CUNY Macaulay Honors College at Baruch College/Professor Bernstein
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Category — EGreenberg

Pedestrian Pressure

My philosophy when it comes to walking around the city (or anywhere else for that matter) is that if you wait for the green “walk” light every time, you’ll never get anywhere. This mentality has made me a joke among friends who all seem convinced that I wait for traffic before crossing the street. Just as staying in your room all day has come to be known as “Pulling a Renee” amongst mutual friends, “Pulling a Liz” seems to have come to refer to taking a kamikaze stumble of sorts across a busy avenue.

As I’ve grown older and more reckless in my street-crossing I’ve come to recognize an amusing pattern among my fellow pedestrians. Walkers of any gender and age feel obligated to cross the street if someone else begins to. Level of traffic, time of day and location are irrelevant. If I begin to inch forward, so do a handful of people opposite and behind me. Jaywalking is the ultimate form of peer pressure.

I am a master of clumsily successful illicit street crossing, but not everyone is as vigilant and coordinated when it comes to safely making it to the other side. In this sense I sometimes feel guilty crossing the street when I’m not supposed to. This is because I’ve come to notice that when one person jaywalks, all others around said person feel obliged to do so as well. I will boldly step forward, preparing to weave through a line of slowly moving vehicles and others nearby will begin inching forward. It is as though they are unsure of what to do, the red hand is up but the crazy girl is walking anyway.

Jaywalking can be dangerous and in general is pretty juvenile. Maybe I’ll stop eventually but for now it’s still a thrill.

December 14, 2010   2 Comments

Sara Krulwich Review

Women who made waves in the field of equal rights tend to have interesting stories but often with a similar voice and message with major feminist undertones. For this reason I generally find these types of figures frustrating to listen to. Sara Krulwich however, was nothing like this. Her recent presentation was one of my favorites this semester because of the degree to which she presented herself as human.

Krulwich’s greatest asset seems to be her guts. She politely mentioned that she liked our street photography but explained that if we really wanted to take part in the art form, we have to learn to get in people’s faces. Getting in someone’s face certainly seems to be an accurate metaphor for Krulwich’s life. The procedure she went through to become a respected figure on her college newspaper sounded just like her advice on how to take photographs.

I very much appreciate what she said because truth be told, people avoid attracting awkward attention to themselves like the plague. Going all paparazzi on a person is a thoroughly unattractive idea. At the same time I understand that without individuals who are willing to do that, we would not have some of the best-known and most beautiful photography that we do. Krulwich is an inspiration not just to people who are interested in photography, but also to people who want to make a name for themselves anywhere. Walking on eggshells is boring, and certainly not how a person manages to rise within an organization, be that organization a school newspaper, or a major corporation.

Meeting the photographer whose photo would be on the front page of The Arts the following day can only be described as awesome. Her examples of photography were exemplary. Krulwich has an impressive ability to transform a familiar stage into a focused piece of art. I specifically like the way she plays around with lighting, capturing whispers of shadows when she feels necessary and at other times eliminating all light but one face, or shape.

One of the most interesting parts of her talk was her explanation of what it’s like to shoot a final dress rehearsal. She could end up with thousands of shots, which she then must sort through in order to find the best ones. I never realized how tedious the job of a photographer is, and although recent modernizations have made her job easier, they certainly have not eliminated the long process involved. I do wonder if her job came at the cost of a certain level of loss of appreciation for the arts. She obviously no longer attends shows or operas on her own (because she’s constantly viewing some theater related performance), which feels sad in a way. Going to the theater should be an experience, a fond memory, not a blur.

I suppose her career provides readers of The Times the photo that makes them want to see this opera or that musical and make a memory of their own. It is obvious that Krulwich enjoys her job to a degree that few people experience, and the passion is clearly evident in her photos.

