Free Admission to the Leslie-Lohman Museum

A photo of crayons melting into a rainbow.

Image: Shutterstock.com

For whatever reason, the Leslie-Lohman Museum doesn’t receive a lot of press despite the fact that it’s open six days a week and admission is always free. Perhaps it’s because it’s a gay and lesbian art museum, and Americans are still struggling with accepting the LGBTQ+ community. In any case, we figured we’d pay tribute to the museum by delving into its rich history and highlighting some current exhibits.

History

The museum is named after Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman, two gay men who started collecting and displaying queer art in their SoHo loft in 1969. Over 200 people attended their opening weekend exhibition, and that’s when they realized that there was a huge need for this type of locale.

During the 1980s, Charles and Fritz felt compelled to preserve the works of queer artists who passed away due to AIDS. Unfortunately, it was all too common for artists to have their work discarded after their deaths by unsupportive family members.

That’s when Charles and Fritz launched the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, Inc. The foundation was started in 1987 as a non-profit organization. As such, it was tax exempt under IRS code 501(c)3. What started out as a small, “underground” showroom on Prince Street has now grown to become a capacious, full-blown museum on 26 Wooster Street.

In May 2011, the New York State Board of Regents granted the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation official museum status. As such, it became the world’s first queer art museum. In December 2015, the name of the museum was switched to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. To this day, it remains the only gay art museum in existence.

Current Exhibits

From July 15 through October 2, the museum will be displaying A Deeper Dive, which examines the work of a handful of artists featured in the national touring exhibition, Art AIDS America. While Art AIDS America showcases over 100 artists who were impacted by the disease outbreak, A Deeper Dive sheds light on how eight artists in particular have explored the theme differently through various strategies and undertakings.

From August 14 through November 4, the Leslie-Lohman Museum will also be displaying Self-Portraits: 2009-2015. Photographer Cobi Moules explores how queer and trans portraitures reflect different representations of gay identity.

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1,000-Person Choir Performs at the Mostly Mozart Festival

A photo of the Lincoln Center plaza.

The Lincoln Center plaza.
Image: littleny / Shutterstock

On August 13, a massive group of people gathered at the Lincoln Center to sing at the Mostly Mozart festival. The festival, which features orchestral concerts, dance groups, and more, focuses on Mozart’s work. But this year, a 1,000-person choir was assembled to sing a new piece titled, “the public domain” by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang.

Lang, who was inspired by the theme of community, wrote the song in response to a single question: What brings us all together? Hungry for answers, Lang turned to Google. He searched, “One thing we all share is …”

Lang came across varied responses to the query, some of which were touching and heartfelt, others of which were shallow and temporal.

“‘Our pride.’ ‘Our favorite sandwich.’ ‘Our love of music.’ One of the most common answers, or types of answers, were about people saying that the thing we have, that we share, is the ability to make choices for ourselves,” Lang commented.

Touched by the diverse set of answers, Lang incorporated some of these responses into his lyrics. “Our passion,” “Our time,” “Our pain,” and of course, “Our power to choose” are just some of the phrases that made it into the song.

As one might expect, the song brought people together…like a community. And just like the search results, there was a ton of diversity. Young, old, black, white, disabled, and able-bodied people united to bring this 25-part choral masterpiece to life.

About Mostly Mozart

This year’s festival marks the 50th anniversary of Mostly Mozart. The Lincoln Center first hosted the festival in the summer of 1966 and has been sponsoring the event ever since. The festival’s popularity has grown since then, with the Mostly Mozart orchestra having performed in cities all over New York, including Oyster Bay, Utica, Schenectady, and Binghamton. They’ve even performed at Washington D.C.’s highly revered John. F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. For a brief time between 1991 and 1999, the orchestra performed annually in Tokyo, Japan. But the official Mostly Mozart festival will always be at home at the Lincoln Center, whose board of directors in comprised of notable figures including Bill Ford, CEO of General Atlantic, John Thain, former CEO of CIT Group, and Christina Baker, New York Times bestselling author.

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How to Afford Living in NYC as an Artist

A photo of a man playing guitar. HIs guitar case is open and there are coins in it.

Image: Shutterstock

A gifted painter from the Midwest moves to NYC in order to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming the next Picasso. The reality? He ends up paying $1,400 a month to live in a cockroach-infested apartment in Hunts Point. It’s the stereotypical “life of a starving artist.” But thanks to organizations like ArtHome, this no longer has to be the case.

