Previously, in Time Square… (Photo from Wikipedia: ‘Time Square Ball’ article)
2012 is only weeks away. Christmas is less than a week away. As 2011 draws to a close, I decided to cover the holidays and the last few days until 2012. Because of the Global Recession, the Arab Spring, the death of terrorists and dictators, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, and many other events in 2011, this Christmas will be like no other. I decided to cover how Americans will spend their last days of the year, and how events that took place this year will influence their holiday plans. Because I covered important events during 2011, I thought it would be interesting to see how the events I reported on would influence the lives of many Americans.
Shopping & Gifts, 2011
For many Americans, Christmas and New Year shopping is an almost-ritualistic event. I went to Soho, one of the most popular shopping districts in Manhattan, to see how events of 2011 influenced the shopper’s purchases. Soho has traditionally been a shopping district for expensive clothe boutiques, such as Armani and Prada, and had little (if at all) inexpensive clothes stores. However, I was surprised to find several buildings that housed inexpensive clothe stores. UNIQLO, a Japanese clothes firm that sells relatively inexpensive clothes, has recently opened for business in Soho. I was also surprised to see that many of the inexpensive stores were packed with customers, compared to their high-end counterparts.
This rule also seemed to apply to many shoppers I have interviewed. Out of 30 shoppers, 25 have said that they have spent less in shopping this year than the previous year. 20 have said that they have spent less than the previous decade. “I can’t afford gifts that I could have bought before the recession,” explained a New Yorker. “I just plan to buy gifts for my family and my girlfriend,” stated a college student of NYU.
However, the obstacles of the recession did not seem to affect the purchase of smartphones. In fact, the death of Steve Jobs and the release of the iPhone 4S has increased fervor in Apple products. “My kids want the newest smartphones, and you know, it’s Christmas,” said a haggard mother with her children in the Apple store. “The new functions in the 4S are worth the purchase,” said another customer. When I asked him which particular “function” made the purchase worth it, he refused comment. The release of many other products, such as the Samsung Galaxy 2S and the new 4G smartphones, has only increased the demand for smartphones.
Many Americans used to travel to other vacation spots during the holidays to rest and escape the cold weather. However, there is a severe decrease in holiday trips compared to previous years. I asked 15 interviewees across Manhattan (Union Square, Rockefeller Center, and Zucotti Park). Out of 15 New Yorkers who travelled to foreign destinations last year, only 7 were planning to take a trip this year. Many stated that their economic situations did not give them space to travel. “I need to save up money whenever I can,” said an office worker. “I can’t even afford the airplane tickets this year, let alone travel,” said another. “Buying presents is hard enough – no travelling.” Decreased number of air commuters has only made airline tickets more expensive, as airline companies try to cover up losses with increased prices.
However, for some of the travelers, the reasons were somewhat different. One New Yorker, whose family lives in Greece, decided not to go and visit his family during the holidays because of the situation in Greece. “Have you seen the news? Greece has hit the can,” said the Greek immigrant. “There’s just too much violence and instability.” Another family, of Japanese origin, gave up on a family trip to their native Japan. “My parents lived near the Fukushima nuclear plant, and they had to evacuate,” said the father of the family. “We do not wish to burden them,” added his wife, “and the radiation emitted may be harmful for our children.” A college professor outside New York, who came to New York to visit relatives, told me that she had to cancel her trip to Egypt because of the violence and turmoil in Egypt. “I wanted to learn about Egyptian history and see the pyramids up close, but it looks like I will have to see Egyptians making history from my home TV.”
Many of the New Yorkers told me that they were planning to stay in New York instead of travelling to other places. “I’m just going to skate in Rockfeller Center with my girlfriend,” said a New Yorker. “It’s not the place that counts, it’s the mindset.”
Homecoming & Family Time, 2011
Quality family time, unaffected by the recession or downturns across the world, is better for many Americans this Christmas. A few days ago, the last of US troops have withdrawn from Iraq and will be able to spend Christmas with their families. I was able to meet an Iraqi veteran who was with his family in New Jersey, and I asked him how he felt to be back with his family. The veteran gave me a large smile, and said “there’s no place like home.” A Farewell and A Greeting
New crystals fitted for the Times Square Ball of 2012 (image from Long Island Press)
Looking back, personal and global events have changed our lives as well as those around us. Dictatorial milestones like Kim Jong Ill and Muammar Gadhafi are no more, while we increasingly rely on social networking sites for our social lives. Arab nations greet democracy as the Arab Spring rages, while we said farewell to Elizabeth Taylor. US troops in Iraq were able to come home, while refugees from Northeast Japan may never see their homes again. On Christmas and New Year’s Eve, we will have much to think about. We have much to reflect on. We will have much to look forward to.
Since mid September, protestors have been continuing their Occupy Wall Street protests in the Financial District of New York City, colloquially known as (but not limited to the actual location) Wall Street. Jobs for the younger generation, high unemployment, and the large number of young protesters have led me to cover this protest. Because I live near New York City, I wanted to see a piece of a larger worldwide protest against fiscal austerity and corporate irresponsibility.
