More on the “Out” part of “Telluride Inside…and Out.”

More on the “Out” part of “Telluride Inside…and Out.”

IMGP0280 In Germantown, New York, we visited friends Jane Taylor and Frederic Ohringer, newly transplanted Telluride locals. Their new home is a newly renovated farmhouse from the 1800s. Their no-nonsense aesthetic features white walls and white floors that act as a giant canvas brightened for the whimsical iconography of their lives. The colorful, minimialist whole amounts to a beautifully executed inside joke between two artists – she a painter; he, a photograher-turned- farmer,  have almost always bucked prevailing trends with aplomb and a wink.

IMGP0285 In sharp contrast to the tasteful restraint of our friends' home, on a hilltop above the nearby town of Hudson sits the Persian inspired mansion of American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church. It is one of those grand houses with a name: Olana. The best we can say about the place is that the views of the Hudson River and the Catskills are magnificent. Olana itself is chockablock with the kind of maximalist flourishes and really bad art (faux old masters Church purchased in Italy to wow his dinner guests) that are especially out of favor now in this economic meltdown.

It was on to Hackensack, New Jersey to visit my parents, where we can sit on their balcony and look out at Manhattan like kids hanging over a  fence, mouths watering as they witness a BBQ in their neighbor's backyard.

We did cross the river for two days for a cultural wallow. What we found was something rotten in the Big Apple, albeit work that accurately reflects the prevailing zeitgeist featuring the kind of gloom and doom that would make Cassandra appear to be an optimist. Take for example British photographer Paul Graham's one-made show at MOMA. Curiously entitled "a shimmer of possibility,"  the work featured dystopian views of eerily abandoned – you know, like after a bomb –  American landscapes/urbanscapes, punctuated with crushed coke cans, cigarette butts and discarded food. The people who broke the thick silence were themselves broken.

In adjacent rooms, "Into the Sunset: Photography's Image of the American West" did include a few classics by Edward Curtis and Ansel Adams, but the dream of open spaces and rugged individualists was puncutated by nightmare truth of tailings ponds and people who fell off the wagon while following the dream.

At Van De Weghe gallery in Chelsea, Duane Hanson's photo-realist sculptures featured bloated everyday people armed with cameras and too much luggage. Vacant eyes stare but don't see a thing.

Our night out on the Great White Way we saw Yasmina Reza's "God of Carnage," starring The Sopranos' James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden as the Novaks, Jeff Daniels (whom I have interviewed several times in his troubadour incarnation on  visits to Telluride) and Hope Davis as the Raleighs, in what amounts to a post-modernist version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," in which the through-line eschews sex in favor of world view that suggests civilization isn't. The spot-on performances were bravura.

A show of cartoons and new acquisitions at the Morgan Library and masterpieces from the Norton Simon collection at the Frick provided light in the tunnel.

This afternoon we are scheduled to return to Manhattan to hear Tom  Daschle talk about America's role in international security. Stay tuned….

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