Theatre. We. LOVE – Ensemble Studio Theatre’s “Year of the Rooster”

“YEAR of the ROOSTER” – An EST/Youngblood Production – Eric Dufault asks you to “WAKE the F*#K UP!”

Year of the Rooster - Ensemble Studio Theatre - NYC - Theatre. We. LOVE. - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

The EST/Youngblood production of Eric Dufault’s ‘YEAR OF THE ROOSTER’ begins its extended run January 2014.

Theatre. We. LOVE at the Angel Orensanz Foundation sits down with the cast and crew of EST’s production of “Year of the Rooster.”

by: Zoe V. SpeasThe Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

The wintry months of January and February mark my second anniversary with the City of New York. Most of my time was spent with one hand gripping onto the handrail of “back home” while I tried to skitter around the perimeter of the city on borrowed ice skates. I’m still here, surviving, but it has taken all of those two years for me to come around to letting go of the rail. I have let go, and it’s due almost entirely to the three-month-long relationship I’ve had so far with the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Youngbloods production of Eric Dufault’s Year of the Rooster.

Year of the Rooster - Ensemble Studio Theatre - NYC - Theatre. We. LOVE. - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the ArtsAs you’ll see by the title of this blog and subsequent headers, the point of my post is to tell you about all the brilliant, hilarious, inspiring things that the creative team of Rooster had to say when they generously sat down to talk to their fan (me) for an interview. I will do that. I promise. And let me tell you, sitting around a modestly-sized conference table surrounded by people whose transformations into warrior-roosters and  power-hungry McDonald’s managers – it can be pretty overwhelming.

Not to mention the fact that proximity to playwright Eric Dufault (in all of his humble, talented niceness) kind of makes you torn between wanting to hug and bake for him or beat his brains out in a jealous rage. At least then you could see close-up what the brains would look like of someone who can invite his audience into the world of cockfighting and middle-America and give it the grandeur of gladiators fighting in a Roman coliseum.

Grandeur, I need to add, made possible by director John Giampietro‘s excellent choice to underscore the action of the play with classical symphonies and fugues by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Ensemble Studio Theatre - Year of the Rooster - Theatre. We. LOVE - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

Playwright Eric Dufault has always had a strong connection with animals, and much of his work incorporates the idea of “talking animals”, including the ongoing production of ‘YEAR OF THE ROOSTER’ at EST.

“I’ve always written plays that involve talking animals, including chickens,” Eric told me. He explained that he grew up surrounded by animals as a kid, chickens and roosters included. “But I read this book called Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some we Eat and that sparked the idea for Year of the Rooster. It included a section on cockfighting.”

Here’s a kicker. Rooster was the first play he’d written for the Youngbloods.

“I write pretty quickly,” he said.

Awesome.

Anyway, so this relationship – this three-month-long relationship I mentioned having with Year of the Rooster, it began back in the fall when the nightshift bartender from my favorite local pub – McCoy’s, on 9th Ave in Hell’s Kitchen – showed me a graphic postcard advertising for the show at the Ensemble Studio Theatre. It’s this very image (at the top of this blog), the one of a rooster devised entirely out of matchsticks scorched to various degrees, that now graces the front of the program for the show.

The postcard instructed me to “Wake the F#$k Up.”

Which, honestly, I hadn’t managed to do yet since moving to the city two years ago. I figured I could use the caffeine.

Year of the Rooster - Ensemble Studio Theatre - NYC - Theatre. We. LOVE. - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

Ensemble Studio Theatre presents: Eric Dufault’s “Year of the Rooster”. Above (left to right): Delphi Harrington, Bobby Moreno. Photo Credit: Russ Kuhner

“The energy of this piece – it’s not something you watch. It’s something you go through,” EST’s Bobby Moreno said to me later. Bobby plays the character of Odysseus Rex aka ‘Odie.’ He’s the rooster you root for, the one who wants to murder the sun. You know. That one. “The structure of the play and the way the audience is arranged around it creates an inescapable intimacy in the experience.”

In other words, Dufault’s storyline and Giampietro’s direction wakes you the f$&k up.

By the end of the show, I was doubled over in pain. My stomach muscles were on fire with the pain of laughing way too much and way too loudly.

I didn’t know where I was for much of the production. We sat in a small, intimate theatre on the second floor of the EST building on W. 52nd, but with just a few, sparse blocks of furniture (and an amazingly accurate recreation of a McDonald’s restaurant), I was transported to middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma. Yet it was the physicality of the actors like Denny Dale Bess, an EST member since 2000 who plays Dickie Thimble in Rooster, as he strode through the space, cowboy-booted with a massive ten gallon-hat that transformed the location for me.

