Nestled on 500 acres in the lower Hudson Valley of New York state lies (lay?) the undulating hills of Storm King Mountain, where a majestic open-air museum sits in Mountainville. For fifty years, this unassuming treasure has been celebrated as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks.
Filled with woodlands, wildflowers and lush, native meadow grasses like switchgrass, bluestem, purple top tridens, Canadian wild rye, and sideoats grama grass. The grass, hearkening back to landscapes of the Romantic Hudson River School is such an integral part of Storm King that a “tall grass program” has been implemented for over nineteen years by landscape architects.
Storm King Art Center’s distinguished collection comprises more than 100 sculptures by some of the most acclaimed artists of our era such as Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, Louise Bourgeois, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik and more. Works at Storm King encompass the years from post-World War II to the present. It obvious that the curators focused on large-scale abstract sculpture. Towering in the meadows, almost looming behind leaves, stand steel anaglyphs, different from all angles, and giant mechanical simulacra like faux oil rigs across Texas. The collection also includes figurative work and sculpture in stone and earth itself.
A strange sort of time travel occurs when leaving NYC and traveling north. One passes the remnants of colonial America, its first battlegrounds, Fort Montgomery, tollroads on cliff-sides. One arrives at the park and encounters sculptures like extraterrestrials trying to communicate their nature through objects, or like ruins from an ancient civilization whose language we have lost.
Although Storm King was originally envisioned as a museum devoted to Hudson River School, by 1961 its founders had become committed to modern sculpture, and whatever the evolution of that terms mean. Every work is situated with consideration of both its immediate surroundings and distant views, as if the artwork was meant to be one with the land all along.
The Royal Tenebaums directed by Wes Anderson and co-written by Owen Wilson follows the lives of three gifted siblings who experience great success in youth, and even greater disappointment and failure after their eccentric father leaves them in their adolescent years. An ironic, sardonic, and absurdist sense of humor pervades the film.
The house used in the film is located near Sugar Hill in the Hamilton Heights section of Harlem in Manhattan, New York City. The address is 336 Convent Avenue. If you want to visit, you can take the A, B, C, or D to the 145th Street stop or the 1 to the 145th Street stop. This is a private residence so do not camp out or re-enact scenes. Wes Anderson explains, “Though we never call it New York in the film, I was looking for a certain feeling of living in New York, not the real New York, more a New York of the imagination”. Although the exteriors were largely shot in New York, Wes Anderson intentionally avoided virtually all shots of skyscrapers or other distinctive New York landmarks.
The sense of the formalized, fairy tale city is reflected in the screenplay by the faux-New York neighborhoods, unmarked gypsy cabs and various simulated landmarks: Archer Avenue, Mockingbird Heights, Public Archives, the 375th Street, the Irving Island Ferry, 22nd Avenue Express, and Green line Bus (none of which ACTUALLY exist on the isle of Manhattan). Thank you to Mooviees for Production Notes!
Here is a photo of the house:
“It was apparent that the house was one of the characters in the movie,” notes production designer David Wasco.
The african and tribally inspired room of Margot Tenebabum is filled with mock Baule (Baoule) Masks. The Baule People are from the Ivory Coast of Africa. The mask on the lower left hand side of the above image is a type of Baule mask is known as a Goli mask. It is used in dances during harvest festivals, in processions to honor distinguished visitors, and at the funerals of important figures. The circular face represents the life-giving force of the sun and the horns symbolise the great power of the buffalo. Directly above Margot and to her right is a type of mask known as a Dan mask. These are used for protection and as a conduit for communication in the spirit world. If you want to explore what the other shapes of the masks mean, visit HERE.
ALSO, can we talk about that wallpaper? The pattern dates to 1940’s when Chef Gino Circiello decided to open “Gino’s” – an Italian restaurant at 780 Lexington Avenue in New York and he was looking for a decorating theme for his new eatery. According to The New York Times, “Mr. Circiello was a hunter without the means to pay for an African safari, but he reasoned that he could at least afford zebras on his wallpaper.” The restaurant closed in 2010 but will always be remembered for its contributions to the design world – the Franco Scalamandre wallpaper!
