Tag Archives: maira kalman

Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

Watch

Lena Dunham, the writer/director/star of TINY FURNITURE has created a movie that feels both very specific to downtown New York and entirely universal at the same time.

Aural, the film’s main character, graduates from college, moves back home, tries to get a job and figure out her place in the world at large. It’s an overwhelming task. It brought back pangs of how I initially felt upon graduating and, how I still feel today. It’s also the story of how sisters relate to each other, how mothers and daughters go through growing pains of their own and how there isn’t a map (but maybe, there’s a diary) to help us all navigate through our tumultuous 20s. This is very much a 20-nothings story. I felt like I was watching someone without skin walk around in public, nerves, muscles, veins, tendons, and bones all exposed. Lena Dunham has made a beautiful and poignant movie that recognizes a generation no one seems to know what to do with. A generation that’s continually being rearranged and used for decoration, much like furniture.

Listen

I am the proud owner of a crazy CD of Christmas music called “Hipster’s Holiday.” This is my favorite track — because who doesn’t want a five-pound box of money for Christmas? Christine Ebersole does a rendition of this tune that rivals Pearl Bailey’s original.

Read

I’ve written about both Lynda Barry and Maira Kalman before, most recently about Maira’s book, “And The Pursuit of Happiness.” Last week, I attended a conversation between Lynda Barry and Maira Kalman at the 92nd St Y. Just the combination of those names was enough to make my brain explode and had me purchasing a ticket to this event back in September. Two friends joined me (one from Canada and the other from the far away land known as Hell’s Kitchen). Before their conversation, Lynda and Maira were able to spend 15 minutes each giving a Powerpoint/slide presentation of their books and talk about their work.

The moment they sat across from each other, I felt as if I was watching both side of my brain in conversation. Maira was the epitome of a polished New York artist, in back pants and a black jacket. Lynda, the Midwestern, rough-and-tumble kid at heart, dressed much like her collage-style work: cuffed jeans, Pocahontas braids, a black hat, and motorcycle boots. Lynda is Wild Turkey. Maira is coffee.

Despite their physical differences, the two share a similar approach to their work: They both rely on memories and observation to combine their handwritten text with their images. Maira’s images are more realistic. She works directly from photographs (most of which she takes herself). Though there’s still a bit of a surrealist quality to her work. At one point, Lynda said to Maira, “your pictures look like frosting. Sometimes I just want to eat them.” She’s not so far off.

Lynda’s work digs deep into the state of play we all lived in as children. Her medium is yellow legal pads, Chinese ink and brush, used magazines, and characters she created for her long-running comic strip. Her latest book, “Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book,” is a companion to her last book/work book, “What It Is.” “Picture” delves into how and why we draw and the importance of creating something that involves both our hands and minds. Barry’s book is part story, part hands-on work book. When it comes to art, drawing and writing, she’s a suggester, not a forcer, but her message is so enthusiastic, strong, and kind, you would do anything to hear her positive reinforcement, including drawing a hand turkey.

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Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

Watch/Listen

Let’s talk for a moment about Seth Rudetsky. Seth is like that musical theater guy you knew in high school. and college. and post-college. But there’s more to Seth than just his (INSANE amount of) musical theater knowledge. There’s his (INSANE amount of) music knowledge, too. If there’s one thing I miss about all the vocal coaching and music classes I was entrenched in growing up, it’s the people like Seth who made me excited to understand technique and sing correctly. Because, when you get it for the first time — when your mind and body finally connects and creates that beautiful sound the way it was meant to be heard — it’s an exciting moment. Seth’s fancy deconstruction videos allow me to relive everything I learned and look at it from a fresh (and pressure-free) perspective. Even though I don’t sing apart from Karaoke nights anymore, watching his videos remind me of those connections. The elation, the enthusiasm, and the sheer joy. Simply A-MAH-zing.

I chose this particular video for Monday’s Watch/Listen pick because it features one of my favorite performers/people, Christine Ebersole, and it’s a deconstruction of one of my favorite musicals (and documentary!), Grey Gardens.

P.S. Christine has a new CD out, Christine Ebersole sings Noel Coward. It’s a gorgeous pairing of two extraordinarily talented human beings.

 

Read

Maira Kalman’s work is my hot cocoa. It’s sweet, strong, rich, reminds me of childhood, warms my body & soul, and keeps my imagination stimulated, like the perfect combination of caffeine and sugar.

Maira’s latest work, And the Pursuit of Happiness, is based on her blog for the New York Times, where she spent a year traveling the United States chronicling (through paintings, sketches, photography, writing, and some embroidery) what democracy means to people in government, in history, and with ordinary citizens, in their in daily lives. It’s a beautiful and inspiring look  at humanity and how we individuals choose to pursue our own happiness in the land of liberty.