Posts Tagged ‘new york’

New York – Escaping Sandy

Posted: October 30, 2012 by minimal in North America, Travel
Tags: , , , ,

First of all I want to take the opportunity to say that I’m back in Sweden safe and sound and I’m really sad to see on the news what is happening in New York and on the east coast. I wish all the best to the people there, stay safe!

On my last days in New York City I made sure the visit the museums that I had planned to see. That included the popular Museum of Modern Art, that had been pretty crowded last time I passed, so I had decided to skip it that day. On Friday afternoon the museum is free to enter, but knowing that I like to take my time, I was decided to be safe rather than sorry and went in the morning, and I’m glad I did, since the line to enter the museum was huge when I left. It was at the MoMA that I sadly found out that one of my favorite contemporary artists had passed away, two years ago, Louise Burgeois, known for her big spider sculptures that we saw in South Korea and Japan.

I was happy to see works by several artists that I like, for example two small works by Frida Kahlo and the notorious Punch and Judy by Bruce Nauman. While I was at the museum I started to feel very tired and cold, by the time I got back to my hotel I was sure I was getting a cold, so I decided to stay in and rest so I wouldn’t get worse.

On my last day in town, I went to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. I had read in my guide book that it featured a “cutting-edge feminist arts center”, something I found very intriguing and right down my alley.

When I studied art history, I read about this work by Judy Chicago called The Dinner Party, and although I found it interesting it wasn’t something that had very much caught my attention. However, seeing it in real life, makes the whole difference, and I feel like my pictures truly don’t make it justice. This large installation features place settings for 39 famous women and was created by Judy Chicago together with a large group of volunteers. The goal was to “end the ongoing cycle of omission in which women were written out of the historical record.” Each place setting consists of an runner embroidered with the persons name and a plate, both containing symbols relating to her accomplishments. It’s a fantastic work to see and I was happy to see the names of several people that I myself admire, like the poet Sappho, the painter Artemisia Gentileschi and the mathematician Hypatia.

There was a temporary exhibition with works by Mickalene Thomas that I really liked, her works are often large collages where she re-stages themes and symbolism taken from traditional Western art. In this work she makes a reference to the famous 1866 painting L’Origine du Monde, an infamous erotic painting by the French artist Gustave Courbet.


In this work, Le déjeuner sur l’herbe: les trois femmes noires, she refers to the 1863 painting by Édouard Manet Déjeuner sur l’herbe, one that I remember clearly from my art history class, since I found the contrast between the nude women and the well-dressed men a bit disturbing.

On my last evening, Halloween, Gabriele from couchsurfing and I went out for a small pub crawl, our first stop was this famous bar called Old King Cole where they supposedly make great Bloody Marys. Of course, I persuaded him that we should order one each, then I remembered that last time I had had a Bloody Mary (about 10 years ago) I was wasted and at the first sip of my drink, I remembered that I don’t like Bloody Marys. I only had about 1/3 of my drink while Gabriele did drink all of his pizza-tasting-drink, as he put it.

After a fantastic 10 days in New York, I woke up on Sunday to the news that a storm was coming to the city. I, who had my flight home at 19:30, was a bit worried that I would not be able to leave before Sandy arrived. In the hotel they assured me that flights would be leaving that day, so I headed to the airport and it was chaos. I managed to get on my plane, one of the last ones leaving New York City, since they closed the airport at 22:00.

I’m going to break it to you, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to the arts, and, I generally don’t like musicals. I’ve seen quite a few of them. Growing up, I used to go to the theater together with my mother and sisters, we got to each choose one thing we would see together, and when it wasn’t my turn to choose, we usually saw musicals. Still, being that I’m staying less than a block from Broadway, I thought I should give it a try, if not Broadway is more famous than the Gothenburg Opera. So I got together with another couchsurfer, Gabriele from Italy, and we went to see Mamma Mia! Although I did laugh and had a good time, I must say, from an artistic perspective I wasn’t impressed. The singers had good voices, sure, but there was this “fast food”-feel to it, you get in, they sing, quickly and without much ceremony and then we barely had time to clap before we were out again.

One of the great things about traveling to big cities like New York, is that there is a lot of art and architecture to take part of. I went to the Guggenheim Museum which is one of the buildings I’ve been wanting to see since I first saw a picture of it about 15 years ago. I’m sure I’m not the only one that likes Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed the museum, and I could easily say that he is my favorite architect. There was a pretty nice exhibition with works of Pablo Picasso called “Black and White”.

In the evening, I had made plans together with some other couchsurfers to meet up to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and then go for food or a drink. Since we are all tourists, there was some confusion about where we were going to meet. Several of us walked around the area for more than half an hour. I wasn’t feeling like just going back to the hotel, so I decided to wait by the bridge and hoped to eventually meet someone that looked like a couchsurfer (how one can figure that out just by looking at someone beats me). Luckily, 3 of us managed to find each other! I guess by looking as confused as possible 🙂

On Wednesday I took on the task of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Again, I had made plans to meet some couchsurfers, but I overslept so I was on my own. I think it was for the best, one of the perks about traveling alone is that you get to do things your own way and at your own pace and since I’m very interested in art and know exactly what I want to see , it can be more of a bother to go with someone else. I ended up spending the whole day at the Met, and when they closed, I still hadn’t seen everything I wanted to see.

