Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Angelo Madrigale

When I arrive at Doyle, an art auction house here in New York, Angelo Madrigale takes me around the space as it’s being set up for a new show. Angelo is the VP/Director of Contemporary Art at Doyle and, while his auctions are done for the season, he’s kind enough to let me poke around a new photography show that’s being installed. There’s an incredible series of images hand-printed by Ansel Adams that will be sold at auction on December 14. Inky black and in high contrast, they’re somehow lushly textured and vibrant despite being devoid of color.

Angelo often works with paintings, especially those in the realm of street art and graffiti. In fact, he was the specialist for the first street art/graffiti auction at Doyle in 2012, which incidentally was the first of its kind in the U.S. He’s happiest when he can propel a newer and/or deserving artist further into the art world by successfully selling their work at auction, he says--it’s something that can really change someone’s life for the better if it goes well.

In 2005, Angelo decided to change his own life. He was previously the drummer in punk band Sadaharu, which released five albums between 2003 and 2007 (you can check out the music video for their song “It's Not Paranoia If They're Shooting Live Bullets” here). Angelo and his wife Lisa decided to reinvent themselves as gallery owners and later art dealers after they got married. It was a natural choice as both had grown up around art and design. They created Metropolis Gallery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in which they showed contemporary art alongside design elements, the space remade each time so viewers could experience each show in context. Though now closed, Metropolis was named a Top 100 Gallery by Juxtapoz Magazine in 2010. Angelo brought his punk sensibilities to the art world, doing what felt right and not waiting for permission. He arrived at Doyle in 2012. Angelo’s first book, a survey of pop artist Oliver Hibert’s career called Eye See You, was released on October 30 of this year and features a foreword by Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.
On the day I meet with Angelo, we head to lunch at Cafe D’Alsace, a French restaurant on the Upper East Side. He patiently answers all of my questions about art and punk and how those things still blend together in his life. We head to a few galleries afterward, first to the Gagosian Shop on Madison Avenue--Angelo loves art books and has a great collection that informs his work at Doyle--then to an Alexander Calder show that holds a piece so big the gallery cut a hole in its ceiling to fit it, and finally an Albert Oehlen exhibition of gray paintings. At one point I notice Angelo’s socks: great white sharks with teeth bared. He laughs. “I never wanted to be the tie guy,” he says. “Those piano key ties are just so lame.”

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Festival of Lights

How interesting that on the first night of Hanukkah I would do a post about Christmas lights, but we are what we are.

I hadn't even heard of Dyker Heights when AR brought it up in conversation a few weeks ago. Apparently, he said, there are Christmas light decorations in this Brooklyn neighborhood that are totally bananas, like devastate-your-electric-bill levels of bananas, and I was all for it. When are we going?

On Sunday night, we made an evening of it, stopping first for wildly delicious (and inexpensive) Chinese food at Hand Pull Noodle and Dumpling House in Bensonhurst, then a cannoli at bakery Villabate Alba not far away. While gazing at the marzipan Christmas scenes in the bakery window, a woman from the area started chatting with us about how good the cannolis were there, how gorgeous the cakes were, and how she used to go to the Italian discos in the area during the 1970s--they always had the best music, she said, because they were run by the mob.

Our cannolis wrapped up tight in a white cardboard box tied with white string, we made our way to Dyker Heights, about a 20-minute walk away from both our location and any subway. Once there, we decided, we would eat them in celebration of having arrived. It was in the mid-low 30s that night, and when we got to the first house we sat on a short stone wall to dig into the pastries. I took off my gloves to eat the cannoli, it was so deliciously creamy and crunchy I forgot about the temperature of my hands completely.

The Christmas lights, a joyous/horrific/hilarious love letter to American splendor/excess and capitalism, did not disappoint either. Ridiculous McMansions ran throughout the neighborhood with opulent to the point of tacky staircases and statues--we saw several lions, tigers, and Venus de Milos--and almost all of them were covered, often roof to yard, in lights. Blue, green, white, red, you name it. One house had its own Parthenon (year-round, I might add) that featured an enormous animatronic Santa. Another was covered in zooming, flashing neon lights; another was dotted with giant nutcrackers. With all the jolly faces and sparkling lights, it felt equal parts like being in a candy-covered fantasyland and dystopian, David Lynchian nightmare. And either way, it was endlessly amusing and we had an amazing time. Check out some photos below.