Walking Across the High Line

DSC_0024One of the things I did while I was in New York was walking the High Line, an abandoned railroad that was preserved and transformed into an overground park, opening its first section in 2009. It covers the area from West 34th Street to Gansevoort Street in between 10th and 12th Avenues.

DSC_0032

I crossed the park South to North, which took me about two hours, but I stopped for breaks and pictures. I went there around late afternoon in June, which I think is a good time because earlier in the day would have been too hot. Most of the park is quite narrow, so I covered all of it in my walk.

DSC_0018

There were things I expected to see and things I didn’t, so in a way I had mixed feelings about this walk. First of all, I knew the landscaping was going to be great, and I wasn’t disappointed by it. The plants merge beautifully with the pathway and the cityscape; and even though the park is narrow it’s far from boring. There are different sections offering different things, such as benches, wooden lounge chairs, or refreshment stations.

DSC_0035It also feels different because you are moving within the city, and you come across some stunning architecture along the way. The thing about New York is that you encounter all sorts of different styles, be it in the way people dress or in the way buildings are designed. And in terms of diversity of architecture, the High Line does quite well. I found it very enjoyable to look at all those eclectic buildings and how they connect to the green spaces  of the park. On the other hand, I thought the High Line would be higher than it actually is. It doesn’t overlook anything, it’s not a pathway across rooftops, but somewhere where you can get a perspective that gives more depth than just street level.

DSC_0033

There’s another thing I didn’t expect, but this one was more on the enjoyable part: the High Line has some really cool art exhibited all along. For example, the picture below is an installation by Rashid Johnson called Blocks, and it will be on view there until March 2016, and the one above features a physical graffiti by Damian Ortega. The High Line also offers a range of creative activities for children and adults, like for example a giant white Lego building station (which is on until September 2015). I think that this and its proximity to the Whitney Museum (which I didn’t have time to visit, unfortunately) make it a great cultural urban space.

DSC_0019

There is one thing that bothered me about the High Line and New York in general though and that is the amount of construction there is in this place. A few sections of the parks, I had to walk under scaffolds and it really took away from my enjoyment of it. The northernmost section of the High Line is located in a more industrial zone and the views are strikingly different there. Needless to say this section was not my favorite.

DSC_0038

Despite the extreme amount of construction and the large number of tourists that were there (it’s quite a narrow path, remember); I enjoyed my walk on the High Line and I would recommend it. They have a great website that you can check out right here for a map, a guide to the different entrances, opening hours, and more about the art and activities going on. I would suggest going there during daytime but either in the morning before 11 or in the late afternoon, because the shady spots are rare and it can get quite hot. It’s a really nice spot and it gives a different perspective on New York, so don’t miss it.

DSC_0021

Duane Michals Seasons Sequence|Perceptions of Nature Exhibition

All pictures courtesy of The New York Review of Books

These four chromogenic prints are respectively entitled The Wintergarden’s White (2006), In Spring All Seems Green (2007), Summer is a Carnival of Cotton Candy Pink (2007), and Autumn is the Pot of Gold at the End of August’s Rainbow (2007). I came across them at a retrospective of the American photographer called “Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals” at the Peabody Essex Museum (review coming soon) which ended on June 21. They were displayed in this order, winter to autumn, except horizontally. These photographs actually belong to the Carnegie Museum of Art although they are not currently on show.

These are not Duane Michals’s most famous works, but they are part of his most recent. He is mainly renowned for his sequences of black and white photographs, which constituted the bulk of the exhibition. I was attracted to them because they were in colors and were landscapes rather than portraits, but also because they had this peculiar fan shape that made them stand out from the rest of the exhibition. They all represent Michals’s garden in all four seasons from the same angle which is simple and straightforward.

I figured this set would be appropriate to introduce my new exhibition, Perceptions of Nature. This exhibition will explore the relationships between artists and their environment, how they interpret it, how they use it, and how it affects them. In the meantime, the Metal Colors exhibitions will still be running because the advantage of this being a blog is that I don’t have space limitations and therefore I can still post artwork relevant to all exhibitions.

Blue, White, Green

Picture courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts

This artwork is a series of 35 oil paintings on canvas by American artist Ralph Coburn, dating to 1950 (approximately). The pieces are actually meant to be placed in any order and there are no specific instructions as to how they should be exhibited. I like the current display at the MFA, and the symmetry and regularity it gives off. However, this work is interesting because it allows for this versatility and different readings even though it is essentially linear. A different disposition would generate a totally different reaction and I think this is mainly what makes a work of art powerful.

Nobu Usuzukuri

IMG_7422I had this amazing mandala-shaped dish for my birthday dinner at China Chilcano, one of chef Jose Andres‘s restaurants in Washington DC. This restaurant is Peruvian/Asian (mainly Chinese and Japanese) fusion; and though it seems like a very far fetched combination, everything was amazing and I highly recommend you visit this place. Mostly the fusion happens in that Chinese and Japanese culinary styles and principles are applied to native Peruvian ingredients. This is actually a thing and it has a name: Chifa for the Chinese inspired dishes and Nikkei for the Japanese. The restaurant also has more traditional Peruvian food, also known as Criollo.

