Thursday, December 22, 2011

Goodbye John Chamberlain, the artist died yesterday at the age of 84

Yesterday the art world lost one of it's foremost sculptors, John Chamberlain, an artist widely known for his use of abstract expressionist works featuring vibrant colored metal from automobiles. Mr. Chamberlain has lived locally in Shelter Island, N.Y. for a number of years and I had the chance to meet him and hear him speak about his work a few years ago at Jack Larson's Longhouse Reserve when he showed up as a substitute for Chuck Close who couldn't make it. John was a really friendly guy and I thought it was fascinating hearing how he developed his style after different attempts at other creative endeavors such as music and drawing. It was at Larry Rivers Southampton home where he found his craft which continued to advance over the years. I've seen a number of his works in person over the years and they are supremely American in every way regardless of how you read them.

Here is a link to his NY Times obituary: John Chamberlain, Who Wrested Rough Magic From Scrap Metal, Dies at 84

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

3 Ghosts @ The Beckett Theatre

A Christmas Carol is a story which has been adapted repeatedly since its premiere in 1843, but the Pipe Dream Theatre Company’s interpretation of the story as a steampunk musical entitled 3 Ghosts, might be one of the most original. The musical is as clever as it is creative with a very youthful cast and strong original music by Collin Simon with lyrics from Elizabeth Muller who also does a great job as the ghost of Christmas past.

The real heart of the musical is the music, which occasionally intermingles melodies of well known Christmas songs, and when the cast is tight as is the case in the Christmas past and future segments, it’s terrific. As in any production of the story, a strong Scrooge is key and Elio Lleo does a terrific job as well as some of the supporting cast such as Katherine Murphy as Mrs. Cratchit and Brady Lynch as Belle, both of whom rose to the occasion both vocally and dramatically. The set design is a bit sparse, especially considering the steampunk motif, but the costumes and staging helped along with the unique portrayal of the ghost of Christmas future as a group of masked, coalescing dancing performers.

The show certainly has some issues, most notably the lack of microphones causing some of the less vivacious singers to be almost inaudible, but luckily it’s an intimate theater and the musical’s strengths far outweigh its weaknesses thanks to an ardent ensemble and some engaging choreography. 3 Ghosts is currently playing through December 23, so if you are in need of a little Christmas spirit sci-fi style, its well worth seeing.

3 Ghosts runs at The Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row, through December 23. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit

From: shortandsweetnyc

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wyclef Jean with special guests @ The City Winery 12.11.2011

Wyclef Jean played an intimate show at The City Winery Sunday night which featured a hometown Haitian vibe thanks to few of his close friends, none of whom I had ever heard of but all of whom were interesting. The show was uncharacteristic for the former Fugee as it began acoustic and built up to a legit Carnival closing number which managed to get the conservative wine crowd off their seats to dance. The former Haitian presidential candidate is an entertaining performer regardless of what audience or type of show he's performing but he might be the best in this type of small setting as he was passing the wine down from the stage and joking with the audience throughout the show.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Occupy Dickens

Here's a glimpse of Occupy Port Jefferson during the Charles Dickens Festival, conceptually I think it's a pretty good fit, who knows the plight of the working man better?

"I had no advice, no counsel, no encouragement, no consolation, no assistance, no support, of any kind, from anyone, that I can call to mind, as I hope to go to heaven!"

It seems a bit arbitrary for a small town on Long Island to celebrate an author like Dickens but it's better than the worlds biggest ball of yarn and Elvis's Toenail besides it seems to really be taking off this year. Below are a few photos from the parade earlier tonight, as Tim Needles says "It's the best four minutes Port Jeff has seen since Thomas Edison's Magic Lantern demonstration".

Friday, December 2, 2011


Watch live streaming video from tedx at

TEDxBrooklyn streams live from Brooklyn Bowl with speakers such as: comic Eugene Mirman, artist Tara McPherson, Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson, and musicians Eclectic Method so it should be interesting. The full schedule is on the site here: TEDxBrooklyn

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Title Design of Saul Bass

The Title Design of Saul Bass from Ian Albinson .

"Design is thinking made visual."

