"I love New York on summer afternoons when everyone's away. There's something very sensuous about it—overripe, as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into your hands."
Last Saturday, we drifted to Governor's Island in the sweltering summer heat seeking to experience some of that Gatsby magic at the Jazz Age Lawn Party. Now on its 10th year, the Jazz Age Lawn Party brings those enamored with the 1920s to Governor's Island for a day of dancing, picnicking and partying in the style of a bygone era. We dressed up in our roaring 20s best—I attempted to channel Daisy Buchanan with a bejeweled Art Deco-style headpiece and black fringe dress while J put on a vintage vest and bowtie to play the role of the dashing old sport. As much as we wanted to party as if we were guests at Gatsby's mansion, however, the heat was oppressive. We scarcely left our picnic blanket where drinks and snacks could be had with the least amount of exertion. A few times, I mustered up the energy to listen to live music, break out into a little jig, peruse the stalls selling vintage wares, and walk amongst the 1920s-era cloaked crowd—it was good fun up until the point where the heat would overtake me. Come to think of it, even the pages of that great American novel are strewn with lethargy and lamentations brought on by New York summers. In the end, maybe we were more Gatsby-like than we realized after all ...
Part arcade, part funhouse, part display of genius, the exhibition Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds at the Brooklyn Museum is a joy and an inspiration to experience. In one part of the exhibition, the Brooklyn-based duo, Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller, put up a black room plastered floor to ceiling with neon renderings of their art, surrounding two day-glo foosball machines that were constantly occupied by players. Faile also brought in "The Faile Bäst Deluxx Fluxx Arcade 2010", which is just as much a hit here in New York as it was in its previous incarnations in London and at Miami Art Basel. In a room splashed with black and white Faile and Bäst screenprints, arcade games and pinball machines allow the audience to fully interact with the art.
With so much visual stimuli, it's easy to miss things, but because I spent some time engrossed in a pinball game, I got to appreciate the assemblage of details Faile slips into that piece: Art Deco flourishes, sly S&M references, and even an allusion to the 1986 Challenger launch and crash.
While the arcade is highly entertaining, the most striking piece of the exhibition is the Temple, created in 2010 for the Portugal Arte 10 Festival. Mimicking the ruins of an ancient house of worship, Temple amalgamates the religious past with the secular present to reimagine modern-day mythology. Traditional and modern are juxtaposed in ways that will make your head spin: for instance, a ceramic wall relief with a Madonna and Child-esque silhouette reveals itself to be, upon closer inspection, a Manga character consorting with rotund Chinese men as a Buddha laughs in the background. Mosaic reliefs feature unlikely Native American motifs while prayer wheels are carved with references to Brooklyn.
My favorites were uncontroversial but visually arresting: the marble sculpture of skater girl dubbed Fantasy Island and a series of slashed canvas-style pieces. Can you imagine having these grace your home? Only in my dream of dreams ...
Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds is a great exhibit for families and groups of friends, as it is very accessible and highly entertaining. At the same art like this provokes curiosity and inquiry - hopefully among the next generation of young minds.
Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds is on view at the Brooklyn Museum until October 4, 2015.
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