The First Home of the Whitney Museum of American Art


The concept of the Whitney Museum was birthed by a woman by the name of Gertrude Vanderbilt, aunt and adoptive mother of Gloria Vanderbilt who is the mother of Anderson Cooper. She was born into fame on January 9, 1875. With her lavish life, she financially wanted for nothing. But as she grew, she fell in love for the first time; with art. She loved sculptures and began to make her own. But a woman sculpting three-dimensional human figures was a radical concept in that era. Regardless of popular conception she studied at the Art Students League of New York, which was a prominent school for artists, in order to further develop her sculptural technique.

She married her Husband, Harry Whitney, on August 25, 1896. She was only 21 years old at the time. She wanted to marry someone that came from a wealthy family since that was the only way she would be certain that her spouse was not only in the relationship for her money. Harry Whitney was a descendant to Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin. He was also a lawyer, horse-breeder, and heir to his family’s estate. The Whitney’s eventually had three children, biologically, within their time together until he unfortunately died in 1930; he was only 58 years old.

In 1914 the Whitney’s bought a studio which now resides in Greenwich Village. She, along with other artists, worked on their art and lived within those walls. The Rowhouses were built in the year of 1838 and then renovated into one big studio/residence by Auguste L. Noel. They commissioned him to merge three town-homes into one, giving respective spaces to each artist. In 1918 they also commissioned Robert Winthrop Chanler to redesign the interior of the building. He was responsible for a very artistic approach to a studio that had stained glass adorning the windows, a fireplace that was blazoned with bronze wispy flames that crept 20 feet up the wall touching the ceiling which was filled with mystical characters. It was a part of the Greenwich Village Historic District which was established in 1969 and it was later acknowledged as a National Historical Landmark in 1992 which ultimately saved it from being demolished.

The Whitney Museum moved four times in the concept’s lifetime, consecutively outgrowing itself. Tune in next week to see the next home that housed this beautiful and innovative idea of Art.

The ceiling in one of the studios. One can see deer and other creatures in this photograph.

A fireplace sculpted to resemble fire. The twirls and fury of the flames creep all the way up the chimney and extinguishes onto the ceiling.

The art selection is from the later works of artist, Wilbur Niewald.

Virtues from Motherhood: My work with the FYLC and OpenLab

On March 3rd I attended the second of three workshops with the FYLC, this one about using the OpenLab as a tool in the classroom. The discussion ranged from technical to academic concerns, all while trying to bridge the gap between high school and college. At the last workshop the focus was the struggles incoming college students deal with but this time the focus shifted to how to get them involved and engaged in the classrooms. With me at this workshop were the some of the masterminds here at The Buzz, Jill Belli and Phil Kreniske, who helped the audience of professors and faculty, understand the benefits and best practices surrounding the OpenLab.

My portion of this workshop was centered around my use of the OpenLab, how it’s benefited me as a student and peer mentor and how professors can better use the OL to get students excited and engaged with the work. I use the OL for many tasks on campus, like right now as a blogger, but I also use it as a peer mentor to orchestrate and update the FYLC page and of course in my own courses. I love the OL and I love the uniqueness and open concept it represents, versus blackboard which is gray in more than one sense of the word. The OpenLab gives students control, a say in essence, that they don’t otherwise have with academic websites and that makes a world of difference for a student.

As a college student I’ve seen multiple websites and hosts for academia but the OL has got to be my favorite because it in a sense reminds me of a social media platform. It’s colorful and it’s easy to access and connect to my other go to apps. Students are already online, on their phones, so why not make a platform that works seamlessly with a students lifestyle because don’t forget the millennial era student has a much larger digital footprint than previous generations.