In addition to creating logos for companies such as: AT&T, The Girl Scouts, Continental Airlines, and Warner Communications designer Saul Bass is also an icon when it comes to graphic title sequences in film and here's a terrific short piece on some of him most renowned titles for film.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Graffiti Queens

I stopped off at 5 Pointz in Queens yesterday to check out some of the new aerosol art that's been put up, there were a bunch of artists out painting and some really cool pieces- it's amazing what you can do with a can of spray paint these days!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Miranda July is Learning to Love Me More

This week in my classes I took inspiration from artist and filmmaker Miranda July's learning to love you more project and had each student in my AP Art class create an inspirational banner and post them around school. Here's the example I did for class in our courtyard's outdoor classroom.

Here's the class assignment from my school blog: Artroom161

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Japanese design: Eirakuya

In preparing for a talk on contemporary Japanese design I recently gave at The Japan Society I was gathering some examples from one of my favorite shops in Kyoto, Eirakuya, which is one of the oldest companies around being founded in 1615 during the beginning of the Edo era in Japan. The company began as a cotton wholesaler and developed into a retailer as well with name taken from the Eirakuya Tsuho crest which was sewn into the company's ancestor's ceremonial court robes. Their colorful, graphic designs mostly on Japanese scarfs are some of my favorite examples of the ancient Japanese visual elements persisting in the modern day (much of the designs are reprints from the 19th and early 20th century) and the products themselves range from printed handbags to scarves which I find are exquisite and suitable for a frame.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Miranda July @ Symphony Space 11.16.2011

Wednesday night Miranda July was in town at Symphony Space to perform a few scenes from her new book It Chooses You which was just released by McSweeney's this week. The book details her real-life interviews with people she met through the Pennysaver while trying to complete the fictional script for her most recent film The Future. A host of veteran Broadway actors joined her on stage standing in for her subjects as photographs of the actual interviews were projected and Miranda occasionally interjected to give context to the situations.

I have to say that the performance was one of the most entertaining and informative of all the many Selected Shorts performances that I've seen so the two hours felt more like 10 minutes. The dialogues themselves were both funny and moving sometimes in a truly meaningful way as she managed to really engage the people she met. The people, who as July pointed out mostly don't use computers otherwise they'd be using Craigslist, had encounters that revealed some inner truths about themselves and in doing the interviews Miranda in a sense does the same. The final interview ended up helping her complete her screenplay for the film as she hoped the process would and the subject and his interview appear in the film with the main character stepping in as July. By the end of the evening I felt like July was a kindred spirit and her honesty about her artistic process was enlightening.

If you haven't seen the film, here's a recent review I wrote - The Future

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Beach Boys - Smile Sessions

The Beach Boys - Smile Sessions

The most famous unreleased album in rock history, The Beach Boys Smile, is now unreleased no more and in addition to being a source of wonderful and well crafted songs like “Good Vibrations”, “Surf’s Up”, and “Heroes and Villains”, the 5 disk edition of Smile Sessions also contains a wealth of material that helps you understand the musical genius involved in the creation of the groundbreaking work. To be fair Brian Wilson did put out a newly recorded version of the album a few years back but there is a special magic in hearing the mythical Beach Boys 1966-1967 version finally completed.

There are a few sublime treasures in the album itself such as: the beautiful “Wonderful”, the astonishing solo version of “Surf’s Up”, the angelic opening to the album “Our Prayer”, and of course the classic “Good Vibrations” and “Heroes and Villains” complete with a wealth of sessions from the songs. The sessions give a great deal of insight into the music with Brian Wilson directing the musicians and sometimes learning as he was going but it also shows his professionalism and dedication to the tedious process as opposed to the out of control lore which has been told over the years.

If you’re a real Beach Boys fan or a true music aficionado this is certainly a must have release and it’s amazing that the album was this close to being finished and never released over the years. Even if you’re not a die-hard the album is well worth a listen if nothing else it inspired a host of musicians ranging from contemporaries such as The Beatles to modern masters such as Animal Collective.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I photographed 11 elevens today around northern Long Island for 11.11.11

Japan Society Workshop on Technology in the Classroom

This past weekend I was honored to have been invited to speak at The Japan Society in Manhattan to a group of educators about technology in the classroom and contemporary Japan. I put together a new page on my website with some of the materials that I presented in class that might be of int rest to teachers or technologists out there.

