History of Violence Top Live Art Installation for 2009

Violence is almost as American an activity as baseball.  This country was liberated by war; our forefathers were nothing more than wig wearing rebel rousers.  This fact, I’m sure, was not lost on British artist Russell Young when he first envisioned A History of Violence

In March, Bagatelle teamed up with Keszler Gallery to present a private viewing of the exhibit.  Young’s work added a sassy energy to the romantic French bistro.  The dimly lit chandeliers and track lighting glimmering off the freshly painted silk screens gave the restaurant sex appeal.  It was a delight to sip wine and watch Russell create right before our eyes.

Before the art world beckoned, Russell past incarnations included celebrity photography and directing music videos.  A History of Violence examines the connection this country has to violence through iconic imagery and eye popping color.  I’m sure Russell’s background in photography aided in his selections of photos, which were stunning and told individual stories that help to contribute to the entire visual narrative.

Don't talk to me about heroes, most of these men smoke cocaine. 2006 Screen print on canvas

Hollywood has always had a fascination with the Wild West; in fact movies depicting boisterous stories from that time help to save Hollywood and television.  Shows like Wagon Training, The Rifleman and Maverick taught generations of kids about the rough frontier existence, morality and how violence is sometimes a necessary part of living.  No movie sums these lessons up better than The Magnificent Seven.  The movie was just as majestic as the soundtrack.  To see Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and company astride their steeds, ready to save the day, all in pink plays with the ideas of masculinity, vigilantism and heroism. 

Marlon Brando "Oh that boy's a slag" 2007 Acrylic and enamel screen print on linen

What makes bad boys so appealing?  It is a question that has perplexed parents and their daughters since the beginning of time.  Russell chose one of the ultimate bad boys to make his statement about the allure of a man who lives outside of the law, makes his own rules and still has a heart –Marlon Brando in The Wild One.  Painted boldly in red, Brando in his biker gear and looking defiant as ever in dark shades shows exactly why the bad boy is so tantalizing – there is nothing more intoxicating than the idea of a man being able to protect a woman from peril and no one messes with a bad boy.

Beauty, at times can be tragic, like a moon plant that dies in the face of dawn.  The photo of Marilyn Monroe trying to shield her face as she suffers is the epitome of tragic, fragile beauty.  This photo shows that sometimes the violence can come from within and is inflicted on ourselves.

The most compelling installation completed that night was of a gun cataloged by police.  By sight it is an ordinary handgun until the audience learned that it is a photo of the gun that killed John Lennon.  Instead of paint, Russell uses blood. 

Mouths hung as Russell smeared the blood on the silk screen.  The silence in the room while he is creating the piece was beyond creepy as we all came face to face with the mayhem that a violent mind can create.  As we sipped our wine in this trendy restaurant, the idea that violence is a part of our history and our present was never clearer to me.  Safety is only a hope, not a guarantee. 

The Dali Lama stated, “It is my belief that whereas the twentieth century has been a century of war and untold suffering, the twenty-first century should be one of peace and dialogue. As the continued advances in information technology make our world a truly global village, I believe there will come a time when war and armed conflict will be considered an outdated method of settling differences among nations.”    It is this sentiment that came to mind when I witnessed the canvas of President Obama shimmering in gold paint. 

It is no wonder the photo sold that night, Obama represented hope and change to many around the world, and is the perfect visual representation of historical change.  Art is at its best when it stimulates your senses.  The History of Violence did that and more.

Photos courtesy of KB Network News and http://www.russellyoung.com

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Meat Anyone?

Sometimes when I look around at the city I can hardly recognize it.  Really, this city has seen more facelifts than Zsa Zsa Gabor.  One upgrade in particular that still makes me shake my head in amazement is the Meatpacking District. 

When I was a girl the Meatpacking District was known for large slaughterhouses, tranny hookers, the Mafia, drugs and sex clubs.  The vices in the meatpacking district almost overshadowed the meat and was one of the best places to find sin in New York City, outside Times Square of course.

