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Posted & filed under Art, General.

Performance venues are more than places of entertainment.  They are places that renew us.  They are places where we share our enjoyment with others.  They are the intersections of our lives, not from our obligations, but our interests.  In this, they contain the spirit of the times.

One of the legendary venues of New York City in the 80’s and 90’s was the Knitting Factory on Houston Street.  The venue showcased a number of now well-known artists such as Sonic Youth and the Henry Rollins Band, while weaving the popular with the Avant Gard.   One of the exceptional performers who began making his name at the venue was the Jazz flutist and saxophonist Thomas Chapin.

Playing with a variety of bands, Thomas Chapin’s charisma on the stage, the vibrancy of his personality and the lyricism of his play allowed him to communicate with a broad variety of audiences.  He was a Jazz composer and virtuoso who did more than “cross-over,” he transcended.

His songs did not require lyrics; the distinctiveness of his voice was apparent in the diversity of music he played.  He embraced the spontaneity of every performance and adapted readily to any audience’s disposition.  He didn’t simply play music, he communicated feeling.  Through this he drew the audience into the passion in which he created and lived.  When the Knitting Factor established their own record label, the Thomas Chapin Trio was the first group they signed.

Chapin’s extraordinary talent was recognized early.  A Rutgers’ graduate, he was appointed the artistic director of the Lionel Hampton Orchestra at 25 years of age.  Eventually Chapin was compelled to pursue his own music in New York City’s vibrant music scene.  Chapin’s indomitable spirit could not be contained.  Even surpassing all the passion that could be squeezed through his instruments, Chapin’s expressions filled the space of other media in collages and poetry.

Unfortunately, as Chapin’s music was gaining recognition, his life was cut short by leukemia.  He died in 1998 at 40 years of age.   Still, with his extensive recordings and the profound impression he made on other’s lives, Chapin’s influence continues.

Now, the Knitting Factory has transformed into City Winery.  The raucous evenings have mellowed and matured.  The notes are now subtly paired with a variety of tastes from broadening experience.  Yet every new season’s abundance is drawn from the past as if from the deepening roots of a vineyard.

Mindful of the richness of experience, the founder of the Knitting Factory and City Winery, Michael Dorf, arranged a reunion with an old friend and business partner – Thomas Chapin.  The City Winery is hosting two screenings of the recently completed documentary on Chapin’s life.

The documentary, Thomas Chapin, Night Bird Song, is the 10th film by Emmy Award winning director Stephanie Castillo.  The screening, attended by press and a number of Chapin’s friends and family, was enthusiastically received on February 21.   Before the screening, co-producer Noel “Sonny” Izon described the initial meeting with Castillo.  Being a musician himself, he was thrilled with the prospects of the project.  Through the four year process of completing the project he realized, “I thought we were going to make a musical but we made a movie about so much more.  We made a movie about how to live life.”

Through the interviews of more than 40 people and the enlivening recordings of his performances, we learn of the impact of an individual who lived passionately while working tirelessly to turn every breath of his being into beautiful music.

 

Upcoming Screenings

March 6 – Real Art Ways – Hartford, Connecticut – Advance Screening and Live Concert

March 13  – SVA Theater – New York City – Free to the Public – RSVP required by contacting tcnightbirdsong@gmail.com.

For additional screening inquiries contact Abby London-Crawford at abrajazzbra@aol.com.

 

Film Website: www.thomaschapinfilm.com

Thomas Chapin’s Legacy Website: www.thomaschapin.com

Cover Photo by Enid Farber.

 

Garrett Buhl Robinson is a poet, novelist and performing artist living in New York City.  His website can be viewed at www.garrettrobinson.us.

 

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Posted & filed under General.

My heart breaks for Paris,
my heart breaks for France,
my heart breaks for Humanity.

 

 

La Mer
      for Claudine Armand

Receding inside the room of my mind
      where I open my eyes into a place
I have never been, through the window’s light
      I look out on the sea from Saint-Nazaire.