The six hour course when over some specific ways to incorporate technology as a tool in class without losing focus of the content and featured some great inspirational information from groups like: RSA Animate, Dan Pink, and Brainpickings as well as some of the photographs I took in Japan over the past few years. I created a series of lessons which incorporate teaching Japan into the basic principles of design which will be posted on their website shortly. Also the society offers an unbelievable 3 week summer Study Tour to Japan for educators that is well worth checking out, it'll change your life!

Here is the link to the workshop pages:

Here's more information on the Japan Society's Social Networking Project: Going Global SNS

Soledad O'Brien's The New Promise Land: Silicon Valley

I had a chance to speak with CNN anchor and Smithtown High School East alumnus Soledad O'Brien at a special VIP event at Robert DeNiro's Tribeca Grill which featured a screening of her new documentary The New Promise Land: Silicon Valley earlier this week. As a teacher in the district I know O'Brien has shown her support for her alma mater so I was happy when it was recently announced that she would be returning to a newly revamped version American Morning in January but her new documentary has a number of teachable moments educators might want to use in the classroom as well.

When you’re asked to think of Silicon Valley icons, people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg come to mind, but if your asked to think of African-Americans in Silicon Valley most people draw a blank and O’Brien’s new documentary looks at a group of people that are trying to change that. The documentary which airs on CNN this Sunday, November 13 at 8pm is the latest from her Black in America series and focuses on a group of 8 black technology entrepreneurs from varied backgrounds living together in a summer incubator program which facilitates and helps prepare their product demos.

The documentary is informative beyond even the racial question as it outlines that path that is taken from getting the concept of a product down the path to pitching the demo to investors and even Anthony Frasier, CEO of the video game app Playd, and an entrepreneur featured in the film told me “it’s really just about putting out a great product.” Nevertheless, like anything else, who you know is key and the incubator fast tracks the group toward pitches at Google headquarters and in front of numerous potential investors with interesting and mixed results.

The racial questions that the film stirs up are interesting and the idea that Silicon Valley is a land of “white college dropouts and Asians” is put to the test, but identifying the reality of what it takes to make it in the industry is certainly interesting to watch. There's a number of lessons to be learned from the program and parents and teachers can reference a handy guide to the film's educational angles at CNN's ed guide here: Silicon Valley Guide

Soledad O'Brien Speaks On The Importance Of CNN BIA4 from ICED MEDIA on Vimeo.

For: Short&SweetNYC

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One Foggy Morning

Here's some images of my drive to work in yesterday's fog it was as gorgeous as it was dangerous

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Here are some images from my visit to the PRATT Institute this week for a school conference day activity. It was great to spend some time with the professors and sit in on some of the classes, they have a terrific campus in Brooklyn with some outstanding facilities! I really love how there are cats roaming around on campus and how they even have there own entrance into the building, awesome!

A Guide to Hip Hairstyles: Find It In Nature

This weekend I came across this group of Scottish Highland Cattle at one of the vineyards out on the North Fork of Long Island and bonded over our very similar hairstyle- it's always nice to come across like minds, even with cattle.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Port Jefferson Scarecrows Learning Hard Lessons

Looks like some of the Port Jefferson scarecrows spent a little too much time at Billy's Saloon this weekend...

Monday, October 17, 2011

The 2011 Hamptons Film Festival

This year's Hamptons Film Festival was as eclectic and interesting as ever with a host of different documentary and narrative films in theaters scattered throughout the Hamptons. In addition to the films they hosted a number of talks with: David Bailey, Harry Bellafonte, Rufus Wainwright, Matthew Broderick who had a strange incident when an audience member started pleading for help because she was being spied on after taking on the Catholic Church, and Susan Sarandon caused a stir of her own at the festival when she referred to the pope as a Nazi on stage. The festival also included an installation on Georgica beach created by land artist Jim Denevan. I had a number of my students volunteering at the festival but managed to see a pair of terrific film "My Week With Marilyn" which was hauntingly beautiful with a amazing performance by Michelle Williams and the terrific "The Rum Diary" based on Hunter S. Thomson's early adventures in Puerto Rico with Johnny Depp again playing the lead.