The Edible Artform

representation of a pendulum by way of macarons

Image by: Matteo Stucchi

Baking is an artform, one that is never truly appreciated. The truth is that art is so subjective in that it can take place through many havens such as buildings, music, and paintings. But I find that the most talented of masterpieces are those that are edible and perhaps I am biased in the fact that I want to be a pastry chef. Still, to create the best desserts takes dedication, precision, and intricacy. It all begins with the simplest of ingredients such as sugar, flour, eggs and other items that are incorporated in such a way that it creates the delicate, rich, and delicious desserts. Pastry involves a certain elocution that culinary does not necessarily have in which you must follow every single instruction in the recipe in order to create the best product whereas in the culinary world, there is always room for adjustments and the addition of originality in terms of flavor concepts.

representation of construction workers placing pie dough on a pie

Image by: Matteo Stucchi

If even a single measurement or the temperature of the oven is incorrect, the entire baked item will be ruined. The pastry world is complex in that it requires a lot of patience and articulation to successfully create the most complicated desserts. The techniques that are often utilized convey the true talent that is paired with this artform. For instance, the technique of tempering is used when trying to incorporate eggs into a hot liquid usually milk. Tempering must be used in order to prevent the eggs from curdling or becoming scrambled into the liquid. Instead of adding the eggs all at once which will quickly cook the eggs, the hot liquid is slowly adding into the egg mixture in small portions to gradually incorporated the heat into the eggs so it won’t cook them when the egg mixture is heated enough the egg mixture is then added fully into the hot liquids to finish the cooking process. This is just one of the many techniques that is constantly used in the pastry world to make custards, pastry cream, pudding, or Crème Anglaise which is used as an ice cream base.

representation of a snow hill by way of meringues

Image by: Matteo Stucchi

Matteo Stucchi, a pastry chef from Sulbiate, Italy who is currently working at a catering company, enjoys making beautifully designed art with the addition of delicious pastries. He creates miniature worlds that are constructed with pastries as well as the use of toys to allow these worlds to look like a realistic scene. His goal is to show that food itself is artistic and should be viewed in that way. He feels that when food is suggested as being an art, it is only in culinary practices not confectionary so he is utilizing his Instagram platform to convey that pastries can be artistic as well just as anything else in the confectionary world.

Canarsie Pier

My family wasn’t exceedingly rich throughout my childhood, we were a standard middle class household living in an urban environment, much like most of New York City. Whenever we wanted to treat ourselves to a different atmosphere, we would begin to explore as far as our feet would take us. We used to walk miles in the summer breeze, in a vying attempt to escape the heat of the city and the pier was one our most popular destinations. This was before it became a renowned spot for community fellowship, back when the pavement was cracked and broken and we’d vanish between the thick trees in order to reach the sandy clearing of Jamaica Bay. We would watch numerous sunsets/sunrises there; to my young mind, it was the most beautiful, mesmerizing, and magical thing I had ever witnessed.

Approximately 600 years ago the Mohican and Delaware Indians were living in the New York area. Long Island/Brooklyn housed 13 tribes, the Canarsee tribe being one. From the Native Americans is where the name derives (along with many of Long Island’s counties). They called Long Island, which includes part of Brooklyn, Seaawanhacy which translates to “Land of Shells”. It is not entirely clear as to how Canarsie got its particular name, but there are two theories. The first is that, as the French invaded the Native American’s land they named the land after “Canarde” which means duck in the French language (referring to the wildlife),  the name, then, morphed into “Canarsee” which follows the Native American dialect. The second theory is that “Canarsee” which can mean fort or fence was used in reference to the surrounding environment working as a natural barrier.

In the early 1900’s Canarsie was claimed to be a popular area for recreation. The in-coming Italian and Jewish immigrants found housing by the water and it quickly became the ideal area of the City due to avenues dedicated to hotels, casinos, and other social halls. By the time of the roaring ‘20’s the once lucrative commercial fishing port was deemed unfit for consumption due to an overgrowing amount of pollution in the water; killing off a large sum of Jamaica Bay’s fish and oysters.

By the time of 1926, the City commissioned the manufacturing of a pier that would extend 600 feet out of the main land. This was the last attempt at making Jamaica Bay marketable by building a seaport; this plan was, unfortunately, never fully executed, leaving behind the pier that we all came to know and love today. Then, in 1973 it was taken over by the National Park Service which, consequently, became the main contributor in the enhancement of the overall environment of Canarsie Pier/Jamaica Bay. Now,  if you go to the pier on any day you will see people fishing for Blue Fish in the clean waters.

