Archives for the month of: August, 2011

Lyonel Feininger Self-Portrait

It’s raining in New York so it’s time to visit a Museum. Lyonel Feininger: At the Edge of the World is the first American retrospective of Lyonel Feininger’s work in 45 years. It’s currently showing at the Whitney Museum of American Art.


Well-known in Germany, Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956) was an American born artist who left the United States at sixteen to study music in Leipzig but discovered that art was his true calling. Feininger lived in Germany for 50 years before returning to the United States in 1937 when life under the Nazi regime became increasingly difficult. He was an influential leader in German Expressionism and was an early member of the Bauhaus movement; but interestingly, he started his career as a commercial artist specializing in comics.

Avenue of Trees
A true renaissance man, Feininger composed music, tried his hand at photography, and was an accomplished wood-cutter. Much of Feininger’s work deals with the theme of being an outsider. In Germany, he was known as the “the American,” and in the United States he was called “the German.” Unfortunately, he was never accepted in either country. During World War I, Feininger remained in Germany, but he had to report daily to the police as an enemy alien despite having a German wife and being a well-respected member of the German art community.

Jesuits
Surprisingly, Feininger was so unknown in the United States during his lifetime that the Whitney owns only one of his paintings. In fact, the Whitney Museum of American Art wasn’t initially interested in the work of a “German” painter. It’s somewhat ironic that one of America’s foremost painters was neglected in his own country, only to be “discovered” after his death.

Avenue of Trees depicts a solitary man walking along a tree lined path. The trees seem like jail bars trapping the man. Again, this painting touches on Feininger’s familiar theme of being an outsider, isolated from the community. Here, Feininger’s style is “prism-ism”– his term for cubism. In Feininger’s view, prism-ism is less abstract and more decipherable that cubism.

Jesuits depicts two common figures found in a number of Feininger’s work: the prostitute and the Jesuit priest. As a young man, Feininger attended a Jesuit school where the Jesuits (often considered outsiders themselves) imparted a philosophy of unilateral love and acceptance (even for prostitutes). Here, Feininger uses arches instead of geometric prisms. In my opinion, the use of aches gives the work a more natural and organic feeling. 

Lyonel Feininger Self-Portrait

It’s raining in New York so it’s time to visit a Museum. Lyonel Feininger: At the Edge of the World is the first American retrospective of Lyonel Feininger’s work in 45 years. It’s currently showing at the Whitney Museum of American Art.


Well-known in Germany, Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956) was an American born artist who left the United States at sixteen to study music in Leipzig but discovered that art was his true calling. Feininger lived in Germany for 50 years before returning to the United States in 1937 when life under the Nazi regime became increasingly difficult. He was an influential leader in German Expressionism and was an early member of the Bauhaus movement; but interestingly, he started his career as a commercial artist specializing in comics.

Avenue of Trees
A true renaissance man, Feininger composed music, tried his hand at photography, and was an accomplished wood-cutter. Much of Feininger’s work deals with the theme of being an outsider. In Germany, he was known as the “the American,” and in the United States he was called “the German.” Unfortunately, he was never accepted in either country. During World War I, Feininger remained in Germany, but he had to report daily to the police as an enemy alien despite having a German wife and being a well-respected member of the German art community.

Jesuits
Surprisingly, Feininger was so unknown in the United States during his lifetime that the Whitney owns only one of his paintings. In fact, the Whitney Museum of American Art wasn’t initially interested in the work of a “German” painter. It’s somewhat ironic that one of America’s foremost painters was neglected in his own country, only to be “discovered” after his death.

Avenue of Trees depicts a solitary man walking along a tree lined path. The trees seem like jail bars trapping the man. Again, this painting touches on Feininger’s familiar theme of being an outsider, isolated from the community. Here, Feininger’s style is “prism-ism”– his term for cubism. In Feininger’s view, prism-ism is less abstract and more decipherable that cubism.

Jesuits depicts two common figures found in a number of Feininger’s work: the prostitute and the Jesuit priest. As a young man, Feininger attended a Jesuit school where the Jesuits (often considered outsiders themselves) imparted a philosophy of unilateral love and acceptance (even for prostitutes). Here, Feininger uses arches instead of geometric prisms. In my opinion, the use of aches gives the work a more natural and organic feeling. 

The Cloisters 
In the past, whenever I was in New York, I somehow managed to miss visiting the Cloisters. I always had some excuse: it was too far uptown; medieval art is boring; the price of admission too high, etc. However, during this visit, I finally made it. Even though the price of admission was steep ($25) and getting there time consuming, my visit to the Cloisters turned out to be very interesting. 