The production was so grounded and sincere in its commitment to each given circumstance – circumstances that grew more and more ridiculous and tragic as the plot progressed – that I forgot the Rooster world was one we can all agree is not “of us.” It’s an “other” world. Cock-fighting. Isolation. McDonald’s (both as an employee and gentically-modified chicken aka the brilliant Megan Tusing, I might add).

Year of the Rooster - Ensemble Studio Theatre - NYC - Theatre. We. LOVE. - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

EST’s “Year of the Rooster” – From left to right: Thomas Lyons, Denny Dale Bess, Bobby Moreno. Photo Credit Russ Kuhner

Suddenly, we’re all from Oklahoma. Which we are, in our own ways. We’re all from that town, the one Eric Dufault creates with the characters of Gil Pepper and his aging mother, Lou. With Philippa and Dickie Thimble.

Of course, Denny’s family actually does originate from Oklahoma, I learned later in our interview, and these ties created a special bond for him with the environment of Rooster.

“I know these small towns,” said Denny, “each character in this piece is a part of my family.” In fact, the actors and Eric told me Denny’s relationship with Oklahoma was in large part the reason for the creative choice to isolate the play in his home state.

 But my wake-up call continued.

Year of the Rooster - Ensemble Studio Theatre - NYC - Theatre. We. LOVE. - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

From the Ensemble Studio Theatre production “Year of the Rooster.” From left to right, Thomas Lyons and Bobby Moreno. Photo Credit Russ Kuhner.

I was already shifting uncomfortably in my seat by intermission as I realized I was watching something happen that I dreamed was possible someday for my own writing, my own performance. The stagecraft was genius, reality grounded, characters as specific and genuine as ink-stamped fingerprints. I won’t go on and on about the beauty of the roosters when they really start to rage. It’s like watching a fully-staged battle scene in the opera, Carmen, but it’s just two guys and a bucket of feathers. You have to see what fight director Qui Nguyen came up with for the fight scenes in Rooster. You just have to.

But the wake-up call, it continued long after I had exited the theatre, having trouble focusing on my feet as I descended the stairs to the street, program clutched in my fingers.

I remember calling my mom (because who else do you call when you have one of your twentysomethings’ revelations about life?) as I walked to McCoy’s and telling her I’d found artists, real artists – the ones that create universes out of nothing, the ones who give everything of themselves to it without a thought. As much as I felt it, as a witness, imagine how the actors feel it every night they come together.

“I’ve never been involved in a cast where they show up two hours early to a call to do a line-through,” said Megan Tusing (seen below) during my sit-down. “They never do this show at less than 110-percent.”

Year of the Rooster - Ensemble Studio Theatre - NYC - Theatre. We. LOVE. - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

EST’s “Year of the Rooster” – from left to right: Megan Tusing and Bobby Moreno. Photo Credit Russ Kuhner.

Stage Manager of Rooster Eileen Lalley, who calls such a tight show every night that I’m barely conscious of the passage of time, quickly added to this. “I’ve seen this show over a hundred times. I never get tired of it. I never sit in the dark checking my email, killing time. I can’t. The show always changes every night.”

EST member Thomas Lyons (Gil Pepper) pointed to his face, which had a pretty impressive shiner on the day of our interview and said, “Look at my face. This show doesn’t work on cruise control.”

Year of the Rooster - Ensemble Studio Theatre - NYC - Theatre. We. LOVE. - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the ArtsYear of the Rooster - Ensemble Studio Theatre - NYC - Theatre. We. LOVE. - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

EST Member Denny Dale Bess in “Year of the Rooster” as Dickie Thimble. From the Unfiltered Production.

Watch Thomas for ten minutes as he battles with Megan, Denny, and his deliciously degrading mother played by the fabulous Delphi Harrington, and you see what he means.

EST has been operating for over forty years in New York City, developing new theatre in America to the tune of 6,000 new titles throughout their history. Programs like Youngbloods for playwrights under 30 serve to keep this mission alive.

We’re not blind to it. Budgets hurt. Theatre suffers as we suffer as the economy suffers, and there are no gymnasts flying from the rafters of EST dressed in spandex and shooting webs from their wrists.

I know I sat there among the actors and creative team, gushing about EST and Year of the Rooster, without a real clue of the difficulties and challenges behind keeping even such a historic company as the Ensemble Studio Theatre afloat.

I know, I know. I know. It’s tough. It’s tough as nails. We’re all roosters in a ring in New York City, fighting the biggest, meanest mother of a bird we’ve ever been up against.

