A couple of end-of-summer visits to NYC

It’s Labor Day morning, and I’m kind of exhausted from a visit to NYC yesterday, so I think I’m going to write a rambling blog post about my two recent visits to the city, and some associated topics. I hadn’t gotten into New York much this summer. I always think about doing a bunch of stuff in the city over the summer, then I do about 10% of that. Or maybe 5%. Anyway, I tried to make up for it a bit with a visit last Friday, and another visit yesterday.

On last Friday’s visit, I first went to the Met. I hadn’t been there in a while. I finally saw the Play It Loud exhibit. I honestly didn’t expect much from it, but it was great. They had a lot of stuff in this exhibit that reminded me of my teenage years, including my obsession with Jimi Hendrix, and Rick Griffin’s album and poster art, and guitar rock in general. The exhibit included one of Griffin’s Hendrix posters (which I had on a t-shirt when I was a kid), Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar, and many other guitars, played by the likes of Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, and many others. I don’t actually listen to a lot of classic rock these days, but the exhibit reminded me of how much I loved that stuff as a kid. So that was cool.

I also went to the Batman exhibit at the Society of Illustrators. There have been a number of interesting exhibits at the Society of Illustrators in recent years, and I keep meaning to go to them, but I never get around to it. So I’m glad to say that I finally made it to one of their exhibits. It’s a small space, and the exhibit was primarily black and white original art, so it’s not immediately visually impressive, when you first walk in. But they had a lot of really great art on the walls. There’s a good write-up of it on syfy.com and another one at the NY Times. I was glad to see that they had some art up from some of my personal favorite Batman artists, like Jim Aparo, Marshall Rogers, and Gene Colan. (Colan, in particular, isn’t primarily known as a Batman artist, but I really liked his Batman work in the 80s.)

For yesterday’s visit to NYC, I made it to three museums: the Guggenheim, the Met (again), and the Frick. At the Guggenheim, their main exhibit right now is called Artistic License. The idea is that they’ve gotten six artists to curate themed mini-exhibits through their rotunda, one on each level. It’s a mixed bag. There are some works in there that I really liked, but a lot of it didn’t really do much for me.

At the Met, I saw Apollo’s Muse again. (I’d seen it once before, not long after it opened.) I also made a point of wandering into Death is Elsewhere, which I’d also seen before. And I saw Epic Abstraction again, which honestly isn’t that great, but it’s got some good Jackson Pollock works, so I like it. And, for the full Met experience, I got a hot dog from this cart right outside of the Met for lunch. (The lady in that video is actually the one I bought the hot dog from.)

After that, I stopped by the Frick. I hadn’t been there in a while, and I figured that maybe I should, since they’re closing for renovations soon. They have an Edmund de Waal exhibit going on right now. I was curious about that, since I read his book The Hare with Amber Eyes a few years ago, and liked it a lot. But the exhibit didn’t really do much for me. It’s a bit too weird seeing his abstract art in a setting like the Frick, I guess.

I wound up doing a fair bit of walking yesterday. I took the subway up to the 86th, initially, and walked across Central Park to get to the Guggenheim. Then, I walked down to the Met, then the Frick, then walked the rest of the way back to Penn Station. So that’s a fair bit of walking for an old man like me. (Which is why I’m too tired to do much other than write a blog post this morning.)

As an aside, I walked by the Paris theater at one point, and thought to myself, “Cool. The Paris is still there.” Well, yes, it’s still there, but it just closed. It was, apparently, the last single-screen theater in the city. I’m kind of sad about that, since i have some good memories of seeing films at a number of the great single-screen theaters in NYC, including the Paris. And now they’re all gone. The article ends with this quote: “All these people lamenting the loss of the Paris, I would be curious about the last time they set foot there.” Well, ok, yeah, it was probably twenty years ago.

If it wasn’t raining today, and if I wasn’t so tired, I’d take a look at this Labor Day art guide and maybe catch a couple of more exhibits in the city. I’d like to get to the Whitney Biennial before it closes, for instance. But I think I’m going to spend the day reading comics and watching TV instead.

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