Thursday, June 22, 2017

LA Dance Project, Evolving

Hearts & Arrows. Photo: Laurent Phillippe
The LA Dance Project, under Benjamin Millepied's artistic direction, continues to evolve and move forward, while giving annual performances in New York so we can see what they're up to. With Millepied's full attention, the company recently announced that it will renovate a space in LA's arts district to house headquarters and a small theater. Additionally, New York City Ballet alum Carla Körbes and Janie Taylor joined the company, at least for a brief period (Körbes has accepted a teaching position at Indiana University). The troupe performs at the Joyce Theater through this weekend with two programs.

The June 17th performance I caught included two works by Millepied, plus Yag by Ohad Naharin. (Unfortunately, In Silence We Speak, a duet for Körbes and Janie Taylor by Millepied, was repaced with his Orpheus Highway.) In both of Millepied's works, the movement is a contemporary version of ballet that takes a more relaxed, muscular approach to its basic vocabulary; the dancers wear either jazz shoes or sneakers. At times, the casual formality is reminiscent of Jerome Robbins, as well as some work by Justin Peck.

Hearts & Arrows has striking b&w costumes by Taylor, who has clearly hit her stride as a designer after retiring from NYCB. PUBLIQuartet, a string ensemble, plays live Philip Glass' Mishima. The movement flows easily, elastically, with a hand diminishing the energy of a phrase. The five sections build in dynamic, crescendoing in big movements that feel fun and liberating. Formations include spiraling flowers and chains, framed by four lighting towers; Roderick Murray designed the lighting.
Hearts & Arrows. Photo: Laurent Phillippe
Janie Taylor was featured in Orpheus Highway, a premiere to Steve Reich music played live. Taylor has always danced with a coolness and distance, but there's an shy intensity to her that remains intriguing. Millepied utilizes just enough gesture to imply key plot points from the myth. Live dancers are backgrounded by filmed elements; the moves sometimes coincide, and a different lead dancers in the film gives it a certain removed feel. Millepied contributed not only choreography, but co-lighting design (with Jim French), video direction, and costume design (street-like clothes). While it doesn't break new ground genre-wise, you get a sense of the American West and his company's place in it.

It's interesting to see Naharin's work on a company other than Batsheva (Now defunct Cedar Lake is one other example). Not surprisingly, it feels different than on his native dancers—less innate and unconscious. In Yag, the same basic story revolving around a family is told—verbally and movement-wise—from different points of view. A luminous orange panel occupies a prime spot center stage; at first, it's difficult to tell whether it's a portal or door; positive or negative space. A man wearing all brown (turtle neck, jacket, pants) and eye glasses transfers his costume to a woman, piece by piece, disrobing behind the panel. The dance is Naharin's slippery, alien gaga style, which is handled well by LADP.

The company is composed of some of the super-skilled, ballet-trained generalists that abound today and could likely handle most anything thrown their way. Sandwiched by the two Millepied dances, Yag was a nice bumper and completely antithetical to a classically-based style. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Ballet & Baseball—Injuries and Breakthroughs

Christine Shevchenko in ABT's Le Corsaire. Photo: Rosalie O'Connor
It's that time of year again when ballet and baseball seasons overlap. This year, the commonality is injuries and ingenues. Not a day goes by without a new team or company member needing to be replaced—often by a first-stringer, but sometimes by an up-and-comer being given a chance to shine.

For ABT, at least last week, Christine Shevchenko stepped it up to sub in four Corsaires, taking the place of both Gillian Murphy and Veronika Part as the lead, Medora. She danced admirably and flawlessly with Alban Lendorf in the performance I saw. Not to sell her short, but I still don't have a sense of her full gifts and her individual personality, but she comes across as the dancer in class or rehearsal who always knows the correct counts and steps. Becoming acquainted with these dancers, whom we grow to know and love, takes time, and also their being cast in ever more visible roles. Just as with Shevchenko.

Switching over to the baseball diamond, specifically the snake-bitten Mets, we have Michael Conforto in the Shevchenko mold. Since finally making it to the majors a couple years ago, laden with tremendous expectations, he pretty much underperformed, zigzagging between minor and major leagues stints, depending on the health of other older, better paid teammates. However, this year, he finally made himself invaluable, with one of the best batting averages on the team, and healthy (until a couple days ago, when his back bothered him enough to force him to rest). He rose to the reputation that preceded him.

