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Pre-order Now: The Santa Claus Man

Santa Claus ManComing October 2015.

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Posted on May 04, 2015

Renzo Piano Whitney MuseumMay 1 saw the opening of the new Whitney Museum of American Art. The Upper East Side mainstay has moved to New York City’s Meatpacking District, rising nine asymmetrical stories overlooking the Hudson River. This is exciting news for art fans, as it significantly expands the area for the institution’s modern and contemporary art. Its 18,000-square-foot, top-floor space for special exhibitions is now the largest column-free gallery in New York City.

But as appealing as the new arts offerings inside the downtown Whitney may be the structure itself. Designed by Pritzker Prize–winning Italian architect Renzo Piano, this is only the latest in his long line of striking museums, from the exoskeletoned Pompidou Centre in Paris to the grand Harvard Art Museum. Piano’s decades of museum design have made him arguably the leading expert in the world on creating art that houses art—though he hesitates to put his work in the same category as the works it contains.

“It’s not a piece of art as much as a shelter for art, in the service of art,” Piano says. While they must be aesthetically pleasing, museums’ greater purpose is to engender “a sense of belonging, participation, discovery.”

To that end, Piano has designed the Whitney’s ground floor, a few steps from the busy southern entrance of High Line park, as a vast public space. The spectacular cantilevered entrance invites passersby into an outdoor plaza, restaurant, and 6,000-square-foot lobby gallery—free to all.

Read the full story at Rhapsody.

Posted on April 06, 2015

This is Happening: Through the Lens of InstagramAs Apple’s “Shot on iPhone 6” campaign is promoting smartphone images at billboard size, social media photography is blowing up as a subject for publishers. Work popularized on Instagram shares shelf space with images found in museums, and more and more titles aim to help photographers of all experience levels get the most from their devices.

Social media might seem to be an odd source of inspiration for a serious art book, but one of the more prominent titles in the fall catalogue from AmMo, which publishes the work of revered photographers like Howard Bingham and Edward Weston, is The Instagram Book, Vol. 2 (Oct.), a collection of photos taken by amateurs as well as pros. It’s the follow-up to 2014’s The Instagram Book: Inside the Online Photography Revolution.

“We wanted people who had unique things to say about photography and why they were doing it,” says Steve Crist, publisher of AmMo. (Crist is also the co-editor, with Megan Shoemaker, of The Instagram Book.) “The cover image [of the first volume] is from a physician in Singapore—he’s a doctor working in an emergency room and doesn’t consider himself a professional photographer, but he made a compelling image that captured the spirit of what we wanted.”

Read more at Publishers Weekly.

Posted on April 01, 2015

Robert Durst All Good ThingsRobert Durst was a fan of director Andrew Jarecki’s 2010 telling of his life and alleged crimes, All Good Things — and not just because Ryan Gosling played the suspected serial murderer. As The Jinx made clear, the even-handed telling of the tale based on verified facts and Jarecki’s research drew Durst to the director in the first place, and was a major reason he agreed to be interviewed by Jarecki after years of avoiding the press. But The Jinx wasn’t the only Jarecki project for which he offered his assistance. During the same period, Durst actually joined the director for a viewing of All Good Things, recording commentary for the film’s DVD, released in March 2011. The two banter back and forth as they watch the slightly fictionalized depiction of Durst’s stormy relationship with his wife Kathie (played by Kirsten Dunst), her disappearance, and the murders of his friends Susan Berman and Morris Black.

Though listening to the commentary doesn’t capture Durst’s oil-pool eyes and full-body blinks that made him such a creepy presence in The Jinx, his audio is still plenty spooky. Probably the weirdest thing about the commentary is how much Durst endorses Jarecki’s portrayal of him — whether yanking his wife from a party by the hair or dismembering his buddy — and how little emotion he displays as he agrees that, “This is more or less accurate.” Though the conversation tends to go quiet when an actual murder is committed onscreen, there is one moment where Durst loudly protests: when the film implies he killed the family dog.

There’s no “killed them all, of course” line, but the DVD commentary offers some odd insight into Durst’s view of himself and his actions, and in light of his admission in The Jinx’s finale, takes on a new level of menace. Here are a few of the creepiest exchanges, and a couple darkly funny ones.

Read more at Vulture.