The protests are aimed against the banks and major financial institutions (many of them concentrated near Wall Street of Manhattan), hence the name of the protest: ‘Occupy Wall Street.’ The protesters call themselves the 99%, because in their opinion they represent the majority of Americans throughout the United States. They protest against the government and the wealthy of the United States, or the 1%. From Occupy Yoido in Seoul to the Indignados in Madrid, many protest against the so-called 1%.
As I neared the park, the beating of drums and the shouting of slogans began to overwhelm the usual cacophony of street traffic. Over 300 people were inside the park or near the streets surrounding the park, holding banners or placards with protest slogans. The wall of police officers, protestors, slogans, news vans, Guy Fawkes masks, police batons and blockades blotted out what used to be recreational space for New York residents.
Despite blockades and police patrols, I was able to interview 30 protesters, each of them having their own reasons for camping in the park and protesting. My questions included their motives for protesting, their goals, their current state of employment, their age, and reasons for protesting at this specific spot instead of other locations (like Wall Street). In exchange for their information and opinions, I have promised the individuals to keep their personal information confidential. Throughout my reports, all of the police officers I have tried to interview declined comment.
According to my interviews, I found that 17 people were from the Millennial Generation (born after 1982) and 10 people from Generation X (late 1960s~ 1982). Only 3 people were born before the late 1960s, which indicated that this protest was mainly a movement by America’s youth. This seemed to me that this protest was mainly focused on issues relating to the employment and social welfare of youths, as well as their dissatisfaction with the bailout package given to major commercial banks.
However, unlike the protesters’ age, the employment situations of the protesters were varied. Out of the 30 people questioned, 5 people had full time jobs in both private and public sectors, 4 people were part-time workers, 7 people were students, and 14 were unemployed. Out of the 14 people who were unemployed, 10 of them have a bachelor’s degree while the other 4 declined to comment about their education.
…or Occupy Zucotti Park?
I asked the protestors about their reasons for camping out at Zucotti Park, a public space for residents of Manhattan. Many of the citizens I have interviewed (albeit the 30 protestors) complained about the noise made at night as well as sanitation problems created by the protestors. Many citizens were wondering why they weren’t protesting on Wall Street, which contains the NYSE as well as major financial buildings.
Wall Street itself was deprived of any protesters. When I drew near the NYSE, I was confronted by the police and was refused access into the street. The entire area was sealed off by blockades and mounted policemen, and only NYSE employees and corporate bigwigs were allowed into Wall Street. Many New Yorkers, who usually crossed Wall Street as shortcuts, complained about the cut in traffic. Despite the blockade being a precaution against the protesters, the majority of New Yorkers blamed the police. "The protesters are protesting peacefully, and if the police is going to punish them, don't make us pissed off," said a disgruntled office worker who frequently used the street.
When I asked this particular question to the 30 protestors, 7 people joked that this park was the only viable campsite near Wall Street. 2 people stated that the occupation of public space was symbolic for the protest movement. However, 21 people stated that they did not know why they were camping out in Zucotti Park. “I’ve asked the same question myself,” said one of the protestors, “but I wasn’t able to get a satisfying answer from other people – they don’t know why themselves.”
We are the 99%?
I continued to ask the 30 protesters questions, this time about their motives and their goals. For the majority of protestors (22 people), their motives were similar: protesting against the bailout of major banks while they have to suffer for it. One of the protestors, a social worker, stated that funding for her department was slashed because of austerity measures taken by the U.S government. “We, as well as the downtrodden, should not suffer for those who drink champagne every other party,” was her statement. Many other government workers, whose salaries were cut as well as their department’s budget, nodded in assent.
The other 8 people had different motives, particularly those who were not involved in the public sector. Some complained about the unemployment rate, as well as President Obama’s policies on economic issues. Some wanted justice against Jerry Sandusky, the football coach of Penn State University who was accused of sexual abuse against children. One particular protestor was a self-declared anarchist, and was protesting against order and authority itself.
As for the goals of the protestors, there was a painful gap in unity. There were so many different suggestions that I wasn’t able to tie their suggestions to a particular group. One of the protestors wanted the consolidation of an efficient universal health care system. Another wanted to increase taxes for wealthy citizens, or the ‘1%.’ Goals for the protest movement included government reforms, enact the Dream Act (a bill that will allow the children of illegal immigrants to study in the US), create a socialist society in the United States, improve wages for public sector workers, destruction of Israel, and countless other opinions.
As police began to clash with the protestors, I was able to finish my interviews and photograph the protestors. As I began to leave Zucotti Park, I witnessed many activists getting arrested for their actions. Some of the protestors aggravated the police officers, while others were arrested for ambiguous reasons. To avoid from being absorbed the crowd of police and activists, I distanced myself on the opposite street of Zucotti Park.
Before the police rushed in to disperse the protesters, I saw and heard many diverse and conflicting ideals. However, when the police charged, the protesters banded together. Despite actions by the police, the protestors didn’t stop their protests. Even from 2 blocks away from the park, I could still hear drums beat and activists chant. The protesters had different opinions and differing goals in some aspects, but for them. Some of them didn't know why they were in Zucotti park, but for the protesters that didn't matter. The desire to create a better future for the United States and themselves linked them together, no matter the amount of police suppression or internal conflict.
