Sunday, December 7, 2014

Phoenix Rising

Feng and Huang #fengandhuang #phoenix #XuBing #stjohnthedivinecathedral #art #nyc ©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
Feng and Huang
©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
If this were a real walking tour, I wouldn’t abandon the Saks windows (see Holiday in NYC Series below) until you’d seen them all.  Nor would I do what I’m about to do now which is head up to St. John the Divine Cathedral and take you on a short tour of the largest gothic cathedral in the United States.  Construction started in 1892 and it is still ongoing today.  I had such an amazing time there yesterday that I had to write about it.

Huang #Huang #phoenix #xubing #stjohnthedivinecathedral #art #nyc ©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
The Cathedral is home to my favorite holiday craft show in NYC – Crafts at the Cathedral.   I like the holiday markets too (Union Square, Bryant Park, Columbus Circle) but this show is solely devoted to crafts and the artists themselves are pretty much always guaranteed to be staffing the booth.  Sure enough, my favorite potter (the fabulous Margaret Wozniak) had her usual booth and it was great to catch up with her.   I often joke that I have a large herd of Margaret’s smaller steeds in my curio cabinet.  All intended for gifts and all some how finding a home with me.  I am obviously failing in my efforts to have everyone in my life own a piece of Margaret's work -- although some friends and family own at least two (you know who you are!).

Feng #Feng #phoenix #xubing #stjohnthedivinecathedral #art #nyc ©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
One would think that since I live so close to the Cathedral (and have for most of my 25+ years in NYC that I would have been inside it.  Not so.  I’ve circled it – eating at V&T or the Hungarian Pastry Shop when I lived and worked in this 'hood, visiting the gardens and making an annual pilgrimage to the craft show but I've never actually been inside.  This year I decided to rectify that.  Maybe it is a life stage thing because I also joined the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) this year and  walked my first ever half marathon.  Neither of which are things I thought I would ever do.  Admittedly, the Museum membership was to expedite access to the Matisse show (run don’t walk if you are in NYC and have the time – it’s a great show!)  I was glad I did though – I like the art and the galleries at MOMA and am hoping to spend more time there now that I am a member.

Flying #flying #phoenix #xubing #stjohnthedivinecathedral #art #nyc ©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
So what prompted this visit?  Simply put, I wanted to see the Phoenix, a piece by Xu Bing that is on view at Saint John the Divine through 2014.  Consisting of Feng (male) and Huang (female), the Phoenix dominates the cavernous space that is the Cathedral.   Feng and Huang are gloriously inventive and my photos do not do them justice given my propensity for working without a tripod.  Mind you, I’m not even sure a tripod is allowed inside of the Cathedral. 

Tail Feathers #Tailfeathers #phoenix #xubing #stjohnthedivinecathedral #art #nyc ©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
Tail Feathers
©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
In 2008, Bing was commissioned to create a sculpture for the World Financial Center – which was rising in the business district of Beijing, China.  When he arrived at the site, he was so struck by the poor working conditions of the migrant laborers that he decided to make his birds from bits and pieces of construction materials and tools that he salvaged from the building center.  He and the builders parted ways when they expressed worry about the piece and asked if he could pretty it up.  A project that was to take 4 months ended up taking 2 years of careful planning and work in a factory outside of Beijing.

Bird on a Wire #birdonawire #phoenix #xubing #stjohnthedivinecathedral #art #nyc ©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
Bird on a Wire
©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
Feng and Huang fly above the great nave of St. John the Divine and it is as if the cathedral and they were meant to be together from the beginning.  They face the massive doors and I can imagine their great wings flapping as they break free of the chains that bind them to the Cathedral and take flight over NYC.  Perhaps doing a loop the loop around the Empire State Building and the Freedom Tower on their way out of town.  Now that would be a sight to see.

Imagining a Phoenix taking Flight #imaginingaphoenixtakingflight #phoenix #xubing #stjohnthedivinecathedral #art #nyc ©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
Imagining a Phoenix taking Flight
©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
More on the Cathedral itself in future posts (information about visiting is here).

The Series
It is hard to know which series to assign this too -- Holidays in NYC or Hudson Yard which focuses on the huge construction site that is the West side of Manhattan in midtown.  There is a synergy between Bing's piece and that series so -- what the heck -- here are the links to both!

#6:  An Enchanted Experience :: 5 (Snow White)

Hudson Yards
#1:  Hudson Rail Yard
#2:  Just Two Hooks Hanging Out at the Yard
#3:  Tinker Toys
#4:  Tinker Toys in Reverse
#5:  Attic with a View
#6:  The Big Drill

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