Acrylic on canvas
66 x 51 in
167.6 x 129.5 cm
Through July 9, 2016July 9th, 2016
By Michael Eric Dyson
NY Times Published: JULY 7, 2016
IT is clear that you, white America, will never understand us. We are a nation of nearly 40 million black souls inside a nation of more than 320 million people. We don’t all think the same, feel the same, love, learn, live or even die the same.
But there’s one thing most of us agree on: We don’t want the cops to kill us without fear that they will ever face a jury, much less go to jail, even as the world watches our death on a homemade video recording.
You will never understand the helplessness we feel in watching these events unfold, violently, time and again, as shaky images tell a story more sobering than your eyes are willing to believe: that black life can mean so little. That Alton B. Sterling and Philando Castile, black men whose deaths were captured on film this past week, could be gone as we watch, as a police officer fires a gun. That the police are part of an undeclared war against blackness.
You can never admit that this is true. In fact, you deem the idea so preposterous and insulting that you call the black people who believe it racists themselves. In that case the best-armed man will always win.
You say that black folks kill each other every day without a mumbling word while we thunderously protest a few cops, usually but not always white, who shoot to death black people who you deem to be mostly “thugs.”
That such an accusation is nonsense is nearly beside the point. Black people protest, to one another, to a world that largely refuses to listen, that what goes on in black communities across this nation is horrid, as it would be in any neighborhood depleted of dollars and hope — emptied of good schools, and deprived of social and economic buffers against brutality. People usually murder where they nest; they aim their rage at easy targets.
It is not best understood as black-on-black crime; rather, it is neighbor-to-neighbor carnage. If their neighbors were white, they’d get no exemption from the crime that plagues human beings who happen to be black. If you want interracial killing, you have to have interracial communities.
We all can see the same videos. But you insist that the camera doesn’t tell the whole story. Of course you’re right, but you don’t really want to see or hear that story.
At birth, you are given a pair of binoculars that see black life from a distance, never with the texture of intimacy. Those binoculars are privilege; they are status, regardless of your class. In fact the greatest privilege that exists is for white folk to get stopped by a cop and not end up dead when the encounter is over.
Those binoculars are also stories, bad stories, biased stories, harmful stories, about how black people are lazy, or dumb, or slick, or immoral, people who can’t be helped by the best schools or even God himself. These beliefs don’t make it into contemporary books, or into most classrooms. But they are passed down, informally, from one white mind to the next.
The problem is you do not want to know anything different from what you think you know. Your knowledge of black life, of the hardships we face, yes, those we sometimes create, those we most often endure, don’t concern you much. You think we have been handed everything because we have fought your selfish insistence that the world, all of it — all its resources, all its riches, all its bounty, all its grace — should be yours first, and foremost, and if there’s anything left, why then we can have some, but only if we ask politely and behave gratefully.
So you demand the Supreme Court give you back what was taken from you: more space in college classrooms that you dominate; better access to jobs in fire departments and police forces that you control. All the while your resentment builds, and your slow hate gathers steam. Your whiteness has become a burden too heavy for you to carry, so you outsource it to a vile political figure who amplifies your most detestable private thoughts.
Whiteness is blindness. It is the wish not to see what it will not know.
If you do not know us, you also refuse to hear us because you do not believe what we say. You have decided that enough is enough. If the cops must kill us for no good reason, then so be it because most of us are guilty anyway. If the black person that they kill turns out to be innocent, it is an acceptable death, a sacrificial one.
You cannot know what terror we live in. You make us afraid to walk the streets, for at any moment, a blue-clad officer with a gun could swoop down on us to snatch our lives from us and say that it was because we were selling cigarettes, or compact discs, or breathing too much for your comfort, or speaking too abrasively for your taste. Or running, or standing still, or talking back, or being silent, or doing as you say, or not doing as you say fast enough.
You hold an entire population of Muslims accountable for the evil acts of a few. Yet you rarely muster the courage to put down your binoculars, and with them, your corrosive self-pity, and see what we see. You say religions and cultures breed violence stoked by the complicity of silence because peoples will not denounce the villains who act in their names.
Yet you do the same. You do not condemn these cops; to do so, you would have to condemn the culture that produced them — the same culture that produced you. Black people will continue to die at the hands of cops as long as we deny that whiteness can be more important in explaining those cops’ behavior than the dangerous circumstances they face.
