Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New York City - Week 3

By now, week 3 in NYC, we are really beginning to feel like "locals" - it appears a huge number of people living in Manhattan were born elsewhere, so surely after 3 weeks we too are "locals"? Spending extended time here is so exciting - we love it - hard not to with the incredible plethora of shows to see, interesting lectures to attend, places to eat and kaleidoscope of modern art exhibitions to experience.

This week saw us attend the unconventional & very exciting play, "Sleep No More" - this interactive dance production/play had been on my radar for some time, so visiting it was a delight, if somewhat unusuall! Set across 5 dimly lit levels in a Chelsea warehouse which has been purposely redesigned, it is the first play I have ever been to where not one word was spoken, and this actually enhanced the experience. The actors dance up the walls (literally), through beautifully curated rooms that the audience, wearing obligatory Venetian-style masks for anonymity, wandered freely. The plot is supposedly loosely modeled on "Macbeth" but I think loosely puts it mildly, not that this is an issue as it was so much fun that the plot was not the focus! With an enormous number of different rooms to rummage thorough at one's desire, plus dozens of actors performing and moving across all 5 floors, ones senses were on high alert for the whole 3 hours. As a consequence each audience member experienced their own unique version of the play depending upon the actors you followed or the rooms you visited. I love the ingenuity & creativity of the mind that dreams up such wonderfully inventive experiences! So NYC!!

It was a big art week. We had more MoMA art history classes - very good lecturers who expertly link the various concepts that make up the modern art movement. Plus we went on a wonderful walking tour of the "best" contemporary private art exhibitions at private galleries in Chelsea.  Chelsea has 300+ privately owned galleries and our guide Rafael edited this to show us the most interesting 6 current exhibitions. Obviously this is subjective, but the virtual reality art by Rachel Rossin, the enormous 30+mtr piece made from the ash of incense burnings collected from Buddist temples by renowed Chinese artist Zhang Huan, and the beautiful photographic & textiles self portraits by Korean artist Yoon Ji Seon, were all intriguing and a wonderful cross section of artistic styles. 

Later in the week we took a private art tour with the same guide, Rafael, -, to view some of the emerging artists around the Lower East Side. I am fascinated by the concept of "What makes the next big thing" in the art world - it appears to be nebulous, but obviously there are significant players who impact the direction. We viewed 9 artist's exhibitions in largely emerging galleries, including Serge Attukwei Clottey from Ghana who makes pieces from discarded plastic water containers, Lucy Dodd whose art and detailed studio installation is a work in progress (she literally works in it and changes things daily), Jeffrey Gibson who works with bells beads & ribbon to make beautiful intricate sculptural works and Cynthis Daignault who took a road trip across USA, stopping every 25miles to chronicle her journey in paint - the resulting 360 pieces titled "Light Atlas" are being sold as one progressive piece. All the galleries and artists imbued an intoxicating mix of energy and excitement which really sums up the New York art scene. Our tour also emphasized the fact that every society has a need for artistic expression and since WW2 New York really sits as a world barometer of the modern movement. What we saw this week were cameos of this and it was thrilling to be a part of it, even if in a small way.   

We saw several more plays this week including Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf in "Misery" - well written & thoroughly entertaining though Laurie definitely won the acting award on that one. Plus we went to another performance of Tommy Igoe and the Birdland Big Brass Band - our third week in a row attending the same Birdland Jazz (never the same score) - they have been performing there 5pm every Friday for 9.5years, so we have a long way to go to get to their record!

And it is hard to get more of a "New York Experience" than ice skating lessons at the Wolman rink and bicycle rides in Grand Central Park, of course followed by a couple of good red wines. NYC - soooooooooooo much fun!   
Serge Attukwei Clottey makes his art from discarded water containers (seen here on left)
Serge Attukwei Clottey makes sculptural pieces that are decidedly human!
Lucy Dodd's artworks include the canvases and the entire studio which is a work in progress

Jeffrey Gibson uses beads, bells & ribbon to make intricate sculptural works  
Cynthis Daignault's Exploration of America in painterly format 

I love a good busker, & this one in Central Park made everyone smile - simple but so effective!