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

Setting the Stage: New Year’s Eve 2013 in Times Square

Setting the Stage: Times Square at New Year’s Eve

A closer look at the spectacle of Times Square on December 31st.

By: Al Orensanz, Ph.D and Zoe V. Speas

, The Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

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The spectacle of Times Square at New Year’s Eve 2013 consumes the attention of viewers of all ages.

In 1904, the owners of One Times Square assembled parties of friends and co-workers on the rooftop of their building to ring in the New Year. Three years later, in 1907, the first ceremony of lowering the Ball was held in the iconic heart of Manhattan. Tomorrow night, over a century later and in the face of biting cold and ungodly congestion, the tradition continues.

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The New Year’s Eve Ball, made of Waterford Crystal, which will descend at 11:59pm on December 31st.

New Year’s Eve throws Times Square into the spotlight as the single point upon which the urban attention and media distribution of the world focuses as a beacon of celebration for the holiday. The city center becomes a international center, and, despite the performances and A-list appearances, it will be the sea of people gathered along Broadway and Seventh Avenue who are the true stars of the show.

They will make the stage of New Year’s Eve come alive and millions of eyes across America will watch the last few seconds of 2013 tick away with them, wishing they stood beneath the downpour of confetti and flashing 
lights. They are why, for those last ten seconds of the previous year, Times Square becomes the center of the universe. The people.

Paris has fashion. Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe encompass the city of London. St. Peter’s Square has been the cornerstone of Rome for centuries, as with the Acropolis in Athens. But in New York, the energy of the people within provide the city with its most famous trademark. New York City is not the capital of the United States, nor even the State, itself. The people – regardless of personality or social strata – are the character of the town that has sealed its renown.

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The people create the character and the energy of the city, and not just in Times Square on New Year’s.

The official event lineup features live performances such as Blondie, Miley Cyrus, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis; John Lennon’s Imagine, to be performed by Melissa Etheridge, is another beloved classic. Traditional Chinese performances featuring Kung Fu and a colorful fan dance will kick off the festivities early in the evening. The celebration also will be highlighted with exclusive trailers and clips featuring views of Times Square and the surrounding neighborhood.

The backdrop for the festivities tomorrow night will consist of over a hundred buildings coated “from the crown to the toe top full” of neon advertisements and billboards. Thousands of LED lights illuminate Times Square, making it a fully-functional, 24/7 commercial advertising theme park of giant, electronic ad/art that render the buildings they cover completely unidentifiable. Even in “ordinary time”, the buildings along Times Square operate as embodiments of virtual information, carrying very little relativity to the tenants within as opposed to the advertisements assigned to them. The immersive experience of Times Square at New Year’s Eve, as well as the live recording of the night’s events, create blissful accomplices of those assembled beneath the world’s most spectacular advertising strategy.

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New York City at New Year’s Eve.

However, another layer of the visual and perceptual experience of New Year’s Eve at Times Square must be accounted for – the generation of advertisements originating directly from national television networks which are delivered into the living rooms of viewers throughout America and beyond. The messages transmitted through pixels and sound-bytes are intermingled with the physical world and surround the crowds beneath the crystal ball, those gathered around a television at home, or at their local watering hole, blocks away from the hub of it all.

Tomorrow night, Times Square will transform even more potently into a vortex of action and movement for its New Year’s Eve celebration. Technicians and cameramen from New York networks synchronize the activities of the Square among the people, upon the stages, and from the microphones of honored speakers who preside over the event. The reporters and cameramen who supply video feed will move rapidly and efficiently through the crowds, engaging with them in repetitious spurts of gratitude and celebration. The snapshots of the crowds, when viewed remotely, provide the international audiences with the visual representation of their own emotions: smiling, static faces, undulating hands and arms, cameras held high, holiday truisms and well-wishes.

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The fluorescence of New Year’s Eve at Times Square, New York.

The phones in the hands of these representatives feed parallel worlds of messaging and communication systems; there are tens of thousands of smart phones, twitter networks, and Facebook accounts documenting the event from innumerable personal perspectives.

The various elements that create the unique atmosphere of Times Square on New Year’s Eve will change and evolve throughout the progress of the night and its proximity to the sixty-second descent of the Ball at 11:59pm on December 31, 2013.

The only element of permanence in the night, other than the overwhelming joy and hopefulness of a population at the start of a new year, is the backdrop of the city, the enveloping architecture, and the direct flow of communication and advertisement for the multimillion vieweres throughout the world following and celebrating the event from the comfort of their homes.

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.

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“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.

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“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.