Central Garden at the Cloisters
The Cloisters is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. It was reconstructed in the 1930s from the architectural elements of several European medieval abbeys. The cost of its construction and much of its collection was donated by John D. Rockefeller. Located in Fort Tryon Park and overlooking the Hudson River, the Cloisters is a nice escape from the hectic pace of Manhattan. You really feel like you’re in the french countryside while at the Cloisters. Perhaps, the best thing about the Cloisters is its location!

View overlooking the Hudson River at Fort Tryon Park
While its collection didn’t thrill me, I did enjoy the Garden Tour, which is offered daily at 1:00 pm. The highlight of the tour was a discussion of the Unicorn Tapestries and their relationship to the medieval garden.

After taking this tour, I can honestly say that I’m an expert on the Unicorn. For example, the Unicorn was a commonly used figure in medieval art that was a symbol of purity and grace. According to legend, the Unicorn had the power to make poisoned water potable and to heal sickness. Moreover, the Unicorn could only be captured through the use of trickery from a virgin.

If you visit the Cloisters, don’t miss the Narwahl tusk (a tusk from the small Narwahl whale) located in the Tapestry Room near the fireplace. In medieval times, this tusk was thought to be from the Unicorn. 

The Cloisters can be reached by taking the A Train to Dyckman then walking through Fort Tryon Park up a steep hill; or for those of you who want a more leisurely excursion, take the M4 bus from the W185 Station. 

The Cloisters 
In the past, whenever I was in New York, I somehow managed to miss visiting the Cloisters. I always had some excuse: it was too far uptown; medieval art is boring; the price of admission too high, etc. However, during this visit, I finally made it. Even though the price of admission was steep ($25) and getting there time consuming, my visit to the Cloisters turned out to be very interesting. 

Central Garden at the Cloisters
The Cloisters is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. It was reconstructed in the 1930s from the architectural elements of several European medieval abbeys. The cost of its construction and much of its collection was donated by John D. Rockefeller. Located in Fort Tryon Park and overlooking the Hudson River, the Cloisters is a nice escape from the hectic pace of Manhattan. You really feel like you’re in the french countryside while at the Cloisters. Perhaps, the best thing about the Cloisters is its location!

View overlooking the Hudson River at Fort Tryon Park
While its collection didn’t thrill me, I did enjoy the Garden Tour, which is offered daily at 1:00 pm. The highlight of the tour was a discussion of the Unicorn Tapestries and their relationship to the medieval garden.

After taking this tour, I can honestly say that I’m an expert on the Unicorn. For example, the Unicorn was a commonly used figure in medieval art that was a symbol of purity and grace. According to legend, the Unicorn had the power to make poisoned water potable and to heal sickness. Moreover, the Unicorn could only be captured through the use of trickery from a virgin.

If you visit the Cloisters, don’t miss the Narwahl tusk (a tusk from the small Narwahl whale) located in the Tapestry Room near the fireplace. In medieval times, this tusk was thought to be from the Unicorn. 

The Cloisters can be reached by taking the A Train to Dyckman then walking through Fort Tryon Park up a steep hill; or for those of you who want a more leisurely excursion, take the M4 bus from the W185 Station. 

Houses Overlooking the Promenade

On Monday afternoon, as I was strolling along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (Brooklyn Heights is where Patty Duke lived in her 1960s TV show), I noticed a poster offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the return of a stolen (kidnapped) dog. A thousand dollars seemed like a lot of money, even by New York standards. Moreover, I felt skeptical that a dog would be stolen. It seemed more likely that the dog had run away or simply got lost. I wondered who would steal a dog when there were so many unwanted dogs needing homes. Wouldn’t it be easier to adopt?


Well, it turns out, I was wrong. Yesterday morning on the front page of USA Today was an article entitled, “Kidnapping Dogs for Money Rises 49% this Year.” According to the article, the worsening economy has resulted in a sharp increase in dog theft. Dogs have been taken from homes, pet stores, shelters, cars, parks, and city streets. All types of dogs are stolen, but small breeds such as Yorkies and Pomeranians are abducted more often than others. Dog theft has become very lucrative. Thieves resell pets, return them to their owners for a reward or simply keep the dogs for themselves. 

A View from the Promenade

BTW:  The Brooklyn Heights Promenade offers some great views of the Manhattan skyline. I guess Patty didn’t have it so bad after all, especially for someone who could “only see the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights.”  