ArtHome partners with local institutions and community investors to provide free financial advice to artists residing in NYC. The organization offers several “creative money” workshops, which touch on everything from credit basics, to home ownership, to budgeting daily expenses. The workshops range anywhere from 1.5 hours to a full-blown 8-hour financial boot camp. During these workshops, participants will be given a financial planning sheet where they can evaluate their current fiscal status, set future goals, and create a plan of action.

In addition to workshops, ArtHome also partners with other organizations to host several free events throughout the year. Events include networking, seminars, and classes taught by real working artists.

ArtHome’s latest project, ArtBuilt Mobile Studios, offers an affordable way for artists to work and travel. The tiny, portable work spaces are up to 200 square feet. They are designed for maximum energy efficiency and can run off of grid power, solar power, or biodiesel. The tow-able trailers are street legal and can be used for a variety of purposes, including a living space.

ArtHome is sponsored by the Fund for the City of New York. The Fund for the City of New York was started in 1968 by the Ford Foundation. Funds are awarded to individuals, organizations, and businesses that are dedicated to improving the standard of living for New York residents. ArtHome has been a recipient of the Fund for the City of New York since 2006.

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Museum Offers Guided Meditation for Black Lives Matter

A photo of an African American woman meditating.

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In response to recent police killings, The New Museum of Contemporary Art is offering guided meditation sessions for the Black Lives Matter movement. Board-certified and licensed acupuncturist, Mona Chopra, will lead the majority of the sessions. Chopra, who is also a certified hypnotist and both a yoga and meditation instructor, hopes that the sessions will help participants achieve internal tranquility.

“In these sessions, participants will be led through meditation practices rooted in the Buddhist tradition to help in settling, soothing, and healing our stressed hearts, minds, and bodies. By cultivating patience, calmness, and clarity of thinking, we can, as Pema Chödrön notes, ‘soften what is rigid in our hearts.’ By helping to bring us closer in touch with our own humanity and the humanity of others, meditation enables us to be sources of increasing peace in the world,” Chopra wrote.

The sessions are an extension of the “Simon Leigh: The Waiting Room” exhibit. The exhibit, which mostly focuses on the struggles of Black women, explores themes of insubordination, revolution, and perseverance. Artist Simon Leigh’s examines how self-care in times of violence can be its own form of rebellion, and how it can even lead to peaceful resolutions.

The meditation sessions take place every Saturday from 10am – 11:30am through September 17. Dr. Aimee Meredith Cox will lead two of the upcoming sessions on August 27 and September 17. As a cultural anthropologist and tenured professor of African and African American Studies at Fordham University, Dr. Cox will teach participants how to come to terms with feelings of injustice, anger, and tragedy.

The meditation sessions have been immensely popular, and due to limited space, RSVP is required. Interested parties can reserve a spot by emailing waitingroom@newmuseum.org. There will not be a guided meditation session on September 3.

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3 Awesome Places in NYC to Find PokeStops

Hand holding phone with NYC in background

Here are a few suggestions for Pokestops in NYC!
Image: Heather Shimmin / Shutterstock.com

If you haven’t already heard, there’s a new game in town, and it’s literally sending everyone outside. Pokemon Go is officially available in most parts of the world, and people are venturing out into the urban wild to catch ‘em all.

The location-based augmented reality (AR) mobile game released less than a month ago and has already captured more than 20 million active users. It’s now the most popular app in the United States, with people spending more time on it than Facebook. In addition, the game has already surpassed Twitter in its number of daily users.

Catching wild Pokemon isn’t the only aspect of the game. You’ve probably heard people talking about PokeStops. These are in-game locations marked by blue squares that allow users to gather items, including Pokeballs, eggs, potions, and more. PokeStops are basically places you don’t want to miss if you want to be the very best Pokemon Master.

PokeStops are usually popular landmarks of some sort, like sculptures, stores, restaurants, museums, historical landmarks, and well-known buildings.

Knowing where to look for them is key. Below are a few locations to keep an eye out for if you’re in the New York City area!