(Image provided by the Metropolitan museum of Art)
I decided to revisit the museum on September 24th because of the vast collection of valuable artworks. In order to cover the most popular artwork galleries, I have reported on Egyptian art, Arms and Armor, European Paintings, European Sculpture, and Medieval Art last month, and this month I will be covering Ancient Near Eastern Art, African/Oceania/American Art, Asian Art, Greek and Roman Art, and Modern Art.
From Babylon to Cyprus
“If I was a Babylonian or a Persian, I would have been awed by the sheer size of some of these sculptures."
Near Eastern art, for many visitors, seemed to border Eastern and Western art. For a minority of visitors viewing Near Eastern art produced in the Late Period, they mistakenly believed that they were looking at Greek art (from which Near Eastern art was influenced). Some of the later sculptures, such as the ones depicting a sphinx and a man wearing a laurel crown (a crown that Roman emperors wore to display their power), have heavy influences from Greece and Rome. Near Eastern art produced in the early period resembled art produced in India, with many statues depicting the faces of deities in very high detail.
“If I was a Babylonian or a Persian, I would have been awed by the sheer size of some of these sculptures,” said a visitor, “just like a human being is awed by seeing a supernatural being.” Another visitor seemed to find similarities between Middle Eastern and Egyptian art. “Stone sculptures, murals that depict different creatures, and the enormous statues...looks like Egpyt influenced Middle Eastern art, or maybe it’s the other way around!”
From the Far East
"...Asian art is a must-visit."
For many tourists that seek diversity from Western art, Asian art is a must-visit. From massive sculptures of inland China to the porcelain pottery of Korea, there are many different types of artworks. The majority of China’s sculptures and murals depict Buddhist deities, Taoists, or monstrous demons in Chinese lore. Chinese artworks dominated the Asian gallery, where over 3 gallery spaces (along with a giant hall) are dedicated to them. One of the interviewees joked, “The number of Chinese art is as massive as the number of Chinese tourists!” There were also a large number of Japanese artworks, where most of the artworks consisted of embroidery and clothing rather than statues and metal ornaments. However, there was seldom number of visitors in the Japanese wing, unlike those housing Chinese artworks. “I think I am seeing the same number of designs over and over again,” remarked one visitor exiting the Japanese wing. “A homogenous mishmash of this and that,” said another.
One disappointing aspect for the Asian wing was the lack of artworks from Korea. Although the collection wasn’t small, there weren’t a significant number of them. “I think I would be more interested if there were more works present,” remarked 2 visitors. According to 20 people who visited the Korean section of Asian art, 15 of them said that the wing could use more Korean artworks. “Korea is rising,” remarked Ann Cheng (a tourist who agreed to share her identity), “and to spread its cultural knowledge, people should know more about its culture.”
AAA: American, African, Aboriginal
“Their method of displaying art seems more spiritual than that of other cultures, and I was impressed by that.”
Perhaps one of the most unique of the exhibitions, in terms of how these cultures express their artistic side, is the art gallery of African, American, and Oceanic art by Aboriginals. Many of these cultures have displayed their artistic talents with totems, ships, clothing, and personal items over paintings and sculpture. None of the works used metal, and very few used material other than wood or other biological materials. For this reason, this particular gallery seemed to display the distant tribal past of human civilization. The different geographical regions also seemed to play a role in the themes of the artworks created. From the tapestries of the Peruvian Andes to the patterns carved by the Maori, all of the artworks seemed to be different and unique from each other.
When I interviewed 30 tourists who visited all the galleries, I asked them to choose their favorite galleries. When I asked the 4 people, who have chosen the AAA galleries as their favorites, why they chose the galleries, the 4 people replied that the galleries have shown the most unique way of displaying their artistic sense. For one visitor, it was “their method of displaying art seems more spiritual than that of other cultures, and I was impressed by that.”
“European culture has never been able to measure up to the success of Greek and Roman culture.”
Greek and Roman culture, the foundations of European civilization, created unforgettable artworks. Although Greek and Roman art seemed to concentrate on sculpture like the Egyptian and Middle Eastern art, the proportions and details of the face and body are incredible, even more so than Egyptian or Middle Eastern art. The artworks from the Renaissance period, shown in the previous article, resemble and emulate some of the techniques and subjects from the art of the Classical period. The main materials used seemed to be metal and marble, but the Romans also utilized paint, glass, and other diverse materials.
“Marble and metal is the main attraction of Greek and Roman art, and I like it,” quipped a tourist. “European culture has never been able to measure up to the success of Greek and Roman culture,” remarked an elder visitor. 16 out of 20 people said that they liked Greek and Roman art, but 15 out of the 16 people said that Greek and Roman art did not have much variety in terms of subject matter. “Roman and Greek art was cool and everything, but it’s like having 200 different alterations of Mona Lisa,” said the same tourist who remarked about the marble and metal used in Greek and Roman art.
"I like the pizzazz, the bang-bang, and the wow factor.”
When I visited the modern art section of the Met, I at first thought that the Met collection wouldn’t be as impressive as its other collections. The main reason for formulating this unproven hypothesis, shared by other tourists that have visited MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), is that New York already has an excellent museum dedicated to modern art. According to a survey of 25 people who have visited MoMA before visiting the Met’s modern art section, 15 of the 25 people told me that they didn’t expect to see a good collection. “New York already has a museum dedicated to modern art,” said one of the interviewees. “Why have this gallery at all?”