Listening to the music play
      on the radio’s crackling frequency
I let my mind drift out on the waves
      in a vessel composed from a symphony.

Winds blow the foam from the crests of the waves
      that rise like mountains then suddenly drop
plunging down slopes of crescendos’ staves
      with strings bowing into darkening troughs.

On the swirling sea beneath the roiling clouds
      my eyes stay fixed on the horizon’s line
narrowing to a point on the stalwart prow
      where the gathered sea meets the open sky.

And even on oblivion’s cold void,
      a single speck on the immensity,
there are endless bridges of harmonic chords
      in the spanning beauty of Debussy.

Garrett Buhl Robinson
11-13-15

Garrett Buhl Robinson is a poet and performing artist living in New York City. His website can be found at www.garrettrobinson.us.

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Posted & filed under General, Interviews.

Meera Gandhi, founder and CEO of the Giving Back Foundation, has devoted her life to helping others.  Through the years, she has selflessly dedicated her time and resources to help those who are the most vulnerable in the world.  Through her efforts, she provides aid and assistance to ensure that others may develop their lives and achieve their potential.  Through the recognition and awards she has received, she works to transform the social mindset so that people recognize the greatest strength and most radiant beauty is in one’s compassion for others.

Among Mrs. Gandhi’s accomplishments she produced, directed and narrates the documentary Giving Back which features numerous international figures and philanthropist including Bono from the band U2 and Hillary Clinton.  She also wrote the book Giving Back which features the efforts of many of her friends who selflessly serve through various humanitarian efforts.  She also produced the album Giving Back, The Music which features global music that entertains as well as inspires us to harmonize our lives together.  She also released the Giving Back iPad App that allows everyone to make their own contribution to the improvement of the lives of others, reminding us that the world is in our hands.

Mrs. Gandhi will speak at the UN Chapel on October 14.

Recently, Mrs. Gandhi took the time to answer a few questions from the staff of Ask a New Yorker.

1. What inspired you to become a humanitarian?
I think my work just evolved. It was neither a plan nor ambition. Even today I think what I do is a mere drop in the bucket. But if every grain of sand thought it did not count then we would have no beautiful beaches. I am glad that I am celebrated because I know when I meet young people they think it’s hip to help other people and live a life of service, de facto I am a role model and I do love that. We are all doing the best we can on this short time we have on earth and living is my inspiration, meeting good people is my inspiration, seeing things change for the better is my inspiration. I really do think that education is the key to transforming lives and that is the main mission of The Giving Back Foundation that I started.

2. What are your priority concerns for child welfare that you would like to see changed in the world?
I think the safety of our children is important.  They need to have a safe and nurtured childhood. I will address this along with transformative education as my key concerns at the UN on October 14 and also on October 8 at our foundations annual gala at the Carlyle Hotel in NYC.

3. With the Orphanage that you began in India (@ St. Michael’s,) what are your goals for it and for the children whose lives you impact?
The St Michael’s School and Hostel provides education and all the needs for the girls there. We want them to grow into healthy successful young girls, no different than the goals I have for my own three children and people who work for me.

4. Who are your role models in the world?Meera Gandhi, II
Cherie Blair, Hillary Clinton, my mother Ellen Mary and my daughter Kiran Gandhi

5. What do you want to see for our world, your children and their children in the future?
I am in Palo Alto this week and I am amazed to see start ups and venture capitalists alike all looking for solutions, digital and otherwise, where they can alleviate human suffering and poverty. The enlightened know that when all are happy and out of misery then we will all be happy. It is a symbiotic world we live in where we receive as we give.

The millennials are not doing business like their parents did. They are cooperative and not competitive.  They trust rather than mistrust.  They want to succeed but want to take people with them.  They want to live healthy lives in healthy bodies so they do business taking walks and jogs together.  Our generation is understanding the importance of being mindful and uncluttering – it all inspires me and tells me that the world is in good hands and heading in the RIGHT direction.

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Posted & filed under Entertainment, General.