You cannot know how we secretly curse the cowardice of whites who know what I write is true, but dare not say it. Neither will your smug insistence that you are different — not like that ocean of unenlightened whites — satisfy us any longer. It makes the killings worse to know that your disapproval of them has spared your reputations and not our lives.
You do not know that after we get angry with you, we get even angrier with ourselves, because we don’t know how to make you stop, or how to make you care enough to stop those who pull the triggers. What else could explain the white silence that usually greets these events? Sure, there is often an official response, sometimes even government apologies, but from the rest of the country, what? We see the wringing of white hands in frustration at just how complex the problem is and how hard it is to tell from the angles of the video just what went down.
We feel powerless to make our black lives matter. We feel powerless to make you believe that our black lives should matter. We feel powerless to keep you from killing black people in front of their loved ones. We feel powerless to keep you from shooting hate inside our muscles with well-choreographed white rage.
But we have rage, too. Most of us keep our rage inside. We are afraid that when the tears begin to flow we cannot stop them. Instead we damage our bodies with high blood pressure, sicken our souls with depression.
We cannot hate you, not really, not most of us; that is our gift to you. We cannot halt you; that is our curse.July 7th, 2016
By SAM POLK
NY Times Published: JULY 7, 2016
WHEN I was a 27-year-old bond trader at Bank of America, I went to dinner with a managing director and a high-profile client, both men, at a Brazilian all-you-can-eat meat restaurant in Manhattan. The waitress came by to see if we wanted another round of drinks. When she was out of earshot, the client said, “I’d like to bend her over the table, give her some meat.” They laughed. I forced a smile. On the way home, I fumed. I was troubled by the comment, and disgusted by the man who said it. But I was angry with myself. Why hadn’t I said anything?
For my entire life, I’ve heard men talk about women. On baseball fields, in wrestling locker rooms, at frat parties and in private conversations, I’ve listened to men dissect women into body parts. When I was younger, I did it, too. Casually objectifying women — speaking in an unguarded way, using language we never would in mixed company — brought us together.
Yet, the everyday sexism I saw, and participated in, during high school and college was nothing compared with what I witnessed on Wall Street.
During my first summer as a trading desk intern at Credit Suisse First Boston, I was walking through Midtown with a managing director when he sped ahead of me to look at a woman. “I had to get a look at those tits,” he said. I often heard men say about female colleagues, “I’d like to get behind that.”
Women on Wall Street widely report experiencing overt sexism. A bond trader friend received a smaller-than-expected bonus after refusing to sleep with her boss, and soon quit. Another friend sued her employer, a major bank, after it took away all her major clients on her return from maternity leave.
But most of the sexism on Wall Street occurs when women aren’t in the room. “Bro talk” produces a force field of disrespect and exclusion that makes it incredibly difficult for women to ascend the Wall Street ladder. When you create a culture where women are casually torn apart in conversation, how can you ever stomach promoting them, or working for them? There are many reasons that men still overwhelmingly populate trading floors and boardrooms, but this is one that has gotten too little attention.
A woman has never been the chief executive of a major investment bank. Only about 2 percent of hedge fund managers are women. During my years on Wall Street I never saw a woman run a trading or sales desk, which is the first step toward executive management.
Wall Street’s sexism isn’t just unethical — it’s bad for the industry’s bottom line. Studies show that investment groups that have more female managers perform better than those without them. In a culture that claims to value meritocracy, Wall Street is more like the Andover lacrosse team — meritocratic, perhaps, but only among a small subset of the population.
The promulgation of diversity committees and women’s leadership summits and inclusion training suggests that there is some institutional acknowledgment of this sexism. Yet, these things have resulted in little change. What we need is something simpler: individuals speaking up and challenging norms, especially when it’s uncomfortable. So far, women have done the heavy lifting. They’ve written the articles, filed the lawsuits and raised awareness. Men rarely do or say anything.
Why not? Because it feels really good to be in the in-crowd. A few years ago, when I heard reports that Yale fraternity brothers had marched through campus chanting, “No means yes, yes means anal,” I was aghast. At the same time, I understood the thrilling camaraderie those young men must have felt from joining together to say something obscene, and to recognize that our culture had granted them that power.
