Saturday, June 11, 2016


I have a new artist to add to my favorite artists list: Ida Applebroog. And a new documentary to add to my favorite documentaries list: CALL HER APPLEBROOG. The legendary pioneering filmmaker of the 1970's and '80s downtown scene, Beth B, has created a film about her mother, the artist Ida Applebroog, that is both revelatory and celebratory.

The revelation is Applebroog's art and story, mother of four known by her husband's name, Mrs. Husband's Name, reinventing herself and her name to become a pioneer of cutting edge art in the 1970s when she was in her forties, with hard edged takes on what it means to be a woman in a world, and in relationships, where others have the power.

Applebroog became a presence, even if a shy one, on the downtown scene about the same time as her daughter Beth B was doing the same as a filmmaker. Now they're forever joined in this documentary in ways that are unique. The film celebrates Applebroog's art but also her survival as a creative force and author of her own destiny.

The filmmaker doesn't just skim the surface or offer easy and obvious explanations for her mother's creative and life choices, nor does she sugar coat the dark aspects of her mother's history and motivations that led to her transformation. But her camera and editing skills create a work of art as personal and powerful as her mother's creations (with the help of a perfectly calibrated musical soundtrack from her life partner Jim Coleman (of Cop Shoot Cop fame, or notoriety).

If you appreciate art that's deeply, and at times confrontationally, personal yet accessible and often wittily tough, but poignant, I highly recommend you get down to the new art theater on the Lower East Side, The Metrograph (a work of art in itself) and catch CALL HER APPLEBROOG while you still can.

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