital drawings from his iPad.

Walking past the portraits, self-portraits, sketchbooks, and digital drawings, it’s quite a tribute to an artist who never stopped looking, wanting to sit with his favorite people, and slowed down to adopt techniques by other masters that he admired.

Take a look at works by a pop-culture virtuoso. Here’s a brief introduction to the exhibition by the Morgan’s director:

Take a walk through the exhibition on the Morgan’s website here, and join a YouTube tour with the curator here.

And see our favorites in our Flickr album here.

Jewelry for America Dazzles at The Met

Sparkling, historic, masterful jewels, settings, and stories await intrepid visitors who can find the out-of-the-way mezzanine gallery within the Metropolitan Museum’s American Wing. Jewelry for America, on view through May 8, chronicles the rise of the jewelry making arts through the Met’s own gorgeous collection.

Cases of jewelry from the mid-1700s though today are surrounded by period paintings that show how women (and men!) of different American eras sported, draped, and embellished themselves with the glittery treasures shown nearby.

The curators take five eras and angles, weaving in details of colonial dependency, Westward expansion, global discoveries, luxury consumption, high-end designers, and jewelry art trends.

Robert Fulton’s 1813 wedding portrait of Susan Hayne Simmons, wearing her pearls Empire-style
Rare 1783 Society of the Cincinnati badge by L’Enfant, awarded to Washington’s Continental Army officers

But while looking at the small, finely crafted pieces, you can delight in just looking for looking’s sake.

The first section focuses upon the colonial era through the early 19th century, when toddlers wore coral necklaces and bracelets to keep them “safe” and it was popular to weave the hair of a loved one into a locket, fob, brooch, or little container hanging from a necklace.

But the most historic piece in this first section is the small Society of Cincinnati badge designed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, for the group of Continental Army officers who served under Washington.

The next portion of the show introduces the rise of American jewelers in the mid-1800s with brooches and earrings inspired by nature, antiquity, and bygone eras, such as Tiffany’s 1856 transformation of an historic Connecticut oak tree into gold accessories and the artistic 1880 silver necklace by Shleiber & Co inspired by coins unearthed in Pompeii.

Tiffany’s 1889-1896 enameled and jeweled orchid brooch, designed by J. Paulding Farnham

In addition to Tiffany’s renowned, naturalistic orchid brooches and hair ornaments that wowed spectators at turn-of-the-century world’s fairs, the show also includes gorgeous nature-inspired statement pieces from workshops in Newark, New Jersey – high-end suppliers to famous celebrities and socialites in New York.

1924 silver box with enamel plaques by Eda Lord Dixon and her husband, Laurence

There are dozens of necklaces, pins, and special boxes adorned with diamonds, platinum, artistic enamels, opals, emeralds, and other precious gems.

The final portion of the show portrays the rise of the artist-jeweler, showcasing jazzy, one-of-a-kind pieces by mid-century creators like Art Smith and Calder, and finishing up with Elsa Peretti, Verdura, and cuffs by Kenneth Jay Lane from Lauren Bacall’s collection

1948 and 1946 custom cuffs by Greenwich Village artist Art Smith

Enjoy our favorites in our Flickr album, and read more of the history of American jewelry on the Met’s website.

Early 20th century Pueblo necklaces worn by Navajo leader Henry Chee Dodge

Gilded Age Treasure Hunt at The Met

Once you navigate the twists and turns of one of the furthest reaches of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Wing (past the Versailles panorama and past the Rockefeller room), you’ll come to a treasure trove of Gilded Age interior design – Aesthetic Splendors: Highlights from the Gift of Barrie and Deedee Wigmore, on view through April 18.

What did rich people in the 1880s and 1890s want? The exhibition will show you.

1880s Herter Brothers cabinet, Britcher landscape, and reproduction wallpaper evoke the Wigmore’s home

You’ll find lush landscapes by second-generation Hudson River painters and first-generation romantic painters of the American West, elaborate furniture and decorative pieces embellished with tributes to Asian style, and bedazzled masterpieces from the Tiffany workshops.

Sanford Gifford’s 1879 An Indian Summer Day in Claverack Creek

The curators pay tribute to these avid Aesthetic Movement collectors by framing these promised gifts with reproduction period wallpaper and fixtures, and it’s hard to decide where to look first.

The approach to this marvelous exhibition gives modern gallery-goers an experience of what Gilded Age interior designers had in mind – cramming foyers and drawing rooms with lush paintings, flashy techno brass furniture, Japanese-style ceramics, art pottery, and fringed upholstered seats decorated with Arts & Crafts tiles that throwback to mythical times.

The mix of styles and techniques – some old and some new – reflect a time when consumption of luxury goods ran wild with the ascension of New York City as the trading and shipping capital of the world.  Many of the pieces reflect new machine-made technology mixed in with a bit of medieval nostalgia via the British Arts and Crafts movement.

Look closely at all these showstoppers in our Flickr album.

Detail of 1880 Modern Gothic cabinet by Kimbel and Cabus with tile by Minton & Co.

Although the exhibition is slightly hidden away, the landscapes appearing throughout the show provide windows to lush valleys of the Rockies (thank you, Mr. Bierstadt!), autumn colors of the Catskills, and spectacular, tranquil shorelines on Maine’s rocky coast.  All are either in their original fancy frames or reproductions from the era.

