Thursday, August 31, 2017

Street Art New York: A Documentary - Summer 2017 Edition II

(Drivebycuriosity) - New York City has again a lovely summer with lots of sunshine and moderate temperatures (70s F, 20plus C). The pleasant weather seems also to inspire the street artists. In the recent weeks I spotted a lot of new murals & graffiti on the Streets of Lower East, Soho & East Village. So I post a second quarterly report for this summer, a very subjective selection as usual (here edition I ).

I spotted the girl photographing the blurred Mickey Mouse on Crosby Street between East Houston and First Street, a place where frequently amazing murals appear. The legs above walk @ corner of Stanton & Christie Street.

I caught these artists working @ the corner of Elizabeth Street & East Houston. This fashion shop sponsors frequently changing art work of high quality.

Some artist focused on cats. I saw the tiger on Lafayette and the lion looks on Allen Street.

There were of course more interesting murals - some of them you can see above.

I also spotted interesting shutter doors.

And the stickers & stencils industry was active as usual.

To be continued!

Traveling: Impressions From Palm Springs, California

(Drivebycuriosity) - My wife and I were traveling in the Southwest of the US again. Our trip included 2 nights in Palm Springs (about 110 miles south-east of Los Angeles) . The Californian city is an oasis in the Sonoran Desert, close to the Mojave Desert, the driest desert in the USA. There is nothing around, just naked sand & rocks.

The place is a natural oven. It seems that the surrounding steep mountains are containing the heat and are aggravating it like a burning glass. So in the peak of the summer the mercury column climbs often above 110 F (50 C). Palm Springs is only possible thanks to air conditioning and other refrigerators.

We arrived off-season. The tourist seasons goes from September to June. The extreme temperatures in July & August keep most visitors away. but we got relatively chilly weather with about 98 F (36 C). Anyway, the heat was enough to keep us most time in the shade. But even that it is hot there, the very low humidity and some breeze make staying there pleasant & healthy.

The city planers & developers made use of the emptiness and they spread Palm Springs generously all over the valley. The straight & empty streets seem to touch the horizon. For someone who lives in densely populated Manhattan this generosity is kind of refreshing, baking oven or not. The city developers & residents are also fond of palms - as apparently most of the Californians. We really could see where the city got her name.

                                                           Hiking In The Oven

The surrounding rugged mountains offer a lot of hiking trails. Climbing them should be much fun in early spring & late fall, but we gave up hiking after about 2 hours because we couldn´t stand the summer heat. 

The city has a wealthy population. I suppose residents need a lot of money for electricity (refrigeration) & water.  It seems that many affluent Californians use this place as a refuge to relax & meditate. For the same reason there are many upmarket hotels & resorts. Wealth & taste is reflected in Palm Springs`s architecture. I spotted lots of splendid mansions there. But I didn`t notice any construction place. Maybe Palm Springs`s boom is in the past (lack of water?)?.

Many shops, restaurants & bar attract customers by spreading cooling water fogs at the fronts. There are also cozy bars which work well as a shelter against the baking oven temperatures (above a glance into the bar/pub draughtsman).

Some day we might come back.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Culture: Psycho Las Vegas Redux

(Drivebycuriosity) - I am a connoisseur of heavy metal. I really enjoy atmospheric rock music with very heavy riffs. Fortunately my wife shares this taste. So we went to Las Vegas and attended Psycho Las Vegas which took place at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. About 80 bands played over three days and there was also a pre-party. The bands performed on three stages - two indoors, including "The Joint" with a capacity of 4,000 -  and in a pool area, called "Paradise".

The program focused on black, doom, psychedelic & stoner metal and massive walls of sound shook the huge casino complex over three days. It was like an all-you-can-eat buffet. There were a lot of bands we really enjoyed and which we want to see & hear again. We were overwhelmed by the quality & quantity of the metal feast - and some of the promising bands, which I had pre-selected by checking on YouTube, played simultaneously - so we could watch just some of them. I apologize to all the great bands we missed and I cannot mention here.