In the Steps of Gargallo: Figurative Monuments in Metal Sculpture

In the Steps of Gargallo: Figurative Monuments in Metal Sculpture  

By: Al Orensanz, PhD., Director - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts  

Abstract or figurative? This was the disjunction with which all the artists of the time were faced, and even though pictorial modernity in Spain had for some time already been inclined to informalism, sculpture artist Angel Orensanz followed the cautious steps of his admired Pablo Gargallo and Julio González, and those of so many other more recent sculptors that also vacillated between the abstract or figurative.

This was especially true if such artists aspired to dedicate themselves to monumental sculpture, since this type of commission is almost always given by the authorities, who in the Spain of that time were not as open and modern as some more advanced private or corporate patrons.

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Monumento a la Jacetania. Ángel Orensanz. Monumental sculpture. 1969.

It is thus not at all surprising that it was for a private collector, owner of a sculpture park in Bellaterra (Barcelona), that the first totally abstract exempt monument erected by Angel Orensanz emerged in 1969: a menhir of 7 meters in height which he executed in two blocks of stone, working by carving directly into grooves and irregularities, which this time were not reserved only to the upper parts, but also extended throughout the lower parts.

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“Monumenta a la Jota” – Angel Orensanz. Sculpture. 1970. Spain.

In contrast, on September 25, 1970, feast day of the patron saint of the village, Angel ORensanz inaugurated in Albalate del Arzobispo (Teruel) his Monumento a la Jota (Monument to the Jota), in which for a change the abstract geometries remained confined to a tall poured-cement podium.

This serves simultaneously as a backdrop for the ground level statue of a well-built singer of jotas, and as a podium on which are raised those of a pair of young dancers: they are once again hieratic figures —something striking in the representation of joteros, even though the dance of Albalete is known for its grace.   They are formed of geometric planes, like those of the Saragossan monuments to the Mother and to Tío Jorge; but this time Orensanz uses for the first time cut and welded steel plates, marking out planes and hollows in a style derivative of the cubism which was so widespread in the Spain of the transition and the start of democracy, one of whose most tenacious exponents would be the Aragonese José Gonzalvo. This said, the model for this solemn mastery in the evocation of volume based on plates and striking hollows was none other than Pablo Gargallo, Aragonese sculptor well known to Orensanz, since he had dedicated to Gargallo,

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“The Great Prophet.” 1933 (bronze) – Pablo Gargallo. Sculpture.

We can say that Gargallo’s splendid Gran Profeta (Great Prophet) has, as adopted sons, two colossi of imposing beards and manes made by Angel Orensanz for the cities of Jaca and Monzón.   The Monumento a la Jacetania (Monument to the Lands of Jaca), raised in 1969 in the square of Biscós in Jaca, is a gigantic titan 7 meters in height and more than two tons in weight, which represents in concrete and steel a pilgrim of the Road to Santiago. The figure’s facial expression shares the limelight with a model of the cloister of the monastery of San Juan de la Peña carried in an offertory gesture with arms outstretched, also in steel. In the lower part, below an oculum of Romanesque reminiscences, the pillars that evoke his body have on each side of a split which represents the Aragon river crosssing the Jacetania in vertical alignment, four sculptural vignettes decorated with fired-enamel gold paint, in which are paid homage other typical elements of the region.

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“Monumento a la Jacetania.” Sculpture. Angel Orensanz.

These include the Holy Grail of San Juan de la Peña, the Cathedral of Jaca, The Book of La Cadena and musical instruments—and also a modern industry as well as an skier (of which he also made a larger version, with welded iron plates, which has been in the exhibition Los Orensanz de Orensanz).

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“Monumento a Joaquín.” Costa Monzón, Huesca, Spain. Angel Orensanz. Sculpture. 1978.

His Monumento a Joaquín Costa (Monument to Joaquín Costa) in his native city of Monzón is also colossal: in this case the homage to Gargallo’s largest and most well known sculpture is even more evident, since the celebrated deputy raises his arms like a prophet preaching. This imagery is not typical in any picture of Costa, but is very appropriate for the staging of the “Grito del Agua”, when every September 14th social groups of all kinds gather before the monument in homage to the great apostle of regeneration and irrigation. His strange gesticulating figure in plates of enameled steel presides over the Avenue of Lérida from a podium of coffered concrete, before some pillars, also of concrete, which serve as a visual backdrop on the other side of the fountain.

Once again then, a very stage-like composition in two parts, like in the monuments to Tío Jorge and the Jota, although the style here is already very different, much more abstract than figurative, since it is of much later date, for it was inaugurated by the local authorities on September 21, 1978, as is stated on the identifying plaque. This same plaque alludes to the financing of the work by CAMPZAR, a savings entity which a few years later would place works by Ángel Orensanz in front of their Saragossa headquarters.

