Tuesday, December 23, 2014

THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES, New Yorker Review of Mann show, bk honored at Cuban Biennial 5/23

La Prensa Review of the book and the ballet commissioned for the Biennial in Cuba


From Cuba Presentation on the book by Madeleine Plonsker & Nelson Ramirez


From Huffington Post a great link!

New Yorker Review of Mann Exhibition of THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES



PBS ArtBeat interview




Gorgeous Provocative Photography Exhibition at Robert Mann Gallery 6/26 and in new book


This is a story, begun in 2000, with an intrepid collector, Madeleine Plonsker. In Cuba on a cultural exchange trip, she discovered amazing photography. She returned in 2007 and continued to come. Her collection grew and no longer was she collecting 20th century European works. Plonsker was captivated by Cuban photography and the courageous artists, who often worked in secrecy. 

Photographic sculpture that from a distance appears as an antiquated T.V. screen; Havana’s Revolutionary Plaza photo shopped so as to appear underwater; a Russian nesting doll book that depicts the “good” Cuban citizen dressed in various Soviet guises; a satellite dish camouflaged in a huge black trash bag; a decaying classical building in old Havana, strangers pressed together on a traveling bus; a schoolboy weighted down with much more than his school bag.

These are images from Cuba’s “Special Period,” 1992-2012, when the former Soviet Union withdrew its economic support and Cuba was plunged into an extended period of deprivation. Embargoed away from the world with few cameras and expired film, the photographers of Cuba emerged from the shadows to show what was happening to their country.
The new book, THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES: Lake Forest College’s Madeleine P. Plonsker Collection of Contemporary Cuban Photography (March, 2015, Lake Forest Press), brings this work for the first time to U.S. and Cuban audiences. This is the first book entirely devoted to contemporary Cuban photography highlighting both emerging and established artists. The bilingual publication—the first book granted full support with permission to be distributed within Cuba by the Cuban Ministry of Culture—will be released in Cuba during the opening of the XII Bienal de la Habana in late May 2015. The Robert Mann Gallery in New York City will host a March launch in the U.S.

The story of THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES begins in 2002, when Madeleine P. Plonsker embarked on a cultural exchange trip to Cuba. Plonsker, a Chicago-based collector of twentieth-century masterworks on paper, thought she might collect a few souvenirs. She did not know the compelling works she uncovered would expand to the whole passage of a society in transition. THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES encapsulates this inspired vision.

Plonsker explains, "Cuban Photography has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past twenty years. Cuba's contemporary photographers are poised to reach a broader international audience, and the intent of my book is to bring you their story."

Here's the release for the opening at the Robert Mann Gallery, 3/26. First time work from Cuba's "Special Period," will be shown together in the U.S.


On the heels of the Obama administrationʼs momentous policy changes regarding US-Cuba relations, Robert Mann Gallery is pleased to announce The Light in Cuban Eyes, a group exhibition of contemporary Cuban photography. This will be the first New York exhibition focused on work made during and after Cubaʼs “Special Period,” the time of extreme hardship and poverty which followed the withdrawal of Soviet resources in the early 1990s. The exhibition will feature works by artists including Pedro Abascal, Pavel Acosta, Juan Carlos Alom, Jorge Luis Álvarez Pupo, Ramsés H. Batista, Raúl Cañibano, Arien Chang Castán, Reinaldo Echemendía Cid, Adrián Fernández Milanés, Eduardo Javier García García, Alejandro González, Glenda León, Donis Dayán Llago, Kadir López Nieves, José Julián Martí, Néstor Martí, Liudmila + Nelson, René Peña, Alejandro Pérez Alvarez, Michel Pou Díaz, Leysis Quesada Vera, Alfredo Ramos, and Lissette Solórzano.

In Cuba, cultural richness clashes with economic destitution, pride chafes against frustration, and beauty mingles with decay. From classic street scenes to metaphorical abstractions, traditional silver prints to the newest inkjet technologies, each artist grapples in his own way with the countryʼs coinciding and contradicting inherencies. Some, like Álvarez Pupo and José Julián Martí, capture unfamiliar moments of daily life in moody black-and-white: a farmer provokes a rooster for a cockfight, and suited men conceal binoculars like guns behind their backs. Quesada Vera and García García invoke more poetry in presenting Cubaʼs scenery, with monumental waves crashing against a stony shore and white linens fluttering like peace flags above the city.

Others find indirect methods of artistic commentary. Acostaʼs bright, colorful portraits of old automobiles subtly and wryly reference the Cuban governmentʼs prohibition of new cars and the peopleʼs ingenuity in personalizing their ancient vehicles. With Manet-like black backdrops and sharp front-lighting, Fernández Milanés comments on Cuban stereotypes by presenting exotic dancers as plasticine figurines. And some, like Liudmila & Nelson and Batista, direct their statements towards Cubaʼs most enduring symbol—the body, joining and struggling against the narrow sea. From this small island nation, these artists present divergent bodies of work that pay tribute to the rich cultural history of their homeland while looking toward the future.

