Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Culture ... and Stuff

First things first. A great big HUGE shout out to the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (disclosure: Edelman pro-bono client) for hosting me at several films this past weekend. As anticipated, the short "My Olympic Summer" was thought provoking and excellent, and I will request a Q&A with the Atlanta-based filmmaker for a future post on his work.

Kudos and thanks also to the writer/director of "Bart Got A Room," Mr. Brian Hecker. This is one of the funniest films I've seen in a long time. The big band and techno soundtrack is excellent (hoping to eventually find it on my colleague's soundtrack blog), the writing is superb, and my hope is this film will take off when it hits big screens in April (it is my understanding the film's last festival circuit screening is coming up in Vancouver).

William H. Macy and Cheryl Hines both deserve three cheers for lending their talents to the picture, while the young cast is sure to become the next generation of "it" stars, much like the mostly unknowns from "American Pie" before that film achieved hit status.

I asked Hecker at the festival whether the "American Pie" series was an influence, and he replied that in fact went out of the way not to make such a film. He noted 1x1, and to the AJFF audience at the sold-out festival finale screening, that his hope that John Hughes' and Woody Allen's influence would shine. Hecker succeeds. Wishing him, and "Bart Got A Room," much success.

This coming weekend my girlfriend and I plan to meet at LGA airport and paint the town red on Manhattan Island. Saturday (her "golden" birthday) plans include a swing by the weekend "TODAY Show" set at Rockefeller Center, Fifth Ave. shopping, visiting a few galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (my favorite areas include the American collections, which apparently underwent some big changes) or the MOMA (love the "Starry Night" and the M*A*S*H-style helicopter), riding the elevators at the Empire State Building (disclosure: an Edelman client) and an evening on Broadway at "Avenue Q" (an outstanding production -- can hardly wait to sing-along with Brian and Kate Monster in their up-tempo opening tune).

On the "maybe" list is a trip to take in Frank Lloyd Wright's newly-renovated (just in time for 50th Anniversary) Guggenheim Museum. With thanks to the P.R. office at this, one of my favorite, New York destinations, the Guggenheim has a new show opening as our planes are touching town in Queens. Their description goes something like this:

The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989, is an interpretative survey exhibition illuminating the dynamic and complex impact of Asian art, literary texts and philosophical concepts on American artistic practices of the late 19th century (ca. 1860-1900), early modern (ca. 1900-1945), postwar avant-garde (1945-1970), and contemporary periods (1970-1989). The exhibition features 270 objects in array of media, including painting, works on paper, books and ephemera, sculptures, video art, installations, film, and a live performance program, representing the work of 108 artists. The Third Mind is a masterpiece show featuring works by canonical and lesser-known figures of the late-19th and 20th-centuries. The exhibition and related materials will trace how the classical arts of India, China and Japan and the systems of Hindu, Taoist, Tantric Buddhist and Zen Buddhist thought were known, reconstructed and transformed by American cultural and intellectual forces. The project examines the history of the construction of Asia as an imaginary, the enduring aspirations to know and internalize Asian art and thought among American and Asian-born artists working in the U.S., and the geopolitical conditions that made America’s engagement with Asia unique.

Uncle Frank would be proud. Hoping it won't take too much coaxing to get the Birthday Girl north on the Museum Mile to see this Guggenheim Museum exhibit.

Other "maybe" destinations: Grand Central Station, the new "Top of the Rock" rooftop access at Rockefeller Center, a midnight movie at the Sunshine Cinema screening of "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" (gnarly, dude!), Times Square, Grand Central Station, the United Nations Building, Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, Time Warner Center, Central Park, The Dakota, Harlem, ice skating, tea at Tavern On The Green and a visit to a hidden-from-tourists Tex-Mex restaurant a recent NYC to ATL transplant shared is excellent. We'll see -- will be very happy no matter where we sing "Happy Birthday To You" in the city.
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Image credits, for the Guggenheim images with this post:
Jackson Pollock
Seven Red Paintings, ca. 1950Oil on canvas, in six parts, and enamel on canvas, each, minimum: 50.8 x 20.3 cm, maximum 54.6 x 33 cm; overall dimensions variable. Private Collection, Berlin© 2009 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New YorkPhoto: Jochen Littkemann, Berlin

Georgia O'Keeffe
Abstraction, 1917 Watercolor on paper, 40 x 27.6 cm Collection of Gerald and Kathleen Peters, Courtesy Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Restoration Completion
Photograph by David Heald© Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

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