Art Basel 2014: Basel, Miami Beach, Hong Kong

Art Basel 2014 - Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

Art Basel 2014: Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong

by: Zoe V. Speas, The Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

A strong tradition of art fairs in the international arts community emerged out of a need to cultivate connections between artists, galleries, and individual patrons, regardless of cultural or geographical divides. This year, the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts is proud to promote the Art Basel 2014 art fair in Miami Beach, Hong Kong, and Basel.

The Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts presents the work of founding artists Angel Orensanz at such fairs as Art Palm Beach 2014 and Miami Art + Design (MA+D), but also presents artist materials and publications such as ARTSCAPE Magazine to the Art Basel 2014 Fairs out of Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong.

Art Basel 2014

Visitors gather at the exhibition area of the Gallery Bernier/Eliades (Athens) at the international art show “Art 39 Basel”, in Basel, Switzerland. Art Basel 2014.

(From the ART BASEL 2014 website.)


Connecting the international art community has been Art Basel’s goal since its beginning. Now, over forty years later, it ranks as the premier show of its kind, presenting 20th and 21st century art with a strong curatorial perspective. Its tradition of excellence across a wide range of genres offers visitors the most vital art that the world’s best galleries can offer.

In both Basel and Miami Beach now, and in Hong Kong moving forward, the week of the Art Basel 2014 show teems with parallel exhibitions and cultural events, creating an exciting environment that deepens and strengthens the relationship between gallerists, artists, curators and collectors.

Art Basel 2014

Art Basel 2014 links the artworlds of Miami Beach, Basel, and Hong Kong through its international fair.


The dynamic relationships between art galleries, their artists, private collectors and public institutions play an essential role in today’s artworld. Galleries support emerging artists by funding their production, introducing them to the artworld, and helping to shape and develop their careers. Well-established artists are generally represented by gallerists who over time have built an extensive international audience for the artist, both through shows in their own spaces and by promoting their work worldwide. Similarly, galleries active in historical material can help to increase or revive interest in an artist long after their death.

Today, fairs such as Art Basel 2014 function as the primary global promotional platform for galleries, allowing them access to a massive number of collectors and curators, people who come to fairs not only to discover new artists and new galleries, but also to deepen their engagement with those that they already know. Thus, a successful fair is one that not only generates sales for exhibitors, but also spurs new collectors and curators to follow the activities of their favorite artists all over the globe – and drives them to see shows in the year-round spaces of the galleries that have supported those artists so strongly.

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!

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 – 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.

Lou Reed: the Death of a Poet, Musician, and a Friend.

Lou Reed: the Death of a Poet, Musician, and a Friend.

By: Al Orensanz, Director of the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

 New York, November 5, 2013.

death of Lou Reed

The death of Lou Reed hits hard at the Angel Orensanz Foundation. Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed.

Laurie Anderson, wife of the late Lou Reed, has sent us copy of her letter to her husband’s friends, admirers and followers:

What a beautiful fall! Everything is shimmering and golden and all that incredible soft light. Water is surrounding us.

Lou and I have spent a lot of time here in upstate New York for the past few years, and even though we’re city people, this is our spiritual home. Last week, I promised Lou to get him out of the hospital and come home to Springs. And we made it!

Lou Reed

from the letter written by Laurie Anderson, wife of the late Lou Reed.

Lou was a tai chi master and spent his last days here being happy and dazzled by the beauty and power and softness of nature. He died on Sunday morning looking at the trees and doing the famous 21 form of tai chi with just his musician’s hands moving through the air.

Lou was a prince and a fighter and I know his songs of the pain and beauty in the world will fill many people with the incredible joy he felt for life. Long live the beauty that comes down and through and onto all of us.

Laurie Anderson, his loving wife and eternal friend.”

Lou Reed

Lou Reed; 1942-2013.

Lou Reed came often to our building in Lower Manhattan for concerts and literary presentations. We conversed frequently: he was an admirer of the art of Angel Orensanz, and we were devoted admirers of his talent and his charm.

Lou Reed, enjoy your eternal rest. Remember us; we will always be here. 

Angel Orensanz for Art Palm Beach 2014

The Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts and Contemporary Art Gallery Returns to Art Palm Beach 2014

Zoe V. Speas; The Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts


The Angel Orensanz Gallery and Museum is pleased to announce its participation in Art Palm Beach, January 23-27, 2014.

Art Palm Beach 2014

Artist Angel Orensanz exhibits permanently at the former “Norfolk Street Synagogue”, home to the Orensanz Museum and Gallery. Orensanz will attend the Art Palm Beach 2014 fair.