Then there are the key performers who, when they go down, leave gaping holes. At ABT, we had David Hallberg gone for two years with a serious foot injury, after making such a splash in the news by joining the Bolshoi, in addition to being one of the most beloved ABT principals. His absence made space for newcomers such as Jeffrey Cirio and Alban Lendorf. And in terms of principals of his height, Corey Stearns and James Whiteside stepped it up.
Matt Harvey, thinking about it. Photo courtesy New York Mets
Over in Queens, Matt Harvey had been flavor of the day after his major league debut in 2012, striking out 11 and getting two hits. The next season, at first he fared so well that he started in the All-Star game, which happened to be held at Citifield, his home stadium. Fast forward, and he had to undergo Tommy John surgery at the end of 2013, which required him to sit out 2014. He returned in 2015, pitching well, and the team made it to the World Series, but was held to a pitch count due to concerns about his long-term health. The next season, he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and needed surgery to remove a rib. He has pitched again this year, but with very mixed results, and was just put back on the disabled list with a scapula injury, out for at least several weeks. (Not to mention that he was suspended for three games for missing practice.)

In his stead, Noah Syndergaard supplied the fireworks last year, plus filling the publicity vacuum, and now he's out for a lengthy rehab on a lat. Steven Matz provided some spotty strength before himself succumbing to still-undiagnosed elbow pain, but he's finally back in the rotation, as is Seth Lugo, after some time off after exerting himself in the World Baseball Classic. (Their continued durability remains to be seen.) Jacob DeGrom has persisted, if spottily, and Zack Wheeler returned to the lineup after undergoing TJS as well. Oh, and can't overlook the young, appropriately long locked, gum-chewer Robert Gsellman, who has basically proved his mettle. Bartolo Colon, where for art though? (Though he actually went on the DL in Atlanta recently.)

Then there's the huge absence of team captain David Wright, who has coped for seasons with numerous issues with his back and neck, and then shoulder, and was recently shut down again after starting to throw. Not long ago, he seemed such a sure, long term thing that the team didn't have any viable minor leaguers to fill in at third base. Now they're throwing guys there who aren't at ease, such as Jose Reyes, basically Wright's contemporary. And so it goes.

Personally speaking, I think ballet is one of the toughest things to do. Every part of the body is stretched and pushed to the limit, and when you're the lead in a 2-1/2 hour ballet, there's no respite. In baseball right now, pitchers basically unnaturally overtax their throwing arms and shoulders to the point of near-certain failure. How long this will continue may depend on how many talented young hurlers think it's worth the gamble, and huge salaries nearly guarantee that there's no end in sight.

When major injuries happen to fan favorites, we are devastated. But hopefully, talent will emerge, even if it takes time and enduring rough patches. Life goes on, but memories endure.

***

If you haven't watched any coverage of the America's Cup sailing regatta taking place in Bermuda, you're missing one of the most amazing spectacles ever. It's about strategy, of course, but it's the technology that is most impressive. The vessels—it's hard to even call them boats—foil, or fly, above the water. They're even marked by percentage in the air, with 100% not uncommon. We may still not have flying cars, but we have flying boats. The finals begin today, between the USA (Oracle) and New Zealand (Emirates), which is powered not by guys producing power by with their arms, but by "cyclors," guys on bikes. On top of flying boats. Enough said. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

NYCB's Spring 2017 Premieres

Odessa: Sterling Hyltin and Joaquin de Luz with company. Photo: Paul Kolnik

Odessa
by Alexei Ratmansky

New York City Ballet's spring gala program on April 4 at the Koch Theater, while modestly celebratory, lacked the electricity generated in the company's now-annual fall fashion galas. In addition to the crowd pleasing, if super-familiar, After the Rain and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, the company danced Martins' Jeu de Cartes, with festive costumes but little else of interest, and the highlight of the evening—the premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's Odessa.

Odessa is among Ratmansky's "Russian dances" which employ music by Russian composers (here, Leonid Desyatnikov) and are flavored with elements of folk or indigenous dancing from the pseudonymous location. But the choreographer has been extremely busy, creating ballets for companies outside of New York, in addition to projects such as Whipped Cream for ABT, where he is resident choreographer, which has its New York premiere soon across the plaza at the Met Opera House. (At least he doesn't have to run far between company residences.)