There is a good argument that theater provides us with more insight into our social reality than what we can recognize through our own lives.  In our lives, our perspective is dominated in the pursuit of our own interests and the fulfillment of our own obligations.  Yet society does not move in the direction of our individual interests.  Rather, society moves through the collective activity of everyone involved.  Theater provides us the opportunity to step outside of ourselves and watch the dynamics of social interaction through the dramatic experience portrayed on the stage.

When theater works well, we are provided with a collection of characters with whom we can immediately relate through our family, our friends, our coworkers and even ourselves.  These recognizable characters explore social situations that resemble our own circumstances, whether of experience, fantasy or any other world where we find the thoughts of our minds reside.

On rare occasions, theater does more than work well though.  It does more than touch upon the immediate and the historic.  On occasions, it touches upon the universal.  In these instances, theater can work miracles. The Green Book, a play by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, is a play that works miracles.

Produced and performed in Atlanta and San Francisco, The Green Book has already received critical acclaim.  Recently, Mr. Ramsey teamed up with the living legend – George Ferencz – who served as resident director at La Mama for nearly 30 years.  For two months, they reworked the play line by line to tighten every phrase, polish every turn, distinguish every character and sharpen the focus of every scene to make the play, as Mr. Ferencz says, “New York Ready!”

The play was inspired by the The Negro Motorist Green Book published by Victor H. Green from 1936 to 1966.  Mr. Green’s book provided listings of Motels, Restaurants, Gas Stations and other services travelers needed as African American Families journeyed to the South to visit family during the Jim Crow Era of racial segregation.

The play projects the meaning of The Green Book to transcend the specific historic period and to relate on the basis of the universal need of safe passage in our lives.  This evokes a sense of the invaluable sources of guidance ranging from the enduring wisdom provided through the spiritual texts of antiquity to the immediacy of little gems of insight provided by a mother’s trusted advice.

One of the most paradoxical expressions in the play is made through a salesperson who sells advertisement for the publication to provide the revenue necessary to continue updating, expanding and circulating the listings.  Although Victor Green always emphasized that he eagerly awaited the day when the segregation laws were abolished and The Green Book became obsolete, the salesperson recognizes that the need for The Green Book provides him with his livelihood.  This development lucidly illustrates the diverging routes that business success and social benefit often take.  Unquestionably, commerce is the most elaborate means through which people interact, but the profitability of business is not always gained in the best interest of the population.

The play provides a valuable reminder of a painful era of American History while also providing an insight into the need of safe passages we all seek through our lives.

A reading of The Green Book will be conducted on Monday, April 27 at 7:30 PM at The Actor’s Temple at 339 W. 47th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.

 

Garrett Buhl Robinson is a poet living in Brooklyn.  www.garrettrobinson.us

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Posted & filed under General.

Arguably, the greatest combination in theater is suspense and humor. Suspense pushes the audience through the gripping throes of tense development, while humor provides the refreshing outbursts in the release in laughter. The recent revival of the Award Winning Play, 39 Steps, offers this combination in the most delightful ways.

There is certainly plenty to enjoy as the play takes audience through Britain at the brink of World World II as a fugitive scrambles to clear his name. As the heroine evades the pursuit of Scotland Yards and diabolical spies, the audience is able to conduct a little sleuthing themselves as they catch the numerous homages to Alfred Hitchcock’s films.

Unquestionably, the highlight of the play is the acting. The four actors effortlessly pass from one character to the next while populating the stage with a plethora of fascinating personalities that swirl with dynamic humor through the entirety of the performance.

 

Garrett Buhl Robinson is a poet living in Brooklyn. He recently adapted one of his novels into a musical, Letters to Zoey, which will world premiere this summer. www.robinsong.nyc

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Posted & filed under Art, General.

One of the most imposing realities of art is the frame. It serves as the unconscious limit of our attention. It defines the rendering of artistic vision and implies all else incidental. Yet, what is presented within the frame, originated from without the frame. And what intrigues us about art is how it directs our attention deeper into the world and into ourselves to broaden our frames of reference.

