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15

Jul
2012

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Art
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PBS Documentary: “Treasures of New York: Art Underground”

Faith Ringgold “Flying Home: Harlem Heroes and Heroines (Downtown and Uptown)” 1996 Photo via MTA Arts for Transit

We are delighted to present WNET’s marvelous documentary “Treasures of New York:  Art Underground” (below) preceded by a brief review by George Fishman.  From WNET’s website:

Five million…that’s the number of people that pass through New York City’s subway and commuter rail stations every day. Although they may not know it, these passengers have access to one of the world’s foremost public art collections.  Hosted by Paula Zahn, Treasures of New York: Art Underground features interviews with artists such as Faith Ringgold, Tom Otterness, Milton Glaser, Bill Brand, Andrea Dezsö, Jason Middlebrook and Elizabeth Murray, along with master mosaicist Stephen Miotto and current and past Directors of MTA Arts for Transit, Sandra Bloodworth and Wendy Feuer.

With this article, we’re initiating a new category on Mosaic Art NOW, Collaborations, where we will showcase the uniquely rich relationship between artists and mosaic artisans.

Enjoy  –  Nancie

For a delightful immersion into the history and current activities of the enormous underground museum that is the New York subway system’s Arts For Transit program, treat yourself to WNET Channel Thirteen’s free one hour video called “Treasures of New York: Art Underground” (below).  The producers interview current administrator Sandra Bloodworth and her predecessors for a dramatic historical perspective. Following its elegant initial design and fabrication, the subway system descended into a bleak period of vandalism and decrepitude, but a grand renovation plan included the bold proposal to incorporate new artwork within each station’s revival.

Jason Middlebrook “Brooklyn Seeds” 2009-2011

Mosaic artist Steven Miotto gets major face time. His decades-long collaboration with artists of all stripes is a fascinating story in itself. When selected by a commissioned artist as a collaborating partner, he gets into their minds and hearts, leading them through the complex process of translating their vision and their graphic designs into mosaic “paintings for eternity.” His grasp of the potential for glass and tile to make even very ethereal imagery into “bullet-proof” expression on a grand scale is rooted in a lifelong immersion in the materials and techniques of mosaic – including its installation under extremely demanding conditions.

Andrea Deszö “Community Garden” 2006  Photo via MTA Arts for Transit

Faith Ringgold, speaks eloquently and nostalgically about the series of paintings – now mosaics – that portray the heroes of her Harlem childhood. Writers and musicians fly across the cityscape in flattened but vivid characterizations. I had the opportunity to interview her when she was in Miami last year, and she spoke about the challenges of trying to “make it” as an African-American artist dealing with political themes at a time when the galleries favored the abstract.  Click here (http://bitly.com/yxGJ3R) to listen to that interview with her.

Faith Ringgold “Flying Home” Detail  Photo via MTA Arts for Transit

George Fishman  qrartguide.com

“Treasures of New York: Art Underground” is below.  For an even bigger treat, click the full-screen display icon.

Treasures of New York: Art Underground (2012) from Kevin Alexander on Vimeo.

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Comments

  1. Carol Shelkin

    I adore this new category – especially after hearing a lecture by Stephan Miotto. His studies in Spillimbergo have sure paid off as is his respect for the artists he’s working with to develop their art into a mosaic. Thank you for posting this to help us understand his process!

    • Nancie

      Glad you’re digging this, Carol. A successful collaboration between artist and artisan is a beautiful thing and mosaic is so wonderfully suited for it. So many possibilities.

  2. Susan

    Every mosaic artist and student should see this.

  3. Lilian Broca

    Congratulations on your new MAN category “collaborations”. I enjoyed reading George Fishman’s review and watching the video. In the last 10 years David and I have been admiring those subway mosaics each time we are in NYC.

  4. Kathy Cook

    Fascinating! The story, the art, the artists, the process. Kudos to all those who have been a part of making this possible.

  5. Heather Vollans

    This is a fabulous documentary. I couldn’t move away from my computer!

  6. JOB

    Don’t miss the last 6-7 minutes where Steve Miotto installs a giant subway mosaic.

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