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  • I am delighted to be blogging (every 8th and 25th of the month) about film for Art for Progress. The organization/site’s dual mission – supporting emerging artists and arts education – is an admirable one, especially given the stratospheric real estate prices in New York and other cities that have traditionally incubated arts scenes, and the deep cuts in pubic school arts education. The ever-escalating mainstream media coverage of celebrity-driven — as opposed to talent-driven — arts and entertainment doesn’t help the current climate. Fortunately, blogs such as this exist!

    In the past 20-or-so years of writing about movies for a variety of print and digital outlets, I’ve covered everything from major Hollywood releases to little-heralded films, interviewed (i.e., was allotted 15 phone minutes with) major movie stars and had long, insightful conversations with extremely independent filmmakers. It’s all been good, but I especially relish writing about lesser-known films and their creators; it’s always satisfying to encounter a fresh cinematic voice and easy to get caught up in the excitement of the filmmakers themselves. That’s mainly the stuff I plan to cover here.

    Courtesy of FilmBuff

    Courtesy of FilmBuff

    The Heart Machine, which received a lot of positive attention at this year’s SXSW Festival, is the first feature from writer/director Zachary Wigon, who used Kickstarter to help fund it. A 2008 graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Wigon has a background in film journalism. While at school he started a cinema studies magazine and later contributed to Indiewire and Filmmaker magazine; he still writes for the Village Voice.

    Though many have compared The Heart Machine to 2010’s Catfish — another film about a questionable online romance — The Heart Machine is a moodier, more atmospheric work, with an underlying theme about modern-day relationships and the digital environment that has transformed both the way they form and how they play out (or don’t).

    John Gallagher Jr. (Cody) and Kate Lyn Sheil (Virginia) both fine, naturalistic actors — play a couple who meet via OkCupid and conduct what seems like an ideal long-distance relationship via Skype; he’s in Brooklyn; she’s in Berlin. When Cody hears police sirens on her end that sound suspiciously American, he begins what becomes near-obsessive research (much of it online) to figure out whether she’s messing with him and why. As his suspicions mount, he plays detective and puts himself into increasingly risky situations, all the while keeping up the Skype relationship with Virginia. Alternately, there are scenes from her point of view, which provide a nice counterpoint without decreasing the film’s tension.

    Both Cody and Virginia use various online tools (Gmail, Facebook, Blendr, Craigslist, Twitter), to get what they need in The Heart Machine. Though these are common conveniences for most of us, when presented onscreen en masse they’re a somewhat startling reminder of how casually dependent we’ve become on digital devices and how they’ve altered our lives as well as those of the film’s protagonists.

    Rob Leitzell’s cinematography is dark, straightforward and compelling; his nicely-composed shots of familiar New York spaces — sidewalks, building facades, parks, subways and various interiors — provide an additional layer of engagement for city dwellers who can identify, and identify with, these locations. All in all, it’s a solid debut from a promising filmmaker.

    The Heart Machine (Pacemaker Films, FilmBuff) is currently playing at Cinema Village, 22 E. 12th Street, Manhattan.

    Also of note: Revenge of the Mekons, a documentary by Joe Angio about the venerable British punk band, playing at Film Forum, Oct. 29 through Nov. 4; Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History through Sunday; Other Israel Film Festival at various venues around town, Nov. 6 through 13.

    Marina Zogbi

  • reptar

    Reptar at Baby’s All Right. Photo Credit: Zoe Marquedant.

    There isn’t a more musically diverse city than New York. The boroughs boast every kind of venue, from coffee shops to concert halls. From Barclays to The Bowery to The Silent Barn, there is a constant flow of musicians moving amongst, around and through NYC. Whether they are defining or defying a genre, each strive to make their mark. This blog aims to explore that journey and report on what the natives and newcomers are coming up with. On the 3rd and 20th of every month we will post on the up and coming, the established, the solo acts and the full bands, doing our best to bring you what’s news and what’s new. Open mic nights, co-headlined tours, battles of the bands and quality buskers are all fair game; we aim to bring you a mix of everything. We want to include the five person Balkan brass bands, the shoegazing indie rockers, head-smashing metal acts and whatever else this city may culture in its midsts. We understand that the NYC music scene is ever changing and we plan to keep pace. We won’t tell you who to see or who to listen to, but if you would like suggestions we’re here to help. We will be posting interviews, concert recaps, album reviews and any related news, all with the aim of making you a better informed listener. Welcome and we hope you enjoy the ride.

