Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Street Art New York: A Documentary - March 2016 Edition

(Drivebycuriosity) - It`s spring in New York City.  Not only blossoms are spreading. Since my latest street art report (February 2016 driveby) I spotted more interesting new murals, stickers & graffiti @ Lower East Side, East Village, Soho and other Manhattan neighborhoods. As usual I document the newest street art in this area. Above you can see one of the ubiquitous fancy shutter door murals on the Lower East Side.

You can find this gorgeous ballerina at a construction place on 3rd Avenue near East Houston Street. How lng will she dance?

Above this paragraph the newest mural @ Rag & Bone, a fashion shop on East Houston Street. For years the Lower East Side shop has been showing ambitious art works on its Elizabeth Street wall.

Above the Koch Brothers @ the wall of the former Streit`s Mazo factory on Suffolk Street. The mural belong to the a series called "painted in prison about people who belong there". The mural is now behind a scaffolding because the baking factory has left and the building is under construction.

This surrealistic looking man is on the corner of Delancey and Orchard Street.

Here another shutter door mural.

I found this lady on corner of Suffolk and Rivington Street.

The spreaders of stickers & stencial use any place they find.

I spotted this futuristic work somewhere in Alphabet City.

This construction fence is also in Alphabet City.

More works by the Australian artist named Kai.

Here another sticker.

Even man hole covers get nicer with some street art on it.

I photographed this strange installation at the East River east of Alphabet City.

To be continued.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Contemporary Art: Sexual Gymnastics @ Jack Hanley Gallery, New York, NSFW

(Drivebycuriosity) - Artists aren`t timid. They often show explicit sex - artistic freedom!  New York´s Jack Hanley Gallery (327 Broome Street, New York jackhanley) displays works by an artist who calls himself Alphachanneling. According to the art critic Jerry Saltz "Alphachanneling is a Swiss-born American artist based out of Oakland, California" (more vulture). The exhibition is called "Utopian Erotic" (through April 17, 2016   press release).

I think the represented water colors are funny. I show here my favorites from the exhibition, a very subjective selection as as usual.

Art or kitsch - you decide. Let the images speak for themselves.

                                                     Art Or Kitsch?


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Stock Market: Happy Easter 2016

(Drivebycuriosity) - It`s Easter again. Many countries in the Western world celebrate Easter in some way or another. In Germany for example most people have 4 days off, including Good Friday (called "Karfreitag", a Catholic term) and Easter Monday. Even Wall Street was closed on Good Friday.

Easter also stands for the begin of spring. The German literature has a lot of Easter poems which are referring to the seasonal issue. The most popular German Easter riddle is "Der Osterspaziergang" (the Easter walk  osterspaziergang) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It starts with the line "Vom Eise befreit sind Strom und Bäche" ("freed from the ice are rivers and creeks").

Right on time for the begin of spring the US stock market showed some spring fever and recovered from its recent losses. The recovery is well-founded because the US economy is getting better and the fears about an allegedly collapsing China are overblown. In February American companies added 230,000 workers to payrolls, the unemployment rate stayed at 4.9%. The latest numbers for personal income & spending, retail sales, industrial production & durable goods orders all showed solid growth as well.

I believe that the bull market for stocks will continue for years. Inflation & interest rates are still very low (even that the Fed will continue hiking her interest rates this year). Companies are reducing costs & debts, getting more efficient & productive. I assume that in the coming months companies will respond to economic growth and their expanding markets. They will lift wages more than in recent years in order to gain manpower for their expansion.  Therefore the growth of personal incomes in the US will accelerate and so fueling consumer demand.

The global economy is still getting a lot of tailwinds from cheap commodities. Last year`s  price collapse for oil, industrial metals and some agricultures works like a gigantic tax cut. Companies have lower costs, meaning more money to invest (including into a rising labor force), and consumers have more money in their wallets. More jobs, faster rising wages and cheap gasoline should speed up consumer spending in the US which will foster the global economy (US imports = rising European & Asian exports).

Companies also are benefitting from the technological progress - evolution of Internet and other software (including AIs), robotics, 3D-printing and more - and are getting more efficient which will translate into rising earnings. The technological progress is fostering globalization as well. Emerging countries like China and India have easier access to new technologies which is promoting their transformation into modern economies. These processes are working together, creating global economic growth in the decades to come.

Happy Easter! 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Contemporary Art: Lost And Found @ Louis B. James, New York

(Drivebycuriosity) -  It´spring time. The colors are coming back, trees are getting green again and everywhere you can see fanciful blossoms sprouting. The gallery Louis B. James on New York´s Lower East Side (143b Orchard Street louisbjames) has an exhibition that fits well into this season. They show works by Matthew Fischer (paintings) & Katy Fischer (sculptures). The show, called "Lost and Found", runs through May 1 2016 (here the press release louisbjames).

