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The National Endowment for the Arts announced grants for local cultural institutions
The National Endowment for the Arts recently released their grants for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, and several major cultural institutions on the Upper West Side, Upper East Side and downtown Manhattan reaped the benefits of the extra funds. Many organizations saw an increase in funds this year, like the Metropolitan Opera, which received $265,000 this year (a $70,000 increase from 2012), and the Guggenheim Museum, whose NEA funds almost doubled from 2012-2013.
Over the past few years the NEA, the government agency that financially supports cultural institutions nationwide, has been going through several changes. This year, the agency saw a reduction in fund availability by over $3 million, but they made up for it by using carry-over funds. In addition, 2011 saw the addition of a new category for modern arts organizations: the “arts in media” category (includingsmartphone apps, podcasts and video games) which flooded the NEA with triple the amount of grant applications.
“After the initial excitement, the number of applications for fiscal year 2013 have normalized,” said Liz Auclair, the public affairs specialist for the NEA.
This may explain the increase in funds from last year to this year, but Leah Maddrie, a representative from Symphony Space, a performing arts center on the Upper West Side, whose organization saw a decrease in funds this year, believed that the pool still remains fairly competitive.
“I would imagine in the last couple of years, the amount of money available to distribute has gone down and the pool is much more competitive,” said Maddrie. “They’re trying to keep up with the times by recognizing different art forms, but that also means they will get many more people applying than before.”
But as a result of the change in looking at new forms of media, Symphony Space was able to talk about new forms of media, like the podcast, when asking for federal fund. This year, Symphony Space received $25,000 for Selected Shorts, a radio and podcast show featuring stories performed by well-known stage and screen stars – a program that the NEA has supported in years past.
The New York Philharmonic was also happy with their NEA grants, worth $170,000, this year. Most of the funds went toward their school partnership program, which brings classical music education and concerts to students all over the city, including neighborhood schools like P.S. 199 and P.S. 165. This year, for the first time they received the maximum grant of $100,000.
“The school partnership program really gets us out into neighborhood schools in all five boroughs,” said Ted Wiprud, a representative from the New York Philharmonic education program. “We’re always aiming to expand the program, both within the schools and by adding schools, the NEA support makes me optimistic that we can see growth for the coming years. We always have a bunch of schools on a waiting list, so we’ll hopefully be able to include more schools now.”
Lincoln Center, the home of the New York Philharmonic, received $190,000 for their education program, the Lincoln Center festival and the production of artist profiles. The Metropolitan Opera, also housed in Lincoln Center, saw a $70,000 increase in funds from last year. Most of the $265,000 will be going toward a new production of Handel’s “Giulio Cesare.”
On the Upper East Side, the Guggenheim Museum received $80,000 for the exhibit “Gutai: Splendid Playground.” The Whitney Museum received $50,000 for an exhibit on Edward Hopper.
Downtown, Tribeca Film Institute received $100,000 for a professional development program and their reframe collection website. The Children’s Museum of the Arts received $30,000 to support Multicultural Explorations: Artistic Traditions and Contemporary Interpretations.
A curious neighbor paid for an expert to test the parking lot where Jewish Home Lifecare plans to build a new facility, and found alarming levels of toxic lead
By Nora Bosworth
Nobody asked Martin Rosenblatt to protect the schoolchildren at the Upper West Side’s P.S. 163, but he may have done just that. The story begins with a nursing home, one very informed citizen, and a lot of paperwork.
Since 2008, the elder care company Jewish Home Lifecare (JHL) has been planning to erect a 20-story nursing home alongside a public elementary school on the Upper West Side. The tower would be built on West 97th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, on a parking lot that is now part of the Park West Village apartment complex, which borders P.S. 163.
Over the last several years, community members have organized to resist the development project for a wide array of reasons: fear of sending children to study amid a noisy, long-term construction zone, objections to the noise, dust and debris of such a project, increased traffic the nursing home would bring, and the loss of an above-ground parking lot.
Jewish Home Lifecare says their planned facility will transform the hospital-like feel and architecture of many nursing homes to a place that will make elderly residents feel at home. They hope their construction will provide “dignity and privacy” to clients.
