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.


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?


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

Taxi Cab: New York City from the Rear Seat

THE REAR SEAT: Answering Questions and Asking Questions.

The Journey of a New York City Taxi Cab

By: Al Orensanz, PhD; Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

taxi cab, new york city, angel orensanz foundation for the arts

The New York City taxi cab serves as a conduit between destinations, but also the interwoven lives of individuals within them.

Most of our day-to-day information accumulates through idle conversations, and it infiltrates our awareness unexpectedly. We interact constantly and randomly with people who talk to us or who listen to us. We are educated through radio and TV broadcasts, and we are constantly alerted by our cellular phones, iPad messages, radio transmissions and commercial ads blinking from the skyscrapers. Throughout the city, we are exposed to taxi cab drivers, vendors, compatriots, old colleagues, spouses, children, receptionists relatives and neighbors.

We traverse the city by taxi cab. Points of interest are brought in by the kaleidoscope of the streets, advertisements, shop windows. The curiosity grows and a decision has to be made: should I engage or retreat? I still have some 30-odd minutes of taxi traveling left. Let me ask the driver. He is most likely talking on a device that I do not see.

taxi cab - new york city - angel orensanz - angel orensanz foundation for the arts

“Light Matter” by Angel Orensanz. The commute, even by taxi cab, can be the venue for inspiration and art.

Darkness engulfs us both. He has the front window available to scout and evaluate traffic strategies. I can see the sides but not my rear window view. My options are very limited. His are much wider and diversified. The driver initiates a conversation with me. The surroundings act as a backdrop. Our conversation gets more intense and specific as our trip progresses. The backdrop of the city moves and evolves as traffic weaves around us, providing context. The centerpiece of the discourse is a reservoir of memories, references, adapted anecdotes that are formulated and adapted to this specific moment and circumstance.

You never ride a taxi twice; you never talk to the same taxi driver twice. The streets are the same, and the buildings blur and dissipate in the immediacy or the distance. The speed renders the faces imperceptible. My attention splits and divides as I interact coincidentally with the driver and the city around me: on-going conversation is syncopated and distracted every few seconds.

Inside a New York City taxi cab, the darkness surrounds both parties. Conversation is either inevitable or avoided at all costs

Inside a New York City taxi cab, the darkness surrounds both parties. Conversation is either inevitable or avoided at all costs

The questions and answers are all stereotypical. We do not see faces but we hear our voices. With that alone, we can establish a bridge of communication. Obviously, our allocated time is short; the view of our faces is limited therefore is not engaging. The context of the streets and roads we circulate speeds ahead of us fast and uncompromising. There is very limited time for self and mutual exploration. Most of the time we instinctually agree on a common subject matter inconsequential for both sides.

The last moments of engagement come when the trip is ended; and we both descend. These are very short moments, seconds, of the encounter. But they are crucial, ceremonial and engaging.

taxi cab - new york city - angel orensanz - angel orensanz foundation for the arts

“Light Matter” by Angel Orensanz. The voyage as a source of inspiration.

While the departure from inside the taxi is uneventful, the farewell is reduced for the most part to the paying of the fare. The departure at the airport is marked by the eventful ceremonial of many other departures and arrivals: the suitcases, the trunks, the flowers bouquets, the gift-wrapped boxes, and the garments.

taxi cab - new york city - angel orensanz foundation for the arts

The New York City taxi cab.

The departure within the city streets and the departure at the airport have very different ceremonials for both the driver and the passenger. The taxi ride within the city has the specific limits of a domestic movement that remain within the domain of the immediate. The trip to the airport has the flare of a departure away from the confines of the routine, the familiar and the controllable.

We never look back to the departing taxi cab as it pulls into the street, having deposited us at our requested destination. The expensive and weary routine has been completed. Whether en route to an airport or twenty blocks home from work, the departure from the rear seat, from the interplay of questions and answers, results in a ever-hopeful forward glance to the journey ahead.

ARTSCAPE Magazine Now Available!

It’s here! The Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts proudly presents the latest issue of ARTSCAPE Magazine.

Now available for print or online subscription, ARTSCAPE Magazine is LIVE and ready for you to download today.

Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts - ARTSCAPE magazine

The Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts – ARTSCAPE Magazine Summer/Fall Edition

ARTSCAPE Magazine reflects the cultural and artistic activities of the Angel Orensanz Foundation, a Manhattan-based organization for the arts and culture. Operating out of a beautiful, gothic-inspired building designed by Alexander Saeltzer in 1849, the Foundation seeks to reflect and maintain the artistic energy that pervades the New York City community.