December 9, 2010   No Comments

Moma Review

Modern art is controversial. A lot of people hate it, claiming their infant sibling could create a canvass equivalent to those of Pollock or Newman. Maybe they could, I won’t bother to elucidate the technical details of most of these pieces. People tend to look at a persons art and life separately. Those who claim Jackson Pollock was a foolish drunk who drowned his life in a bottle and occasionally splattered paint on a board are differentiating between his life and work to a hypercritical and frankly illogical degree. Dislike of an artwork is not reason enough to ridicule the artist. For the most part abstract artists were the first of their kind, exploring new mediums and challenging old unspoken restrictions on painting, drawing and design. At a bare minimum these artists deserve a degree of respect and an acknowledgement for their part in the liberating of art.

Not everyone is a fan of red boxes and brown lines, abstract art is an acquired taste; it’s sort of the olive of the art world. The various subcategories of the trend vary so immensely that it is easy to love one work and hate another. I appreciate abstract art. The most extreme versions tend to shy away from my personal taste, I’m not big on hanging up a black canvass and calling it brilliant but someone saw some value in doing so, and others manage to enjoy it.

I have come to know the much of the permanent collection at Moma well, but it’s impossible to wander its halls and not find something that feels new. This time the first piece that stuck with me was “Glass in Snow” by Harry Callahan. Upon initial glass this photograph looks like some random black lines and squiggles thrown upon a paper but after adjusting to the lighting and soft shadows, you recognize the sharp shards of glass implanted in what you’re told is a bank of snow. What I found so appealing about the piece was the invisibleness of the shards, without the description one would have any idea that the figures were glass. It’s dangerous, and really beautiful at the same time. I found the image to be both refreshing and intriguing and Callahan’s other photos were of similar style.

The other piece I was impressed with was “Untitled” by Norman Lewis (1949). It’s an oil painting on canvas but completely different in design from any oil I’ve seen before. My taste in fine art is eclectic but when I draw or paint I prefer design as opposed to figure sketching. This piece is dark and fluid but with contrasting straight edges that don’t actually distract you from the smoothness of the piece. I like the mystery, it looks like it could be the background of a fantasy movie or the sort of thing you imagine while reading a dark novel.

Every time I visit Moma I do so from slightly older eyes. It’s interesting to note the pieces that I always love, the ones I lose interest in and the ones I see differently having since learned different things. Knowledge of an artist’s life can provide a new level of appreciation for his or her work while understanding of a time period can reveal subtle commentaries within a piece. Moma continues to impress me with its unique array of exhibitions and again its lovely permanent collection. I look forward to what it will offer next.

December 9, 2010   No Comments

The Harder You Work, the Luckier You Get

I have a friend who sometimes goes by Ronaldo. Of the immense number of people I have come to know this year, he is one of the most interesting, and most honest. I have been fortunate enough to catch slices of insight into his world upon occasion. This is usually when one of his friends from the old neighborhood and the old life, comes to visit. At those times, a stress-filled day dissolves into a laughter-filled night. Memories are always recalled and stories are always shared.

I get to peek into this world that I know a lot about, but have never experienced. Ronaldo comes from an amazing family, but most of his friends don’t. He’s fortunate to study at a college, hold a reputable internship and maintain a close network of people that he trusts. He also firmly believes that luck played a major role in his status. Ronaldo certainly doesn’t walk on eggshells but he knows that odds were against him ending up here.

During the interview Ronaldo shared a string of stories that exemplified how he grew up and why he now feels so lucky. He dealt drugs at the age of eleven, went to rehab in Peru at the age of eighteen and at the age of nineteen, he was stabbed in the back four times. He saw the fabled “white light” but didn’t buy it, and came out a slightly more scarred, and significantly more contemplative adult. Being friends with Ronaldo comes naturally; he’s lighthearted, funny, intelligent and interesting. However, his past is scarred with instances of extreme violence, serious regret and long periods of recovery.

I find most of Ronaldo’s stories fascinating, but what’s really peculiar is the deep love and respect he has for his family. He always stresses, over and over, how great they were to him, how they are fabulous role models and how they are the people he cares for most in the world. At the same time, Ronaldo firmly believes that you are most likely to end up in a situation similar to the one that you begin in. This would mean that what has happened in Ronaldo’s life is mostly his own fault. He seems okay with this, which is unique among most people nowadays. It is easy to blame other people, society or a situation for your status quo, it is far more difficult to accept credit for ending up where you have, no matter how bad the place is.

