Sunday, August 21, 2011

"100,000 Dollar Bills" by Hans-Peter Feldmann

Hans-Peter Feldmann, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
How much is $100,000? What exactly does it look like? Have you ever seen $100,000 all at once? What is the scent of American currency? What would you do with  $100,000 if you were an artist and that was your prize money? Well, Hans-Peter Feldmann answers all those questions and more in the current installation at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC.

Hans-Peter Feldmann, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
There are so many things that could be said about this exhibit, from the quality that the pre-circulated currency conveys, an everyday and all to familiar object touched by the hand of the common person and now elevated to new heights when presented as fine art, to the pattern the material makes when covering all the walls and columns of a sizable gallery, to the feeling of tranquility one encounters when entering this sanctuary to the green back dollar.

Hans-Peter Feldmann, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
Repetition is a powerful hypnotic in and of itself, and when combined with the aphrodisiacal properties inherent in cold, hard, cash, words falter to describe the energy present in this exuberant installation. Hans-Peter Feldmann is know in the art world for taking the mundane and everyday, and transforming it into political and artistic statements. A wallpapered room of singles is the perfect medium to achieve his artistic and aesthetic goals.
Hans-Peter Feldmann, Guggenheim, NYC, 2011.
Then again, it brings me back to my reoccurring questions: What is the value of art? What is art worth? And is it worth more or less depending on the material it is created from?  Those questions, I will allow you to ponder. What I can say is that entering the space, a feeling of wealth rushed over me. As I made my way around the room in a meditative state, I absorbed the energy emanating from the high walls and columns. I breathed in the distinct scent of the familiar dollar bill and let the magic wash over me. My date for the evening, Adrina, and I both felt a personal and financial blessing from the experience. (Hopefully I will be much wealthier the next time you hear from me!)

Alton DuLaney, Guggenheim Museum, NYC, 2011.
And the good news is, for the artist at least, when the exhibit comes down, all 100,000 dollar bills go back to his bank account, compliments of Hugo Boss, who funded the prize and exhibit.

For more on the exhibit see the Guggenheim website:

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Wine Wrap"

Wine Wrap by Alton DuLaney.
I enjoy beautiful things from lowbrow to highbrow, from cute to couture. So when I recently took a bottle of wine to a house-warming party, I came up with the Wine Wrap using wine glasses as a gift embellishment. This is great for a house warming gift or a hot date. You are sure to impress with this easy and attractive wrap - the rest of the evening is up to you!

Materials needed for Wine Wrap.
First, get your materials together.
You will need:
-bottle of wine
-two wine glasses
-wrapping paper
-tissue paper
-cello paper
-wire-edged ribbon
-Scotch Pop Up Tape

TIP: A cold bottle of wine is a great thing to bring to a party, but the condensation from the bottle can damage your wrapping paper. By wrapping the bottle in layers, including a layer of cello, you create a moisture barrier so your wrap will look great to the eye and be cold to the hand! Plus the layers makes the opening more of a process and builds the anticipation.
Step 1 of Wine Wrap.
1st: Roll the bottle in a sheet of tissue paper of your choice, with the edge of the tissue going just to the bottom of the bottle. (Don't have it overlap the bottom of the bottle as this only creates extra bulk which you don't need.)

Step 2 of Wine Wrap.
 2nd: Next roll the bottle in cello, this time leaving enough overlap to just cover the bottom of the bottle. This is your moisture barrier. If you are wrapping an un-chilled bottle, you can skip this step.

Step 3 of Wine Wrap.
3rd: Next roll the bottle in your wrapping paper of choice, allowing some of the tissue to stick out of the top, and allowing about a 1 inch overlap on the bottom.

Step 4 of Wine Wrap.
4th. Fold over the bottom overlap in small sections to completely cover the bottom of the bottle. Apply a piece of Scotch Pop Up Tape to hold it all in place. Add a piece of Scotch Pop Up Tape along the side seam if needed for extra security.

TOOLS: I like to use the Scotch Pop Up tape because it comes with a wrist band, so my tape is always handy. Also, the pre-cut strips make it easy to use and apply.