Alfred Thompson Bricher’s 1899 Low Tide, Hetherington’s Cove, Grand Manan in Maine

Most of the works are oil paintings, but (in case you didn’t know) New York was also the epicenter of the movement to make watercolor paintings the equal of any fine salon work.  The curators have included work by the masterful William Trost Williams, so you can enjoy a side-by-side comparison of the techniques he used to give those oil painters a run for their money. Every time we’ve visited this show, visitors simply stand transfixed, drinking in the saturated, tranquil views of the faraway.

The ceramics, cloisonné tabletops, andirons, and many large-scale pieces reflect the period’s mania for anything with a hint of Japanese or Chinese style – delicate birds flitting through bamboo and fierce dragons swirling in magical space. Designers for the upper classes were captivated by images from kimonos, scrolls, screens, and ceramics from the East and made sure that custom commissioned pieces were on trend.

Bradley & Hubbard’s 1895 phoenix andirons
Sapphire encircled by grapevines on 1910 gold and platinum Tiffany necklace

The mesmerizing beacon within the show is the spectacular array of Tiffany necklaces in the center – dramatic opals and sapphires, often encircled by intricate grapevines in gold or another nod to nature-by-design. The effect of these beauties side by side is magical, and you can imagine a Gilded Age beauty making an entrance with one of these dazzlers.

The Met just announced that its September 2022 Costume Institute exhibition would be displayed in the period rooms of the American Wing, so we’ll see if Mr. Bolton and his team deploy any period finery in the more-is-more 19th-century area.

Read more about pieces in this fantastic donation on the MetCollects blog and flip through close-ups of some the featured works.

Virtual NYC Museum Events – Broadway, Brooklyn, Karma, Kusama, and McQueen

New York museums are offering a full calendar of virtual events this week, including trips to Broadway history, hipster restaurants of the world, Buddhist virtual reality, and tributes to artistic genius. Take a look at the list here! Here are just a few highlights:

2002 Broadway revival of Rogers & Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song

Do you miss Broadway? Learn about some little-known secrets behind hit shows today, Monday (April 12) at 5:30pm. It’s a rare chance to meet the president of the Rogers & Hammerstein Organization, Ted Chapin, who will be giving a behind-the-scenes look at the Great White Way in his program, From Follies to Flower Drum Song and Beyond. It’s the premiere of a conversation recorded last Fall with Broadway World’s Richard Ridge, courtesy of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

Did this global restaurant trend actually start in Brooklyn? Find out with MOFAD and the creators of Global Brooklyn: Designing Food Experiences in World Cities.

Love restaurants? Especially ones with slightly nostalgic post-industrial interiors decorated with that hand-crafted look? At 7pm, join the Museum of Food and Drink to meet the authors who explored how the Brooklyn aesthetic for How a Restaurant Aesthetic Became a Global Phenomenon. Learn how restaurants around the world adopted the style, and find out if this brand of hip actually started in Brooklyn.

On Tuesday (April 14) at 6pm, join the architecture crowd at the Skyscraper Museum to hear Mark Sarkisian, the structural and seismic engineer who is a partner at SOM in San Francisco. Mark designed one of Shanghai’s first supertalls back in 1999. His talk Pivot to China: How Jin Mao Portended Future Supertalls will explain how this tower’s innovations influenced the generation of supertall skyscrapers that followed.

Shanghai’s Jin Mao tower, 1999
Berman Collection poster part of the Youth Style talk at Poster House.

On Wednesday (April 14) at 6:30pm, take a journey back to early modernist Europe at Poster House, who will be hosting A Tale of Three Cities: Youth Style in Berlin, Munich, & Vienna with the Kaller Research Institute. The evening will focus on how young designers made their mark on design from 1895 to 1910. You’ll see works from the Merrill C. Berman Collection (the collection featured at MoMA in Engineer Agitator Constructor), and works from the Poster House’s current Julius Klinger exhibition.

Also at 6:30pm – an opportunity to understand your karma. Join the Rubin Museum of Art for The Game of Life: An Interactive Virtual Experience. A contemplative psychotherapist will guide participants through a virtual Buddhist Wheel of Life to finding liberation from negative habits and patterns. The virtual game takes you throughout the different floors of the museum, and provides twists and turns. There are “Hell” and “God” Zoom rooms, but the payoff is higher awareness of one’s state of mind.

The Rubin’s reimagined Wheel of Life by eight graphic artists.
Kusama at New York Botanical Garden

On Thursday (April 15) at 11am, it’s what all of New York has been waiting for! Mika Yoshitake, the curator of New York Botanical Garden’s KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature will provide a look at how Kusama’s blockbuster installation reflects nature, the earth, the microscopic, and the cosmos. Cosmic Nature: Embracing the Unknown will present Mike’s insights about Kusama’s artistic language and her unrelenting, lifelong journey into new territory.

McQueen models backstage, as photographed by Richard Fairer

Want to go backstage at a McQueen show? At 6pm you can. Join Vogue photographer Robert Fairer at Museum at FIT for a live Q&A about his new book, Alexander McQueen: Unseen. Experience memorable moments of fashion’s greatest, most outrageous showman and see what a genius at work backstage before the show.

There’s a lot more happening this week, so check the complete schedule. Most of the events are free, but it’s always nice to add a thank-you donation.