Our magazine serves as a conduit between the affairs of the Foundation and the network of producing artists and innovators throughout New York City. By presenting content that relates art to implications of society and global culture, ARTSCAPE provides up-to-date arts-news coverage in the universally accessible format of vivid imagery and engaging texts. The goal remains, as always, to spark conversation and foster connectivity in an ever-expanding and ever-changing city.

ARTSCAPE magazine - Angel Orensanz Foundation

ARTSCAPE magazine – in print and available for purchase at The Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts. Photo credit – Alexa Eskinazi

This edition features a collection of all-new reports on the arts scene in New York City and beyond. 

ARTSCAPE Magazine Articles Include:

  • Sacred Space: Art in Non-Neutral Environments
  • Language, Mind and Memory
  • Building an Art Paradise
  • Origins: The Influence of Space and History on the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

Visit the Angel Orensanz Foundation homepage for more information about the Foundation and upcoming issues of ARTSCAPE Magazine and our NEWSLETTER!

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.

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.

Art in Time Square – Can Times Square be full of art?

Art in Times Square Times Square is not where you will find a New Yorker, but Justus Bruns, a young Dutch artist and industrial designer wants to change that, especially for the new Yorkers who love art. He wants to transform the billboard propaganda invested space into an art square. When he envisioned in 2009, New Yorkers laughed at him, no wonder why, but now, the project is coming together and maybe, sometime soon, we´ll see beautiful art in time square on those billboards.

Bruns project, titled Times Square Art Square, would involve curated shows, for the first year the team invited the editor of Hyperallergic  Hrag Vartanian to curate, in which the square’s billboard and video adsw ill be replaced with giant paintings and installations.

“In this case, we want to select artists whose work will fit into the space and complement what’s already there,”

“We want to make sure that what artists want to do is represented. It’s not a contest in which we put someone’s image up for ten seconds or whatever.” -  Hrag Vartain

But the idea of swapping adds for art is not new to the crazy intersection of Broadway and 7th avenue in New York City. Back in 1982, the American conceptual artist Jenny Holzer installed an electronic sign on the Spectacolor lightboard that broadcasted various messages (“Protect Me From What I Want,” “Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise”).  More recently, the Times Square Alliance created a Public Art Program who seeks to brings “temporary high-quality, cutting-edge art and performance to Times Square’s public spaces, so that it is known globally as a place where ordinary people encounter authentic, ever-changing urban art in multiple forms and media.”

Sherry Dobbin, the director of the progran and the curator for the premiere of Times Square Arts Square had a interesting conversation and here is a  piece:

Hrag Vartanian: In the art world, we’re always talking about the issue of audience but in Times Square you don’t really have that problem, do you?

Sherry Dobbin: Times Square has an average of 350,000 pedestrians a day. Even when Times Square Moment, our daily digital art installation of artist video across 15 jumbotrons, runs from 11:57pm to midnight, we have approximately 15–19,000 people in the ‘bowtie.’ We are the highest [by number of individuals] US tourist destination; making us the largest public platform for leading contemporary art and performance. We will always have an audience.

HV: What kind of work do you think works best in Times Square? Or do you think it’s more about the approach then the type of work?

SD: We are very interested in a larger vision of Times Square than its role with the cultural sector. As the center of NYC, we have an opportunity to be the leading platform for contemporary art and performance. As a cultural hub, we can promote the work of the artist, the cultural partner, and draw from the diverse audience. Artists need to consider scale, duration, and participation as no other traditional or outdoor venue. Each project needs to appreciate and respect the environment and the performative aspect of each project, regardless of the art form. The screens surround the audience and therefore behaves like an installation more than a screening; the installation of a sculptural form is on view; the performance needs to accept the involuntary performers of the pedestrians in the plazas. The artist can never control the space; they can set frames, platforms, and vistas and present work that participates in the landscape.

sources: capitalnewyork and hyperallergic



Art in New York (weekend planner)

Finally, it is Friday! Do you already have plans for the weekend? Yes, no? Well, the Angel Orensanz Foudation blog is offering you some good suggestions for an artful and fun weekend in New York City.

On Saturday go visit Christopher Columbus is his living, up on the Upper West Side, the Japanese Tatzu Nishi has erected a contemporary space around the granite granite statue of the discoverer of the Americas built in 1892. Some people find the work offensive, but, nonetheless, it is an interesting experience, climbing up and having a conversation or just starting at Columbus.

“Tatzu Nishi: Discovering Columbus” runs through Nov. 18 at Broadway and Eighth Ave. Information: +1-212-223-7800;

Columbus opened a big precedent to other navigators and so did Andy Warhol for artists, and he is on display in The Met and we talk about it here.

