Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Meet me at the fair...

My recent piece "Strange Blossoms" will make its debut at the Bridge Art Fair Miami (Wynwood) December 2-7. Stop by the Williamsburg Gallery Association booth and see the work.

I'll be there too and it would be fun to get together! Call me (646-244-0879) or email me (peter@culturecurrent.com) and we'll meet up!

Bridge Art Midtown
NE 1st Avenue & NW 34th Street
Opening Tuesday December 2, 6-10 pm
Show Info

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Everyone needs a little break now and then.

No danger of me jumping in that chilly water--this time!

What a treat to slip out of the city and up to New Paltz for the weekend. The marathon was wonderful and all that but this countrymouse goes more than a little crazy without breathing the fresh air that only exists outside of major metroplitan areas on the regular.

The best way to protect you from monitor-induced blindness is to look up periodically and focus on something far away from time to time and for me I need to rest my soul periodically by spending time in nature and that's what we did. It's all too much otherwise.

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Sad News

Whoa! When it rains it pours!

I came to the Lucky Cat this afternoon to ask Lilah if she could host Sebastian's birthday party. She's done so before and it's always been a blast. It turns out that the answer is "no" because they're closing.

One of my favorite spots, I liked to go there for an afternoon studio break (their cookies are amazing), a late-night post-studio cocktail (they're right across from the studio), or an afternoon visitation with Sebastian. He loved the goldfish in the garden (where I once heard some lovely, passionate sex sounds on the wind), the croissants and we all loved Lilah and Sasha. She was so sweet to Sebastian and has been one of his many friendly guardian angels and godparents (in the most pagan sense of the word).

Just the other day, he asked if we could go to the Lucky Cat after the studio. It's part of the sudio ritual for him, along with wearing the home-made shark mask and working on one of his monumental paintings. It was getting toward dinner time so I promised him we'd come back this weekend in the afternoon. Maybe get one of Lilah's prime baked omlettes or devastating pizzas.

I guess not.

Again, you can't separate the Lucky Cat from Lilah's personality. So much that was great about the place--the incredibly laid-back ambiance, the delicious fresh and organic food, the biodegradable take-out cutlery, the eclectic music and decor--was the reflection of a personal and very inclusive vision. The Lucky Cat was reggae, soul, punkrock, and more than a dash of spicy Cali-Mex, all rolled into one old-school hang-out. There was a great generosity of spirit and a personal touch that's extremely rare. and that too few people seem to value or comprehend.

It's getting harder and harder to find that. It just got a little harder...

Harbingers of Doom

Maureen Cavanaugh is the perfect artist to close 31 Grand. Her self portraits always struck me as eerily like gallery co-owner Megan Bush. Maureen's been with the gallery for quite some time and a great exemplar of the gallery's marriage of quality, gloss, and psychological intensity.
I ran into Megan Bush on the street yesterday. When I asked her about her opening tonight, she told me some sad and sadly unshocking news. They're closing their doors after this show.

It wouldn't be completely accurate to define this as the end of an era. That happened two years ago when they moved out of Williamsburg for the LES. They were one of the first and best galleries in Williamsburg and were at the epicenter of the action in many ways. Their openings down by the waterfront were always packed and the art they showed there was edgy, witty and extremely (and often pains-takingly) well executed. Their shows have always been about vision but also about quality. They've always run the place the way a gallery should be run.

The gallery cannot be separated in my mind from the two dynamic women behind it, Megan and Heather Stephens. They're both super-smart, organized, and two of the nicest people I've ever met. The opposite of flaky. At the same time, I've always felt that they're plugged into something special and that 31Grand merits watching. With their seemingly unlimited energy, instinctive and un-selfconscious style, and great taste 31 Grand is by all rights a gallery that ought to succeed.

When I asked Megan what was wrong, she said just two words: "the economy." Of course no one is exempt from this financial storm but it's especially sad to see 31Grand go down because they are right at the heart of the contemporary scene, but also ideal trail blazers for the future artworld.

I'm going to the opening tonight and will report back. More details soon, including a possible closing party.

After the Madness

Front-row seat on history. You don't often see wide shots from the photo truck but here's what I see during the marathon.
Marilson Gomes dos Santos (yellow) dueled Abderrahim Goumri over the last ten miles and bested him with a blistering kick on Central Park South. Hard to imagine a better way to spend a sunday morning.

You might have wondered where I’ve been these last few weeks. I’ve been swamped in the annual madness that is my day job, the ING New York City Marathon. Such an amazing experience, I can hardly really call it a "job." Every year, when I tell people I’m working on the marathon, they always ask two questions,

1st question: "Do you run?"

Answer: "Well, I run around like crazy but I don’t run in the sense of participating. I’m kinda busy working the event."

I start out on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge well before dawn, track the race from the photo truck in front of the leaders. Arriving just before the winner crosses the line, I watch the victory lap and then manage the pandamonium that ensues with the awards ceremony. I’ve been at it for eight hours by now and only a handful of the forty thousand have crossed the finish line. I grab a quick breather and then go back as the tired, spent, and hungry masses complete their marathon journey, some triumphant, some seemingly near death, and many just plain peculiar such as the infamous "Larry the Lighthouse."

It’s outrageous: forty thousand people fully blissed out, having achieved something truly monumental, many having overcome enormous doubt. It’s like witnessing forty thousand wedding days and it’s easy to understand why over a million people line the streets every year to cheer them along. That brings me to the inevitable second question people ask when they hear what I do.

"You get paid for that?" Not to say that I don’t earn my paycheck, but I do actually have to pinch myself to remember that I’m doing my job out there. It’s a major rush and a tremendous privilege to be out there. It’s exhausting but it’s amazing, not least because it's the culmination of months of work and at the end of a long sleep-deprived stretch.

And now it’s over for the year and it’s time to go back to being an everyday, working artist kind of guy. It's kind of a letdown actually like the day after Chrismas or some great life change, only accompanied by a physical exhaustion that is akin to having actually run the marathon. Time for some R&R...