Brushing Up on the Arts
February 04, 2010
When I was in New York last week, as prepared as I was for winter weather, Manhattan surprised me with sunshine, kindly providing my daily dose of Vitamin D. We Santa Fesinos are spoiled by the sun, with 300+ days a year. This unseasonal surprise gave me the chance to satisfy a long-held desire, that of walking the renovated High Line near the Hudson. Thanks to the vision of neighborhood activists, this historic rail line is now a public park and outdoor performance venue for New Yorkers and visitors alike to enjoy.
The sun was low in the sky, there were wooden lounging spots to soak up sun (SPF 30 for this redhead), and a cool Frank Gehry Building along the Hudson. Based on the size of the Saturday crowd on a January weekend, I can imagine what a hot spot this will be when it is complete.
In the company of the stereotypical struggling New York artist, I walked off at 20th Street, the perfect spot to head right into Chelsea and see what was new. It seemed as though many galleries were in between shows, but I saw enough to know that Art Santa Fe last year certainly had its share of worthwhile and original work. This estimable organization celebrates its 10th anniversary this year in June, and I will be looking forward to re-capturing some of that “shock of the new” feeling. I remember a Chinese artist last year who created intriguing laser-cut sculpture out of old phone books, no glue! And I still recall some really beautiful and uniquely-crafted landscape work I encountered there.
A Man Ray exhibit at the Jewish Museum was also a treat, especially since this museum is free on Saturdays. There is nothing like a retrospective to flesh out the picture of an artist’s career. I’m still ruminating on how I felt about the work as a whole, but comprehending the distance that photography has traveled makes one think. His gelatin silver prints were in some ways so like much imagery today, i.e. not to be believed, but then again, they were not selling anything, and that’s a big difference. It reinforced the philosophy that the Inn embraces for our imagery; make it as honest as we can and work with a photographer who has the same motive, namely show what is truly there. I wonder if Man Ray had any inkling of the power that photography would have to make the unreal real.
We have an opportunity to learn more about Man Ray right here at home. On February 6, the University of New Mexico Art Museum opened a new show entitled Man Ray, African Art and the Modernist Lens. In conjunction with the exhibition, there is a Tuesday Lecture Series running from 2/9 though 4/6/10.
For art-lovers, it is a rare trip to New York that does not include a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, despite the advance knowledge that one is absolutely guaranteed to be overwhelmed. Although I always have something specific in mind to see, it is almost impossible to walk through the galleries to get anywhere without being stopped in one’s tracks by a marble deity, a carved wooden panel from the 15th century, a Holbein, a seated Buddha. HELP! Dedicated purpose reigned, however, as it was the last day for the American Masters painting exhibit. It included many artists whose work I did not know, but enough Binghams to satisfy my western soul and enough Homer and Eakins to delight my eastern roots. Although that show is down, the panoply of Bronzino drawings will be there for a while, and that is very worth a visit.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Abstraction show at the Whitney had already closed the week before I arrived, but it has moved on to the Phillips Collection in DC, for those on the Eastern Seaboard with a yen for Georgia. Living in Santa Fe, I am fortunate in being able to satisfy that urge right here at home with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum being just a lunchtime walk from the Inn. In keeping with the museum’s ongoing commitment to women artists, their newest exhibit, Susan Rothenberg: Moving in Place, just opened on January 22.
I’ll certainly be checking this exhibition out when I get home, especially since this highly-esteemed artist is a local New Mexican now, her locational trajectory much like O’Keeffe’s.
I managed to cram in a quick stop at the Onasssis Cultural Center on 52nd at 5th Avenue, where a lovely little icon show demonstrated Domenikos Theotokopoulos’ evolution from icon painter into El Greco. This was a VERY interesting learning experience, well-supported by the many other beautiful icons in this exhibit.The space was an oasis, down a winding staircase, getting quieter and quieter by the step.Spiraling away from the noise of Fifth Avenue, one could travel back in time. This spot was a little gem previously unknown to me, and it will be on my agenda for future visits to New York.
With an important business function looming, I ventured out on an unexpectedly blustery rainy day to center my mind and soul at the Rubin Museum of Art. Despite being literally soaked to the skin after a wrong turn out of the subway (that always happens, but usually the weather ain’t QUITE so bad!), I wanted to see the exhibit of Jain imagery, since I am still on a learning curve with regard to eastern artistic traditions. What rich and complex detail with such simple materials! I was further educated by a Himalayan Art exhibit Called “What Is It?” on a lower floor that explained the What, When, Why, Where and How of these hardly primitive artisans.
And even more to my surprise was encountering Carl Jung’s Red Book on the lowest floor, in its first appearance to the world. Was that ever a trip! The actual book, a number of paintings, reproductions and two copied of the book laid out on desks to explore at one’s leisure. I forgot how wet I was and ruminated instead on what has ensued from that one fertile mind.
With that, it was time to work, and with this, you’ll have to wait until later for Red’s Opera News!