Thursday, July 19, 2007

NY Trip: Red Hook and Chelsea.

When I woke up this morning I only had one more must-see on my checklist. So we drove down to Red Hook- a little Brooklyn neighhborhood on the banks of the Long Island Sound. I had read that the waterfront in the area was one of the last few uncongested and industrial places in NYC. I though I could get some shots of a community that was lost in time. JM had never actually been there, so we had to improvise our route. We ended up finding it fairly easily.

As advertised, Red Hook was indeed a unique area. Although being flanked by what used to be some pretty rough housing projects, it really did have the feeling of a traditional, non-gentrified neighhborhood. There were a few examples of post-apocalyptic, degraded buildings at its very edge. A couple of these physical plants were still being used for some ostensible workmanlike function. I took several representative photos of the graffiti and debris of the wastelands. There was also a rusting old subway car along a promenade in the back of a fancy groccery store that made for a compelling (and maybe symbolic) image. I suppose we could have lingered there and sought out more odd sights, but I was aware that JM wanted to make a trip to the Chelsea galleries, and I was looking forward to joining him. I'm glad I got to see Red Hook before the inevitable change that is coming to transform it into the next condo-enclave or "big box" store supercenter.

Before our trip into Manhattan via subway, we needed to find a secure place to stash the car. JM thought that maybe Park Slope would be a good idea, but we ended up on an extended search for parking that finally ended on 3rd Avenue, by 62nd Street in Brooklyn. A pleasant subway ride landed us on 23rd Street, and a walk across the City brought us to the central repository for art in the United States. If you've never been to Chelsea before, you should know that you could never visit all the galleries in a single day. It's easy after an hour or two to start taking the work for granted. We saw a lot of great stuff. A few highlights among many worth mentioning:

-Humberto Duque, "Revenge of the Lawn" @ Galeria Ramis Barquet - A magical world of colorful drawings, vibrant clay sculpture, paper cut=outs and sculptures. Certainly playful, but not without a bit of gristle.

-"A House is Not a Home" @ Carin Golden Fine Art (curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody) - Just an excellent example of curatorial excellence applied to a fairly broad theme. Photos by Kevin Cooley were a particular standout.

-Souther Salazar, @ Jonathan Levine Gallery - I ran all the way down to 20th Street to catch this fifteen minutes before the close of the gallery. It was totally worth it. I knew his comics work and expected to be pleased, yet this solo exceeded my expectations. Miniature worlds of self-contained dreams. More candy for the eyes. Sure... they had Shepard Fairey there too. So what?!

-Marnie Weber "Variations on a Western Song", @ Fredericks & Freiser - Wow. First you see the collages in the front room. Eerie... a bit disturbing maybe... carnivalesque certainly. There's humor there, but the imagery is transcendently transfixing. But you need to go through the curtain in the back of the gallery and watch her 25-minute video meditation on spiritualism, the feminine voice and the mythos of the American frontier. A truly great work that I'll never be able to purchase on DVD to show all you good people... though you definitely deserve it.

Of course there's plenty more to tell you about. But I have to admit that I am now truly overstimulated by this trip. I'm actually seriously considering driving home tomorrow- a day earlier than I expected. I have packed such an inordinately huge dose of activity and information into a relatively small window of time, and I am reeling from it. Maybe I'll feel like I cheated myself later, but I don't think I can process anymore without a break of quiet reflection. Unless the oceans rise a few feet, NYC will be there some distant day, awaiting my return. And I'll be refreshed with a brand new itinerary in hand.

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