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Peter Schjeldahl’s fireworks display
Peter Schjeldahl’s fireworks display


Aug. 22, 2011

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Will the art critic lob a bomb or two in the direction of the rock star? It might be happening, if Adam Horovitz, the Beastie Boy otherwise known as Ad-Rock, doesn’t finish his long awaited documentary on New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl and the over-the-top fireworks blowout he puts on every July 4 at his hillside property in Delaware County, about three hours northwest of New York City.

“Peter is so photogenic,” said Horowitz in an email. “He’s box-office gold!” The Beastie Boy went on to say that he was inspired by “how fkn crazy Peter’s fireworks show is. . . the whole scene up there is just so spectacular.” Horovitz also observed that the famously lyrical art critic -- Schjeldahl takes a certain amount of pride in sending readers of his New Yorker art reviews to the dictionary -- clearly loves playing the impresario of his annual fireworks spectacle. “He’s a rock star,” he said. Horovitz says he has great footage of the 2011 fireworks, and promises to finish the film in time for the 2012 installment.

Horovitz may have been distracted by work on the Beastie Boys’ most recent album, titled Hot Sauce Committee, which was two years behind schedule, according to Wikipedia. Horovitz is working on the Schjeldahl fireworks documentary -- which remains untitled at this writing -- with filmmaker Carmine Covelli.

For his part, Schjeldahl considers fireworks a source of the sublime, “an exquisite balance of fearsomeness and beauty." He has been shooting off fireworks every July 4th for about two decades, but in recent years the event has gained a more widespread notoriety. Now, 300 to 500 friends and neighbors gather for a pot-luck picnic dinner, a chorus of The Star Spangled Banner and 20 minutes of close-up fireworks. "The entire production was simply sublime," wrote art dealer Ed Winkleman about the 2009 installment.

Celebrity attendees in recent years have included Steve Martin, Alan Cumming and Ben Stiller, while the intellectual world has been represented by Museum of Modern Art curator Anne Temkin, Norman Rockwell biographer Deborah Solomon, journalist Mark Jacobson (The Lampshade: A Holocaust Detective Story) and New York Times Magazine political writer James Traub. Artists like David Armstrong, Mary Carlson, John Currin and Rachel Feinstein, Brice Marden, Christy Rupp, Jim Torok and Martha Wilson have also shown up.

For a video of some Peter Schjeldahl fireworks, click here.

The scene at Peter  Schjeldahl’s Delaware County party
The scene at Peter Schjeldahl’s Delaware County party

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