Friday, July 13, 2007

NY Trip: Long Island City.

Our agenda for today was mostly determined by the wide range of competing alternatives within the NYC art scene. Because every organization in this city needs to scream for attention, certain neighborhoods are forced to open their destinations during the off days of the major players. Therefore while a lot of the museums in Manhattan are closed, those in Long Island City welcome visitors on Mondays. So our choice was an easy one. We decided to check out P.S.1 and the Fisher-Landau Museum.

We arrived in LIC before noon, so we had time to get coffee drinks and walk around 5 Pointz before we headed to P.S.1. This is a large warehouse (on Crane St. ) converted into artist studios and covered with "wildstyle" graffiti. Because the owner of the building encourages this commonly maligned art-form, it is constantly morphing with the work of both famous and novice graffiti artists. So people who care about such things are likely to return several times to check out the new stuff. Despite JM's contention that "they" are a bit uptight about photographs being taken, I figured public art is fair game. We walked around the perimeter of the building and had a thorough look. It was worth a few minutes of our time.

P.S.1, on the other hand, is a trip worth a significant investment of time and thought. This MOMA-affilated museum is housed in a former public school. It's dedicated to the presentation of work created primarily by "emerging" and contemporary artists. As such it is an impressive facility. It has several floors and a large outdoor sculpture area. We were fairly unimpressed by the John Cage sound installations in the Organizing Chaos exhibition, but enjoyed the highly atmospheric and grainy footage of soap bubbles depicted in a video by Rivane Neuenshwander and Cao GuimarĂ£es. While JM liked Tunga's large sculpture of a reclining headless skeleton on a hammock, I enjoyed the same artist's installation wherein the shadows of a horde of contained, live flies were projected by lamplight onto the walls of a small, narrow room. I also liked Jim Shaw's The Donner Party- a panorama of scuptures loosely based on the historical event, as well as his collection of paintings "found" in thrift stores. There was so much good stuff to see at P.S.1. that it would have justified the entire day had I not seen anything else. For $5, you couldn't possibly find a better value.

Next we took a sweaty walk to the Sculpure Center. Unfortunately we didn't find much inspiring in the happiness of objects show on the gound floor. But we ultimately got our money's worth with Christian Tomaszewski's On Chapels, Caves, and Erotic Mystery. This walkthrough series of interior spaces was inspired by David Lynch's Blue Velvet. I have a penchant for dark rides, and the experience of wending through Tomaszewski's creation was satisfyingly eerie and unsettling. It's all in the lovingly-created creepiness of the details. If you have any possibility of engaging this work, I heartily recommend it.

JM was leary about following up with a visit to the Fisher Landau Center for Art. Although he'd never been there, he wasn't excited about having to invest the admission price and time to go to an out-of-the-way contemporary art museum founded by a single collector. He ended up being pleasantly surprised by the quality of the work. There are a lot of ultra successful artists represented in the clean, air conditioned space on 30th Street. JM entertained himself by trying to identify the artists without consulting the gallery guide, while I mostly puzzled over why these selections are considered to be the best of what the last 47 years have had to offer. It reminded me that there was once a time when my bullshit meter was constantly abuzz when viewing modern art. Anyway we both liked the paintings by Zachary Wollard, and we were quite pleased to discover that the Center charges no admission fees.

We rounded out the day with trips to D.U.M.B.O and Brooklyn Heights. JM thought I'd appreciate these areas, but they really weren't at all what I'm looking for in NYC. The Heights is a typical brownstone community of ample means, and D.U.M.B.O is a sadly gentrified place that was obviously once quite interesting from an aesthetic standpoint. Any particular character that once distinguished these riverside communities has succumbed to "urban renewal". While this transition is probably good for NYC from an economic standpoint, it is nonetheless lamentable.

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