Video Clip of The Week: The Furious Snowflakes, “I Got You A Brain For Christmas”

Do you have Dump supporters among your co-workers, in your close circle of friends or, worse yet, in your actual family? It’s Okay to admit it: everybody does, to varying degrees, and geezus gawd, it can be a mortifying horrorshow of a reality to have to navigate, amiright? Because, Dump supporters, they are not fond of being all that open-minded or free-thinking. It is confounding, to say the least. But as easy (and rewarding) as it is to unfriend these non-thinkers on the FaceBook, hate is counterproductive. We can’t give up trying to reach the unenlightened, and often, humor really helps get the message across.

And that’s why the time is right for what I am going to call the Chrismta Song of 2017: “I Got You A Brain For Christmas.” This up-tempo Christmas carol is a pop music collaboration from regional rock legend, Rob Fetters and author/satirist Bob Woodiwiss which is performed by The Furious Snowflakes, comprising six veteran singers and musicians. The resulting uber-catchy tune, according to Woodiwiss “is one that both swings and stings,” with an accompanying video that’s a hybrid of mockumentary voyeurism, outrageous imagery and stop motion animation. Lyrically, “I Got You A Brain For Christmas” takes a cue from two conversational themes heard by Woodiwiss at protest events since last January 20th: disbelief that any rational person could support Dump, his reckless management, blatant dishonesty and lack of respect for women and minorities; and the uncomfortable, intensifying antipathy between his bashers and supporters at family, work and social get-togethers. “I Got You A Brain For Christmas” is a sardonic musical response to both, set to a bright original tune that recalls an earlier, more cohesive era. Put this one into heavy playlist rotation for the holidays. Enjoy!

Christmas Brain

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Pink Thing of The Day: Pink Cupcake Christmas Tree Ornament

Pink Cupcake Christmas Tree Ornament
Photos By Gail

If you happen to be a person who does the Tree Thing at the Holidays, it’s time to get that shit in order. I was in the Urban Outfitters on Fifth Avenue near 44th Street the other day and they had all kinds of fun ornaments to make a festive tree, such as this Pink Cupcake ornament, which you can see is quite sparkly. I like it.

Pink Cupcake Christmas Tree Ornaments

Here are a bunch of them all hanging out together. “Ornament des Fêtes” translates to “Holiday Ornament”!

Pink Cupcake Christmas Tree Ornament

These Pink Cupcake Ornaments sell for $8.00 each! I am sure that most Urban Outfitters have them in stock!

Kenny Scharf, Inner and Outer Space at Deitch Projects

Kenny Scharf Face Painting
All Photos By Gail

Whether you’re seeing his colorful works out on the street, or in the gallery, Kenny Scharf has one of the most instantly recognizable styles in the contemporary art world. Deitch Projects downtown is currently hosting Inner and Outer Space, an ambitious exhibit of Sharf’s newest works which features several distinct collections that provide evidence of Scharf’s enthusiasm for expanding his oeuvre, while staying true to the playful characteristics of his work that his fans love the most.

Deitch Projects Building Exterior

You can get a hint of what you’re in for before you even stop inside the gallery

Drip Faces

The faces are melting in Kenny Scharf’s new paintings. “Things are disintegrating,” says the artist. “I am reacting to our increasingly out-of-control situation.” Scharf’s work continues to be infused by his inexhaustible optimism and his sense of fun, but there has always been an engagement with profound issues beneath the façade. Ecology, the environment, and capitalist excess have long been central themes.

Drip Faces

Kenny Scharf’s work has always combined and contrasted the pop culture he absorbed growing up in Los Angeles with the important innovations in modern and contemporary art. His earlier work fused Dali and Disney. More recently, he has been in dialogue with Pollock and Abstract Expressionism. In the new work, he merges his distinct style with color field and stain painting. “I like to connect with every movement in 20th-century art,” Scharf explains. “I make new hybrids, taking it all in and putting it in a blender.”

Inner and Outer Space Installation View

Drip Faces

Scharf is very enthusiastic about his new “sloppy style” that characterizes the major paintings in the exhibition. Rows of faces disintegrate into colorful drips reminiscent of both New York School painting and the serial imagery of minimal art. In these new works, Scharf is striving to create clear and simple forms that resonate with meaning. He feels liberated and excited, adding that “it is so much fun.”

