Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’


Photo: Cruise Critic
A Park West art auction in the Star Lounge on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas.

My family went on a cruise only once (1990, New York to Bermuda), so in terms of special features, we know about Broadway-type entertainments, and that’s it. “Let’s give a warm welcome to the Royal Viking singers and dancers, Everyone!”

But cruise lines keep trying to outdo each other in offerings. One couple I know chooses their trip based on what chamber music group will be playing. And if you are into fine art or auctions, there’s a cruise for you, too.

Of course, you’re not going to pick up something valuable for cheap.

Sarah Cascone writes at Artnet, “I was lounging poolside, cocktail in hand, when I heard the announcement. The grand finale art auction was about to start.

“It was a weekend cruise from Miami to the Bahamas aboard Royal Caribbean’s recently refurbished Navigator of the Seas. … As I entered the event, hosted by cruise-ship auctioneer Park West Gallery, I bypassed the registration table, heading straight for the auction floor, where a waiter was handing out glasses of sparkling white wine.

“From the start, it was clear that this was no regular art auction. After a brief spiel encouraging folks to buy art as a legacy to leave to their children, the auctioneer, Robert Borotescu, got down to business.

‘I don’t know if you’ve seen Oprah,’ he said. ‘We have some surprises under the chairs.’

“Cue a frenzy as the few guests in the room rushed to upturn every seat cushion. There were no car keys to be found, but there were $100 certificates for discounts on winning bids.

“Borotescu, a dark-haired Romanian man in his mid-to-late 30s, endeared himself toward the crowd by offering additional raffle tickets for $100 credits throughout the auction. … With his pleasantly urbane accent, Borotescu set his audience at ease, acknowledging that they probably never had the time to visit art museums and galleries. But they were here now, and it was his job to make sure that they went home with something they absolutely loved. …

“Borotescu told us that [Park West] operates on 100 cruise ships, and claimed that the art aboard the Navigator of the Seas alone was worth $3 million. Representing some 200 artists, the company holds 1,200 auctions every month. …

“Unlike most art world organizations, Park West seems to hire employees with largely non-art backgrounds. Borotescu’s LinkedIn lists six years in fine jewelry and watch sales at Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy before joining the company. A quick perusal of resumes of other auctioneers and art directors at the company yields unconventional experience in HVAC, used car sales, fitness instruction, and Royal Caribbean’s beverage team, to list just a few. …

“Park West specializes in what it calls ‘graphic works’: Mass-produced reproductions of original paintings, signed by the artist and released in limited editions. Some are giclée prints — a fancy term for high-quality inkjet prints. Other pieces might look like paintings, but these more expensive offerings are often merely hand-embellished, with brushstrokes layered over a printed image to give it a more ‘authentic’ feel. …

“ [The auctioneer] said: ‘If we look at the Oxford Dictionary of Art, every single artwork that can be traced back to the artist, or was created under the artist’s supervision, is considered to be an original work of art.’ …

“Most of the time, you won’t even take home the exact work you’re bidding on. Park West will ship you a functionally identical copy from its warehouse, rather than going through the trouble of turning over the on-board stock, according to Bloomberg Business. …

“The bidding kicked off with a piece by Peter Max, a well-known Pop artist who met Scaglione, Park West’s founder, back in the late 1960s, and has been represented by him ever since. …

“ ‘This is one of the gems we have on the Navigator of the Seas,’ Borotescu told the crowd, claiming that the ‘printed painting on canvas’ was valued at $23,500, but that he could start the bidding at $20,000. Less than 30 seconds later, the work was sold for $20,700.

“Max has decades of experience exhibiting at international museums. The highest auction record for a work of his is $53,125, according to the artnet Price Database. … Other artists on offer had decidedly less impressive CVs. Borotescu proudly proclaimed that Park West is the only gallery to represent David ‘Lebo’ Le Batard, noting that the artist is known for his paintings of cats and owls. …

“Every attendee was encouraged to enter a free raffle to take home a massive, unframed Thomas Kinkade [your blogger comments, ‘Ugh!’]. … One gimmick in particular stood out: A pair of works presented turned away from the audience, and sold as one lot, without any idea of what they looked like. ‘They are going to be two of the most gorgeous works of art that anyone has ever seen,’ Borotescu promised the audience. ‘Once you turn it around, if it’s something you don’t like, you don’t have to keep it.’ …

“And then there was Tweety.

“Borotescu never named the artist responsible for designing the tiny print, relying on the Looney Toons character’s name recognition … Supposedly, the artwork, which was just a couple inches high and therefore impossible to see from across the room, was valued at $549.

