Sunday, March 16, 2014

A WEEK OF THEATER.

It's hard to believe in one short month I will be back in Iowa. Time truly does speed by when you are enjoying yourself. My semester in New York will be an experience I remember forever; I have learned a lot. About art and theater. About marketing. About this city, of course. And about myself. I'm discovering what I want and realizing opportunities await everywhere if only you go searching, keep learning, and never stop working your tail off.

This past week was yet another adventure in New York culture, and more specifically in the theatre. On Tuesday, the group and I viewed Quiara Alegria Hudes' The Happiest Song Plays Last at 2econd Stage Theatre. The always lovely Whitney joined us, as well :). The performance is the third in Hudes' trilogy; the second of which won a Pulitzer Prize. The third easily could have done the same...the play weaves together the tales of individuals from different backgrounds, upbringings, and cultures into a cohesive performance. Hudes creates a moving story that allows the viewer to ponder ideas including intersectionality, our purpose as individuals, and the wounds we carry deep within.



On Thursday, I attended APAC's (Astoria Performing Arts Center) children's playwriting performance at IS10. A group of young playwrites (grades 6-8) spent the past number of weeks learning about playwriting and creating their own works. Our theater professor, Susan has been working with the kids; and Thursday all they have learned was showcased. The plays were so cute, some of them funny, and some amazingly creative. It was a nice treat viewing their creations and knowing that such a program takes place.

On Friday, the group switched gears to music and attended the National Corale Orchestra's performance of Mozart's Requiem. And on Saturday, my roommate Katty and I headed to SoHo for some shopping and walking around the city in the sun. A girls' day was just what I needed, filled with street vendors, New York pizza, window shopping in the warm weather, and a little actual shopping too.


Saturday evening, it was back to the theatre to view Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Appropriate at Signature Theatre. This play was probably the most controversial performance we have attended as a group. Jacobs-Jenkins follows three grown siblings (and their families) as they uncover a disturbing album of photos when cleaning out the old plantation home of their recently deceased father. Appropriate sheds light (and more so allows us to ask questions) on ideas including race, family dysfunction, and the lines we draw surrounding what is appropriate and what is not. Often times these topics can be tricky to discuss. As if that wasn't enough, many of us felt strongly on the play's writing and acting. Personally, I felt the acting would have produced a larger impact with a more subtle approach. If Jacobs-Jenkins was going for controversy and discussion, he certainly achieved his goal. On a side note, kudos to scenic designer Clint Ramos--the stage was an absolute dream and captured a run-down plantation home filled with family secrets to a tee.


This next week I'm looking forward to the big performance of the semester, seeing La Boheme at the Metropolitan Opera! I'll write again soon. Cheers and love, Taylor.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A VISIT FROM MY LOVE.

What an exciting and wonderful last week it has been. Last Monday, Charlie visited during Coe's spring break for the week. It truly was a treat to spend time together again and have the opportunity to show him New York and some of what this busy city has to offer.

Monday evening, we celebrated his birthday since we were halfway across the country from each other in January and weren't able to celebrate then. The Chicago Bulls happened to be in town playing the Brooklyn Nets that night, so I surprised Charlie with tickets. It was my first professional basketball experience (I know, lame right?!) and I couldn't have asked to have spent it with anyone better...except for maybe Joakim Noah ;)...Just kidding! The Bulls were pretty awful that night (They lost, insert sad-face), but it was still a really fun experience; and hey, a beer or two makes losing a little easier!





