Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cultural debrief—May 20

What's a blog for if not to empty one's head? This week's stuff, unpacked...

David sporting a Ducks hockey jersey.
If you were batting .409, you could
pull this off too.
David Wright and the Mets
David Wright is leading the MLB with a batting average of .411. Only a fool would believe he could sustain this pace through the entire season, so let's appreciate it while we can. And his dugout contretemps with manager Terry Collins the other night may have aired internal dirty laundry, but it was by no means a bad thing, showing the spine that Wright has but hides behind his puppy-like persona. (After the Mets pitcher hit the Brewers' star, Collins pulled Wright to avoid retaliation, as Wright suffered a concussion last year and still has a broken finger.) His usual public face is so affable and conciliatory that we rarely see that fire, but there it was. And the Mets are fun to watch now, with small ball, one sizzling hitter in Wright and another in Murphy, and RA Dickey -- Renaissance pitcher and wiffle ball enthusiast (watch him learning a few things from the kids here) who climbed Mt. Everest and listens to Chopin's nocturnes on his drive home. Whee.

Coda: as of May 20, the Mets have lost 4 of their last 5 games, tied for third in the division. Wright was rested yesterday and is still batting .409.

David Hallberg & Natalia Osipova in Giselle
ABT's overabundant casting

Gomes or Hallberg? Osipova or Vishneva? Everyone should have such problems. With the many international guest dancers that ABT features in addition to its abundant "home grown" ranks, picking which shows to see is a sport. I saw Giselle with Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes last Tuesday. Kent (born in 1969) is still physically lithe enough, but she's never struck me as impetuous enough to be the rebellious teen called for. Yet she and Gomes have danced together so much that they are perfectly harmonious as partners. Of course the dancers are portraying characters, so the semblance of reality is moot, but some dancers are naturally better suited to roles. Not so Giselle for Kent, I'm afraid. And yet Gomes is the complete dancer now—technically fine and regally handsome, but it is his acting and partnering that vault him above all others.

Natalia Osipova, however, is a natural Giselle—gamine-like, strong-willed, with an inner spark and a preternatural ballon (although her act 2 tutu was about 4" too long). She was paired with David Hallberg at Saturday's matinee for a sublime, possibly perfect performance. Both soar like gazelles, and their chemistry is wonderful—poetic and heartachingly sublime. That Hallberg joined the Bolshoi, in part to dance with Osipiva, just as she left the company only adds to the poignancy.  

Ernesto Neto, photo courtesy Tonya Bonakdar and the artist.
Chelsea Galleries—caught a few interesting ones with some high school pals:

Ernesto Neto (Tanya Bonakdar, ends May 25) is known for his goofy, likable amoebas-in-pantyhose sculptures; here he enlarges the scale of the mesh to fishing net-sized, the sand is now rubber balls, and you can tunnel into them like cocoons.

Tauba Auerbach (Paula Cooper, ends June 9) weaves canvas strips to create subtly textured, variegated surfaces, and paints crinkled, unfolded fabric as subject matter.

Anish Kapoor (Barbara Gladstone, ends June 9) is showing a giant, iron diving bell-like sculpture. You can stand in its hollow and hear your voice ricocheting off its sides; it's impressive for its immensity and weathered, steampunky appearance. At Gladstone's other gallery (which I did not see), in a departure, he has a series of lumpen, dripped, unpainted concrete sculptures that resemble stalagmites.

Richard Avedon (Gagosian, 21st St, ends July 6) took portraits of countless throngs, but this exhibition focuses on four groups of subjects around 1970, including Warhol's Factory klatch and Abbie Hoffman's extended family. Cleverly designed partitions isolate each mural-sized photo, pinned behind huge panes of glass like dead butterflies.

Cindy Sherman
(Metro Pictures, ends June 9) shot Icelandic landscapes around the time of the recent volcanic eruptions, herself in vintage Chanel outfits, and Photoshopped the results—bizarre, jarring juxtapositions.

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