Up until April of last year, all of the opposition facing the nursing home plan has been relatively standard backlash for a development project of this scale– with, granted, the added concern of the school’s welfare. And, if all had gone as planned, JHL would probably be beginning construction in Spring of 2014.
Enter Martin Rosenblatt, a resident who lives across the street from the proposed development site and a retired investigator, experienced with the hazardous effects of lead dust.
After going to meetings about the nursing home’s plans, Rosenblatt decided to test the parking lot for lead, just in case the future demolition site was home to hazardous chemicals. It wasn’t a random suspicion. Until the Clean Air Act of 1996, lead was a legal component of gasoline. Thus, in the past, when cars turned on, their tailpipes would sometimes emit combustion dust that was contaminated by lead. Rosenblatt figured that because the parking lot had been around for over fifty years, it was worth assessing.
Rosenblatt hired Laurence Molloy, an authority on lead to analyze soil samples throughout the grounds, along with 11 other New York City Housing Authority lots. Despite the two men’s hunches, what they found still took them by surprise.
On Wednesday evening, around 150 West Siders gathered in the auditorium of the Holy Name School on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, to hear Rosenblatt discuss his discovery of toxic levels of lead beneath the proposed site for the high-rise nursing home.
Out of 100 samples of soil, the highest lead level of all was found in a hotspot at the West 97th Street location. The level of lead was at 1,044 ppm (parts per million); to put this number in context, the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit for acceptable lead levels in soil areas on which children play is 400 ppm.
The health effects of lead exposure in children include behavioral disorders and learning disabilities. Lead becomes dangerous once unearthed, thus the proposed construction is a scare to many people.
“The soil definitely contains lead and is certainly a potential hazard to school children if blown onto the adjacent school grounds,” writes Molloy, in his letter testifying to his results from the Park West Village samples.
Rosenblatt also took it upon himself to send the lab results from West 97th Street to eleven different medical professionals, four of whom wrote back with their findings.
“According to the National Toxicology Program of the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, dispersion locally of these lead contaminated dusts, into academic and residential buildings nearby, can cause adverse health effects in children under 72 months of age, such as developmental-cognitive impairments, neurobehavioral disturbances, loss in IQ points and ADHD,” wrote John Rosen, a pediatrician and the Head of Environmental Sciences at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In his letter to Rosenblatt, he adds that pregnant women are also at risk, as lead can damage the developing fetus.
Avery Brandon, whose asthmatic 5-year-old daughter currently attends P.S. 163, called the results “terrifying.”
“If there’s lead in the soil and they break ground, we have to move,” she said.
Brandon is grateful to Rosenblatt for his research.
“Without Mr. Rosenblatt, I’m not exactly sure where we would be right now,” she said. Molloy voiced a similar opinion.
“The average citizen doesn’t know about lead in a parking lot,” Molloy said in a telephone interview. “Wouldn’t even suspect it.”
Rosenblatt believes that if an environmental impact study is conducted and lead is found, the costs of removing the lead would be enormous. He says it is unclear which party would cover what he estimates would be an operation in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Moreover, according to Molloy, there is water beneath the lot, and if the water is also contaminated, then pumping it out would add greatly to the cost of cleanup.
As of now, it is unclear how the state and Jewish Home Lifecare want to proceed.
“JHL has adhered to all government regulations regarding site review and will continue to do so,” said Ethan Geto, a public affairs representative for JHL, in an email.
“Not having seen the analysis of lead contamination claimed in the study – or having it reviewed by an expert not associated with advocates for blocking the project – it is not possible to know at this juncture if any further environmental review is warranted.”
At the meeting, Rosenblatt and the director of the Park West Village Association, Maggi Peyton, urged attendees to sign a petition that demands an environmental impact study. Residents at the meeting expressed hope that these latest findings will make a difference, along with a determination to be heard.
“In terms of politicians,” said Patricia Loftman, a resident of Park West Village for the last forty years, “I don’t think we will ever forgive them if they don’t do the right thing on this issue.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced recently the addition of Wifi services to 30 underground stations around Manhattan. Users will now be able to log on for free underground at a number of Upper West Side subway stations, including the Lincoln Center 1 line, the 81st Street National History Museum B and C lines, all throughout the Columbus Circle station and more.
