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Organized Chaos in New York City Art

December 3rd, 2013

What a blessing for New York City. After a one-year hiatus due to a disastorous appearance by Sandy, the New York City Marathon went off without a hitch.

Marathon participants ran #BostonStrong ... no doubt keeping the Boston Marathon in the back of their collective minds. It's amazing that thousands of marathon runners, running through the largest city in the U.S.--with a population of over 8 million people--can finish a race of 26.2 miles, much less do so in an incredibly organized astounding feat of civic planning.

I don't particularly enjoy even driving 26 miles. The fact that so many people not only participate but pay to torture their bodies is in itself perplexing. But what's especially incomprehensible to me is how New York functions without falling into anarchy; it works. If New York is a microcosm of physics, albeit a big one, we are witnessing the laws of the universe in action.

So much chaos. Collection of molecules--people, cars, rats, pigeons--randomly going this way and that, but somehow it's symphonic, an organized movement. Flux in check. This is what has always drawn me to New York City and why I still, after over a half-century of no longer living here, paint New York Cityscape art.

I'm fascinated not only by NYC architecture and urban streetscapes, but also by the organized chaos of the city. Very few cities in the world are this polyglot/multi-ethnic, relatively low-crime, and functional. If you visit my Cityscape gallery I hope you'll see the sense of organized chaos. I don't paint much in the way of the human form, but the high-density collection of skyscrapers and New York skyline buildings, I think, reflect the juxtaposition of the critical mass population density and the organized layout of the city. You can always drop me a line at robert (at) roberthandlerart (dot) com and tell me what you think or recommend some ideas for my next Cityscape art project.

--Robert Handler

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Remembering Sandy One Year Later

December 3rd, 2013

Today is the first full day that Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New York City. The Category 3 Hurricane killed 285 people and was the second-costliest in United States history.

In the current issue of the New York Times Magazine, there’s an article detailing the “low-tech, last-minute” 8 ˝’ x 55’ plywood barrier that kept the New York Harbor at bay, preventing it from denuding an East Harlem tunnel at 148th St. and Lenox.

This simple solution saved the day, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority, allowing almost all commuters to relatively-quickly return to their jobs.

If you live in the Bronx, you can take the above-ground subway, better known as the “El” … as in “elevated”. But most people rely on subterranean subways in the Big Apple. On this first anniversary of Sandy, we should honor the memory of those who died. We should also be thankful that more people didn’t lose their lives.

I have been painting New York cityscape art for almost 20 years now. Subways don’t make the best cityscape canvases, though, subway cars, unfortunately, make for attractive canvases for graffiti artists. Maybe this is why I’ve only, to date, created one cityscape that has a subway. It’s called “The El-The Bronx.”

One of my favorite originals that also somewhat involves a subway is Chelsea. It features a subway map of the downtown neighborhood.

Why, if subways, are such an integral part of the New York cityscape, have I not produced more paintings of them? Perhaps I will in the future. And perhaps buried in my subconscious, Sandy is always lurking. Everything is ephemeral, temporary and vulnerable to destruction. We never imagined that towering skyscrapers would come crashing down, nor could we have predicted that 150 blocks north of downtown, Harlem could be threatened with flooding.

Skyscrapers and buildings have always appealed to me. Growing up in New York, from age 2-18, the urban cityscape still leaves an indelible impression upon me as I enter my seventh decade of life. As I realize the importance of the subway in New Yorkers lives’, perhaps I will create more cityscape scenes of them; a challenge when they are most often underground.

We'll never forget 9/11 nor will we ever forget Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy,New York Cityscape Art,Subway Art,Art Blog,Cityscape Art Blog
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Israeli Landscape Art

December 3rd, 2013

As I write this, I am in Israel. I'm here for a three-week stay. My wife is from Israel. We used to come here every summer along with our two kids. My wife still has family here. But ever since her mother (affectionately known as 'Safta', or Hebrew for grandma) passed away nearly two decades ago, we have only been to Israel a few times.

This is my first time in six years. My wife and I are staying in Tel Aviv, renting an apartment only a couple blocks from the beach. But earlier today, we spent the day in Jerusalem. The Eternal City. For those that have only seen Jerusalem in documentaries, the Old City is everything National Geographic depicts it as, and then some.

