Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Adel Gorgy

Go Guerrilla Girls! Feminism Writ Large


“Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get Into the Met. Museum?”  According to the Guerrilla Girls, yeah, kind of. Their supersized billboard goes on to state that less than 4% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 76% of the nudes are females. They gathered the statistics in 2011, in a response to a work done decades ago where they counted less than 3% female artists and 83% of the nudes.  So, has much changed? Also, yeah, kind of.

Just over thirty years ago, the Guerrilla Girls broke conceptual ground, pointing out glaring inequities in the global art market. It all started with a 1984 exhibition at MoMA claiming to be an overview of contemporary art. When it turned out that fewer than 10% of the artists included were women or people of color, the first generation of Guerrilla Girls was born. They claimed that art cannot represent society if it excludes the majority of that society. They woke some people up and scared the hell out of others.  They’re still doing it today.  “Not Ready to Make Nice,” an exhibition of these provocative, political, activist feminist artists just concluded at the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.


The Guerrilla Girls presciently suggested dropping an “Estrogen Bomb” on Washington back in the Bush administration.

The Guerrilla Girls are a group of anonymous women artists who, rather than being frustrated and angry about how white males dominate the canon of art history, decided to take action. They started with facts. Just how widespread and deeply rooted the inequality in the art world is and has been is the basis of all their work. They’ve pasted stickers, hung posters, carried signs, projected messages onto the sides of museums and given talks, all while wearing rubber gorilla masks. They’re out to redefine the “F” word to Feminism, through searing commentary couched in humor.


The Guerrilla Girls tout their own heroes in “The Birth of Feminism”

These masked crusaders are contemporary art’s superheroes, fighting for truth, justice and the American way. They vary in number, but over their thirty-plus years,  more than 55 women have donned Guerrilla gear to fight for equal representation and compensation for women and minority artists, to rail against economic inequality, and to raise awareness of environmental dangers like fracking. Some Guerrilla Girls were active for years, some for weeks or months, but all remained anonymous, using the names of great  women artists like Frida Kahlo or Käthe Kollwitz.  It’s both an homage and a defense mechanism. The Guerrilla Girls have all been artists who are trying to make a living in the same system they’re debunking, so they’re courage is as real as the consequences could be to their careers.


“Not Ready to Make Nice” includes the Guerrilla Girls’ “Anatomically Correct Oscar” that predated the “Oscars So White” movement by more than 10 years.

Zuccaire Gallery director and curator, Karen Levitov, who, herself, has been shaking up the art world in a quiet corner of Long Island, mounted an extraordinary exhibition, bringing major examples of the Guerrilla Girls’ work together. The show gives an idea of the international scope of their activities, including billboards about women’s representation in art institutions from Ireland to Italy and Turkey.  Years before the “Oscars So White” movement emerged, the Guerrilla Girls billboarded Hollywood with their “Anatomically Correct Oscar” on view in the exhibition. It says “He’s white and male, just like the guys who win!  92.8% of the Writing awards have gone to men.  Only 5% of the Acting Awards have gone to people of color.”

Levitov invited the public – which includes, naturally, many of the university’s students – to become part of the discussion with a huge blackboard inviting responses to the Guerrilla Girls or the values they represent. Visitors even got to take home their own Guerrilla Girl work.  Pink erasers marked “Erase Discrimination  – Guerrilla Girls” were given out.


The Guerrilla Girls started rattling some big cages thirty years ago; the effects are being seen today.

For decades, like many women who work in the art world, I’ve silently uttered, “Thank you, Guerrilla Girls.”  Now I can say it publicly.

Thank you, all Guerilla Girls, past, present and future, for kicking hornets’ nests and fighting for rights. Your efforts have been fruitful.  Today, there are women directors leading the Cooper-Hewitt museum, the Queens Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Hirshhorn in Washington and the Tate Modern in London, to name a few. The Met Breuer opened its new space with a solo show of a woman, Nasreen Mohamedi, and followed it with another solo show of a woman, Diane Arbus, and when the Whitney Museum reopened, its inaugural show gave women artists pride of place.  The Guerrilla Girls, are part of that, and their works are now eagerly collected by the very institutions they’ve criticized.