In Gordon Sasaki’s new exhibit, Hard & Soft: New Works, there are conspicuously no frames. The collection made over the last two years is a contest of contrasts that subtly secrete similarities to achieve unique expressions. They remind us that we do not see the world as it is, but rather how we define it. And Mr. Sasaki transcends these delineating distinctions to force the audience to accept a more universal perspective of reality.

The eight portraits in the front room play upon contrasts between the similar and the unique. The faces of young ladies are meticulously rendered through camouflage with an alternation of the color scheme but not the pattern. They simultaneously present the figure while also declaring the setting. It is not simply a presentation of the shape and feature of the figure, but also a declaration of the space that the figure occupies. The paintings liquefy reality so the audience literally witnesses substance flowing through form.

The two paintings of chairs which accompany the portraits share a similarity in medium and technique while differing in orientation. Instead of presenting the uniqueness of individuality through the most distinguishing feature – the human face, individuality is explored through the common utility of furniture. At the base of each leg of the chairs, there is a tiny wheel. They challenge the notion of fixity and mobility, but they also reference a subtle detail of Mr. Sasaki’s life. Years ago, Mr. Sasaki suffered a spinal injury in an automobile accident which now requires his use of a wheelchair. He has placed wheels at the base of his furniture at home as a matter of necessity to help him move objects around. In this way, all the common objects of our lives are imbued with our personal experiences through both taste and utility. This demonstrates how all the common items we share in our lives are distinguished by our own nature and interests. Just as we all share the same paths, we all travel in our own way on our individual journeys to our unique destinations. The paintings demonstrate the dynamics between the commonality of object and infinitely unique perspective.

The sculptures take us beyond the personal to explore the relations of the subject with the environment. The first sculpture visitors will notice is called Rat Suit – a life size sculpture of a rat with a zipper on the back. The zipper opens to reveal a plush, pink interior while making a parody of a handbag, which is generally used to carry the most personable belongings including one’s cards for identity, credit and other means of social security. The exterior of the sculpture is made of inner tubes with conspicuous connectors for an air pump. The piece is part of a series with two life size human sculptures similarly made to emphasize the interplay of the exterior with the interior. After all, the inflation of the inner tube, which defines the function by fulfilling the form, is only a difference of the placement and pressure of air.

The other sculptures in the exhibit are made of transparent vinyl. The sculptures not only emphasize what we see of and in them, but also, what we see through them. The sculptures are dominated with a suspended figure of a great white shark swimming through the center of the room with a toothed mouth agape, devouring its way through the world.

As we continue to encapsulate our lives in society through our own developments, the exhibit reflects upon how we draw the lines between human nature and the entirety of the natural world, and from this, alerts us to the arbitrariness of these distinctions. In our cities, we are surrounded with amenities that are designed exclusively for our convenience and benefit, yet how complete and hermetically sealed can this encapsulation be? It is a stark reminder that we are not systems exclusively within ourselves, but rather small components in an endless system of the universe in which we exist.

The sculptures of Adam and Eve explain that the paradise we lost still surrounds us. Yet, through our self-consumed concerns of what we perceive to be distinctly human nature, what we have lost is our sense of the nature in which we exist. And through our individuality, instead of forcing distinctions, we can share our complementary differences.

Great art does not present us with a figure, an image or an arrangement. Great art presents us with a new way to view the world. Mr. Sasaki’s work challenges our perspective. Instead of the audience seeing the world through definition and distinction, the audience sees the world through involvement and interaction. The sculptures allow the audience to see the world in which they are set. As paintings have no negative space, the background and the foreground are intrinsically connected. The subject is indistinguishable from the situation. Content and the context are one.

As Mr. Sasaki explained in conversation, he is less interested in theory and more fascinated with the renderings of reality. One of his principle concerns is “How art engages us with our environment and ourselves.” Through this, art is not an exclusive artifact, but an inclusive portal through which we explore ourselves and one another.

At the end of my tour, Mr. Sasaki turned off the light in the gallery to show the paintings Invisible Wheelchair and the sculpture Skull. The pieces are made with phosphorescent acrylic and in the darkness, Mr. Sasaki’s art continued to shine.