Inner and Outer Space Installation View

Like his artistic colleagues from his early years in New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, Scharf studied cartoons as a way to intensify figurative expression. He makes use of cartoon faces to express emotion with abstract power.

TV Bax Installation View

In the past, Kenny found many of the items integrated into his art in the garbage,and even today he still stops his car when he finds plastic toys and TV sets thrown away on the street. These discarded plastic objects have inspired the two other bodies of work featured in the show, one being   TV Bax.

TV Bax Red and Green

The TV Bax are painted on the plastic backs of discarded television sets. Like the toys, the TV backs have a disconcerting anthropomorphic quality. Scharf wonders if their anonymous designers created these plastic covers, which are different for every model, to resemble a face.

TV Bax Red

TV Bax Red Detail
TV Bax, Detail

Scharf finds these thrown-away toys and TV backs to be poignant objects, resonant with emotion. “Each of these objects carries a story,” Scharf explains. He thinks about how people might have struggled and sacrificed to buy these toys and TVs, and about the intense relationship that children and families have with them. Scharf resurrects the lives of these inanimate objects in his work. He also notes that garbage keeps changing with technology. The backs of TV sets used to have large protruding “noses.” Now they are flatter and more similar to a canvas.

TV Bax Purple and Blue

TV Bax Sky with Clouds

Toy Assemblage

Another new collection, his Assemblage Vivant Tableaux Plastiques, inspired by the Nouveau Realistes, are constructed from his stock of recycled plastic toys. These wall sculptures, which mix assorted toy parts with Scharf’s whimsical animated faces, are my favorite items in the exhibit.

Toy Assemblage

Toy Assemblage Installation View
Installation View
Toy Assemblage

Toy Assemblage Detail
Assemblage Vivant Tableaux Plastiques, Detail

Toy Assemblage

Toy Assemblage

Since his childhood, Scharf has been fascinated by outer space. Space travel and the portrayal of infinite space have long been central themes. In his life and in his work, he tries to eliminate boundaries and borders. As he pursues his dialogue with the great painters of the New York School, he is increasingly preoccupied with the inner space of painting. His exploration of inner space creates a dynamic tension with his passion for outer space. With his characteristic exuberance and his moral voice, Scharf reformulates his unique combination of Pollock and Pop to create a vibrant new body of work.

Kenny Scharf Signage

Kenny Scharf’s Inner and Outer Space will be on Exhibit Through December 22nd, 2017 at Deitch Projects, Located at 18 Wooster Street (Just North of Canal) in NYC.

Kenny Scharf and Friend
Kenny Scharf and Friend at the Exhibit’s Opening Reception.

Inner and Outer Space Installation View

Eye On Design: Issey Miyake and Dai Fujiwara, A-POC Queen

APOC Queen
All Photos By Gail

Issey Miyake and Dai Fujiwara’s A-POC Queen (1997) is a textile generated from a single thread by a computer-programmed industrial knitting machine. The resulting openwork knit tube bears a repeating pattern of woven  seams that create a patchwork of shapes whose outlines suggest dresses, shirts, socks, gloves and hats. The customer can cut along the seams without destroying the tubular structure of each individual item, and virtually no material is wasted in the process of creating — without needle or thread — a complete monochromatic outfit from this single swath of cloth.

APOC Queen Detail

For Miyake, the A-POC technique is an extension of the technological advances begun during the Industrial Revolution, which ultimately made ready-to-wear clothing possible. While automation has made fashion more accessible in some respects, it has also fostered overconsumption and waste. A-POC, an acronym for “A Piece of Cloth,” is also a play on the word epoch, a call to all to look to the next century with a sense of responsibility. “Will fashion be able to afford to keep the same old methodology?” asks Miyake. “I have endeavored to experiment to make fundamental changes to the system of making clothes.”

APOC Queen

Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Items: Is Fashion Modern, on View Through January 28th, 2018 at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Cocina Del Sur: A South American Grill Specializing in Healthy Indulgence!

