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  • When Saturday evening rolled around the lines started to form outside an old police precinct in Gramercy Park, but this wasn’t your ordinary art opening. Our friend Robert Aloia and his crew were at it again as they took over the building and invited many great street artists to do their thing. The sprawling 5 floor show features many great artists with an impressive range of work which included several installation pieces.

    The show runs through next weekend. Here’s a list of participating artists.

    Adam Dare, Al Diaz, Amanda Marie, ASVP, Bad Pedestrian, Ben Angotti,BEAU, Bill Claps, Bishop203, bunny M, Cash4, Chris RWK, Chris Soria, Coby Kennedy, Curb Your Ego, Curtis Kulig, D. Gaja, Danielle Mastrion, Damon Johnson, Dasic, Dizmology, Duel, ELLE, Erasmo, Esteban del Valle, Faust, Ghost, GIZ, Hellbent, Hue, Icy & Sot, Iena Cruz, Jesper Haynes, Joseph Meloy, Justin Carty, Ket, Lexi Bella, Li Hill, Lorenzo Masnah, Matt Siren, Mr. Toll, N. Carlos Jay, Nepo, Net, Never, Nick Tengri, Noxer, Pesu, Phil, Pixote, Queen Andrea, RAE, Rambo, Ricardo Cabret, SAE, Savior Elmundo, Sheryo & The Yok, Shiro, Smells, Tone Tank, URNY (Ski & 2esae), Vexta,VFR, X-O, Zoens

    Hosted by: Albert Diaz & Frankie Cedeño

  • On August 4th people in Times Square were exposed to a unique art experience–digital billboards were changed from their usual advertisements to iconic American art pieces. This art intervention in a public space won’t stop there and will also include a print campaign that will be seen on public transportation and throughout the city and in other locations. This is being done through the efforts of Art Everywhere US a collaboration between five major art museums and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. According to an article in the LA Times, the campaign will run from August 4-31 and will feature fifty eight images which will be displayed in close to 50,000 commercial locations in all fifty states. All the images were voted on by the public and the museums involved include The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Dallas Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

    The event was first conceived of by Richard Reed who produced a similar campaign in the United Kingdom in 2013. This included a similar collaboration between the Tate Modern, Art Fund and the UK out of Ihome advertising industry. Artists in the US nation wide campaign include: Andy Warhol, Winslow Homer, Cindy Sherman and John Singer Sargent among others.

    INSTALL-IMAGE-11-774x1024
    Art Everywhere U.S. Times Square installation, featuring Winslow Homer’s “The Water Fan” (1898-99, The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Dorothy A., John A. Jr., and Christopher Holabird in memory of William and Mary Holabird)

    The Whitney Museum’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Programs Donna DeSilvo said,
    “The Whitney Museum of American Art is proud to be part of Art Everywhere US, and especially to see it launch in our home city of New York. It is a project that situates extraordinary images by great American artists in the unique cultural landscape that is the United States.  It’s always exciting to think about encountering art in the course of everyday life, whether inside or outside.”

    DeSilvo is right in saying that Art Everywhere US does promote a way of thinking about art in an everyday context. While this is an exciting prospect for people to encounter art in a new way, it also points to larger issues surrounding public art in general. Living in a city such as New York where public art based work is on the rise through the work of organizations such as Creative Time and the Art Production Fund among others, I wonder where Art Everywhere US fits into this larger milieu.

    The history of public art in New York is extremely rich and in thinking about the scale to which Art Everywhere US was produced, it does seem to challenge the current model. On some level Art Everywhere US could offer a different way to frame the way in which public art is made. However, given the fact that the images were crowd sourced, voted on, and came from prominent American museum collections which were than reproduced also seems to render the role of the artist as invisible on some level. Or perhaps efforts such as these are helping to re-imagine what the art making process art is, how art is produced and the ways in which it is viewed.

    While efforts such as these may offer another way to think about public art and the way in which it can be interacted with on a daily basis, these are images of famous art pieces that have been reproduced on a massive scale and have been strategically placed in locations throughout the US. Although the logistics of this program are quite impressive, I am still reluctant to completely back this model. Art Everywhere US is doing important work in terms of situating art against a quotidian backdrop, however there is still work to be done in terms of how projects such as these either are creating new models or simply working within the confines of existing ones.