 “Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years” runs at the Met, 1000 Fifth Ave. through Dec. 31. Information: +1-212- 535-7710;

But, if none of those fit you, there is still a lot going on in New York City, you can go to the Coney Island Film Festival in Coney Island Museum (1208 Surf Avenue) or Sideshows by the Seashore for a screening of one of the more than 70 documentaries and short and feature films that are part of this annual festival. It will open on Friday at 7:30 p.m. with a screening of “Play Dead”. A full schedule is at

But that is not the only Festival, San Gennaro brings its feast to Mulberry Streer, between Canal and Houston from 11:30 am to 11 pm as a celebration of Italian culture. Between the both festival you can appreciate the 40th edition of the Gracie Square Art Show in Carl Schurz Park, where more than a hundred artists will display their work in the park, as they celebrate their 40 years. To know more:

And if you can, also squeeze in the `Carnival Panorama` from the Queens Museum of Art, the displays of Caribbean culture and art escape from the museums to Corona Park.

free festival will go on from 3 to 8 p.m.; food is additional. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, (718) 592-9700,

Saturday night you can stroll , if you choose not to go to the Coney Island Film Festival, to the New York Philarmonic as it inaugurates its Fall season with The Rite of Spring,” Stravinsky’s propulsive paean to the life force.

At Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center. Information: +1-212- 875-5656;

On Sunday, you can start at the Museum of New York City, with the exhibition Photographs of New York and London. People and landscapes from both global cities are displayed in different ambients.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, (212) 534-1672,; $10, $6 for students and 65+; $20 for families, (maximum of two adults); free for children 12 and younger and members.

Not a fan of photography? You can enjoy the 7th annual Brooklyn Book Festival, where Joyce Carol Oats, Pete Hammil along about 280 others writers will discuss their work and many booths from large and small publishers will show you a enourmous selection of readings. Want to know more? Click here:

At Night, you can appreciate the New York City Ballet fall season premiere with a celebration of Balanchine and Stravinsky. The composer wrote music to order for the choreographer’s Greek trio inspired by classical themes: sunny “Apollo,” mournful “Orpheus” and the cerebral “Agon.”

David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center. Information: +1-212- 496-0600;


The History of Angel Orensanz Foundation

We have talked a lot about Angel Orensanz. We shared with you art critic Calvin Reid’s thoughts on the Spanish Master, his travels around the world, what the French Art critic Pierre Restany had to say about him, some details of his accomplishments, and much more.

Today, we are changing the focus to talk a little about the Angel Orensanz Foundation. The building was originally the place of Anshe Chesed Synagogue, and it was built in a Gothic Revival style, designed by Berlin-born architect Alexander Saeltzer back in 1849 to house the local congregation of Jews in the Lower East Side. It is the fourth oldest synagogue building in the United States and the longest-standing one in New York City. It was also the largest synagogue there was at the time of its construction. The synagogue changed hands many times for many years, until it was abandoned in 1974.

Twelve years later, as Angel Orensanz was walking around the Lower East Side looking for a place to establish an art studio, he discovered the building, immediately deciding that it was the perfect place to work as a base for his projects. Soon afterwards he successfully bought the property, and, along with his brother Al Orensanz (now the Foundation’s director) went about restoring the building.

He and his team successfully converted it into and art gallery, foundation for the arts, and event space known as The Angel Orensanz Foundation. The next year, thanks to their efforts, the building was designated an official historic landmark of New York City.

As an event venue, The Angel Orensanz Foundation has welcomed Sarah Jessica Parker, Phillip Glass, Whitney Houston, Florence and the Machine, Alexander Mcqueen, Spike Lee, Lady Gaga, Steven Spielberg, and many others to its premises. With an interior that resembles the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris and the sanctuary designed to look like the Sistine Chapel, it’s no wonder why people fall in love with our Foundation.

Over the years the Angel Orensanz Foundation has held many artist exhibitions, such as Hush and Luis Buñel. It is also the permanent studio and performance space of the Spanish Master Angel Orensanz. We also cooperate with PS1/MoMA; The Goethe Institute, the Whitney Museum in New York; The Italian Cultural Institute, New York University; Columbia University and Princeton University; the National Russian Museum of St. Petersburg and the Royal Shakespeare Co. of London; The World Council of Peoples for the UN, the United Jewish Council and the American Academy in Rome.

The Angel Orensanz Foundation was inaugurated officially in 1992 and during its 20th anniversary what better way to celebrate it than with an exhibition that features its creator? Our featured exhibit, Burning Bronzes starts tomorrow (Sept 12th), with the opening at 6 pm, so if you are in New York City, this is your opportunity to see this amazing place on the Lower East Side and appreciate the beautiful works of Angel Orensanz.

