Friday, September 18, 2020. Yesterday was another partly sunny, partly cloud end-of-summer day in New York with temps midday in the mid-70s and into the mid-60s by late night. Time for the sweater, or a jacket.
The smoke of the West Coast fires, as you may have heard, has been moving eastward, turning the skies smokier than usual. The skies above the city are not as blue despite the sunshine, but more a neutral grey-white with the Sun above the New York looking muted. It is believed that by today (Friday) the smoke will have continued moving east over the Atlantic.
It is also that time of the year when the cooler temperatures outside are felt even cooler inside because the apartment heat at this time of year doesn’t automatically go on until the temp drops to 55 degrees. The same goes for early Spring when the buildings’ heat goes off as the temp outside begins to rise with the warmer season, but still remains above that magic 55 degrees when the buildings’ heat automatically turns off.
The city is very busy now. Yesterday was the first day I noticed the after-school girls heading home with the SUVs and buses double-parked along the avenue waiting for their charges. The road traffic is now heavy again with lots of inconvenient double parked cars and delivery trucks everywhere. In many areas, there are far fewer parking places because the space is being used by the restaurants for the dining-outside tables, many of which are full up with customers.
On the social side of New York life, things are beginning to open up. Yesterday at the Staley-Wise Gallery on 100 Crosby Street, they held an opening from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for photographer Priscilla Rattazzi’s exhibition called Hoodooland.
Rattazzi first visited southwest Utah with her three children ten years ago. She recalled that nothing prepared them for the vast landscape that unfolded on the four-hour drive from Las Vegas airport. It’s a drive across a desert that reminds one of another planet, literally for miles and miles.
For the visiting Rattazzi party, approaching Lake Powell, the scenery becomes more dramatic and barren. “Huge mustard and coal colored cliffs towered over us in almost a menacing way,” she recalled, with “smaller plateaus stretched hundreds of miles to the east toward Monument Valley.
There they were able to hook up with “a local legend Yermo Welsh, a guide with deep knowledge of southwestern archeology and a soulful artistic bent.” From there Yermo took them on a hiking adventure to “Insanely beautiful and quiet places where the silence was almost jarring.”
They hiked to an unnamed canyon (which he nicknamed after himself) filled with rock formations which look like sculptures as if made by man — columns of weathered rock found only in desert climates and called hoodoos.
Back in the early ’90s, I happened to be driving across the continent from California to New York and passed through this land. Astounded and amazed to be “on another planet” from the looks of it, it also expands one’s sense of earthly reality, like an imagined voyage through Outer Space.
A few years ago Rattazzi returned with her camera and taking “very long and sometimes dangerous hikes” again with Yermo, she discovered more of the otherworldly landscape with its strange yet elegant hoodoos that inhabit these monuments lands.
When I first learned of this exhibition from an invitation with one of Priscilla Rattazzi’s photographs of a “hoodoo,” I frankly thought the sculpture in “Yermo Canyon” was the work of a contemporary artist working in the desert. They look man-made — almost. Except their reality goes beyond the borders of man, and you know they are Mother Nature’s work. Just like the rest of us, they are a tribute to the wonder of all that exists, or as the photographer concluded they look “like an army of mystical creatures.”
The exhibition runs through November 7th. It is a wonder of beauty and isolation, and a lesson in the power Nature. For more information, go to www.staleywise.com
Another artist, another beam of light. Last week you might have seen my Diary about dining out at Sette Mezzo with Shirley Rosenthal and Peter Heywood who is Shirley’s companion. Peter is British (as is Shirley). I met him several years ago through her. He’s a Yorkshire man by birth and was once a school teacher by profession, teaching math and physics for 30 years.
In 1995 he was voted Britain’s Best Teacher in a national newspaper search, all the while devoting the majority of his free time painting. Since then Peter, encouraged by a successful one man show at the Aberbach Fine Art Gallery in London’s Savile Row, decided to devote all his time to his art.
He travelled extensively, and while in South Africa created a series of major landscapes. Successful exhibitions followed in Johannesburg at The Cheri de Villiers Gallery, and in Cape Town at The Everard Read Gallery and The Cape Gallery.
Later during a two year stay in Venice, inspired by its magnificent architecture, his work in oils and acrylics were exhibited at The Holly Snapp Gallery in Venice, at The Century Gallery in Henley-on-Thames outside London and The Paterson Gallery in Albermarle Street in London. Several well received exhibitions followed in Malta. Today Peter Heywood’s work can be found in many private collections around the world.
In 2011 he began spending more time in America where he developed an arresting series of paintings New York’s most famous landmarks as seen through the vast reflections of neighboring buildings. His first American exhibition took place at The Alan Barnes Fine Art Gallery in Santa Fe. He has since had three more shows in the US — at The Q street gallery in Washington, and The Leila Heller Gallery in New York, and the 237 on Hudson street Gallery.
Early last year, following the success of his 632 on Hudson exhibition where AT&T purchased a large canvas for their new New York headquarters, Peter began a new series focusing on the power of dance which he prepared for a new show to be sold to benefit the New York City Ballet.
These paintings were originally destined for a Summer exhibition. This was postponed like just about everything else in our lives these days, because of the coronavirus. Right now it is hoped that the exhibition will soon be scheduled as New York puts on its dancing shoes again.