Monday, December 31, 2012

Public Space: NYC & Skopje part 1

This months cover by K.K.W,
Central Park, Fuji-film 400 
New York & Skopje: contrasts in "public space" part 1. By K.K.W

Central Park 2010, fujifilm 400,
Canon 28 40mm lens.
Photo by K.K.W
Public: of or concerning the people as a whole. Open to or shared by all the  people of an area or country.

Space: A continuous area or expanse that is free, available or unoccupied.

"The public realm is what we own and control...the streets, squares, parks, infrastructure and public buildings make up the fundamental element in any community-the framework around which everything else grows."(1)    
Union Square Park West, NYC.
Photo by K.K.W
On this beginning were going to compare, as best we can, two very different cities in order that the one will influence the other.
Starting with NYC (The Empire State) there are many kinds of "Public Spaces", the easiest to site are its parks - Central Park(Manhattan), Prospect Park(Brooklyn), an smaller parks like Union Square park, etc. Both Central & Prospect Park were designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted and Clavert Vaux.    

All three are open year-round, usually have events based on calendar holidays, or seasonal ("Shakespeare in the park"[Central park], or "summerstage"[Prospect park]), and major places to meet, relax, read, eat, enjoy the sun, play chess, and otherwise socialize. There are often small musical performances (if they involve amplified equipment you need a permit), artists, merchants, food vendors,and or other creative acts that draws a crowd. 

Its this very urban element that provides much needed outdoor activity which leads to people engaging one another, easing tensions, a place to get-away when one cannot go elsewhere and be in an area of grass/trees and some kind of nature. Ideas sprout & are exchanged, people tend to develop a sense of civic pride/responsibility.      

Image courtesy of  K.K.W
The 2nd kind of "public space" in NYC, having become more prevalent within the last 10-20 years, is those that are built with new "modern architecture (a 1961 zoning resolution gives incentive program for private developers who add these spaces). Many of the them are indoors and feature tables/chairs and free wi-fi.  
Public Space @ 575 5th ave Manhattan.
Photo by K.K.W
Often these spaces have small cafes or places to eat (@ 575 5th there's a Starbucks cafe) and can be very inviting or a place to meet-up. Generally you can only sit and read, use your laptop computer, smart-phone and talk, making for a somewhat restrictive environment. And while they are "open the public", most tend to cater to upscale people who live in the "modern" buildings or work there (which is understandable). This does result in some of these people being intent on keeping other constituencies out of the space (class warfare).   
Interior of 575 5th Ave public space
Photo by K.K.W

Tibetan Protest @ Union Square Park East.
Photo by K.K.W

Irena Andonova - Visual artist
& friend  from Skopje.
Photo courtesy of the artist.
Skopje is a city every bit as complex as NYC, with a lot of similarities, though at the same time quite different in that has gone from a socialist system to a capitalist one. The city suffered a major earthquake in 1963 which destroyed almost 80% of it (This was during the time of Yugoslavia of which Skopje, capital of The Republic of Macedonia was a part of until it declares independence in 1991). An international coalition of engineers and architects worked to help rebuild much of the city. 

Skopje is learning to catch up to what NYC & other European cities are in "modern" terms. This is not to mean their city or country is not, or has no modern aspects, simply that customs, how things are done, what is socially expected by the people can be very different.
Most of the city, like the country is conservative and heavily religious, leaving most of the social changes to be pushed for by the younger generations, and those that are highly knowledgeable about Western culture.      

Center of Skopje a the banks of the river Vardar.
The statue is part of "Skopje 2014" project,
so are the buildings being refurbished on the other side.
Photo courtesy of
After this period very little changed until about 2009, when the government announced large-scale developments for the most valuable empty spaces in the city center. Most of this under the project "Skopje 2014". 
Center of Skopje (Macedonia Square).
The large statue is of Aleksandar The Great,
part of the "Skopje 2014" project.
From what my friend Matej tells me, in Skopje most of the socializing is done at Cafes, Kafana's (a small eatery that serves great local food, what Americans would call a "joint"), bars, lounges etc. This is similar to how New Yorkers socialize, though in Skopje people are not use to gathering in outdoor areas to hang-out in the same way as those in NYC. They have open-space outdoors, City Park, Gradski Park, Macedonia Square, although the notion of "Public Space" as in NYC is not as prevalent. All of this is still not as clear to me as I like (further info & images will be presented in the 2nd parts).   
Old Bazaar sector?
Photo courtesy of 
My thinking is that in Skopje, & other parts of the country, eating out, meeting for tea/coffee is very affordable for the bulk of the populace (of course in NYC the same could be said, but depends on where your going), also rent in Skopje is much lower then NYC (although with economic advancement prices are slightly increasing). 
Center of Skopje, photo by Meglena Visinska
While Skopje has many new "modern" buildings similar to NYC, they not normally designed to include "Public Space". To my knowledge there are few if any public spaces that offer seating with wi-fi access, solely for that purpose. And the government officials who sanction urban development for the capital, this is not an aspect they consider, at least not yet. 