Step 5 of Wine Wrap.
5th: Wrap a wire-edged ribbon around the neck of the bottle and tie a very secure half-knot. Make sure the half-knot is very tight to avoid slippage.
Step 6 in Wine Wrap.
6th: Cross two wine glasses in an X formation across the neck of the bottle, on top of the half-knot.
Step 7 in Wine Wrap.
7th: Tie an additional tight half-knot on top of the wine glass stems, and then finish your bow.

TREND: Adding a little extra something, like the two wine classes, as a gift attachment turns any bottle into a gift kit. I call it putting the present in presentation, as it adds an additional gift to the package.

You can take this concept and run with it. If its sparkling add champagne glasses, if its gin add martini glasses, etc.

When giving a bottle of vodka, I like to tie on a bottle of Tabasco sauce, which I call the Bloody Mary Gift Wrap!  By the way, in case you haven't noticed, I like to give AND receive booze!
Bloody Mary Wrap by Alton DuLaney.
For more great gift wrap ideas check out my course on

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Hotel Chelsea"

Sign on door of Hotel Chelsea, NYC, August 2011.
Word came at the beginning of August that the Hotel Chelsea, (Or Chelsea Hotel, or simply The Chelsea) would no longer be receiving guests. The doors to the infamous hotel had finally closed after well over 100 years of operation. Located at 222 West 23rd Street in the vibrant neighborhood of Chelsea, (just a block from my apartment!), the hotel had been a haven for artists, poets, musicians, writers and other creatives since the 1960's. Although most of the long-term residents are still inhabiting their homes, the closing finalizes the end of an arts-era in NYC.

Hotel Chelsea, NYC.
The 12-story building, with its wrought-iron balconies, and iconic neon sign, has long been a fixture in the neighborhood. The list of notables who have passed through its doors, and the history, artistic and otherwise, which has unfolded there, is a long and sordid tale. The facade framing the main entrance is littered with bronze plaques memorializing the boldface names, from Arthur C. Clarke (who reportedly wrote "A Space Odyssey" here) to Dylan Thomas. Other writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Virgil Thomas,  Charles Bukowski, Tennessee Williams, and Patti Smith, who's book "Just Kids" chronicles her time spent at the Chelsea with Robert Mapplethorpe,  all resided there at one point or another.

The lobby and the hallways are virtual galleries dedicated to the visual artists, whose numbers are too long to list,  who have stayed there, often bartering their work for rent with the long-term hotel manager Stanley Bard. Among others, Andy Warhol and his Superstars, frequented the hotel.

Alton DuLaney at Hotel Chelsea, NYC, 2011.
And while art filled the walls, music certainly filled the air from guests and residents such as Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Iggy Pop, the aforementioned Patti Smith, none other than Madonna, and of course, perhaps the most scandalous, Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen.
Hotel Chelsea, NYC, 2011.
The rowdy punk-rock couple of Sid and Nancy checked into room 100 in October 1978, and, well, Nancy never checked out. She was found stabbed to death on the hotel bathroom floor. But Nancy wasn't the only guest to end their story at the Chelsea, the fashion designer Charles James died there from pneumonia, and Dylan Thomas was rushed from his room, dying at a nearby hospital upon arrival. Additionally, more than one drug-addled or lovelorn soul is documented to have leaped from its gabbled roofs and ornate balconies, or overdosed behind the closed doors of its rooms. The halls seemed filled with the ghosts of these guests, and of the rich, sometime painful history that lived and died there.
Alton DuLaney, Chelsea Hotel, NYC, January 2011.
Luckily, I can say that I have experienced the Chelsea many times over the years. I have eaten at its authentic restaurant, El Quixote,  partied in its bar, and hung out in its rooms. I have had the opportunity to explore the building, marveling at the architecture, the art, and the pure eccentricity of the establishment.

The building, first opened in 1884 as one of the first residential co-ops in NYC, the tallest building in the city until 1899, and which transitioned into a hotel in 1905, was recently sold. Rumor is that it will re-opened after remodeling (and re-branding). Of course the locals are already bemoaning the loss of the cultural landmark, and decrying the end of an era. And of course this is the way that these things work. The zeitgeist happens and then moves on.

But the story of the Hotel Chelsea will not end here. It lives on in songs and poems and photographs and films and memories. It will always be a part of art and history, just like NYC itself.

Alton DuLaney, Hotel Chelsea, NYC, 2011.