The exhibition is inspired by long-time patron of Cuban photography Madeleine P. Plonsker, who has been traveling to Havana since 2002 to discover and support the work of emerging Cuban photographers.
Coinciding with the exhibition will be the release of the book The Light in Cuban Eyes, published by Lake Forest College Press and organized by Plonsker. The Light in Cuban Eyes is the first North American publication with support from the Cuban Ministry of Culture and Fototeca de Cuba, Cubaʼs repository of photography comparable in function to the Smithsonian Photography Department in Washington, D.C.

View The Light in Cuban Eyes at www.robertmann.com beginning March 26, 2015.

Robert Mann Gallery is located at 525 West 26th Street, 2nd Floor. Hours are Tuesday - Friday,
10am - 6pm, and Saturday, 11am - 6pm. For additional information and press materials, contact the gallery by telephone (212.989.7600) or by email (mail@robertmann.com).

Monday, December 15, 2014

Breaking up is hard to do, what would happen if health care divorced the insurance industry? http://maglomaniac.com/breaking-hard-health-care-industry-might-consider-divorcing-insurance-industry/



Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: Why Our Health Care Industry Might Consider Divorcing The Insurance Industry

BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO: Why our health care industry might consider divorcing the insurance industry–a marriage of great inconvenience. A contrarian look, as the deadline nears for the new year of the health insurance marketplace. It was always an uneasy marriage, brokered by the Nixon Administration, when its patrons in the life insurance […]
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO: Why our health care industry might consider divorcing the insurance industry–a marriage of great inconvenience. A contrarian look, as the deadline nears for the new year of the health insurance marketplace.It was always an uneasy marriage, brokered by the Nixon Administration, when its patrons in the life insurance industry wanted to get into Health Care. “We could make a killing, if only…” was probably the line. And they continue to do so, perversely from the public’s view, by denying benefits, while escalating premiums and underpaying doctors.
This is a view perhaps felt most intensely by those, who are not recipients of employer medical programs, such as the self-employed not poor enough for the breaks of the Affordable Care Act; yet not rich enough to pay large deductibles and monthly costs of not so affordable plans. For these people, coverage boils down to minimal use of health care that is also difficult to access. In the brave new world of HMO plans, updated provider lists are a rarity. For the middle-aged self-employed or recently unemployed, “Holding on for Medicare” has urgency. Dental care, of course, is the catastrophe in the wings and most coverage not worth the premiums.
How did this happen to one of the richest nations on earth? Ironically, we also rank high among nations in our spending on health care. To understand the complexities, a good place to start is TRACKING MEDICINE: A Researcher’s Quest to Understand Health Care, a book published in 2010 by Dr. John E. Wennberg (Oxford), who spent 4 decades investigating how health care is actually delivered in America. His work, the foundation of the Dartmouth Atlas, charts the nation’s health care delivery state by state. His prescription for reform is profound.
“Reforming our health care delivery system requires a translation from today’s mostly disorganized care to organized, coordinated systems of care, and from delegated “rational agent” decision making to shared decision making and informed patient choice. This will not be easy. After all, it requires transforming the culture of medicine and engineering, an industry that accounts for nearly 18% of the U.S. gross domestic product. But such is the eye of the needle through which we must pass to achieve significant reform.”
Wennberg had great hopes for The Affordable Care Act, as a giant step toward reform. It has covered the uninsured poor and the young, though progress for reform is elusive. Overuse of medical care is probably down, unless you are a member of Congress. But over proscribing remains a profit center for some doctors. And insurers are still implementing “one treatment fits all” for most conditions, though patients are unlikely to demand state of the art treatment.
The equation of insurer, provider, and patient, can be simplified. A look at the Kaiser System and doctor co-ops, where patients buy insurance directly from their providers, is hopeful for the future. Because patients pay nothing when they need medical care, there’s an incentive for preventative care and none for a hospital to fill empty beds. Recently, I heard of a Brooklyn doctor co-op from a young doctor, happy that he could determine the length of an office visit.
What if the great teaching hospitals of the East Coast started issuing their own policies? Who knows what might come out of the wilderness of hospitals offering insurance! Maybe a renaissance of the profession for disillusioned doctors. For patients, no more worry whether you’re getting poor treatment, because the doc’s underpaid. There’s also satisfaction in knowing your money goes directly to the guy who treats you.
I grew up in an era before medical insurance existed. Doctors were all proprietors. Medical care considered both the ideal treatment and a patient’s finances. Patients talked it over with the doc and their family. Could that resemble “shared decision-making” and “informed patient choice?” Can you imagine a medical world with no paperwork? What about house calls?
Nostalgia aside, the costs of medical care began to escalate for a variety of reasons. Managing it became a priority. But what if instead of the insurance model, where an industry profits from withholding payments, the model was a cooperative, such as a tax-based public library or volunteer fire company? What about a country club or pre-school financed with annual fees? Efficiency might be the same. Undoubtedly, profit would be higher without the expenses of the multi-billion dollar insurance industry. Is breaking up so hard to do?
Susan Weinstein