Tuesday evening, I had an event for the film  portion of the program. We went to see the Banff Mountain Film Festival at Symphony Space. This was by far my favorite film event, and among my favorite events of the semester. The festival featured nine short films that capture some of the very best mountain and adventure stories from around the world. The festival receives over three-hundred submissions annually! If you want more information about the Banff Festival, click here (All the cool kids do.) I've also attached links to the trailers of the films we viewed because they really were amazing...
Split of a Second follows Bjorn Favremark and John Boisen, two humans who fly...literally.
Down the Line shares the story of a team of individuals who explore canyons and waterfalls, some that have never been seen before.
North of the Sun was my favorite and won several awards; the People's Choice Award, the Dolby Audio Award, and the overall Grand Prize. "Tucked between the Atlantic Ocean the the rocky slopes of a remote, arctic island, two young Norwegian adventures discover their own private playground. They build themselves a cabin out of flotsam while clearing the beach of debris, then spend the long winter skiing and surfing in the haunting low light." This film is filled with humor, and tells a unique story of the free-spirit, simple pleasures, and a secret heaven on earth.
Poor Man's Heli follows a group of skiers as they launch themselves via para-gliders across the slopes.
The Last Ice Merchant (El Ultimo Hielero) tells the story of Baltazar Uscha, who makes a meager living by harvesting glacial ice from the tallest mountain in Ecuador. A long-standing tradition, he is the last man of earth doing this. This short won Best Film in the Mountain Environment and National History category.
Flow: The Elements of Freeride follows a mountain-biker, Rex Flake, as he rides through the Cascade Mountains.
I Am Red uses film uniquely as a medium to share a visual poem concerning the Colorado River and it's struggle to survive.
The Last Great Climb follows Leo Houlding, Sean "Stanley" Leary, and Jason Pickles as they attempt on a new climbing adventure in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. This short won Best Film in the Climbing category.
Lastly, The Questions We Ask features Bruce Kirkly as he crosses the Pacific from Vancouver to Victoria via a stand-up paddle board and ponders on his adventure.
Overall, the films were beautifully constructed and told stories we may never dream of hearing. New York City doesn't provide a lot of alone time, good thinking time if you know what I mean. So viewing these films was a breath of fresh air and a little break from the city and it's hustle and bustle. It reminded me of being in Colorado with my best friend, Lauren. The summer before last, we jumped off of a series of short waterfalls. The water was freezing yet the experience was so exhilarating; being surrounded by the sound of cascading water, sunlight poking in from above, and endless trees.



On Thursday, Charlie and I rode the Staten Island Ferry, an icon in the city that allows passengers a view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan Skyline. It was my first time seeing the Statue of Liberty, and something I definitely want to take more time on before I leave.







We were blessed with a beautiful weekend, and on Saturday the temperature reached the fifties. Charlie and I rented bicycles and rode along the Hudson River; but first we needed to experience Shake Shack. Let me tell you, their burgers are so incredibly good and so wrong at the exact same time. After, we rode through Central Park and along the Hudson down to Chelsea Piers. Funny enough, we were doing the exact same thing the year before in Colorado along the Animas River Trail...maybe the start of a new tradition?

This year...





Last year...



Sunday evening, we visited another must-see in the city, the Empire State Building. Seeing the New York skyline all lit up at night was absolutely breathtaking, and kissing at the top is almost a requirement, right? It was the perfect end to Charlie's visit. He headed back to Iowa the next day (our year and a half mark!), and I'm getting back into the swing of things; interning at GTN and exploring this beautiful city that is my playground for another short month.






I'll share more about this next week shortly. Until next time, cheers and love, Taylor.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

BUSY BUSY BUSY.

Heyyy Readers!
I have been the world's WORST blogger the past few weeks--please forgive me---but hey, that has to be a good sign right? It means I am out and about New York City instead of sitting inside writing about it--I'd call it a fair trade. The last time I wrote, it was the beginning of the month...it is unbelievable to me that tomorrow is the last day of February; quite a bit has happened. I'll touch on the events I've attended since last writing, but I won't go into extreme detail on each one...that might take all night.

Since last writing I have seen Shakespeare's Twelfe Night at the Belasco Theatre--one of the most beautiful theatres I have had the privilege of being inside...



The staging, costuming, and overall design was absolutely exquisite; and the humor throughout the performance added the perfect touch of entertainment.

Later in the week, I listened to the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra at Lincoln Center, and viewed STOMP. Seeing STOMP was incredible...The performance was creative, humorous, and entertaining. One of the performers was our professor's former dance student, so we had the opportunity to speak with a couple of them after the show.



The following Monday, the group viewed the film, 12 Years A Slave, which has been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. After viewing this film, I am crossing my fingers it takes home the Oscar. In an interview with Esquire Magazine, director Steve McQueen describes the film as "engaging in a conversation" with the viewer--I couldn't agree more with this statement. The story is powerful and important, and could not have been better directed, shot, or acted.

Later in the week, we attended a dance performance, Souleymane Badolo: BENON at St. Mark's Church and viewed the Capa in Color and What is Photography? exhibits at the International Center of Photography. Capa in Color presented photographer Robert Capa's color work for the first time. Capa is widely-known for his black-and-white war and travel photographs published in magazines of the day including Life, yet much of his color work had never been printed let alone viewed. Viewing the collection was an absolute treat for this reason; however, the experience was sobering at the same time, for the final photographs of the exhibit depict Capa's last moments before stepping on a land mine in Vietnam. What is Photography? explores works by contemporary artists who challenged the medium's artistic, conceptual, and technical qualities and possibilities.





