Centrifugal and sometimes hard to follow but always interesting, tracing the intersection of art, the environment, geography...

UNDERMINING

A WILD RIDE IN WORDS AND IMAGES THROUGH LAND USE POLITICS IN THE CHANGING WEST

Art historian and social critic Lippard (On the Beaten Track: Tourism, Art, and Place, 1999, etc.) turns in another trademark work of inductive cultural tourism.

Many of Lippard’s books are a blend of discourse and art installation, at least after a fashion. This is no exception: On each page, a band of images speaks to the text below. That text, in turn, begins with an intensely local concern, namely, a gravel pit near her high desert home. Strap on postmodern headgear: “Gravel pits,” writes the author, “provide a dialectical take on the relationship between my own three-and-a-half decades in the Lower Manhattan activist/avant-garde art community and two decades in Galisteo—a tiny New Mexico village (population 250).” Though the text is often self-indulgent along those lines, Lippard allows that just about everywhere you look in the Southwest, you’ll find someone extracting something from the Earth, and that someone may be ever so slightly better, morally speaking, than the next someone. There are gravel pits, and then there are mines, including “the world’s largest surface coal mine complex” in eastern Wyoming. From mines, with transitions that are a little jagged, Lippard moves on to the Earth artists of the West, such as Robert Smithson and James Turrell. Though the connections are not always clear, her eventual meditation on the cairn marking the Trinity nuclear site puts us back on the road from piled stones to stones in gravel pits, and if the conversation is absent-minded, it is nicely suggestive of things worth thinking about, such as the remnants of 9/11 that now lie buried in the Fresh Kills landfill of Staten Island. Art, garbage, history? Readers must be the judges.

Centrifugal and sometimes hard to follow but always interesting, tracing the intersection of art, the environment, geography and politics.

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59558-619-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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A zesty, energetic history, not only of a building, but of more than a century of American culture.

INSIDE THE DREAM PALACE

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NEW YORK'S LEGENDARY CHELSEA HOTEL

A revealing biography of the fabled Manhattan hotel, in which generations of artists and writers found a haven.

Turn-of-the century New York did not lack either hotels or apartment buildings, writes Tippins (February House: The Story of W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten, and Gypsy Rose Lee, Under One Roof In Wartime America, 2005). But the Chelsea Hotel, from its very inception, was different. Architect Philip Hubert intended the elegantly designed Chelsea Association Building to reflect the utopian ideals of Charles Fourier, offering every amenity conducive to cooperative living: public spaces and gardens, a dining room, artists’ studios, and 80 apartments suitable for an economically diverse population of single workers, young couples, small families and wealthy residents who otherwise might choose to live in a private brownstone. Hubert especially wanted to attract creative types and made sure the building’s walls were extra thick so that each apartment was quiet enough for concentration. William Dean Howells, Edgar Lee Masters and artist John Sloan were early residents. Their friends (Mark Twain, for one) greeted one another in eight-foot-wide hallways intended for conversations. In its early years, the Chelsea quickly became legendary. By the 1930s, though, financial straits resulted in a “down-at-heel, bohemian atmosphere.” Later, with hard-drinking residents like Dylan Thomas and Brendan Behan, the ambience could be raucous. Arthur Miller scorned his free-wheeling, drug-taking, boozy neighbors, admitting, though, that the “great advantage” to living there “was that no one gave a damn what anyone else chose to do sexually.” No one passed judgment on creativity, either. But the art was not what made the Chelsea famous; its residents did. Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Robert Mapplethorpe, Phil Ochs and Sid Vicious are only a few of the figures populating this entertaining book.

A zesty, energetic history, not only of a building, but of more than a century of American culture.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-618-72634-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

HUMANS OF NEW YORK

STORIES

Photographer and author Stanton returns with a companion volume to Humans of New York (2013), this one with similarly affecting photographs of New Yorkers but also with some tales from his subjects’ mouths.

Readers of the first volume—and followers of the related site on Facebook and elsewhere—will feel immediately at home. The author has continued to photograph the human zoo: folks out in the streets and in the parks, in moods ranging from parade-happy to deep despair. He includes one running feature—“Today in Microfashion,” which shows images of little children dressed up in various arresting ways. He also provides some juxtapositions, images and/or stories that are related somehow. These range from surprising to forced to barely tolerable. One shows a man with a cat on his head and a woman with a large flowered headpiece, another a construction worker proud of his body and, on the facing page, a man in a wheelchair. The emotions course along the entire continuum of human passion: love, broken love, elation, depression, playfulness, argumentativeness, madness, arrogance, humility, pride, frustration, and confusion. We see varieties of the human costume, as well, from formalwear to homeless-wear. A few celebrities appear, President Barack Obama among them. The “stories” range from single-sentence comments and quips and complaints to more lengthy tales (none longer than a couple of pages). People talk about abusive parents, exes, struggles to succeed, addiction and recovery, dramatic failures, and lifelong happiness. Some deliver minirants (a neuroscientist is especially curmudgeonly), and the children often provide the most (often unintended) humor. One little boy with a fishing pole talks about a monster fish. Toward the end, the images seem to lead us toward hope. But then…a final photograph turns the light out once again.

A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05890-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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