Houses Overlooking the Promenade

On Monday afternoon, as I was strolling along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (Brooklyn Heights is where Patty Duke lived in her 1960s TV show), I noticed a poster offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the return of a stolen (kidnapped) dog. A thousand dollars seemed like a lot of money, even by New York standards. Moreover, I felt skeptical that a dog would be stolen. It seemed more likely that the dog had run away or simply got lost. I wondered who would steal a dog when there were so many unwanted dogs needing homes. Wouldn’t it be easier to adopt?


Well, it turns out, I was wrong. Yesterday morning on the front page of USA Today was an article entitled, “Kidnapping Dogs for Money Rises 49% this Year.” According to the article, the worsening economy has resulted in a sharp increase in dog theft. Dogs have been taken from homes, pet stores, shelters, cars, parks, and city streets. All types of dogs are stolen, but small breeds such as Yorkies and Pomeranians are abducted more often than others. Dog theft has become very lucrative. Thieves resell pets, return them to their owners for a reward or simply keep the dogs for themselves. 

A View from the Promenade

BTW:  The Brooklyn Heights Promenade offers some great views of the Manhattan skyline. I guess Patty didn’t have it so bad after all, especially for someone who could “only see the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights.”  



Just across the street from New York City’s Union Square is a small vegetarian restaurant that specializes in falafel. Maoz isn’t so much a traditional restaurant as it is an updated and stylish falafel stand providing some seating. Maoz is a Dutch chain restaurant that has several locations in NYC. The falafel at Maoz isn’t dry or too greasy. It’s just the way I like it. I discovered Maoz during my last visit to New York and found it to be just as good this trip.


This time I had the meal deal, which included a falafel sandwich, Belgian fries, and a drink for about $9.00. I’ve never particularly liked french fries; but I admit, the fries at Maoz are wonderful. What makes Maoz particularly good is the choice of toppings that you can add to the falafel sandwich, including pickled eggplant, tabouli salad, roasted cauliflower, and other exotic middle eastern sauces.


Maoz has seating for about 6 people and gets very crowded during peak times. So if the weather is good, I recommend take-out and eating your meal across the street in Union Square. Maoz is certified kosher and is open seven days a week.

Just across the street from New York City’s Union Square is a small vegetarian restaurant that specializes in falafel. Maoz isn’t so much a traditional restaurant as it is an updated and stylish falafel stand providing some seating. Maoz is a Dutch chain restaurant that has several locations in NYC. The falafel at Maoz isn’t dry or too greasy. It’s just the way I like it. I discovered Maoz during my last visit to New York and found it to be just as good this trip.


This time I had the meal deal, which included a falafel sandwich, Belgian fries, and a drink for about $9.00. I’ve never particularly liked french fries; but I admit, the fries at Maoz are wonderful. What makes Maoz particularly good is the choice of toppings that you can add to the falafel sandwich, including pickled eggplant, tabouli salad, roasted cauliflower, and other exotic middle eastern sauces.


Maoz has seating for about 6 people and gets very crowded during peak times. So if the weather is good, I recommend take-out and eating your meal across the street in Union Square. Maoz is certified kosher and is open seven days a week.

This video has been getting a lot of play on YouTube. Although it shows two dogs having an argument (subtitled in English for those of you who don’t understand Canine), it could easily be a conversation between two people. In fact, I’ve had very similar conversations in the past. 

At last, a place to find good Mexican food in Portland. Taco Trio is located in South Portland just across the Casco Bay Bridge. I found it purely by accident. (In my opinion, there’s no such thing as an accident, and Taco Trio is the proof.)

Taco Trio reminds me of a typical San Francisco Mission taqueria: it’s lively without being loud or ostentatious. The staff are friendly and the service is fast. And unlike the inferior El Rayo Taqueria located in Portland proper, Taco Trio has food that’s both savory and spicy. I particularly enjoyed the pollo asado burrito and the fish taco. They also have a large selection of salsa that includes everything from mild to very very hot.

They seem to be very accommodating as well. I overheard a customer ask for a chicken mole burrito (chicken mole taco was the special) even though it wasn’t on the menu. And they made it for him without a fuss! Now that’s something, especially for a Maine restaurant.

As Mexican restaurants go, I would give Taco Trio a B+; but this being Portland, it ranks an A. Taco Trio is open for lunch Monday – Saturday (11am – 3pm) and for dinner
Wednesday – Saturday (5pm – 9pm).