Welcome to ArtsGazing

Selecting the best of New York City’s arts scene

This week we’re looking at two artists who have chosen to do work linking the past and the present through subject matter and technique.

Ans Westra is not well known outside of New Zealand but her first NYC gallery show at Anastasia Photo should change that. Her sixty plus years documenting Maori culture as it transitioned to urban living is an invaluable record for her adopted country, and the works on view at the gallery give a sense of the challenges and successes of these Native people in the late 20th century. Westra never makes a clichéd image: focusing on the individuals at hand, she gives these documentary images an emotional weight that is very relatable.

Nicolas Party is an artist known for working with pastels, giving his figurative and landscape work an unusual level of color and depth. Pastels are difficult to master: an artist needs very strong color sense as well as solid skills in the principles of perspective, depth, light, and dark. For his most recent gallery show at The FLAG Art Foundation, he was invited to make four site specific murals in pastels and present some of his smaller works as well as curating a selection of other artists from the 18th through 21st centuries. Visitors will be impressed with the amount of color on display – it’s almost a sensory overload – but also enthralled by the variety of styles using pastel to its best advantage.  

We’ve also taken some time this week to update our ‘Arts Outside NYC’ section, very handy for planning a relaxing day trip after the relatives go home (or to get the relatives out of the city for the day – whatever works better!). There’s information for all kinds of museums in the Berkshires, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Connecticut, and Long Island. Many are accessible by Amtrak, NJTransit, Metro-North, or LIRR but you’ll still need to take a cab from the station since free shuttle bus service is for the summertime.

Finally, follow us on Twitter (@ArtsGazing) for daily suggestions on activities and events around town to help you get into a holiday mood. We’ve got ideas to make the season festive and memorable, from dramatic readings of A Christmas Carol, performances of a 19th century Yiddish musical, lots and lots of Christmas tree lightings, holiday markets, and something called Tuba Christmas, which is one of those things you’ll be talking about for years to come.