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May 4, 2019

Saturday Night at the Movies: "Sleep" — Andy Warhol (1964)

Five hours, twenty minutes, and twenty-seven seconds [5:20:27] long.

Might be just the thing for your insomnia.

May 4, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What — and where — is this?

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Hint: bigger than a bread box.

Another: located in the Northern hemisphere.

A third: not in Egypt, Italy, Turkey, Greece, or Russia.

May 4, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Museum in an Elevator Shaft

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Shades of Duchamp's "Museum in a Valise."

From the New York Times:

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Mmuseumm displays collections of small objects in a very small space

Alex Kalman does things that Max Hollein of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Glenn D. Lowry of the Museum of Modern Art do not, like sweeping the street in front of his museum.

Mr. Hollein and Mr. Lowry run two of the largest art collections in New York City.

Mr. Kalman, 33, runs one of the smallest — all 36 square feet of it.

That is one eighteen-thousandth the size of the Met.

The only thing that is oversized about it is the name: Mmuseumm, with a couple of extra "m's."

Other museums have big curatorial staffs. Mr. Kalman is the curatorial staff at Mmuseumm, on Cortlandt Alley in TriBeCa.

So there he was with a broom, outside, and when he went inside, it was not like going up the steps from Fifth Avenue and into the Met's Great Hall.

Mmuseumm has no steps.

It occupies what used to be a freight elevator that opened directly onto the street.

Mmuseumm's collection is different, too.

It has no paintings.

"Madame X," the Met's famed John Singer Sargent portrait of a woman in a daring velvet dress, would not fit.

"Madame X" is nearly 96 inches high, including the frame, which is about 20 inches more than the distance from the floor to the ceiling at Mmuseumm.

But Mr. Kalman believes that small objects — things that museumgoers could miss in a large setting like the Met or the Modern — can tell important stories.

In Mmuseumm's 2019 exhibition, which opened April 26, there is toothpaste from Venezuela, part of a display of everyday items with almost the same names as brand-name products.

The knockoffs filled store shelves as the economy unraveled in Venezuela, where, as a catalog for the exhibition notes, the Venezuelan bolívar has lost so much value that "it doubles as confetti" at baseball games.

One box of toothpaste looks like a box of Colgate, but the brand name is "Colcote."

A box that looks like Crest is labeled "Crene," with "3D White" and "advanced whitening technology" in smaller letters.

There is spelling trouble on a cookie box: "Oleos" looks like "Oreos."

And then there is shampoo.

"You can't get Head & Shoulders," Mr. Kalman said, "but you can get Hoed & Shouders."

Nearby at Mmuseumm — where, out of necessity, everything is nearby — is a display about fake American fast-food in Iran.

"It's the story of how the universal love of a cheeseburger overpowers international embargoes," Mr. Kalman said.

Iran has no McDonald's franchises, but a homegrown burger chain combined Western and Iranian elements, calling itself "McMashallah."

Another collection of objects at Mmuseumm tells stories that are disturbing in a way that pictures at an exhibition might not be: things that people, mostly people of color, were carrying when they were shot and killed by the police. (The items — the longest is an umbrella — are replicas. Mr. Kalman found pieces identical to those described in police and autopsy reports.)

One item is a replica of the wallet carried by Amadou Diallo, a 22-year-old from West Africa who was killed in 1999 by four plainclothes New York City police officers who fired 41 bullets.

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The umbrella belonged to a Canadian man shot by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police during a standoff at his house south of Calgary, Alberta.

When he came out of the house, he pointed something at the officers, who said they believed it was a rifle.

It turned out to have been the umbrella.

"I don't mean to get too philosophical," Mr. Kalman said, "but I think I curate more like an editor at a magazine or a newspaper in the sense that we're thinking about compelling stories, we're thinking about relevant stories. These seemingly ordinary objects, they're intimate and they’re incredibly revealing. So, you can explore big ideas through these small objects."

Mr. Kalman, a designer and director, is the son of the artist Maira Kalman and said he grew up going to museums.

He remembers, fondly, "MoMA before it was the MoMA that it is today."

"Sitting in the garden, going there after school in high school, that was my hangout spot," he said.

So was the Met, though he said that sometimes he went there not "to look at anything in particular, just to exist within that space."

He also remembered visiting Sir John Soane's Museum in London "and seeing the kind of madness of a collector who created layers and layers of density in a space and let people get lost in that."

There is almost no chance that people will get lost in the space Mr. Kalman has created, a pristine little cube on a scruffy block.

Mmuseumm is 6 feet wide, 6 feet deep and 6 feet 3 inches high.

It has museum-white walls and red velvet linings on the shelves.

Mr. Kalman said he wanted "a very traditional sense of museum."

He already had an office upstairs in the building that houses Mmuseumm, a onetime textile warehouse.

"I had been imagining opening up a museum in an unexpected location," Mr. Kalman said. "I couldn’t afford it to be a huge, palatial space. I wanted a small space that people would discover, very much like the objects themselves, so that the experience of coming to the museum, of being curious, of wondering where you are, of asking questions, would begin before you even arrive."

Mmuseumm opened in 2012 after Mr. Kalman struck a deal to lease the former elevator space.

Like any nonprofit institution, Mmuseumm has donors, among them the family of the late designer Kate Spade; Leonard Riggio, the chairman and largest shareholder of Barnes & Noble, and his wife, Louise; and the fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi.

Like the Met, Mmuseumm has a suggested donation — $4 (the Met's is $25).

Mmuseumm has a cafe because "we didn’t think we could call ourselves a museum if we didn't offer espresso," Mr. Kalman said.

The cafe is down the block in an even smaller space, a few unused square feet that Mr. Kalman rented at the back of a store.

And Mmuseumm has been seen at the Met.

One of Mmuseumm's earlier projects was shown there; it is now a display on Independence Mall near the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

It showcased Mr. Kalman’s grandmother’s closet as a testament to "the way you can create order and meaning in a chaotic life," he said.

Like any ambitious museum director, Mr. Kalman has expansion plans.

Unlike, say, the Met, he cannot build a wing onto his museum.

But he has his eye on another small space down the block, a storefront with a roll-up metal gate.

"I like to imagine the alley as the hall of the grand museum and these individual spaces as the wings," he said. Nodding toward the gate, he said, “"Hopefully we'll get that as its own wing."

May 4, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

iNaturalist — "Connect with nature"

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The app's self-description:

One of the world's most popular nature apps, iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you.

Get connected with a community of over 400,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature!

What's more, by recording and sharing your observations, you'll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.

iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society

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Free, the way we like it.

May 4, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

7-Person Tricycle

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From the website:

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This tricycle accommodates seven adults.

The seven seats each have a set of pedals that riders can operate simultaneously to propel the tricycle up to 10 mph. 

One rider steers the tricycle and controls the dual independent hydraulic brake systems (one hand lever and a foot pedal).

Handmade in Germany for the likes of Cirque du Soleil and Google, the tricycle has a circular jointed drive-shaft, Porsche-engineered rack-and-pinion steering, and a completely covered drivetrain to protect the mechanism from dirt and dust.

Pedaling also powers an internal dynamo that illuminates two headlights.

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Features and Details:

• Frame has a durable baked-on powder-coated paint finish

• Seats adjust to different heights

• Red, Yellow, or Blue

• 8'L x 6'W x 4'H

• 400 lbs.

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$20,000.

May 4, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

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