As I said, the past few weeks have been exciting and filled with events. I wanted to touch on a few, but I will have to finish this weekend. Tomorrow, I have another busy day of nannying in the morning, interning at GTN, and finishing out the evening at a Brazilian Dance Festival. This weekend marks the beginning of Coe's Spring Break, which means Charlie will be visiting for a week come Monday. I am so excited to share this city with him!...and I have a few surprises up my sleeve. ;)

Until next time, I am sending well wishes to everyone back home.
Cheers and love, Taylor.

Monday, February 3, 2014

MIKE KELLEY, SAINT JOAN, ROOFTOP ADVENTURES, AND MORE.

Hello readers,
Thanks for sending the Iowa snow my way. I'm sitting in a coffee shop around the corner from the hotel enjoying a Chai tea latte and watching the snow pile up on the branches outside as I reflect on the past week. I know I keep saying "It's been a good week!" "This week was filled with so many exciting things!" etc. but I really don't know what else to say.This program will be something I remember and cherish for the rest of my life; having the opportunity to see performances, visit museums, and explore this city for a semester is such a blessing, and it seems as though the experiences only get better as the time passes on.

Last Monday was Charlie's 23rd birthday. To my love, I'm sad we couldn't spend the day together, but I'm glad we had the chance to chat for a bit, and I can't wait to see you soon over spring break! Long distance has been hard, but I've realized when you find someone who is important to you, you figure out how to make it work. Lots of Skype dates that get cut short by shitty hotel internet (Let's not even talk about my frustration with this lol!), phone calls for catching up and silly stories, lots and lots of grace, and reminders of why its all worth it.


Tuesday, the group and I headed to Culture Project's production of Saint Joan. If you haven't heard of Culture Project and what they do, seriously check out their website! The performance was absolutely incredible, and completely different from what I had expected of a George Bernard Shaw piece. Four actors played the many characters, often switching roles on stage by changing their accent, body language, expressions, and stripping off a jacket or a pair of shoes. Very few props were used; a couple of chairs, paint, and a few motorcycle helmets, so the attention was placed on the actors and the relationships between them. Their ability to convey the play's story-line and message with so little help from props, costuming, and scenery was absolutely mind-blowing. But what was especially exciting about this performance was their inclusion of the audience. We switched seats between each act as the stage location and set up changed, the actors often sat among us in the audience, and even spoke and interacted with viewers during the performance. During intermission before the third act, a young woman approached our group and asked if anyone would like to have a part in the performance. Of course my dumb ass instantly shot my hand up in the air like a first grader and stated, "MEEEE!!!" So she handed me a sheet of paper of my lines, and that's how I got my first role off Broadway! Don't worry guys, I think it was a one time thing. After excitedly volunteering to help, I almost peed my pants during the next act as I waited for my cue. After the performance though, I was really happy I had the opportunity to get involved and our group stayed later to talk with the actors. We ended up receiving a discount to come back and see their production of Hamlet, so I definitely want to check this out while I am here.

Wednesday evening, I met up with one of my friends and Coe alum who now lives in New York City--shout out Whitney. :) We went to Housing Works for a book reading. Housing Works is another organization that if you have not heard of it before, stop reading this and look it upppp! With a mission that includes helping those who find themselves homeless and individuals with HIV/AIDS, Housing Works provides services and began businesses in order to sustain their efforts. The Bookstore Cafe, where the reading was held, is operated almost completely by volunteers--from those who ring up your book selections to those who brew your coffee and make your sandwiches, the gently used books for sale are all donated, 100 percent of the proceeds are given to Housing Works, and the place is just downright cozy, so what's not to love? The event titled Never Have I Ever: Stories of Dating Droughts, Disasters, and More was absolutely hilarious, and featured the dating stories of the some of the funniest individuals--because let's face it we all have been a little awkward at some point, and some of us still are...:/ It was all in celebration of author Katie Heaney's new book Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date; and was really a fun time.

Thursday, the group and I went to MoMA PS 1 to see the Mike Kelley exhibition. To be honest, this show was a little difficult and heart-wrenching to view. Kelley committed suicide only a little over a year ago, and struggled from abuse as a child, and mental and drug issues for a large portion of his life. His art often reflects this. To add to this, MoMA PS 1 was an interesting location for the exhibit. The building had been an abandoned public school for years before being transformed by Alana Heiss into a leading space for contemporary art. The state of the building still carries with it signs of its abandonment, so seeing Kelley's work throughout the space was really disheartening for me. Normally when I view a show, I feel as though I am invited into the artist's world, their opinions, and their views. But in this situation, I almost felt as though I was intruding on something more personal. Overall though, Kelley's work is vast and extensive. He worked with painting, photography, sculpture, film, animation, installation, collage, and more.




