Saturday, April 3, 2010

Random Musings 1

Rather than post individually about a series of recent things and events I have found of interest, I thought I would start the first in a series called Random Musings.

This week's ASPCA e-newsletter for the NYC area has a reminder to go orange in April for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. According to the article, "Starting four years ago as a small adoption event in New York City, the ASPCA’s April celebrations have mushroomed into a nationwide observance of the human-animal bond and our victories on behalf of animals." The Empire State Building, the Woolworth Building, and other NYC landmarks will be lit up in orange on April 17th in honor of this event. You may recall from my post last year that April 10th is the official anniversary of the founding of the ASPCA. This year they will be 144 years strong!

Speaking of animals, The New York Times has an article out titled "Can Animals Be Gay?" by Jon Mooallem that, unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to read yet. It's accompanied by cheeky pictures of Easter-like animal pairs photographed by American neo-pop artist Jeff Koons. I'm not sure why Koons was hired to do this. Presumably it was meant to help make the storyline stronger or appeal to a wider audience ("Aw, look at the cute gay bunnies! They remind me of Uncles Joe and Mike. I guess homosexuals aren't that bad."), but knowing that Koons's work both celebrates and parodies popular culture, I'm concerned it may actually have the opposite effect.

Also in the NYT on March 13th, Carol Vogel had an article on the new generation of museum curators under the age of 40 ("The New Guard of Curators Steps Up") whom she predicts are among those to keep an eye on for the future. While I can appreciate the idea behind this article, I have to confess I was horrified to discover that of the 9 curators profiled, only 2 of them actually held PhD degrees in art history or a related field. Another 2 are working toward that degree. That means the remaining 5 have not done advanced graduate work in their related area beyond an MA (some don't even have that!). As a PhD student studying art history, I am very discouraged by this. It suggests the possibility that either museums are less concerned about higher education than we were led to believe, or that curatorial positions are being seen more as managerial positions than art object-related professions. Vogel should consider writing an article about that topic.

New York Magazine regularly publishes short pieces about new items available in their "Best Bet" section. Last week, it was about these clay rice bowls on sale for $15 each from Restoration Hardware (photo: Hannah Whitaker). Each is unique in its patina and design, and only 1000 were for sale in NYC. While they may not seem like much to look at, it's their history that captured my attention. They were crafted in China in the mid-1800s and sunk with a ship to the bottom of the South China Sea. They were excavated in 2008. Needless to say, I had to buy one. Some people may think it's a bit ridiculous, but I bought it because of the history of the piece. I feel like I now own a piece of archaeological booty! Besides, it goes with my eclectic Asian decor. I just can't eat out of it: the store issues with each bowl a label that warns you it has lead in it.

And finally, I only just heard about this a week ago, but last year Cornell University released the results of an interesting study where they had analyzed Flickr's content and came up with a list of the most photographed cities in the world. The top 5 cities are: (1) New York City, (2) London, (3) San Francisco, (4) Paris, and (5) Los Angeles. I'm surprised Paris wasn't more popular, but I imagine a lot of Americans are still anti-French. That said, they also analyzed the most photographed landmarks and things switch around. The Eiffel Tower is #1 and Notre Dame in Paris is #5 (that's my photo of the apse of the cathedral when I was there in November 2006). The Empire State Building comes in at #7. It's a fascinating assessment of travel photography, but of course it really is just a sample based on who uses digital photography, who uploads images to Flickr, and who tags their images appropriately for searching (note, for instance, that I never contributed this photo to Flickr). Oddly enough one of the other most photographed NYC landmarks was the Apple store on 5th Avenue. I wonder if people are photographing it today with the ridiculously long lines of people waiting to buy the newly released iPad.


Sherman Clarke said...

The new issue of the occasional publication The Forger by the Morganites had an interesting, and relevant, article about the new subject heading "Curators as pets." This has been brought about by the rise in problems dealing with unruly curators. Perhaps that is because they don't have the discipline of doctoral study.

James said...

An art historian once told me that academics have long thought of curators as "silver polishers."