Men have been inculcated by dads and coaches with an ideal of masculinity and male bonding that includes, and even revolves around, the objectification of women. I knew from a young age that my dad was a “tit man.” My high school baseball coach often talked about which senior girls had the best bodies. In many ways, objectifying women was the rite of passage through which I entered the world of men.
That helps explain why I stood silent hundreds of times as men objectified and degraded women. Protesting would have violated the sanctity of the men-only space, and would have risked interfering with the bonding that goes hand in hand with the objectification of the other sex. It would have been embarrassing and emasculating. And it would have been bad for my career.
From the moment I began working on the Street, the crucial importance of fitting in was communicated to me. During my summer internship at Credit Suisse, the human resources representative told me that whether I received a job offer would not be based on my intelligence, but whether the traders liked me. It was a social test, not an intellectual one. The trading desk I worked on that summer consisted of 15 male traders, and one very junior female trader. To get a job, I needed to become one of the guys.
It’s hard to violate social norms; it’s even harder when doing so means jeopardizing millions of dollars in future earnings. For an intern, a connection with a managing director can mean a foothold in one of the most lucrative career paths in the world. And the pressure to conform doesn’t end once you get a job. The difference in pay between your current role and the one just above it is usually several hundred thousand dollars per year, and often several million. That’s partly why Wall Street, which is often portrayed as a swashbuckling, take-no-prisoners culture, is actually a culture of brutal conformity. Traders and bankers wear the same shirts and the same shoes, and almost never contradict their bosses.
In my experience, the misogyny often comes from bosses; denigrating women is the mechanism through which they connect with their subordinates. At one of the firms I worked for, a senior executive asked me, “Did you get laid last night?” When I responded no, he said: “Too bad. When I was your age, it was like shooting fish in a barrel.” I faked a smile — I felt that I had to.
But a few years after I left Wall Street, when my wife was pregnant with our first child, and we learned that it was going to be a girl, I burst into tears. My daughter would soon enter a world not just of unequal pay and unequal opportunity, but one in which almost 20 percent of women are raped, and a quarter of girls are sexually abused.
If you think that this violence has nothing to do with bro talk, you’re wrong. When we dehumanize people in conversation, we give permission for them to be degraded in other ways as well. And even if we don’t participate, our silence condones this language. I deeply regret remaining quiet while women were being disparaged during my eight years as a trader.
If hedge fund founders, managing directors and desk heads instituted a zero-tolerance policy for this behavior in their ranks, it would help engender a culture of respect for women on Wall Street. And if men of status in our wider culture — managers, coaches, politicians, celebrities — insisted that women were spoken not just to, but about, with respect, that would help create a culture where it’s not so scary to be the parent of a daughter.July 7th, 2016
Closing Reception for Peter Shire | Cups
Sunday July 10. 3:30 to 5 pm.
Peter will be signing a free edition of 100 broadside posters printed by Pat ReaghJuly 7th, 2016
By Joseph Cerna
LA Times Published: July 5, 2016
Two electrocuted bear cubs fell from a power pole in Banning and sparked a brush fire Tuesday before their dead bodies were dragged away by their mother, who sought to shield them from firefighters, authorities said.
The mother bear and her cubs had been wandering in a rural section of Banning near Bluff Street when the cubs climbed a power pole and touched a transformer around 1 a.m., according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan.
They were about 6 months old and weighed 20 pounds each.
When they were electrocuted, both cubs’ fur caught fire and they fell to the ground, igniting the brush and grass around them, Riverside County firefighters said. But when firefighters showed up to put out the flames, they first had to deal with the mama bear, Hughan said.
“She was making noises you know, [like] ‘stay away from my babies,’ so firefighters just backed off [and] kept the fire from getting worse,” Hughan said.
The mother eventually dragged both cubs’ bodies a couple hundred yards deep into the brush where she’ll likely bury them, Hughan said. Officials decided the cubs’ bodies were far enough away that they don’t pose a public safety threat if they’re left there, he said.
The brush fire ignited by the bears grew to 1 1/2 acres before it was contained, authorities said.
A game warden speculated the mother bear may have seen a male bear in the area and urged her cubs to climb the pole to avoid the threat, Hughan said.
