Moravian First Year Seminars in NYC
Monday, October 31, 2011
Linc: Exploring Museums of New York
On Saturday 29, 2011 the Exploring Museums of New York class travelled to New York City for a very interesting day of learning and entertainment by attending the Twin Towers and the City exhibition, as well as two Broadway musical features War Horse and Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. From the start both the weather and climate did nothing but bring a damper on the fun. The ungainly wind evolved into cold rain and snow that caused students to put on their gloves and take out their umbrellas. However the positives of the trip proved to outmatch Mother Nature. The first stop of the trip was made at the Museum of the City of New York, where the works of Camilo Jose Vergara transformed from extraordinary photos to a time vault. The photo exhibit was very grabbing because it was a distinctive look at the twin Towers of New York City. Shots of the towers through the years made the exhibit stand out from the fact that the pictures were not murals or canvas creations but ordinary pictures taken from the same locations at different points of time. An example of Vergara’s work included the history behind the Twin Towers, and their creation by a designer none other than Minoru Yamasaki. The third floor of 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street was filled with photos of hard to reach angles and beautiful perfection of locations and good use of space. Some of the photos range from the early 1960’s through September 11, 2001 when the towers fell. Some of the photos create an emotional connection with those who have lived in the city and gone through the social changes that New York brings, meaning the towers represent more than just buildings. The towers represent a social identity, an identity known as the big apple.
After the first swing at the Museum of the City of New York, the class had a great opportunity to get their imaginations rubbed with the help of War Horse. The musical, which took place at the grand locations known as the Lincoln Center Theatre at 150 West 65th Street, was a very surreal yet live performance. Presented with horses, war and the turmoil of friendship, War Horse was a spectacular way for people to look at the issues of conflict among humans and animals. The idea is that no live horses are used in the musical, only actors, props, and puppets.. At first speculations were made about the reality of the horses and how they would interrupt the thinking process of the viewers. However the originative designs created such a close connection because they were not simply puppets. The animals were breathing and making sounds. The animals, not puppets, were cleaver and very different from the average string puppets. Not only did the performance of the animals superb, but the story itself was something one could get very close with. The connection between the audiences and the story line made War Horse a must see musical.
After the beautiful message of friendship and ideality in War Horse took place, the class attended the Broadway sensation Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. Logically one thinks of comics and classic television shows when hearing Spider-Man. Although the musical stuck to some of the original Spidey foundations, it was mostly judge based on the music created by Bono of the music group U2. A lot of the students complained that the music was not up to par with what they were expecting. In some ways the fact that Bono created the score greatly elevates the expectations of what one could expect, and the truth is that the music is important but the overall experience is more important. The play brought great interactivity with the audience, mostly children and teens who found joy in seeing a man swinging from the balcony section. The musical focused on great design and accuracy for all the action events. Anything could have happened to the actors at any time, so it is very important to look at the aspect of art that deals with precision and mastery of one’s environment. The sets were of course very vibrant and very comic bookish, but this was all a part of the plan. The stage was rotating at different scenes, and a great deal of ropes and heights were used for the creation. All together the musical was exciting because of its buzz and attention making it a must see. But overall it was a simple musical and just another Broadway sensation. In conclusion, Wicked would have had a greater chance of “casting a spell” on the audience.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
The first time I walked up the undulating cobblestones to the Medieval Museum a couple of years ago I was excited. I had an interest in the overlapping of history and art, but I had contently viewed every artifact in the museum within forty-five minutes.
As you may imagine, I was overwhelmed with my most recent timeframe at the Cloisters. Three hours was more than enough time to revisit an exhibition. I decided that the first piece that I found intriguing I would sketch in my journal. I found a Beautiful sculpture of Saint Anthony Abbot in the first room. Surprisingly it was his face that caught my eye, but the devil
at his feet that ignited my curiosity. This 15th century walnut sculpture portrayed the hermit heroically resisting the devil’s viciousness, impaling its mouth with his staff.
I continued to sketch what amazed me. I had become so absorbed in the art that I almost missed the tour –which had proved to be far more interesting than I could have imagined thanks to our connoisseur. I was fascinated by the symbols that classified the saints, the physics of the gothic windows, and the history of the construction of the Cloister’s. My second visit to the museum had been drastically more pleasurable than my first experience.
