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Upside Down Trees at Mass MoCA

Upside Down Trees
All Photos By Gail

“Hey, look at those upside down trees!” I shouted to my friends as we approached the entrance to Mass MoCA, the coolest contemporary art museum in the Universe. The trees turned out to be a work of art by Natalie Jeremijenko called Tree Logic (1999) in which six live trees are inverted and suspended from a truss made up of a metal armature, stainless steel planters, and telephone poles. In Tree Logic, the art of the piece is not found in its condition at any single point, but in the change of the trees over time.

Tree Logic

Upside Down Trees

Trees are dynamic natural systems, and Tree Logic reveals this dynamism. The familiar, almost iconic shape of the tree in nature is the result of the interplay between gravitropic and phototropic forces: the tree grows away from the earth and towards the sun. When inverted, the six trees in this experiment still grow away from the earth and towards the sun — so the natural predisposition of trees might well produce the most unnatural shapes over time, raising questions about what the nature of the natural is. I would love to be able to observe the trees as their foliage changes with seasons.

Upside Down Trees

A docent the museum told me that the trees are replaced and replanted in adjacent green areas every four to five years due to their tendency to “grow upwards.”

Mass MoCa is Located at 1040 MASS MoCA Way in  North Adams, MA 01247

Tree Logic

Kara Walker’s Sugar Sphinx at the Domino Sugar Factory

Kara Walker Sugar Sphinx
All Photos by Gail

The most popular art exhibit in the city right now is Kara Walker’s massive Sugar Sphinx: the crouching figure of an African America woman, completely covered in white, refined sugar, which was constructed over an eight week period in the cavernous interior of the now defunct Domino Sugar Factory building that faces the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Subtlety Artist Statement

Sponsored by Creative Time, Subtlety, as the piece is officially named, is the first large-scale public project by the internationally renowned Walker. Sited in the sprawling industrial relics of Brooklyn’s legendary Domino Sugar Factory, Walker’s physically and conceptually expansive work responds to both the building and its history, exploring a radical range of subject matter and marking a major departure from her practice to date. The exhibition promises to be an eye-opening experience for both those who are familiar with Walker’s work and those who are new to it.

Creative Time Sign

I visited the Sphinx with a friend on a Sunday afternoon, arriving 10 minutes before they started letting people in at Noon, and waited only about 20 additional minutes before we were inside. Be forewarned that this is a very popular attraction. Within ten minutes of joining the line at South 2nd Street and Kent Avenue, the line already stretched another block behind us and continued to grow. So, be sure to pee and eat before you get there, wear comfortable shoes and sun block, and be prepared to wait for as long as it takes, because you are on an Urban Adventure!

Sphinx Distance Shot

The Sphinx only takes up about one-third of the space, so you get to enjoy the emptiness of the gutted factory and imagine what it must have been like when it was full of machinery and people and sugary substances – the residue of which still covers the buildings interior surfaces. I love walking around inside abandoned buildings, so this was a huge treat for me for that reason alone.

Abandoned Factory Interior Shot

Sugar Baby with Basket

Sugar Baby's Basket

In addition to the Sphinx, there are perhaps a dozen five-foot high molasses-based sculptures of young boy laborers, many carrying wide baskets which hold sugar in its various states.

Sugar Crystal Chunks in Basket

Sugar Crystal Chunks

The boy sculptures range in hue from deep brown and nearly black to crystalline amber. Thin puddles of dark molasses expands across the floor from the bases of these figures as they have started to slowly melt.

Sugar Baby Close Up

Sugar Baby with Molasses Trail

The Huffington Post has an excellent article on the Sugar Sphinx, including an interview with Kara Walker, which reveals a lot of the theoretical groundwork for the project and will give you some perspective that may be useful to consider when viewing the exhibit, because it’s a pretty heavy deal.