Ronaldo’s deep conscious has guided him back to a better place. In America the average age of a drug dealer is twenty, and by twenty-one they are either dead or incarcerated. Ronaldo is a mathematical person but he doesn’t want to become a statistic. I don’t think he’s a role model just yet, but fifteen years down the line he very well may be. He says that he’s not sure if it’s just luck or if the harder you work, the luckier you get. Either way, luck is involved. Ronaldo resents the idea of being trapped in stereotypes and statistics and is an example of how anyone can become anything, at any time, in America.

Interview with Ronaldo

**This edited interview is nearly twenty minutes long, it’s fascinating and I highly recommend listening to the entire piece, but for the sake of class time I will only be sharing a portion.**

December 7, 2010   2 Comments

The Scottsboro Boys Review

The Scottsboro Boys on Broadway is an artistic and at times ironically whimsical retelling of a well-known injustice. Through its unique brand of retelling, Broadway can amplify the emotions behind any historical headline. This is where Scottsboro falls slightly short. The attempt to emphasize the incredulity of the charges brought against the nine young black men was often overshadowed by what could be described as an excessive maintenance of Broadway lightheartedness.

Not all musicals have to be happy. In order to achieve critical acclaim and audience hearts a musical must awe. The “immortal” musicals throughout the last century varied from lighthearted children’s tales to bloody horror stories, each managing to earn Broadway timelessness. Scottsboro possesses qualities that put it on a path towards renown, but in the end something is missing.

One of the most interesting creative decisions was the usage of a ninety-nine percent black cast to portray not just black, but also white characters. The audience enjoyed the mocking representations of the young white “victims” and the law enforcement officers. This parody of the characters’ personas was appropriate; one might go so far as to say metaphorical. The Scottsboro trials were charade-like so including parody in the story was a well though out mixture of plot and satire.

The demographics of the audience were another interesting factor of Wednesday night’s performance. Viewers were predominately white, which is curious, considering the story is one that marked the beginnings of affirmative action and black empowerment. In contrast, attendance of the premier season of Margaret Garner, an extremely serious slave story, at the Metropolitan Opera seemed significantly more mixed. Perhaps Scottsboro’s unconventional presentation of the black struggle in America was less appealing to the black community because of the unorthodox and extreme presence of humor. Granted, the humor was mostly ironic and satirical but it can still feel belittling.

The score of the musical was all over the place. A number of songs were beautiful, and the majority of the voices were divine but quite a few numbers seemed less striking and frankly lacked lyrical depth. The songs allowed the young actors to display their immense vocal talents but again, detracted from the genuineness of the story.

The Scottsboro Boys wasn’t however, unsuccessful. Upon concluding the viewing experience the audience is not left feeling jolly. Instead a communal feeling of disgust seemed to set itself upon the spectators. The minstrel show element is disturbing, which is the emotion that should arise following any story based off of the Scottsboro trials. Although some major elements of the production ranging from tone to song lyrics could use development, the musical itself thankfully strode away from the amusing temperament of the majority of the show and more towards a realistic, melancholy one. The audience is drawn back into reality towards the conclusion of the performance. Without this occurrence the musical would have been thoroughly unsuccessful but the manner with which it was executed is cause for thought over the intentionality of the storyline. Perhaps the message here is the danger of performance, of the retelling of stories. The audience on Friday night quickly seemed to forget that this was a true and terrible story of a serious injustice. As we are pulled back from false merriment to dank reality at the end, one notes how easy it is to forget that which we ought be embarrassed of.

