Not a good day for DIA

DIA, Beacon, NY

The entrance, where should we go from here?

As an art lover, a previous art major and a creative person, an excursion to the “Museum Mile” along upper Fifth Avenue in New York City is an exhilarating experience. Choosing one of the famed museums along the route, e.g., the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cooper Hewitt, the Frick collection, the National Academy Museum and the Guggenheim is never easy. On a recent Saturday, a friend who is an artist as well as an art teacher, suggested a visit to a new museum venue. Neither of us had ever been to DIA in Beacon, NY. We do not share the same aesthetic in style: he likes surrealism and abstract expressionism, I like classical realism, impressionism, and all of the American schools of art, but we shared the same unexpected shock and disappointment during our day at DIA. 

Colored Shapes

Boring colors, boring shapes

Whenever you exchange money, goods or services for an “agreed upon” return, you are disillusioned when, for your good faith offering, you receive nothing. A $12 admission fee is not much to gamble away to glean some enlightenment, however small; but include travel time, gasoline $, and factor in the realization that you have also been

Shapes

If a child of 6 did this, you'd say, "Good Job! - but what is it?"

intellectually scammed: now recalculate your losses. That feeling, together with a significantly greater financial injury, was similarly felt by those lured to purchase Facebook (FB) at the IPO. My analogy is simply with the feeling, not the endeavor. I had not done any prior research on the tone or presentation style of DIA. I was on board to see some form of art, i.e., new talent and/or creativity after a fashion. My friend and I entered the empty armory-like facility – there was no direction or guidance. Being but two of few souls physically present in the enormous expanses of white-washed and grey spaces with clerestoried 30/40 foot ceilings (once purposed industrially in the previous century), was much like being adrift at sea without land or ship in sight.

Big Room, Great Floor
This would make an excellent dance floor, just clear off those metal objects and find me a good partner.

Is an artistic experience one that also detracts, subtracts, and offers nothing? My understanding of “minimalism” is that it doesn’t go a great distance to produce a desired effect, yet is suggestive, giving shape to a concept, form or hue – “less is more.”

Exhibits of objects I quickly noted as offensive, depressing, and ugly, forced me to avert my eyes while removing myself from the area so that I didn’t retain any lasting impression. Random piles of garbage, e.g., crushed metal fenders and car parts compacted in a scrap metal yard; and colored, cut out shapes with no relationship to one another, do not make it in my world of insightful talent and beauty (in execution). This gutted one-time factory building continued to “un-amaze” me with its squandered use of space to harbor items that lacked any useful definition, such as the 4 deep holes of varying shapes, at least 14’ x 14’ with no way in or out. There was a

Holes

More black and grey spaces you don't want to fall into.

nightmarish quality to being quite alone in these vast undefined areas. You wanted to just wake up and find an exit – but you had endless traversing of monotonous wood or concrete floors before any egress was visible.

Surely, I cannot have been the only visitor to the DIA exhibits who felt this venue presented an updated telling of The Emperor’s New Clothes based on the offerings:

Empty Gallery

My inspiration is to repurpose this space.

  • Presentations that would not suffice to pass any reputable art school entrance exam;
  • stuff you don’t need talent or innovation to create;
  • randomly scattered debris;
  • amorphous grey shapes, repetitively laid out on floors or walls;

allowed to be viewed as “significant” or “thought-provoking” or, dare I say, “inspiring.”

The upside – The spaces have wonderful potential for:

  • Catered events:  parties, dinners, weddings, sweet sixteens, etc.
  • Practice space for aerial acts/trapeze artists.
  • Ballroom dancing.
  • Dance and staged performances.
  • Studio space for any form of dance or exercise class.

However harsh and definitive this may sound, I recommend no one go to DIA, Beacon, NY, for its current usage. But, should you feel a perverse need to try something new and potentially toxic, consider the above list of contraindications – forewarned is forearmed.

Do ya like good music? Spotlight on Teri Lamar & New Company

Teri Lamar & New Company

Teri gets this dance crew into full swing. Everyone's gettin' down w' the music.

To achieve performance perfection without pretention is a natural gift; and Teri Lamar & New Company, whether performing as a duo or with her full band, delivers simple, unadultered talent and fun.  Fortunately, my last minute perusal of the ArtsWestchester website on Thursday afternoon, 6/27, (offering  daily opportunities for performance, classes and exhibits) listed  TL & Co to be the season’s opening act of outdoor music at Patriot Park in Tarrytown.  What luck!  I was now committed to getting there on time to hear a favorite band. I had the pleasure of first encountering Teri and Frank Brenna, (keyboards and vocals) at the Dunwoodie Golf Course a year ago.  For me, it was love at first listen.  I am not a greedy person – when my expectations are fulfilled and my objective met, I am happy.  Such contentment generates loyalty to the source, and so, I became an instant fan of Teri Lamar & New Company.  I relate immediately to quality and precision (especially in the arts) regardless of the window dressing.  Being a dancer, I am compelled to move my body whenever the beat grooves me, and there is plenty of music to rock my world when I am in this band’s audience.

Teri gets the party started

Teri gets the party started on 7/3/13

The group is unique in their music choices,  starting their sets with songs from the mid-60’s which never get covered by any other band.  For an aging “Baby Boomer” it’s an instant “OMG –  I haven’t heard that song since I was a kid or pre-teen” moment.  Of course, you can’t believe you’re actually listening to “This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys or a totally accurate rendition of a jazzy rock instrumental, “Glad,” from the group Traffic.  There isn’t a lot of glitz,  just perfect pitch “covers” of songs that range for 5 decades from top 40 pop to classic rock, r&b and disco.  Check out their playlist.  Teri sings the “best of the best.” Amazingly, she plays my favorites in every genre.  Her songs are so personal to me, that I wonder if she picked through my ancient pile of “45s” from back in the day to create her selection of “oldies from the ‘60s.”  It’s true as well for her current “top 40” catalog.  This band is a crowd pleaser, and their repertoire is vast.  Teri has a smooth, unstrained vocal and comfortably delivers sultry or demanding, up-tempo, disco, rock and pop effortlessly.  Teri just sways to the music and aims to please, her occasional tambourine is always a great accompaniment.  You never think to yourself that the original is better, Teri and the band reward the audience with flawless execution  of every song they cover.  Keyboards are very strong and whether full band or solo, Frank incorporates a fully-nuanced sound – technology!  I swear I heard a harmonica, but couldn’t see one being played.  The drummer is also dead on. 

Teri Lamar

Teri Lamar with her signature hat (photo used w/permission)

On this recent Thursday night, the ominous skies and wind didn’t deter TL, and the group soldiered on through the evening from 7 to 9 p.m.  The weather was promising to storm, but held off till the stage was empty and all were in our cars.  I drove home in blinding torrents of rain, but I wasn’t disappointed.  Besides sampling an array of great dance tunes and songs of every genre, including a few from The Beatles and Stones, Teri performed moving and inspiring versions of If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keys; It Will Rain by Bruno Mars; Sunday Morning by Maroon 5 and yes, in full voice, Rolling In the Deep, by Adele.  This girl can sing anything.  I went to see another performance in Ossining on 7/3 with fireworks.

Teri and Frank are genuine people, humble and modest when receiving compliments; and I will continue to let them know how much I enjoy their gigs – because I like good music.

*Title Reference: “Sweet Soul Music” Arthur Conley