Unfortunately the light show did not cooperate and most of the time shot blinding beams into the audience which ruined the quality of the pictures a bit. But anyway -  I show here some images I took there (with my iPhone 7plus).

I was impressed by Neurosis (pics above the second paragraph). It seems the band, founded 1985,  is like cognac and is getting better the older the members get. Obviously the group benefits from 3 decades of performances and they delivered a very intense experience with massive, fierce & hypnotic riffs & vocals. If you are into mega-heavy metal you have to see them while it is possible. 

Sleep delivered another outstanding performance (pics above this paragraph) and shook the room with their hefty riffs & violent growls. And there were similar bands. Minsk mesmerized the audience with their explosive sound and I also indulged in the immense riffs by Wolves in the Throne Room,  Slomatics, Windhand & North.

                                                           Big Surprises

Dark Castle was one of the big surprises of the feast (darkcastlemetal). The band has just 2 members: vocalist/guitarist Stevie Floyd & percussionist Rob Shaffer. Stevie screamed the typical growls which define black metal and her riffs were more fierce & massive as the riffs of most of her male colleagues. Congrats for the amazing performance!

I also felt blissed by the Myrkur concert. The medieval-metal band is dominated by Amalie Bruun, a Danish musician and actress. I was impressed by Amalie´s voice, she sang partly with an angelic voice, which reminded me a bit of Kate Bush, and switched suddenly to the metal typical heavy growls and then back to melodic. Her band, dressed like torturers of the Catholic Inquisition, assisted her with heavy doom metal riffs. Gorgeous!

                                                       A World Of Its Own

Subrosa will also stay in my memory for a while. The quinttet (Rebecca Vernon: Guitar, vocals, Sarah Pendleton: Electric violin, vocals, Kim Pack: Electric violin, vocals, Levi Hanna: Bass & Andy Patterson: Drums) call themselves an experimental sludge-doom metal band. Vocals & instruments converged to an outstanding performance.

Cult of Luna with Julie Christy was another surprise. I had seen Cult 2-times before (2015 2013), but together with Julie they delivered a different experience, less heavy but interesting anyway. I enjoyed the explosive finale of their concert.

Psycho had a another favorite of mine: 2 hours of the great Swans (here my reports from 2016 & 2015). Again Michael Gira & his band performed their idiosyncratic & very massive industrial symphonies. Bravo!

At least 2 more bands left a great impression on me: Melvins, who played as like the Cure had turned into a doom-metal band, weird & explosive, and the hypnotical  Yob (yobislove). You have to see the magic of Mike Scheidt and his band by yourself, I have no words to describe them.

We stayed in the hosting hotel which turned out as a pleasant place. In the casinos, restaurants, bars & the pool areas they played all the time classic rock songs. I heard there Led Zeppelin`s "Kashmir", my favorite Zeppelin piece, about 3 times. The place was filled with the metal crowd which turned it into a world of its own.

Thanks to bands & organizers for the great experience!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Contemporary Art: Making A Scene @ Site 57 New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - I love contemporary art. There are so many surprises. Recently, when I was walking along Orchard Street,  New York`s art mile in the Lower East Side, I discovered a fascinating show @ gallery Site 57 (site57).  They display paintings by Jesse McCloskey (jessemccloskey). The show is called "Making a scene (through August 31, 2017).

I enjoy the surreal compositions of figurative & abstract arts and the powerful use of colors. According to the press release "McCloskey makes pictures by painting sheets of paper with acrylic, aerosol and vinyl paints, cutting them into desired shapes, and adhering them to a canvas. The build up of layer upon layer of form and color through new layers and patching of previously exposed parts is repeated until a moment of “break-through” – ultimately coalescing into the final image" (gallery).

                                                             Lust For Life

The paintings remind me of the colorful windows in gothic cathedrals but with much more lust of life. The nudes are decent but alluring anyway.

The generous use of red & ocher gives the images a somewhat diabolic touch.