Representative Jerrold Nadler addressed gun violence prevention at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue this past Monday.
“How do we do better as a society to prevent gun violence?” asked Nadler.
The Representative pointed out gun violence has always been an issue, particularly in inner cities, but the number of mass shootings in recent years have forced the public to take a closer examination of the issue.
“Since the shootings in Newtown, there have already been 3,500 gun deaths across America,” he reported. “No one can dispute that such violence is an epidemic.”
Nadler called the votes against a series of amendments aimed to address gun control “a truly outrageous display of Congress at its worst.”
Nadler blamed “political calculatedness” for the outcome as well as organizations like the NRA using any means possible to gain leverage, but most of all he blamed firearm manufacturers and the Senate’s desire to protect the industry.
The Representative pointed to a number of bills we must consider in moving forward, including the Assault Weapons Ban, a Universal Backgrounds Check system, the Fix Gun Checks Act, the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act and increased gun buyback programs. Nadler also noted he introduced a bill which would prevent sex offenders from being able to use guns.
In addition to enforcing the passage of these bills, Nadler said there is a great deal more we can do as a society to make sure weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands.
“People around the world look at our society and wonder how we, the United States of America, can tolerate 10,000 gun deaths per year,” said Nadler. “We should wonder the same thing.”
By Jerry Danzig
On the morning of Sunday, April 21, a 46-year-old woman was sitting with a friend having coffee at a chain coffee shop on Columbus Avenue. She had placed her handbag on the floor in between her legs while she was drinking her coffee. Suddenly she noticed that her bag was gone and began to look for it. A witness approached and stated that a suspicious-looking man had been standing near her who then had walked out of the store right before she realized her bag was missing. No arrests have been made. Items stolen were valued at $290, including a cell phone, eyeglasses, keys, a hat, her Social Security card, two bank checkbooks, an inhaler, and $30 in cash, plus her debit and credit cards.
By Jerry Danzig
At 4 p.m. on Friday, April 19, a 43-year-old male construction worker had secured two motors that raised and lowered a scaffold outside an apartment house on W. 65th St. before he left for the weekend. When he returned on Monday, April 22 at 11 a.m., he noticed that the cables securing the motors had been cut, and the two scaffold motors, each valued at $12,000, had been taken by unknown perpetrators. Video is available of the incident. No arrests have yet been made, but police are hopeful that the video will lead to an arrest.
By Jerry Danzig
It was a little after noon on Friday, April 19. In an apartment house basement on West 76th Street, a 23-year-old male observed three men removing an oven and a refrigerator valued at $550 without permission. When the witness confronted the men, they fled southbound on Columbus Avenue in a red van with Maryland plates. The resourceful witness managed to take a photo of the license plate. Police ascertained that the perpetrators had entered through the rear of the building while a construction was underway. Police canvassed the area for the vehicle but were unable to locate it. No arrests have been made.
By Jerry Danzig
On the afternoon of Thursday, April 18, a 26-year-old woman was eating at a fast-food vegetarian restaurant with her purse open next to her on the bench. At some point, an unknown perpetrator removed her wallet. Video is available of the incident. The victim succeeded in canceling the stolen credit and debit cards before any unauthorized charges could be made. The thief did manage to make off with $40 in U.S. cash, plus the wallet valued at $20 and the victim’s New Jersey drivers license. No arrests have been made.
By Jerry Danzig
On the morning of Friday, March 29, a 39-year-old man living on West 86th Street reported that he received statements from several stores claiming that he owed money on accounts he had not opened. The man stated that his Social Security number had been used to open the accounts and unauthorized charges had appeared on these accounts totaling $6,465. The man closed all the accounts, and at the time of the police report was still waiting to receive all the pertinent account statements.
At 2:10 a.m. on the morning of Thursday, April 18, a 68-year-old male taxi driver picked up a fare on Columbus Avenue. The passenger said he wanted to go to 25th Street and Lexington Avenue. After they drove one block east to Central Park West, the passenger pulled out a black firearm and put it through the opening of the taxi partition, holding it to the cabdriver’s neck. The passenger said, “Don’t do nothing stupid. Give me your money; look what I have.” Thinking quickly, the cabbie made a sudden U-turn to try to get a passing cab to notice him. This unexpected maneuver caused the passenger to exit the cab and flee on foot in an unknown direction. True to his profession, the cabbie picked up another fare before reporting the incident to police.