So many memories reside within those welcoming gates; summer evenings of picnicking, birdwatching, and most of all exploring. Since my childhood, Canarsie Pier has gotten more activities that you can enjoy (especially in the summer) that ranges from hiking to kayaking.

Virtues from Motherhood: A learning curve

Early one morning as I was getting Ava ready for school she saw me wearing a new pair of flats and told me I looked pretty and that she hoped my friends at work would like them too. I thanked her but then I decided to follow it up with a reminder; it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes my shoes, I like them and that’s all that matters. She paused for a moment and then echoed what I said, so I took the opportunity to clarify with her that she should never worry about other people liking what she’s wearing, what music she likes or how she wears her hair. If she loves herself that is all that matter, because if you can’t love yourself and be sure of who you are then relationships with other people will fail by default.

Self love is a message we are constantly trying to teach young children, we want them to celebrate their diversity and everything that makes them unique but that message starts at home. I am raising a daughter in a somewhat chaotic time in the world, women’s rights have a tumultuous relationship with the justice system and self identity is highly scrutinized. Nevertheless I want her to know and understand that it is okay to be happy with who she is even if there’s a politician on a soapbox telling her no. Learning to self moderate and be sure in your ways takes time, takes trial and error and takes the will power to know and understand your limits and when it’s time to test them. Sometimes I can see Ava struggle with the conflict of separating individuality and testing authority, and I see myself.

Some of the habits she possess that drive me utterly insane are ones that I’ve struggled with, and maybe still do struggle to combat and regulate. More recently I’ve been getting told that Ava doesn’t apply herself, she’s lazy when it comes to school work and she does the bare minimum and then gets upset when she’s called on it, and in moments like that I have a flashback to my own parent teacher conferences where they told my mom the same things. My problem is though, that I don’t always know how to react or handle the issue because I immediately get frustrated with her mostly because I know these choices now lead to bigger and more detrimental choices as she gets older. I know that the bad habit of doing the minimum or not applying yourself can be the reason you get academically dismissed from your dream college, I also know it’s the reason it can take you nearly a decade to get a college degree, rather than four years.

I don’t want to see her let her bad habits be her pitfall while she’s chasing her dreams. I want her to break those habits now and not struggle and learn the hard way, like I stupidly chose to so many times in my own life. Perhaps life show’s us where we went wrong in our own children so we can raise them to do better, or maybe it’s a reality check for the things we still need to work on. Either way though, life has a funny way of making history repeat itself, often in our children.

Academic Self-Discovery: Mentorship

Mentoring is a way of passing down knowledge from one person to another, yet it is also deeper than that. It is also about helping the mentee gain confidence in themselves and for whatever it was they had difficulty with. That for me is the goal to have during the journey to academic self-discovery. Recently I was given an allegory on how impactful mentoring can be for all whose involved. The allegory goes like this: there is a dark room and inside are people holding candlesticks without flame. Then walks in a person with a candle that is lit. This person decides to share their light with another and now the room has a faint amount of light, however, it is still not bright enough. If the two share it with more and those they share it with do the same with the rest, eventually the entire romm will become illuminated. That is what mentoring is about. Giving “light” to those that are in need of it.

Mentorship is the act of teaching and learning, gaining information from those with more experience. This has been done for years and years and though we might not have called the people who are our gardians, siblings, friends, or teachers “mentors”, that is in a way what they are because they all contribute something to our lives. Most mentors have an insight on how things work from their own experiences, due to this they are able to give their mentee the best advise or support needed. Mentors in the field the mentee is attempting will know the right ways to push and motivate them to continue. It is not only the mentee that benefits form having a mentorship, the mentor also gains from this. The mentor will have the chance to test their skills and what they know and they most likely will be filled with the sense of purpose and accomplishment from helping others.