The different ethnicities--Arab, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Armenian, and tourists from all over the world--blending seemlessly, negotiating labyrhintine alleys hundreds of years old ... this is why they make TV specials about the Old City ... it is truly special.

But I am especially fixated on Jerusalem's architecture. Perhaps I'll be more inspired to create more three-dimensional landscape art based on the Old City. Currently, I have one painting in my series of Doors and Small Buildings, called Jerusalem Doorway, which is available as a print on my online gallery.

You'll get a sense of the reliance on stone that has been used for millenia in Jerusalem's various structures.

We just happened to be in Jerusalem while approximately one-tenth of Israel's population flocked to the Old City for the funeral of the spiriitual leader of the Sepharadi community. It was utter chaos. But an experience I'll never forget.

Being stuck in traffic--a total standstill--forced me to really take in the architectural gems of the Old City. Who knows when/if I'll ever come back to Jerusalem. Hopefully, I will be back here to take in even more areas of this amazing city.

I'm mostly inspired by cityscapes and urban architecture. Even though Jerusalem is a city, I consider replicas of the Old City landscape art. This is not a hip, modern, vibrant skyline like Tel Aviv. But maybe just maybe I'll start working on more archeological/historical landscapes. Stay tuned....

Israeli art,Jerusalem,Jerusalem architecture and art,landscape art,Robert Handler art
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Inspiration for Cityscape Art

December 3rd, 2013

Some people who have seen my urban landscape/New York Cityscape art have asked me where I get my inspiration. "Is it hallucenogenic drugs?"

No. But some nights, when insomnia kicks in and I'm down in the dungeon of my art studio, I do start to see visions at 3 a.m.

So what is my inspiration? Where do these images that inspire me to create architectural art loosely based on the skyline of New York City come from?

They just appear. Sorry to give an anti-climactic answer, but it's the simple truth. I'll be lieing in bed and a vision of a urban streetscape will just pop into my mind.

It is a bit ironic that cityscapes materialize in my mind, considering that I've lived in rural Baltimore County, Maryland since 1977. I haven't even been to New York in several years.

But considering that my formative years, from age 2 until 18 were spent in Manhattan, I guess New York will never leave me. I don't think I'm a New Yorker through and through (I don't really care for bagels and lox and I'm more of a San Francisco Giants fan than a Yankees fan) but the Big Apple's architectural soul, it's unique juxtaposition of classical and contemporary buildings, greatly appeal to me.

In years past, especially when my mother was alive and still living in New York, I would take my camera with me (clutching it tight; these were not the Halcyon, crime-free days enjoyed under the tenure of Mayor Bloomberg, this was the high-crime era under "How My Doin'?" Ed Koch) and take photos of random city blocks.

When I returned to the relative quiet and safety of my Maryland home, I would use the photos as a rough guide. But rarely, if ever, have I reconstructed a New York skyline with what you might call an impressionist's touch; I like to interpret and re-imagine what I think is America's most unique skyline and add my own touch to it.

I'm baffled that all these decades later, people still buy what I consider banal impressionist paintings of fruit bowls. And what steep money people plunk down on prints of apples, organes, grapes and other staid produce! Why not purchase fake fruit while you're at it? I guess different strokes for different folks.

I try to take a Buddhist approach to my art, at least in terms of sales. I have no attachment to whether I sell lots of prints or not. Still, I would like to be appreciated or acknowledged in some regards, for what I think is a novel form of art: three-dimensional, visionary, architecture/urban landscape art.

I won't think any less of you if you buy a print of fruit sitting in a bowl with dark shadows, but at least spice up your home and art collection with cityscape art. I think my print Duke Ellington Blvd is dynamic; a good introduction to my cityscape art. Hope you enjoy!

cityscape art,New York Cityscapes,New York art,urban art,urban landscape art,architectural art,Robert Handler Art,unique art gifts,New York City skyline,NYC art
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Remembering September 11

December 3rd, 2013

Anniversaries come and anniversaries go.

December 7, 1941, a day that would live in infamy, at least for my generation. It's hard to believe that the attack on Pearl Harbor, in just a few months from now as I write this, will commemorate its 72nd anniversary. As a young child growing up in Manhattan, I remember quite well hearing about Pearl Harbor.

This generation's day of infamy of course is 9/11. And it's now hard to believe that 12 years have gone by.

