More Green Less Concerte in NYC?


James Wines (Nicosia Smith photo)

James Wines (Nicosia Smith photo)

By Nicosia Smith

It is difficult to get your head wrap around the idea.

Just the thought of less concerte in NYC, is a risk to capital flight.

Nevertheless, Design Mind Michael Sorkin and Architect James Wines took a swipe at it anyway.

In a pack room at the Greene Space, 44 Charlton Street, NYC, Sorkin and Wines, spell out ways we might become greener.

Sorkin showed designs of sky-scraper like buildings that included vegetable farms. Rooftops and window sills with tomatoes and vegetables.

Principal Michael Sorkin  of Michael Sorkin Studio in discussion at The Greene Space, NY. (Nicosia Smith photo)

Principal Michael Sorkin of Michael Sorkin Studio in discussion at The Greene Space, NY. (Nicosia Smith photo)

But as Sorkin proposed these fanciful ideas, he also shot them down. The main problem, energy.

For example, he estimated it will take 25 nuclear power plants to maintain vertical farms in NYC.

There would be smaller streets and yes these sky-high farms will block the little sunshine we do have.

So Sorkin believes, we will have to rethink urban architecture, altogether, to go green.

Wines agrees and says the “lollypop”  trees around city streets will not cut it.

He will like to see real thought go into urban architecture, like those of old Venice, France and Rome.

Where design and nature brought people together.


File:Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy 2 - May 2007.jpg

(Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy)

Wines basically called our concrete slabs for benches at parks and recreation places lacking imagination.

Unlike those outdoor places of old Europe where he said, “someone apply real imagination to the seating.”

Our outdoor spaces do not engage the mind, touch, light, sound and intellect, he said. And to achieve  this it would mean including nature in some form.

Hence becoming greener.

In an environment that craves the synthetic feel above natural and real, this would be very difficult. Nevertheless,  it can be done with a little financial push.

And the big question is, how do we get corporations involve, to promote something like this.

It does boil down to dollars and cents, sadly.

Sorkin, is a principal of Michael Sorkin Studio in NY and Wines, founder president of SITE, an architectural studio.

Cooper-Hewitt’s Director Caroline Baumann moderated this Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum sponsored event.

In the meantime, however, let us try to grow bigger trees.



Art for Depression

Painting by Else Blankenhorn (1873-1920).

Else Blankenhorn 1873-1920 (Spiegel Online International Photo)


By Nicosia Smith

Immersing your self into thoughts and feelings apart from your own is a helpful tool to free the mind.

When you step into a gallery or museum or observe a painter at work,  you are agreeing to a journey.

Out from where you are at the moment, to another place. And at that place you are the manager in charge and the judge in the court.

Your opinions and suggestions are all your own and largely block to anyone else.

Although, the creative mind behind the piece on display, will likely explain what the art is saying or means in brief.

This is open-ended. It is not written in stone, as they say.

Or except of course, you become an influential art critic, and even so, art lovers are not easily dissuaded by critics.

Because art is all about going against the grain, so to speak.

But back to art as therapy.

Last week and this week several artistic associations celebrated the healing power of art.

One such institution was the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

More than 30 folk art works by psychiatric patients were displayed in the hospital’s lobby.

All part of a celebration of Creative Arts Therapy Week. Yes, that’s right.

Creativity is not only for economic gain but it provides fulfillment for the mind.

As these and other psychiatric patients have shown us.

That is, expressing one’s self through art is also a powerful form of treatment, together with traditional treatment.

As someone who loves the escape that art and other things cultural provide, I will continue moving towards the art epicenters.

A Facebook post or Wall Art?

What is your social media wall saying about you?

Is it a chart of how you are to be remembered?

And there is no shame in thinking about it while you post on Twitter or Facebook.

And look at it this way – you may not be consciously pondering it, but you are posting it.

Think about it.

All those dinner outings, evening sessions, birthday parties, vacations and upset moments posted for all.

A memento in your online album. Of your feelings and thoughts to be liked or disliked.

All saying these are things to remember me by.  A very interactive way.

If you happen to get famous over night, yes that too can happen. The first place the media is likely to look for information about you is on social media.

And all of your post and bantering becomes who you are. Even that one post you hope would disappear over time.

No they do not.

But for those of us looking for a more subdued  and less interactive way.

Well, there is always the services of a painter. That is one that can paint a portrait.

The artist can make you look the part whatever part that is.

Fit for a fireplace mantle or for a living room wall.

So while your post will be a little more off the wall or unpredictable, your portrait is not expected to be.

Unless the artist is told otherwise.

Curators are always preoccupied with this question, because it is a part of their jobs.

That is, how to best present a subject or someone.

So as you come across your next post-able moment, remember, that’s your art on the wall.

Dressed for the Ball – NY Gilded Age

By Nicosia Smith

New York City today is known for its excesses.

A glimpse of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal will attest to this.

New York’s grand lifestyles are by no means recent.

Since, for centuries those with wealth have flaunted it. Whether in Europe, Asia, Africa or the Middle East.

But whenever you are confronted with these over the top lifestyles, it has a shock value.

Remember New York’s Gilded Age. Or should I say, have you heard about the Gilded Age.

The Museum of the City of  New York has decided to jug our memories.

Exhibiting objects from the mid 1870’s to the early 20th Century of New York’s rich.

It was the perfect way to open the museum’s Tiffany and Co. Foundation Gallery. That is, what better inaugural show, for a gallery sponsored by Tiffany, right.

The Gilded Age, was a time of excesses so grand, that even publications frown on it.

This was so, I imagine, because as wealthy families flirted and splurged at grand balls, New York struggled with a large poor population.

This exhibit is a bold display of costumes, jewelry, portraits, decorative plates, vases and fine china.

Immaculate clothing with sapphires, platinum, turquoise, ruby and fine silk. And painted silk feathers, mother-of-pearl folding fans.

A bejewelled breath freshener case and perfume bottles engraved with gold are also among the trinkets.

And the love of jewellery is seen in the self portraits of the rich.

Like the exhibit at the New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, Beauty’s Legacy: Gilded Age Portraits in America, vouches to this.

In addition – a slide show outside the Tiffany gallery, shows images from extravagant parties. Like the Alva and William K. Vanderbilt Ball of 1883 at their 5th Avenue Mansion, Bradley Martin Ball of 1897 and others.

They dressed as kings and queens from Europe and as an Egyptian princess or Indian chief. Posing for photos in courtyards and gardens, fashioned after Versailles. These exhibits are a great way to learn about this era, in person. And there is still time.

While the New York Historical Society exhibit ends March 9, this City Museum exhibit goes until November.

So go, take a look.