    About your blogger: Zoe Marquedant grew up listening to, playing and illegally downloading (whoops) music. Nowadays there is rarely a moment when she does not have her headphones in. Although a longstanding fan of punk rock, Zoe has broadened her musical tastes and over the years added everything from LCD Soundsystem to Herman’s Hermits to her iPod. Some of her favorite bands include The National, Jack’s Mannequin and Third Eye Blind. Zoe believes in crowd surfing, music zines and preordering CDs. Originally from Maryland, she came to New York for college and never left. Zoe majored in English literature and creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Now living in Brooklyn, Zoe is slowly, but surely expanding her knowledge of New York City’s bands and venues (although DC’s 9:30 Club will always be her  all-time favorite.) She is honored and delighted to share this musical journey with you, because as much as she is a journalist she is also a fan. If you’d like to hear more from her/suggest something for a blog/swap mix tapes Zoe can be found on Twitter at @zoenoumlaut.

    Zoe Marquedant

    The author. Photo Credit: Zoe Marquedant.

  • September has been another exciting month for AFP Arts Education. We have been forming alliances with a variety of other non-profit groups, as well as getting this semester’s programs under way. Teaching artist Elio Schiavo has been doing a great job with our new partner LACASA at P.S. 84. Elio is teaching four percussion classes per week to K-4 students.

    I have hit the ground running at Humanities Prep this semester. In addition to having two great groups of kids in my regular classes, I have some very dedicated and focused students attending, and we are getting into some great stuff, including song analysis, learning how to identify the key or keys of a song, and some new improvisation techniques.

    One of my favorite things about having the opportunity to teach at the same school for a third consecutive year is that new students have heard exciting things about my class from their friends. When they come to class in the beginning of the year they are eager and hopeful,  they know the class can help them achieve goals that are important to them, and they are attentive and participate with less self-consciousness. Some students who have excelled and some who were slow to appreciate the opportunity actually request to be enrolled in the class for a second time.  Whether they are expanding their repertoire or finally taking the class seriously, returning students are enthusiastic and focused without exception. Because there is a well established creative musical culture that has now been in place for two full years, students and even teachers  come by my classroom to see if they can get a few minutes of practice in or an impromptu lesson.

    After three weeks of intensive music theory instruction, my music students have begun to start to apply their new knowledge to instruments. They are now learning guitar chords, putting scales and chords together on the pianos and keyboards, and some have gravitated toward the computers where they have been learning to play beats on keyboard controllers along with the metronome in Garage Band. I can’t wait to hear the next “trap” track!

    LACASA After School Percussion  LACASA After School Percussion

  • Alan Lupiani has been a involved in the New York art scene since 1996.  In this time, he has built an impressive resume of exhibitions that he has participated in and curated himself. Lupiani, a graduate of Binghamton University, earning a BA Studio Art 1988, would go onto receive his MBA in Arts Administration from the same institution in 1991. While Lupiani is a trained painter, his most recent work questions the conceptual bonds between painting and performance based work.

    In 2007, he launched his own LIVE Internet show entitled, “Dear Immaculately Groomed Italian Guy.” The show was successful in that it attracted as many as 10,000 viewers per episode. Lupiani produced approximately fifteen live episodes. Each episode utilized a similar format: cooking dinner for a guest in his apartment, while taking Skype calls from a global audience base. He also presented previously recorded clips with his guest at various locations around New York City. Lupiani recruited the individuals he hosted through the “Gigs” section of Craig’s List. These meetings via Craig’s List created the vibe of chance intimacy which resulted in provocative, comedic interactions.

    Currently Lupiani “utilizes painting as a metaphor to deconstruct various “situations” which he discovers through the internet, pop culture, and his personal biography. This approach to painting involves picking words and images that Lupiani responds to on a daily basis. He then manipulates the images in Photoshop, prints them out, and reworks them by hand in the studio.

    Lupiani maintains a studio practice while also being involved in the art world on multiple levels. In 2013, he was named Administrative Co-Director of the New York Studio Residency Program. He Co-Directs the NYSRP with artist/activist Artistic Co-Director, William Powhida. More recently, Lupiani has also curated various group shows, and launched his own art consulting business. I spoke with Lupiani regarding the contemporary art scene in New York City, his own studio practice, and what it takes to be a successful artist in today’s world.

    Anni Irish: How did you start working at NYSRP? What role you played as a studio manager?

    Alan Lupiani: Retired Director John Tomlinson hired me in 1997. I supported John and the Program in this capacity until my promotion to Administrative Co-Director in June 2013.

    AI: How that has your role changed in the program in the last year?

    AL: I am now the Administrative Co-Director of the NYSRP, responsible for day to day operations. Additional responsibilities now include formulating the marketing, community/alumni and strategic development.

    words1anni (1)

    Image courtesy of Alan Lupiani, 2014.

