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In classic novels and movies taking place before the casual days of movie theaters, the opera was the biggest and most exciting event one could attend. The characters would sit in their boxes all dolled up looking around at everyone in the other boxes. In mysteries, the detective is searching for a suspect or a clue; in romances, the characters flirt with their eyes. My experience at the opera was nothing like that.

Outside of the Metropolitan Opera, on my way in, I recalled those books that I enjoyed so much where the naïve girl looked forward to the opera as if it was the fulfillment of her existence. After climbing flight after flight of stairs I squeezing into my seat, I realized that those girls weren’t sitting in the family circle. They also probably had some knowledge of Italian and had a clue of what was going on. Unless they spent the whole night looking around at the audience, as I unsuccessfully tried to do once I came to the conclusion that I would never understand what was going on on stage. From my birds-eye view all I could see of the singers were flashes of color representing their clothes. That, combined with the fact that I couldn’t discern any of their voices and that the subtitles didn’t say who was saying what left me thoroughly confused, even though I knew the story.

The opera was a cultural eye-opener that should have impacted me more. However, because of my lack of appreciation for the fine art, it is an experience I am unlikely to repeat.

An artist’s work portrays the artist’s emotions, beliefs, ideals, and sometimes, whatever they were paid to portray. Diego Rivera was hired to create a huge mural for Rockefeller Center (because Matisse and Picasso weren’t available), with the theme: “Man at the Crossroads Looking with Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a New and Better Future.” Rivera stuck his own personal opinions in the mural, picturing Lenin’s face, highlighting Rivera’s Communist tendencies. In the 1930’s, people weren’t very big fans of Communism, so Nelson Rockefeller paid Rivera and promptly destroyed the work. Rivera, understandably upset, recreated the mural, with an addition of John D. Rockefeller Jr. in a nightclub.


One can argue that either party is right or wrong in this situation. On the one hand, Diego has the freedom of speech, and wasn’t given clear instructions on what to put in the mural and what not to. He had the right to put Lenin’s face in the mural. On the other hand, the work was commissioned for a public setting and its ideas would reflect on the patron, Rockefeller, who was not a Communist. It should have been clear to Rivera that Rockefeller would not approve Lenin’s part in the mural. If the work wasn’t commissioned, Rivera could have done whatever he wanted, but because he was being paid to paint it, he should have had more respect for the man paying him. In addition, Rivera’s revenge was petty and uncalled for. If he had given a little more thought to the situation, his mural would still be in Rockefeller Center, instead of the replacement mural, with Abraham Lincoln at its center.


Rivera had the chance to have his artwork displayed in a prominent building, to be seen by millions, but he blew it. I won’t argue with Rivera’s Communist beliefs, but in a society of people who fear Communism he should have realized that there are some times you need to keep your opinions to yourself and just try to please everyone else. There is a time and place for proclaiming one’s beliefs, but that time and place was not Rockefeller Center in 1933.

What I Saw at Carnegie Hall

Last night was the first time I had ever been at Carnegie Hall, and it was an experience. Even after climbing up all those stairs, I didn’t completely comprehend how high up I was until I looked down. I realized that if one were to trip and fall onto the row in front one’s self, one would end up rolling off the balcony. This thought, along with intense contemplation about exactly how high we were, and how close the ceiling was, brought back a paralyzing fear of heights for a few seconds. I got rid of the acrophobia (fear of heights) by looking around at my fellow audience, and after some time discovered that it was a prime location for people watching. However, before my overactive imagination could get the best of me, the orchestra began. It was then that I noticed the microphones hanging from the ceiling. Those must have been some strong wires. If someone positioned herself right, she could swing herself, Tarzan-style, from one balcony to another. They must need very tall ladders to reach the ceiling to set up and fix the microphones. The lights also caught my attention. I noticed that not a single bulb was out, and that the giant circle of lights in the middle of the ceiling wasn’t reachable by balcony. I hope that the person who changes the light bulbs has good life insurance.

When I finally glanced down at the musicians, their all-black dress code caused my nomadic thoughts to wander even further away from the galaxy where they had originated. If Sir John Eliot Gardiner was trying to imitate how the pieces were performed in Beethoven’s time, why are the musicians not dressed in breeches and corsets? Accidental anachronisms only discredit a performance. Although, I will concede that it would be hard for the female cellists to hold their instruments in giant poufy dresses.



If the picture isn’t clear click on it for a better view.

New York City is like the people who live in it-diverse with many different stories and personalities. Each individual place reflects the people who built it, whether a hundred or five years ago, and the people who frequent it daily. Coney Island and High Line are two such sites that display their unique characters to their visitors. After walking around for only a few minutes I was able to detect an atmosphere in each of these sites created by the collective mood of the people there.