In his sixth—and possibly final?—fright film Lords of Salem, filmmaker-slash-musician Rob Zombie, a onetime Manhattan resident, ventures into the dream realm.
By Rachel Sokol
While Rob Zombie is synonymous with the ‘90s heavy metal band White Zombie, or as a writer and director with horror movies full of gore, the eclectic former Parsons School of Design student is still shocking audiences—both in music venues and in movie theatres.
We spoke in a New York City office about his glory days as an NYC resident, his non-OCD, and, of course, the famously-haunted town of Salem, Massachusetts, where Lords of Salem was partly filmed.
The movie stars his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, as a Salem-based DJ who is haunted by her town’s creepy past when she listens to an eerie record she receives.
What were the ‘80s and ‘90s in New York like for you?
I think I was 18 when I moved here in ‘83 and moved about 10 years later. I lived in the Lower East Side—because that was the only place you could afford to live—and for stretch in Brooklyn. God, it was a long time ago. The first thing I do when I come back here is eat. I’m a vegan, so it’s not easy to find restaurants, but here there are great vegan restaurants everywhere. When I lived here I couldn’t imagine leaving it, ever, but the band (White Zombie, which he fronted) needed to move to California as a career thing, so that’s why I did it.
At the time, the rest of the world was like a foreign planet. But all the clichés about New York are true. I love the on-the-street action here. In LA, everyone just gets in their car, and goes to their special place and acts fabulous, and gets in their car and goes to the next place…there’s just no sense of reality, ever.
Sometimes that sense of reality can make you crazy, like when you’re sitting in a subway car for two hours thinking OK, this is a little too much reality in my life…
I liked that Lords of Salem wasn’t so gory; it felt more like a bad dream. That was your intent, right?
It’s not gory at all. My other movies are visceral, violent movies that are brutal and can be hard to watch. This movie’s not violent at all; it’s more of a psychological nightmare type of film. That doesn’t mean it’s easier to watch. Sheri, for instance, would watch this movie but she doesn’t like violent things, even if it’s a boxing movie like Raging Bull she can’t stand the physical violence. But she’ll watch something more cerebral, more mental. The whole movie’s pretty weird. I think Lords of Salem isn’t what (viewers) think it is.
(Laughs) That’s what I always say about it.
The poster art for the film shows Sheri in a skeletal, haunting, form. Did you draw that picture?
The art was basically my idea, but they tweaked it around. As soon as we shot that scene with the skull makeup and that sweater and crazy hair I knew that would be the image that would pop-out from the film.
Most horror fans know about Salem’s witchcraft-rumored history. What do the residents of Salem think of your film?
I don’t know! I’m sure they’ll be horrified. I hope they’re happy; I guess I’ll find out in a couple of days, right? I think they’ll be excited just to see their town on screen. I can’t even think of another movie that was filmed there, so they’ll be pleased to see their town, streets, and buildings…I hope.
Would you ever consider filming a movie here?
I filmed something in New York recently, a comedy special for Tom Papa. We did the standup stuff at Skirball Center and stuff on the streets. New York is an amazing place to film, but also a tough city to film in, so I don’t know.
Have you ever considered writing scripts or music for Broadway? Will we ever see ‘Halloween—The Musical?’
Well, yes. In a way, because my first film House of 1000 Corpses is really theatrical and wacky and ridiculous I always think it would translate well to Broadway much like Spider-Man or Spamalot or Hairspray, and that seems to be the trend with theatre: taking old things…With the younger generation, it seems like people want name-brand things. Kids don’t care as much about seeing Oklahoma or A Chorus Line, and they don’t even know what those are.
House of 1000 Corpses has enough of the ridiculousness that it could maybe be the new Rocky Horror for the stage or something. I was friends with a Broadway director who directed Beauty and the Beast and Aida and when I got to see the inner workings of what he did and stuff and it was cool…it’s not really my thing, but I could that one film translating, maybe.