Posted on March 27, 2015

Mike Tinney FIXDr. Keith Kantor, CEO of nutrition consultancy Service Foods, had an enviable problem: his workers were too healthy. The 100-or-so employees of the Norcross, GA-based company were a wellness-minded bunch to begin with, and the programs Kantor put in place -- "lunch and learn" sessions about eating healthy and Biggest Loser-style contests -- pulled in as much as 70 percent of the staff. Most employers would consider this a success, and Kantor figured he had hit the ceiling of wellness engagement among his workforce.

Then the zombies arrived.

Mike Tinney, CEO of Fitness Interactive eXperience (FIX), a gaming and fitness company, approached Kantor about beta testing a new program developed by his company. It took a typical pedometer challenge, gave it a team-based, social media-oriented twist, and added in a pack of hungry zombies to gamify the whole thing, letting it unfold in "chapters" that made participants more likely to check back in -- and exercise more.

The program, called "A Step Ahead: Zombies," lasted five weeks, allowing workers to sync into the game using the wearable fitness device of their choice -- Fitbit, Garmin Vivofit, or a number of others. It seemed like a fun idea, so Kantor gave it a shot, expecting the usual 70-percent-or-so level of participation. But for the first time, he saw interest jump even higher.

"It increased engagement by 25 percent," says Kantor. "I thought I was doing pretty well, getting 70-odd percent engagement, but it turns out even more people are interested in running away from a zombie than listening to a dietician explain the dangers of celiac disease."

Read the rest at Incentive.

Posted on March 04, 2015

New York Armory ShowThe Armory Show, the vast contemporary and modern art fair held in New York City each spring, will this year showcase the artistic richness of a region that’s well known, but often misunderstood.

Armory Focus: Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean examines the work coming out of these diverse areas, which the Armory organizers are collectively calling “MENAM.” The exhibit will include curated works as well as site-specific projects presented by galleries and artists from the region. The show is intentionally expansive in the areas it covers, aiming to show that rather than isolated communities, these countries share many artistic and cultural touchstones.

This is the sixth edition of Focus, and one of several special exhibits taking place at the main Armory Show held on March 5-8 on Manhattan’s Pier 92 and 94. Previous iterations have examined China, Nordic countries, Latin America, and the U.S. But this year’s spotlight on MENAM comes as the area remains at the center of the world’s political and cultural conversation.

“It’s just the right time and place,” says Yesim Turanli, director of Pi Artworks, a gallery based in Istanbul and London. “The audience is ready to see the works this region is offering.”

The gallery will be exhibiting a solo show of Susan Hefuna, an Egyptian artist who incorporates into her art mashrabiya screens—traditional latticework crosshatches built from interconnected knobs and rods, offering protection from Egypt’s harsh sunlight. Hefuna weaves the screens with words and phrases, using them as a template to explore the “structures of connection that inhabit public spaces,” as Turanli puts it.

Read the rest at Rhapsody.

Posted on February 02, 2015

Andy Warhol Cookie JarsYou can learn a lot about a person from what they collect. That’s the inspiration behind “Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector,” a new exhibit which runs at London’s Barbican Centre from February 12 to May 25, 2015. The show gathers a diverse group of artists and their even more diverse collections: Damien Hirst’s taxidermy and skulls, Andy Warhol’s cookie jars, and Arman’s Japanese samurai armor.

While each assemblage could merit an exhibit of its own, “Magnificent Obsessions” is out to explore the act of collecting itself — how it reflects fixations and influences the artist explores in their own work. At least one piece from each creator will be included alongside his or her collection by way of comparison.

“It will give viewers new insight into the work itself,” says Lydia Yee, curator for Barbican Art Gallery.

In some cases, this is a direct connection — Yee points to the visual artist and tattooist Dr Lakra, whose assemblage of old scrapbooks, record covers, and other graphic material is often used as a foundation on which he embellishes his own art. But just as often, the collection is more tangential.

The arrangement of each collection will also reflect the respective artist’s aesthetic. Rather than a “clinical, museum-like presentation,” Yee says the show will mimic domestic display. “If they have collared walls, we’ll introduce color, or put a rug on the floor,” she says. “It’s about how they live with their things instead of putting everything into a uniform case.”

Read at Rhapsody.

Posted on January 05, 2015

Padmé AmidalaThey wear some pretty stylish outfits in a galaxy far, far away.