 

Gordon Sasaki’s work has been exhibited broadly in Europe, Asia and America and is held in collections at the Hawaii State Arts Museum, the Sony Corporation, the Friends Museum, VSA and private collections. More images of his work are available on his website at gordonsasaki.net. The exhibit is now showing at Moe’s Meat Market Gallery at 237 Elizabeth Street in New York City and is open to the public December 13 and 14 from 12 to 5 PM. Viewing can be made by personal appointment through December 31 by contacting Mr. Sasaki at 646 567 0459.

Cover Image: “Misa” by Gordon Sasaki.

Garrett Buhl Robinson is a novelist and poet. He recently adapted one of his novels into a musical which he has begun performing for the public. His website can be viewed at robinsong.nyc.

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Posted & filed under Art.

Through my years of attending dance performances, one of my greatest joys is discovering small companies and watching them develop. They are like perennial plants and with every performance, they bloom into fruition in greater abundance and variety. Watching them arise upon the steps of different stages provides perspective. Seeing them change and react to events through time provides a contact with the world that is the pure and honest feeling that only dance can express.

The small dance festivals prove to be the best places for these discoveries. The festivals are like anthologies, offering a diverse assortment of styles and techniques. New York City remains the dance capital of the world. At times, this can be overwhelming. But the festivals provide the opportunity to see an assortment of short performances so the members of the audience may find the companies that best suit their tastes, pique their interest and electrify their lives. We must always remember that the titans placed at the greatest prominence today, emerged from the most humble beginnings and harrowing struggles. And to see promising talent arise at its earliest stages, is one of the most precious and prized experiences of life.

This week, the Queensboro Dance Festival is showcasing 18 small companies for 6 nights at the Secret Theater in Long Island City. All the companies are based in Queens and they offer a variety of dance. Without question, a number of the companies are of talent to note.

Photo of Neville Dance Theatre.  Photo by Rachel Neville.

 

Garrett Buhl Robinson is a poet and novelist living in Brooklyn. www.garrettrobinson.us

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Posted & filed under New Yorker Insider.

Whether you develop a brand or not, you are going to be branded. Just ask any Maverick. In the new age of instantaneous international communications, the way we present ourselves and our products determines the access we have to the market.

Jeremy Goldman, founder of Firebrand Group, shares some of his savvy marketing insights with AANY.

 

How does branding distinguish one product from the other in the contemporary market?

JG:​ Branding ties into perception, and frankly, perception winds up being more important than reality when it comes to marketing your product. If you don’t believe that, there’s a wealth of case studies in which technically inferior products actually won in the market based off superior branding.

With the proliferation of the communication and availability of marketing tools at the hands of the general public, how is this transforming the world of marketing?

JG:​ Customers can communicate more directly with brands, and brands can go directly to the customer. This means that the customer relationship is becoming more important than ever before. Whoever owns that relationship wins. Some brands have completely turned that relationship over to their distributors and retailers, and once they give up that relationship, it’s pretty hard to get it back. ​

What are some of the worst mistakes made in marketing?

JG: ​ How much time do you have? I could talk for an hour, but I’ll spare you. The cardinal sin, I’d say, is making something great that simply has no market to support it. I’ve seen product development geniuses make products that are technically superior in every way, except that nobody wants them. They would have been better off creating a solid but far from excellent product that consumers are actually clamoring for. ​

What opportunities are people missing in promoting themselves and their products?

JG:​ One of the biggest missed opportunities is to not put the time to invest a strong social media presence on the channels in which your prospects and customers spend time. If your market is on Twitter, be on Twitter – and don’t just have an account, but challenge yourself to get better at Twitter on an ongoing basis. The same principle applies if your market is on Snapchat, or LinkedIn, or any other social media platform. Place yourself where your customers are, and force yourself to continually do a better job at making lasting connections on those platforms.​

What do you feel are the big marketing opportunities that will open in the future?