Fortunately, this idea was proven a misconception. The Met does have an excellent collection, including Van Gogh’s, Picasso’s, and Pollock’s works, albeit smaller than that of MoMA. Some works, although contemporary, have been transferred to European or American paintings. For some of the tourists, this was to some degree frustrating. “I want to look at modern art in the modern section, not the Europe section where older paintings dominate the walls,” remarked a tourist. However, many of them found the gallery to be rewarding. “I was able to see many unique and flashy works,” said a visitor who was with his family, “and I think that having the same thing over and over again is boring. I like the pizzazz, the bang-bang, and the wow factor.”
"I found this to be the only gallery with laughs."
The Caricatures gallery, a special temporary exhibition, is a gallery that many visitors and tourists wish that it was a permanent exhibition. The cartoonist artworks both display the development of political art and artistic skills through the ages. From satirical drawings of da Vinci to political cartoons of 19th century England, the artworks provide many visitors laughs and food for thought. Unlike other artworks, which was mainly related to human, animal, or emotional subjects, most of the caricatures in this gallery are themed on politics.
Because the exhibition is fairly recent, many tourist groups or visitors do not have much foreknowledge of the artworks, if they had any previous information about it at all. However, it doesn't mean that they don't have opinions about this peculiar gallery. "I found this to be the only gallery with laughs," said a tourist from a school trip. Many of the comments referred to the strange, if not ridiculous, appearance of the artworks. "Laughs throughout the ages," remarked the same tourist.
Mere words cannot cover all the wonders of human creativity found in the Met, and neither can my 2 articles. Many of the ancient treasures predate the museum that houses them, and even predate the city that houses the Met. The deep and rich history, as well as the creative strokes and genius that went into the works of art, will surely impress those who decide to visit the museum that lies on 5th Avenue. As the human mind creates even more masterpieces, the collection of the Met will ever become fuller.
BANN restaurant is opening up a new sensation of Korean cuisines in New York
Lately with the spread of Hallryu, there are expanding new interests in Korean cultures around the world. Besides K-POP, Korean celebrities, and Korean dramas, there is a new kind of culture that is interesting people in the United States. A Korean restaurant in New York is interesting the taste of many foreigners-this restaurant is called Bann. BANN Restaurant, since opening in 2005, has become the premier Korean restaurant in New York City. It is the flagship of a group of bicoastal restaurants developed by Mrs. Young Sook Choi, highly regarded as the pioneer in revolutionizing modern Korean cuisine. Following the success of more contemporary restaurants in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and SoHo, Mrs. Choi began to focus more on broadening traditional flavors and artisan crafted foods, creating BANN's signature style of cuisine.
Executive Chef Eli Martinez brings 'Innovative Korean Cuisine' to BANN, showcasing traditional elements in a modern adaptation with an emphasis on using the finest natural ingredients to develop rich, distinct flavors highlighting the unique tastes of Korean cuisine in a simple & refined presentation. Exclusive to BANN is the distinctive style of dining not found in any other Korean restaurants. BANN's rare approach creates a dynamic sensory experience through the use of all 5 senses. The open kitchen provides guests with an exciting look into how their food is being prepared with views of blazing fires from the wok and aromas of familiar and exotic foods. Known for authentic Korean barbeque, all tables are fitted with smokeless grills where guests can watch a variety of fresh meats and seafood sizzle and cook to their liking.
Many people believe that foreigners, especially Southerners, do not enjoy Korean food. They think that it is too spicy and not suitable for their taste. However, BANN proves this wrong with their special cuisines that keep the original Korean taste but also suit the foreigners taste at the same time. Today, I have asked BANN about their special tips on success to suiting the Korean flavor to the foreigners.
1. Could you tell us the history of BANN?
Mrs. Choi is a second generation restaurateur, being mentored by her mother in law who began the famous Woo Lae Oak chain. After working together for the openings of the original Woo Lae Oak in New York and Los Angeles Mrs Choi decided to modernize Korean cuisine and try to introduce it to the Western palate. She opened her first branch of Woo Lae Oak on the prestigious "Restaurant Row" in Beverly Hills and soon the restaurant gained a large celebrity clientele as well as critical acclaim. Having seen how Korean cuisine was well accepted, Mrs. Choi focused on opening a new branch of Woo Lae Oak to replace the original space in New York that had burned down in Midtown, this time in an up and coming neighborhood, SoHo. In 1999 the restaurant opened and has become the premiere Korean restaurant in the city as well as a hot spot for the chic Soho crowd. 5 years later Mrs. Choi and executive Chef Eli Martinez created a new dining concept to go back to authentic recipes and ingredients and focus on traditional cuisine, which would become the signature style for Bann. Bann is now the most recognized Korean restaurant, having been featured in several media outlets such as television shows, movie, magazines, etc. Bann has hosted the National Korean Tourism Board as well as the Korean Culture Association, has been frequented by the Secretary General of the United Nations and other dignitaries. With the success of Bann New York, Mrs Choi opened another location in Korea town Los Angeles at MaDang Plaza.
2. How many foreigners normally visit the restaurant?
Bann is very popular with tourists because of the prime location in Times Square. About 50% of the customers are foreigners (from all parts of the world) travelling to New York and of Bann's regular clientele roughly 65% are foreigners.