Eric Anderson, the director’s brother and a gifted artist and illustrator, was another important contributor to the film. He painted all of Richie’s artwork, including seventeen portraits of Margot, which hang in the family ballroom.
Native American Chief Paintings are clearly by George Catlin. Buy some posters HERE. Also, I secretly love the idea of decorating with a full-size medical skeleton. Skulls have been really in lately (as paperweights, and as small repetitive prints), but lets take this a step further and do all 206 bones.
The paintings in Eli’s apartment are by Mexican artist Miguel Calderón. The images were part of the artist’s 1998 exhibit “Aggressively Mediocre/Mentally Challenged/Fantasy Island (circle one)”, though they were not actually painted by him. Calderón took photographs of his friends posed on motorcycles and, after deciding the photographs were not realistic, hired a portrait painter to reproduce them on canvas.I actually have a print in my guest room that has a very similar oeuvre by an artist who also works in the ideals of Hispanic culture and the Chicano movement. Interesting that each Tenenbaum child seems entrenched in a culture that is not his/her own.
The board game closet, complete with mouse.
Vintage magazine, vintage board games, vintage lamps, and delicate teacups.
Clearly this burnt red ochre is echoed throughout the film – in the stained glass, in clothing, in the lamplight. Also, a vintage damask couch is ALWAYS a wonderful addition.
I remember my first love. It was a summer in the 1960’s. I was on holiday. We met in the Catskills. He was a tough, misunderstood, ne’er-do-well dance instructor with great hair. I was a naive, privileged, daddy’s girl who wanted to take a walk on the wild side. Wait, Wait, Wait, that wasn’t me. That was Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) in Dirty Dancing. I have watched this movie an uncountable and incalculable number of times – case in point – I used to have “CRAZY FOR SWAYZE” sleepover nights with girlfriends.
Keep Calm and Carry a Watermelon (Screencaps Here).
Dirty Dancing is meant to capture a time in American history before families vacationed at Disney World or took International Cruises, before people were heading to the Bahamas or Cancun, families wholesomely vacationed in New York’s Catskill Mountains. From the 1920’s until the 1960’s, families often traveled to now mostly defunct summer camps – colloquially termed “Jewish Alps” or the “Borscht Belt”. The movie is scripted to take place during the decline of these camps and the onslaught of commercial airline travel. Well-known resorts of the area included Brickman’s, Brown’s, The Concord, Friar Tuck Inn, Gibber’s, Gilbert’s, Grossinger’s, Granit, the Heiden Hotel, Irvington, Kutsher’s Hotel and Country Club, the Nevele, The Laurels Hotel and Country Club, and The Pines Resort.
c. 1940s postcard of the Pine Tree Villa, a primarily Jewish resort at Kiamesha Lake, New York in the Borscht Belt of the Catskill Mountains! Finely detailed image, showing layout of many of the resort’s buildings, including the casino and tennis courts to the left. Was run by Greenberg & Son. The unused postcard can be purchased HERE.
GROSSINGER’S: The resort’s huge pool in the 1950s (Here).
The indoor and outdoor pool at GROSSINGER’S, dilapidated and in disrepair as of 2008 (Here).
My mom remembers a time when she used to visit these summer camps! She told me that such comedic legends at Woody Allen, Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield, Carl Reiner, George Burns, Mel Brooks, Fanny Brice, Bea Arthur and Joan Rivers got their start at these hotel resorts. Amazing actresses and entertainers such as Carole King, Shari Lewis, Mel Torme, Barbara Streisand, and Joel Grey also performed yearly at the establishments. These establishments were also some of the only places wherein African American performers were allowed to frequent (before Civil Rights) and was referred to as “The Chitlin Circuit”. The Supremes, Duke Ellington, The Four Tops, Etta James, Cab Calloway, and Smokey Robinson are some of the famous acts who frequented east coast resort towns. Clearly the performance halls and boarding houses nestled in the counties of Upstate New York have had an everlasting effect on the landscape of entertainment. However, has anyone yearned for the decor of this time period?