I created, before September 11, 2001, a few paintings that included the Twin Towers. Even with the erection of the new Freedom Tower at the site of the former Twin Towers, there's still a hole in my heart for what was formerly the most iconic skyscrapers in Manhattan's skyline.

Some might say the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building or Statue of Liberty more than any other skyscraper, defines and solidifies New York City's skyline.

But I always loved the Twin Towers. Of course they did not exist when I was a child, but long after I left New York, moving to Baltimore, whenever I would take the train or bus back into Manhattan, I always looked forward to seeing the Manhattan skyline, with the Twin Towers anchoring it.

Many people can understand the emotions I felt when coming back to Manhattan for the first time after 9/11. I was angry, so angry that the Towers were gone. I couldn't even see, or more accurately, process, the other skyscrapers. In my eyes, they did not exist. I wanted the Towers back. And certainly, those who lost loved ones in the attacks, wanted--and still want--their loved ones back.

I didn't know anybody who perished in the attacks, but to me, the loss of the Twin Towers was such a shock.

I've thought about doing more original, 3D, raised-relief, multi-layered, mixed-media New York cityscape art that includes the Twin Towers. But so far, I haven't. I won't go into a myo-psychological analysis to try and figure out why I haven't, I simply haven't. Life goes on. We move on. There's a new tower. Will I make a cityscape art project that includes the new Freedom Tower? It's hard to say. Rarely do I create literal interpretations of the skyline but more than any other reason, the new Tower ... let's just say I haven't warmed up to it yet. It's like meeting your girlfriend's parents for the first time: sometimes, it can take a while for you to win them over.

And that's how I feel about the new Freedom Tower. It quite hasn't one me over. Maybe I'm still clinging to the past. In any case, I am glad I have created some original cityscape art that includes the Twin Towers. Instead of remembering the Twin Towers merely on the anniversary of their destruction, I can admire them every time I walk into my art studio.

Even if you don't have an art studio and paintings of the Twin Towers, please never forget 9/11 and remember it more than once a year.

9/11 remembrance,9/11 art,New York art,New York cityscape art,skyscrapers,New York City skyscraper art,urban landscape art

New Cityscape Website Specializes in New York Urban Landscapes

December 3rd, 2013

New York City-raised Robert Handler specializes in cityscape art. Some call it urban landscape art, others might refer to it as architectual art. Whatever label comes to your mind, there's no denying that Robert's art is nearly without equal. There are very few artists, if any, who blend architectural art with visionary elements.

Several of Robert's original creations are 4' x 6'. Though none of them are exact replicas of the New York City skyline--he prefers using his imagination; he'll leave literal interpretations to commercial enterprises--Robert nonetheless painstakingly imagines and recreates skyscrapers and their dozens of miniature windows. He also creates smaller buildings that are equally prevalent in the New York urban landscape: tenement buildings.

Water towers, fire escapes, rooftop gardens, and other landscape design nuggets are used. Robert's arsenal is mixed-media knick-knacks. He doesn't like to divulge exactly what materials he uses, though one could suspect that if he did divulge, few would try to replicate his cityscape art.

Not only does Robert masterfully recreate--or more accurately, re-imagine--New York Cityscape Art, he also has painted an extensive collection of Victorian architecture, specifically mansions, in Montreal. Robert has also painted imaginative and non-literal skylines of other cities. He's also painted landscapes of the American West.

For impressionistic art collectors, Robert's print collection of Doors, Windows and Small Buildings make for a unique art gift or a welcome addition to any art collection.

Genius is a term that many people attribute to talented artists. How is a genius measured or vetted? Is Robert an artistic genius? That's up to the individual, of course, but to see his original cityscapes in 3D, some of them 12 layers deep, the genius distinction might not be a stretch. Even if you can't buy an original cityscape painting from Robert Handler, his print collection will be a warm addition to your home or office.

Walk-through for Upcoming Art Show

September 24th, 2012

Walk-through for Upcoming Art Show

Tonight at Luckie's Tavern at the Power Plant in downtown Baltimore, I'm doing a walk-through to scope the place out for the Oct. 4 show. It's a good idea for artists to always scout out the scene beforehand, whether it's a street-fair or fine-art gallery. Getting a vision beforehand (several days before the event) of how you want your display to look is key to having a good show. Doing so several days in advance will allow for enough creative juices to flow; inspiration will come at ease, not in a desperate rush.