    AI: What are some of your favorite aspects of being able to work with emerging artists on a daily basis?

    AL: There is always a fresh vibe at the NYSRP which keeps the environment lively and engaging. Meeting different people who come through the program such as visiting artists, critics, and a constant flow of exceptional residents keeps the critical inquiry alive and well.

    AI: How did your undergraduate experience at Binghamton University formulate your art making practice?

    AL: I received a traditional NYC middle century modernist based painting education, which focused on the technical aspects of making a painting. I worked primarily with Brooklyn born painter Angelo Ippolito a second-generation abstract expressionist artist. He treated me like a son and supported my aspirations to become a painter.


    biggie1 (1) Image courtesy of Alan Lupiani, Biggie, 2014.


    AI: Your earlier experiences with Angelo Ippolito sound very important. What influences if any do you see of him occurring in your work?

    AL: Angelo taught me to believe in myself and pushed me to take my art practice further.

    AI: In your artist statement you discuss the conceptual break you made earlier on in your career being trained as a traditional painter to now using painting as a metaphor to “deconstruct situations on the internet, in popular culture.” I am really interested in that idea as both an intervention in the art world and the performance based potentials that it appears to have. Could you talk more about that?

    AL: This goes back to my break out of the studio in 2006. I worked with actor and comedian Tom Green to help promote his internet talk show “Tom Green Live.” Tom mentored me in aspects of confrontational performance and how to take risks.

    AI: How did the opportunity to work with Tom Green come about?

    AL: The opportunity came about via Youtube, I had posted some goofy experimental performances based on a character called Aluminaman who would rock out to some AC/DC songs. One of Tom’s fans saw these videos and recommended that I contact Tom to participated on his LIVE streamed internet show.

    AI: Your current work seems performative in terms of how you select images, then manipulate them both in Photoshop and in the studio. Could you describe that process a bit more and how the performance element has become more prevalent in your work over the last six years?

    AL: I wouldn’t call it performance based per say. It is starting to head that way as I look to expand my studio into more formal white cube situations/events. Time and opportunity will tell.


    Tim_Berners.so (1) Image courtesy of Alan Lupiani, Tim Burners, 2014.


    AI: What are your thoughts regarding the current state of painting and it’s place within contemporary art?

    AL: Essentially I view object making, not just painting, as an artist’s calling card. I prefer to focus on the artist as an, art being. The rest, object wise, is either made for the market or as an extension of the artist’s reach into society.

    AI: You’ve been involved in the NYC art scene since 1996. In that time, what are some of the most significant changes you have seen in this time?

    AL: The New York art world has become more professionalized and siloed into separate definable fiefdoms/class structures. For example, one structure are those artists who engage with blue chip galleries, earn a substantial living, exhibit in global biennials and museum shows. Another tier to this structure are gallery represented artists who make some money from their art and the rest from teaching or other job. Another grouping includes unrepresented artists who show from time to time and have another career to support themselves. Also, the development of communities through social media like Facebook and Instagram has helped to make the New York art community more interactive and engaging. However, making a living as a serious artist while not being beholden to the market seems as difficult as ever. In addition to the difficulties of just surviving in New York City, younger people have to be that much more committed and resourceful to make a go of it here. In this way, living/working as an artist in New York City seems more Darwinian than ever.

    IMG_20140923_203752 (1) Image courtesy of Alan Lupiani, 2014.


    AI: As an artist and now Administrative Co-director of NYSRP, what do you think is the importance of a fine arts based education in today’s world?

    AL: Well, there are a lot of smart people in the world, but to make the jump to a deep thinking sophisticated thinker, it takes a lot of work and investigation. Art school provides a supportive platform for young people to develop their minds and ideas in this manner. Depending on the commitment of the student, art school can also be a great way of learning how to work/think independently, and to develop creative strategies/initiatives which may help shape society for future generations.

    AI.: What is some of the best advice you ever received?

    AL: “People don’t remember you for your successes, they remember you for how you treated them.” I agree with that statement.

    AI: What are some authors and artists you are currently reading?

    AL: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be by Moises Naim, Wild Bill Donovan by Douglas Waller and Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson

    AI: What are some projects you are you currently working on?

    AL: I am scheduled to curate group show in Montreal next February which revisits the exhibition “BLAM,” previously presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1986. I am working with emerging NYC and Canadian based artists for this exhibition. This group show, entitled, ÏmPop2 focuses on the pop/fluxus/minimalist pivot in NYC from 1958 – 1964 and how these issues/topics/concerns are still relevant today.

    To learn more about Alan Lupiani’s work check out his website and be sure to follow him on Instagram.

    –Anni Irish