Hughan said he’s rarely, if ever, seen bears climb a power pole like the two that did Tuesday morning.July 5th, 2016
By WILLIAM GRIMES
NY Times JULY 4, 2016
Abbas Kiarostami, often hailed as Iran’s greatest filmmaker, whose searching, parablelike dramas of ordinary people and their problems reflected a poetic vision and a philosophical turn of mind, died on Monday in Paris. He was 76.
Iran’s official news agency said he had traveled there to receive treatment for cancer after undergoing surgery in Tehran.
Mr. Kiarostami, loosely associated with the Iranian New Wave of the late 1960s, started out making short films about childhood problems for the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, where he had established a filmmaking division. He often worked in a semidocumentary style, and used nonprofessional actors, from whom he coaxed extraordinary performances.
“At the beginning it was just a job, but it was the making of me as an artist,” he told The Guardian in 2005. “The important thing is that I didn’t work in commercial films. I look at these 20 years as the best period of my professional life.”
He remained in Iran after the 1979 revolution and, never a political filmmaker, largely managed to work around the artistic obstacles thrown up by the new regime.
He began attracting notice outside Iran with the feature film “Where Is the Friend’s House?” (1987), about a conscientious schoolboy determined to return a friend’s notebook to keep him from being expelled. Told from its young hero’s point of view, it placed the boy’s small story in the social context of rural Iran, with sweeping shots of the landscape.
This was the first installment in the three films called the Koker trilogy, set in the village of that name in northern Iran, rocked by a devastating earthquake that struck in 1990.
Drawn back to the area, Mr. Kiarostami made two films dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy, “And Life Goes On” (1992) and “Through the Olive Trees” (1994), that marked the director as a major talent in world cinema, whose profoundly rooted realism and compassion drew comparisons to Vittorio De Sica and the Indian director Satyajit Ray.
In his 1997 film “Taste of Cherry,” he told the story of a well-to-do man, identified only as Mr. Badii, who, determined to commit suicide, accosts a variety of characters as he looks for a volunteer to bury him. Its acute presentation of moral issues and personal crisis, reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman, deeply impressed critics.
Abbas Kiarostami teaching a course in 2007 with students of the Villa Arson school in Nice, France. Credit Eric Estrade/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
“These are real issues that all of us in our own way face in our own lives, and so rarely are they treated on film: the sense of crying out to others, of needing others, of trying to create a bridge to others,” Richard Peña, the program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center at the time, said in 1997, when the film was shown at the New York Film Festival.
Abbas Kiarostami was born on June 22, 1940, in Tehran, where his father was a painter and decorator. After winning a painting contest at 18, Mr. Kiarostami enrolled in the School of Fine Arts at Tehran University, working as a traffic policeman to support himself. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1968.
The next year he married Parvin Amir-Gholi. The marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by their two sons, Ahman and Bahman.
At the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults Mr. Kiarostami made his first film in 1970. In neorealist style, “The Bread and Alley,” just 12 minutes long, told the story of a young boy’s confrontation with a vicious dog. In 1977 Mr. Kiarostami made his first feature-length film, “Report,” about a tax collector who takes bribes.
While he was filming “First Case, Second Case,” a documentary about a teacher who collectively punishes a class when one pupil refuses to admit wrongdoing, the Iranian Revolution broke out. He had to completely rethink the film, which nevertheless managed to offend the new regime and was never released.
Unlike many other artists, Mr. Kiarostami chose to remain in Iran.
“When you take a tree that is rooted in the ground, and transfer it from one place to another, the tree will no longer bear fruit,” he told The Guardian. “And if it does, the fruit will not be as good as it was in its original place. This is a rule of nature. I think if I had left my country, I would be the same as the tree.”
When he began receiving critical praise in the West, he ran into problems with the Iranian authorities, who often made it difficult for his films to be shown. Conversely, after the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, stringent new visa requirements made it impossible for him to attend the premiere of his new film, “Ten,” at the New York Film Festival in 2002.
Mr. Kiarostami, always an idiosyncratic filmmaker, became increasingly experimental in his later work. “The Wind Will Carry Us” (1999), winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival, chronicled a sad engineer’s journey to a Kurdish village, relying on multiple characters whose voices are heard but who never appear on camera.