That’s one lesson visitors will learn from a new exhibit that takes a fashion-centric look at the costumes of the Star Wars film franchise. Running from January 15 to October 4, 2015 at Seattle’s EMP Museum, Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume, presents 60 of the handcrafted ensembles from the films along with concept drawings, behind-the-scenes video footage, and final designs.

While Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and Luke’s wardrobes are all on display, the show is less interested in the iconic characters than what they wore.

“We were able to take a more aesthetic look, and break away from the actual characters, which has been the focus of other Star Wars exhibits,” says Saul Drake, exhibition project director of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, which partnered with Lucasfilm Ltd. to develop the show.

Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen is organized into nine different sections, such as “Outlaws and Outsiders” and “Symbolism and Military Power.” The section “Padmé’s Journey” walks visitors through the design and crafting of the regal outfits worn by Padmé Amidala (played by Natalie Portman), each of which tells an intriguing story, but may have only made a brief appearance in the films.

“Lucasfilm spared no expense on some of these costumes,” says Drake. “We want to bring forward those costumes that are exquisite works of art, but may have only been on screen for a few minutes.”

Read at Rhapsody.

Posted on December 16, 2014

What could be more innocent than a letter to Santa? A child jotting down her heart’s desires in pencil or crayon and dropping it in the mailbox, naively hoping the wish will be granted by Christmas morning: It’s a tradition that goes back at least to the mid-1800s, and it is a reminder of the holiday’s more idyllic past.

These days, such letters are viewed as an opportunity to help the less fortunate. In many cities across the U.S., the Postal Service makes available Santa letters to groups or individuals who want to fulfill the wishes enclosed within. It’s a small gesture, multiplied hundreds of thousands of times a year, that brings joy to both the giver and the recipient. What harm could come from that?

Oh, just teaching kids to beg, cheat, and lie—at least, that was the conventional wisdom of charity groups in the early 1900s. As such, the Post Office Department, now known as the U.S. Postal Service, found itself in the middle of a wild confrontation between a press and public that never failed to find delight in a note opening with “Dear Santy,” and groups that claimed Santa letters were the product of con artists in training.

Read the rest at Slate.

Posted on November 16, 2014

Two giants of twentieth-century art are facing off in a new exhibition at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, FL. Titled Picasso / Dalí, Dalí / Picasso, the show, which opens on Nov. 8, pairs together works of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Gathered from more than two dozen museums and private collections, the paintings, drawings, and sculptures are arranged to shed light on each painter through his connection with the other. Rhapsody spoke with the show’s curator, Hank Hine, about four points of contrast:

Style

The show illuminates the artists’ differences by comparing how they tackled similar subjects, such as literary figures or the Spanish Civil War. For the latter, each has their signature work on the war represented in the exhibit — a charcoal study for Dalí’s Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) alongside a sketch for Picasso’s famed Guernica. Despite their very different style, both works “have a sense of agony,” says Hine.

Craft

“They had quite antithetical approaches to their art,” says Hine. Picasso would make one piece after another, simplifying and amending his treatment of the subject each time, resulting in about 10 times as many works as Dalí in a given year. Dalí was more classical in his technique, beginning with a sketch and building on that single work. “Picasso saw art growing from art, while Dalí believed it came out of tradition and imagination,” says Hine.

Read the rest at Rhapsody.

Posted on October 26, 2014

A recent analysis by Bowker, whose Identifier Services is the official U.S. ISBN agency, found that the number of ISBNs associated with self-published books climbed 437% between 2008 and 2013. For the organizers of the Self-Publishing Book Expo (SBPE), which held its first gathering in 2009, that growth indicates how quickly the segment that the expo is serving has grown and changed—and how important it is for this self-publishing conference to stay a step ahead in a fast-changing market.

As it enters its sixth year, the expo is hitting its stride. Diane Mancher, cofounder of SPBE and president of One Potata Productions, an author marketing firm, says that “the show’s kinks have been worked out,” while deepening the more in-demand aspects of the program and cutting back on those today’s self-publishers have lost interest in. She adds that overall, this year’s SPBE will offer plenty for writers dipping their toe into the self-publishing pool for the first time, as well as those who have been putting out and marketing their own work for years.

This year’s show, held Saturday, November 15, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, features an expansive program of education panels, events, and exhibitors.

Read the full story at Publishers Weekly.

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