    Art Everywhere US is on view through August 31. To visit it’s interactive map click here to learn about where various artworks are located near you. The project is also encouraging people to use the hashtag #ArtEverywhereUS
    –Anni Irish

  • Art for Progress’ summer music education program has met two more times since my last post, and a lot of great stuff has been going on. We have been exploring jazz theory, analyzing Etta James’ “At Last”, using the solfeggio system to develop ear training, and have delved into some vocal exercises in order to tune up our voices, and to reinforce the ear training work. Participants have each been asked to select a song to work on, and we’ll be applying the new techniques we’ve developed to singing those songs in the upcoming final session. One student, who is originally from Bangladesh, is even working on a song by his favorite Bengali pop band! In addition to all of this subtler harmony work, there’s been some good ol’ rocking out, as well. The group has expanded its original repertoire of rock songs, and has been honing the arrangements to prepare for our final recording session of the summer. We have recorded versions of four original songs thus far, and as we get closer to the perfect take, we have also been studying the various tools used in the recording and mixing process, and learning how to make the tracks pop out of the speakers.

    “At Last”, by Etta James is a timeless classic, which was revisited a few years ago by Beyonce in the movie “Cadillac Records”. While the melody is arresting and unforgettable in its uniqueness, it also contains some very exemplary chord changes, which are great for illustrating the use of ii-V-I progressions and some other essential jazz concepts, like altered dominant chords. Technicalities aside, we have been learning the musical devices used by the masters to describe and evoke emotions in classic songs. To better understand the elements of these musical devices, we have been reviewing the solfeggio system: do re mi fa sol la ti do, and observing how scales and chords are organized. Singing solfeggio requires any musician to be able to reproduce pitches with his or her voice, which requires a greater degree of focus and intention than many other instruments that are fretted or otherwise produce fixed pitches. It’s a great way for musicians to hone their ears, and an essential tool for tuning up one’s voice for singing. Since all of the participants in this summer’s program have expressed an interest in singing, it also provides an excellent segue into that, and I’m looking forward to hearing everyone’s selections.

    As I mentioned earlier, the core group of students attending this summer’s program have formed a rock group, and have been developing an original repertoire. The band has been through several singers, but they haven’t found the right match yet. This has been a motivating force, however, and now they all want to learn to sing their own songs. In the meantime, we have been recording ever-evolving versions of the songs they have written, and learning about the equipment and software used in the music production process. We have learned how to use compression and equalization to bring drum sounds to the forefront of the listening field, as well as to thicken and focus bass and guitar sounds to improve the clarity, and live energy of the performance.

    During his week’s final AFP summer music session, we’ll be recording some new material, and digging a little deeper into jazz harmony, but I’m mostly looking forward to hearing everyone sing!

    Here are some photos and a video from this summer’s art ed activities, enjoy!

    IMG_2242 IMG_2230 IMG_2259 IMG_2260 IMG_2361 IMG_2362 IMG_2367 IMG_2372 T-10 Session July

  • There is nothing like mid-August to get us thinking about a fresh start. Maybe it’s the long standing habit of buying school clothes, but refreshing one’s wardrobe will soon be the order of the day. The interesting thing is that, now more than ever, there really are no rules in fashion. From solids, stripes and color blocking, silhouettes are crossing the spectrum. Even florals were trending in the resort collections this year.

    What this means for self-expression is all good news. Recent trends and collections feature both Boho and structured looks, along with strong colors and varied skirt lengths. With a full range of both staples and frivolous accents, our options are endless. The best part of having no rules is that we can focus on self-expression and individuality with pieces we already have in our closets. By adding in a few fresh separates or colorful accessories, an entire wardrobe can be revived. So here’s to enjoying these last few weeks of summer, while looking forward to getting dressed again. Not to mention NY Fashion Week in September!

    Fashion and art are always flirting with each other, finding ways to intertwine craft with creativity and function. When it is successful, it allows people the freedom to be creative while maintaining their integrity. The fall 2014 collections showed us how color, functionality and creativity come together. A few standout collections seen on Style.com from Dries Van Noten, Christopher Kane, and Billy Reid menswear….

    Dries Van Noten, fall 2014, photo by Yannis Vlamos

    Dries Van Noten, fall 2014, photo by Yannis Vlamos

    Christopher Kane, fall 2014, photo by Marcus Tondol

    Christopher Kane, fall 2014, photo by Marcus Tondol

    Billy Reid, fall 2014, photo by Gianni Pucci

    Billy Reid, fall 2014, photo by Gianni Pucci

    -Allyson Jacobs

     

  • Welcome to We Learn Dances, an occasional series on the people, parties and (most of all) music that make clubland the wonderful place it is. The focus will be on the slightly more refined, artistically oriented end of the nightlife spectrum—yes, such a thing exists, believe it or not—rather than on the superficial pleasures afforded by either the bottle-service scene or the EDM world. At least, that’s the plan.

