A New York Reading List for the 2017 College Art Association Conference

UC Press is exhibiting at the College Art Association Conference February 15–18 in New York, and we can’t wait to see you there! Be sure to stop by booth #605 for discount details on all UC Press art books and follow @educatedarts, @collegeart, and the hashtag #CAA2017 for meeting news—including an upcoming series of author posts.

As we get ready for the conference, we’ve rounded up some suggested advance reading for art and music aficionados, whether you’re going to the conference or just heading to the Big Apple in spirit. To save 30% now, use discount code 16W6596 for the following titles (enter code at checkout).

Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

“The maps themselves are things of beauty.”—New York Times 

Twenty-six gorgeously rendered maps and informative essays chart New York city’s hidden histories in the final volume of Rebecca Solnit’s trilogy of atlases. Bringing together the insights of dozens of experts—from linguists to music historians, ethnographers, urbanists, and environmental journalists—amplified by cartographers, artists, and photographers, the book explores all five boroughs of New York City and parts of nearby New Jersey, celebrating the region’s incubation of the avant-garde and its literary history, while also critiquing its racial and economic inequality, environmental impact, and erasure of its past. Check out our previous blog posts on the atlas and follow @nonstopatlas on Twitter for more peeks inside the book.

Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s by Michael C. Heller

“A vital chapter in downtown history . . . a study long overdue.”—Village Voice

The New York loft jazz scene of the 1970s was a pivotal period for uncompromising, artist-produced work. Faced with a flagging jazz economy, a group of young avant-garde improvisers chose to eschew the commercial sphere and develop alternative venues in the abandoned factories and warehouses of Lower Manhattan. Loft Jazz provides the first book-length study of this period, tracing its history amid a series of overlapping discourses surrounding collectivism, urban renewal, experimentalist aesthetics, underground archives, and the radical politics of self-determination. Learn more about the movement and the book in this Village Voice article.

Drawing the Line: The Early Work of Agnes Martin by Christina Bryan Rosenberger

If your interest was piqued by the recent Agnes Martin exhibition at the Guggenheim, then this revelatory study of the artist’s early works is just what you need. Beginning with Martin’s initiation into artistic language at the University of New Mexico and concluding with the reception of her grid paintings in New York in the early 1960s, author Christina Bryan Rosenberger offers vivid descriptions of the networks of art, artists, and information that moved between New Mexico and the creative centers of New York and California in the postwar period.

Consuming Stories: Kara Walker and the Imagining of American Race by Rebecca Peabody

New York-based artist Kara Walker is well known for her site-specific pieces around the city—”A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby” at the former Domino Sugar compound and her mural, “Event Horizon,” at the New School, among others. In this in-depth study, Rebecca Peabody delves deep into Walker’s brilliant and provocative art and her engagement with literary genres such as the romance novel, the neo-slave narrative, and the fairy tale to how Walker uses her tools and strategies to unsettle cultural histories  and examine assumptions about race, gender, power, and desire.

Bach in the Subway: New York Does It Better, by Lawrence Kramer

Occasionally, UC Press has the opportunity to bring you brief articles written by our authors. The following is by prolific author, Lawrence Kramer, whose newest book is Why Classical Music Still Matters:

“Whenever classical music makes news these days the news is likely to be bad. So it was with a recent Washington Post article by Gene Weingarten. Weingarten persuaded Joshua Bell, a world-class violinist, to take his world-class Stradivarius into a Washington Metro station and play Bach for spare change. The outcome? Of over a thousand people who walked through the station, only seven paid any attention. The world seemed literally to be passing this great music by. Not even a great performer could get it a hearing.

The story interested me because the concluding chapter of my new book, Why Classical Music Still Matters, centers on a similar incident I witnessed in the New York subway. The violinist, a young woman, probably a music student, was playing an Adagio from a Bach solo sonata. But unlike Bell, she captured the attention of the passersby, who not only ringed her to listen but also applauded when she was finished. This was hardly typical behavior under Times Square. It got me thinking about how and why it happened and what it said about the music. The results are in the book. But given Joshua Bell’s experience, one has to wonder: Why was Bach a hit in New York and a bust in Washington? Why did a good violinist succeed where a great one failed? One explanation is that Bell was badly placed. He was playing-and at rush hour–near both a kiosk with a brisk Lotto trade and an escalator, both sites of purposeful action that stopping to listen to music, any music, would disrupt. The New York violinist was on the train platform, where the only real action is waiting. Hearing Bach there is unusual but it is no disruption. The platform gives the music a chance to be heard, despite the rumble of passing trains. And when one person turns to listen, others follow until an audience assembles—which was exactly what happened. If that first listener had never materialized, the New York violinist might have shared Bell’s disappointment. Both incidents involve an element of happenstance. But the contrast of outcomes argues against overreacting to the Washington flop. In New York Bach’s music got heard and it moved its hearers. This music still mattered—and proved it.”