3. What changes/efforts does Bann make in order to adjust to the taste of foreigners? When people think of Korean food, they automatically think spicy, which traditionally Korean food can tend to be. However at Bann we try to highlight all the unique flavors of each dish using the finest natural ingredients to create a multi-layered but simple and refined plate. We try to create a balance between flavors like spicy, sweet & savory that will not overpower the other. In a word, it is milder than traditional Korean food
4. Can you introduce us foods that foreigners enjoy the most from your restaurant? Bann is known for our tabletop barbeque, which is successful because all cultures can appreciate grilled meats. Foreigners tend not to order items that are that are too exotic so will choose the more familiar items such as the fresh sashimi (sang sun muchim), Ke Sal Mari (crab), Dae Ji Jim and Dak Nal Ke Ti Kim as appetizers. For traditional dishes foreigners choose entrees (not so much chiges or soups) like the Kalbi Jim or the Un Dae Gu Jorim. Also here are some of my favorites:
Duk Bok Ki
Beef with lettuce
5. What kind of future do you see in Bann? (Or what is the future goal of Bann?) We are trying to truly globalize Korean cuisine. It is still not as well known as Japanese, Chinese or even Thai cuisine so we try to make it more approachable. We are developing new concepts like Bann Next Door which is our fast casual restaurant that serves popular Korean street food. We want to expand the "Bann" concept by creating different dining styles while focusing on using the finest products available.
Sometimes questions are brought on whether we should keep our original flavor or change the flavor of our food to suit foreigners. BANN Restaurant is expanding the tastes of many foreigners by trying to keep the original flavor, yet also suiting the foreigners’ taste at the same time. Through their efforts, Korea’s culture is spread far through cuisines. Maybe it’s not about only emphasizing the original taste. Like BANN, maybe what combines both the original and foreign taste can be the global choice.
I initially decided to visit the museum on September 12th because of its vast collection of valuable artworks. For a museum that boasts one of the largest collections of art in the world, the cost of admission is modest. Although the recommended fee is USD 25, it is up to the visitor to pay, or ‘donate’, whatever amount he or she wishes. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or simply ‘the Met’, has over a million permanent artworks which are diverse in both time and culture. From the popular Arms and Armor collection to the American Painting and Sculpture, it is usually impossible for visitors to visit all of the galleries in one day without skimming over the artworks. I will be covering Egyptian art, Arms and Armor, European Paintings, European Sculpture, and Medieval Art in this article.
What the Pharos Made
"Masonry and Size"
For many of the visitors of the Met, the first exhibition they enter is the Egyptian Art Gallery. The Egyptian gallery, containing half of the museum’s artworks, is by far the largest of all the galleries. When I asked 20 visitors of all ages what struck them most from visiting the Egyptian Art Gallery, many of them replied “masonry and size.” Most of the Egyptian Art collection, apart from several textile works, is mainly composed of pottery, stone tools, and stone structures.
The same 20 visitors, when asked what part of the art gallery they would recommend to their friends and relatives, told me that the stone sculptures and tools were the most spectacular. “For me, it was amazing that such fine details in sculpture could be created in a time that lacked the fine tools we have today,” explained one of the 20 visitors. “It’s the sheer bulk and size of the statues that got me,” explained another visitor. Painted art by Egyptians is no less impressive; for one visitor, he “was able to get a lucid picture of ordinary Egyptian life.
"It's Jesus and God Everywhere."
Like Egyptian artworks, the medieval sculptures display excellent craftsmanship without modern tools or technology. However, unlike Egyptian works that use bulk to awe onlookers, medieval artworks impress audiences with small details present in medieval paintings and crafts.“After the fall of the Roman Empire, it is impressive to see that barbarism didn’t destroy art completely,” said a college student from Columbia. “It also shows how developed the human spirit is, despite daily hardships.”
Many galleries display religious artifacts, but almost none of the galleries feature as many religious themes and icons as the Medieval Gallery. The sheer amount of Christian themes in medieval artworks display the enormous significance and importance Christianity had for people living during the Middle Ages. This was why some visitors felt as if they were entering a monetary or a religious institution. “It’s Jesus and God everywhere,” exclaimed a tourist visiting from the Netherlands. An elderly visitor noted the amount of care that went into these artworks despite the lack of tools. “They must have put their souls into these works: it does represent their self towards God, after all.”
Guns & Roses
"Strongest impressions and numerous inspirations."
Weapons in the Met not only represent the technological prowess of humanity, but they also display the prowess of art. 19 out of 20 male visitors I interviewed chose this gallery as their favorite, with comments such as ‘cool’, ‘interesting’, and ‘masterful craftsmanship.’ According to a visitor who was a designer for the gaming industry, he said that the Met was invaluable to industrial and media design. “I’ve come to the Met for inspiration, whether it be building interiors or scenes; however, the arms and armor had given me the strongest impressions and numerous inspirations.”
Despite the name of the gallery, many of the weapons were for ceremonial purposes and rarely have seen the battlefield. The ones that have seen battles are arms and armor from nations other than Europe or North America. “I like the diversity of this collection,” said a tourist, “because unlike the other galleries, this gallery allows me to see different cultures at the same time and compare them.”
