Pink Thing of The Day: The Pink Building (aka Big Pink)

The Pink Building

This big Pink Building, actually known as Big Pink or simply The Pink Building, sits majestically at the corner of Orchard and Grand Streets on the lower east side of Manhattan. The building was formerly the home of Ridley & Sons Department Store and, though recently sold for the sum of $27 million, is landmarked so cannot be bulldozed or have its exterior altered. Small victories.

RIP Gail Zappa

Gail Zappa

Image Courtesy of MSO PR

Statement from the Family of Gail Zappa on the Occasion of Her Passing:

Gail Zappa, wife of the late Frank Zappa, passed away on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at her home, surrounded by her children. She was 70 years old.

Married to Frank Zappa at age 22, Gail was a trailblazer, giving equal value to her domestic and professional responsibilities as matriarch of the family and overseer of all Zappa enterprises. She devoted herself to partnering with her husband in the music business and raising their children, Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva.

Gail enthusiastically executed her role as guardian of her husband’s creative life and, with his passing, strove to ensure his legacy as one of the leading American composers and musicians of the 20th century. In this and all business endeavors, she passionately advocated to establish clear definitions of intellectual property and copyright laws on behalf of not just her husband, but all artists.  While she conducted intricate legal negotiations with corporations as executor of the Zappa Family Trust, she never failed to impart the sense of humor that was part and parcel of her indomitable and formidable personality. Self-described as a pagan absurdist, Gail was motivated by love in all aspects of her life, kept her authenticity intact, unbowed and, simply put, was one bad ass in the music business and political world

Gail will forever be identified as a key figure in the creative renaissance that is Laurel Canyon. But more than any singular accomplishment, she defined herself in her personal relationships, happiest when surrounded by loved ones and artists, often one in the same.  The memories she leaves behind are indeed her own art form. Her searing intelligence, unforgettable smile, wild thicket of hair and trailing black velvets leave a blur in her wake.

Sea Life Inhabits The Subway Tunnels in Deborah Brown’s Platform Diving

Seal and Oncoming Train
All Photos By Gail

Platform Diving consists of seven glass mosaic murals commissioned by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the Houston Street subway station (at Varick Street) and installed in 1994 on the walls of the northbound and southbound subway platforms of the 1 Train, and in a waiting area by the token booth.

Sea Lions and Train
The mosaics depict undersea creatures — turtles, beluga whales, octopi, seals, and a manatee–swimming through the subway tunnels, platforms, and passenger cars. Occasionally, humans observe their movements. The concept behind the choice of imagery was to represent a fanciful, surreal encounter between the world we normally inhabit and the one we might encounter when we descend below the surface.

Sea Turtles

What’s so crazy is that these murals have been up for nearly 20 years, and I just them for the first time in early September, because I never get off at this stop.


Leila Heller Gallery Presents: Pouran Jinchi, Black & Blue

Hanged Series

Hanged Series, 2015 (All Photos By Gail)

Leila Heller Gallery is currently hosting an exhibition of recent works by Persian artist Pouran Jinchi. Drawing on diverse cultural sources including literature, history, Folk art and religion, Jinchi has developed a visual vocabulary that inhabits the space between abstraction and calligraphy.


Working in a realm that is defined by the overlapping fields of painting, sculpture, drawing, and writing, her art practice entails a conversation between the materials she uses and he subjects she addresses. Inscription in her art becomes a visual apparatus beyond meaning. Jinchi produces textual landscapes that are recognizable yet illegible.

Left: Sores 3: Right Bruised 1
Left: Sores 3, Right: Bruised 1

Jinchi’s new body of work is an artistic response to pervasive social and political violence. Revisiting Sadegh Hedayat’s modernist classic, The Blind Owl, Jinchi explores the universal tropes of pain and violence threaded throughout the novel. One particular passage Is explored repeatedly across various mediums

“I write only for my shadow, which is cast on the wall in front of the light. I Must introduce myself to it.”


Jinchi dismantles the text, drawing fragments of the letters onto patches of paper That are then stitched together with copper thread into quilts. She paints the sentence onto raw canvases where the characters evoke a battlefield strewn with the wounded.

Hanged Series Detail
Hanged Series Detail

Each line of the first page of the book is rendered into sculptural form; the artist painstakingly cuts each letter from a sheet of copper, forming it into abstract shapes by hand, and stringing it onto a chain fabricated from copper safety pins.


Hedayat’s text is compulsively altered, distorted and reassembled into artworks that are intricate, ornate and vibrant. Jinchi draws her palate from the colors of a bruise as it heals — blue, fuschia, red, purple, and black. By making utterly beautiful pieces in rich hues to represent pain and violence, she disrupts visual perception. Only by looking beyond the surface, can one see the complex interrelations between divergent elements across the exhibit.