Contrary, I was a little disappointed with our brief experience in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Being there several times, I knew what I wanted to see more of and what had already lost my interest. I never have enough time in the gargantuan museum to further explore the European Art –which is what truly captivates me. I could simply sit and admire the brushstrokes in some of the paintings for hours.
I envied the art classes held in the Met, and even the people that are free to sketch the Greek sculptures at their will. For a moment when our class was amongst all of the white, beautifully carved human figures, I thought I would finally have my opportunity to full on sketch. To my dismay we hurried on to see the Pompeii room before I could finish.
For a museum as large as the Met, we were not given enough time to explore on our own. Yes, it is an overwhelming floor plan that prevents any human from viewing everything in one day; it is also a building that contains such a considerable variety of art, that everyone finds something that interests them.
I would not object to another visit to both the Cloisters Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I am curious to see if yet another experience is possible.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Our day in NYC was a blast, like usual, although the protests in Times Square made it a bit more difficult this time! We started off the day with a tour of the Lincoln Center, where we got to see theater that War Horse is performing in. The most exciting part of the tour for me was when we got to see the "Jewel Box" theater where the dance productions are performed, and also where Black Swan was filmed.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
After a good day at the Cloisters and Metropolitan Museum of Art we had nearly 5 and a half hours of free time. Being from New York I was standing on the sidewalk thinking what am I going to do with all this time. As I normally do in New York City, I attempted my usual wandering around until I figure something out. This weekend was different. Since the Occupy Wall Street Protest was taking over it was nearly impossible to move anywhere. After being stuck on the sidewalk of 7th avenue in Times Square for nearly 20 minutes trying to move as everyone was standing still because of the stupid protest I wandered uptown for as long as I needed to in order to get around the protest. I ended up walking down to 9th avenue on 44th street to get out of the crowds. I ended up walking to 54th street back across town to 6th avenue to come back down to the opposite side of 44th street of Times Square then I was before. After this long out of the way journey to the restraunt of my choice; Virgil's Southern BBQ, I had a nice barbecue dinner at my favorite resturant sitting at a family's friend's bar stool who passed away nearly 12 years ago.
After my dinner I continued my wandering. I walked over to the two local jazz clubs in the area, Birdland, and The Iridium, to see what was going on that night. I ended up going to The Iridium. Wearing my Moravian College sweatshirt I was able to get my ticket at a student price, so instead of paying $35 to get in I only had to pay $17. I had no clue about what I was going to get myself into. All I knew was that I was seeing a Japanesse Fusion Guitar player by the name of Kazumi Watanabe. The people sitting around me were very friendly asking about where the college is and why i was in New York. Soon I found out that the couple sitting next to me came all the way from Chicago to see this guitar player. Apparently he hasn't played New York For 30 years. I made the right choice to go see this show. It was very enjoyable, if it was possible for me to go see him again I probably would.
Back in New York again and things are bustling as usual. City life goes on with or without you.
I don't know how many of you reading this have ever tried to call a cab in the middle of a protest, but let me tell you-it isn't easy or fun. This trip to New York was a lot different than the several that I have made in the past. Both the shows and the overall experience were not what I expected to be a part of and I feel that in all, it has broadened my knowledge of New York itself.
Upon entering the city, we made our first stop uptown at the Lincoln Center. Seeing their various theaters for the different individual areas of performing arts was incredible. Had we been allowed to take photos inside the theaters, I think I would still be there now. My favorite theater that we saw was the jewelry box theater where Black Swan was filmed. It really did look like a jewelry box and it was enormous.
After visiting the theaters, we had some free time and then we were off to our first show, Other Desert Cities. This show was not what I expected it to be, but I was right when I mentioned that the mother in the film reminded me of Rizzo from Grease--it was her (Carrie Fisher)! I feel honored to have seen her perform live--she really is a great actress. This is a photo of the set (the family's west coast home):
After some more free time and some protesting, we headed to our last show, Venus in Fur. This show was not at all what I expected it to be. It was much more plot-driven than what I expected, but I'm sure that if I had been more seasoned on Broadway performances I could have seen that coming. Overall the shows were somewhat satisfying and definitely unlike the other shows we have seen thus far.