But that art like Rooster can exist? Can be born into the world of commercialism on stage and celebrity-driven box office revenue and survive? And thrive? Here?

Damn.

I guess it’s time to let go of the hand-rail, Zoe. It will all skate right past you if you don’t.

 Like I said, wake-up call.

Year of the Rooster - Ensemble Studio Theatre - NYC - Theatre. We. LOVE. - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

EST’s “Year of the Rooster” left to right: Bobby Moreno and Thomas Lyons. Photo Credit Russ Kuhner

So it’s been three months now, and I’ve followed with proud fanaticism the progress of the extension of Year of the Rooster at the Ensemble Studio Theatre. I see the team passing through McCoy’s every now and then and each time I unabashedly sprint towards them and repeat the same garbled lines of “being super excited to see it” when it re-opens.

They’re mercifully patient with me, but I think it’s because we see the same thing when we see that rooster devised of burned matchsticks. We see possibility. We see fire and power and drive. We see the future of art and theatre. And despite the cold and the money and the work and the fatigue, we know that we’re a part of it.

We’re part of that message that EST and thousands of other theatre artists are screaming throughout New York City:

Wake. The. F#^k. Up.

Year of the Rooster - Ensemble Studio Theatre - NYC - Theatre. We. LOVE. - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

Year of the Rooster - Ensemble Studio Theatre - NYC - Theatre. We. LOVE. - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

Musicians. We. LOVE. Katy Gunn & Fred Baker – New York Music

Musicians. We. LOVE. – KATY GUNN and FRED BAKER take on the New York Music scene.

by: Zoe V. SpeasThe Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

The “We. LOVE.” series at the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts is proud to present a new chapter - Musicians. We. LOVE. This week, we’re excited to introduce to you the talents and stylings of Katy Gunn and her brother Fred Baker. 

New York Music

Musician. We. LOVE. Katy Gunn in performance.

FOLLOW THESE LINKS for a sampling of Katy Gunn’s track, “Beautiful Things” and Fred Baker’s “Pocket Full of Detritus”.

New York Music

Musicality as an inherited trait: Katy Gunn practices the violin with her older brother.

I’ve believed for a long time that musicality is an inherited trait as specific and definite as brown eyes vs. blue, or a crooked thumb vs. straight.

Katy and Fred have the gene, it’s undeniable, and while they both trained from their youth in classical violin and guitar respectively, today they’re searching for the soul of the city in their respective songwriting and poetry-rap explorations in the world of New York music.

New York Music

Fred Baker performing his unique style of what his sister refers to as “poetry-rap”

I first encountered these musicians at a private concert hosted by the Lower East Side’s New York music venue - the Living Room – a gorgeously intimate “talent incubator”  established in 1988 by Jennifer Gilson, who owns it with her husband, Steve Rosenthal.

Katy Gunn was one of the last few performers to have a night at the Living Room before it closed its doors temporarily.

It was not Katy’s first time at the venue—she has performed there before with other musical groups—but the evening was made even more special by the invitation I received by two wonderful members of the team at NOoSphere Arts on East Houston Street in the Lower East Side. Founding Artistic Director Sol Kjøk and gallery manager Annemarta Mugaas are friends of Ms. Gunn’s and have adopted her as a musician-in-residence at NOoSphere, where the brother and sister team have performed frequently in the past, often in conjunction with performance art and dance pieces sponsored by the gallery.

New York Music

Katy Gunn and Fred Baker perform at NOoSphere Arts on E. Houston Street in the Lower East Side.

Before I first parted the curtains to the private backroom performance space where Katy and her brother were performing, I was expecting a fully stocked band complete with percussionist, strings, guitar, and back-up vocals.

New York Music

Katy Gunn performs at the Living Room in New York’s Lower East Side with Fred Baker and vocalist, Thea Beemer.

When I stepped into the room and found only Katy and her brother and vocalist Thea Beemer, I was amazed. The trio created such fullness and variety of sound through Fred’s work on the sound pad and Katy’s ability to sing and orchestrate her violin simultaneously as Thea harmonized seamlessly with her melodies.

New York Music

Musicians. We. LOVE. Katy Gunn, New York Music.

The problem with my music,” said Katy of this complicated blending process, “is that there’s so much wacky instrumentation and orchestration—it’s a challenge to make it work live.

Through use of live sampling, Gunn’s multifaceted sound elicits the intimacy of a jazz/blues background, with an infectious pop/electronic dance beat.  The lyrics she composes touch on a variety of issues, from religion and faith (“All the People”) to the obsessive and all-consuming nature of love (“Beautiful Things”)—they speak to the search of an artist trying to understand the world and New York music through louder questions, and more colorfully.