Art in New York City (artful weekends)

No plans for the weekend yet? The Angel Orensanz Foundation blog has great suggestions for you to have a weekend of arts in New York City.


First, this Friday, there is the Etsy Craft Party, so head to Brooklyn (if you have time, go ahead and explore the area, the Brooklyn Museum has great exhibitions) to learn decoration and design tips from Stenciling guru Ed Roth and artist Aya Rosen. Get to know more here.


If you are a big fan of Jazz, than don’t miss the additional weekend of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. Today at 7 pm in Marcus Garvey Park you can enjoy Bird With Strings with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Special Guests. The concept is a celebration of the classic Charlie Parker album Charlie Parker with strings. The festival goes on for the weekend. To know more, click here.


Saturday is always a day for arts in New York City, right? Like the Live in HD series by The Met in Lincoln Center. The opening movie is The Enchanted Island, staring Joyce DiDonato. A baroque fantasy with a Shakespearian inspiration. To see the whole schedule, click here.

Shakespeare is also present on the Riverside Park. You can see the famous drama Richard III on the North Patio of the Soldeiers and Sailors Monument. To know more, click here

Not a big fan of Shakespeare? Than head to Gallery One Twenty Eight, here on our beloved Lower East Side to see and take part on  “In & Around C: A participatory Music and Art Installation” , where you can create your own sound, by stepping onto a gigantic staff.

Like to hear music better than making it? No worries, the WFC Plaza, is hosting the Grammy-nominated 18-piece steam punk band Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, who joins forces with the disco band Escort for a night of groove music, featuring the talents New York musicians. To know more, click here.

On Sunday, make sure to check out the New York City exhibitions that are closing. Terracotta Warriors on Discovery Times Square, Playing House on Brooklyn Museum, Gustav Klimt: 150th Anniversary Celebration on Neue Gallery, Weegee: Murder is My Business at the International Center of Photography and The Parade: Nathalie Djurberg with Music by Hans Berg at the New Museum.

Art in New York City (artful weekends)

Finally it is Friday. And before we share with you our artful suggestions for what to do in New York this weekend, let us do a recap of the week: Calvin Reid shares his view of Angel Orensanz, we how you the art gallery exhibitions in the Lower East Side, we share same musicians inspired by artists and Angel Orensanz new exhibition here in The Angel Orensanz Foundation is coming!

Now, for our weekend picks so you can enjoy a very artsy weekend in New York City:


First off, this Friday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, staring at 5pm, enjoy An Evening of Art and a Summer Sunset on the rooftop garden, where you can view Tomas Saraceno’s Cloud City while listening to DJ Widowspeak. You can also appreciate special tours of Naked before the camera and Spies in the House of Art: Photography, Film, and Video until 7 pm.


On Saturday there is lots of art in New York City for you to see. Like the exhibition Dialog in the Dark, where you will get to discover NYC by its sounds, tastes and textures, since you will be blindfolded! You will get to be guided through your senses by the people that know the city that way best: your guide will be visually impaired! So, prepare for the ride of your live starting at the South Street Seaport.

Not ready for the adventure? Don’t worry, New York City is boiling with art. So, how about the American Folk Museum? There you can see the exhibition Jubilation/Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined, the pieces from their permanent collection are organized by the museum’s senior curator Stacy C. Hollander and display samples of all varieties of artistic expression by artists from all over the world, from all the possible backgrounds. Maybe you wont know their names, but you will for sure remember their works once you see them. The exhibition addresses the space between reality, truth and imagination. Or as the curator puts it: “Life is not lived in black and white: reality may have the tinge of dreams and dreams an air of reality. “


On Discovery Times Square you can explore China’s past in the exhibition Terracotta Warriors. The 6-foot tall, 2000 year old statues are bound to impress. They are the legacy of Qin Shihuangdi, China’s first emperor. In fact, they were buried with him, in his tomb. But, someone decided to take them out for a Long March, all over the world, creating exhibitions that were always sold out. The army, or just a small piece of it is now on Times Square and you can learn the history of the warriors commissioned by Qin, each one different, placed in battle formation, with terracotta horses inside the first China emperor’s gigantic tomb.

Sunday is your last change to see  “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations,” so head back to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to enjoy the conversations that never happened between to genius Italian fashion designers and appreciate the display of dresses and shoes and hats of the fashion creators that were ahead of their time. And since you are inside the MET, how about spending the day there?

Finally, Sunday Night, if you like dance, then you shouldn’t loose the screening of Never Stand Still in Symphony Space at 6 pm, including a Q&A with director of the documentary Ron Honsa. The movie features legendary dancers and new innovators that reveal the world of dance. The trailer is here: