Mumbai-New York-Scranton — Tamara Shopsin

mumbai_newyork_scranton_tamara_shopsin From the cover to the inside back cover photo, to the weight of the paper, to the choice of font to the margins on the pages to the color of the cover ALL transported me back to the 70’s or perhaps the late 80’s when I was reading tattered library books from the decade before.

Only the occasional mention of blogging on the inside made me realize I was in fact reading a modern book. It didn’t help that traveling through India, at least according to this account is a bit like being in the past, so the subject matter throughout the first half of the book just kept the confusion going. But what a wonderful incongruous journal and journey it is!

Short snippets and snapshots, observations and glimpses, each mirrored by the style of the included square format photos. You are thrust into a travel journal encompassing the wondrously incomprehensible india. This is a rich and wonderful tapestry of sights and sounds but slowly you realize what you are really experiencing is a beautiful private shared moments glimpse into an amazing relationship.

Before you know it we are (back) in New York – just as crazy in it’s own right, and just as accurately relayed in tiny glimpses, from there we even make down to Scranton. But with each page turn, unbeknownst to you an alternate tension slowly builds, just under the surface the water is shifting, slowly building into a roaring waterfall. You don’t realize it but all of a sudden you are in a different book. Still told in observational snippets accompanied by the witty and funny photos, but all of sudden you are watching and rooting for someone who is fighting for their life.

Overall a wonderful wonderful journey I would heartily recommend for any adventurous souls who appreciates the details (probably an introvert).

David DiMichele


Wow what an awesome installation! that is just cool!

Except that isn’t an installation, that’s not even the art. This is: david_dimichele_lightrods_pseudodocumentation

huh? what? Yeah the LightJet Print is the art. The photo and the print are the real art. There is no installation and there never was, well not life-size anyway.

It’s all part of a series of work by artist David DiMichele called Pseudodocumentation. At first I felt a little cheated, but the more I think about it, the more I appreciate and enjoy this pseudo art. In this day and age I experience most installation art exactly as above, as an image not an experience. These pseudo installation pieces serve to underscore exactly that point, and the more I meditate on them the more I like them.



I mean if they were real they would be awesome, but even as mockups they are engaging and as an added bonus they remind me of set-design models I used to make and play with so its a nostalgia/conceptual art win win.

Please make sure to check out all the “installation pieces” at his website.

The Bonobo and the Atheist — Frans de Waal


Wow, what an interesting read. Even if you don’t agree with the many, many ideas brought forth in Frans de Waal’s central argument, or if you’re a staunch anti-atheist or hate bonobos, there is no denying there is a lot to chew on in the pages of this book.

There are some really, really interesting theories put forth about the origins of morality and how, contrary to popular belief, perhaps they do have a basis in biology.

Certainly de Waal’s work with bonobos, and other scientists with other animals like elephants, but even rats, helps support his claims.

If there is one criticism it would be De Waal’s obsession with Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, I mean I think it was meant to be an interesting jumping off point, but mostly it felt like a huge distraction, especially since no full reproduction is included only bits even though many other parts of the painting are discussed. What does a 15th century painting have to do with Bonobos and Atheism? to be honest I don’t remember anymore.

Paweł Althamer


I just love the instantly performative space a sculpture of the human body presents. It’s like an instant empathy machine. If not a mind connection, at the very least a body connection is formed. You can’t help but try to mimic the pose and state of the form you are presented with.

Althamer here subverts that instinct a little and I love it. You’re presented with a void where a body should be, a skeletal / zombie / mummy like experience mixed with the invisible man. Just enough to give a hint of the human form that should add corporality but is strangely absent yet wholly defined. That, paired with the extremely lifelike casts of the most expressive part of the human body just creates something perfectly disturbing and uncanny.



And yet this series is just one of a diverse, varied and long art practice that is Paweł Althamer.

Yo Miss – Lisa Wilde


Yet another graphic novel, but I love them. Usually if the drawing style doesn’t jive with me I have to put the graphic novel down, I just can’t deal with it, it’s a very important part of a graphic novel for me.

Things were different here, I was in danger of putting Yo Miss down, but the story just won me over. I couldn’t put it down. Fairly standard fare about a school full of kids, a second chance school for inner city kids, but the story is so full of heart and you grow to like the teacher (Lisa Wilde / Author) and the kids are so endearing (reflects I’m sure, the teachers love for her students) that you just keep turning the pages.

Vanderlei Lopes


A lot of more conceptual art suffers in the materials department, the focus is more on the concept, and while pains are usually taken in the execution the materials are usually simple crude everyday and sometimes lack the texture and weightiness of a more studied form-focused piece. Not so with Vanderlei Lopes – I just love what he is doing here. The pieces are arresting, concept aware, but the focus is on the materials – maybe not even the focus but the texture and weightiness of more traditional sculpture is very much there. Beautiful and arresting to look at.

The pieces I chose are both cast in bronze with patina but his works in polished bronze are also beautiful – please take a moment to explore all of his work.



Lucy Knisley


Lucy Knisley (Nice-ly) is my new favorite Graphic Novelist. I had the pleasure of reading through three of her books.


Age of License was the first book I read. It was a pretty good read. I enjoyed the subject matter — travel. But I didn’t fully connect fully with the book or its drawing style for some reason despite the fact that I usually love travel books. My favorite part was when she visits Angoulême famed for its own love of comics and their authors because I would probably share Lucy’s excitement in being there.


Displacement I read this book next. I liked it even better. Lucy goes on a cruise (which can be trying in the best of times! see DFW’s take on it) but she takes things to a whole other level by going on this adventure with her very geriatric grandparents. Hilarity, well more like poignant resignation and frustration ensues! My favorite part however were the flashbacks to her grandfather’s wartime journal entries ( I could read a whole illustrated graphic novel of just her grandpa’s experiences! hint hint)


Relish This was the last one I read and it was by far my favorite, perhaps it was the subject matter. Being a foodie myself, I could really appreciate another foodie’s journey through life plus the book is littered with detailed cutely illustrated recipes throughout. This one really hit it home for me – a coming of age story, a foodie romp through farm to table, city life AND country living, awesome recipes and a lightness throughout but once again grounded by its poignancy of family life and a life lived.

Fallen Astronaut


I had no idea there was any art on the moon, I was thrilled to find out about Fallen Astronaut. I guess you could almost call it a site-specific installation, but it certainly is an open air gallery with a fine piece of commemorative minimal sculpture – remembering all those who have died in service of this cause. It seems a poignant and touching tribute, and a very exciting discovery for me. There is some controversy surrounding the art – but it’s exciting to think of a piece of art in the far reaches of the cosmos.

Ads – NYC Players
aka Richard Maxwell


I think I would have to label this a misplaced experiment.  The New York Times called it “a video installation in a modern-art museum” and I unfortunately I agree. As someone surrounded by digital technology which is lacking exactly the live component I crave and enjoy in seeing a performance, I was severely disappointed by this “performance.”

As an experiment in the live arts I understand the things Maxwell was going for… exploring what performance means, what live means, playing with technology available, but ultimatley it was not enjoyable or interesting to me. Still it was great to see Maxwell using his trademark tropes in a new setting.