Tag Archives: New York


Bernie Sanders eulogized my uncle-by-marriage.


As two transplanted New Yorkers in Vermont, Bernie and my uncle-by-marriage on my maternal side, met in Burlington in the 1940’s. As the family story goes, they first met in a deli, probably the only deli in Burlington in that era. Where ELSE would two New Yorkers (one WASP and one Jewish) find each other?!

This became their place. My mother, much younger sibling to her sister who married Bernie’s BFF, would hear anecdotes about these deli encounters, which spanned a lifetime and culminated in Bernie eulogizing his friend, generously and genuinely, by all accounts. And while I never actually met my uncle-by-marriage, who served on the Supreme Court of VT, due to the largeness of my maternal side coupled with travel and age distance, I enjoyed many happy times as a child with his daughters, who I idolized.

So, due to this familial tie, I’m for Bernie!

And as I’m a loyal person, a lifelong New Yorker, and an egalitarian by nature, I once met Donald Trump at The Plaza Hotel. He was a great host and we had a really fun conversation. I wish I had a photo, but it was before the Selfie Age. So, due to this personal experience, if I were a Republican, or a Reagan Democrat, I’d have to be for the Donald.



AND, GO YOU, BERNIE! “LOOK FOR AMERICA” as I hear the Simon & Garfunkle song, the success of your Vampire Weekend event showed us–YOU’VE FOUND IT!BernieWithFlag2


The Art of Make-Up

S3SeptOct2015VariousCVSpecialEvent 014

I’ve always considered make-up artistry to be a true art form.

I’ve also always considered make-up to be a living art form, because it evolves with the fashions, times and tastes of culture, and spawns its own trends, reflecting the culture back onto itself via a multi-billion dollar industry. Hence the current social media/viral popularity of make-up vloggers and YouTubers with millions of subscribers inking equally big sponsorship deals. But true make-up artistry transcends digital media fads.

This was confirmed to me recently twofold: upon meeting Alfie Boe sans Jean Valjean/LesMis make-up/wardrobe post-performance, as he so gloriously embodies and personifies Jean Valjean in voice and “in costume”, and by observing the great Joe Dulude create Wicked’s Elphaba for an attentive audience at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Artistic Producer, Evan Leslie, moderated a conversation with Joe as he transformed actress Eden Espinosa during this inspired and inspiring “Make Me Elphaba” event…

S3SeptOct2015VariousCVSpecialEvent 096

Joe’s credits, creations and portfolio are as formidable as the characters he’s created. He has 1990’s MAC pedigree which made me like him all the more (Viva Glam lipstick forever, baby!) and he couldn’t have been more generous toward the topic at hand, sharing personal/professional anecdotes, taking questions from the audience (WHILE he applied!) and also with his time afterward chatting, allowing photos–and selfies!

S3SeptOct2015VariousCVSpecialEvent 095

To that point, Evan gave the audience a great, spontaneous moment of levity (in other words, a really funny moment of great comic timing) when he took his own phone out for a selfie with Joe after being made up by Joe improvisationally based upon audience prompts of a “bird-like, from-the-future, 50’s era” character. Voilà!

And Eden graciously posed with Acacia for a fun Elphaba selfie…

S3SeptOct2015VariousCVSpecialEvent 094

As I listened to Joe speak and describe his process and his experiences, I was so grateful to hear him emphasize the value of research toward his art form, as I often champion the concept of research in art, especially with our collective references currently in great flux. I once had a Media Studies student tell me the Kardashians “invented the smoky eye” during a unit on Advertising, to which I replied, “Google Max Factor”.


Traveling to this event with 10 young performing artists ages 12-13 in tow, as a special event for my daughter and her friends, I fainted on the train when one of our group was inadvertently left behind at the train station due to a Special-and-Unknown-Train-Construction-Schedule. She made it to the event and so did I, thankfully. Today, I had the pleasure of seeing Evan Leslie in person again as I returned to the library to tour an exhibition for my photography research. I shared the missed train and fainting spell stories with him. He wittily assessed that “a little drama” attended to us as we attended “Make Me Elphaba”. For sure. And when I slumped into the only empty seat on the train, which was luckily below me, three very lovely, concerned women en route to ComicCon immediately responded, one of whom handed me her own water bottle and then offered me a literally “Life-Saving” mint. When I was revived, we started to chat and it turns out, she’s a fellow Vassar “sista”. Drama?! Yep! And no better person to Victorian swoon near! 

S3Oct19PicLabEditsHeadShots 024Carolyn NOT fainting as the driver helps everyone board a Sprinter for our Lincoln Center/Grand Central round trip—the heart peace-sign template is to obscure a fellow traveler looking back at me worried that I was about to again!