Elegance from Europe
"The Renaissance: Europe at its Best"
Europe, after the Dark and Middle Ages, truly blossomed in art and sculpture. By the time of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, Europe has produced thousands of renowned works by renowned artists. Out of 20 people I’ve interviewed, 15 of them stated that the European art/sculpture section was in their top 3 galleries of the Met, and 5 of the visitors stated it was their favorite section. One visitor described the section as “Europe at is best.”
After visiting the Middle Ages section, many visitors are impressed by the leap forward in techniques found in the European galleries. The subjects have also changed. The Dutch visitor, who I was able to meet inside this gallery, told me that “in this gallery, I see that Europe has abandoned its static theme of blind faith and have started to see other themes artists could spend their time on.” “I am greatly impressed by this level of work,” said another visitor, “and I hope this leap happens again in my lifetime.
From the popular Arms and Armor collection to the American Painting and Sculpture, it is usually impossible for visitors to visit all of the galleries in one day without skimming over the artworks. For this reason, I will feature Ancient Near Eastern Art, African/Oceania/American Art, Asian Art, Greek and Roman Art, Modern Art, and Caricatures (a new exhibition) next month. The Met features many treasures, and I wish the reader to fully appreciate them by going into each gallery in detail.
I can't hide the word "full" everytime I read your article! I think it shows lots of preparations and informations in each of your articles! I hope to be able to prepare as much as you do ! Thanksfor the great informations about MET.
(Left to Right) NY Governor Andrew Cuomo passes the Same Sex Marriage bill (photo from NY Times), Gay couples celebrate passing of the bill (photo from csmonitor.com)
On June 24, the New York Senate passed the controversial Same Sex Marriage Bill in a vote of 33:29. In the streets of New York there was rejoicing among the Gay community, overjoyed that they will be able to form a relationship with their partners under the term ‘marriage.’ New York is currently the largest state to allow Same Sex Marriage, along with the state of Connecticut, WashingtonDC, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the Coquille Native American Reservation. When I was in the crowd waiting for the passing of the bill, I heard many voices of excitement. When the bill passed, that excitement exploded.
I went to see how many New Yorkers actually supported the bill. I went to New York City to hear the opinion of the citizens, as well as Jersey City in New Jersey to hear the opinions of a state that allow unions but not marriage. Because I wanted objective answers, I decided to take into account the opinions of only heterosexual individuals as homosexuals would no doubt support the bill. I also divided the opinions among age group, with 16-25, 26-35, 36-45, 46-55, 56-65, and over 65. I decided to interview 20 people per age group. I also asked their religion, as certain religions condemn homosexuality as a sin (Catholic & Evangelical Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc).
From the City that never sleeps
*Age group 26-35 had similar results with a difference of 1 person: refer to age group 16-25*
As a cosmopolitan city, New York City had enormous support among most of the age groups. The age groups 16-25 and 26-35 had the most support for Same Sex Marriage, with the support percentage of 95% (19 people) and 90% (18 people) respectively. However, when I asked their religion, 10 of the 95% and 15 of the 90% told me that they were not atheists and that they belonged to a religion where homosexuality is condemned. When I asked them why they were supporting same sex marriage despite their religion, many of them replied that everyone had certain rights. “I guess it’s my liberal and tolerant education,” explained a 17 year old student, “and I realized that everyone should have the right to express one’s own opinion.” “Just as I believe in my faith,” said a 26 year old Christian, “some people should be able to believe in their definition of marriage.”
However, among the older age groups, there was less support. Out of the age groups 36-45, 46-55, 56-65, and over 65, only 55%, 40%, 35%, and 10% of the people respectively supported same sex marriage. I found that among the people who favored same sex marriage in this age group, the majority of them were atheists. Those who disagreed with same sex marriage all belonged to a religion that condemns homosexuality. “This nation was built on Christianity,” said a 67 year old man whom I interviewed, “and many of us want to keep it that way.”
Unions and Marriage
When I went to interview the opinions of people in New Jersey about the recent bill in New York, there was another battle for same sex marriage. I discovered that, for some, it wasn’t simply about homosexuals coming to a union but also about the very definition of marriage. Marriage, to conservative Americans, refers to the union between a man and a woman. Some members of the gay community argue that they also want their unions to be counted as marriage, instead of a ‘union.’ When I interviewed several citizens of Jersey City, I found that the majority (regardless of age group) felt that unions between gay couples should be allowed but not marriage in the traditional sense. “I think it should be enough for gay couples to be together legally,” said a 23 year old Zach Middleton, “I mean, in some states even that’s not legal.” Some members of the gay community were content with the situation in New Jersey, where unions but not marriage is allowed. “I feel okay with the way things are now,” said a gay man who didn’t wish to be named. “I feel happy, because now I’m able to be with my partner without breaking the law. For me, definitions don’t matter.”
For some members of the gay community, however, simple unions are not enough. “It’s simply not just about unions,” explained Jane who was currently in a ‘union’ with her partner. “It’s about my civil rights. I have a right to be ‘married’, and the term ‘union’ makes it feel alien and unnatural for us.” “There are still many states where gay marriage is banned and even unions aren’t allowed,” she explained, “and I want to make sure that homosexuals in the US and in the world can be happy without breaking the law.” For Jane, the fight is not over.
