Thursday, June 14, 2012

Art and Food

Before any of our trips to NYC I always spend time on the computer doing research. I make lists of all the museums and galleries, their locations and what is showing. It doesn't matter that I have copies of the gallery guide, or I have done this before, or even that I think I can find most of them blindfolded, I still make my lists. I also make lists of potential restaurants--and the top item I look for are dim sum restaurants. It is nice to see that Nom Wah Tea Parlor, the first place my mother took me for dim sum when I was a child, is still open and recently getting good press, after a period of some questionable reports. Sadly three trips to NYC and I still haven't fit dim sum into the equation. I think it was easier when galleries were in Soho, but Chelsea is just a bit off the route to Chinatown.

Laduree, Madison Avenue and 71st Street, NYC
We did get to Laduree though. Be sure to click HERE and see their website--the animation just seems so perfect for their product and image. It's located just south of the Whitney Museum, and the Biennial was definitely on our to do list. It was pouring rain and as we approached the store we heard one man say to his companion, "The line would be winding around the corner if it wasn't raining so hard." So we lucked out.

Cookbook with Macaron Recipe
I purchased their cookbook, Sucre, after reading about it on the Not So Humble Pie blog. It came packaged in a box that looked like it was full of sweets, and when you open the box you find this softly colored tissue paper and small book with gold paper edges and a velvet cover. The pictures are scrumptous and I remember that Mark, my friend Marianne, and I just sat there and turned every page in the book--oohing and ahhing the whole time.

A variety of Laduree Macarons--a bit weary from being hauled around all day but still delicious.
I got a selection of different macarons for dessert that night. We cut them into quarters and critiqued them with our friends as we ate them. The raspberry one just seemed like regular jam inside, and the vanilla one (I think) had a sort of marshmellow-like filling that I didn't like at all (and I like marshmellow), but all the rest were delicious. It was so much fun to actually buy and taste them but I think in the future I will just make my own.

Images from the Whitney Biennial: Werner Herzog (top), Lutz Bacher (left middle top), Elaine Reichek (right middle top), Statement by Forrest Bess (left middle bottom), weaving by Travis Meinolf for installation by Kai Althoff (right middle bottom), Forrest Bess (bottom)
The Whitney Biennial 2012 is closed now but we managed to get there during the final week. I thought it was a relatively quiet show. Textiles are definitely a popular medium now and Elaine Reichek's room and the shroud woven by Travis Meinolf were both prominent. I have been a fan of Werner Herzog since seeing his Nosferatu in 1979, and as I approached the space where his installation was located, the music coming out of it let me know I had arrived. If you click on his name in the previous sentence, you can listen to a discussion he had with the curators of the Biennial on May 17th. Does anyone else have such a wonderful hypnotic mesmerizing enthusiastic voice? He opens my heart to wonder.

Opening of Silence at Masters & Pelavin, curator Jaanika Peerna (left), Anne Lindberg (second from left) and other artists in the exhibition; "Sleep" by Anne Lindberg (below)
We timed this trip so we could attend an opening of the exhibition Silence at Masters & Pelavin, which included work by our friend Anne Lindberg. It was packed, so the title Silence was like an oxymoron--but then the curator, Jaanika Peerna, asked for a moment of silence and a sense of peace took over the room. Mostly I get to encourage and applaud my friends these days through Facebook and email--we are all so spread out in space--so it was really meaningful to be able to see Anne (and her husband) and share her success in person.

On the way home we spent hours at DIA Beacon. No pictures are allowed so you will just have to go in person and experience the work, the place, the ambiance. My advice: GO! To me it was definitely a holy pilgrimage. This is the art that I understand as "Art." Robert Ryman, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Blinky Palermo, Walter De Maria...and the list goes on. GO!     

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Already Memories

Raining in NYC
We came home from NYC with more than the Pisco Brandy that we bought. Not surprising since it rained the whole time we were there and we walked around with wet feet for days. We live a very isolated life in Vermont, so the crowds in the museums, galleries and buses must have given us some germ that has caused constant coughing, sneezing and hacking since May 25. Finally we both went to doctors and are on the mend.

Why the Pisco Brandy? Well I made a Bobby Flay dinner for a party a month or so ago that included his Pisco Sour Sangria. I had gotten all the ingredients and then discovered that none of the liquor stores in NH or VT (state-run) sell Pisco. I substituted Grappa, and it was delicious, but I put Pisco on my NYC list. Every store I went in had several choices. I haven't tried it yet but it is something to look forward to later this summer.

We went across the Tappan Zee Bridge into Westchester, then the Bronx, over another two bridges into Brooklyn and later that day through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel into Manhattan. We must have paid every toll possible in just a few days, and it did feel like we were hemorrhaging money. We went to Brooklyn so I could have a discussion/critique of my work with the curator of the Drawing Center's Viewing Program. It feels like perk enough to have my work included in the Viewing Program (if you click HERE it takes you to the home page where you can enter my name in the "Name or Keyword Search" area and go to my page), but I was thrilled to have an opportunity to meet with Nina Katchadourian. You may have seen The New Yorker blog article on her work, which was going around the Internet recently. I don't feel ready to discuss the generous conversation I had with Nina; I am still digesting and distilling it, seeing where it takes me and holding it close. But I will share my thoughts when I am ready. Meanwhile please go to my page, which I feel very good about, and give me some feedback.

Row Houses in Windsor Terrace area of Brooklyn
(unknown photographer)
We were just blocks away from the Windsor Place house we called home from 1983-1987, so of course we took a drive down nostalgia lane. The street is a facade of connected row houses. Every house on the block has been upgraded with vinyl siding in every pastel color imaginable, except the house where we lived. It had its familiar asphalt-siding (I always called it linoleum siding) and door with peeling paint and general air of weariness. It is our fish that got away. But if we had bought it when we could, I would never have gone to graduate school, or become a college professor, or lived in as many states as we have tried.

Ernesto Neto (above); Richard Avedon (below)
We headed for Chelsea galleries after Brooklyn. This trip we only had a chance to go there two afternoons, so we didn't see everything, but a little inspiration can go a long way. Nina recommended the Ernesto Neto show at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery and the Richard Avedon which was showing across the street at one of the Gagosian spaces. I like Neto's work, have watched it for years, but I am not so crazy about the recent spate of "gallery as amusement park" exhibitions. Bonakdar does have the kindest, friendliest staff that I have encountered in years, and I guess they need this attitude to deal with all the families with small children that I saw climbing all over the Neto's (as he intended). I loved the Avedon's because, like Patti Smith's "Just Kids", it brought me right back to my formative years. Ginsburg was always a hero of mine (first time I heard him read was in NYC around the time some of these photos were taken [he was so young!]) and it is amazing to stand in front of these huge images and study the people. Big art is so impressive and I am still struggling with the idea of how I can make my work big, bigger, biggest and still make it myself (which I want to do) and not physically destroy myself while making it.

Well, I am not done with the trip, but will stop for today. Have to go outside and scrape paint from our enormous house which just feels bigger with every scraping motion.