Sunday, May 24, 2015

La Sylphide

I found this photo posted on Twitter by an enthusiastic guest on opening night. Oddly, there are no photos of the set on the NYCB website. 

What a thrill to finally see Susan Tammany’s sets and costumes for the New York City Ballet’s production of La Sylphide in all their gloriousness the other night.

Set in Scotland, the 1836 ballet by Danish choreographer August Bournonville, is a classic boy-meets-sylph-on-his-wedding-day story. Unable to resist her flirtation, the groom-to-be, James, a poet, chases the alluring wood nymph straight into her otherworldly forest habitat. Needless to say, it all comes to a tragic end when James attempts to possess the ethereal creature. Her capture, of course means her demise. The ballet ends with James collapsed in despair, and we can see, off in the distance, the wedding of his jilted fiancé to his best friend.

For Danish-born NYCB-master-in-chief Peter Martins, the ballet holds special significance. He writes in the program notes:
La Sylphide is the first ballet that I ever saw. I danced in it when I was a student at the Royal Danish Ballet School, and more than a decade later, I graduated to the role of James, the male lead. Working my way up through the various corps roles, I came to know this ballet very well, and whenever I look at the cozy domestic scene that provides the setting for Act I it is as if I’m staring into my own living room.
The costumes were produced from Tammany’s designs in the NYCB’s costume shop under the direction of Marc Happel.

The following photos are samples from some of the wonderful slideshows about the production from around the web and social media.

It takes many wings to propel a flock of sylphs …

Above, Elle magazine slideshow backstage at the opening performance. Below, NYCB and Women's Wear Daily slideshows of the costume production.

And custom-woven tartan to outfit a Scottish wedding party …

Women's Wear Daily and NYCB  slideshows of the costume shop.

And Scenic Art Studios' massive industrial facility in Newburgh, NY to create the farmhouse where James first encounters the sylph…

and the beguiling woodland into which he is lured.

Photos from Scenic Arts Studios and Susan Tammany.

Michael Cooper tells an even more surprising story behind the scenes in the New York Times about Tammany's other role at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater ...

NY Times photo by Sam Hodgson

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Barneys, Asleep?

Dreamy as they are, I am definitely having a (slight) problem with these Alex Katz-imprinted pillowcases Barneys issued.  With same-sex marriage front and center as an issue, it’s hard to know if this offering should be categorized as retro, dictatorial, or simply out of touch?

Did they miss Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg invoking the power vested in her by the Constitution of The United States, while officiating at last Sunday’s same-sex wedding in Washington D.C?

In this day and age these pillowcases should surely be available as two men, two females, or singly, even!

I wonder how their celebrated Creative Ambassador-at-Large, Simon Doonan, and hubby Jonathan Adler would weigh in? 

The full line of Katz-ware includes mugs, candles, totes, etc.

Set of drinking glasses

Dog-print pillow

Cashmere throw

Terrycloth beach blanket (front and reverse)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Calf Weaners

I know. These calf weaners look exactly like medieval torture devices. Surely that is how they must feel to calf and mom. As if the being weaned isn't traumatic enough!

In no way a last-minute gift idea, but just a reminder that today is Mother’s Day.

Some of these devices are embossed with brand names. The above model is a “Daisy.”

Below, is a “Kant Suk” which I hope is somehow related to the “Calf-ateria” feed trough I once saw.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Whaleship Abbott

“Looking through whaling logbooks at the Providence library, my fingers went black from turning the pages. It was as though some small part of whaling had rubbed off on me, the soot from the try pots, fires that burned night and day. Melville called it “the left wing of the day of judgement”. The true history of American whaling is in those logbooks, and hundreds like them, written by the men who went to sea. Those pages hold the excitement of the hunt, the chase, the danger, as well as the boredom and near-constant longing for home, all of it the sum parts of whaling. 
They put to sea, and hoped.” 
I could never have been a whaler, but would love to have been aboard a whaleship in 1856, to see how it was done, meet those men, hear their stories, somehow get it all down in my own sketchbooks and journals, my fingers black from soot, as well as ink. 
To have put to sea, and hoped. 
Scott Kelley 
Peaks Island, Maine
Scott Kelley’s exquisite watercolors, the result of extensive research and extraordinary skill are evidence enough of a well-spent artist’s residency, albeit imaginary, aboard one of those 19th century whalers.

The paintings, which are mostly “excerpts” from said residency’s many "sketch-logbooks" are on view now at Dowling Walsh Gallery in Rockland, Maine.

Meticulous portraits of whales, delicate renderings of their dramatic spouts, and identification charts of their fins and tails grace soot-smudged and, in cases, severely foxed “pages.” There’s an entire “logbook” of gridded pages--color charts of the North Atlantic under various conditions.

And because Kelley is the quintessential whaler-artist, there is scrimshaw, too.

I'll be checking out his show opening next week in NYC at W. M. Brady, 22 E. 80th St.

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