Now Gansevoort Market is a far cry from the days when transsexual prostitute skulked around corners and the mafia ruled the slaughterhouses with an iron, Black Hand.  The Meatpacking District is one of the chicest areas in the city with restaurants, bars and clubs that play host to the fierce and fabulous as well as some of the best designer boutiques.  Some feel that the Meatpacking District has become too chic for real New Yorkers and is nothing more than a tourist haven like Times Square.  Maybe they are right, but something I learned from the tragedy of 911 is that you don’t take any part of this city for granted.  So without further adieu, here are my choices for the best that the Meatpacking District has to offer.

DINING

RdV                                 RDV Image

409 W. 13th Street New York, NY 10014    

212-675-3300

After stepping down a dimly lit stairway, you arrive in a sexy subterranean chill zone.  RdV takes elegance underground with its plush Baroque style furniture and potted banana trees that add a tropical feel.  The candlelit private dining room is a hideaway within a hideaway and provides its diners with an intimate experience.  The cuisine definitely lives up to the opulent French setting.  I recommend Foie Gras Terrine for an appetizer and Truffled Chicken or Pan Seared Wild Stripped Bass for a main course.  RdV holds 150 guests and is the perfect lounge to drink and dine when planning a grown and sexy gathering with friends.

Bagatelle                       Bagatelle%20Interior                       

409 W 13th St, New York 10014

212-675-2400

Above ground designer David Graziano, designer of RDV, created a posh French bistro.  Bagatelle has been dubbed the place to eat for the rich and trendy and is also known for their brunch.  I recommend Dimanche – Poule-au-Pot and the Potato Puree.  And if you are going to the Caribbean check out Bagatelle’s sister restaurant in Turks and Caicos.  Great food + great atmosphere = a complete dining experience.

 PARTY

Cielo                        ceilo                      

18 Little West 12th Street New York, NY 10014
212 242-8537

Besides the great décor, which resembles a log cabin, the sunken dance floor, and outdoor back yard that has heated lamps in the winter, this club plays host to some of the legends of dance music.  Francois K., Marques Wyatt, Jojo Flores, Junior Vasquez, and Roger Sanchez have all spinned in their DJ booth.  Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge hold their Roots party every week on Wednesday.  Cielo is an absolute must for anyone who seriously loves dance music.

Kiss & Fly                              Temple Perimeter View in Purple Light

409 W. 13th Street New York, NY 10014

212-255-1933

With the opening of Kiss and Fly lavishness has been brought back to NYC nightlife.  This club caters to the sophisticated and fabulous.  Kiss & Fly is Dom Perignon’s flagship club in the United States. Fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld designed a mural for the club that is the backdrop to the $18,000 bottles of Dom Perignon that are on display and on the wine list.  Kiss & Fly also boasts 28 VIP areas with their own “private” dance floor that is raised behind the table.  Fire acts, aerial shows, stilted performances, fire throwers turn this nightclub experience into an extravaganza.

STAY 

Hotel Gansevoort             hotel-gansevoort_3

18 9th Avenue New York, NY 10014

212-206-6700

Just because you live in the city doesn’t mean you have to stay at home, the Hotel Gansevoort offers awe-inspiring 360 degree panoramic views of New York City and is the only luxury, full service resort in the Meatpacking District.  Hotel Gansevoort offers an elegant get away to its patrons.  The hotel has 187 guestrooms and 23 suites.  The rooms are lavish, but with a minimalist aesthetic. The duplex penthouse houses a Jacuzzi and fireplace.  Hotel Gansevoort also has 45-foot heated outdoor rooftop pool with underwater lights and music everyday as well as a swanky rooftop loft and spa. Designer David Graziano also places his stamp on the Hotel Gansevoort making the hotel the fourth business in the Meatpacking District that has been touched by his chic  style.  Upon walking out of the Hotel Gansevoort, be prepared to take on the cobbled-stone splendor of the new Meatpacking District.