Pouran Jinchi’s Black & Blue will be on exhibit through October 24th, 2015 at Leila Heller Gallery, Located at 568 West 25th Street (Corner of 11th Avenue) in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Pouran Jinchi Signage

Limited Runs Presents the Marilyn Monroe Red Velvet Collection

Marilyn Monroe Red Velvet Series
Marilyn Monroe Red Velvet Series By Tom Kelley, 1949 (All Post Photos By Gail)

There would probably be little argument that Marilyn Monroe is the most legendary and iconic Hollywood Movie Star to have ever lived. Countless contemporary artists — from Andy Warhol to Ron English, Ad Infinitum — have captured and re-appropriated her likeness into their own works, and her image still turns heads wherever it appears. While she did not have a long life, she certainly has achieved immortality in a sense. Limited Runs, a company that specializes in Classic Hollywood and other Fine Art Photography has just released the Marilyn Monroe Red Velvet Collection, which  features her famous nude shots circa 1949 that originally appeared on promotional calendars. Now you can all own prints of these gorgeous photographs that were at one time so controversial, they had to be “dressed” in superimposed lingerie in order to be sent through the mail.

Marilyn Monroe Red Velvet Series Calendar

Above is an example one of these calendars, where Monroe’s breasts have been blocked out to avoid being labeled as pornography — pretty hilarious when you consider the types of fashion photography and figure modeling that has become acceptable, and even mainstream, in the past 70 or so years. One of the Red Velvet poses made her the first Playboy Sweetheart — the prototype for the centerfold-featured Playmates who would follow in years to come.

I had the chance to see this series in person at a reception held by the 360 Design Gallery in Tribeca, where they were on view for only two days as part of a 2015 Summer Tour, which traveled to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago and finally New York.   It’s easy to forget how stunning and arguably perfect-looking Monroe  was a until you see photos like this and remember that she was really and truly an original.

Marilyn Monroe By Gene Lester

The series  is also features a number of candid shots of Monroe, such as these captured in 1954 by photographer Gene Lester while she was on a cigarette break during filming of one of her movies.

Marilyn Monroe By Gene Lester

Marilyn Monroe By Gene Lester

This one, which captures multiple reflections, is really fantastic.

Marilyn Monroe Birthday Cake 1960

Marilyn Monroe, Birthday Cake, 1960 (Photographer Unknown)

This one is also amazing.

Marilyn Monroe Jane Russell Howard Hawks

Here she is with co-star  Jane Russell and Director Howard Hawks during the filming of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953.

See the full collection and buy online at Limited Runs Dot Com.

Mike Kelley Brings His Superman Origin Story to Hauser & Wirth

Installation View
All Photos By Gail

Hauser & Wirth is currently hosting the eponymous Mike Kelley exhibit, the gallery’s first exhibition devoted to one of the most ambitious and influential artists of our time. Organized in collaboration with the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, the exhibition is the first in New York to focus exclusively on one of the most significant of Kelley’s later series, Kandors. These visually opulent, technically ambitious sculptures combine with videos and a sprawling installation never before exhibited in the United States, as the late Los Angeles artist reworks the imagery and mythology of the popular American comic book hero, Superman, into an extraordinary opus of nurture and loss, destruction, mourning and – possibly – redemption. This my favorite exhibit of the year so far!

Kelley’s Kandors (1999, 2007, 2009, 2011) is named for Superman’s birthplace, the capital of the planet Krypton. According to the comic book legend, Superman’s father Jor-El sent his infant son to safety on Earth before Krypton’s destruction, saving his life but inadvertently sentencing Superman to a future of displacement, loneliness and longing.

Bottle 4 Video Projection
Bottle 4 Video Projection

Superman grows up believing that Kandor was destroyed, but later discovers his real home still exists: Kandor was stolen by intergalactic archvillain Brainiac prior to Krypton’s demise, shrunken to a miniature metropolis and left trapped inside a glass bottle. Superman ultimately wrestles Kandor away from Brainiac and hides it in his Fortress of Solitude, sustaining its citizens with tanks of Kryptonic atmosphere. As Kelley once explained, Kandor functions for Superman as ‘a perpetual reminder of his inability to escape the past, and his alienated relationship to his present world.’

Wall of Lenticluar Prints
Wall of Lenticluar Prints

While Kelley’s Kandors series relates to the artist’s longstanding preoccupation with memory, trauma, and repression, these works are also powerful vehicles for the formal investigations of color, light and scale that marked the last decade of the artist’s life. Kelley even described works from the series as being ‘akin to paintings by Henri Matisse’, but sculptural and in three dimensions. By focusing exclusively upon Kandors, the exhibition at Hauser & Wirth offers viewers fresh insight into the formal challenges, popular cultural references, and psychological states Kelley prioritized in his last years.

City 5
City 5

Entering the exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, visitors encounter a group of vitreous sculptures glowing in a dimly lit room. Cast in resin, these miniature metropolises representing the city of Kandor create an optically dazzling spectacle rendered in a palette of refracted colors.


City 20
City 20

City 15
City 15

City 17
City 17

Kandor 4

Visitors continue through the space to find Kandor 4 (2007), in which Kelley has abstracted and reinterpreted the narrative of the fictive city in a complex amalgamation. Kandor 4 comprises three cities standing on a plinth, illuminated from beneath, with their towering architectural skylines bathed in tones of yellow, red and blue.

