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Lions Roar : November 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2008 82 not normally attend a program about the ‘niche’ subject, but might when it is made relevant to their area of interest.” Performance artist Laurie Anderson, who has appeared at RMA several times, agrees. “They are really original, able to make very good connections between the art and artists, writers,” she told me. Country singer Roseanne Cash found it almost shockingly easy to pull Himalayan and Buddhist themes from pop songs. “The ‘Wheel of Life’ paintings provided a lot of inspiration and focus. One of my own songs is called ‘The Wheel,’ and I built a show around that. I did shows on the ‘Hungry Ghosts’—there are thousands of songs about craving, never being satis- fied.” In “Magic Numbers,” a show she did with Elvis Costello, they only performed songs with numbers in the titles. RMA programs are an ever-changing array of films, music, dance, and discus- sions. Much of the programming lands on Friday night, presenting a vertical sampler of the museum’s offerings. The galleries become free after 7 p.m. on Fri- days, and while they wait, visitors can stop at the K2 Lounge, recently designated a “City Pick” by influential city guide Time Out New York. K2, named for the world’s second- highest mountain, emerges at 6 p.m. when dimming lights transform the museum’s daytime cafe into a bar, with liquor, bat- tery-lit candles, and a DJ playing fusion music. Polite patrons line up three-deep at the bar, some to buy the special cocktails that McHenry stirs up each week to go with the films, which happen later. For the showing of The Dark Crystal (Jim Henson and the Muppets, 1982), he says they con- cocted “something pretty fab, very purple, with pomegranate juice and a large rock crystal of sugar plopped in it.” At 7 p.m., music begins on the lower level in the museum’s 137-seat theatre. Sometimes jazz, sometimes bluegrass, Irish folk songs, or blues. Always acoustic. Roseanne Cash plays there frequently. “I do love performing in the Rubin theater,” she says. “It’s challenging, and exciting. I realized the first time I performed there how easy it had been to hide behind a microphone. Having all amplification re- moved felt very naked and a little scary at first, and then, of course, very liberating.” “Cabaret Cinema” begins at 9:30. This fascinating, somewhat mischievous pro- gram shows classics, arcane foreign films, and a few zany old clunkers. Themes of- ten relate to the exhibits and yet can be wonderfully eclectic. During “Female Buddhas,” for example, it presented the splendid Diva (1981, French), Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927, Germany), and Mary Poppins (1964). McHenry’s most stunning success to date was “Brainwave,” a series of more than one hundred events in 2008 that ex- amined how art, music, and meditation affect the brain. It was put together by the Rubin and five other institutions. Among the highlights, McHenry says, were “The Geography of Bliss: Is Happiness a Physical Condition or an Illusion?”; “Does Time Go By?,” in which two leading academics com- pared Eastern and Western approaches to time; and “The Tibetan Book of the Dead: What Happens in our Brains as We Die?” in which, says McHenry, neurologist Kevin Nelson was introduced to the notion of the bardo and went away determined to in- clude this philosophy in his future studies. “I love the way he tied the arts and neuroscience together,” says Laurie An- derson, speaking of her experience of “Brainwave.” “It seems to me that other museums used to do more of that kind of thing, but they stopped. I don’t know why.” Anderson says she will always be grateful to McHenry for introducing her to the Chirgilchin throat singers from the Rubin shrugs. “I’m not a Buddhist, but some of my friends think there must have been a psychic con- nection in a previous life.” With a smile, he adds, “Maybe so. Who knows?” 335 Meads Mt. Rd., Woodstock, NY 12498 845.679.5906 x 10