“Five” (2003) had neither character, plot nor dialogue, consisting of long landscape scenes filmed with a hand-held camera. In “Ten” Mr. Kiarostami disappeared as a director, mounting a digital video camera on the dashboard of a car and letting it film the driver as she traveled around Tehran, engaging in conversations with 10 different passengers.
In 2010 he made his first film outside Iran, “Certified Copy.” Filmed in Tuscany, it offered a cryptic account of an encounter between a French antiques dealer, played by Juliette Binoche, and a British writer, played by the opera singer William Shimell. His final film, “Like Someone in Love,” filmed in Japan, was an elliptical study of identity, its main characters a Japanese student moonlighting as a prostitute and her elderly client.
“At a time of war and isolation, when the whole world thought we are a warmongering country, Kiarostami showed another, peaceful face of Iran,” the professor and journalist Mehrdad Hodjati said in an interview. “He is an icon of change in Iran.”July 5th, 2016
Through August 28, 2016July 3rd, 2016
The waggle-dance of the honeybees
By Martha Kearney
The Spectator Published June 26, 2016
The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the Honeybee Language
University of Chicago Press, pp.296, £25, ISBN: 9780226020860
The Dancing Bees is a romantic title, evoking fantasy and fairy tale rather than scientific rigour, but actually this book is a story of fearsome determination. It is a biography of Karl von Frisch, who discovered the language of the honeybee, but Tania Munz’s account is much more besides, as it reveals the scientist’s struggle for survival under the Nazi regime.
Although I kept bees for many years, I had no idea of the work which won Von Frisch a Nobel prize in 1973. I was first introduced to the waggle-dance, this marvel of the animal kingdom, in a laboratory at the University of Sussex. Francis Ratnieks, professor of apiculture, sat me in front of one of his observation hives where you could watch the colony of bees at work through a glass panel. There I plainly witnessed what is described as the most sophisticated form of non-human communication — the waggle-dance. One bee just back from foraging for nectar traced a figure-of-eight pattern again and again while vibrating her abdomen. The bee was telling her sisters where she had been to find nectar — not just the direction of the flowers, but the distance too.
This dance has been observed since the time of Aristotle, but it was only when Von Frisch embarked on his painstaking work that the reasons for the waggle were finally unravelled. Munz’s fascinating book traces that journey. Von Frisch’s Austrian childhood reminds me of Gerald Durrell’s youthful passion for animals. Karl had a menagerie of 123 animals, only nine of which were mammals. A small parakeet named Tschocki was his constant companion, sitting on his shoulder and nibbling his papers. His real skill lay in raising fish, and when he became an professional zoologist aquatic experiments became his speciality and led him into a surprisingly ferocious debate about whether fish were colour-blind or not.
It seemed almost by chance that bees were drawn into this research, but they had one practical advantage — unlike fish, they weren’t prone to dying on their way to scientific conferences. Von Frisch’s work centred on the question of why bees are drawn to certain flowers. Previous work assumed that it was simply a question of smell. Through a series of experiments (which Munz describes with admirable clarity) involving soaking yellow and gray paper squares in sugar water, Von Frisch was able to establish that bees could discern the colour yellow. From my own experience, bees are certainly drawn to yellow flowers which is why they are so often found on fields of oilseed rape (though of course many other colours are inviting as well).
In 1917 Von Frisch made a discovery which he described as the most fateful observation of his life: the secret of the bees’ mysterious dances. He had borrowed an observation hive and set up a dish of honey nearby, marking bees which visited it with a red dot. Once the honey was finished, he filled it with sugar water and watched as a single bee came to the dish. She then returned to the hive and Von Frisch recalls, ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes.’ The bee performed a dance while the others touched her abdomen with their antennae. Some of the bees which had visited the dish then returned to it. But even more remarkably, new ones, after observing the dance, arrived at the location without any escorts. Von Frisch concluded that the dances were an expression of bee language.
In 1925 the University of Munich offered Von Frisch a prestigious post with plenty of resources to carry on his research, but it is at this point that Munz’s narrative darkens. At the university some students and teachers were attracted to the fascist ideology; by the time Hitler gained power in 1933, it was possible to conduct a purge and many Jewish members of staff were sacked. Von Frisch faced anonymous accusations for hiring too many Jews and Munz quotes a pamphlet, The Neutral Scholar, which attacked an unnamed professor for devoting too much attention to insects while neglecting his own Volk.