JG:​ The biggest marketing opportunity, in a lot of ways, is to get away from the metric of Impressions. This is an old, dated metric that doesn’t tell you anything. If I say I can get you 300,000 impressions, or 20,000 impressions, which one would you prefer? You’d probably say the former. But what if I tell you that the 20,000 impressions are with much more qualified prospects? Your answer quickly changes. Given that, the biggest marketing opportunity is to focus on segmentation and targeting to small, more qualified audiences. While there’s more work associated with this approach, you’re also not spending as many advertising dollars on a completely untargeted print campaign. ​

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Posted & filed under General.

There are as many ways to see reading as there are books to read. Reading can be an escape. Reading can be a concentrated investigation. It can be didactic enrichment. It can be sensational entertainment. Without question though, the print in every book guides the reader’s eyes along paths of discovery lined with information that can be both fantastic and informative. Who would have thought that blots of ink on a page could touch people’s lives in such a profound way?

Through August 15, the New York Library is currently holding a promotion to “Read Everywhere”. While repairs are being made in the Schwartzman Building’s Rose Main Reading Room, the library has brought the reading room outside. The fantastic murals of bright skies on the ceiling have been replaced with the overarching verdure of the lush foliage of trees and the drifting clouds of a sunlight sky in this year’s remarkably balmy summer days.

So, while the Rose Main Reading Room is expected to be closed until next year, the main NYPL branch on 42nd street remains open and the diligent and dedicated staff have made every effort to make sure all the resources of the facility are available to the public. So even while we are not able to enjoy perusing through books beneath the ornate ceiling vaulting overhead in the Rose Main Reading room, the library has ensured we have all the books we need to read in the biggest room in the world – the room outside.

Garrett Buhl Robinson is a poet and novelist living in New York City. www.garrettrobinson.us

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Posted & filed under Art.

Door to Balcony, Robert Kobayashi 1984

Door to Balcony, Robert Kobayashi 1984

The heart of Robert Kobayashi’s new exhibit is three pointillist paintings from the 1980’s: Prince Street, Door to Balcony and Cat and the Fiddle. The pointillist technique makes the figures and images shimmer with life. The meticulous touch of the tip of the brush directs the eye from the particular to the whole. Through this, perspective perpetually changes, providing volume and movement. There is fullness in the wings of the angels, a relief in their arrival and escape, and the delicate hovering touch. There is a changing of the light in the passing of time, yet each image remains fixed in the immediacy of the everlasting.

cat and the fiddle, Robert Kobayashi

Cat and the Fiddle, Robert Kobayashi

The pointillist pieces introduce the work that has dominated Kobi’s career through the past five decades. The tip of the brush has been changed to the point of nails. The palette has transformed into the diligent taps of the balanced head of a hammer. With these simple tools, his vibrant mind and unwavering patience, Kobi transforms discarded tin into the shapes of his imagination.

There is a miracle in taking the neglected and forgotten and transforming it into expressions of subtle tenderness. In Kobi’s sculptures, unique and personable blooms extend on outstretching stems. Grass undulates beneath a billowing cloud towering beyond the horizon. In the still lifes, there is an iridescent light on the unmistakable ripeness of the fruit as the forms are softly set in quiet correspondence.

Prince Street, Robert Kobayashi

Prince Street, Robert Kobayashi

Kobi’s work is more than arrangement, more than creation. Kobi’s work is renewal. It is the eternal cycles of nature. As the fallen leaves of past autumns rise in the bright blooms of spring, Kobi breathes new life into the mundane, a life distilled through his patient and devoted artistry. Through this renewal, wings open with inspiration and the angels arise.

 

The exhibit will run from August 6 – 30 at Moe’s Meat Market, a gallery, at 237 Elizabeth Street in NYC.

Opening reception will be Thursday, August 7 between 6 and 8 PM.

Garrett Buhl Robinson will read poetry in the gallery on Saturday, August 9 at 3 PM.

 

Garrett Buhl Robinson is a poet and novelist living in New York City.  www.garrettrobinson.us