I am a connoisseur of powerful paintings and indulge into the colors, compositions and forms of Matthew Fischer`s abstracts. I display here my favorites form the beautiful show, a very subjective selection as usual. On top of this post you can see Matthew Fischer`s "Untitled" (2016; acrylic on canvas; 40 x 36") followed by his abstract "B Flat" (2016, acrylic and oil on canvas; 66 x 58").

Above "Self (knowledge)", 2016; acrylic and oil on canvas, grain nest, mirror, bird's nest with beehive; 70 x 60 x 15) &  "Paris, 1907" (2015; oil on linen, dirt, chair; 40 x 24 x 18").

                                                             Attention Of The Girl

Above some installation views. I have no idea what caught the attention of the girl.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Stock Market: Crashes Are So Overrated

(Drivebycuriosity) - Almost every day someone predicts that the stock market soon will have a massive crash. If we believe the crash prophets soon a sudden dramatic decline of stock prices will destroy a lot of wealth (businessinsider  marketwatch ).

This is just fear mongering. Yes, a  crash could happen any time. History shows that the sentiment can suddenly get gloomy and turn into a full fledged panic. Stock market crashes are social phenomena,  a case of mass hysteria, explains Wikipedia: External economic events combine with crowd behavior and psychology in a positive feedback loop where selling by some market participants drives more market participants to sell (wikipedia). You never know when that will happen. But history also shows that crashes are seldom and that they are less destructible as the scaremongers want you believe.

In the history of the Dow Jones (founded 1896) there were just 4 events with a daily loss of more than 10% (wikipedia). 4 massive crashes in 119 years - that gives them a very low probability! And 3 of them happened before Word War II.

The largest stock market drop occurred on October 19th 1987 - the infamous Black Monday. The S&P 500, the gauge for the US stock market, dropped 20.5% and the Dow Jones tanked 22.6%, the sharpest procentual one-day loss in history. But for the full year 1987 the US stock market closed with a gain and delivered a return of 5.2% (dividends reinvested  marketreturns). The chart below shows that the S&P 500 erased its losses through autumn 1989. Ten years later the S&P 500 had more than tripled. The 1987 crash wasn´t caused by a recession neither did it lead to one. The US economy grew 3.6% in 1987 and advanced 4.2% in 1988 in spite of the stock market turmoils (worldbank).

The other 3 crashes in the history of the US stock market (single-day loss of 10% and more) all happened before World War II (see also wikipedia). The historican John Steele Gordon explains in his economic history of the US that the American economy frequently experienced bank panics in the 19th century (driveby). Often a rumor caused a stampede, people suddenly lost trust in a bank and than in the complete market. They run and emptied their bank accounts to protect their savings and the stock market crashed. There was no central bank (Federal Reserve) who could calm the markets by pumping liquidity into the banking system. "There was no authority who could intervene decisively to abort a market panic before it spiraled out of control”, wrote Gordon.

The Great Depression, that started with a series of stock market crashes in 1929, was partly caused by the Federal Reserve (Fed). This institution, founded in 1913, was relatively young, inexperienced and made rookie mistakes. Milton Friedman & Anna Schwartz described in their book "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960", that The Great Depression could have been avoided if the Fed had not so badly botched its monetary policy (  The Fed failed "to carry out its assigned role as the lender of last resort. Rather than providing liquidity through loans, the Fed just watched as banks dropped like flies, seemingly oblivious to the effect this would have on the money supply. The Fed could have offset the decrease created by bank failures by engaging in bond purchases, but it did not".

As a result "from 1929 to 1933 the money supply fell by 27 percent—for every $3 in circulation in 1929 (whether in currency or deposits), only $2 was left in 1933. Such a drastic fall in the money supply inevitably led to a massive decrease in aggregate demand. People’s savings were wiped out so their natural response was to save more to compensate, leading to plummeting consumption spending" (

The charts above  (Dow Jones since 1900  ritholtz  stockcharts) show that since WW II crashes are less frequent than in the past. They also document that the amplitudes (up-and-down-swings in percent) got smaller over the years. Even the bear market 2008 was less severe than the frequent meltdowns before World War II. So, as the charts show, the stock market developments got smoother.

Governments & central banks have learned from the Great Depression and the crashes of the past (even from 2008). The stock market crash from 1987 (Black Monday) didn´t start a recession, because the Fed responded swiftly and "encouraged banks to continue to lend to one another on their usual terms" (federalreserve). Zero interest rates and massive bond purchases by the Fed (Quantitative Easing/QE) curbed the recession 2008/09 and started a recovery. Today central banks have a lot of tools at their disposal to fight against a market meltdown like QEs, negative interest rates and more. 

Since spring 2009 there was no crash (daily stock market drop of more than 6%) and stocks gained more than 200%. The latest crash so far happened in the year 2010, the so-called flash crash.  On May 6, 2010 the Dow Jones Industrial Average had its biggest intraday point drop (from the opening) up to that point,plunging 998.5 points (about 9%), most within minutes, only to recover a large part of the loss (wikipedia). According to Wikipedia the crash started at 2:32 and lasted just for 36 minutes!