Listed on the Guerrilla Girls’ “The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist are “Working without the pressure of success” and “Being assured that whatever kind of art you make it will be labeled feminine.”

Though the exhibition started in Chicago in 2012, where it was curated by Neysa Page-Lieberman, and the Zuccaire Gallery show has ended, the good news is that the Guerrilla Girls are far from done.  Their artists’ talk at Stony Brook can be viewed online.  You can learn about them at their website,  and find out where they’ll be showing next, book an appearance, or buy one of their works like “Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls’ Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes.” You’ll be in good company, the Guerilla Girls have shown at and been collected by the Brooklyn Museum; the Art Institute of Chicago; MoMA; the National Gallery of Art in Washington; Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Art Gallery NSW, Sydney, Australia; and the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Turkey, to name a few. It’s overdue but appropriate appreciation for these rebels with a cause.

All Photos by Adel Gorgy

Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven


Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven, a landmark exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, co-curated by Barbara Drake Boehm, the Paul and Jill Ruddock Senior Curator for The Met Cloisters, and Melanie Holcomb, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, runs through January 8th. The stunning works in the exhibition give voice to the various religious and cultural traditions that have defined Jerusalem through the ages. There are some 200 spectacular works of art from 60 international collections included.  What follow are some of my visions, responses and reflections. To fully experience the glory of these works, visit the exhibition and form your own.

The exhibition begins with the quote “Jerusalem has been chosen and sanctified by God, trodden by His feet, honored by angels and frequented by every people under heaven.” Jacques de Vitry (ca. 1160/70–1240), bishop of Acre in the Holy Land.

All texts are from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Stavelot Triptych (Top Photo)

Gilded copper with champlevé and cloisonné enamel, silver, émail brun, and semiprecious stones Ca. 1156–58, Meuse River valley, Morgan Library and Museum, New York

Gold and enamel here ennoble the most precious of relics, wood from the Cross of Jesus. The medallions on the left wing stress the importance of the Cross to the history of Christian Europe. They tell of the conversion of Constantine (ca. 273–337), the first Christian emperor, a consequence of his success in battle under the standard of the Cross. The medallions at right detail his mother Helena’s successful search for the Cross in Jerusalem. The triptych was created in northern Europe, a realm that feared correctly that it was on the verge of losing the hard-won prize of Jerusalem. The churchman generally considered the patron of the triptych, Wibald (1098–1153), abbot of Stavelot, played a key role within a network of Crusader leaders.

02_gorgy_jersalemBottle with Christian Scenes

Glass, gold, and enamel paint, Mid-13th century, Syria, Furusiyya Art Foundation

Using lively line and color, the artist of this spectacular bottle brings a local Christian community to life. Imposing buildings, clearly designated with crosses, alternate with charming details of agricultural activities, from harvesting dates and picking grapes to plowing fields.


Virgin and Child Enthroned and the Crucifixion

Tempera and gold on wood panels with gilded plaster, Ca. 1275–85, Acre

Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection

Pilgrims to the Holy Land could buy icons and other devotional objects at both holy sites and special shops in major cities. The purchaser of this icon, who is pictured to the left of the Virgin’s throne, likely bought the diptych in Acre, the last Crusader outpost in the Holy Land. Workshops there specialized in providing holy images, modeled on Byzantine paintings, to European Christians.


Mosque Lamp of Sultan al-Zahir Baybars

Brass, inlaid with silver and black compound, Probably 1277 (a.h. 676), Damascus

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

The light that emanated from this pierced metal lamp was surely more suited to creating an atmosphere of mystery and reverence than to reading. Indeed, the inscription reveals that it was made for the tomb of Sultan Baybars (reigned 1260–1277), who played a significant role in expelling the Franks from the Holy Land.