Far more dangerous was the accusation that Von Frisch himself was Jewish. It seems extraordinary now that while the Nazis prepared for war, they were devoting resources to a genealogical department designed to root out anyone of Jewish descent from the government payroll. These zealous officials discovered that Von Frisch’s maternal great-grandparents were Jewish converts to Catholicism. The chillingly bureaucratic letter arrived, demanding that he resign his job because he was a ‘second-degree crossbreed’.
Various academics tried to intervene on Von Frisch’s behalf without success. Help came in an unexpected form: a disease called nosema which was wiping out German bees just as the varroa mite is destroying so much of the modern population. The president of the South Bavarian Beekeepers wrote to Nazi HQ imploring them to spare ‘the most successful bee researcher of the world’ in order to help the ‘catastrophic emergency situation’. He even invoked the Führer’s understanding of apiculture, which Hitler had inherited from his father, who was known to have kept bees.
Munz observes that this intervention chimed with the Nazi ideology of Blut und Boden (blood and soil), which meant that agriculturally based sciences were given priority. In 1942 Himmler set up an institute for the eradication of insect pests. Finally, after further pressure on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture citing the issue of 800,000 dying colonies, it was finally agreed that Von Frisch could continue his work to combat the nosema plague.
Though Von Frisch’s life was not now in danger, his experience shows how even apparently independent centres of scientific research can fall prey to evil ideology. Von Frisch himself wondered, in his postwar autobiography, whether it would have been possible to prevent the rise of Nazism and concluded that so many professors welcomed the changes that ‘soon it was clear that any serious opposition would lead to one’s personal destruction’. But it would be wrong to think that Von Frisch simply stood by. Munz recounts his intervention, through a former student, on behalf of a Polish scientist who was released from Dachau in 1940.
Throughout this traumatic period and after the war, Von Frisch continued his study of bee communication. Munz rightly observes that in science the simplest possible explanation is preferred — Occam’s Razor. So given the bees’ acute sense of smell, could it simply be odour which was leading them to faraway plants? Von Frisch sealed their odour glands with shellac and yet the desire to dance was undiminished. Further research indicated that the speed of the dances grew more rapid as the food sources were moved nearer the hive. The bees were able to indicate distance.
Closer observation of the dances brought an even more extraordinary discovery. The bees were tracing a diagram in their dance, using the sun as a guide. Dancing directly upwards towards the roof of the hive means head towards the sun for the best flowers. A directly downwards dance means head away from the sun.
Contemporaries of Von Frisch were amazed. William Thorpe from Cambridge wrote: ‘We are forced to ask ourselves whether apart from human faculties there is anything more comparable known in the animal kingdom?’June 29th, 2016
One On, 1970, (alternate view) acrylic on canvas, installation dimensions: 123 x 93 x 13 inches (312.4 x 236.2 x 33 cm), flat dimensions: 119 1/4 x 138 inches (302.9 x 350.5 cm)
Through July 16June 28th, 2016
‘Ahu ‘ula (cloak), possibly mid-18th century. Red ‘i‘iwi (Vestiaria coccinea) feathers, yellow ‘ō‘ō (Moho sp.) feathers, and olonā (Touchardia latifolia) fiber
Through August 7, 2016
For centuries on the Hawaiian Islands, vividly colored feathers gathered from native birds were valuable cultural resources, ornamenting spectacular garments painstakingly constructed by hand. Long cloaks and short capes (‘ahu ‘ula), helmets (mahiole), and leis (lei hulu) bore rainbows of feathers to signify the divinity and power of chiefs (ali‘i), who wore them for spiritual protection and to proclaim their identity and status. These unique valuables also found use as objects of diplomacy, helping to secure political alliances and agreements. Today, fewer than 300 examples of historic featherwork exist to shape our knowledge of the art form known as nā hulu ali‘i (royal feathers).
Organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in partnership with the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu, this presentation highlights a remarkable collection of objects rarely exhibited outside Hawai‘i. While the art form dates back many centuries, this exhibition focuses on pieces made for Hawaiian royals beginning in the late 18th century and ending just before the 20th—a period that saw the arrival of European explorers, the unification of the islands, wide-scale conversion to Christianity, the overthrow of the Hawaiian government, and annexation by the U.S.June 27th, 2016
“Our Fertile Hand”
June 26th – July 30th, 2016
reception: Sunday, June 26th, 6 to 8pm
Bill Cunningham in the Sheep Meadow in Central Park on Easter 1967, with his first camera, a half-frame that cost $35.