“The more we divorce ourselves from religion, if art doesn’t replace that idea of spirit, we’ll all be in trouble,” Gunn says.

Learning about the process and resultant navigation of the New York music world can be an overwhelming experience, even sitting across from Katy Gunn and Fred Baker at a cozy Thai restaurant on the Lower East Side. Especially when she doesn’t seem to recognize it as such in the least.

Katy Gunn - New York Music

from http://www.katygunn.com – Katy Gunn’s photoshoot in Brooklyn.

As I ask her about the process she undergoes to develop a new song or new lyric idea, and she begins to explain – with difficulty, at times – I’m comforted to realize that it’s the same challenge, the same difficulty even that I face as a writer, grasping at wisps of an idea in the hopes of weaving it into something resembling a story.

It starts as an imprint,” says Gunn. “One I keep coming back to. I get a beat down, and then find lyrics that match with that rhythm. Sometimes I’ll wake up after sleep with ideas and I’ll try to go and find them again. When it’s something, I’ll listen to it and think, ‘I must have heard this somewhere before…’”

I’m nodding and swallowing heaps of Pad Thai at this point. I think Katy notices my far-off expression and dismisses my confusion with a sweep of her hand. Then she says something to me and to Fred that I’ll remember forever. Especially his response.

New York Music

Katy Gunn and Fred Baker, in performance.

“Anyone can do it, if you put your mind to it,” Katy Gunn assures me. Fred looks up from his curried chicken and rice dish and lifts an eyebrow. “Not anybody,” he adds firmly, and she doesn’t argue. Just smiles.

The truth of the matter is that Katy and Fred do what they do for the same reason that an artist creates, or a writer composes, or an actor takes the stage.

“When I do it well, it’s the only thing that makes me happy,” says Gunn.

“I’m totally paranoid leading up to it, but if it goes well, I’m lost in this lovely place—there have been times I’ve performed when I find myself in a separate world, watching it all happen. There’s no self-identity. It’s a living meditation.”

Listening to her music – and to the music of other up-and-coming new singer/songwriters of the New York music scene – is to participate just as fully as performing it. You become aligned with the artists’ message, you’re rooting for them, like noble underdogs fighting for the survival of art in the face of an increasingly oppressive Gotham City.

Follow Katy Gunn at her website for updates about performances, music downloads, and album releases!

Zoe V. Speas is a writer and editor for the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts. Follower her on tumblr and twitter.

Banksy Street Art: The End of an Era

The End of an Era: A month of Banksy Street Art in New York

by: Zoe V. SpeasThe Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

Banksy Street Art residence in New York City - from October 27 in Greenpoint.

Banksy street art residence in New York City – from October 27 in Greenpoint.

October has been a busy month in the art world. We had a government shutdown, a Banksy street art residence, and consequent reactions ranging from outrage to a revitalization of  the question of defining art.

It all ties together, really, and that’s what I wanted to talk about before Halloween hits us full-force tonight and it’s November before we know it or remember how it came upon us so quickly.

banksy street art

The shutdown. Remember when that happened?

(Hey.  Remember when THIS happened?)

The first piece I wrote for the Angel Orensanz Foundation was a discussion about the definition of art, creatively entitled, “What is Art?” I scratched it out in a pitifully banged-up notebook during the long train ride from Richmond, VA to Penn Station, NYC.

I talked about how art is fundamentally dramatic—there are countless full-length theatrical dramas and comedies featuring characters that are artists or connoisseurs of art because of this quality. Whatever definition you assign to art, I believe it must allow for the drama and the conflict that is created by putting brush to canvas, hands to clay, etc. We thrive off of this drama, we need it, and we live for it because it illustrates the constant questions that percolate beneath the surface in us from day to day.

banksy street art - angel orensanz

Tahir Square. Angel Orensanz. Politics in art.

Too bad our society isn’t crafted to allow for the necessity of art.

In fact, we spend a lot of effort and money marginalizing art into something to do with leisure or entertainment. But there’s a difference—a monstrosity of a difference—between leisure/entertainment and art. Leaving the theatre after a production of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal or Shakespeare’s Richard III, I’m certainly not at my leisure. Entertained? More like slapped in the face by humanity.

By the way, those productions I just listed? Totally playing right now in NYC. Check them out. You’re welcome.

So, of course, when the government shut down for the first time in seventeen years, what’s the first thing to be cut from funding?

banksy street art

Always the first thing to go: shutting down the museums, shutting down the government.