Mosque Lamps of Sultan Barquq

Glass with gold and enamel, 1382–99, Egypt or Syria

Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

For reasons both practical and symbolic, hanging glass oil lamps were an integral component of mosques and Islamic schools. At the Dome of the Rock and Aqsa Mosque, they numbered in the hundreds. In an Islamic context, they often include words from the Qur’an: “God is the light of the heavens and the earth.” Each of these lamps also bears the name of their donor, Sultan Barquq (died 1399), an active patron of architecture in his capital, Cairo, and in Jerusalem.


Icon with Saint George and the Young Boy of Mytilene

Tempera and gold leaf on gesso and woven textile (linen?) over wood support

Mid-13th century, Holy Land, British Museum, London

Protector of the weak, Saint George is a legendary warrior. European and Eastern Christians as well as Muslims looked to his example and visited his shrine. Crusaders rebuilt a cathedral dedicated to him at Lydda (Lod), near Jerusalem. This icon places the saint in a partisan Christian role: he rescues a boy from the Greek city of Mytilene who had been taken captive and forced to serve as a cupbearer to a local emir.


Goblet of Charlemagne

Goblet: glass with gold and enamel; mount: gilded silver

Glass: second half of the 12th century, Syria; mount: 13th–14th century, Paris(?), Musée des Beaux-Arts, Chartres

According to a richly embroidered legend, Charlemagne, crowned by the Pope and revered as a saint, brought this goblet back from the Holy Land. In fact, it was created some 400 years after his death in 814. A souvenir from a foreign culture, it was prized enough that its French owner had it set on a gilded silver foot.


The Book of Divine Service

From the Mishneh Torah, Tempera, gold leaf, and ink on parchment

Written by Maimonides (1135–1204), illumination attributed to the Master of the Barbo Missal, and copied by Nehemiah for Moshe Anauv be Yitzchak Ca. 1457, Venetian region or Lombardy

Jointly owned by the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Priests perform sacrifices in the Temple courtyard, introducing the eighth book of the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides’s monumental codification of Jewish law. The text explicates the construction of and worship in the Temple, including detailed descriptions of its rituals and vessels. This intense study was vital to a community that was not only studying the historic Temple but also forever readying itself for the future one. Law books were rarely illustrated so sumptuously, attesting to the high esteem in which Maimonides’s work was held.

All photographs by Adel Gorgy

An Artful Weekend, Hamptons Style


Artists, art lovers and arts journalists, like me, have long been drawn to the East End of the south fork of Long Island, known collectively, colloquially, and around the world as “The Hamptons.”  There are countless reasons to visit, but the lure of two art fairs bringing over 100 international galleries tipped the scales, and meant it was time for Adel Gorgy, my artist husband, and me to make a trek to New York’s summertime sixth borough.

The journey east can be accomplished by public or private transportation, and, unless you’re among those who can helicopter out, all will take between two and three hours from the city.  The Long Island Railroad offers service from Penn Station, and the Hamptons Jitney and other luxury bus lines pick passengers up in several Manhattan locations. We drove, and even that offers a few choices.  Traveling on the Long Island Expressway (the Distressway to locals) is fast but unlovely – four lanes packed with cars and trucks and little to see. But arriving at the end of the road means you can head south on Route 24 via the small town of Flanders and see the Island’s top roadside attraction, the Big Duck, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Built in the 1930’s as the storefront for a duck farm, the twenty-foot high canard convinced immigrant artist, Hedda Sterne, “that the United States was more surrealist, more extraordinary, than anything imagined by the Surrealists.” An alternate route, the Southern State Parkway to Route 27, closer to the shore and breezier, features mostly strip malls till you reach eastern Suffolk County, where it’s lined with trees and leads into the Pine Barrens, Long Island’s last remaining significant wilderness area.