Another major aspect both cites have in common is that the people do not have the right to use "Public Space" as they wish, even for matters that would benefit themselves, or would be in keeping with civic duties. Both sides still need locale & national consent for this.  
Center of Skopje
Photo by Matej Bogdanovski

Skopje Railway station.
Photo by Matej Bogdanovski.
If you would like to know more go,
(1) Alexander Gavin  from the New York Times article "Treasuring Urban Oases" by Michael Kimmelman

Thursday, December 13, 2012


This months cover by K.K.W
Central Park, Fuji-film 400
Event Ad courtesy of the organizers Tiiiit! inc

Seeing artists, creative people and those who enjoy what they do gather for a great cause is always an amazing thing. Organized by Tiiiit! Inc to happen on Dec 16th, many will gather @ Menada (Cafe for art & entertainment -1000 Skopje)to raise funds for the accommodation and treatment of Joce Blazevski in the Russian clinic "Nero Vita". Apparently the young boy is stricken with Cerebral Paralysis and must go to Moscow for treatment, which I'm sure must be quite difficult for his family.

The program for the event is fantastic; once again showing the well-rounded taste of the organizers, those involved, and contemporary culture in Skopje.

@19:00 - Film: "The Hospital (1971)"

@21:00 - TeaTap (Theatre): "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams, directed by Dragana Stojcevska.
Cast: Martin Manev, Angela Stojanovska, Natalija Teodosieva, Bojan Lazarov.

"The Rose Tatto" by Tennessee Williams,
directed by Milos B. Andonovski
Cast: Ivana Atanasova, Vladanka Dimkovska,
Aleksandar Mihajlovski, Martin Petrovski.

Exam performances of the students of Theatre Directing, from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts – Skopje, in the class of prof. Zlatko Slavenski and ass. Kustrim Bektesi.

@22:00 - Jam Session
00.00 VJ Set,
Video Kill! with Freshco & Miz Jana

This will certainly be an exciting event for a noble cause, so if your able, if you care (& you should), or find yourself in Skopje, stop in, "chip-in" (means give some money with the group in Western slang). So don't forget the date; Sunday Dec 16th @ 7:00pm (Macedonian time). Nazdravje! (Cheers & good-health).

If you would like to know more, go, Studio-Phoenix would like to thank Jana Kocevska for providing further info about the event. "Art is the reason, art is the way"


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ka-son & Crespo

This months cover by K.K.W,
Central Park, Fuji-film 400
"A union of art"- Ka-son & Crespo. Article & photos by K.K.W

Despite the rise of technology within visual arts (not to mention music, performance art, & almost everything else) traditional forms like painting are still popular, relevant, a great outlet for the emotions of those who create and those who observe it.  

Crespo (left) speaking to their guests. 
Out of this, "Realism" and "Abstract" still hold a great sway; both are the extreme right & left of the art-world. Ka-son & Crespo's exhibition @ 1199SEIU Gallery (310 West 43rd Street) is an excellent example of this. And  the works being of a husband and wife made for a stunning contrast.
"Hear the cry" - detail,  By Crespo.
"Hear the cry", with is powerful colors - bold & primary - and a sense of symbolism, blue like the sky, the vast red-orange shape made me think of a heart. The fluid red color could be blood, which is the life. It stood out from all the rest of her work that evening.