From My Institution to Yours, Mike Kelley, 1987.



Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites, Mike Kelley, 1991/1999.

(Untitled) Mike Kelley.



Memory Ware, Mike Kelley. 








John Glenn Detroit River Reclamation Project, Mike Kelley, 2001.

MoMA PS 1.

After the museum, we went to a Thai restaurant called Tuk Tuk. I had a mango chicken dish with jasmine rice that was delicious! The design of the space was really cool, too. 


Friday evening, we went to see the world premiere of a documentary titled Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter. Miss Hill founded the Julliard Dance Department, and is known for establishing dance as a performing art, and one that should be taught at colleges and universities across the country as a performing art, rather than a physical education course. She believed both classical ballet and modern dance were important and that they could exist and be taught together. The documentary was extremely well made, informative, and inspiring; and it was exciting to see the panel of directors, producers, and contributors of individuals who knew Miss Hill well after the premiere. 

Saturday, we viewed Orson Welles' The Lady from Shanghai with our film professor Alan. Later in the evening, a few of the girls and I were invited to a Super Bowl Eve get-together. A former Kohawk who now lives in New York was hosting the event; and it was a lot of fun meeting new friends in New York. I have to say, I got enough dancing in for probably at least the next year--we were there until five in the morning (Sorry Mom, lol.) and my legs were so sore the next day! We also went up on the roof, and it was really neat to see the skyline. Verizon had put on a Twitter competition for the Super Bowl, announcing they would light up the Empire State Building in the colors of the team whose fans tweeting the most. So as you can see, the Seahawks won! 




Yesterday was exciting as well! Susan, our theater professor, invited the group to brunch--brunch is really popular among New Yorkers, I'm discovering. This brunch was at EST (Ensemble Studio Theatre) and was titled Brunch, Actually (inspired by Love, Actually). The event featured five short plays about love and relationships, and lots of yummy food--eggs, bacon, pancakes, berries, mimosas, and Bloody Mary's. Oh, and Danny DeVito showed up--I have to admit I was a little star-struck with him sitting in the same room, and one of my roommates even received acting advice from him! Overall, the performances were really funny and good.

I want to give a couple little shoutouts--I always try to send a little love back home, because I really do appreciate all the kind words, phone calls, and love sent my way by friends and family.

To those of who attended the ceramics closing reception for Kelsey and I, thank you so so much! My work means a lot to me, as I know it does to Kelsey, so having your support is so encouraging and reassuring. I was really bummed I couldn't be in attendance, but was so happy to hear about the amazing turnout. To Kelsey, your work is beautiful! I have absolutely loved being your ceramics and running buddy this past semester. Late nights in Dows would not have been nearly as much fun without you. Keep it up my little love bug; I can't wait to see a kick-ass senior show! To my parents, thank you so much for supporting me and encouraging family members and friends to attend. I know it sometimes seems impractical to study art, but to have your support and your blessing has really meant a lot to me. 

Top Image: Resting Leg
Bottom Left: Torso with Green Hip
Bottom Right: Torso with Blue Hand

Leaning Chest

To my amazing sisters, I received my sister sentences in the mail this week, and could not have felt more loved and appreciated! Reading all of the kind things you said of me brought me to tears again and again. I think we sometimes take for granted the amazing women we are surrounded by in this sorority, so to have a reminder of how much we truly are grateful for one another was really moving. I taped mine up next to my mirror, so I am reminded of you pretty ladies every morning! I can't wait to see you all again in April, but I am sending lots of dlove from NYC!! Also, I can't even express how proud I am to find out our organization surpassed our #15in5 goal. Raising $15 million for the kids of St. Jude in three and a half years is an insane accomplishment. Go Tri Delta!


And lastly, but certainly not least, to Lauren. I just wanted to write you a little thank you and best friend love note. The past few days you have reminded me of what it truly means to be a best friend and to have one. You never fail to have time to listen, a shoulder to lean on (metaphorically speaking right now), and the right words to say. You are the definition of loyal, and I am so blessed to have met you at Coe and to have become so close to you. So thank you. Thank you for always being there when I have needed you, and know that I am always there as well. I can't wait to see you in April--get ready for a shrill scream and some tackling!! :) Loveee youuuu!

At last, I have reached the end of writing about another week here in New York. I apologize if it was a little long-winded--I'm really excited about being here and there are so many things I have had the opportunity to see and do. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experiences as much as I have enjoyed sharing them with you. Cheers and love, Taylor.