Corn fields and mansions line Montauk Highway, the main route through the Hamptons

Most of the island was settled in the mid to late 1600s. The Hamptons fight to preserve some of that sense.  The highways end at the western edge of Southampton, and rural roads and farms mingle with perfectly manicured hedges hiding luxurious estates.  Small towns feel homey and quaint.  300-year-old windmills, lovingly maintained, dot the sides of the roads, along with clapboard churches with pointy spires, the tallest buildings to scrape the clear blue ocean swept skies.  Everything is spotless, picture-book perfect.


Historic windmills are a common sight in the Hamptons

The main streets of Southampton, Watermill, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Amagansett and Sag Harbor all boast upscale shops and restaurants where it can be hard to tell the heiresses, movie stars and business moguls, many in flip-flops and shorts, from the organic farmers and local chefs.  But we were hunting different quarry: an extraordinary first-hand art experience.

Since the 1800s when William Merritt Chase opened a painting school here, the area has lured artists like Winslow Homer, Milton Avery, Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler and her husband Robert Motherwell, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, and Andy Warhol.  The area’s initial draw was, ironically, bargain-priced real estate, but it’s still home to art stars, like Richard Prince, Eric Fischl and his wife April Gornik, Julian Schnabel and Donald Sultan. A trip to either of the two stellar local museums, the Parrish Art Museum or East Hampton’s Guild Hall, will almost always reward with major works by local artists of the past and present. This summer, at the Parrish, Connections and Context highlights Helen Frankenthaler, Ellsworth Kelley, Dorothea Rockburne and Donald Sultan among others, and, starting in August, Guild Hall’s museum focuses on Minimalism with a special exhibition including Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, and Gerhard Richter.


Main Street, Bridgehampton serves up shops, galleries and out of this world pies 

Arriving well before the opening of the art fairs allowed us a walk up Main Street in Bridgehampton and stops in Kathryn Markel Fine Arts and Chase Edwards Gallery.  Both exhibit the work of contemporary artists, while Julian Beck and Mark Borghi Gallery offer museum-quality modern masters.

Since even artists don’t live by art alone, and a long night of art partying awaited, it was necessary to fortify our bodies to fuel the soul, i.e., time for something to eat. Bobby Van’s steakhouse is a popular spot, but we opted for a cozy booth at World Pie, which specializes in an extensive menu of wood-fired pizzas. A crispy, hot Patti’s Pie with mushrooms, onions and roasted garlic, mozzarella and tomato sauce arrived in minutes. The crust was thin and smoky, the cheese melted perfectly, and a glass of Italian red made us think we’d slipstreamed to Naples. Dinner for two, around $50.

As the sun slid behind the hedgerows and the blue of the sky deepened, we headed to Nova’s Ark, a 95-acre park featuring monumental sculptures by a local legend known simply as “Nova.” It brought to mind a grassy version of Monet’s Giverny. Though the property is open to visitors, its Cinderella moment is the four days each summer it hosts a Hamptons art fair. Crews arrive, gently coaxing horses and sheep off their usual grazing grounds, to raise an enormous, air-conditioned, museum-lit, catered construction that can only be called a tent if you’re willing to call the QE2 a boat.

Fabulously dressed Hamptonites tiptoed across the field to avoid what was left by the equine occupants and joined the VIP opening filled with music and noise, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. For some, people spotting and partying was the point, but for us, the payoff was lining the walls of over 70 room-sized booths where top-notch galleries from around the world presented their best.  We saw an extraordinary early painting by Robert Delaunay at London’s Trinity House Gallery, delicate watercolors of cranes and owls in flight by Karl Martens, sculptures by Jeff Koons and Lynn Chadwick at Taylor Graham, and a whole booth filled with fish paintings by Academy Award winning actor, Adrien Brody.  While opening night crowds may be raucous and fun, they don’t encourage thoughtful responses to works that artists have pondered, sweated, loved and labored over.  We decided to return the next day at a quieter time for the second of our targets, the Market Art + Design fair.