After paying the recommended fee of 25 dollars I went to get an audio-guide, which costs another 7 dollars. I wasn’t very happy about that and felt a bit stupid that I had payed the full amount if they were going to charge me extra for the audio guide, so I decided to skip it. Lucky for me though, just when I was going in to the museum a woman asked me if I wanted to have her guide since she was already leaving.

The great thing about visiting the Met is that they have a great collection of paintings, including many that I’ve read about while studying art history. Although they didn’t have my favorite paintings by the Italian baroque painter, Artemisia Gentileschi, like her self-portraits or her Judith and Holofernes series, I was happy to see one of her paintings, Esther before Ahasuerus, which is again an unusual depiction of a strong woman, which I very much appreciate.

The day was not long enough for me to get to see everything I wanted to see, and this post is not long enough to display all the pictures of the fantastic art I got to see. I guess you will all have to come to New York and see it for yourselves 🙂

The next day I went for a run in Cenral Park. I decided to just run north for a half an hour and then turn and just run south. Instead I got lost, but had a pretty nice run and managed to find my way out again, after a while.

I met up with Gabriele for lunch at the Grand Central Terminal, which was, well, pretty grand.

Some elements weren’t so grand though.

There is something with carousels here in USA, or maybe it’s New York, but I haven’t been to a park without one. This one features the Headless hunter, Halloween is here 🙂

Since we were passing by, we decided to check out the New York Library. There is something very exaggerated and exuberant about these buildings, that fascinates me.

The library is just amazing indoors, and inspiring, I can’t imagine how it must feel to sit there and study. Maybe I should come to New York and take a course or something, only so I can sit here and study for my exams.

After dinner, we went to Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, at the Lincoln Center, for some jazz and a great view of the city. The atmosphere was great, the drinks good, and the music fantastic.

After the main band, people took turns to play all the different instruments and sing. A large amount of jazz players passed the stage, this guy had an fantastic dreamy voice.

It’s been over a year since we got back home from our around-the-world trip and to be honest, we haven’t been very interested in traveling, for a while. But now, I’m back on the road. I’m not sure if I’ve forgotten how to do it, or if I was just stressed, but on this trip I forgot to bring several essentials that we had good use for in the around-the-world trip. Like duck tape to tape the blinking lights in my hotel room that don’t let me sleep at night, or my sleep mask that would have solved the problem just as well. Maybe it’s just that one gets more relaxed when packing for 10 days rather than 258.

So I arrived in New York City on a humid and hot evening and fell asleep directly when I arrived at the hotel. The next day, jet lagged and hungry I hit the town, and since I’m staying in Midtown, it wasn’t very far. It rained the whole day, and I got soaked even walking around with an umbrella. So I decided to hide at the International Center of Photography that was having a very interesting exhibition called The Rise and Fall of Apartheid. The day got cut short when I decided to head back to the hotel to change clothes, and fell asleep without dinner.

To say the least, I was very hungry the next morning, but I still didn’t manage to eat everything on my plate. Although the portions are smaller than I remember them from when I was in USA 15 years ago. While I was looking forward to eating a lot of unhealthy food, like bacon, eggs, pancakes, donuts, bagels and all the other things I’ve missed, now that I’m here I just don’t seem to manage to eat all that fat and sweets.

The weather was great, and since I got up very early I decided to take a long walk. I considered standing in line at Tkts to buy discounted Broadway tickets, but all the tourists everywhere made me think again.

I walked to Chelsea to see what was being shown at the galleries in the area, amongst others I got to see work by Linda Stojak and Beth Cavener Stichter that I really liked. I must admit, that I haven’t planned my trip as much as I usually do, but sometimes you just bump into things that are very interesting. I saw a lot of people heading up some metal stairs in the are and that is how I found the High Line, which is very nice for a stroll.

Next, I headed towards Washington Square Park and got to enjoy live music…

live sports…

and a demonstration.

After that I headed to have some lunch where I found myself sitting next to a guy from San Francisco that was in town visiting some friends and we started talking. Now that I think about it, I’ve been talking to a lot of different people, I’m so impressed how easy it is for people to strike up a conversation with strangers. In general, I find people here to be very friendly, and really it was a long time ago that I felt that I blended in so well somewhere.

On Sunday I planned to head Uptown, my first stop was the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine which was quite impressive, I specially liked the “Poets Corner”, an homage to American poets like Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath and Edgar Allan Poe. Well inside, the Sunday service was about to start, and being a curious atheist I decided to sit it out.

After the service, well, actually, I left after the sermon, I headed north, to Harlem. The streets were bustling with people and the weather was great. I stopped by the famous Apollo Theater, but well, it being lunch time and the theater being closed, I had to settle for some pictures of the signs with the stars names on them.

The absolute highlight of my day was visiting the Studio Museum which had a fantastic exhibition with artists such as Njideka Akunyili, Meleko Mokgosi and Xaviera Simmons. I was blown away by the art, the atmosphere and the great museum shop they have. Of course, you were not allowed to take any photographs so I don’t have much to show.

For dinner, I headed to the Red Rooster, a restaurant I had heard much about, and the place delivered, to say the least. The atmosphere was great and I got seated where I had a perfect view of the band that was playing. It wasn’t that I was home sick or anything, but since their specialty is Swedish food, I went for the meatballs, which were the best I’ve had, in a long time. Oh, and since I heard that when you are in New York you have to drink drinks, and not beer or wine, that is exactly what I did 🙂

The band was great, so I decided to stay and listen to them, and I must say that the camera captured my exact feeling after having two of those delicious drinks.