I Cry Every Opera Season

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I Cry Every Opera Season

“I know one thing: that I know nothing.” Socrates

I was not born with a manual. I tried to be the best daughter, girlfriend, wife, mother and friend that I could. I think that is what Socrates means. We don’t really know how to do anything. We are all just winging it.   

My mother loved opera best of all her many cultural pursuits. Opera was always playing in my house growing up. She took out records from the Donnell Library in Manhattan every week. We listened mostly to musicals and operas. Whenever she was alone, it was all opera, all the time. There was not an opera she did not like – Italian, French, German. She listened to them all. I would walk into the house and talk about my day at school  with the Marriage Of Figaro, Rigolletto, or La Traviata in the background.  Her children were going to be named  Don Giovanni, Tosca and Carmen. Apparently, my father intervened. We had to have American names.  

I hated opera as a kid before I ever saw one. my mother would  tell us the stories  or the libretto as she called it. I responded with “It’s just screaming to music. Why do they have to sing when speaking the story would be just as effective?  All they say is I love you, I love you, I love you. I’m dying; I’m really dying; I’m dying in ten minutes. I died.” I would fall on the floor coughing and dramatically clutching my chest. Tuberculosis or consumption was a big killer in opera. Someone always dies at the end.

She tried taking us to operettas. I can handle Gilbert and Sullivan. I do know all the words to the Mikado, Pirates of Penzance and Pinafore thanks to those weekly records.  I never made the transition to serious opera. I would always say that she was wasting a ticket to take me. I did not get it.

Opera is supposedly the most emotionally direct of all art forms. The combination of dramatic narrative, stagecraft and music, and especially the range and vulnerability of the human voice, make opera the art form that comes closest to expressing pure emotion. It is storytelling at its most vivid and manipulative. Those big moments in opera are usually the ones that deal most directly in the big human themes: life, love, death, loss, passion, joy, anger .

In her later years, My mother loved to go to the opera dress rehearsals at the Met with her friends. They would bring lunch and spend the day. She would say that the Met was the best place to have a picnic. The tickets were different colors.  My mother didn’t have tickets to every rehearsal but she had all the colors. Someone would find out the color of the ticket that day and she and her opera loving friends would run by the ticket takers waving their ”blue tickets.” I was a little surprised. “Mom, you are sneaking into the Metropolitan Opera House?” She would laugh. “Who is going to stop a bunch of sweet, little old ladies?” They did not.

I never thought to ask her why she loved opera so much. What was it about opera that made  her sneak into a rehearsal or listen to it all day? Why didn’t I ever go with her to find out? What was I doing that was so important?

On her ninetieth birthday, she planned for everyone in her family who could come to New York to attend the opera with her. I volunteered for babysitting so everyone else could go. She laughed at my not so suble ruse. It was a long one but I don’t remember what was playing. She died  at ninety one. 

Her memorial was the day after my birthday. The ceremony was held at an event room in her friend’s apartment building overlooking Lincoln Center.  I walked into a Starbucks in Los Angeles  before going to the airport on my birthday. Opera music was playing. I had never heard opera in a Starbucks before or since. I asked what the song was called. It was a famous aria  by Puccini called O Mio Bebbino Caro – oh my beloved baby.

A year later, my son asked me to go to an opera with him. I said yes, knowing my mother would have loved that. I sobbed through the entire opera. The music starts, and it doesn’t let you go until the very end. For a few hours, I am in my apartment in Brooklyn and an opera is playing on the record player and my mom is alive.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Israeli Museum In Jerusalem

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Israeli Museum in Jerusalem.

“Art is only relevant, if it asks the most critical questions and expresses emotions with an innocent eye.” Ai Wei Wei

The Israeli Museum in Jerusalem is the largest museum in the Middle East.

It is located near the Knesset (government), the Israeli Supreme Court and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

One of the highlights in the museum collection is the Shrine of the Book which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. The white roof of the building emulates the lid of a Qumran jar where they were found. Upon entering this incredible cave-like display you feel like you are actually in one of the Qumran jars.

The scrolls are the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world, and were found near the Qumran area in eleven different caves over a ten-year period (1946-1956). The age and scope of these amazing scrolls basically proved the authenticity of our modern Bible’s Old Testament.

Upon arrival there was an added bonus, an exhibit by one of my favorite artists, Ai Wei Wei. It was an odd choice of country for the pro Palestinian Chinese artist. In the age of fake news and the manipulation of truth, the timely exhibit is called Maybe/Maybe Not. The money from the exhibit goes to an Israeli Palestinian relief fund. It features large-scale works such as part of his “Sunflower Seeds” installation featuring millions of seeds made from porcelain, weighing some 23 tons. (sorry, no flash)


Wallpaper across part of  the exhibition depicts the plight of refugees while mixing in classical images, giving it the look of a frieze from ancient Greece.


His “Soft Ground” installation has particular resonance for Israel.  It is a hand-woven carpet that replicates the floor of the Haus Der Kunst in Munich, commissioned by the Third Reich for the display of Nazi-approved art.

Everything at closer inspection was not what it seemed. There were self portraits made of legos,

chandeliers made of surveillance cameras

and a selfie taken through mirror when he was being arrested in China.

Iron trees are “planted” at the museum.

They are made from casts of parts of trees from Southern China and part of series that started in 2009.

Were the porcelain cups real or fake?

Even the artist himself raises questions. Ai Wei Wei is one of the richest artists in the world.  He is a Chinese dissident who had his passport taken away  by his government but he can travel freely throughout the world. Is what we are told true? Is what we see real? Maybe or Maybe Not. (middle finger all over the world)

Fly safe,

JAZ

Venice, California Street Art

Venice, California Street Art

“I spray the sky fast. Eyes ahead and behind. Looking for cops. Looking for anyone I don’t want to be here. Paint sails and the things that kick in my head scream from can to brick. See this, see this. See me emptied onto a wall.”Cath Crowley

When I walk down the streets in Venice, California there is everything from simple tagging to beautiful complex scenes. I always see art- despite the sometimes rough locations. Cities are the best art galleries to me. When I am looking at freedom of expression or paid murals, I am forced to acknowledge their existence. It is color and expression instead of drab walls. I  have always felt  – better spray cans then guns. Here are some examples of art that I see every day.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Street Art Around The World

Street Art Around The World

“I laugh at the way some people think graffiti is all selfish tagging and vandalism. Thoughtful street art is like good fiction – it speaks out on behalf of everyone, for us all to see.” Carla Krueger

Since cave painting, human beings cannot resist the urge to draw and write on walls. It is my favorite art. I am drawn to the bright colors, the fact that it is available to everyone and especially, the mystery. Who did this? Why? What does it mean? Sometimes I see the same artist in different countries. Here are some favorites from around the world. 

Lisbon, Portugal

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Capetown. South Africa

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Tel Aviv, Israel

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Bogota,Colombia

Los Angeles, USA

Melbourne, Australia

Rio, Brazil

Fly safe,

JAZ

The Time Is Ixnau – Street Art In Capetown, South Africa

The Time Ixnau  – Street Art In Capetown, South Africa

“Graffiti is beautiful; like a brick in the face of a cop.” Hunter S. Thompson

Woodstock is a creative changing area of Capetown.

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After enjoying lunch and shopping at the Old Biscuit Mill, (a Saturday market of food, crafts and neighborhood goods) I took a street art tour with Juma Mkwela a  local street artist and guide.juma.mkwela@gmail.com. 

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Juma was born in Malawi and lived in Zimbabwe. He is now an established Capetown street artist and craftsman who leads  walking tours of the murals in Woodstock.

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Woodstock is a canvas for some interesting street art.

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The area where the artists paint is a little poorer and rougher but there is gentrification going on all around.

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Juma is friends with everyone so there are no safety worries when you are with him.

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International street artists such as  Masai (UK), AEC Interesni Kazki (Ukraine), Pure Evil (UK), Remed (Spain), Gaia (USA), JAZ (Argentina), Know Hope (Israel), Makatron (Australia) have painted here.  (interesni Kazki – Ukraine)

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There are also murals by Cape Town based artists including Faith47 (ZA), DALeast (China), Urbanski (Germany), Freddy Sam (ZA), Nard Star (ZA) and Indi Go (Canada) and Kasi. (Kasi, Nard Star)

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The artists  showcase issues such as the rich poor divide,  climate change, the poaching of endangered wildlife and exploitation of the  natural resources (such as diamonds).

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They need permission from the residents to paint on the walls.

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Street Art has a historical meaning  in South Africa because during Apartheid it was one of the  ways people had to express their anger.

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It was a visual act of defiance and rebellion.

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Socially conscious artists from South Africa and beyond have joined forces to help spruce up, and add color to the  poorer parts of this neighborhood.

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The philosophy behind the murals is motivated by the belief that art can aid in the social and economic regeneration of dilapidated, gang blighted urban areas.

DSC00898The time is ixnau.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

Walking Alone – Street Art In Amsterdam

“Art is an evolutionary act. The shape of art and its role in society is constantly changing. At no point is art static. There are no rules.” Raymond Salvatore Harmon

Street art in Amsterdam is more satirical and fun then the street art in Third World countries.

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It is much more accepted and looked at as art not vandalism.

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Amsterdam doesn’t have as much street art as Paris , London or Berlin, but if you have a good guide you will find it.

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It is not that hard to find nice street art in Amsterdam.

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Nicole at http://www.streetarteurope.com/street-art-amsterdam-tour/ does an interesting comprehensive, reasonable priced group tour of Amsterdam street on Sundays.

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I had actually never done a group street art tour because it never fit into my schedule in a city.

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It was interesting to see the range of people who were interested in street art.- an older couple from Belgium, middle-aged couple from Shoreditch,who were very proud to be where Banksy was from, and  people from Canada and the States who were living in or visiting friends in Amsterdam.

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Nicole is self taught and passionate about street art. She knows a great deal about the art and the artists and has made a career from her passion and knowledge curating street art in Europe. It is nice to have a tour with someone who clearly loves it as much as the people who signed up for the tour.

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Good street art will tell you a lot about the people who live there.

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C215, Alice Pasquini, Space Invader, The London Police, Shoe, Faile, Icy & Sot, Bustart, Zaira, are all showing in the streets of Amsterdam.

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The London Police are a British street art collective currently painting all over  Amsterdam.

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I loved seeing Icy and Sot’s boy Walking Alone in different places in the city. It was like running into a friend. He is all over Europe now and for some reason he reminds me of the refugees and how lucky I am.

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Laser 3.14 is a street poet whose words are found all over Amsterdam on temporary surfaces only.

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There is a lot more street sculpture in cities around the world these days.   They are usually small and easy to miss without a guide.

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Invader is a street artist known for creating tile pieces that are out of video games.

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He created an app called Flash Invaders that gives you points for finding his work all over the world. He has made a game out of the hunt for street art. Nicole is doing well. I just saw a huge one on Beverly Blvd in LA.

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Street art started as a creative outlet but has turned into a legitimate business with tours, galleries, books, design, fashion and art.

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It definitely has more of an art movement feeling in European cities than the protest feel of South American countries.

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Street art is always beautiful, funny, moving and in this moment in time.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

Rain Room

Rain Room

“The rain is falling all around ,It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here, And on the ships at sea.” Robert Louis Stevenson

Rain Room is an art-and-tech installation from London-based studio Random International. Visitors slowly walk through a room of falling water, yet (almost) never get wet.

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It drew long lines at the Barbican in London in 2012 and at MOMA in NY in 2013. It is currently at LACMA in LA , a place where rain is most needed.

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The Rain Room uses a tiny amount of water. It’s about 528 gallons. And to put that into perspective, an American family of four uses 400 gallons of water a day. It’s constantly recycled through the run of the show.

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There is something wonderful about navigating a room full of falling water while trying to stay dry. ( I found a rainbow)

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When you walk in you have to wait and watch the small group of people ahead of you creep into the Rain Room. They walk slowly, distrustfully—visibly wondering if they’ll get wet.

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The notion evolves into a feeling of ease as they begin to embark through the room, their arms outstretched. (I loved this couple dancing in the rain)

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If you are wearing dark colors the sensors don’t pick up as well so wear light colors and walk slowly and watch the rain stop around you. You can take photos but no flash.

Fly safe,

JAZ