Eat What Makes You Happy Signage
All Photos By Gail

As we become increasingly health conscious when it comes to dining out, the concept of fast food that can be prepared on-demand from fresh ingredients has been popularized by chains like Chipotle, and Moe’s, among others. It’s no accident that these restaurants feature southwestern flavors, because — let’s face it — Mexican food is awesome, and the variety of preferred-ingredient combinations is almost endless. Who misses a Burger when you can do a Burrito Bowl dozens of different ways? What’s really fun and exciting for a foodie like me is to see the Chipotle model emulated to expand beyond Mexican into tasty Mediterranean and Latin cuisines. Recently, I was invited to visit Cocina Del Sur, a midtown fast-casual restaurant specializing in Latin dining that is both healthy and indulgent. Let’s check it out!

Store View from Front Door

Aside from the food, the Latin flare extends to the music and decor of the restaurant, which customers seem to enjoy.

Menu Interior

Open since 2016, owner Ronny Abenhaim draws on his South American roots to create Cocina Del Sur’s simple menu of fresh and vibrantly flavorful ingredients. Ronny explains, “although Cocina Del Sur has a bit of every country in South America, it has a heavy Colombian influence since that’s were I grew up. You can find many of my childhood favorite dishes and ingredients on the menu.”

Diners can custom-build a meal from two basic starter options: a Plate, which includes your choice of two side dishes and a sauce for $10.95; or a Salad or Bowl, which includes a base of Lettuce, Rice or Quinoa, plus three additional ingredients and one sauce for $8.95. A selection of seven different proteins, with choices like grilled organic chicken, organic tofu, and grass-fed hangar steak can be added to your meal for a nominal extra charge ($1.00 to $4.50). All meats are brined and marinated overnight to be extra flavorful and tender.

Front Counter Ordering

If this seems confusing at all, the staff is very friendly (on my visit I met Kevin and Daisy, who are both really nice and excited to be working with Ronny at Cocina Del Sur), and they will be happy to explain how ordering works or to answer any questions about how the food is prepared.

Sauces
Customize your level of spice with a choice of sauces that include Green Chimichurri, Pico Del Gallo, House BBQ, Tomatillo (with little Avocado in it), Chili Pepper, Mango Salsa, or the House Dressing.

Chicken and Rice Plate
Pictured: Bowl with Cilantro Rice and topped with Organic Grilled Chicken, Roasted Corn, Black Beans, Fried Onions and Sliced Avocado. Amazingly Delicious!

On my visit, I brought along my foodie friend Anne and we had fun customizing our meals from so many delicious options. I chose the Bowl option (pictured above) with a base of cilantro rice, with roasted corn, black beans, crispy fried onions as my ingredients, and garden-fresh pico de gallo as my sauce (total $8.95). I then added the organic grilled Chicken ($1.00) and a sliced half ($2.00), which brought my total to just $11.95 for  a huge, healthy and delicious meal!

Steak and Rice

Anne also chose a bowl with cilantro rice, roasted corn (which is cut from the cob after roasting in-house), caramelized onions and black beans, adding sliced, grass-fed hanger steak to her meal for an additional $3.00, bringing her total to $11.95 as well. If you dine regularly at Chipotle, Chop’t or Sweet Green you can see that Cocina Del Sur’s prices are very competitive.

Trio of Salsas

Anne chose the Green Chmichurri sauce, which goes so well with hanger steak, and they gave us an extra Pico De Gallo to share! You can see how fresh it is. “The sauces are what takes you to a certain country in South America,” Ronny explains. “What sauce you add to your meal is kind of what decides ‘which ride you will take.’ For this reason, everything is made from scratch, chopped and prepped in house; since our lunch hours are very busy, nothing stays on the shelves for long and everything feels very fresh. We don’t own freezers or microwaves and we don’t allow cans in our kitchen. We use seasonal and quality ingredients to get better flavor and keep the menu healthy.”

Sweet Plantains

We also ordered a side of Sweet Plantains ($3.50) to share. These plump plantains were fried up just the way we like them: sweet, moist and tender and just slightly caramelized on the outside. Perfect!