The National Endowment for the Arts. In other words, the museums—the culture hubs, the “non-essentials.”

And in the middle of that conflict, Banksy comes to New York City for a self-curated artist’s residence and stirs the pot for us.

Banksy - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts - New York City

Banksy street art at Yankee Stadium. October 30, 2013.

Banksy’s street art residency is called “Better Out Than In: an Artist’s Residency on the Streets of New York”, and beneath the stencil-outline header, a quote from Paul Cézanne triumphs the mission statement of the work.

All pictures painted inside, in the studio, will never be as good as those done outside.

I’ll say that perhaps the “outside” to which Cézanne referred might be of a slightly different context than the interpretation apparent in the Banksy street art, but in terms of impact? Banksy’s been spot-on.

banksy street art

“Better Out Than In” – Bansky street art residence in NYC. October 2013.

All of a sudden art—regardless of how you define it—emerges as a buzzword, a hot topic, the spark that ignites a city of people, young and old, desperate for a cause to impassion them enough to speak out.

It’s impassioned me, anyway.

I’ve spoken to gallery owners, artists, event planners, businessmen, and students about Banksy street art in New York this past month and I encountered no one who had nothing to say, no comment to add. In fact, the topic has served as a jumping-off point to larger issues of politics and society and the boundaries that divide generation from generation.

For myself, I have always been loath to discuss political leanings with friends and acquaintances—the ensuing arguments inevitably evolve into a loop of misunderstanding and personal affront. I prefer to stay within the realm of art and theatre where I feel comfortable arguing my beliefs—and yes, maybe that makes me a coward, being afraid of engaging in a dispute for fear of defeat or humiliation.

banksy street art

Banksy’s Greenpoint portrait being painted over by a masked woman. Which is the graffiti – the Banksy street art or the silver paint obscuring it?

Graffiti does ruin people’s property and it’s a sign of decay and loss of control,” the mayor said, “Art is art, and nobody’s a bigger supporter of the arts than I am–you running up to somebody’s property or public property and defacing it is not my definition of art. Or it may be art, but it should not be permitted.” 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, October 2013.

And yet, this October, I found myself spewing fire over the contradictions arising between vandalism and art, between art as a necessity and our unhesitating cessation of its funding when goings get tough, between the opinions of the Mayor of New York and the arts community of his city.

Banksy’s residence brought me to a single, perhaps obvious conclusion:

If I argued before that art is fundamentally dramatic, then it also must be deeply political.

I’m going to risk sounding like a college sophomore writing a term paper and quote the dictionary at you here—a definition of the word political“relating to relationships of power between people in an organization; to affairs of the state or government.”

Relationships of power between people. Yup. Sounds about right.

Art becomes the venue through which people can argue rights of individualism and power upon a level playing field. There are no mayors, governors, nor presidents: only personal expression and paintbrushes. And regardless of what you think of the Banksy street art and its artistic merits, his residence challenges us to question our relationship to one another, to our government, and to the city walls that house and protect us. 

Call it graffiti or call it art.

It was swift, it was dramatic, and it defined the month of October for me and countless other New Yorkers. Happy Holidays, everyone.

Saint Petersburg Academy of the Arts receives Angel Orensanz

Saint Petersburg Academy of the Arts Kuindji Exhibitions Hall Angel Orensanz (USA-Spain), Member of the Russian Academy of Arts

Exhibit opening. August 1,  3-5 PM

Photo-Art by Angel Orensanz -exhibited at the Saint Petersburg Academy of the Arts

Photo-Art by Angel Orensanz -exhibited at the Saint Petersburg Academy of the Arts

Angel Orensanz is back at the Saint Petersburg Academy of the Arts and has been known for his ambitious landscape and urban installations done in Japan, Russia, USA, Western Europe and other countries. This exhibit in St. Petersburg is very innovative in his intensive creativity.  For the very first time the  artist will present his photographs. Why in Saint Petersburg Academy of the Arts? As Angel Orensanz proudly recognizes his artistic development has been greatly influenced by the giants of Russian Avant-garde as Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin and others. All of them lived in Saint Petersburg.

On December 6, 2008 the  Grand Jury of International Film Festival of Monaco  awarded Angel Orensanz the Award for Surrealistic and Non Violent Art for his film “The Final Score” (Angel Orensanz  interpretation of Ingmar Bergman’s legendary  film “The Seventh Seal”)  . This project was carried with script, direction and photography by Angel Orensanz and with the technical support of the staff from the Museum of Modern Art of Wales. It was July 30 of 2007, when Angel Orensanz finished the film shooting of his film. That very day Ingmar Bergman passed away.