    We’re kicking the series off with a man who’s intimately familiar with the concept of sophisticated dance music, Dennis “Citizen” Kane. He’s been an integral part of NYC’s nightlife since the mid-’90s, when the Philly transplant hit NYC and established himself in the underground scene as one of its most knowledgeable DJs; since then, he’s since played scores of venues across the city and around the world. He’s established a pair of respected record labels: Disques Sinthomme, which has released a wide range of work featuring the likes of Max Essa, the Beat Broker, Liquid Liquid’s Sal Principato and Richard “Padded Cell” Sen, and an edit imprint, Ghost Town, which has seen contributions from Brennan Green and Bicep, among many other notables. He’s a talented producer himself, with material out on such respected labels as Tummy Touch, Ubiquity and Adult Contemporary (track down his mix of Yagya’s “Rigning Sjö” on that last label—it’s killer.) His website, dsgtnyc.com, hosts a rather amazing podcast that’s featured sets from such international stars as DJ Harvey, Prins Thomas and Greg Wilson. And he’s been toiling in the studio with his frequent deejaying partner Darshan Jesrani (of Metro Area fame) on a new project called Siren, with the first fruits of that collaboration coming out soon on Compost.

    In short, the dude is busy—but Kane recently managed to find the time for a quick chat over a couple of beers. And scroll to the bottom of the interview for a great mix from the man himself.

    Bruce Tantum: What possessed you to originally get into this world?

    Dennis Kane: I think it started when I was just eight or nine. My parents had one of those old-school console hi-fis, with the kind of record player where you could stack the records. I really liked to sit on the carpet in front of the speakers and play records. I listened to everything: my older brother’s Led Zeppelin records, my dad’s Count Basie records, my sisters Bob Dylan and Beach Boys records. And I really liked it all. I would just sit there all day long, drawing and daydreaming and listening to music.

    BT: When did you start buying music on your own?
    DK: As soon as I got my first job as a teenager, I started going to record stores. This was in Philadelphia, which is such a great music city. Then my older brother got me a mini-turntable—I think it was a Realistic turntable from Radio Shack. It had a built-in speaker; I would listen to records in my room a lot. A bit later, I got my own system, with a Garrard turntable, a little Technics amplifier—and headphones. The headphones were a revelation. I would sit in the dark and listen to Gato Barbieri, I could listen to Joe Jackson…whatever the fuck I wanted to. I was in my own world.

    Photograph: Ruth Bartlett

    Photograph: Ruth Bartlett

    BT: It sounds like, even as a high-school kid, you had rather mature taste.
    DK: Where I’m from, I don’t think that was particularly unique. The neighborhood I grew up in had great Latin music, for instance—and I remember the great debate being “are you a Temptations fan, or are you a Beatles fan?”

    BT: Was there a racial split on that question?
    DK: Not really: Eddie Fields, the kid who lived next to me—and who later went to prison for beating up a cop—was a Temptations fan. He was a white guy. And then there was Ronnie Brown, who was like, “The Beatles are the shit. The Temptations wear those stupid costumes.” There was actually a real discourse about this. I can also remember going to my friend Orlando Mendez’s house, and we’d listen to things like the Supremes and the Spinners. There was just a lot of great music around.

    BT: And you were digging all of it.
    DK. Yeah! Over the course of the day, I would hear the Spinners and I would hear Crosby, Stills and Nash, who I thought made beautiful music. It was a great way to grow up.

    BT: What were your first DJ gigs?
    DK: Originally I started playing parties in art school. At that point, I was collecting a lot of soul ballads, so I was essentially playing a lot of ballads.

    BT: Nice! Stuff like the Delphonics?
    DK: Yeah, and Eddie Holman, Imagination, the Miracles, things like that. A lot of Philadelphia stuff, of course, like the Stylistics. From there, I discovered Jamaican ballads. Finding that relationship between northeastern American soul ballads and the Jamaican versions of that was huge for me. At the same time, a lot of my friends were into things like New Romantic groups; I remember having a lot of hair products. And hair.

    BT: Those were the days, when you could play soul ballads to New Romantic fans.
    DK: For sure. From there, I was in New York and I started buy records on Canal Street from—what’s his name, Lenny Kaye?

    BT: Patti Smith’s guitarist?
    DK: Yeah. He used to have these record things at his loft, where you could go in a pick up African stuff and all kinds of things. It was great! I was still playing a lot of soul—more soul than anything—with a little funk and hip-hop. Then I started discovering people like Big Daddy Kane and Eric B and Rakim, which I thought was amazing. I began playing more of that kind of sound, and I started to get more work as a hip-hop DJ. I teamed up with Jeff Mao, and we focusing a lot of funk and hip-hop.

    BT: You had narrowed your focus a bit during that period.
    DK: Well, to be honest, we were also playing disco, Latin music and whatever. But mainly funk and hip-hop.

    BT: But at some point you started phasing hip-hop out a bit of your sets, right?
    DK: Yeah. At one point, hip-hop was extremely exciting, and so much fun to play. I remember that around when Fat Beats first opened, there were tons of great records coming out every week. I was meeting all these producers too, because I was digging a lot—people like Lord Finesse and Pete Rock.