Juices Sign

If you want to add a healthy beverage to your meal, why not try one of Cocina Del Sur’s fresh juices, which are a specialty that Ronny wanted to have on the menu, as they are made with exotic fruits imported  from South America. “Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil are right on the equator line,” Ronny explained, “so the climate is perfect for all the delicious, exotic  fruits in the world. Growing up, I would have breakfast and lunch accompanied always by a different juice freshly made in the blender minutes before. I can’t always find Passion fruit, Guanabana, Honeydew, Watermelon, Mango, Blackberry, Nispero, Lulo, Tamarind here in the US, so the fresh juices is the only category on the menu where we are always looking for ways to bring these beautiful fruit flavors from South America.”

Blackberry Juice

I tried the Blackberry Juice, made with a Colombian Blackberry which is a bit different in color and flavor from the Blackberry in the states. Ronny described it as being “like a combination of a raspberry and a blackberry,” which is flash frozen at its peak ripeness, then vacuum sealed and sent to the restaurant. The juice was sweet and light and very refreshing. All juices are $5.50 and come in a bottle for grab-and-go-convenience.

Hallway

Our order was ready in about ten minutes and we sat at one of the small tables in front to dig in to our Latin feasts! Everything in the bowl was bursting with fresh flavor! The rice was fluffy, the black beans tender from hours of slow-cooking, and the corn had that just-picked sweetness with a subtle roasted flavor, while the crispy texture of the fried onions added such a perfect compliment to the other flavors. The very generous portion of creamy avocado was perfectly ripe as well. Most importantly, the chicken was grilled to perfection, moist and tender.

Steak and Rice

Anne also loved her meal and noted that the hanger steak was perfectly cooked: seared on the outside and just a little pink in the center. If you’ve eaten food that is so good, you wish you could eat the plate, that is how I felt about my meal at Cocina Del Sur. Eating their health but undeniably indulgent food made me feel comforted and happy, but also excited about a return visit! “Our customers tell us how fresh and flavorful the food is at Del Sur,”says Ronny. “In Midtown, it’s hard to find good food at a decent price, and served quickly, so we can offer a freshly-made, healthy meal for around $15 dollars in under 15 minutes. And our menu is so flexible, you can visit us 30 days in a row and have a different meal every day!” Asked what he enjoys most about operating Cocina Del Sur, Ronny didn’t hesitate, “I get to do what I love, and I get to feed a lot of people each day and remind them that it is food that makes them happy!”

Catering Sign

Cocina Del Sur can also cater your Holiday party! Contact them at the email address or phone number shown above to get all the details!

Cocina Del Sur is Located at 40 West 38th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues) in NYC. Hours are from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday through Friday (Closed Weekends). Connect with them online at Del Sur Dot Com and Follow them on Instagram at @delsurnyc! You can order from them on Seamless as well!

Pick Up Here Sign

Wall Paper Design

Undersea Life Mural at 81st Street Subway Stop

Undersea Mural
All Photos By Gail

For Want of a Nail is an installation by the MTA Arts for Transit Design Team and the Museum of Natural History consisting of bronze, granite, ceramic and glass mosaic murals. The project represents a study of the evolution of life starting from the big bang to the present day. The southern stairway to the lower level, downtown C Train features a multi-wall ceramic tiel mosaic mural of vibrant ocean life forms.

Undersea Mural Nautilus Detail

See more of the For Want of a Nail project at this post.

Undersea Mural Shark Detail
Shark Attack in the Subway!

Modern Art Monday Presents: Bruce Nauman, Human Nature / Life Death

Human Nature / Life Death
All Photos By Gail

Bruce Nauman’s neon sculpture, Human Nature / Life Death (1983) is a circle of words corresponding to the defining contradictions of human existence — life and death, love and hate, pleasure and pain — are trisected by the words “Animal,” “Human” and “Nature.”

Human Nature / Life Death

Human Nature

Animal Nature

In the aggregate, the words form a colorful, illuminated peace symbol. Human Nature / Life Death is anything but serene or amicable, however, and not only because of its content. As the words flash and darken erratically, Nauman’s neon devolves into a jumble of disjointed signs that break the continuity of the composition and jerk the eye across the wall.

Human Nature / Life Death

Photographed in The Met Breuer in Manhattan.