Odessa finale. Photo: Paul Kolnik
However, his dispersed attention might be reflected in Odessa, which is handsome, passionate, and at times pops with big steps. But it surprising for its general lack of innovation and movement invention, for which Ratmansky has become reliable. It's structured around three couples: Sara Mearns/Amar Ramasar, Tiler Peck/Taylor Stanley, and Sterling Hyltin/Joaquin de Luz. The latter couple doesn't click at first; she shies away from his advances, which is a main source of narrative drama within the piece, later slapping him before they reconcile. A corps of 12 shadows the couples who trade the spotlight back and forth, providing spatial and patterned texture. Desyatnikov's music moves from bold slide trombone to tangoesque sections that provoked Ratmansky into creating some phrases of stylized tango, seemingly a rite of passage for many choreographers. Keso Dekker designed the gem-hued costumes—skater dresses for the women, slinky striped shirts for the men.

Particularly in the wake of viewing Ratmansky's Russian Seasons and Namouna by NYCB in a previous week, Odessa feels slightly formulaic. There are no oddities that mark these previous works, such as a "cigarette dance" or breaking the fourth wall. The corps is somewhat smaller in Odessa, and doesn't evince the kind of organic hivemind that we've seen in other dances by him, where 24 dancers might shimmer like water or move as one. It certainly merits revisiting, but perhaps he has spoiled us with prior strokes of brilliance and unattainable expectations.  

The Decalogue. Photo: Paul Kolnik

The Decalogue by Justin Peck

New dances by Justin Peck have been gaining in anticipation with each season since he began choreographing just a few years ago. This season's contribution, which I saw on May 12, gained added importance, being just the second brand-new work next to Odessa. They were featured in a hyped series called Here/Now which features 43 dances made for NYCB since 1988, some of which haven't been seen in a long while.

The Decalogue is Peck's second collaboration with indie/classical composer Sufjan Stevens, who here contributes a score for solo piano. Despite fears that it might not be full enough to support a 10-part dance with 10 dancers, its expressive, impressionistic passages provide ample emotional and dynamic variety. Peck mixes long-legged company stars Sara Mearns and Teresa Reichlin with dancers from all ranks, including other capable principals who often elude the brightest spotlight, such as Jared Angle and Gonzalo Garcia. In fact, Garcia is given the full ballerina treatment—he is partnered by three and five women in different sections; they support and lift him. At other times, men are guided by other dancers in the manner in which women traditionally are.

After dabbling in a heady mix of dance styles in last season's exciting premiere The Times Are Racing, Peck returns to ballet, and pointe shoes, for The Decalogue. The dancers have signature passages which are repeated in the preliminary sections, and are all tossed together in the finale. Mearns enters first, luxuriously unfurling her leg to the sky, doing a little flutter kick to punctuate a jump. In a duet, Mearns is restrained by Angle; she pulls away and seems uneasy in his embrace. Later, Rebecca Krohn moves even more slowly, extending her leg glacially as the piano notes sprinkle like raindrops.

The Decalogue: Tyler Angle and Rebecca Krohn.
Photo: Paul Kolnik
The dancers form a rosette, then peel away, as if in bloom. Other crisp tableaux are formed —a group clusters, each dancer posing at a different level; a column of dancers curves upstage, as motion passes from one dancer to the next in a chain reaction; one couple forms an arch that passes over the snaking line. Peck finds clever twists on the conventional phrases by orienting them differently, or flipping them spatially.

Stevens' score, played movingly onstage by Susan Walters, at times murmurs dreamily, courses powerfully, and skips lightly, almost like an additional character. It's clear Peck and Stevens have a strong artistic rapport. (It might have helped that it contrasted with the three works preceding it, which used early music.) Peck also designed the costumes—for the women, Balanchinean square-necked camisole leotards in subtly varying grey ombré; the men, dark unitards with pale blue yokes. That the young choreographer is also a company soloist and a talented costume designer comes as no surprise. It seems like he could do anything he sets his mind to.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Ballet Hispánico Brings a New Norm

Línea Recta. Photo: Paula Lobo
A number of mid-sized ballet companies exist in the US, and even in New York alone, but Ballet Hispánico stands out for its dedicated focus on the work of Hispanic artists and themes. The program at the Joyce through this weekend is also remarkable as all three choreographers are women, a refreshing change. Each of the three works that comprise the evening are quite distinct in form and content.