The Dow charts above also show that all stock market crashes got erased over time and they had little influence on the long term trend. The crash from 1987 is almost invisible on these charts and the sharp drop of 2008/2009 got erased by the year 2013. The University New York calculated that since 1928 the US stock market (S&P 500) created an average return of about 10% p.a (dividends reinvested investopedia). So, investors with patience and a long term horizon got plentiful rewarded for the risks and the stress of a crash.

Conclusion: Crashes have a very low probability because they are rare. Post World War II their damages got erased after few years and long term investors got rewarded by an annual return of about 10%.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Books: The Big Fear - By Andrew Case

(Drivebycuriosity) - Are you afraid of cops? You might be, if you live in New York and you read the book "The Big Fear" (amazon).  Playwright Andrew Case paints in his debut novel a cynical and dark picture of New York´s police force. The plot is set in the recent years and focuses on a cop and a bureaucrat, who both are drawn into a vertigo of murder, corruption and conspiracy (this is spoiler free blog).

The novel is written in the tradition of Dashiell Hammett`s hard boiled thrillers and reminds a bit of James Ellroy´s pessimistic American crime fiction, which is set in Los Angeles. But New York City is darker and colder than the Californian metropolis. And Case brings a new twist into the crime genre: His novel evolves around a serious Wall Street crime which is neglected by other authors (explaining this would spoil the story).

The plot is (almost) believable in spite of some gaps and logical leaps. The plot has suspension and mystery, Case shows a talent for action scenes and I really cared about the characters and their fate.

"The Big Fear" is a promising start and a solid cop thriller.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Movies: The Witch

(Drivebycuriosity) - Witches and black magic caught the human imagination for centuries. The movie "The Witch: A New England Folk Tale" captures the myths and legends about the "evil witch in the wood" (imdb). The plot is set in New England in the 17th century. A family of puritans got evicted from their village and starts a new life in a remote place in the wilderness where they get into trouble with a witch (this is a spoiler free blog. You can find a synopsis here wikipedia).

Director Robert Eggert`s debut allows a glance into a very different and dark world. It is a world ruled by poverty, irrationality and superstition. Even that the film is just fantasy it looks almost authentic. The audience shares virtually the daily travails and fears of some involuntary eremites in an almost prehistoric world.  The plot develops very slowly, horror & gore effects - and some erotic scenes - are set economically. The director is more interested in creating a mysterious and gloomy atmosphere than in cheap effects.

"The Witch" is strongly influenced by the Brothers Grimm´s fairy tales, which are sinister, violent and gory. The film also could be seen as an allegory for the religious hysteria & fanaticism of some American pioneers and a reminder to the fact that America was partly founded by religious mavericks who sought there freedom for their believes. 

"The Witch is a promising debut and a solid historical horror movie.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Contemporary Art: Young Frankensteins @ Lesley Heller Workspace , New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - New York´s Lower East Side is famous for the density of pubs, bars & cafes. But the gentrifying neighborhood also has a nice selection of art galleries. One of the finest art places is @ Lesley Heller Workspace on 54 Orchard Street (lesleyheller). I have reported before about interesting shows there (here  here  here ).

The art dealer has a new group show, called "Young Frankensteins", curated by Peter Schenck (through April 03, 2016). I show here my favorites from the exhibition, a very subjective selection as usual. The pics all are shot with an iPhone 6s Plus.

Above you can see paintings by Annie Hémond Hotte: "The Prude Exhibitionist" (2016, Oil paint, oil bars and airbrush on canvas, 54 x 45 inches) folowed by "Eyes for Tits (Four Eyes)"  (2015, Oil paint on canvas, 24 x 26 inches) &  "The Feminist (Machine Guns)" (2015, Oil paint and oil bars on canvas, 33 x 40 inches ).

Above  "Clear and Present Danger" by Peter Schenck (2014-15, Acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 22 x 22 inches).

Above Jaqueline Cedar`s "Walk, not run" (2015, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 60 inches) and a detail of the painting.

"Dig me out" by Sarah Faux (2015, oil on canvas, 72 x 56 inches).

                                                             I Can’t Stand Quicksand

Shara Hughes created  "I Can’t Stand Quicksand" (2014, oil on canvas, 54 x 56 inches) & "Loosey Goosey" (2014, Oil, acrylic, enamel, and spray paint on canvas, 32 x 28 inches).

"Cleaning Up" by David Humphrey (2014, acrylic on canvas, 44 x 54 inches).

Jeremy Roby`s "Broken, Bent, and Leaning" (2015, oil on canvas, 40.5 x 35.5); "The hope of even seeing you" (2015, oil on canvas, 22 x 26 inches) & "Just sit there and deal with it" (2015, oil on canvas,30 x 24 inches).  

"Double Dix" by Nicasio Fernandez (2015, Acrylic, oil, shower curtain on canvas, 60 x 60 inches) with details.

Finally: Alexi Worth`s "Green Moment" (2015, acrylic on mesh, 44 x 22 inches).