Monday, December 27, 2010

A Walk Around the Neighborhood - Williamsburg

Walking around the Williamsburg neighborhood can be like stepping into an art gallery, especially if you follow the major players of street art. I love the way pre-existing elements of the street complement the work. (Top) Shepard Fairey has many paste-ups in the area since his send-ff show for Deitch Projects last May. Above, is an enormous bunny by ROA who created this piece over an earlier painting of a pig. If you look closely, you'll see that the animal is partially decomposing as the artist plays with the idea of sleep vs. death.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - New York's Christmas Windows

Halloween was barely over when New Yorkers were thrust into the holidays full throttle. The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center has been in place for well over a month now and enjoyed by literally thousands.
Above, a replica of the star of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree also stands at eye level,
and the windows at Bergdorf's are always a treat for the eyes.

Above, more windows from Bergdorf's and decorations in front of the Plaza Hotel.
Above, the colorful starry light show at the Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle.

Everyone has been busily prepping with lights and decorations to lure shoppers from all over the globe. Despite the sometimes unbearable crowds, natives also get to enjoy this time of year as they see the big city transformed into a cheery wonderland. The window displays of the large department stores are my favorite all year round, but their Christmas windows are always fabulously over the top. During the holiday season, New York puts its best foot forward for everyone to enjoy. Here are some of my favorite photos and scenes from last year too.

The windows at Saks Fifth Avenue, 2009 depicting a childrens' story about the travels of Twinkle, the snowflake.

Bergdorf's spectacular homage to Louis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland in a series of windows called a "Compendium of Curiosities", 2009. The queens featured in the four suits of playing cards sit in ball gowns in a display that is turned on its side as the ladies pop out at passers-by in a distorted birds' eye view perspective.

Always quirky with a creative sense of humor, the Barneys window display honored a New York institution, Saturday Night Live. Below, a portion of a Christmas tree inside the store compiled from globes and vintage mannequin heads, 2009.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Lunch Stop in Leipzig

Shopping can make you quite hungry, especially when it's an outdoor winter sport. Our next stop was a brief jaunt to Leipzig, home of the largest Advent Calendar and Bach. Our lunch stop consisted of more gluhwein (of course) and a kartoffelpuffer (potato pankcakes with sour cream) all served outside.

Here, each Christmas stall at the market has a very decorative roof. My favorites were the cherubs above, or the three chefs working hard at their loaves of stollen, a dense cake similar to a fruitcake (bottom photo).

Above is the Thomaskirche (or St. Thomas Church) where Johann Sebastian Bach once worked as an unknown choir director and school teacher. As part of his job, he was expected to compose an original cantata for weekly church services. He only achieved fame posthumously when later choir directors appreciated the complexity and breath of the body of work he left behind. His body was moved from the cemetery down the street to inside the the church. Today, you can enjoy Bach's music played on the organ during concerts and practice sessions.
 The mtoif of the angel and soldier carrying torches was prevalent throughout Germany.
A market stall lined with heart-shaped gingerbread cookies.
 Winter wonderland dreams on the inside of a snow globe.
 Another highly decorated market stall rooftop.
The enormous Advent Calendar. 
Next stop.....Dresden.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Etsy's NewNew Team Interview

I was recently interviewed by New York's local Etsy team, the {NewNew}. I love the creativity in the questions! See the interview here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Winter Tour of Berlin

Our itinerary started in Berlin with the Gendarmenmarkt near the French section of the city. Like horses chomping at the bit, my mom and I couldn't wait to find the markets we'd heard so much about and commence the shopping. The markets are plenty- there are the main ones (highly decorated and visited) found in any city or town, and then there are the smaller offshoot markets that spread down most side streets. Aside from sausage sandwiches and mulled wine, you can also find handmade wares and more commercial trinkets alike.  
Above, sausages and gluhwein mugs. The mugs are particular to every market, and for a the price of a small deposit, you can take them with you as a souvenir. We never dreamed of starting a collection, but by the end of our tour, our suitcases had more mugs than store (or market) bought souvenirs. Below are some of the wares: sugary sweets, ornaments made from fine wood shavings, foil-covered chocolate Father Christmas figures, Moravian Stars, and hand-carved pull toys.
Our guide made a point of telling us that the markets can be very crowded - Germans typically meet at the Christmas markets to catch up with their friends to simply eat, drink, and be merry. Shopping is merely a side activity, particularly if you just need to pick up a little something for someone you haven't seen in a while, or if you need a small decorative item to perk up your own place.
You just cannot escape World War II or the infamous Berlin Wall, so we also took in some of the other sights around Berlin too. In the midst of a modern city, reminders of the recent past are inescapable, and the ghosts of a dark period in history are all around you.
Carriage horses in the square mimic the ones atop the Brandenburg Gate.

Pieces of the Berlin Wall are scattered throughout the city- particularly the more interesting pieces that also function as an outdoor art musem. They pop up in surprising places like outside apartment complexes and store fronts. It's hard to believe that such a big part of history was made so recently with its removal in 1989.
The Christmas Tree at "Checkpoint Charlie" - as seen from the Russian side.
A line marker runs through the sidewalks and streets of Berlin that traces where the infamous Wall once divided the city. It was shocking to learn that it literally went up overnight in the form of barbed wire which was later replaced by the reinforced concrete slabs.
The Holocaust Memorial sculpture- A very interesting and controversial piece of artwork by architect, Peter Eisenman, implemented in 1999 with 2,711 concrete rectangles bearing no names or dates in commemoration of the Jews who were exterminated during World War II. The "stones" resembling sarcophagi are set in a wavelike pattern creating a feeling of disorientation as one walks through them. Some are knee-length in height while others undulate to rise above your head. Ironically, this grand memorial sits in close proximity, just one block, from the unremarkable remains of Hitler's bunker which was later eradicated by the Russians.
 Interior of the Brandenburg Gate.

Next stop....Leipzig.