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, who created Línea Recta, was in the news last fall for her intriguing commission for New York City Ballet, Unframed. The dance for Ballet Hispánico takes as a foundation the style and attitude of flamenco. A barefoot Melissa Fernandez wears a red dress with lace bodice and a long, narrow, flounced train that whips and winds around her limbs; four men, bare-chested, wear high-waisted red pants and red socks. Without the heeled, leather soled shoes typical of the genre, the stamping is more attitude than striking force, but there are plenty of gravity-bound deep pliés to convey an earthbound feel. Fernandez dances a duet in which she chafes and strains against the embrace of her partner. She's joined by three women; they all wear shorter versions of the original dress. Eric Vaarzon Morel wrote the original guitar compositions, which move through an array of emotions. The dance captures the general flavor of flamenco in a modern vehicle. 
Con Brazos Abiertos. Photo: Paula Lobo
Michelle Manzanales' Con Brazos Abiertos ("With Open Arms," made with artistic collaboration by Ray Doñes) is a high-spirited take on growing up as a Mexican in Texas. Manzales is the director of BH's school of dance. The costumes, by Diana Ruettiger, feature flattering white halter tops to which were added high-waisted lurex pants, and finally flouncy circle skirts for both the women and men. The score is a playlist of charming ballads in Spanish, spoken word (including a joke about Mexicans taking Spanish and getting Bs), and even a cover of Radiohead's "Creep." In one section, everyone wears large sombreros which hide their faces from the audience, raising the idea of group identity, or the lack of an individual one. It pays homage to Mexican tropes with tongue firmly planted, refreshingly, in cheek. 
3. Catorce Dieciséis. Photo: Paula Lobo
The program ended with 3. Catorce Dieciséis, Spanish for the numerical equivalent of pi. Choreographed by Tania Pérez-Salas, it is a study of kinetic patterns and shapes, danced to a medley, with an emphasis on early music. The style feels similar to a number of post-classical choreographers working today, if perhaps a bit less fluid syntactically. Tossed leg extensions and hyper-extended torsos and arms are used frequently. One hallmark was to creative passages of movement that move perpendicular to the audience, rather than the typical, dramatically effective diagonal or lateral crossing. But it was a taste of global contemporary ballet to cap an all-female creator program remarkable for being, in a sense, all in due course. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Scottish Ballet Debuts with Flair

Ten Poems. Photo: Andy Ross
The Scottish Ballet showed its artistic breadth and technical fortitude in a program of three diverse dances at the Joyce. It is Scotland's national company, begun in 1969, and is led by artistic director Christopher Hampson, who contributed Sinfonietta Giocosa to the program. This crisply structured neoclassical ballet, bookended by a tableau of two taut columns of dancers, is full of virtuosic leaps and turns. It's a work with great dynamic flair to match the music by Bohuslav Martinu.  

The highlight of the slate was its closer, Ten Poems, to said poetry by Dylan Thomas read on a recording by actor Richard Burton. It sounds somewhat dry at the outset, but Christopher Bruce's occasionally mimetic gestural movement ebbs and flows gracefully with the text's lyrical phrasing. He mines the emotion of the poetry without being too literal; rectitude might translate as upright posture and right-angled arms, childlike joy by jaunty, darting leaps. While there is no outright narrative, as each section is performed one or more new characters are introduced, culminating in a ensemble section. Marian Bruce designed the nostalgic streetwear costumes.

Sophie Martin and Victor Zarallo in Bryan Arias' "Motion of Displacement." Photo by Andy Ross.

Bryan Arias choreographed Motion of Displacement, a contemporary take on ballet that shows possible influences from Complexions and NDT, where he has danced; he currently is a member of Crystal Pite's Kidd Pivot. The dancers pose downstage, each in a varied shape but touching one another, and energy snakes through them. Shapes morph from curvilinear to angular, everything feels pushed and extruded, attenuated. A tall woman pairs with a shorter man; the rest watch, indifferently shifting their weight from leg to leg. Body parts are isolated, and they change levels from planks on the floor to strongly resisting gravity in pulled-up attitudes. They all start by wearing socks (thanks, Mr. Forsythe, who seems to be another influence); some women don toe shoes for duets. Arias also designed the handsome costumes: white tops with pale grey trousers, sometimes removed. While one can admire the strength and fluidity of the dancers, the piece, while full of style and formal ideas, felt emotionally bereft, particularly in light of Ten Poems.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

New York Notebook

Romeo & Juliet. Photo: Cheryl Mann
How much fiddling can a stalwart ballet like Romeo & Juliet take? Turns out, quite a bit. In Krzysztof Pastor’s 2008 production, presented by the Joyce Foundation at the Koch Theater recently, the action takes place in three eras over the last century to underscore how history repeats itself. It’s an intriguing premise that mostly succeeds, supported by the designs by Tatyana Van Walsum and the sturdy Prokofiev score.

