A conversation with Alex Poots, Artistic Director and CEO of The Shed, a brand new venue for cutting edge arts and culture on Manhattan’s West Side. Followed by a visit to The Morgan Library & Museum to see the exhibition “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth.” And a look at the “Encyclopedic Palace” by Marino Auriti, which is in the collection of the American Folk Art Museum.
Coming up on NYC-ARTS... a conversation with Alex Poots, Artistic Director of THE SHED, a brand new venue for cutting edge arts and culture on Manhattan's West Side.... The Shed is where you make things. And although the architecture is very advanced and very futuristic, it has been conceived as a place things can be made to And the building adapts to what the artists need.
...And a visit to the Morgan Library & Museum for a look at the exhibition 'Tolkien: Master of Middle-Earth.' Tolkien started writing The Hobbit probably about 1929. All of the manuscripts and illustrative material in the show is original and in Tolkien's own hand.
We have the original five watercolors he produced FUNDING FOR NYC-ARTS IS MADE POSSIBLE BY ROSALIND P. WALTER THEA PETSCHEK IERVOLINO FOUNDATION JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD KATE W. CASSIDY FOUNDATION THE LEWIS 'SONNY' TURNER FUND FOR DANCE ELISE JAFFE AND JEFFREY BROWN ESTATE OF CECILE FOX JEAN DUBINSKY APPLETON ESTATE AND THE MILTON AND SALLY AVERY ARTS FOUNDATION THIS PROGRAM IS SUPPORTED, IN PART, BY PUBLIC FUNDS FROM THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE CITY COUNCIL.
ADDITIONAL FUNDING PROVIDED BY MEMBERS OF THIRTEEN.
NYC-ARTS IS MADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY FIRST REPUBLIC BANK... AND BY SWANN AUCTION GALLERIES.
Good evening and welcome to NYC-ARTS.
I'm Paula Zahn at the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center.
For those who haven't driven down the West Side Highway recently, a small city has sprung up there seemingly overnight.
It's called the Hudson Yards, and at about 28 acres, it's one of the largest private developments in the country.
Upon completion, almost all of the 16 planned structures will sit on platforms built over the West Side Yard, a storage facility for Long Island Rail Road.
Serviced by the new number 7 Line expansion - the area is a destination for high end shopping, with both residential and office buildings designed by some of the world's best known architects.
But the 'jewel in the crown' is The Shed.
This center for performing and visual arts was designed with Rockwell Group and Diller Scofidio and Renfro - which also happened to designed The Highline, the popular elevated walkway that leads to this exciting venue.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a champion and great supporter of this project and he urged the planning team to create an innovated center to keep New York at the forefront of the arts and culture scene, and with that, Alex Poots was hired as Artistic Director.
Poots comes to the job as founder and artistic director of the Manchester International Festival, and more recently as the artistic director of the Park Avenue Armory.
NYC-Arts spoke with him recently- When this new neighborhood was just a glint in Mayor Bloomberg and Dan Doctoroff's eye, the idea was to build a, an Olympic stadium here, so that goes back I think to maybe 2005 and there was nothing here.
New York didn't get the Olympics, but the idea that that they wouldn't be defeated, that they would use all of the energy that they got into this planning to maybe create a new neighborhood, and it was what they ended up doing.
At that point, it was insisted on that there would be a cultural facility built on city land at the intersection of this new neighborhood and and the city.
And it would be a not for profit.
And it would be something that would keep New York on the cutting edge and that would be complimentary and unlike anything else.
The mission of The Shed is to commission artists from all backgrounds and all walks of life, whether it's performing arts, visual arts, pop culture, we're trying to create parity across all of that, get move away from this old and I pretty corrosive idea about high art and low art.
You know, there is great arts across all genres.
And we commission artists, whether they're established or early career or community artists, they're all equal as well.
And I think if you can do that in an honest and an integral way, then you have half a chance of welcoming and and intriguing a far wider range of audience.
The building itself, which is designed by Liz Diller in collaboration with David Rockwell is one of the most flexible I've ever seen and is fit for purpose across all performing arts, visual arts, pop.
You know, so take the McCourt, which is the bit that moves, it's built on this system, gantry system, which is used in ship yards where these huge cranes move on wheels along the length of the ship, and, Liz Diller, created a hybrid of that influence of architecture on to an actual building.
So in even the concept of the architecture has a hybrid aspect to it.
And of course the programming that we're doing, um, because we cover all art forms, performing arts, visual arts, pop culture, um, artists if they want to can come in and if the idea they have requires them to work with artists from other disciplines, then The Shed is a really good place to do that because we have not only the contacts with those kinds of artists, but you also have critically the expertise with our staff.
So our staff comprise of new best in class curators, producers, presenters across all disciplines.
Not only can it be a 2000 standing arena like it will be for the concert series, but we can put in a 1300 seating bank in there for our futuristic country musical in the summer with songs by Sia and choreography by Akram Khan and directed by the great Chen Shi-Zheng, Chinese director.
It can adapt to all those different kinds of work, and then when we want to do something that is outdoors and celebratory for people just to bump into, we can roll the entire McCourt building over the fixed building and roll it back to create an open air plaza.