The MoMA Building, fromthe opposite end of the MoMA building
In New York City, and especially in Manhattan, there are many art museums that contain a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces. Researching about many renowned museums, I have recently heard of a museum in Manhattan named the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA. The museum was established in 1929, a time when modern art began taking root in the artistic world. I found that the museum offered free admission to visitors every Friday, and also containing many works of many renowned artists (such as Picasso and Lichtenstein). I decided to travel to Manhattan to see how impressive this museum was to sport such an incredible amount of works from famous artists. Although there were innumerable amounts of excellent works, I decided first to take a survey among the museum visitors, then showed works that left the highest impression on the viewers.
Dabbing in Paint & Politics
Left to Right: Black and Blue (Vuyile C. Voyiya of South Africa), Case History (Boris Mikhailov from Ukraine), and 1919 Majus 1 (Mihaly Biro from Hungary)
L to R: Vilag Proletarjai Egyesuljert! (Bertaian Por, Hungary) and Casspirs Full of Love (William Kentridge, South Africa)
According to a survey of 100 visitors across the building, I found that many of the visitors (73 out of 100 people) viewed works in MoMA intimately related to political ideas (as modern art rebelled against established political thought and propaganda). They especially thought that political views were more rampant in more recent artworks. In the South African gallery, there were many works that seemed to reflect the political scars left by apartheid and government oppression. In the photography section, Mikhailov’s photographs displayed the failed policies of glasnost & perestroika during Soviet ruleand their consequences on Ukrainians.There were also some works that were more dated, such as Biro’s 1919 Majus 1.
When I asked the visitors to spot one common aspect of these political drawings, 43 of 50 people I asked noticed was that many of the political drawings were nude, in both photographs and drawings. “When I was in the South African wing, there were a lot of nude or sexual content in the drawings”, said Jack Houston (visitor). Another visitor,Vanessa Hodsten, said that “the nudity really gives a raw feeling to the emotion of these artists as well as their uncensored ideas.” However, the visitors were dismissive about concerns of nudity in the artworks, even parents who had young children with them. “I think nudity in art is common,” said a mother of 3 young children (she declined to be named), “and I also think that the nudity here is actually for a purpose, not like those in music videos in American pop.” Many people also told me that not much color (other than photos) was used in the paintings, as well as having numerous amounts of red and black in the drawings. “Probably represents the passion of the artist,” said avisitor. “ I think since Fascism and Communism used those colors a lot for propaganda, maybe the artists wanted to have that effect too,” said another visitor.
The Cultural Revolution, in Art
L to R: Drowning Girl (Roy Lichtenstein, USA), Hope (Gustav Klimt, Austria), Golden Marilyn Monroe (Andy Warhol, USA), Secession XIV, Beethoven (Alfred Roller, Austria)
L to R: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (Pablo Picasso, Spain), The Starry Night (Vincent Van Gogh, Netherland), The Persistence of Memory (Salvador Dali, Spain)
Although politics play an important in modern art, modern art has played an important part in changing the perception of art and culture in the world, as well as starting artistic movements across the world. Out of 100 visitors, 92 of the visitors, both tourists and citizens of NYC, had come to MoMA to view works mainly by Picasso, Warhol, and Lichtenstein. Picasso’s works were most sought by the following 92 people (43), followed by Andy Warhol (32) and Vincent Van Gogh (18). When I went to the museum, Picasso’s works were always surrounded by people with cameras. However, when I asked them to tell me what the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was about and some insight about the artwork, many people were unable to give me insight and what they thought of the artwork. Most of the responses from my questions included “I just think it’s looks interesting”, “Picasso liked to draw weird doodles”, and “I just wanted to take my picture taken”, or avoided the question with a smile or a shrug.
I then asked a student named Miranda, who attends the Tisch School of Arts in NYU, to tell me what she thought of the artworks. “Many of these artists have done very significant things to the human perception as well as the art circles.” She then pointed to the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, and said “Picasso’s works were famous for Cubism, right? Well, Cubism inspired many artists to analyze and reassemble what they see into an abstract form after breaking the image into parts.This inspired many people in society to look at ideas and objects dynamically, instead of just looking at it in only one particular view.” “In fact”, she continued, “this work is supposedly the first Cubist artwork. You can say that Picasso started this entire movement where people started to see things differently.”
She then took me to the gallery where The Starry Night by Van Gogh was hung. “This artwork, too, shows different perspectives of color. Also, the artwork doesn't look like stars twinkling, but they look like they’re swirling along with the night sky. Van Gogh shows that to him a starry night could look like a swirl of stars, rather than the common perception of a stationary sky.” “For Dali, he took the surreal to display how time and memory relate to each other”, said Miranda while walking to the wall where The Persistence of Memory was hung. “Clocks don’t melt”, joked Miranda, “but for Dali the melting clocks show that time is invasive in our memory that symbolizes how we forget things that occurred a long time ago.”
