This was surely one of the best moons I ever saw in NYC. Wow! I hope these photos do some justice to what I saw. I also include a poem by Eli Siegel that I love and believe honors the large meaning of the moon. (Click photos to enlarge.)
While people lined the shores of the East River & New York Harbor at sunset the grand celebration was preparing to begin. And it was done with style! As the sun set, the darkened sky and the Brooklyn Bridge were aglow. New York & The Brooklyn Bridge welcome back the Macy’s grand fireworks celebration, and I’m so glad I was there. (Click photos to enlarge.)
To view more photos click on this link
It was one of those rare Summer days in NYC when the weather couldn’t get any better, and it was perfect for the Liberty Challenge, hosted by NY Outrigger. From the Hudson to the East River, where I was stationed, back to the Hudson, people came out to watch this event, on sailboats, tour ships, and all along the shores. (Click photos to enlarge.) As I was watching the ever-changing panorama before me, I couldn’t help remembering another famous chase that took place right here in these same waters not long after the Island went from the Dutch to the English. It is written with all the nautical drama that one could hope for by the noted NY writer, James Fenimore Cooper, in his novel published in 1830, The Water Witch or The Skimmer of the Seas. While the 2 ships that Cooper writes of are quite different than the craft in the Liberty Challenge, the emotion that both made for in people had a lot in common. I’m grateful to have learned from Eli Siegel that Cooper was one of America’s greatest writers, and one
“…of the thirty or so great writers of the world of all time… One of the words for Cooper in the history of the art of literature, is indispensable … he is on the side of those matters which it is still permissible to call creation and beauty.” (TRO, #740).
Whenever beauty occurs, I learned from Aesthetic Realism, opposites are made one, the same opposites that we are trying to see better in ourselves. It’s in this principle of Aesthetic Realism: “The world, art, and self explain each other; each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites.”
I believe the Liberty Challenge event had beauty in it. I was affected by how the crews of one craft after another maneuvered their way along a course that has fast and dangerous currents with great motion & energy, while also showing ease as they seemed to pause or rest to avoid many other craft like tour boats and barges that were all about. I was both thrilled and composed as I looked on with excitement. As Cooper writes about the pursuit of one ship trying to overtake another, words that have stirred people for nearly 184 years, we too are affected by how the opposites of energy & rest are so much of one another—many oars acting as one.
“We must pull for our own safety, and that of the brigantine, my men;” said the Skimmer, springing into his boat and seizing the tiller—”A quick stroke, and a strong!–here is no time for holiday feathering, or your man-of-war jerk! Give way, boys; give way, with a will, and together!”
These were sounds that had often saluted the ears of men engaged in the hazardous pursuit of his crew. The oars fell into the water at the same moment, and, quick as thought, the light bark was in the strength of the current. (Chapter XXVIII)
Both the Liberty Challenge and the work of James Fenimore Cooper enabled me to see more meaning and have more feeling about the world on a beautiful summer day.
You may not think that in the midst of one of the busiest cities in the world, NYC, you’d find one of the oldest continuous working farms in the country, dating back to before the American Revolution. But in Queens, NY, that’s where you’ll find the Queens County Farm. It’s one of the most delightful places to visit in NYC. You will not find the Big Horn Sheep of Montana, or the Grizzly of Alaska, or even the wild Moose of Maine, however you will be treated to the expressions of children and even adults as as they look with wonder and pleasure at domestic farm animals, some perhaps for the first time. However familiar we are with these animals, they can also appear ever so strange.
In photographing some of the animals I was reminded of this maxim by Eli Siegel from his book “Damned Welcome,”
The strange really has a smile on its face; you should welcome it with open arms.
For a while it will feel that you are on a rural upstate NY farm (without the fields & mountains) having a great time being affected by a taste of farm life & history. So if you are in the NYC area,you will not have to travel far to see these wonderful beings. (Click on photos to enlarge.) To see more photos visit my web-site.
It’s not often that New Yorkers get an opportunity to see the art of three international street artists right next to each other. But here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Hellbent, Aakash Nihalani & Rubin, were commissioned to create their art on huge sections of a protective wall. It stands outside of the renovation project of what was the historic Domino Sugar factory on the shores of the East River. While the artists embrace the abstract, they are so different in technique and form. And each helped me to see and understand something new about the meaning of art. (Click on each image to enlarge.)