Sugar Sphinx Side View

Knuckles Detail
Detail of Her KnucklesSugar Sphinx Rear View
Rear View

I had a great time seeing the Sugar Sphinx and her Molasses Babies. Once you are inside, you can stroll around and take photos for as long as you like, and the temperature stays pretty cool and comfortable even on a warm day (it was near 70 on the day I went). There are also tons of restaurants in the area, so it’s super easy to find a place to have a nice lunch or dinner once you are done with your visit.

Subtlety, Or The Marvelous Sugar Baby (aka The Sugar Sphinx), By Kara Walker will be on Exhibit at the Abandoned Domino Sugar Factory, located at South 1st Street and Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, until July 6th, 2014. Hours are 4 – 8 PM on Fridays and Noon – 6 PM Saturdays and Sundays. Expect a wait of 30 Minutes Up to Over an Hour (Totally Worth it). The Exhibit is Free and Open to the Public. Take the L Train to Bedford Avenue and Walk South West for about 15 Minutes. The J or M Trains to the Marcy Avenue Exit will also get you there.

Raymi Peruvian Kitchen Offers a 6-Course Tasting To Spice Up Valentine’s Day

Raymi Tables and Bar
All photos Courtesy of EM50 Communications

Nothing says “I Love You” on Valentine’s Day quite like a really amazing meal that you don’t have to cook yourself! Luckily, Raymi Peruvian Kitchen and Chef Erik Ramirez are providing couples the necessary ingredients to spice up their romance with a Peruvian influenced Valentine’s Day. I’ve been to Raymi before and I can tell you, the place is gorgeous and the food is excellent!

Starting at 5:00 PM on the 14th, the Flatiron favorite is offering a six-course tasting menu (in addition to its regular a la carte menu) giving diners an array of options depending on their appetite. The six-course tasting menu ($65 per person) will feature three starters, two main courses and a decadent dessert to share. An additional wine pairing is available for $25 per person to compliment the blended flavors in the vibrant cuisine.

Raymi Ceviche

Each dish at Raymi is created to excite and tempt the palate from the first bite of aphrodisiac oysters all the way through to the rich chocolate dessert. Potential paramours will start with Oysters, followed by Lobster (causa, aji amarillo potato puree, avocado, spicy mayo) and Beets (mizuna, crème fraiche, haucatay, pistachio). For a third course, diners transition to the main courses of Halibut (a lo macho, mussles, shrimp, calamari, aji panca cream sauce) and Braised Short Ribs (seco, cilantro). A decadent chocolate dessert for two will complete the meal on a sweet note.

Raymi Meat Skewer

Every guest who participates in the tasting menu will receive a complimentary glass of champagne to start off the night and a rose will be placed on the table. Further setting the fine mood of the evening, Diners can revel in the romantic melodies of a live band, Christelle Durandy Quartet who will be performing a collection of Latin American genres such as Peruvian Valses, boleros and tangos.

Raymi Cocktail

If six courses is a bit too indulgent, Raymi’s full menu, featuring traditional and modern plates such as hanger steak, prepared in two different ways, seafood with jasmine rice, or the choice of an array of flavorful ceviches and tiraditos, will also be available. At the end of a deliciously romantic evening, every guest will take home a small gift bag containing housemade granola and a card for a free Pisco sour to be used at a later date.

Raymi Peruvian Kitchen is located at 43 West 24th Street (between 5th and 6th Aves). Please call 212-929-1200 for Reservations.

Led Zeppelin Gets Physical

Physical Graffiti Tenements

On This Date, March 22nd in 1975: Led Zeppelin’s double album Physical Graffiti reached the top of the Billboard 200 album chart for the first of six weeks, giving the group its fourth number one album. The album was released one month earlier,on February 24th. The apartment building photographed for the albums’ iconic cover still stands at 96-98 St. Marks Place (East 8th Street) in NYC’s East Village.

Physical Graffiti Tenements

Houses of the Holy: 96-98 St. Marks Place (Photographed By Me on July 30th, 2017)