Monday, June 2, 2008

Now That's Worth Crossing the Street For

When I was a kid my mom was a textile artist and a weaver. She made pieces that would hang on a wall or suspended in a space—or on your bed or your floor—by hand-dyeing fabrics, or with a gigantic loom using yarn and thread and other materials, or combinations of both. My brother and I would always give her shit when we were walking along and she would point out patterns in stuff—a tree or the sidewalk or a sand dollar or something—and she'd go on about how mind-blowing it was. Now we are pretty much the same way. Patterns, patterns everywhere. So anyway, she has a regular job these days, but she still thinks like an artist, and we were looking forward to visiting the galleries on her last day in New York.

We started the day with brunch at The Park. I love that place but the service has been kind of inconsistent the last few times we've gone—everyone seems spaced out all the time, things take way too long, you don't get exactly what you ordered, and they won't accommodate special requests such as, I don't know, extra anchovies on the side of your chicken caesar salad. Still, you can't beat the decor, which so perfectly expresses its aesthetic that the restaurant is a work of art in and of itself.After waiting out a pretty serious downpour with some bloodies and beers, we headed up to the galleries. As always, lots of interesting things to see on the way.

We saw a bunch of good shows. Here are some of my favorites.

Idaho-born artist Matthew Brannon at Friedrich Petzel Gallery. It's really tough to see the images online, because one of the biggest elements is the small letterpressed text below each image. One of them reads:

Of course you don't like carnations. That's half the reason we do. That's who we are. Those who like what you don't. And we know why. The paintings you buy, the films you attend, the books you read. All terrible. But what's actually great that's worth crossing the street for.

Another one (actually from a previous show) reads

They had to pump her stomach - Amazing what they found - Among the arugula, watercress, blue-fin tuna, age-dried steak - There it is - Your Heart - And look...a bunch of razor blades - Little light bulbs - Cocaine - Little travel bottles - Anti-depressants - Your old untouched job application

I think I could have spent about another hour at that show.

David Shrigley at Anton Kern Gallery.

Wes Lang at Zieher Smith, which I talked about before.

Kerry James Marshall at Jack Shainman Gallery.

After the galleries we went to the Museum of Modern Art, which my mom had not seen since the remodel. The big show right now is Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson, which you can view online here. The first piece you see is this fan suspended from five stories above, swinging itself around the big main room on the second floor.

My favorite part of the exhibit was this circular room with walls that slowly change colors.

There's also an exhibit up right now on books in art (and books as art). This is hanging outside it, where we took a much needed load off in some cushy leather chairs before going on.

Emily takes art history classes at MOMA one night a week (it's just across Sixth Avenue from her office) and it's great seeing the museum with her because she knows it so well, and points out things I would otherwise probably miss. One of them was this great film by Rodney Graham, of a beautiful old typewriter getting covered in snow.

It's an interesting comment on industry and technology becoming obsolete and/or reclaimed by nature. In the part shown at top left it looks like a landscape—it could just as easily be a factory in Pennsylvania.

The film is shown on this massive old projector.

After art appreciation day we settled in at The Modern, one of the nicest places in all of New York City. The service is impeccable, the drinks are interesting (I had a cilantro-infused Tanqueray with lime juice), you never know what kind of bar snacks they'll hand you (popcorn with truffle oil), and the menu is off the meter (we ordered the chicken liver paté and a big ol' cheese tart). Good, and good for you.

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