Photo Credits:

Eden Espinosa, Acacia & Joe Dulude photo by B. McDonough

Joe Dulude & Eden/Elphaba photo by A. McDonough

Joe Dulude & Evan Leslie photo by A. McDonough

Driver & Carolyn photo by B. McDonough


Bravo to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for mounting a heroically comprehensive homage to Alexander McQueen to coincide with Paris Fashion Week 2015, which includes the profoundly memorable Savage Beauty. I was among the lucky to view its closing night at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In my opinion, Savage Beauty references culture, art, media, multi-media, performance art, technology, art + engineering, memory, identity, gender, and of course, fashion, in astounding and, as yet, unparalleled ways. Its use of screens, projections, TV monitors, soundscape, and the inclusion of its haunting hologram, affected me deeply and lastingly.

In the words of Klaus Biesenbach, Director, MoMA PS1 & Chief Curator “art can be beautiful” but “good art…has a disturbing quality, it makes you stop…and examine what is real in your life”. This was indeed my experience in attending Savage Beauty on its closing night. Both the exhibition as a whole and seeing the Kate Moss hologram are experiences I’m still processing on many levels–experiences that have forced me to confront “reality”, perception and meaning in culture, art, media, fashion, narrative, design, beauty, violence, nature, death, curating, and genius.

Closing night of the Met’s exhibition was a “happening” in and of itself. I can personally vouch for this. As I wound my way serpentine waiting on line chatting with a German director most known for his Pantene shampoo commercials, both outside and then through the entire museum, the line was buzzing with anticipatory energy. I myself had a close encounter with Anna Wintour, Chief Editor of Vogue, who smirked at my outfit while bypassing me in line, startling me as this a compliment of sorts, coming from her. Having stood in line for 3 hours, I finally entered at 11:00pm (The Met kept the museum open for 24 hours, to accommodate as many final visitors as possible.) Finally inside its confines, I became fuzzy on museum policy and took photos to capture what I was immersed in, until I was reprimanded by a guard. The rooms were packed and warm with body heat, the crowding was scary.

Here is the Met’s curator Andrew Bolton on Savage Beauty:

The curator’s video illustrates how powerful this exhibition was to see in person. I can speak to this power. In the crush, I became obsessed with the “McQueen Tartan” pant suit upon first sight (it appears on the far left of the screen at 3:38 in the Romantic Nationalism room) a rare phenomenon I’ve only felt toward fashion a few times prior. I had the simultaneous, visceral feelings upon viewing it that “I would kill for it and wear it every Christmas for the rest of my life”. The divergence in these radical urges that came up in me from viewing a garment, is a testament to the art of seduction and the “dark arts” magic of McQueen. This exhibition is clearly not pretty dresses on mannequins. This is the work of a master tailor at war within himself, subverting his craft, and fashioning (all pun) art from this deep internal conflict.

An example of such inner struggle is the display of Dress No. 13 from McQueen’s 1999 No. 13 Collection. In the finale of this collection’s showing, it was worn by a model/ trained ballerina teetering on a rotating platform while being attacked, i.e. “shot” with paint by two robots, built by Fiat, that took one week to program. The concept was inspired by an installation of the artist Rebecca Horn, and the result, I can assure you, is much more than mere “Pollock couture” (my phrase). I have to think the artists Billy Kluver & Tinguely would have appreciated the “man vs. machine” engineering concept and de-construction of the formerly pristine dress. Have a look:

As is widely known and mourned, the darkness and tension of the runway ultimately peaked in real life with McQueen’s suicide by hanging himself in a wardrobe, in February 2010 at the age of 40, on the eve of his mother’s funeral. Even his death was self-orchestrated performance art complete with metaphor, one could say, though too painful and shocking for the industry he worked within and those close to him, to presume this. His untimely death, a year before the Met show mounted but already well within the planning and curatorial process, then became a ghostly presence in the final exhibition, like a modern-day Macbeth.

McQueen remains one of the rare exceptions in fashion with his work being described in art terms. Both a conceptualist and a formalist, narrative was of the utmost importance to him in his collections, putting him on a par with contemporary artists of note, in my opinion. Also an obsessive blogger, McQueen was ever examining his work and seeking ways to engage the public in his work, as many contemporary and DIY artists do. In 2010, he live-streamed his collection “Plato’s Atlantis” an outlandish array of monumental designs, that left me stunned upon seeing those selected for display at Savage Beauty.

In a tortured irony, with his own surname acting as pun, the House of McQueen posthumously dressed the bride Kate Middleton for the British royal wedding in April 2011, just one month before the opening of Savage Beauty, in which McQueen holds the English to account for their Scottish genocide, through his highly controversial 1995 Highland Rape collection, shown within the exhibition. A maddening dichotomy, befitting a queen, indeed.


Written by Carolyn A. McDonough, April 2014 for the Museum of Modern Art’s online course Catalysts taught by multi-media artist Randall Packer. Revised by the author on March 14, 2015 upon the opening of Savage Beauty at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England.
©CAM All Rights Reserved
CultureArtMedia.com™ & CarolynArtMedia.com™

References and Related Links:

Conversations: McQueen’s Savage Beauty [Andrew Bolton on McQueen’s creative producers]

Designer as Dramatist and the Tales He Left Behind

Alexander McQueen in All His Dark Glory