“ ‘Let’s have some fun,’ Borotescu suggested, asking everyone in the room to hold up their bid card. He opened the bidding at just $20. Two thirds of the crowd dropped out when he raised the price to $40, and suddenly the auctioneer slammed down the hammer, selling the cartoon bird to a handful of guests.”

More here, where you can also read about the latest confusion surrounding works by Peter Max, one of the featured artists.

I think if you didn’t take it too seriously, an onboard art auction would be fun. Gimmicks such as surprises under the chairs somehow make me think of a kid’s birthday party. The whole experience seems to play to the child worldview that is buried but available for anyone to tap in adulthood.

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The website “The Dodo: For the Love of Animals” recently posted about a man who built a little choo-choo train to give dogs rides.

Stephen Messenger writes, “Eugene Bostick may have officially retired about 15 years ago, but in some ways that was when his most impactful work began. Not long after, he embarked on a new career path of sorts — as a train conductor for rescued stray dogs. …

“Over the years, Bostick has taken in countless abandoned dogs. But more than just keeping them safe, he’s found an adorable way to keep them happy, too.

“While the rescued dogs have plenty of room to run and play on Bostick’s farm, the retiree thought it would nice to be able to take them on little trips to other places as well. That’s about the time he was inspired to build a canine-specific form of transportation just for them.

” ‘One day I was out and I seen this guy with a tractor who attached these carts to pull rocks. I thought, “Dang, that would do for a dog train,” ‘said Bostick. ‘I’m a pretty good welder, so I took these plastic barrels with holes cut in them, and put wheels under them and tied them together.’ And with that, the dog train was born. …

“The dog train has come to attract a fair share of attention among locals who occasionally stop to ask if they can take a few pictures. But for Bostick, it’s all about bringing a bit of joy to a handful of dogs who had been through so much before finding themselves as his cheerful passengers.”

Bostick tells Messenger, “Whenever they hear me hooking the tractor up to it, man, they get so excited, they all come running and jump in on their own. They’re ready to go.”


Photo: Tiffany Johnson/Facebook

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I heard something fun at the radio show “On the Media” this morning.

“The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation has been creating some of the world’s slowest TV — shows like a 7 hour train ride or 18 hours of salmon fishing. Norwegian audiences are loving it. Brooke [Gladstone] speaks with Rune Moklebust of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation about why he thinks so-called ‘boring TV’ is actually quite exciting.” Listen to the show here.

In case you want more detail, the Wall Street Journal covers the story, too.

WSJ reporter Ellen Emmerentze Jervell writes, “Executives at Norway’s biggest television company, the NRK national broadcasting service, have work on their hands trying to figure out how to extend a recent string of broadcast hits that have drawn millions of viewers in this small Scandinavian nation to their TVs for many hours at a time.

“One idea currently on the table is to launch a live show in which experts knit while spectators sit in their living rooms eagerly awaiting the next stitch.

“Another scheme is to produce a 24-hour-long program following construction workers building a digital-style clock out of wood, shuffling planks to match each passing minute.

“When the time changes from 09:45 to 09:46, the crew turns the ‘5’ into a ‘6.’ When the clock strikes 10:00, the job is tougher as each digit needs to be reconfigured.

” ‘That part of the show will actually be really exciting,’ says Rune Moklebust.” More at the WSJ, here.

Erik, someone needs to ask Svein if he (or the baby) has been watching. Apparently slow TV is soothing and meditative. I guess Norwegians need that as much as anyone else.

Nov. 9, 2013 update: Watching knitting.

Photo: Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation

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Speaking of theater, here’s a new one on me.

According to Edward Rothstein in the NY Times, “Passengers on ‘The Ride’ — a tour bus with floor-to-ceiling windows and nightclub-style audio — tool through Manhattan, encountering such (pre-arranged) sights as a businessman breaking into tap dance, a juggler tossing hot dogs, and a ballerina in a glowing tutu dancing around Columbus Circle.” Read more.

I’d love to look out a bus window and see a businessman breaking into a tap dance. Years ago, I knew a tap dance teacher who wanted to organize groups of “shoppers” who could suddenly break into choreographed tap routines up and down supermarket aisles. Am still looking for them.

I do have to wonder what NYC tourists expect to see when they look out bus windows. An artsy guy, my brother’s classmate, was walking down the street in Greenwich Village minding his own business one day in the sixties when someone leaned out of a bus and called, “There’s one of them now!” One of what? he wondered.

Whatever you’re looking for in New York, you can probably find it. All you have to do is believe.

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