NY Times Published: June 25, 2016
Bill Cunningham, the street-style photographer whose photo essays for The New York Times memorialized trends ranging from fanny packs to Birkin bags, gingham shirts and fluorescent biker shorts, died in New York on Saturday. He was 87.
He had been hospitalized recently after having a stroke. His death was confirmed by The New York Times.
In his nearly 40 years working for The Times, Mr. Cunningham operated both as a dedicated chronicler of fashion and as an unlikely cultural anthropologist, one who used the changing dress habits of the people he photographed to chart the broader shift away from formality and toward something more diffuse and individualistic.
At the Pierre hotel on the East Side of Manhattan, he pointed his camera at tweed-wearing blue-blood New Yorkers with names like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt. Downtown, by the piers, he clicked away at crop-top wearing Voguers. Up in Harlem, he jumped off his bicycle — he rode more than 30 over the years, replacing one after another as they were wrecked or stolen — for B-boys in low-slung jeans.
In the process, he turned into something of a celebrity himself.
In 2008, Mr. Cunningham went to Paris, where the French government bestowed him with the Legion d’Honneur. Back in New York, he was celebrated at Bergdorf Goodman, where a life-size mannequin of him, as slight and bony-thin as ever, was installed in the window.
In 2009, he was named a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy and profiled in The New Yorker, which described his columns On the Street and Evening Hours as the city’s unofficial yearbook, “an exuberant, sometimes retroactively embarrassing chronicle of the way we looked.”
In 2010, a documentary film, “Bill Cunningham New York,” premiered at the Museum of Modern Art to glowing reviews.
Yet Mr. Cunningham told nearly anyone who asked about it that the attendant publicity was a total hassle, a reason for strangers to approach and bother him.
He wanted to find subjects, not be the subject. He wanted to observe, rather than be observed. Asceticism was a hallmark of his brand.
He didn’t go to the movies. He didn’t own a television. He ate breakfast nearly every day at the Stage Star Deli on West 55th Street, where a cup of coffee and a sausage, egg and cheese could be had until very recently for under $3. He lived until 2010 in a studio above Carnegie Hall amid rows and rows of file cabinets, where he kept all of his negatives. He slept on a single-size cot, showered in a shared bathroom and, when he was asked why he spent years ripping up checks from magazines like Details (which he helped Annie Flanders launch in 1982), said: “Money’s the cheapest thing. Liberty and freedom is the most expensive.”June 25th, 2016
June 24 – July 16, 2016
Bill Berkson in 1971. Photo: Gerard Malanga
By William Grimes
New York Times published: June 22, 2016
In the artistic Manhattan of the 1960s, when the small worlds of experimental poetry, film, theater, visual art and dance bled into one another, an animated figure seemed to appear everywhere at once. Bill Berkson, poet and art critic, was the ever-present third man from the left in the group photographs that chronicle the era.
Inevitably, he appeared at gatherings of the poets of the New York School, at the gallery openings of artists like Jasper Johns and Larry Rivers, and at the downtown powwows where argonauts of the avant-garde like Rudy Burckhardt, Merce Cunningham and John Cage breathed the same rarefied air.
Mr. Berkson moved easily in this heady milieu, his striking good looks and insatiable appetite for the new affording him instant entree. His friends were legion, an endless roll call of the geniuses, provocateurs and poseurs who gave the decade its distinctive cultural tang.
“I am almost certainly the only person who was at both the Woodstock Music Festival and Truman Capote’s Black and White Masked Ball at the Plaza Hotel in 1966,” he wrote in his memoir, “Since When,” to be published by Coffee House Press on a date to be announced
In 1960, John Myers, a partner in the Tibor de Nagy gallery, offered to publish Mr. Berkson’s poems. When Mr. Berkson pointed out that Mr. Myers had not actually read any, he answered, “It doesn’t matter, you’re in the air.”
Mr. Berkson died on Thursday in San Francisco. He was 76. The cause was a heart attack, said his stepdaughter, Nina Lewallen Hufford.