Photo-Art by Angel Orensanz -exhibited at the Saint Petersburg Academy of the Arts

Photo-Art by Angel Orensanz -exhibiting at the Saint Petersburg Academy of the Arts

Angel Orensanz and his artistic odyssey.

By Tatiana Borodina, Director of the Repin Museum, Russia.

In my opinion Angel Orensanz is an artist extraordinaire of postmodern thinking.Creativity – inspiration, time, place, and material depend on the circumstances and the mental attitude of the artist. His permanent state of his personality, the creative vision of the world feels like the world is a constantly changing installation, with installation ideas, discoveries, materials and spiritual creation. His mission and the meaning of his existence as an artist, consists in the creation of dramatic art objects, installations, sculptures, paintings and drawings. And in this desire to assert himself as an artist lies the emotional intensity, “nerve” of his works. The creations of Angel Orensanz come always accompanied with such suitable terms as enchantment, expression, inner tension and dynamism.

By and large these works remind us of the inseparable connection of outer space and human spirit, communication manifested, visible, intended to exist for a long time and the uniqueness of the moment of creation. They appear as already created, but temporary….

Angel Orensanz Exhibits at the Saint Petersburg Academy of the Arts

Angel Orensanz recieving the certificate as Member of the Russian Academy of Art – Archive

As a master, with a professional training at the school (Ecole de Beaux-Art, Paris), he keeps in his work of many traditions, including the lessons of Russian avant-garde; and the passion and the expression of this artist’s intense personality are perfectly visible.

Orensanz who is presenting his work at the Saint Petersburg Academy of the Arts, likes to work in a large space, and especially in open landscapes, be on the streets or in the open mountains and seashores. He is a very generous artist and has a powerful and a creative temperament. He is a most innovative creator, literally obsessed with art. He is ready to share with all the result of his enthusiastic passion for creation, the magic of his creation. He loves to decorate nature, and makes it an organized space for the arts. Art in the natural world and in total co-existence is one of the main themes of creativity Orensanz. It’s simple, but conceptually multifaceted. Comparison and interaction of two realities: the art object and landscape protection, their harmony and contrast, ¬the ability of change in the natural forms of the elements – create a new art-reality; and how often expressive, whole and beautiful it is. In his designs, even the most destructive, there is a highly complex symbolic imagery.  Another subject must see, and everyone will see it has his own way, from his point of view.

Materials of his works are: snow, flowers, light fabric, paper…. They are doomed to a short existence. Therefore, the artist captures the creation of the video and photos where they are stored in time – having this way a long life. The graphic works of Orensanz, are perceived as a stream of reflections of the artist.

 This exhibition extends until August 31st,  2013.

There is catalogue that accompanies this exhibition,  with an essay by Tatiana Borodina.

Angel Orensanz arrives to Aldeaduero building an Art Paradise

Building an Art Paradise;The territories of Aldeaduero (Salamanca, Spain) have remained away from the view of the European Continent for thousands of years; and from its industrial development for hundreds of years. Those valleys and mountain ranges have been distant and silent for a very long time. But just now, a group of clairvoyant, local entrepreneurs, in those territories of Salamanca are bringing Aldeaduero to the forefront of the world.

arte y naturaleza - Aldeaduero-art paradise

Art and Nature – Angel Orensanz – An Art Paradise in Aldeaduero

Sculptor Angel Orensanz has worked in water front projects at the waterfalls of Sagadaira (Japan); in large urban parks like Holland Park (London), and the regional train station of Sarria in Barcelona. He built even a sculpture concept very similar to the one of Aldeaduero at the very entrance of his Foundation in New York, in Downtown Manhattan; where a small wood of steel tree trunks welcomes you to his building on Norfolk St.

Sculptor Angel Orensanz, to whom the mountains have been dedicated was recently invited by cultural leaders of these lands in Western Spain. He is helping them in their plans to craft a vision of an art paradise that maintains hundreds of years of tenancy of these lands and is now opening itself to a conscientious postindustrial population.

arte y naturaleza - Aldea Duero- Art paradise

Cylinders at Aldeaduero – Work by Sculptor Angel Orensanz

Angel Orensanz is already at work designing concepts and elements that blend with the skin of the mountains, valleys and riverbanks around Aldeaduero. They serve as land marks in the crests and woodlands. He is building invitational sentries and pathways that excite the old and new visitors. The project is a flexible concept of cooperating and listening, stimulating and provoking new possibilities. His goal is to erect a few structures and ensembles out of observation and connivance, not out of a master plan or an ideology. Angel Orensanz has always been carrying his own internal dialogue with his birth territory in the Spanish Pyrenees, in the border with France.

