An Arts Weekend in NYC

Today is the Spring Equinox, the day on which light and dark find temporary balance. I hope you have a day of peace and joy.

Last weekend we were in New York City. What a joy to have a weekend of relative warmth (temperatures were in the 50’s!) and unstructured play. Oh, and the food! We had Ethiopian, Greek, South Indian, Latino fusion, and Jewish, and that doesn’t count breakfasts in bakeries!

If there was a focus to the weekend, it was art. We arrived early enough on Friday to get to MOMA, which is free on Fridays. MOMA is a beastly bit of architecture. In spite of that (we usually try to avoid MOMA) there were very fine shows up over last weekend. One show surveyed Abstract Expressionism in the city. Another explored the work of early, ground breaking women photographers.

I came away from the Abstract Expressionist show thinking the early works were, by and large, by far the best. Much of the work seemed pointless and self promoting. I remember being very moved by much of the work as a student. (Age does seem to have an impact one what one likes.) The photography show was enlightening and deeply satisfying.

Saturday was museum day. We began at the Metropolitan, where there is always a delightful abundance of great work to peruse. Last weekend we were enchanted by a large mosaic recently excavated in Israel, and a retrospective of photographs by Stieglitz, Steichen, and Strand. Then it was on to a show of traditional and contemporary Andean Tunics, and art that played with the idea of the mask. Of course, we also wandered the permanent collection……

We were hungry, so we caught a cab and went up to El Museo del Barrio for an outstanding lunch. The cafe there must be one of the hidden treasures in the city. The exhibition of works by Luis Camnitzer played with ideas of self importance in the art world. His work also addresses the problem of warfare against Indigenous peoples in the Americas, and the too long history of the Disappeared.

We then dropped by the Guggenheim for a show of abstraction from the turn of the last century. The work was uneven, yet great fun. We ended up enjoying our time there, and felt, overall, the work to be the most engaging and memorable of the painting exhibits. Oddly, all three elevators were not working, so we took a very round about trip in a freight elevator to the sixth floor (I use a wheel chair when visiting large museums). We then had an adventurous trip down the six floors of steep ramp! This took a toll on Jennie’s arms, who pulled against the downward momentum of the chair!

In the evening we went to Carnegie Hall to see and hear the Emerson String Quartet. I have never been to the Carnegie, so this was a treat. The Emerson is always a moving experience, and we felt deeply satisfied by the end of the performance.

Sunday we began with a visit to the International Center for Photography. The principal exhibition was of previously “lost” film and photos taken by Capa, Chim and Taro, during the Spanish Civil War. This was an immensely disturbing show. The photographers documented the suffering of the populace and the brutality of conflict. They also focused on the Fascist’s attempts to destroy the art and culture of then contemporary Spain. The effect was to throw a chilling shadow from the past across the contemporary American landscape.

Then to the Neue Galerie for an exhibition of work from Vienna circa 1900. This small museum manages to produce outstanding exhibits. It also has a fine cafe, and some day we will arrive early enough to get in to sample it.

Being unable, and unwilling, to look at another photo or object de art, we walked down through Central Perk, enjoying the first spring flowers and gently rolling landscape. (This took a toll on my crutch holding arms, and legs.) Along the way we stopped at the zoo, a great treat, then caught a cab for the Village and dinner. Then home to our hotel, the City Club, for which we had great esteem, and highly recommend. The staff were friendly and helpful at every turn.

All-in-all, the weekend marked a delight filled vacation, and we found ourselves reluctant to leave. We are looking forward to our next trip to the City!

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