Pastor’s style of ballet tends toward expressionistic, with clean lines, twisting torsos, and limbs pulling in opposition. It’s most effective in the meaty group scenes featuring warring factions or ballroom dances. The character of Romeo (Alberto Velazquez) felt slightly undersketched; he came across as callow, rather than a soul-sick poet. Juliet (Amanda Assucena) was portrayed as bold and stronger than the traditional character of a child-woman. The role of Paris is greatly diminished in this version; at one point several men have a sort of speed dating meet-up with Juliet, who winds up with one, but it's more a metaphor of the dominance of the authoritarian ruling party than individual choice. For the balcony duet, Juliet is cleverly suspended above the stage in a small elevator, which lowers her to the ground to dance with Romeo. The level of technique is honed, with dynamic performances given by Derrick Agnoletti (Mercutio) and Edson Barbosa (Tybalt). 

Christine Rocas & Rory Hohenstein in Romeo & Juliet. Photo: Cheryl Mann
The overall metaphor of the effects of war is at times depicted as taking place between authoritarian figures—the ruling family and attendant police—and the people, as in the 1930s setting. In the first act, the differing dark vs. light costumes clearly distinguish the factions until the ball, where everyone wears black and white except the lead couple. They wear pale blue in every act; Juliet a camisole dress with a short skirt; Romeo a jacket over shirt and pants, reminiscent of terrible prom tuxes. In the final act, Juliet wears lingerie—an ill-fitting camisole and shorts, and Romeo cheap-looking shirtsleeves. The costumes undermined the stage power of the romantic couple, to a distracting extent.

In the act set in the 1950s, the palette becomes red and black, the background imagery full of Vespas. A window colonnade separates the inside from outside; people pass by the windows as fleeting shadows. The scene in the 1990s is set in Juliet’s room, now a sleek apartment building. Clever sculptural panels descend and rise to give texture to the austere basic set. Unfortunately, by lying in front of her, Romeo obscured Juliet from view in the death scene, which could be prevented. And after the first action-filled scenes, the finale dragged in pace. But overall, i
t was heartening to see that the Joffrey has flourished after departing New York for Chicago decades ago.

Anna Chirescu and Gianni Joseph in Place. Photo by Charlotte Audreau.

Cunningham via France

It seems almost cruel that the primary home for the choreography of Merce Cunningham is in Angers, France with the Compagnie CNDC under the guidance of longtime Cunningham dancer and steward Robert Swinston. After all, we in New York enjoyed the regular performances of Merce Cunningham Dance Company in its hometown over the course of his lifetime. But yearly visits by CNDC will help to assuage some of the emptiness from the disbanding of MCDC. 
(And Lyon Opera Ballet just performed Cunningham's Summerspace with Paul Taylor American Modern Dance.) 

The company recently brought to the Joyce three works of great variety. Inlets 2 (1983) is time-stamped by its pastel leotards of milliskin, very shiny lycra, designed by Mark Lancaster, who also lit it. The John Cage composition Inlets was played on sea shells, some giant conches, with water, making trickling and burbling sounds. The movement is one of Merce’s nature studies, mostly unhurried, or with quickened paces ebbing and flowing. Small groups move together and break apart amid the ice-hued lighting schemes. Legs cross and bend, like birds, but these organic postures are mixed in with the geometry of ballet.

Alexandre Tondolo and Adrien Mornet in How to Pass, Kick, Fall and RunPhoto: Charlotte Audreau
Place (1966) is far more dramatic. Gianni Joseph slowly, muscularly, strides centerstage into a pool of yellow light (Beverly Emmons, who also designed costumes and the wooden palette decor) and drops to a pinwheel. Several women wearing tinted plastic tunics join him, spinning rapidly and rocking in second position relévé, and then a few men wearing plain brown. Later, dancers enter one by one, fabricating a modulating tableau. Joseph slides two multi-sided lit orbs upstage, perhaps a kind of time tracker. A man carries a woman wound, front side out, around his torso like an expressive sculpture; she then lies face down, suspended on his thighs. There’s more lifting than in your average Cunningham dance—cruciforms, splits, and more. Joseph digs out a translucent plastic sack and, legs inside it, struggles across the stage.