A quiet Sunday morning in the Hamptons

If you’re lucky enough to have friends in the area as we are, nothing beats watching the night fall and a low hung crescent moon reflected on Peconic Bay as crickets chirped and fireflies put on a dazzling display.  If not, there are many charming, historic B&B’s in the Hamptons, or, if they’re not within your budget, Riverhead to the west and Montauk to the east also offer family-friendly motels at more down-to-earth prices.

A late breakfast or early lunch is easy to find at either one of the branches of Citarella, which has a great selection of baked goods and on-the-go meals, or the Golden Pear (one in each town).  Of course, it’s possible to dine your way through the Hamptons, but that would just keep us away from the art.


Dia Bridgehampton, a one-man museum for Long Island artist, Dan Flavin

Before heading into Market Art + Design on the Bridgehampton Museum grounds, we stopped just across the street at one of the most moving, enriching, exciting and plain fun art experiences available on Long Island, or anywhere.  The Dan Flavin Art Institute, housed in a former Baptist church, just off Main Street, was built by the Dia Art Foundation in the 80s to exhibit some of Flavin’s greatest works.


Fields of a different sort at the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton

His candy-colored fluorescent light sculptures create clouds of ethereal hues the viewer steps into, becoming one with art, drenched in their glow. It’s transportive and transformative.  Dia associate curator Alexis Lowry, said, “Part of the reason it’s not in New York City was to try to get you into of the mindset of going to travel to a site to have this dedicated experience.  It’s part of the package.”


Market Art + Deisgin, 2016, over 40 international galleries and hundreds of contemporary artists exhibiting under one roof.   

Market Art + Design brought a smaller group, with over 40 exhibitors, but it was expertly curated to include international, national, and even local galleries presenting fine art and design under one roof.  Eclectic, energetic works from up-and-coming creatives contrasted with the more established artists seen at Art Southampton, and gave the fair a hipper vibe.  Even between two ends of tiny Bridgehampton, there was an uptown/downtown feeling of contrasting sensibilities.


Compositions made of individually carved, one-of-a-kind signature stamps or chops at Able Fine Art NY Gallery

Sundaram Tagore Gallery opened the show with a strong collection of sculptures, photographs and paintings. Three outstanding gelatin silver prints by world renowned photographer, Sebastião Salgado were a highlight. At Able Fine Art NY Gallery, director Michelle Yu explained the painstaking process used by Kwanwoo Lee to create his Condensation series where a single image is composed of hundreds of unique, hand-carved stamps.  Hector Leonardi’s colorful abstractions at Walker Waugh were gently powerful and evocative.  At Galerie Fledermaus, Jerry Suqi presented a rare collection of collotypes by Gustav Klimt. They were created by the artist to document his paintings, in an edition of 230.  Miniature masterpieces, each perfectly reproduces a major work. To see Adele Bloch-Bauer, (the Woman in Gold) along with so many other iconic works all lining one wall, in a booth, in a tent, in a small town, on Long Island was mind-boggling, in itself.  It also offered a brush with history.


A rare collotype from Gustav Klimt’s Das Werk at Galerie Fledermaus

We headed to the Hamptons hoping for a unique experience of art.  We left having had several. From pastoral fields, to a one-man museum, to tents filled with old masters to contemporary treasures, all were moving and exciting. The weekend had come to a close, and it was time to head back, though I’ve learned from sharing my life with Adel that you take the art with you.  As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Music is perpetual, and only the hearing is intermittent.”  Sometimes, a journey brings it closer, but it’s always there, if you listen.

All photos by Adel Gorgy

Top Photo:
Roy Lichtenstein’s Tokyo Brushstroke I & II outside the Parrish Art Museum announce your arrival at an enclave of art in the Hamptons   Photos by Adel Gorgy

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