NEW YORK: Hockney + Unexpected Culture Finds

Posted in Cultural Hot List on Dec 11, 2009

Usually you’d find an artist q&a here, but this past week I was in New York, my hometown until 4 years ago.  Because I’m passionate about the idea that creativity brings us greater energy and productivity, I decided to use my entire brief 30 hours in New York to re-energize by soaking in cultural finds and sharing them this week.

I’ll admit I was all wrong about what I thought I’d focus on most, but I love a day with unexpected twists and turns!

I figured my culture trek through New York would lead me to write mostly about this (which was amazing and I’ll tell you about in a minute):

David Hockney

David Hockney

Instead, I’m dying to tell you first about this:

michael fletcher

michael fletcher

As I was traipsing around Soho looking for interesting galleries and street artists, I had a chance meeting with the artist shown above, Michael Fletcher.  I was drawn to his art despite the fact that it didn’t seem like something I’d be into, so I asked the artist to tell me about his work…and his story made it clear why I found it compelling.

The character in the art, described by Michael as human with monkey-like attributes, is meant to express the “demiurge,” which he says is the concept that material things keep us from from attaining spirituality or a higher state of being.  He also said that it’s a bit of a self-portrait (honesty!)


When you look closely at the backgrounds (click on the photos to enlarge), you’ll see the influence of gameboards and old wallpaper patterns (“fabrics of our world” he calls them.)  And he puts images into the thought bubbles that are the same things the character is looking at, as if he’s overly influenced by everything around him and finds it hard to have an original thought.


Though the human/monkey didn’t find its way to my own art wall, Michael’s art was much more fascinating than I initially thought it was and our conversation was a blast.

Meeting and talking with Michael reminded me:
(a) to dig deeper because that’s where the treasure is; and,
(b) art is at its best when it makes you think and shifts your perspective.

It’s also prompting me to make sure that I ask more questions of my kids when they make art — the story they tell is part of the creation, plus it’s amusing. I learned from Sophie Blackall a few weeks ago of a mom’s importance in her kid’s creativity!

Another thing I really liked as I buzzed around Soho was this Louis Vuitton ad on the side of a building — why don’t more outdoor ads look like beautiful public art?


Here are some other cultural finds I loved.  Check them out if you’re in the City or enjoy your culture fix from your comfy chair:

David Hockney at Pace Wildenstein gallery

Hockney moved back to his native England after living in LA for years. He created these new works between 2006-2009. I’ve long loved Hockney (his poster was the only thing hanging on my concrete block freshman dorm room wall) and these new pieces are as engrossing as ever — vibrant, dynamic and gorgeous.



MOMA – Tim Burton and Bauhaus exhibitions

You’ve probably seen at least one of Tim Burton’s many films.  To see his actual notes, sketches, models and movie props is a trippy experience. Actually, it’s kind of the stuff of nightmares (I think that would be a compliment to Burton)…might be a little scary for the kids.


tim burton

tim burton

Bauhaus was an actual school and a movement whose philosophy called on all artists to unite and create pieces that were both aesthetic and social. Bauhaus art and architecture is often defined by clean lines and beautiful simplicity. I’m pretty sure you have (or had) at least one thing in your house that’s Bauhaus-inspired. Does this look familiar?

bauhaus-inspired blocks

bauhaus-inspired blocks

Ever sat in one of these, which were originally designed by Bauhaus artists?

mies van der rohe barcelona chair

mies van der rohe barcelona chair

breuer's wassily chair

breuer's wassily chair

breuer chair

breuer chair

Of course, there were so many other great galleries and bits of fascinating culture everywhere.  I have to say that when I lived in New York, I didn’t notice things quite as much — I guess I was busy getting from one place to another or I took it for granted that whatever cool blur I just passed would be there tomorrow.

But what makes New York so wondrous is its interesting surprises around every corner.  Take the piece below, for instance — at first, this appeared to be a joker-type of cartoony thing on a wall, but on closer look it turned out to be someone’s Season’s Greetings to all who took the time to stop and take it in. Happy peaceful season! See you next time with another artist q&a!



  • One response to "NEW YORK: Hockney + Unexpected Culture Finds"

  • Daphne
    11th December 2009 at 9:50

    I just loved this week’s entry. I miss The City so much and your finds were like little gems – another light in this dark season. Thanks Lenore. Looking forward to next week’s entry. Daphne