The main goal is to enrich these lands with three sculpture concepts that Angel Orensanz develops with the support of a group of community leaders and turn it into an Art Paradise. One of his three concepts is a large group of vertical cylinders in concrete. They are no less than 27 units. They are located in several mountains tops and valleys. Angel Orensanz has developed as well a large star in wood with a radius of twelve meters long arms. The third element is a large ship that will not be displayed on the waters of the river Duero but will be accessible on the mountain top of a very high peak.

In a way, there is a similarity with the Park Guell by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona. Angel Orensanz lived for many years next to Park Guell and other buildings by Gaudi in Barcelona; but the syntax in Aldeaduero is very different. The totality of the open, wild forests, rivers and rock formations are an essential element of the park. The sculptures stress the in-built harmony of these lands. It definitely moves away from the model of the European urban Park, say Hyde Park, or the American model of Central Park.

New York City Weekend

Finally, it is Friday, so here are the Angel Orensanz Foundation suggestions for you to have a great weekend in New York City.

First, let’s pay homage to our neighborhood, the beautiful Lower East Side, where the art gallery ABC no Rio stands, starting today at 7 pm, they will be hosting Family Misfit Healing a 8 hour show in which 8 performers will create, from scratch, a dynamic family portrait. To know more, click here.

Tomorrow, you can enjoy a late Halloween in the L.E.S., since Killers: A Nightmare Haunted House at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center  has joined with nearly 40 merchants to give candy away to Trick ‘r Treaters between 4-7 pm.  When you see a sign inside a window that says “Participant in Halloween Too” you know that’s a spot that you can Trick ‘r Treat. To see the list of participating stores, click here.

Not very much a Halloween person? You can go to the other side of the island to celebrate the The New Yorker’s Passport to the Arts, a celebration of the New York art scene, or better, a self-guided gallery walk through premier art destinations in Chelsea and Soho. The event begins with a champagne reception and culminates in a wrap party and silent art auction with 75% of proceeds benefiting the American Red Cross Greater New York Region. Know more and get your tickets here.

Don’t want to go outside? No worries, the New York Historic Society and MoMA have great art exhibitions to keep you occupied. In the first destination you can enjoy John Rogers: American Stories, which is the first full retrospective of the most popular American sculptor, whose subjects included scenes from the front lines and the home front of the Civil War, insightful commentaries on domestic life, and dramatic episodes from the stage and literature.

On MoMA you can see Alina Szapocznikow: Sculpture Undone. The Polish sculptor reconceptualized sculpture as an imprint not only of memory but also of her own body, using provocative objects that evoke Surrealism, Nouveau Réalisme, and Pop art.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Today the Angel Orensanz Foundation pays homage to another comtemporary artist, well not just one, this time we are presenting a couple. Christo Vladimirov Javacheff was born in June 13, 1935 in Bulgaria, the same date Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon was born in Marocco. They met for the first time in her country in 1958, married and dedicated their lives to environmental works of art. A field many times explored by Angel Orensanz.

Their work is visually stunning and often controversial as a result of its scale, but the artists have repeatedly denied that their projects contain any deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic impact. The purpose of their art, they contend, is simply to create works of art or joy and beauty and to create new ways of seeing familiar landscapes.

“I am an artist, and I have to have courage … Do you know that I don’t have any artworks that exist? They all go away when they’re finished. Only the preparatory drawings, and collages are left, giving my works an almost legendary character. I think it takes much greater courage to create things to be gone than to create things that will remain.”–Christo

 

 

“We want to create works of art of joy and beauty, which we will build because we believe it will be beautiful,” “The only way to see it is to build it. Like every artist, every true artist, we create them for us.” — Jeanne-Claude

Unfortunately Christo´s muse Jeanne-Claude died in August due to a brain aneurism, but he is continuing with their projects and finishing the details for The Mastaba, a project for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates that will be Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s greatest achievement and only permanent large-scale work, in addition to being the biggest sculpture in the world and one of the most significant creations in history.

The couple, in fact, created stunning and remarkable works thought their history, such as the wrapping of the Pont Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin and the installation of 7,503 vinyl gates with saffron-colored nylon panels in New York City´s Central Park, the 18-foot-high, 24-mile-long “Running Fence” in California and “Surrounded Islands” in which the couple installed giant lily pad-like structures in Florida’s Biscayne Bay with 6.4 million square feet of bright-pink fabric.

sources: nytimes, wsj, christojeanneclaud

Last Chance for Late Bloomers!

