Monday, May 3, 2010

Art in a mansion and on stage

"NAC Gramercy"
Oil on canvas
24 x 18 inches

Today's painting is of the National Arts Club on 20th Street on the south side of the lovely Gramercy Park. According to the NAC Fact Sheet, the mansion was built in the 1840's, acquired by Samuel Tilden in the 1870's and was given an overhaul by the famed architect Calvert Vaux (one of the designer's of Central Park). In 1906 it became the home of The National Arts Club. The building is a designated New York and National Historic landmark and I enjoy walking past this vestige of old New York regularly. I tried to capture a part of the facade, with the beautiful terra cotta work and the reflection of the trees in the park reflected in the large front window. The facade underwent much needed restoration not too long ago. Many art organizations host their annual exhibits in what was formerly the grand ballroom as well as in the downstairs galleries. The building's interior has been used in many movie productions over the years, most notably the ballroom scene in "The Age of Innocence." It's always a treat to have one of my paintings hanging on the walls of the NAC, and I felt it only right that I do a painting of this architectural delight.

Now on to the subject of art and the theater. There are two fascinating plays on view that I highly recommend. The New York Theater Workshop, located off-Broadway on East 4th Street, features a delightful new play written by and starring the very talented Claudia Shear ("Blown Sideways Through Life", "Dirty Blonde"). The play just started previews and I was lucky enough to see it this past week-end. An art restorer working in obscurity in Brooklyn, is given the rare opportunity to work on the restoration of Michaelangelo's sculpture David. Art, life, inspiration, longing...all themes are explored in this insightful, well-crafted, and often humorous play. After the play, as I walked uptown on 2nd Avenue with my friend Debbie, we found ourselves walking behind one of the actors we had just seen in the play. That's what I love about New York. An actor can be performing onstage one moment before a live audience and then just casually walk the streets unobserved and unnoticed.

At the other end of the spectrum we go from Michaelangelo to the artist Mark Rothko, the subject of "Red", currently playing on Broadway. From the opening scene, which has the talented actor Alfred Molina who portrays Rothko sitting quietly contemplating his large red canvas, one is transported to the artist's studio, listening as he expounds on his ideas about art and life to his young studio assistant, also an aspiring artist. A great scene finds both the master and the apprentice priming a canvas onstage! If you find yourself in New York this Spring, treat yourself to a show, you won't be disappointed.

1 comment:

Valerie said...

Beautiful painting!! I lived two doors away for 48 crystalized what makes the facade gorgeous