Detail of Kandor 4
Kandor 4, Detail

Kandor 4

The fantastical cities are juxtaposed with an ultraviolet glass bottle resting on a yellow base, connected to a gas tank and hose intended to evoke the life sustaining vapors Superman used to keep the citizens of Kandor alive beneath their glass bell jar. In the final component, a video projection depicts Bottle 4 with an array of swirling atmospheric and light effects inside it, accompanied by an otherworldly soundtrack composed by Kelley.

Lenticular Print Blue Bottle

Each unique representation of Kandor in the exhibition derives from one of the many illustrations of the city by various artists in the Superman comics, beginning with Action Comics #242 (July 1958). Intrigued by the stylistic and architectural inconsistencies that marked Kandor’s representation in the ensuing half century, Kelley selected 20 strikingly diverse illustrations from the original comics’ panels.

Click to a Watch Video and Hear the Exhibit’s Otherworldly Soundtrack

He manipulated and superimposed the designs and colors of these illustrations, which he enlarged to life-scale and employed to create a group of lenticular light boxes. A selection of these light boxes illuminates the darkened hallway leading visitors to the exhibition’s innermost room and most significant element: Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude) (2011).

Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude)

Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude)

Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude)

Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude)

Film Still
Still from Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36

This version of Kelley’s Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36 (Vice Anglais) (2011) is a lightbox that juxtaposes the original found photograph with a still from his film.
Click to Watch Video

The climax and coda to the Kandors series, ‘Exploded Fortress of Solitude’ is a cavernous installation spread across the gallery’s main space. Exhibited here for the first time in the United States, this epic work is presented together with the video ‘Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36 (Vice Anglais)’ (2011), an unsettling but humorous satire that collides psychosexual and sadomasochistic drama with a repertoire of parodic clichés derived from British Hammer Horror films. The blackened exterior of Kelley’s monumental fortress contains a dimly lit cave-like environment surrounded by fragmented boulders, a gas tank, hoses, a buck, and chains, evoking a haunting sense of unease and menace.

Exploded Fortress of Solitude

Here, the artist shifted his formal investigations from color, light and transparency to ambitious sculptural gestures inflected by darkness and opacity. Exploded Fortress of Solitude is a ruin of textured, black-hued, faux boulders and slabs that draws viewers inside by the sheer force of its scale and mystery, while the murmuring acoustics of Vice Anglais layer the atmosphere with tension and anticipation.

Exploded Fortress of Solitude

In the video, the Exploded Fortress of Solitude serves as the backdrop for the exploits for Kelley’s gang of perverts; visitors exploring the cave are likewise subjected to the unsettling whimpers and debauchery of the English Vice.

Kandor 10 B Exploded Fortess of Solitude

One of the final works of the Kandors series, Exploded Fortress of Solitude suggests a dramatic denouement for the fated city, a possible catharsis not only for Superman but for Mike Kelley and for us. It emblematizes the extraordinary articulation that preoccupied Kelley in the years before his untimely death, between his two great serial enterprises of the 21st century, Kandors and the Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstructions.

Kandor 10 B Detail

From within the depths of Superman’s fortress, the visitor is reunited with the city of Kandor, now rendered as a glowing rose-colored emanation encased beneath a bell jar. Eerily illuminating the darkness of the rocky chamber, the roseate Kandor reveals that the crevices of Superman’s solitary sanctum sanctorum actually glitter with tiny gold trinkets.

Fortress of Solitude Jewels

The Fortress of Solitude has indeed exploded. Chaos has triumphed over order and long years of preservation have succumbed to galactic cataclysm – but we are left with a pot of gold. At the limit of loneliness and trauma, in an uncanny archaic place, we encounter a glittering symbol of duality – of hope and life, of wealth and greed.

Fortress of Solitude Jewels

Mike Kelley took his own life on January 31, 2012. RIP.

Mike Kelley will be on Exhibit through October 24th, 2015 at Hauser & Wirth, Located at 511 West 18th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Mike Kelley Signage

Orange City

Chartreuse City

Christian Marclay Surround Sounds Video at Paula Cooper Gallery

Please enjoy this short clip taken from Christian Marclay’s Surround Sounds Video Installation. Surround Sounds, (2014-15) consists of animated onomatopoeias projected onto four walls of a darkened room, each running 13:40, and shown on a continuous loop.

To make the work, Marclay drew from a collection of comic books, cutting out sound effects and animating them in a choreography that suggests the acoustic properties of each word. “Whizz” and “zoom” speed across the walls; “beep” blinks persistently, while “thump” falls rhythmically onto the floor. Though silent, the work plays like a musical composition, merging the aural with the visual and providing an immersive perceptual experience.

The visuals above end at the 1:32 mark, but I kept the camera going for nearly 30 additional seconds, in case more fun stuff might come up. Sadly, we were at the end of the loop at that point, so, my bad. The video is 100% worth checking out if you happen to be in the area before the exhibit closes. Details on that are below.

Christian Marclay’s  Surround Sounds Video is On View Thr0ugh October 17th, 2015 at Paula Cooper Gallery, Located at 534 West 21s1 Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Christian Marclay Video Screen Shot