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Type: Museum
Address: 2 E 91st St New York, NY 10128

Cooper Hewitt is a design museum located in the Upper East Side’s Museum Mile in Manhattan, NYC. Go solo, with a group of friends, or take your kids/parents out for a family outing and be sure to check out some of their current exhibits:

  • “Energizing the Everyday” by George Kravis (industrial art)
  • “Pixar: The Design of Story” (sketches, paintings, and sculptures from over 25 Pixar films)
  • “Thom Browne Selects” (historic and contemporary mirrors and frames)
  • “Fragile Beasts” (ornament prints and drawings from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries)

The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog
Address: 30 Water St New York, NY 10004

Perfect location, amazing history, great staff, and delicious drinks.

The Dead Rabbit bar celebrates the cultures of Old New York and the Irish-American tradition, incorporating both the low and the high end of social drinking. In 2015, it took home the awards for “Best American Bar Team” and “Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar.” Its winning menu includes refreshing cocktails, Irish breakfasts, and a room full of colorful history.

Upstate
Address: 95 1st Ave New York, NY 10003

Arguably the tastiest and freshest oysters you’ll ever eat. Because there is no freezer in this restaurant, all the food comes in fresh every day! Its simple concept and small menu mean fresh ingredients and fresh preparation in the open kitchen. Upstate’s passionate owner works as a menu consultant and as a server on the floor.

Have you found any awesome locations with PokeStops? Leave a comment below!

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Keegan Monaghan: Artist of Intellectual Horrors

A surrealism painting featuring a pocketwatch with a human face inside it.

An example of surrealism art.
Image: Shutterstock

Keegan Monaghan is a 29-year-old from Chicago who knows his hometown history. His painting style is strongly borrowed from the Chicago Imagists, those painters from the 1960s who were known for grotesqueries and surrealism (and who inspired the art of MAD Magazine). Monaghan has brought their brand of weighted art forward into the Millennial generation with his vivid, slightly disturbing oils.

“My Place” is a painting of his that mimics this type of style—the viewer sees a living room of bright oranges and soft shapes through two aligned portholes. Are we seeing through a pair of eyes or a virtual reality headset or some amalgam? Seen in the right mood, it can be introspective modern horror in cartoon colors.

Monaghan layers his paint on thickly, building almost crystalline textures that diffuse one’s sense of light. The transparency of a glass plate on a glass table, the red glow of a police car, they look almost like the textures one might make with chalk, but without the smoothness.

His work seems to be either introspective (indeed, one painting is named Introspection) or voyeuristic, with nothing in between. Or perhaps it is all merely voyeuristic, with the audience intruding upon the artist’s introspection.

His subject matter is heavy and thoughtful, often about contemporary surveillance society and perception. But there is humor in his technique, and in the colors and textures he loves. It is worth taking the time to stand still and look deeply at them, to find what angles you see in them. For example, in his painting “Security,” does the barred window protect the occupant of the house we can glimpse inside, or the viewer standing outside?

Monaghan’s show, ‘You Decide to Take a Walk,’ is at the gallery On Stellar Rays at 1 Rivington Street, Lower East Side, through mid-August.

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LowLine: An Underground Park on NYC’s Lower East Side

Image: Via kickstarter.com

Image: Via kickstarter.com

In July of 2015, a project called Lowline bagged $223,506 of crowdfunding money from more than 2500 donors via Kickstarter. At the time, it was the platform’s most-funded public art project, and it was only a concept.

That concept was an underground park set in New York City.

According to the project’s description on Kickstarter; “It turns out there’s a 107-year-old former trolley station– untouched since 1948– right below Delancey Street in the center of New York City’s Lower East Side neighborhood. All the old architectural details are still there, and right now it sits in one of the most crowded neighborhoods in a very crowded city. Our dream is to take that space back and transform it into a beautiful public gathering space.”

The Delancey Street Trolley station, which has been a popular locale for ‘Haunted New York’ and more historical tours, is a space of approximately one acre with vaulted ceilings and a cobblestone floor. It’s right beside the Essex Street subway stop, and the two would easily be connected.

In the year since their funding success, that quarter of a million dollars has funded Lowline Lab, a sort of test version of the subterranean park. It features solar collection devices to bring sunlight into the space and a community exhibit about the project, and has been used to garner community engagement.

Now, Lowline is approved, and approved of, by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Deputy Mayor for housing Alicia Glen, both of whom are excited about the project. They’re approved by City Hall to build the actual park in their intended space. The transformed trolley station will be whimsical, a little mysterious, and entirely kid-friendly, and hopes to open in late 2017. As much sculpture as green space, shelter and play place, it will be an important addition to a neighborhood that is densely populated and largely low-income.

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