Welcome to ArtsGazing

Selecting the best of New York City’s arts scene

Maurice Sendak Ship (Nutcracker) 1984 Gouache and graphite pencil on paper 6 7/8 × 8 3/4 in. (17.46 × 22.23 cm) Frame: 16 ¾ x 12 5/8 x 1 in. Bequest of Maurice Sendak, 2013

In 1983, I had heard that Maurice Sendak had done the set design and costumes for an opera called The Cunning Little Vixen. I didn’t know much about opera, except that it seemed to have a lot of people singing very loudly in a language I didn’t understand. But I wanted to see this opera, so a friend and I bought tickets and went. Well, after it was all over, I wasn’t turned into an opera fan, but I was enthralled with the beauty of the staging and also slightly shocked at how sad it turned out to be. Later, when I was asked what my first opera was, I would say ‘Vixen’, but would quickly add, “because Maurice Sendak did the costumes”. Unfortunately, this seemed to mark me as a non-opera person, but I still think I made the right choice, because the visuals were outstanding. If you want to see what impressed me so much back then, head on over to The Morgan Library & Museum for Drawing the Curtain: Maurice Sendak’s Designs for Opera and Ballet, opening this week.

Another great institution in New York City is the Bard Graduate Center, located on West 86th Street in Manhattan. Their exhibitions are always informative, always creative, and always give a real sense of wonder at the creative spirit of humankind. This summer they have three shows: The Story Box, Jan Tschichold and the New Typography, and A View from the Jeweler’s Bench, each exploring their subject with imagination and historical context that makes learning a pleasure.

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