So that's one space, there are three other spaces in the building, two major galleries, which can either be large scale galleries or subdivided into small intimate galleries.
And above those two galleries is a 500 seat theater, which can be configured either with the seats and on the stage at one side, one end of the seats at the other or the seats break up and can go in the round or they roll back the seats and you can have a completely open area to do more immersive theater or to do standing pop concerts.
So really the the name of the game is flexibility, and she describes it as an architecture of infrastructure.
[Inaudible] One of the reasons why I think we can call it a shed is because its a a shed is where you make things and although the architecture is very advanced and very futuristic, it has been conceived as a place where things can be made and the building adapts to what the artists need.
We are launching a The Shed with four different, um, commissions, one is called , it's an idea about Steve McQueen.
We commissioned and so each night we have about five different early career, wonderful young artist, who have been given the family tree and they each have three or four pieces of music that they perform or helped perform by our house band to show those connections leading up to their piece of music that they are going to perform.
So you see these branches of the tree each night.
If you go up to our theatre we have a new dramatic monologue with songs written by Ann Carson for the actor Ben Whishaw and the soprano Renée Fleming.
In our galleries, we have the first exhibition of Trisha Donnelly's in 10 years in New York.
In the other gallery a project that's been developed with Gerhard Richter, Steve Reich and Arvo Paärt, and what you'll experience in the gallery is this communion between the visual and the live music.
We have Bjoörk with Lucrecia Martel really remarkable South American filmmaker.
Bjoörk wanted to make a futuristic new piece, she calls it a handshake between the music, technology, and theatre.
And so this is Bjoörk's first ever, I would say theatrical concert.
Our plan was to develop co-commissioning partners around the world to share our interests in the artists that we want to develop, work with and the idea is that there would be multiple co-commissioners, so that when a work opens, um, it then travels to other places.
Um, and actually we have one in our first season that is already happening in that way, which is the Bill Forsythe, , and that is a co-commission between Sadlers Wells in London and The Shed.
One program that I'm really proud of and I really have to call-out two of my colleagues Tamara McCaw and Emma Enderby is this program called Open Call, it was an open call to emerging talent in New York and we had 930 applications, we had to in the end choose 52, these 52 artist are commissioned.
We help produce and curate their work and then we present their work for free to the audiences.
When we had this idea of a place for all art forms that makes new work, it it was unlike anything else, in fact, what it does is it takes from a performing arts venue, from a museum and from a pop venue and brings those elements together.
And we need centers of excellence in every city.
What it it's desperately important that there is a public theater, that there is a Metropolitan Museum, that there is a Met Opera, that there is a New York City Ballet in New York.
All of these are vital cultural organizations, and I hope that The Shed can contribute and I do believe that if we get it right, we will provide something that is complimentary to the city and that sits hopefully shoulder to shoulder with the other vulnerable institutions of this wonderful city.
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.'
So begins one of the most famous stories of English literature.
But while The Hobbit begins with that simple line, the origins of hobbits, elves, dwarves, and the world they inhabit are far more complex.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, a scholar of English language and its history, created the realm of Middle-earth to give his own invented languages a home.
Now on view at The Morgan Library & Museum is an in-depth look at Tolkien's life and work.
The exhibition includes rarely-seen materials from the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford, home of the Tolkien Archive.
Visitors can witness the creation of one of the most ambitious and influential tales of the 20th century.
And now, curator John McQuillen takes us 'far over the misty mountains cold' into the world of Middle-earth.
We are standing in Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, an exhibition that celebrates the life and creative process of one of the most famous authors of the 20th century: J.R.R Tolkien.
Tolkien, in his day job, was a professor of medieval English literature and language at the University of Oxford.
In his evening job he was the author and creator of Middle-earth, of the world we know through the three main stories of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.
He was actually born in what was then the Orange Free State in what is now the Republic of South Africa to English parents.
At about the age of four his mother took him and his younger brother back to England, at which point his father died while he was still in South Africa.
He always said that landing in the green verdant English countryside was a real eye-opener and there are illustrations we have in the show from his childhood of a tree by a stream.
The rural English countryside was the direct inspiration for Frodo and Bilbo's home in the Shire.
When Tolkien was 12, his mother Mabel died from diabetes.
As an orphan from a very early age he really desired the stability of a family unit.
He really developed a close bond with his wife Edith, who was also an orphan.
And so he was a very close part of his children's lives.
For over 20 years, every year Tolkien produced these very elaborate letters and illustrations to his four children from Father Christmas.
He would include tales of Father Christmas's adventures at the North Pole with his friend, the North Polar Bear, and his helper elves.
You can see in the letters Father Christmas's hand shakes, because it's cold at the North Pole.
Tolkien started writing The Hobbit probably about 1929.
It was originally a story for his children.
All of the manuscripts and illustrative material in the show is original and in Tolkien's own hand.
We have the original five watercolors he produced, actually, originally for the American edition, although they came out in the English edition before the American.
And so you can really see in his visual production his real creation of the complete world that Bilbo lived in.