You’re a Capricorn. Did you live up to your sign?
I think so, and the funny thing is a couple of my friends are not only Capricorns—like Howard Stern and my friend Wayne who does all my special effects—but we have the same exact birthday, January 12th. I guess Caps veer towards Caps.
Pretend I’m an SVA film student with delusions of grandeur. What advice do you have for me about surviving this business?
My advice is there are no rules about how to do this and no right way, but people try to create a system of how it’s going to work. Whatever I did was not any normal path. That’s the problem— the business side of it wants to create rules one can follow because they feel like they can make sense of it, but since essentially you’re talking about making art—as pretentious as that sounds—there are no rules.
Just like some big blockbuster movie that they spent hundreds of millions of dollars on goes in the toilet and then some weird little movie becomes a huge hit that makes no sense, there are no rules in this business.
You just have to stick with your gut and do what you love and as soon as you feel like you’re doing things because someone else told you it’s a good idea and you don’t believe in it, you’re fucked, you know?
Sheri has appeared in all your movies. What’s your secret to working together so well?
We’ve always done it that way! We kind of did everything together so our paths were so intertwined. My first film was her first film. She says it best: When we first met, I was always on tour and stuff and if she didn’t go on tour and be part of it, we’d never see each other. That’s just the way we’ve done things, and it has worked out great. It could have been a disaster, but it wasn’t.
In June, you launch the tour for your new album. Do you have any pre-show rituals for good-luck?
I’m kind of the exact opposite of that. I’m not OCD, but I’m so chaotic that I’ll always do something differently, not even on purpose.
That’s the funny thing between me and Sheri, she’s so organized. She’s so precise in the way she does things that she could tell if I moved a coffee cup just slightly, and I’ll think I didn’t even realize there was a coffee cup there. I’m so oblivious.
What’s next for you? Is it true you’re stepping away from horror movies?
I just feel like I’ve done six movies in that world and that’s enough. I love movies, not just horror movies, and I feel like after a while you get pigeonholed with the outside world and in your own mind about what you’re doing and I don’t want to do that. That’s why the next several movies I have lined up, if they all go according to plan, are not remotely horror on any level. The next movie is called Broad Street Bullies about the Philadelphia Flyers NHL team and the next movie I have after that I can’t say yet, but that’s even more of a departure.
Is Sheri going to be in these movies as well? I have a hunch one is a book adaption because you strike me as an avid reader.
Ah! Maybe. Maybe, maybe. I want to keep it a surprise. My wife doesn’t look like a 70s hockey thug, but she’ll be in Broad Street Bullies somewhere. When looking into the future, I’m mostly thinking of the next movie or record and that never-ending quest for perfection.
For more info on the film and tour, visit www.robzombie.com.
By Bob Ditter
I remember when it occurred to me that working as a camp counselor was more than just having fun with campers. I was a first-year counselor at a boys’ resident sailing camp on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. One of the boys in my cabin had the unfortunate luck of being both impulsive and having a temper. I say “unfortunate” because whenever “TJ” got into trouble—and because of his impulsivity that was much of the time—he had an outburst. Certainly TJ, the other boys and I were having a lot of fun learning new skills in sailing and other areas. I soon realized, however, that in addition to teaching TJ how to be a better sailor, there were things I could teach him about being a better person. Maybe I could help him get a better handle on both his impulsivity and his temper.
Ever since that summer, I have looked at camp as not only fun, but as an opportunity for children to do a lot of growing up — both socially and emotionally. I have also come to view being a camp counselor as a craft or set of skills, no different in some ways than knowing how to build a camp fire, climb a rock face, put “English” on a tennis ball, or do a lay-up on the basketball court. The more you practice talking with campers, learning how to communicate with them, and understanding them, the better you get at it—just like most other endeavors in life. To help you make the most of your time with campers, I have put together my tips for working with them.
1. Get to know each one of your campers.
Many campers today are used to receiving a lot of attention from their parents. When children who are raised this way face a problem, they expect mom or dad to swoop in and make it all better. What this means for you is that your campers may need more praise and recognition, since they have been raised to count on more support from their parents. Consider making a List of Firsts chart. Take time each day to record in a brief meeting with your campers what new thing each of them has done that day at camp. This could be a new skill they’ve learned or a new activity they’ve tried or a new friend they’ve made and so on.