Monday, December 1, 2014

Never heard of Dorothy and Otis, couple who designed the American Dream? What about Wrigley's Gum & the Chicago Cubs?

DOROTHY AND OTIS: Designing the American Dream by Norman Hathaway and Dan Nadel (Harper Design, November) includes over 330 four-color prints of seminal design art by people I never heard mentioned in art school. As amazing as the discovery of this work, is the text that accompanies the book. Instead of dry art book prose. Hathaway and Nadel, who had access to the couple's archive, were able to conjure both the idiosyncratic personalities of Dorthy and Otis and their excitement at creating a visual language for their America--1920-1940.

The book begins with Otis "Shep" Shepard, a poor Midwest boy, who teaches himself to draw. He leaves home at 14 to work odd jobs, including itinerant actor and set designer, and free-lance sign painter. Young Shep even meets Jack London in San Francisco and learns about carousing. Still in his teens, he gets into the real fight of  World War One and draws vivid scenes from an air balloon and down in the trenches. Shep's portraits of his fellow soldiers are equally affecting, enhanced by his singular style. When he returns, theater posters, programs, other graphics show his humor and sophistication, as he reinvents himself as a raconteur and commercial artist.

Dorothy Van Gorder, the precocious daughter of an Oakland Professor, graduates high school in three years and repeats the feat at California College of Arts and Crafts. Dorthy's an early bohemian feminist, wearing art school black, designing costumes in a modernist style probably influenced by the Ballet Russe. Her drawings have a freshness and sensitivity of line, married with abstract design.

While Shep's realistic style, a kind of iconic approach to billboard design, ensured his employment in commercial work, his jaunty personality meant he was soon manager of teams that produced such work. There were artists who specialized in hands or glasses, but he was the overall concept guy and, eventually, an account exec, who would sketch ideas in meetings with clients. In 1927, when Dorothy and Otis met, he was working for the most important billboard design agency in the country. Shep was looking for graduates from the California College and Dorothy fit his requirements. Not only was she technically adept with innovative design ideas, she also was enamored by modernism.

Shep, again self-taught, was starting to adapt modernist ideas. Dorothy, was already excited by the new style happening in Europe. Unafraid to try new ideas, she became the first important female designer in North America. Though she always said she "rode on his coattails,"the style they evolved, working together and later separately, was a cross-fertilization of design sensibility, elegance, and humor.

Print communication was at a zenith, and large-scale billboards were treated by them as sophisticated murals with a purpose. Drawing the eye was everything but how they did it--with evocative shapes and images--evolved. In Shep's work, at first copy was equal to image. Then the image predominated, changing from realism and sentimentality to sensual abstraction. Often lettering only appeared on a package to identify a product. Both Dorothy and Otis were brilliant in their use of abstract design and color. Dorothy was in her element with patterns and Shep was a pioneer of the airbrush finish.

Superstars of their time, they left the agency and worked out of rooftop studios in Manhattan, San Francisco and pre-world war II Europe. Like modernist friends, Joseph Binder, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Laslo Maholy Nagy and the movie stars Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, and Johnny Weissmuller, they were both of their time and developers of it. Dorothy and Otis designed sports teams, chewing gum (Wrigley's and the Doublemint twins), resorts and Islands, (The Biltmore and Catalina Island) and the world's largest neon sign.

Their love and work were at first inseparable. Mutual respect and inspiration fueled accomplishment and fun--hard partying, glamorous lives, amid the rigors of war and the great depression. Much of it they documented with beautiful photographs. Their story also includes the difficult facts of raising children with the demands of career, and then the toll of aging. Over time with personal tragedy, their emotions toward each other changed. They lived apart and then, like the deep friends they always were, found each other again.

I was moved by this story of working designers, commercial artists, who had wonderful exciting lives but despite fame in their time, were unknown before this book. The aspirations of Dorothy and Otis, like many artists who toil anonymously, was to make great work. I thought of my grandfather, a master sign painter, who scaled his billboards by hand and could draw straight lines on a wall. Among his papers were the original logos for Grayhound and Canada Dry, designed as part of a sign,
Craft brought satisfaction with no thought of publicity. Now, if he had been able to copyright those images, who knows? Financial stability might even have followed.