I’m not here to write a restaurant review though, so let me tell you more about this dish. First of all I had no idea it would look like this when I ordered it so I was quite amazed. It is most closely related to the Nikkei cuisine, and you can find it under Tiraditos in the menu, which stands for a sashimi-inspired raw fish dish. This particular one features Hawaiian sun-fish, watermelon radishes, and a seaweed salad. The sauces are white soy ponzu and aji limo pepper. It was a totally new and beautiful experience, and I hope to encounter and feature more of Jose Andres’s creations in the future.

Greek bronze-pointed neck amphora with stand

Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This amphora from Greece dates back to the Late Archaic or Classical period in Greece (500-450 BCE). It has some very fine elaborate decoration featuring feline heads on the handles. It is mostly corroded but I think the relationship between the blue color of the corrosion and the metal itself provide a certain aesthetic dimension to it. This amphora is currently on display at the Met in New York and you can learn more about it here.

Museum of Fine Arts Review

DSC_1210Useful Info:

  • Collections: Art from the five continents, ranging from the Ancient World to Contemporary Art.
  • City: Boston, MA, USA.
  • Opening hours: Saturday-Tuesday: 10am-4:45pm; Wednesday-Friday: 10am-9:45pm
  • Price: $25 regular, $23 concessions, free for children under 17 or 6 (depending on visit time)
  • Website

The MFA is the first place I visited in Boston and it is still my favorite museum that I visited during my US East Coast trip,but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The first thing you should know is that the MFA is a big museum, but it is still manageable. I spent approximately five hours there but I took my time and had a lunch break. The museum has 4 floors, and is divided into five main wings plus special exhibitions. I entered from the Fenway entrance (North) that you can see on the panoramic picture,which takes you straight through the European Art galleries, one levels 1 and 2. On the East wing, and spread across all four floors is the Art of the Americas. Then, the South wing is divided between Art of the Ancient world to the East (levels 1 and 2), and Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa (levels 1 and 2). Finally, the West wing houses the contemporary art galleries on levels 1 and 2. This may sound a bit complex but the museum is actually really easy to navigate and the color-coded visitor map is very easy to read and features highlights from the collections and where to find them. There are two reference points at the center of the museum: the Shapiro Family courtyard (pictured below) and the Rotunda.

DSC_1220There are many things I really enjoyed about these museums, but here are some highlights. Firstly, I found the museum extremely easy to navigate. All the galleries are clearly numbered and there are almost no dead ends, so you can have a fluid visit without having to repeat rooms. So even though the museum is large, you don’t waste time by tracing back your steps. Another thing I appreciated were the free tours offered regularly in all areas of the museum. I think that they partly justify the cost of the entry ticket. I didn’t listen to a complete one but I stumbled upon a couple and they seemed interesting and led by professional and knowledgeable people who don’t only talk about the art itself but also give some anecdotes about it and how it relates to the outside world. Speaking of value for money, another interesting feature of the MFA are the “Conservation in action” rooms (pictured below). My friend who was interning there told me that the curators are not a fan of these rooms because they take up some of the storage space but as a visitor, I thought it was a great addition to the museum. You get to see conservators work on some pieces through a glass wall, which can be a little strange but is also a really nice insight on the behind the scenes aspect of the museum life.

DSC_1266The price for the ticket also includes temporary exhibitions. The Hokusai exhibit was on  during my visit and I highly recommend it. It runs until August 9 2015. This exhibition was one of my highlights because it was so simply yet well designed. Every part focused on a theme, and the wall colors changed accordingly. It was easy to understand even without reading labels and explanatory panels, which provided more in depth information. There was also a small display case at the exit with objects that the museum staff gathered featuring the famous wave, which I thought was engaging. The most impressive part is probably that all the pieces on display (and it is a substantial exhibit) belong to the collection of the MFA. In terms of the permanent collection, my favorite displays included ancient jewelry and a case with Egyptian faience, both in the Ancient World wing. This wing is being renovated, so there are some new rooms and some older ones, and it should be even more impressive in the future. Another favorite of mine is the Contemporary Art wing (pictured below) which features some impressive pieces.

DSC_1234I would suggest two options for visiting the MFA. Either you want to do a comprehensive visit, in which case it is worth spending a few hours there. You can have a lunch or snack break; I had mine in the garden cafeteria which I highly recommend. You have a great choice of food, including an elaborate salad bar, and beautiful seating outside if it’s a nice day. The other option is picking a wing or two plus possibly a temporary exhibition and just visiting those parts, in which case it would take a couple of hours. Overall, I think that the MFA is more than just worth a visit. It is comprehensive without being overwhelming, well designed and well curated, engaging but not imposing. The pictures I took don’t do it justice but I love this museum and I can’t wait until I visit it again. Stay on the lookout for more reviews and musings in Boston, New York, and Washington DC, and for some new art inspired by everything I saw during my trip.

Rating

  • Accessibility (location, price, disabled access, transport links and parking): 7.5/10
  • Architecture: 8.5/10
  • Collections: 9.5/10
  • Display: 9/10
  • Resources (explanation panels, guides, plans): 9/10
  • Extras (shop, events, exhibitions): 8/10
  • Overall: 9/10