"Gorgoneion" by Crespo
"Gorgoneion" is the hideous made beautiful, intense fluidity, with organized chaos. A seeming mad grin on its face made all the more strange by the hallow darkness for eyes, or lack there of, as well as a nose. The face stares at you, right through you, its features becoming more visible as you stare back just a little uneasy. Its a bit muddled, though what it lacks in traditional form (which the artist may not have been going for) it makes up for in passion. It makes me wonder what was going through her mind when she created this.

Crespo started out working in photography then recently made to switch to painting, which she has the skill and drive for. I certainly think she will go very far with this, and I look forward to seeing more.
Ka-son Reeves.
Ka-son's paintings, working in acrylics and realism, though with a serious sense for symbolism, has a powerful style & technique of its own. With his knowledge of the medium and additives to further control it, his paintings often have the look of smooth oil paintings and touch of a master.
"Mingus, Monk, Blakey and Gillespie playing Jazz" - Detail.
"Mingus, Monk, Blakey and Gillespie playing Jazz" shows a great passion for music with a high respect for past greats. The brush strokes move between smooth and fluid, to impressionistic with an amazing sense of depth, facial expressions, and control of light. Not many artist have such skill with acrylic paint. 
"Legacy of Icarus"
"Legacy of Icarus" is probably one of his best paintings. Highly spiritual, wickedly symbolic, mythological without being blatantly obvious. His control of the paint - damn near perfect, the delicate brushwork and blending giving it a harmonious feel. The hand reaches out yet never touches the feather - symbolic of flight, divinity, the "Gods". In a way, its all so very human, man (in the generic sense) reaching for greatness just painfully out of its grasp, though seems within reach. The eternal yearning of the individual, the collective whole.     
Ka-son speaking with two guest. "hear the cry" by Crespo
in the background (right).

If you would like to know more, go, "Art is the reason, art is the way"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Marija Mokrova - Skopje; "...not mine anymore."

This months cover by K.K.W.
Central Park, Fuji-film 400
Skopje; "...not mine anymore."
by Marija Mokrova. 

"Much like New York City, Skopje (capital of Macedonia-FYROM)is currently undergoing major urban change. Along with new, "Modern" designed buildings, there is also a series of antique-like civic buildings ("Skopje 2014") geared towards making it more like other major European cities. However, many feel the designs lack style, passion, and are best described as Kitsch. What is most interesting is the way this affects many of the people I have come to know who live there. Change through urban design is good, and yet quite awful when it does not take into account the people who have to live with, when it is done without a sense of balance or harmony." (K.K.W) 
Marija Mokrova, image courtesy of Miss Mokrova 
A few days ago I saw this catchy title of IFC's blog post and read it in a blink, in a heartbeat... The very title touched me. Its specific wording moved me. It did not ask me how I felt in my city, instead it cleverly asked me how Skopje made me feel. It made me think about what I felt... and I've been writing the answer to that question, trying to give it some structure. I've been trying to give some meaningful design to the emotional response it provoked.
Part of the "Skopje 2014" project (a re-vamping of the capital
of Macedonia by the Government, involving antique-like
civic buildings many consider to be kitsch). Photo by Matej Bogdanovski. 
It was some time in 2001 when I came across a very cool website called 'Virtual Tourist' where I have been posting what I consider to be useful information on the places that I have visited, and of course, on the place that has left the biggest imprint upon who I am. Neither then, nor now would I dare "promote" Skopje for its glorious appearance - outstanding buildings, intricate façades or particularly creative urban layout. It has not been a corner of the world that tantalizes the cameras with its sleek avenues, daring edifices or innovative constructional solutions. Particularly after the catastrophic earthquake it suffered in July 1963.