2. Get into routines right away.
For most children, routines provide security because they are predictable, and they help campers know what is expected of them. Routines are also good for caregivers in that they allow you to plan ahead and put consistency and self-discipline into your interactions with your kids. For example, try using the “five-minute warning” routinely before the end of every activity period. Announce to campers: “Okay, we have five minutes before we have to clean up!” Transitions are hard for children because they involve a small loss — a letting go — of what they have just invested their pride and energy into doing.
3. Keep your directions simple!
Giving campers too many things to do at once is confusing and often results in not too much getting done, especially for younger children who have shorter attention spans and for children who are easily distracted.
4. Get on their train before you try to get them on yours.
My friend and colleague, Jay Frankel, has an expression he calls “getting on a camper’s train.” When a camper is doing something other than what she should be — like looking at a photo album or listening to her iPod® instead of cleaning up — rather than get into a struggle, Jay and his True-to-Life team suggest that you join with your camper in whatever she is doing. In other words, take a moment to look at the photo album with her or ask about the music before coaxing her away from it and onto the task at hand.
5. The human brain can’t hold a negative.
When you tell a camper at the swimming pool, “Don’t run!” what his brain hears is “Run!” When you tell a camper, “Don’t talk while I’m talking!” his brain hears, “Talk while I’m talking!” It is impossible to tell someone not to do something without suggesting the very thing you don’t want them to do. More effective is telling campers what we want them to do. For example, at the pool, say, “Walk!” In a meeting say, “Listen while I’m speaking. You’ll get your turn when I am finished!” Turning negatives into positives is more than just a subtle rephrasing of words. Children today are visual learners, meaning they get a picture in their brains of what behavior we are suggesting when we talk. Giving them a clear picture of what we want, rather than what we don’t want helps steer their behavior in a more constructive direction. “Keep your hands to yourself,” or, “Use your words when you are upset,” are examples of telling campers what we want from them that help them behave more appropriately.
Bob Ditter is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in child, adolescent, and family therapy.
Originally printed in Camping Magazine, reprinted and excerpted by permission of the American Camp Association © 2008 American Camping Association, Inc.
Encouraging the Love of Reading at Camp
Lauren Arend and Mary Rogers
“Yes, a reading program fits into camp. Sherwood [Forest] Camp is a lot more than camping, mosquitoes, and swimming — it’s aimed at the whole child.”
— Parent of a 2011 camper
On an especially hot day in June, twelve fourth-grade boys sit on Crazy Creek chairs in a cabin. The room is hot but quiet. Some boys fidget slightly or are looking around the room, but most have their noses buried in paperback copies of the book while their teacher reads out loud. This is summer camp, and nine-year-old boys are sitting around reading together.
After exploring the idea of a camp-based reading program in 2009, Sherwood Forest introduced a formal reading program the following summer. Mary Rogers, executive director, with the board of directors, wanted to encourage a love of reading. Camp could be a place where reading is one of the coolest things to do. In 2011, the reading program was implemented with sixteen fourth-grade campers and the reading program was expanded to include all of the fourth-grade campers in 2012. A total of twenty-four boys and twenty-four girls participated in the program. Campers met for one-and-a-quarter-hour sessions on most days. The boy campers focused on the book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Girl campers read the book Belle Prater’s Boy by Ruth White.
Summer Learning Loss
“Summer learning loss, or the “summer slide,” refers to the loss of academic skills during the summer months. Researchers have found that the phenomenon of summer learning loss has a greater impact on those students who are already struggling in school. While the top 25 percent of students make slower but continued growth over the summer, average students maintain or even fall in their growth, and the bottom 25 percent of students lose a significant portion of the learning gains over the summer (Mikulecky, 1990).
Reading, Writing, and the Formation of Identity
Some might argue that that camp should be a “break” from formal academics. And a few of the campers and parents at agree. One parent said, “I want to know that he is reading AND having fun.” A camper, although he enjoyed the program, remarked, “Next year I think I can take a break from reading.”