    BT: That must have been kind of exciting.
    DK: Yeah, and I really liked them. It was a tremendous time. So much good music—De La Soul, Kool Keith, Ultramagnetic MCs and so many more. But I can remember playing this midtown club—I think it was Speeed—and I realized that the crowd was changing. The scene just got…dumb. Guys would come up and say, “Oh, I know you got this record. You’re gonna play it.” I’d be thinking, well, fuck that—I’m gonna play Loose Ends instead. Finally, I realized that the whole thing had gotten corny and the music stopped being interesting. And the crowds were even worse. But Jeff really wanted to keep going in that direction, while I was getting more into what you could loosely call dance music. I wanted to play Brazilian music; I wanted to play sleazy Italian cinema music; I wanted to play everything, really.

    Photograph: Chris Renzulli

    Photograph: Chris Renzulli

    BT: Everything that’s good, at least. You’ve described it in previous interviews as “adult dance music.”
    DK: That was the approach I took, even when I was playing hip-hop. I wanted to play in a sophisticated way, to play the music that really mattered to me, and to win the audience over by playing it with fury and intensity. And I think it worked. I managed to get quite a few people who ordinarily wouldn’t have gone anywhere near this music to like it. You have to make an argument for what you believe in, and as a DJ, that’s the fun part.

    BT: You’ve also been making that argument as a producer and label boss over the past several years.
    DK: Seven years! And I’ve seen the same kind of thing in those roles as I have as a DJ. Whenever anything interesting becomes just a little bit popular, a million people will then jump into it—and then it becomes diluted and uninteresting. Like, not so long ago, acid house got big again, and then everybody was making all these fake old acid house records. And for the most part, it was just shit.

    BT: And I take it you try and stay away from that kind of thing.
    DK: Both with the label and as a producer, I told myself that I wouldn’t do that. I was gonna make stuff and put out stuff that didn’t fit easily into any trend; I would put out music that I cared about, and do it as well as I could.

    BT: You were never actively trying to find an audience?
    DK: Nope. Some of our records have found an audience and some of them haven’t. For instance, the Beat Broker and Lars Behrenroth did a twelve for us [2008’s “Cactus Cooler”/”The Beach” split single], and it was a great record. Smith & Mudd did a beautiful remix of “The Beach” and I felt great about the remix that I did for “Cactus Cooler.” But still, nobody noticed it!

    BT: That was a great release.
    DK: And now, people seem to be finally noticing it. Like, “Oh, shit, that was a good record.” But that was the deal: I was just going to put out the music that I liked by the people that I liked, and whatever happens, happens. It’s the same with the podcasts that we run on the website—just DJs that I really like. I don’t really care about how popular someone is—I just want a good set.

    BT: You been busy working on a new project with Darshan Jesrani from Metro Area, right?
    DK: Yeah, and we’re really excited about it. It’s called Siren, and we’re deep in production right now. It’s going to be coming out on Compost Records.

    BT: I know you and Darshan are friends, but what was the impetus behind producing together?
    DK: There was this party at Winter Music Conference several years ago down at the Winter Music Conference; it was just Dar and I deejaying all night. Michael [Reinboth, Compost’s founder] and the rest of the Compost crew were hanging out, and we had such a good time with them. We had quite a few cocktails, I remember. Michael said, “Hey, if you two ever do something, send it to us.”

    BT: It was that easy?
    DK: That part was. But we’ve been working hard for the past year and three quarters, working on writing some strong original material. The music didn’t seem to fit into any specific genre, but we went ahead and sent it to Compost, and they said, “This is incredible. We want it. Can we have it?”

    BT: Which means you now have to finish the tracks up, I assume.
    DK: We actually have two tracks done. The first is coming out in September. That one features a vocal from Daniel Chavis of Apollo Heights fame, with a remix by Ray Mang.

    BT: The goal is to have an album together at some point, right?
    DK: Yeah, hopefully by summer of next year…though things always take longer than you expect, so that might be revised. We’re really going for it; we’re really working on it all the time. And the nice thing is that you can really see the effort and care paying off. The music doesn’t sound disposable; it doesn’t sound like so much music that’s sitting in my inbox.

    BT: Can you describe what it does sound like?
    DK: It’s strong dance music, basically. But it doesn’t tick off the same boxes as most dance music. It has some spoken word, it has some dark guitar stuff—and the second release is different, more romantic with a Burt Bacharach kind of structure to it. It’s really hard to encapsulate.

    BT: Give it a try.
    DK: It’s original, adult dance music. It doesn’t sound like what Darshan has done, it doesn’t sound like what I have done. It sounds like us, and it’s something new.