Miranda also explained that culture and morality today was heavily influenced by modern art. “Warhol and Lichtenstein were artists who began to draw upon American Pop culture, as well as showing Americans how mass-produced this culture is. If you look both at their works, you won’t think that they are hard to dray, and they aren't. However, themes and not skills are the essence of any artwork.” She then proceeded to the German impressionists and Austrian Secessionist galleries. “Austrian Secessionists like Klimt and Roller changed much of people’s impression of morality. You see many sexual themes in Secessionist art, and that’s because Secessionists wanted to challenge morality dominated by the Christian faith and show that people no longer had to think that Christianity was the only moral path for an individual.”
L to R: Trafalgar Square & The Voice (Barnett Newman, USA), Split Flap Board Flight Information Display System (Solari di Udine, Italy)
There were many works where people lauded as masterpieces, but some of the artworks hung were questioned by many people as an actual piece of art. Many of these questioned artworks included almost blank canvases, compilation of various refuse, and normal objects. For many people, if the ‘artworks’ were not displayed as artwork, then they would have considered it junk or a failed experiment or a mistake of an artist while painting.
When I interviewed visitors whether anything artists try to create can be considered art, 134 people out of the questioned 200 said no. “It's insulting to see someone get fame because they did something ‘original’, while putting in no effort”, said one visitor. “I could sell a blank canvas saying it represents something deep”, joked another. When I asked the visitors who did not consider some artwork ‘art’ what their definitions of art were, many replied that art was something drawn, sculpted, crafted, or painted with an effort to express oneself.
However, some visitors appreciated the unusualness of the artworks. One visitor, named Sam, said that anything could be art. “ Art represent what the artist is thinking, so saying something can’t be art just because it looks simple is insulting to the artist.” Another visitor also added to Sam’s point, saying “yesterday smartphones would have been dismissed by science fiction, but now it’s daily life; I think people need to change their preconceptions about art and what is the norm.”
MoMA, for many, is more than an art museum where art students hang out and tourists take pictures. MoMA contains the one of the most recent collection of art in the US, maybe even the world. Many of the artists, and the artworks themselves, have propelled culture and thought to the present. Many more artists try to propel them to new levels.For many visitors, MoMA is a place where one can reflect on both the present and the future and where one can find something more than artwork. Whether one likes art or not, it is certainly a place where one’s perceptions of modern life will change.
The 24 sheep sculptures were lined up along Times Square, in an unorganized line.
As a Korean who lives in New York, I took a bus to an outdoor art exhibition in Time Square. Called 'The Time Square Show 2011' in Manhattan, there were many artworks displayed in Times Square. The exhibition was from March 2 to March 7, and I was able to go on the last day of the exhibition. The show's purpose was to show the works of various artist in the United States as well as Manhattan. When I looked for the description of the artworks, most of the works only had the names and the studios they were produced from. The main feature work was the only one that had a description along with the artist's name.
Kyu Seok Oh's Counting Sheep was the only work with a description complementing the artwork.
“Counting Sheep”, by Kyu Seok Oh,included 24 sheep sculptures that were lined alongside the walkway facing the New Year Countdown ball. Mr. Oh currently resides in Queens of New York City, and had held numerous exhibitions in Japan and the United States, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (1988-2006) and the Harlem School of the Arts (2006). Counting Sheep was part of his Renka Project, which the sculptures were made from steel wires, covered with white paper shells that looked similar to plaster. The description stated that this work was inspired when Mr. Oh wanted to contrast the flashing neonlights with the soft, light bodies of the sheep. According to his statement in his website (www.kyuseokoh.com), he “wanted to create something light, bright, andlarge that would juxtapose against this background [neon lights]”.
An individual lamb sculpture from Mr. Oh's studio
I interviewed several bystanders, many of whom gave positive reviews. When I asked one of the bystanders about what impression did the sheep give out, he said that “Although the sheep sculptures have no eyes, they look like they’re looking around curiously.” Another stated that “they gave mean impression that they were wandering aimlessly, while trying to escape thejungle of concrete and neon signs.” Most of the people stated that the sculptures suited Times Square. “Just like the description says, you know, it’s like the sheep are absorbing the noise and the lights,” said a British tourist visiting New York. “I want to fall asleep just by looking at it,” joked another.
“they gave mean impression that they were wandering aimlessly, while trying to escape the jungle of concrete and neon signs.”
However, according to a survey that I conducted during the interview, only 44% seemed to know that Mr. Oh was Korean. 21% said that they thought he was Chinese, 10% thought another Asian national, and 25% were not sure. Although the survey only included 200 people and within Times Square,these figures imply that many in New York do not know that this artwork wasmade by a Korean. In fact, over half of the people who knew that Mr. Oh was Korean were Koreans themselves. The description for the artwork did not statethat it was made by a Korean-American. Many of the Koreans I interviewed in Time Square, when I showed them that only 44% knew that Mr. Oh was Korean, were shocked. “I think there must be a greater advertisement for Korean art in the United States, to show that we have created this art,” said an art student from the Pratt Institute of Arts. “Many people know about Chinese and Japanese accomplishments in the US; we need to tell and inform people of Korean accomplishments,” stated Kim Jin Suk, who immigrated to the U.S. 6 years ago.
Nevertheless, there were many who thought that this exhibition was significant for the Korean community. “It’s an honor to have a Korean exhibit his work in the center of the world,” said Hanna Oh, an art student from Columbia University. Many Koreans in the United States feel that this is a major step towards Korean art in the United States, and hopefully future works will leave New Yorkers sheepish once again.