Three years of evaluations of the reading program at Sherwood Forest have documented several specific positive outcomes.
Recreational and academic reading attitudes improved for the whole group and the groups broken down by gender. The improvement in reading attitudes was particularly significant for boys.
The majority of campers (75 percent) showed increases in vocabulary knowledge over the course of the reading program. Both the girl and boy reading groups demonstrated statistically significant gains in vocabulary scores.
Campers wrote in their journals each time they met in the reading program, responding to “prompt s” to focus their work. Overall, girls’ writing scores were significantly higher than boys’ scores. A significant improvement was found in writing scores over time for all campers. Additionally, boys increased their writing scores more than girls over the eighteen-day period.
Library usage data in the summer of 2012 revealed that campers enrolled in the 2011 reading program used the camp library more and checked out significantly more books than those campers who never participated in the reading program.
What is clear from three years of evaluations of the reading program is that reading at camp is fun and good for kids. There are real changes to the campers’ views about reading and their abilities to express their thoughts in writing.
Originally printed in Camping Magazine, excerpted and reprinted by permission of the American Camp Association © 2013 American Camping Association, Inc.
The saga of Kon-Tiki for a new era
Unmistakably, Pal Sverre Hagan’s appearance in Kon-Tiki as Norwegian explorer Thor Heyedahl is modeled after Peter O’Toole’s T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia. Not just tall, blue-eyed with burnished blond hair, Hagan also conveys obsessive determination like O’Toole’s Lawrence, making Heyerdahl’s decision to build a balsa-wood raft and float from Peru to Polynesia more than a landmark in anthropology. It’s also a heroic European’s foolhardy adventure, verging on genius, which the directorial team Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg obviously admire.
Taking Lawrence of Arabia as a model, Ronning and Sandberg demonstrate a multi-leveled approach to Heyerdahl’s famous 5,000 mile voyage. They achieve the rare combination of historical replay, intelligent spectacle and sensible biography. Without the luxury of David Lean’s epic length, Kon-Tiki conveys the breadth of Heyerdahl’s 1947 daring as he opposes complacent scientists, gathers a five-man group of risk-takers as crew and ventures from cramped civilization into the limitless physical world.
Ronning and Sandberg shape both the danger and monotony of Heyerdahl’s mission to show the personalities of explorer and crew. The sub-theme of existential self-discovery starts with Heyerdahl’s near-drowning in childhood which explains the irony that he never learned to swim. It’s not a metaphysical study like Ang Lee’s sentimental sea adventure The Life of Pi but a day-to-day demonstration of men testing themselves amongst themselves and against the elements.
Despite Kon-Tiki’s grand subject it isn’t grandiose. It recalls Lawrence of Arabia‘s simplest qualities: a close, fascinated look at a historical figure, recreation of post-war global temperament and awe at nature’s majesty. These Scandanavian directors, (previously known for the breezy feminist western Bandidas starring Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz and produced by Luc Besson), chose a classical model in Lawrence, but they also honor their native heritage in an approach to environment that also recalls Jan Troell’s atmospheric filmmaking.
Extraordinary sightings of luminous underwater creatures, whales swimming beneath the raft and sharks threatening the Kon-Tiki as it becomes waterlogged are marvelous and thrilling, (colorfully shot by Geir Hartly Andeassen), but never overblown. It’s a perfect mix of CGI and nature — unlike the cartoonish extravagance which made The Life of Pi contradict its own spiritual premise.
Ronning and Sandberg’s modernity requires them to query nature, fate, existence. They do so less subtly than David Lean whose pre-computer generated imagery (CGI) respect for the infinite was part of his narrative richness. Kon-Tiki begins with Heyerdahl’s mother saying of his childhood rescue “God had nothing to do with it!” The film’s remaining narrative, though not exactly reverent, shows ambivalence about Heyerdahl’s ultimately discovery and triumph.
A night sequence panning from the raft, up to the heavens and back again, challenges us, the viewers, through visual awesomeness. Then Heyerdahl theorizes “Nature accepts us as part of itself like birds and fish.” Not as eloquent as Lawrence of Arabia, Ronning and Sandberg fit the wonders they show to contemporary skepticism. At least they never reduce Heyerdahl to the explorer’s cynicism in Werner Herzog’s man-vs.-nature films.
