Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Posts from — November 2008

Waltz With Bashir

Weird Dream

Weird Dream


With a title like “Waltz With Bashir,” one may expect a dance documentary or a movie about ballroom dancers, but that was not the case at Ziegfeld Theatre for the New York Film Festival this year. Instead, I was blown away by an animated feature about the 1982 war in Lebanon. It is the personal story of its director, Ari Folman. [Read more →]

November 23, 2008   Comments Off on Waltz With Bashir

Jeff Mermelstein: Street Photographer and Artist

Who is Jeff Mermelstein? Some who accidentally notice him in the street with his Leica lense might think he is a tourist and yet others might even think of him as an invader of their privacy. The fact is though that Jeff Mermelstein is a street photographer, and definitely a passionate one. He takes pictures of anything that catches his eye, whether it is fruits and vegetables, animals, or people. Vivid color is his main criteria, and this makes his photographs absolutely ravishing. [Read more →]

November 19, 2008   Comments Off on Jeff Mermelstein: Street Photographer and Artist

Dr. Atomic Bombs

War, tragedy, catastrophe, massacre, bomb, horror, radiation poisoning. These are just a few words that we can associate with the end of World War II and the dropping of the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Each one of these words evokes many negative emotions and may even bring some to tears considering the magnitude of destruction that this event caused. As viewers went to watch Dr. Atomic, an opera depicting the Manhattan Project itself, they expected to get the sense of these feelings: to put themselves at the scene and to experience what the scientists experienced. Unfortunately, due to sub-par voices, an overly simplistic story line, and a dissatisfying ending, this opera did not evoke much empathy or feeling. [Read more →]

November 19, 2008   Comments Off on Dr. Atomic Bombs

Jeff Mermelstein

As Jeff Mermelstein displayed his collection of photographs, all went silent except for the old-fashioned whirring sounds of the projector. At times, he stopped at a photo and briefly gave a caption. The class burst out in laughter at some of his photos: a model’s almost-naked photo shoot, a woman’s badly sun-burnt back, a yawning businessman, and the behinds of elephants. Mermelstein’s photos were amusing and filled the room with laughter. Not only did he share his collection of street photography, but he also displayed his humorous personality. [Read more →]

November 19, 2008   Comments Off on Jeff Mermelstein

Ohne Titel

My street photography project is centered on a cultural encounter I personally experienced when I moved from Manhattan to Bushwick, Brooklyn. Bushwick has a particular duality about it; there is a rugged, industrial ambience as well as a palpable artistic presence. This conflict within the neighborhood, the constant juxtaposition of art and industry, inspired me to shoot there. [Read more →]

November 18, 2008   10 Comments

Much Obliged, Jeff Mermelstein

Street photographer Jeff Mermelstein arrived at Baruch College last Thursday to generously share with us several collections of his work. His main objective, he explained, is to photograph the world’s gritty under-netting – that which makes America American. He has found the prime examples of this realism in the streets of New York City.

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November 18, 2008   Comments Off on Much Obliged, Jeff Mermelstein

An Opera of a Different (And Drearier) Color

November 17, 2008   Comments Off on An Opera of a Different (And Drearier) Color

Falling In Love With Prose!

            “She was so beautiful and doomed and she had a death wish” no, this is not Francine Prose but Myra, an insane character from “Hansel and Gretel”; one of her short stories from the collection “The Peaceable Kingdom”. The real Francine Prose held the audience captive during the reading with her soft, deep intonations. Her hair curtained her face as she drew it back occasionally to reveal the intelligence and wit written not only in her story but also on her face. She peered up to regard the audience that was intentionally shocked into attention by the image of Hecuba and her cat.

                During the talkback, Prose stated she started writing stories as an indirect result of the unruly children she had to babysit as a child. Her face drew back in a smile when she recalled she “did a lot of ghost stories” to entertain the children. Her use of logic and sense of humor led her to discover that if they were scared they might be less restless. Many of her ideas for novels including “Hansel and Gretel” came from personal experience. Prose explained, “As a child I was a huge reader”. She readily cited the highly relevant Hans Christian Andersen and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott Her influences were a revelation. Hans Christen Andersen’s tales even though irreverent, sometimes have dark undertones just like her work. Alcott’s novel is an almost biographical account of a female writer who falls into “vortexes” and “writing fits” and supports herself with them. Francine Prose’s character is such that she remembers staying up all night to start a novel. Initially to her writing was not so much about the freedom of expression but also her livelihood. She admitted she could not “imagine doing anything else” and “just didn’t have a chance for writer’s block”. Her approach to her profession is not only realistic it is admirable

 Her independence is admirable and her spirit shows in her book “Reading Like A Writer”. Prose emphasizes the importance of reading not just for plot but also for the originality of the writer. In opposition to the nature of a short story, a novel focuses more on the character development.  To Francine Prose writing is a novel is “scarier” because there is a chance that it might not go anywhere”. When questioned about her writing methods,” I just write on sentence after another” Her approach at writing maybe considered unorthodox. Yet when she writes, every word is deliberate, and every thought is concise, even at times humorous, just like her. 

November 14, 2008   4 Comments

“No Title Here” Necessary, for Jeff Mermelstein


Jeff Mermelstein

photographer: Jeff Mermelstein

         Jeff Mermelstein is an established street photographer whose various credits include a degree from the School Of Visual Arts in photography and teaching at the  International  Center For Photography. He focuses on the streets of New York and its American and social content.

                Standing at the center of our class he explained how he had the courage to photograph perfect strangers.  He smiled widely as he explained “These people didn’t complain and I would not have minded if they did”. His bravery is supplemented by the fact that he gives of the air of a very gentle giant with his kind expressions, sense of humor and overall broadness of shoulders. Hovering over his projector as he showed my class his slides he almost quivered with excitement.

            Jeff Mermelstein  fell in love with color, more specifically color photography in all it’s natural “M &M candy-like seduction”. To him seeing color is a “visceral process” as opposed to black and white.

 His photographs fittingly reveal this passion he developed. [Read more →]

November 14, 2008   Comments Off on “No Title Here” Necessary, for Jeff Mermelstein

Soldiers are not Politicians, but they are “In Conflict”



            “Soldiers are not politicians, ”Ty Simmons asserts in Yvonne Latty’s book “In Conflict”, now adapted into a thought provoking Culture Project production. Our main military man was one of the many veterans whose tortured stories were heart wrenchingly revealed on the small stage at the Barrow Street theatre.

            Revealed would be the word because the open-minded cast and directors of the show managed to create both an expository play about a war that is very simple to bash. It would have been far easier for Culture Project or even Yvonne Latty to compile the memoirs of bitter and disgruntled opponents of the war but they didn’t and their lack of narrow-mindedness made this production all the more credible. [Read more →]

November 14, 2008   Comments Off on Soldiers are not Politicians, but they are “In Conflict”