Hellbent uses a color-pallet that is rich & vibrant along with a multitude of stenciled effects and patterns—from floral to geometric. He contains the wildness of these patterns and color within evenly spaced chevron styled bands that travel across the surface, giving the work great energy even while it’s controlled. The long row of bands are on either side of a semi-circle which seems to represent the center of the piece. The forms within the semi-circle are also are contained. While they are related to the other patterns & forms, these appear more in motion, going in many different directions—they have an energy all their own.
Aakash uses the geometric form in another way. He creates a space of rectangular shapes which both rise & fall that give a three-dimensional effect. Do they recede or do they come forth? They seem to question both geometry & space itself. While there is control in the use of color; flat blue within each of the forms, and a similar thickness of the black outline, all the shapes are different, and co-exist with a very free-form graffiti. Did the artist find the graffiti on the wall and choose to incorporate it, or was it apart of the original plan? Either way it’s part of the wonder of the piece.
Rubin, with a style reminiscent of Art Deco, gives his dynamic forms of triangles, rectangles, squares, spheres and other forms, an energy that challenges the stillness of the static wall. His use of color and the juxtaposition of these forms seem to put this wall into motion. The forms adhere to a strict geometry, but also move about with energy & grace. Wherever you look there is a sense that the shapes belong, yet you also feel a sense of something random—still in motion. And then there is the surprise of that large circular form. While the only circle in the piece, it contains some of its greatest energy where the lively colorful symmetrical & asymmetrical forms seem to be looking for a place to settle.
After photographing the making of these dramatic murals over a period of time, not only was I affected by the difference of the artistry of each of the pieces, I also was excited to see that each had something wonderful in common that showed a crucial aspect about the meaning of art itself. In his historic 1955 work, “Is Beauty the Making One Of Opposites?” Eli Siegel, critic and founder of Aesthetic Realism, explained the central thing about beauty and art that had never been stated before. In the first of 15 questions about beauty he asks about freedom and order:
FREEDOM AND ORDER DOES every instance of beauty in nature and beauty as the artist presents it have something unrestricted, unexpected, uncontrolled?—and does this beautiful thing in nature or beautiful thing coming from the artist’s mind have, too, something accurate, sensible, logically justifiable, which can be called order?
I believe these works clearly say, Yes! Everywhere you look the opposites of freedom & order are in a friendly and dynamic team. There is so much life to these works it would be impossible to try to fully describe it here. But I hope I’ve put down some thoughts that will encourage you to go to the old Domino Sugar plant, and really enjoy yourself by appreciating the art on the wall. For more photos of these works in progress visit my website: www.harveyspears.com
(Click photo to enlarge)
Usually the main attractions here are the waterfront views and the tugboats & barges that help keep NYC movi’n. But this is Spring migration along the North American Flyway, and the East River is a great stopover for many birds to their final destination. I spotted a group of Red-breasted Mergansers just taking in the sights and looking for a bite to eat. These beautiful ducks joined Mallards and the resident Gulls & Cormorants in having a good time enjoying a premier waterway in NY. And thanks to Mayor de Blasio, the East River will host a spectacular July 4th fireworks display for all New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy. The ducks will probably have gone but their vibrant color & energy will be in the night sky. But that’s another blog for July.
(Click photos to enlarge)
It may have been a chilly overcast day this past Sunday at The Greek Independence Day Parade in NYC, but from the expressions of pride & joy, along with an unquenchable energy parading up 5th Avenue, you would have thought the Sun God Apollo was in full force. It was a real pleasure to be at this event along with my wife Carol, and be affected by the many paraders and spectators who came to esteem a people and their cultural history, that not only honors Greece but has had, and continues to have, a profound & everlasting effect on Western Civilization and the whole world. As I thought about the meaning of this day, the translation by poet and philosopher Eli Siegel, of an important Greek poem written thousands of years ago, kept coming to mind called “At Thermopylae, By Simonides of Ceos.” (Click link to read entire poem with comment)
O stranger, tell the Lacedaemonians
That we lie here, true to their laws.
I am stirred as I read these lines to think about what these courageous men fought & died for enable us today to live in the midst of a democracy. I believe we owe them and ourselves to be true to this early beautiful idea.