For five days in October, I seek inspiration among the galleries, museums, streets and tabletops in New York. I have plans to tour Don Judd’s 101 Spring Street and visit as many Dia locations as reasonable, otherwise I expect my days to fill up with whatever strikes my interest at the time. There is certainly no lack of things to do.
Wednesday, October 18
On the day of arrival, my primary objective is to settle into the immediate environment. So after dropping luggage, I walk the High Line to the Chelsea Market for a late and leisurely lunch. Feeling refreshed on a nice afternoon, I spend the rest of the day flaneuring in parks, through Chelsea galleries, and in the book collection at Hauser & Wirth. Extra time on an efficient travel day always seems like a bonus, and I linger at the Dia:Chelsea Rita McBride exhibit until my senses are saturated.
Thursday, October 19
Today is anchored around a DIA:Beacon visit which I hope to find quieter on a weekday. A scenic Metro North train ride along the Hudson, and a short walk from the Beacon station, brings me to the manicured grounds. The building itself (a former Nabisco box printing factory, circa 1929) is worth the trip, and the galleries do not disappoint. I appreciate the Walter De Maria installations more after my previous visit to The Lightning Field, and I find Robert Irwin an absolute master at his craft. I wander around Richard Serra’s torqued ellipses, Bruce Nauman’s lights, and Robert Morris’s detritus. It is A LOT of contemporary art, and I continue with Smithson, Chamberlain, Heizer, Flavin, Lewitt, Kawara, Ryman, and more.
As I repeatedly view my favorite pieces and check off the remainder of the collection in the afternoon, I witness an amusing scene. A guest harangues a gallery attendant: Where’s the art? Paintings like Picasso or Rembrandt! It’s like asking for lasagna at a sushi restaurant. And you could have checked the menu in advance buddy.
Since I opted for more gallery time over a walk through Beacon proper, I have an excuse for a return visit to the area, and I decide to leave. A reverse commute back into the city brings me from the sunny calm of Beacon to the glowing bustle of Times Square in the evening. I loiter by the Max Neuhaus installation in Times Square, and in another contrast to the day, no one else notices the art.
Friday, October 20
With only an afternoon appointment in SoHo before dinner, I have the morning to myself. I pop into the respectable study at The Morgan Library and Museum and pause behind Pierpont Morgan’s desk. Sitting in his lion foot chair, with his fingertips poised by spring-loaded drawers and a view of the book vault, he must have felt pleased in his day. Today I’m not so sure. Is there a difference between voracious collecting and obsessive hoarding when the results are the same? A mountain of things are pulled from their original context, aggregated for a time, and then scattered to their next destination. After his death, pieces from Morgan’s collection went to The Met, The National Gallery of Art, The Frick Collection, and The Wadsworth Atheneum. All thanks to The Magnet:
I transition to SoHo with lunch at Quartino (Bottega Organica), and then stops at two hidden gem De Maria installations: The New York Earth Room and The Broken Kilometer. The Earth Room presents a dirt-like aroma on approach, it must be interesting to have this as a neighbor, and the light on The Broken Kilometer presents a shimmering effect between the rows of brass rods. I’ve covered all senses again today.
My afternoon appointment is a tour of 101 Spring Street, a five story cast-iron building constructed in 1870 and purchased by Don Judd in 1968 for $68,000. Judd immediately replaced the boiler and made repairs consistent with the simple given circumstances:
- The floors must be open
- The right angle of windows on each floor must not be interrupted
- Any changes must be compatible
The design of the space led to a primary function for each floor: 1st exhibit, 2nd dining, 3rd studio, 4th parlor, 5th sleeping. Everything was intended to be thoroughly considered and to be permanent. On its own, and as a precedent for larger Judd locations in Marfa, it is a remarkable space. Following the tour, I re-immerse into modern culture by people watching at the Apple store, fabric perusal at Brunello Cucinelli, and a rousing social dinner in Tribeca.
Saturday, October 21
Following a workout penance for my late Friday evening, I dive into fashion with 111 clothing and accessory items at MOMA and a Force of Nature exhibit at FIT. From cultural appropriation of materials, shapes, and colors to sensory exploitation of feathers, flowers, and fruit. By the evening, drinks and a DJ near the East Village are most welcome.
“Those who are inspired by a model other than nature, a mistress above all masters, are laboring in vain.” –Leonardo da Vinci
Sunday, October 22
I start a quiet Sunday morning on the Upper East Side at the Cooper Hewitt, one of my favorite museums in New York City. Today the exhibit concepts range from sound to the seven deadly sins to design in the digital age. What Joris Laarman has done (and is doing) with natural-informed designs and MX3D digital fabrication is absolutely amazing.
After a late brunch, some stumbled-upon browsing, and another long walk, my five days are coming to an end. The sunset air has a slight tinge of cigar smoke as I sit with my notes and thoughts in the courtyard of the Palace Hotel. Tucked behind Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, I’ve always found it a bit of an oasis in the city.