William Craig Berkson was born on Aug. 30, 1939, in Manhattan. The family was glamorous. His father, Seymour, was the publisher of The New York Journal-American, a Hearst newspaper. His mother, Eleanor Lambert, was a celebrated fashion publicist, the creator of the International Best Dressed List and New York Fashion Week.
The Berksons’ apartment, on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park, was the setting for an endless round of cocktail parties populated by celebrity journalists, film stars and fashionistas. Through the front door walked Judy Garland, Cecil Beaton, Janet Gaynor, the swashbuckling journalist Bob Considine and the husband-and-wife radio and television hosts Jinx Falkenburg and Tex McCrary.
“I remember answering the phone to hear the alarming nasal of Louella Parsons — ‘Hel-lo, Bil-ly, this is Lou-ella. How are you?” — calling from Hollywood,” Mr. Berkson wrote, referring to the movie columnist, in an autobiographical essay for the reference work Contemporary Authors.
He attended the Trinity School in Manhattan before enrolling in the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, where he began writing poetry. He graduated in 1957. Under his yearbook photograph appeared the motto: “Plato or comic books, I’m versatile.”
After studying briefly at Brown University, he returned to New York. “My plans included transferring to Columbia, but secretly I wanted to experience at first hand the steam-heated life of poetry and some other, seemingly connected fantasies of accelerated living,” he wrote in his autobiographical essay.
He enrolled in Kenneth Koch’s poetry workshop at the New School for Social Research, where, already under the spell of Kenneth Patchen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and other Beat poets, he found in Frank O’Hara a congenial poetic idiom, vernacular and free.
When Mr. Koch left the New School in 1964, he invited Mr. Berkson to take over the workshop. This onetime student was now teaching up-and-comers like the future art critics Peter Schjeldahl and Carter Ratcliff, the future rock star Patti Smith and the poet Charles North. Later in the decade his voice, with other New York poets, could be heard on Dial-a-Poem, a free telephone service.
In more than 20 volumes of poetry, Mr. Berkson developed a freewheeling, idiosyncratic style that could be, by turns, conversational, epigrammatic, elliptical, whimsical and surreal. In a 2015 interview with PBS, he referred to his “sense of scatter.”
His poem “Signature Song” begins in relaxed, prosey fashion:
Bunny Berigan first recorded “I
Can’t Get Started”
with a small group that
included Joe Bushkin, Cozy Cole
and Artie Shaw in 1936.
His 1998 poem “Last Words” is a list of exit lines, ending with “Shut the door on your way out” and “You want I should call you a cab?”
“October,” one of his earliest poems, shows a keen observational side:
It’s odd to have a separate
escapes the year, it is not only
cold, it is warm
and loving like a death grip on
a willing knee.
After the Tibor de Nagy gallery published “Saturday Night: Poems, 1960-61,” Mr. Berkson went on to produce more than 20 poetry collections, several of them collaborative projects with artists he knew well, notably Philip Guston, Alex Katz and Norman Bluhm. His most recent poetry collection was “Expect Delays” (2014).
In 1960, after dropping out of Columbia, Mr. Berkson began working as an editorial associate at Art News magazine. This was the beginning of a long career as an art critic and curator. In New York, he contributed frequently to Art News and Arts, and after moving to the Bay Area in 1970, he wrote for Artforum, Modern Painters, Aperture and other publications. He was also a corresponding editor for Art in America.
In 1975, he married the artist Lynne O’Hare. The marriage ended in divorce. In addition to his stepdaughter, Nina, he is survived by his wife, Constance Lewallen; a son, Moses; a daughter Siobhan O’Hare Mora Lopez; a stepson, Jonathan Lewallen; and six grandchildren.
In California, Mr. Berkson edited and published a series of poetry books and magazines under the Big Sky imprint. After teaching a graduate seminar in art criticism at the California College of Arts and Crafts, he joined the staff of the San Francisco Art Institute in 1984, organizing public lectures and teaching art history and literature. He was the institute’s director of letters and science. He retired in 2008.
In 2009, a half-century’s worth of his work was collected in “Portrait and Dream: New and Selected Poems.”
“I used to worry about not having a signature style or central subject matter or a fixed character of poetry, and at some point the worry ceased,” he told PBS. “I gave myself permission to do what I’ve been doing all along without worrying about it.”June 22nd, 2016
June 22nd, 2016