The landscapes, the settings - he's striving to help the imagination of the reader really grasp the setting of Middle-earth.
Tolkien produced the original dust-jacket design for The Hobbit, one of the most iconic pieces of 20th century book arts.
He was sort of worried about what any other artist might do.
And so ultimately, cover to cover, the entire first edition of The Hobbit is Tolkien's creation.
Tolkien began writing what became Lord of the Rings immediately after the Hobbit came out.
The publisher was very interested in having a sequel and so it was about 1937 when Tolkien starts thinking about what is going to be Bilbo's next adventure.
Within a year of writing the story kind of outgrew just Bilbo.
The writing of Lord of the Rings took about a dozen years.
But the first thing Tolkien produced for this was the map of Middle-earth and he said repeatedly in letters that he began with a map and made the story fit.
The first map, the main map for Lord of the Rings, is quite incredible because it is the map that he used over this 12-year period, and almost every day.
You can see how much it is folded, refolded, torn, taped back together, corrected.
It is really almost a living document of the story.
It grew as the story grew.
The Silmarillion is a great history of the Elves and what he really considered was his life's work and greatest achievement.
He was attempting to create a mythology for England.
There was this sense of an almost Biblical epic in terms of creation.
It goes from a creation myth through to battles and romances, great wars that really physically shaped the landscape of Middle-earth, that then is the land that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are set in.
Tolkien is very unusual in modern authors for the world-building that he did.
There is a history to the languages.
His timelines and the sort of production notes are again another effort to maintain the complete veracity of the world.
A world is not a superficial thing.
It is a fully realized entity and that was a depth of creation that I don't think any other author has ever matched.
Rafael Pi Roman : On April 14 and 16 The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will present a mini-festival titled' The two programs presented by The Chamber Music Society will include nine different works, revealing the composer in all his kaleidoscopic creativity.
The performances will feature pianistGilbert Kalish along with sopranoTony Arnold and baritoneRandall Scarlata , flutistTara Helen O'Connor , and many more artists.
For complete details please visit: chambermusicsociety.org Valerie Rousseau: Welcome to the American Folk Art Museum, my name is Valerie Rousseau, curator for the Art of the 20th and 21st century.
We are in front of a very typical piece of our collection.
This is the Encyclopedic Palace by Marino Auriti, an Italian immigrant who settled in Kennett Square Pennsylvania around 1938.
And there he opened a shop where he was an auto body mechanic.
And for about three years, in the backyard of his garage, he worked on his architectural model.
Marino Auriti explained his project in a highly detailed 6 page statement of purpose.
He said, 'This building is an entirely new concept in museums, designed to hold all the works of man in whatever field, discoveries made and those which may follow.
Everything from the wheel to the satellite.'
The model is seven feet high and it's on a scale of one for two hundred.
The whole complex is an off-white and bronze wood compound centered around a tower.
Composed of eight, super imposed circular sections topped by a metal spire.
There are four arched, main entrances surmounted by the flag of Italy, of France, of the United States, and Spain.
Auriti's attention to detail and functionality are astounding.
You have for instance about 800 windows made of clear celluloid and swinging metal doors.
Auriti's own philosophy and sets of value are inscribed onto the palace, you can read those different sentences related to his own perception of how we should behave as citizens, as neighbors.
I don't think that he wanted to build it to be just a model.
He wanted to really realize that architecture.
And if this architecture would have been built, it would have spread over sixteen city blocks and been one hundred and thirty-six stories high.
Many of the self-taught artists that we have in our collection started to create a specific time of their life, it's often like a turning point.
They experience some sort of psychological changes in their life.
They got injured, they could not work anymore.
In the case of Auriti, he left Italy to escape the fascist Italian party.
A bit before he passed away, he said he would be happy if this piece would be in a museum for future generations.
And it took 33 years for the piece to be secured at the American Folk Art Museum I hope you've enjoyed our program this evening.
I'm Paula Zahn at the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center.
Thanks for joining us.
CH: Next week on NYC-ARTS... a profile oF artist Nari Ward, whose intricate and immersive installations are now on view in a retrospective exhibition at The New Museum.
FUNDING FOR NYC-ARTS IS MADE POSSIBLE BY ROSALIND P.
WALTER THEA PETSCHEK IERVOLINO FOUNDATION JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD KATE W.
CASSIDY FOUNDATION THE LEWIS 'SONNY' TURNER FUND FOR DANCE ELISE JAFFE AND JEFFREY BROWN ESTATE OF CECILE FOX JEAN DUBINSKY APPLETON ESTATE ELLEN AND JAMES S.
MARCUS ELROY AND TERRY KRUMHOLZ FOUNDATION AND THE MILTON AND SALLY AVERY ARTS FOUNDATION THIS PROGRAM IS SUPPORTED, IN PART, BY PUBLIC FUNDS FROM THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE CITY COUNCIL.
(USE LOGO) ADDITIONAL FUNDING PROVIDED BY MEMBERS OF THIRTEEN.
NYC-ARTS IS MADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY FIRST REPUBLIC BANK... AND BY SWANN AUCTION GALLERIES.