November 30, 2010   No Comments

Let a Smile be Your Umbrella

watch the digital collage here:

My mom always tells me to let a smile be my umbrella. I generally roll my eyes at the statement but in truth I can’t help but smile. Whether greeting a friend, acknowledging an acquaintance, catching the eye of a stranger or simply enjoying a song, photograph or film I need to grin. What is the downside? A smile is a peace sign, an expression of joy or humor and a salutation. It doesn’t matter whether you like a person or not, if you make eye contact, a smile is almost always better than any possible alternative.

I am not new to New York. My permanent residential address is in New Jersey but my grandparents lived in the city and my mom and dad grew up in Manhattan and Brooklyn respectively. I therefore have a habit of defending New York City- the people here aren’t that grumpy and self-involved, they’re just like everyone else, only faster paced. It’s not true though. New Yorkers seem to have come to embrace their hostile stereotype, and illustrate their contentment with the description by continuing to ignore, shove, death glare and cut off their neighbors and fellow city people.

I do it too. Pushing someone out of the way is faster than waiting your turn, and glaring at a person across from you on the subway is easier than striking up a conversation, but something is lost in these constant exchanges of hostilities- a sense of camaraderie and the smile that often comes with it.

New Yorkers don’t smile enough. I decided to play around with this idea in my collage. Smiles can cross any language barrier and therefore any culture, they shouldn’t be quite so rare. I focused on the people around me, snapping photographs of my friends smiling and frowning; often accompanied by a bright yellow smiley face sticker that either mirrored or contradicted their own expression. I also tried to incorporate audio elements by capturing video shots of some New York people explaining what they think about smiling. Answers varied, and were more often than not humorous (an unintended side effect of asking people about smiling is apparently a smile).

To accompany the visual elements I made the video’s audio backdrop a song called “Kids” by the band MGMT. It’s an upbeat song noting a happier time in most people’s lives where smiles probably came easier. At one points the lyrics read, “No time to think of consequences,” emphasizing my point- there is rarely a downside to smiling. Everyone knows it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown so why not just do it?

I think my digital collage was relatively upbeat and I hope it generates a few upwardly curved lips. To do a project on smiling seems corny but it ought to serve as a reminder that smiling is safe and feels good. Not only does it feel good but also it can put those around you at ease. My mom says let a smile be your umbrella. There is nothing both easier and better to show the world.

November 23, 2010   1 Comment

Elisabeth Greeberg/Playing Hot and Cold


I found deciding upon a theme to be difficult. Both the canvass and inspiration for the project is New York City, arguably the most multifaceted and diverse place in the world. I couldn’t just pick a New York theme; instead I decided to take a more artistic route. I like playing with the emotions that various color palettes generate. A happy face can seem empty if the tone is pale while an inexpressive face can appear vivacious given warm shades and depth of color. Setting out to photograph that which I saw, I aimed to photograph familiar objects and scenes, and make them more interesting by polarizing colors, so to speak. Half of the photos, having been tweaked and edited (although never cropped) should feel cold, half should feel warm.

The setting for my album ranged from uptown to downtown, east side to west. Most of the photos come from the general vicinity of Grand Street Station and the 96th Street Station. I did not set out with my camera and a goal, but I finished with ninety-two photos and an idea. I managed to capture a lot of photos that I liked; the trouble was a general blandness in image tone. I quickly came to recognize that in order for others to appreciate the photographs, I would have to doctor the images to elicit certain responses. At the same time however, I wasn’t interested in extreme cropping, cutting and pasting etc. I just wanted to brighten, darken, define and focus the pictures in a more thought provoking manner. In other instances I like working with grayscale but these photos seemed to require bright dashes or thin sprinklings of color.

Most of the subjects of my photos are the things we pass each day, either blindly or uninterestedly.  Many of these objects and subjects seem to have sort of mysterious back-stories, and I tried to make the photos more artistic in a sense, in an attempt to emphasize this. Main ingredients of various shots include a faded fallout shelter sign, an abandoned construction worker’s hat, a shoe hanging over a street lamp and an American flag.