For How to Kick, Pass, Fall and Run, two readers sit at a table, stage left, reciting short anecdotes about random topics. The dancers wear black tights, white stirrups, and bright tops. In this athletic dance, they bound, jump in x-shapes, twist, and leap full-out. Standing legs bent, they crisply développé the other leg to the side and front. The viewer’s attention is torn between understanding the speakers’ stories, and giving full regard to the movement. No doubt John Cage (who provided the text, Stories from Indeterminacy) was smiling as one of the spotlights in an upstage string of them blew, sparks showering onto the stage before those fixtures were turned off. Truly, anything can happen in live performance.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

2017 Whitney Biennial

Samara Golden, The Meat Grinder's Iron Clothes, 2017. Photo: Susan Yung
The 2017 Whitney Biennial is the first edition to be held in the new building, which itself still feels more like news than the show itself. The museum's 2015 inaugural aspirational statement show on Gansevoort (America Is Hard to See) felt like a biennial, and probably helped to alleviate some of the pressure that builds up before each biennial. Mia Locks and Christopher Lew curated this edition, whose work was chosen prior to the 2016 election.

Biennials, by nature, are notoriously overstuffed. The most memorable works are often distinguished, for me, by scale or craft. The standouts in this show are the site-specific installations that make use of the vast window walls facing the Hudson River. Foremost among them are Samara Golden's Escheresque work, The Meat Grinder's Iron Clothes, comprising scale models of the offices or residences of several occupants of a multi-story building. Tenants include a treatment room (of an unspecified medical, dental or vanity service), a restaurant, an office, and more, all with breathtaking river views. By using mirrored panels and securing some of the units upside-down, the effect evokes that of an infinity mirror. It's both realistic and completely disorienting. (Curator Locks is publishing a book on Golden's work this spring.)


Raύl de Nieves, beginning & the end neither & the otherwise betwixt & between the end is the beginning & the end, 2016. Photo: Susan Yung




Another work that takes cunning advantage of the glass and sunlight is beginning & the end neither & the otherwise betwixt & between the end is the beginning & the end by Raύl de Nieves. Using mundane media, de Nieves has crafted an impressive faux stained glass composition on the windows, which backgrounds beaded, knobby, vaguely monstrous sculptures and costumes, some of which de Nieves wears in performances. It's not exactly water into wine, but he does create the feeling of ecclesiastical opulence with simple materials. It occupies the lounge area behind the partial wall that provides shade to the galleries, where people check their phones while resting on the tasteful leather sofas.


Casey Gollan & Victoria Sobel, Reflections, 2017
In a similar vein, in Reflections, Casey Gollan & Victoria Sobel adhered reverse cut-out vinyl text that appears in negative form on the adjacent wall. The text summons verbiage from the 1968 student strikes in Paris, which aimed to destabilize the university system.

In Root sequence. Mother tongue, Asad Raza arrayed 26 individually potted saplings in one of the galleries that leads to an outdoor exhibition space. The trees have been assigned personalities, scents, and/or traits. This indoor grove is clearly conducive to socializing, with groups of chatters standing amidst the installation as if the trees were guests at a cocktail party. 

Occupy Museums is an installation organizing the debts of 30 artists, with artifacts somewhat hokily embedded within the sheetrock walls of the galleries. Like the Occupy Wall Street movement from which it derives its name, it is meant to underscore economic disparity—in this case between debt-laden artists and the lending institutions which profit from the debt.  
Occupy Museums, Stress, Fear and Anxiety Bundle, 2015.
One of the oldest painters represented is Jo Baer (born 1929), whose unstretched, sparingly-marked canvases with a harmonious organic palette are a breath of fresh air. Other art world veterans include Lyle Ashton Harris, with an atmospheric video room installation, and Jon Kessler, who combines machinery and detritus into densely-packed sculptures. Of representational art and photography, the subject matter is predominantly, refreshingly, non-Caucasian. There are full rooms devoted to one artist's work; some puzzling, such as the grotesque, charred pastiches of KAYA; others check the pulse of painting, including Carrie Moyer Ulrike Müller, and Shara Hughes.

The fact that the work was made in a pre-Trump presidency time gives it an almost nostalgic feel, free from the overbearing story line that will most likely dominate work made in 2017 and after—the way 9/11 affected everything that came after. And there's no getting around the tension between the prominence of the disenfranchised in the subject matter and the expensive river views and surrounding glitz. Tis ever thus.