Good Morning art lovers!

Quick announcement: Caroline Bergonzi’s Creative Odyssey has come to an end!

Sad news? For those of you who missed it, yes indeed, but here’s a quick summary of what you missed!

 

Bergonzi’s exhibit at the Angel Orensanz Gallery, was a very captivating and grand exhibit. Lining the entire gothic halls of the foundation/gallery, Bergonzi’s artwork with her signature use of bold colors and fluid brush strokes was mesmerizing. Bergonzi’s exhibit showcased her unique philosophical art work, which was divided into different categories: The Mind, The Body, The Soul, The Journey, Phoenix Garden, The Apocalypse, Barocco Treasure, and a collection of portraits. In other words, you missed a lot! The series of 12, 1 meter long paintings that come together as one for the Apocalypse, was specially flown in from Monaco, and was Bergonzi’s largest work yet. Inspired by sacred texts and Mayan myths about the end of the world, this eye catching piece featured demons, angels, heaven and celestial battles. Staying true to her mythological inspirations, also on display was her collection of Phoenix inspired sculptures which depict the flying creature in many different forms and stances. Displayed near the main entrance,  guests literally met with the eyes of the beast as they walked in. In addition, the paintings that were displayed in the other divisions were true to Bergonzi’s philosophical and unique artistic approach.  Just one of these philosophical works was The Chameleon Woman, also a personal favorite. The painting was part of The Mind subdivision, and featured a woman looking into her closet deciding what to wear, but each outfit also had a different face attached to it. Both intellectually edgy and great to look at with the use of fun, vibrant colors, Bergonzi displays her fresh new take on art throughout the entire exhibit!


Sad you missed it? Well here’s something that might cheer you up!

Angel Orensanz’s Burning Bronzes exhibit is still open! So if you haven’t checked it out,  go before you miss it. Featuring some of Angel Orensanz’s classic totem sculptures, new bronze sculptures, abstracts and more this exhibit is a nice way to see the versatility and classic technique of Orensanz. The 25th marks the end of this exhibit, so drop by before it’s too late. Remember, you snooze, you lose!

Street Art Activism!

Today we’re going to take some time to talk about two street artists who also happen to be activists!

JR began as a photographer after finding a camera in the subways of Paris. Since then he has used photography to document his work, which he presents “freely in the streets of the world, catching the attention of people who are not museum visitors”. As an activist JR uses his work to question things around him; such as his currently-in-work project “Wrinkles of the City”, a future exhibit that “questions the memory of a city and its inhabitants”. JR’s work is pervasive. It spreads art to people who possibly could never see it, but also invites those same individuals to help make it: “in this art scene, there is no stage to separate the actors from the spectators”.

Another street artist activist would be Keith Haring, who passed away on May 4, 1990. Haring began his work as a street artist after noticing unused advertising panels, and began drawing on them with chalk. For the next five years he continued with these “subway drawings”, eventually gaining international recognition for his work. Each of his works carried a social message, many of which were “created for charities, hospitals, children’s day care centers and orphanages”. In 1988 he was diagnosed with AIDS, and a year later he founded the still running Keith Haring Foundation which goal was “to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programs” as well as to expand his work.

The streets of art

Public art has been going on for a long time and Angel Orensanz, with his quasi-ritualistic performances plays a big part in it, but today we are going to talk about two other artists that transformed their cities and got people talking about them.

The first one is by the art collective Bored, who decided to turn Illinois capital of Chicago into a giant monopoly game. Big pieces in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood make up a live-sized version of the game.

Plywood dice and cards are also included. Many people just pass by it, but a fair number stopped and actively tried to figure out just what exactly was going on with this gigantic board game. The exhibit is different from most street art because it is three-dimensional and keeps you guessing while looking for the next piece.

“The goal of this entire project has been to present something different than a stencil painted on the ground or a poster pasted to a wall. Something 3-dimensional that can be picked up, beaten down, kicked, yanked, grabbed, and broken. And if someone ever put forth the effort to remove it, like a weed it will always grow back. And if left alone it will evolve into something different.”-Bored

Some states to the west, in Colorado, a blue bear peers into an office building of the state’s capital, Denver. The sculputure, entitled “I see what you mean”, by Lawrence Argent, has been there at the window of the Colorado Convention Center for seven years now.

Made of molded fiberglass, the 40-foot high bear brings a sense of fun and playfulness into the Convention Center and is now an icon of the city.