The Gallery will present The Collective Unconscious, a series of dramatic new sculptures and paintings by Spanish artist Angel Orensanz. Orensanz has been exhibiting internationally since the 1960s and has a permanent exhibit at the Orensanz Foundation, located inside the former “Norfolk Street Synagogue” in New York City’s Lower East Side.

Burning Bronzes

Art Palm Beach 2014, Angel Orensanz, Burning Bronzes

From the Burning Bronzes episode of the Collective Unconscious series, which Angel Orensanz will present at the Art Palm Beach 2014 fair.

Burning Bronzes, a series of miniature-to-middle scale sculptures, speaks to the artist’s journey from Earth and Land Art into his current medium.

Working with the bronze and stoneware, according to Orensanz, “brings me into closer communion with the earth through my art.”

The sculptures on display will represent a continuation of the artist’s study of the human form and its manipulation, while paying homage to a tradition of indigenous art from around the world.


Bodies - Angel Orensanz - Art Palm Beach 2014

From the ‘Bodies‘ series by Angel Orensanz – an exploration of the human figure continues this winter at Art Palm Beach 2014.

Bodies consists of an incredibly diverse sequence of drawings in charcoal, graphite, ink, and, occasionally, coffee grounds. Angel Orensanz explores human anatomy through a highly vibrant mix of line weight and texture.

Angel Orensanz - Art Palm Beach 2014 - Sculpture

1961. Dinosaurio. Unknown location. Angel Orensanz.

The figures he depicts contort and bend in an expression ranging from agony to ecstasy.

Orensanz began his training in the 1950s at L’Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris with in-depth, literal study of the human body. Over the decades, his use of “body” and “form” has become an abstraction and a metaphor for the human condition and for the current project, Collective Unconscious.


The Language of Fire

Language of Fire - Angel Orensanz - Art Palm Beach 2014.

Angel Orensanz presents the Language of Fire as part of the upcoming Collective Unconscious exhibit for Art Palm Beach 2014.

Language of Fire bridges the worlds of painting, sculpture, and photography. Through his use of fire, plastics, and vivid color, Angel Orensanz illustrates the universal language of creativity, which defies boundaries of nationality and race. The artist employs a range of scale and perspective in these living photographs, verging almost into the realm of optical illusion. The images are often reflections and, being taken from the artist’s perspective, the shadow of Angel Orensanz’s figure may often be found within the complex layers of each portrait.

A comprehensive catalog with accompanying essays will be produced for the purpose of the artist’s participation in Art Palm Beach 2014.


For more information on Art Palm Beach 2014:

Media Inquiries: The Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts, 212.529.7194.

Fair Hours:  Preview – January 23rd 6:00-7:30pm; Collectors Invitational 7:30-10:00pm; January 24th-27th 12-7pm (6:00pm on the 27th).

Location: Palm Beach County Convention Center, 650 Okeechobee Boulevard, West Palm Beach, Florida 33401

The spaces as extensions of the self.

The spaces as extensions of the self.

By Al Orensanz

photograph  by Angel Orenasnz - The self and Spaces

Angel Oresanz – The Self and Space

From the ancient times to the present, man has affirmed the self  or himself. Man has externalized himself and built himself as a beneficiary of architecture and a contending force with buildings and architecture. It seems that the building formalized a set of tasks that manifest the extensions of the human self into the surrounding environment.

The first “construction” was the adaptation of the surrounding materials both for protection from the environment and for affirmation of the self. The indoors is where the thought and the dialogue grew into self-introspection and organization from an intractable and uncontrollable surrounding. The interior space helped defined the proper proportions of the individual and of the group.

Photo-Art by Angel Orensanz

Photo-Art by Angel Orensanz

The indoors established the dialogue and the community. It established the individuality, the memory and the authority. Outside of the entrance laid out the borderless, the cosmic, the dangerous and the seasonal. From then on there was space and a time for laying down the foundations of society, of dialogue, of social order, of exchange, memory and of leisure. The caves are the oldest surviving records of human communication and memory; and the paradigm of the earliest forms of community and social order.

Art Installation by Angel Orensanz

Art Installation by Angel Orensanz – The Self and the Space

From Altamira to Lascaux the human experience has moved by leaps and bounds towards more and more sophisticated forms of separation from the surrounding brutality and chaos and moved into  propitious expanses propitious to dialogue and   group communications.

In another step forward, the cave propitiated self-inspection and introspection. It propitiated as well the beginnings of writing and painting and other levels of communication.

Angel Orensanz has done different installations about this subject matter that  seduces mankind since it’s origins. The communication with the self, with our inner most trough the surrounding spaces we created or spaces mother nature provides for us.