Coney Island was unlike any neighborhood I had visited before. Because it was a chilly and windy day there weren’t as many people on the streets and boardwalk as there are on a hot summer day but it was still bubbling with life. The feeling I got while walking around Coney Island was the ghost of what was once a glorious amusement park. The remainders of that time stand tall and proud, trying to remind us of what they once were.

Along the boardwalk I felt a shared serenity amongst the people walking, sitting, standing and selling. No matter what troubles they may have and how diverse they are from each other, they are all connected by Coney Island. Like the kites flying nearby, these people are all doing their own thing, yet somehow doing it unison.


My adventures at High Line were quite different than the ones I had at Coney Island. When I finally found the park all I could do was stare in wonder at this Shangri-La above New York City. From down below it appears to be just a walkway, with only gates, people, and a few trees visible. However, the truth is much more striking. As Goldberger says in “Miracle Above Manhattan”,  “walking on the High Line is unlike any other experience in New York. You float about 25 feet above the ground, at once connected to street life and far away from it.”

The High Line is an oasis in the desert that is the bustling industrialization of our city. High Line is the product of the post-industrial age, of a people wanting to experience the city without its constant changes and upgrades. It reminds me of post-apocalyptic science fiction novels, where the destruction of the world is blamed on our generation for our relentless drilling of oil and use of electricity. The new civilizations created in these novels have everything that we have, just greener and with a better appreciation of nature and the world as a whole. This thought came about especially from the rails visible through the bushes. In one place in particular, there was a single tree growing, exemplifying the idea of High Line as a rebirth of nature. High Line is a product of a generation who strives to cure the environment of the diseases we gave it and allow it to blossom in a way that we never allowed it to.

The plants and shrubbery at High Line were, to put it bluntly, not particularly gorgeous, and in any other place would be called weeds. However, it was their rawness that gave them charm in my eyes. Had there been beautiful roses and orchids growing there, all it would be is a garden. Because the plants were clearly left to their own devices, we can see true nature, untouched by humans (mostly), the way it is supposed to grow.

Both Coney Island and High Line are places of relaxation and enjoyment, though in very dissimilar ways. Coney Island gives the visitor something to do, while High Line gives the visitor the opportunity not to do. A contrast between Coney Island and High Line was the sensation of culture that grew over time in Coney Island versus the culture that is yet to come in High Line. While walking through High Line I felt as if it had more to give but needed time to prepare it. Coney Island has been around for decades and is confident in its culture and diversity. What particularly represented this concept at Coney Island were the painted trashcans along the boardwalk.








Another difference between Coney Island and High Line that struck me right away was the values of the times that they were created and how that reflected on each of the sites. Coney Island started becoming popular as machines were getting more complicated and accessible and the attractions built there incorporated the public’s yearning for technology into the pleasurable activities they marketed. The attraction and idea of High Line was the opposite, of throwing off the shackles of the modern and post-industrial age we locked ourselves in. The two sites are converses when it comes to the purposes of the people who created them but are alike in how they are products of their times. Both sites continue to pass along the messages of their creators and their eras, and allow them to live on through future generations.

Works Cited

Goldberger, Paul. “Miracle Above Manhattan.” National Geographic April 2011: 122-137. Print.

What is Fluxus?

Before attending the “Fluxus, and the Essential Questions of Life” exhibit I wasn’t exactly sure what Fluxus was. I had a vague idea from our discussions in class and reading “Lunch Poems”, but hadn’t been able to concretize it in my head. Only after viewing the art that isn’t art yet is art in person did I realize that there is no definition for Fluxus past “an art movement of the 1960’s”. The fact that there is no clear explanation that can capture the movement is reminiscent of the movement itself. Fluxus is questions and answers, yes and no, and everything and nothing. Fluxus asks and replies without actually providing an answer.

The artists were looking at everything and questioning, while turning it into an art form. The exhibit was set up according to what the pieces were asking of their audiences.  In the section entitled “Nothingness?” Nam June Paik’s “Zen for TV” and “Zen for Film” asked us if the blank screens in front of us were indeed blank. Does the fact that there is nothing on the screen except a line or static make it empty? Is anything ever truly empty?

In the section called “God?” we saw Ben Vautier’s “Fluxbox Containing God”. This piece was created to entice even the most hardcore skeptics to try to open it. However, the box is glued shut which shows the artist’s (or is he a non-artist?) doubt in whether God exists or not and puts those same thoughts in the head of one who tries to open the box and is disappointed.

Fluxus is unlike many other art movements in its accessibility. Anyone who wants to can pick up an event score and follow it in their own way, giving themselves a piece of Fluxus. There are no limitations or rules; anything can be art, which brings me back to my original question. What is Fluxus?