Every year I must watch the Oscars. And every year it disappoints. Except this year. For me it is a local event happening steps from my home that the whole world watches with me. Alright I could have done without the ode to The Wizard of Oz (“Hi Whoopie”), but on the whole it finally came together. While Ellen provided her original brand of levity and made the show current – my eye is always on the sets in the back ground. For the 2nd year running production designer Derek McLane worked his magic.The light bulbs in the circles were remniscient of old movie set lighting or marquees and I thought added a modern retro touch – but the Swarovski crystal curtains stole the show. Swarovski crystals are used by everyone from Bouroullec to Rodarte – so McLane is in good company. McLane reinstated last years 80 ft. by 40 ft. crystal curtain and added six “swag drapes” created especially for this year’s ceremony by Swarovski technicians using over 100,000 lead glass crystals. Only after the announcement of Frozen’s nomination did McLane know how he would work the “swag drapes” into the show. Thousands of hours are put into the set pieces and production – we all tune in for a few hours -and thats it – it all comes down. I don’t know if thats prudent in these troubled times, but for a couple of hours this year…it made me “Happy”…
Tomorrow I head out-of-town to New Orleans for a few days. On my list of “must sees” is the traveling exhibition, Woman, Art and Social Change: the Newcomb Pottery Enterprise. Having grown up next to a “Sophie Newcomb Lady” or a woman who was educated at the Tulane woman’s college, I am excited to see the product of this legendary institution.
That both the costumes’ and the production’s design of The Great Gatsby were by the hands of the same person helps to explain how her work for both earned her the Oscar for both, last night. Catherine Martin, whose work with Muicia Prada this page brought to your attention back in May, brought her talent & penchant for improbable material excess to the job of meticulously illustrating improbable material excess. If Nick Carraway narrates memories from an overwrought world, who better to bring that to exuberant life than she? With Set Decoration by Beverley Dunn, West Egg was never so tastily overcooked.
A very successful interior intervention is under foot at Lincoln Center for a few more days. An art project, commissioned by New York City Ballet, executed by French artist JR inhabits the second floor lobby and finally bridges the space for art and the art of ballet. JR photographed the NYCB dancers with paper and then made a large-scale collage to manipulated the State Theater lobby. So interesting to see what it does to the space. As you pop in see the Lee Bontecou piece, with the deep-set “eye” that might have been a formal impulse.
Elizabeth Whelan experiments in her low-tech studio to discover high-tech textile solutions for the furniture and apparel industry. I’m inspired by her brightly lit studio containing a small dye-lab and loom. Sketching patterns from nature; creating new yarns by combining together anything from silk to thermoplastics; mixing colors through dying fiber; building structure on her small loom. Recognized for her award winning’Form-Sensing Mesh’ textile used on the Liberty Chair for Human Scale. She now has moved on to equipment for Nike. Found through FastCoDesign.com. Photo from her web site.
In communist Poland, film poster design was one of a few art forms free of state censorship, giving artists a platform to sneak in subversive commentary. American Westerns, with their open spaces, tall hats and braying horses, provided particularly potent imagery to critique the violence of the Soviet-backed regime. Now on at the Denver Art Museum is a show of 28 of these posters from the 1950s-80s, which give new meaning to familiar titles, and slyly incriminate an oppressive government with loaded symbols. (The guns shown in the poster for “Cat-Ballou” is a German WWII Walther Pistol, not a “six shooter”. And the horse shown for “The Misfits” alludes directly to Picasso’s anti-war masterpiece, Guernica). If you can catch it, Rebranded: Polish Film Posters for the American Western is up & running through June 1.