I hope viewers can immediately sense the warmth or darkness I’m attempting to portray in each individual photograph. I played with tools that I felt would maintain the honesty in each picture but advance the intrigue. In this day and age, a photograph can certainly be classified as fictional or nonfictional, one can literally create a highly realistic image out of nothing. I didn’t want to sit in the gray area here, my pictures are true, enhanced, images.

The final thought I want viewers left with is a sort of obligation to make double takes when passing the things one sees all the time. It’s easy to ignore scribbles on a wall or abandoned personal artifacts but these things are interesting, and unique. I hope my play on a handful of ignored elements of New York City inspires people to slow down once in a while, and appreciate the remarkable contrasts between a neon sign and a dark street or how depressing a corny, worn-out bumper sticker can be. My photos are things that you’ve seen before, but presented in a new light.

November 16, 2010   1 Comment

ICP: Cuba in Revolution Review

The International Center of Photography’s exhibit, Cuba in Revolution provided an incredibly fresh look at familiar faces. What was so impressive about the collection was the immense variety within what was a surprisingly logical sequence of photos. Visitors catch startling glimpses of peasantry, politicians, soldiers, wives and children living through the Cuban Revolution. One is left with a feeling analogous to that of completing a well-rounded book.

What stuck with me the most was ability of so many of the snapshots to suggest a story for your mind to wander upon. They are pieces of art. Some look more like paintings, others like movie screen shots but each has the ability to make you ponder the context.

My favorite pieces were those documenting the faces of Che Guevara. I am not a Che groupie, hat on head, t-shirt on chest, nor do I particularly admire the man but whether you despise or adore him, one must acknowledge that he is fascinating. The exhibit displayed a multitude of Che portraits, among them his most famous print. This famous face was geographically close to a small room where virgin images of the corpse of Guevara were on display- a haunting but slightly beautiful array of images. The sub collection was an impeccably developed reminder of how far anyone can fall.

Cuba in Revolution is the epitome photography exhibit. It captures, documents, and impeccably expresses an entire time period. However for as much as it is documentation, it is also art. The display design brought out the best parts of truly the best photographs and arranged them simply, tastefully and artistically. While The Mexican Suitcase exhibit has the potential to be as classically artsy, because the majority of the photos remain small and are displayed in clusters, individual images are more difficult to fully appreciate.

This was my first trip to the International Center of Photography and I was impressed. The compact premises offered a lot and nothing felt overcrowded. Each exhibit was tactful and fresh; I look forward to returning in the future.

November 9, 2010   No Comments

Test Test Test


Caption caption caption

November 2, 2010   No Comments

Spanish Streetwalkers

It was late Friday and we were coming back from a Halloween party, waiting for the downtown F at around 10 pm. Catalina and I were dressed as hipster crossing guards in matching electric orange reflective vests and laced leggings.

“Oh I love your costumes!” a high-pitched, impeccably coordinated young man cried. Catalina and I turned towards each other and then him,

“Thanks,” we each replied with a smile as the train arrived and we all boarded.

“Yeah!” he continued, “Spain, right?”

“… Spain?” I asked, turning back towards Caty to exchange a mutual look of confusion, “What?”

“You know… Spain.” The man seemed to be grasping at ends, and we had no idea what he was talking about. “Never mind, I guess I’m thinking of something else.”

“No no,” Caty said, “tell us what you’re talking about.”

The man smiled, “I don’t know if I should…”

“Well now you have to,” I replied.

“Okay well I read this article two days ago about how prostitutes in Spain are now required by law to wear reflective vests.”

“WHAT?!” Our friends burst out laughing, and we did too, faces turning bright red.

“Haha, that’s pretty funny I guess. I thought you were being political, you know…” the man trailed off again but we were lost in a fit of hysterics. As the train approached the next station the man continued, “do you mind if I take a picture, my friend will get such a kick out of this” we were reluctant but still laughing too hard to say no. Attempting to maintain a straight face in the photo we smiled and with a click he thanked us and got off the train. I guess our costumes were significantly better thought out than we had imagined. It’s hard to decide what’s more amusing, our original costumes or the one we unintentionally fit into impeccably.

November 2, 2010   3 Comments