Part of the "Skopje 2014" project (a re-vamping of the capital
of Macedonia [Skopje] by the Government, involving antique-like
civic buildings many consider to be kitsch). Photo by Meglena Visinska.
...The endless charm of this city has always been its playfulness... Its unpretentiousness, its liveliness, its rough edges. It has seduced both its citizens and its visitors as they would enjoy a cup of coffee under the sunny skies, leaning into the chairs and overlooking the always busy Macedonia street (used to be called Marshal Tito, but that's a different story), where children's voices, as they run around, mash up together with grown-ups' conversations, music from nearby cafés, dogs' barking, and impatient drivers' honking. Skopje houses an eclectic street buzz that mixes in the loud laughter of its somewhat temperamental locals, the sounds of the roller-skates, bicycles and tennis shoes of those who opt for some recreation on the quay of the overly polluted Vardar, the juxtaposition of a jazz concert and the irritating notes of kitsch turbo-folk music from a nearby kafana ("kafana" - establishment less fancier than a restaurant with infinitely better food).
A proposal for the redesign of the facade of  a building,
more then likely to make it more in-line with others
in the "Skopje 2014" project.  The photo beneath this image
is of this building [on the right]. Image courtesy of Matej Bogdanovski.
It has captivated those who dare to look beyond the physical appearance with its numerous contrasts - an Orthodox church across a beautiful building that was once a public Turkish spa, a shoeshiner who carefully preserves his own craft in front of a modern, business center. Skopje has always been a capital that has embraced many cute neighbourhoods with a small-town feel. It's has a crowded center and yet, in the midst of what might seem as a sea of anonymity, more often than not acquaintances and friends run into each other, filling up the air around them with smiles and hugs. I've had a long-time love affair with this city. We've had our ups and downs, as any other relationship, but I've always cared so much about this love of mine.
Image courtesy of Matej Bogdanovski.
Until very recently that is...
Which brings me back to the question IFC asked me... Facing the completely-out-of-place, tasteless and irrelevant to Skopje's existence "Gate Macedonia", with my back turned to an over-sized monument that is falsely nurishing this illusion of national identity and serves to add tension to an already strained relationship, surrounded by imposed products presented to this city's people as "neo-baroque," I am looking for an answer to that question. "How does my city make me feel"? Sadly enough, through no fault of its own, it makes me feel as if it were not mine any more.
One of many "new" residential buildings in Skopje,
quite similar to those going up in many parts of NYC.
Photo courtesy of Meglena Visinska.
Part of the older section of Skopje that will soon be gone due
to new construction geared to giving the city a more modern look.
Photo by Matej Bogdanovski.
Center of Skopje, photo courtesy of Meglena Visinska.
Photo courtesy of Matej Bogdanovski.

One of many areas awaiting a construction plan,
in which something many citizen felt connected to is now gone,
so to become part of the "new" Skopje. In the distance is one
of many new statues for the "Skopje 2014" project, awash many think,
in nationalism. Photo courtesy of Meglena Visinska
A postcard of Skopje, most likely when it was apart of Yugoslavia.
Image courtesy of Matej Bogdanovski. 
If you would like to know more, go, "Art is the reason, art is the way"

Monday, December 10, 2012

C.C festival 2 ("Evolution") part 5 @ The Dimenna Center

This months cover by K.K.W
Central Park, Fuji-Film 400
Composers Concordance Festival 2 ("Evolution") part 5 @ The Dimenna Center. Photos by K.K.W

John Sarantos (Native American flute)

Charles Coleman (in black) 

LeeAnet Noble ("Drum Progression")

LeeAnet Noble ("Drum Progression")
Lara St John

Lara St John

Lara St John & conductor Thomas Carlo Bo

LeeAnet Noble (left) & Daniel Palkowski (standing)

Mioi Takeda 

Lara St John & conductor Thomas Carlo Bo
David Taylor (left), Lynn Bechtold, Mioi Takeda & Franz Hackl 
John Sarantos & Gene Pritsker

John Sarantos & Gene Pritsker

John Sarantos

Ana Garcia (Percussion) & John Clark
David Abrams 
David Abrams (right, in black)

Valerie Coleman
Valerie Coleman

Valerie Coleman during her solo.
Keve Wilson (far left), Michiyo Suzuki, Taka Kigawa,
& Mioi Takeda
Peter Javis (far left, backround), John Clark, Franz Hackl,
Keve Wilson & Michiyo Suzuki 

David Taylor 
David Taylor 
Nataliya Medvedovskya
Valerie Coleman (far left), Keve Wilson, Michiyo Suzuki,
Ana Garcia
David Taylor (Valerie Coleman , Keve Wilson, Michiyo Suzuki,
Ana Garcia
Svjetlana Bukvich Nichols (middle)
Svjetlana Bukvich Nichols (middle)
Ana Garcia & Valerie Coleman
Ana Garcia (upper left), Valerie Coleman,
Keve Wilson & Peter Jarvis

If you would like to know more, go