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By Caroline Birenbaum
Many incredible works of art are on view at New York auction houses in the next few weeks as the spring season shifts into high gear. The traditional contest between the two mega-houses begins with auctions of Impressionist & Modern Art, where works from important private collections are the name of the game. Check the websites for preview schedules, e-catalogues, videos and blogs, as well as soon-to-be-posted information about late May sales of American and Latin American art.
The May 7 & 8 auction of Impressionist & Modern Art features highlights from the collection of the late Elisabeth and Alex Lewyt, (think vacuum cleaner), with proceeds to benefit a foundation for animal welfare. Their notable paintings include a Cezanne Still Life and Modigliani’s provocative “Amazon”; among their superb works on paper is a treasure-trove of illustrated artist’s letters. The academic 19th Century European Art to be sold on May 9 can’t compete for my attention with the exciting selection of Contemporary Art in the May 14 & 15 auction that contains wonderful works by Pollock, Still, Newman, Bacon, Serra and numerous others; many pieces have been donated to benefit the Whitney Museum of the Future, the Rauschenberg Foundation, and a number of other philanthropic endeavors. An important carved wood Eket Ogbom headdress from Nigeria is featured in the May 16 sale of African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art. One of the big surprises of the spring season is the range and quality of collections amassed over many years by the late performer Andy Williams, whose Navajo blankets comprise a single-owner sale on May 21. On May 22, a large inaugural sale of Arts of the American West consists of American Indian art and Western paintings, with many fine examples of Native American pottery and basketry and Northwest Coast artifacts.
A video on the website provides an excellent introduction to some of the works of Impressionist & Modern Art in the May 8 & 9 sale. Among highlights are Soutine’s “occupational” painting, “Le Petit Patissier,” Derain’s 1905 portrait of Amélie Matisse wearing the blue and white kimono in which she frequently posed for her husband and artist-friends, a Picasso still life and an Arp sculpture from the estate of psychologist and philanthropist Mona Ackerman. The evening auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art on May 15 features highlights from the collections of Andy Williams and Celeste and Armand Bartos, and other marvelous pieces presented in a must-have catalogue containing lengthy illustrated essays on the wide-ranging art-historical influences and interrelationships inherent in many of the works. The same spirit continues in the daytime sessions on May 16, which include 24 works from the collection of Chicago contemporary art dealer Donald Young, 14 works being sold to benefit Human Rights Watch, and pieces being sold to benefit the Brooklyn Museum and the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies. This auction preview deserves several visits.
Garry Winogrand’s 1959 shot of a couple and their pet monkey in a convertible on Park Avenue, NY is a highlight of the May 7 Photographs sale; an Emil Nolde watercolor of peonies and black-eyed Susans is among the stars of the Impressionist & Modern Art auction later that day. The European Paintings to be sold on May 8 are represented by a charming oil sketch by J-B-C. Corot of his friend Constant Dutilleux painting outdoors in Douais, 1854. An attractive selection of Contemporary Art on May 14 leads with Mel Ramos’s large 1962 painting of D.C. Comics supervillain, “The Trickster.” A large sale of African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art to be sold May 15 offers wonderful pieces from many cultures, including a rare wooden standing female figure from Angola.
A strong selection of Art, Press & Illustrated Books on May 9 features works on graphic design from the inventory of the late New York specialist bookdealer Irving Oaklander (see printmag.com/imprint/farewell-irving-oaklander-bookseller.) The annual sale of Modernist Posters on May 13 continues the theme, with masterpieces of typography, well-known and less familiar examples by famed poster artists, highlights from the personal collection of designer F. H. K. Henrion, and even a section of psychedelia. In addition to top-notch prints and editioned sculptures, the May 16 auction of Contemporary Art offers unique works on paper, such as Sam Francis’s untitled gouache and ink composition of 1981 from the “Ten Puffs” series, and a late 1960s oil painting of a horse by M. F. Husain.
Up-to-the-minute Contemporary Art is the focus in the May 16 & 17 auction. The sale of Latin American Art on May 23 features works from the second half of the 20th century.