There are many programs and internships people can look up and join that involves mentoring. One of the programs that I know has mentoring opportunities at City Tech is BMI (Black Male Initiative). Despite their name they are open for all (women and people of other races). They provide academic help and guidance to make sure students do not just succeed but help others to succeed as well. I’ve heard personal stories of growth from members of that program, such as them being once too shy to speak to an audience to now being able to stand infront of a crowd and speak almost fully at ease. Mentorship is a great way to add something intresting to resumes, a great way of helping others and your community, a chance to improve at the things one struggles with, and so much more.

Have you ever been a mentor or a mentee? How was your experience like? If you want to share just leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.

27th Annual U.S. Pastry Competition

frosting flowers being piped onto a cupcake

Image by: Tony Albanese

New York is where dreams come true where the havens of the concrete jungle bring together the most talented of people from all over America. While there are so many things that this state has to offer that have not fully been appreciated or viewed, I wanted to share a beautiful piece of this city that has been happening for the past twenty-six years. One of the biggest havens in New York that host the latest and modernized innovations is at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. It has hosted the New York Boat Show and the New York International Auto Show but this weekend it is hosting the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York. This is the most prestigious pastry competition in America, it draws in competitors from all over the United States to present their best work to be judged and possibly awarded.

The International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York is a three-day long event in which the best and rising stars in the pastry world to show off their best work to compete for awards and prizes as well as the most coveted title of Pastry Chef of the Year at Paris Gourmet’s U.S. Pastry Competition. One of the oldest and most established chef associations in the world, the board members of the Societe Culinaire Philanthropique, will preside over the judging procedures. Contest awards will total over $10,000.00. The show begins on Sunday, March 5th and concludes on Tuesday, March 7th. The entire Jacob Javits Convention Center is transformed into this confectionary art gallery of the most amazing artists…pastry chefs from all over the United States. The showpieces will be judged from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, with the awards ceremony at 4:00 pm.

an intricate layering of a napoleon

Image by: k_usinero

Last year’s theme was Magic & Illusions and even hosted The Junior Competition where six finalists were randomly selected from four culinary schools were able to compete alongside the professionals. The 2017 showpiece theme will be “Modern Masters Come to Chocolate”. All of the attendees of the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York are generously invited to view the illustrious showpieces that were created by America’s most talented and leading pastry chefs throughout the duration of the entire Show. The event allows leading pastry chefs to showcase their talents and confectionary abilities by creating advanced dessert and chocolate bonbon recipes that are elevated by sculpting chocolate and utilizing highly technical sugar techniques to formulate the most magnificent showpieces.

The Fulton Center

The Fulton Center is a $1.4 billion dollar mall that also serves as a transit hub. It’s massive, beautiful, and the probable cause of our ridiculous MTA fees. It was entirely funded by the MTA and officially opened up to the public on November 10, 2014. What’s really cool about this station is not only it’s modern design, but the fact that it has a long tunnel directly connecting to the World Trade Center Oculus hub, which I just did a post about a few weeks ago. This long tunnel is known as the Dey Street Passageway. Somehow, this tunnel connects to the Oculus, the Fulton Center, and 10 different train lines. The center and the station together make a very complex design, I spent a lot of time walking around in the Fulton, and still feel like I missed something. The main attraction, however, is the main building’s “oculus” at the top, which allows a large ray of sunlight into the building. Nearby buildings were demolished to let that light shine through. When looking up at the oculus from the inside, the oculus walls are imbued with mirrors known as the “sky reflector net,” which allows the sunlight from to bounce of the mirrors to reach a deep distance within. The Fulton Center is shaping up to be one of my favorite spots in the city, it’s great to look at, and it’s cool to hang out with friends at because of the retail stores and food spots. Maybe one day, it’ll be in the hall of fame of historic places.

a geometric shape

The oculus of the Fulton Center (taken at night).

part of a geometric shape

a large staircase/elevator inside a shopping mall

Part of the mall area of the Fulton Center.

the center or a large shopping mall

an underground subway tunnel/passageway with pedestrians and patterned lights on the ceiling

The Dey Street Passageway, which connects to the WTC.