Monday, June 26, 2017

NYC Day 8: The Met Cloisters, and Week 1 Expenses

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Yet another first visit, this time to the Met Cloisters, a Medieval museum located in Fort Tryon Park, at the top end of Manhattan. I timed my visit to catch a midday tour/talk entitled Wings in the Middle Ages: Birds, Beasts, Angels, and Altarpieces, led by Michael Morris an expert in this particular area. Between now and the end of August there are another eleven different gallery talks/tours that I could participate in. These take place on weekends at 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM. There are also daily Highlights tours (at 3:00 PM), and daily Gardens of the Met Cloisters tours (at 1:00 PM).

Among many other treasures, the Cloisters Museum if famous for its numerous medieval tapestries, and the most famous of these are the magnificent tapestries that are known as the Unicorn Tapestries.

Even though I have only managed to visit each of the museums and their offshoots once each to date, purchasing memberships to MoMA and The Met Museum is fast turning out to be the best thing I have done in preparation for this visit. Since I feel no obligation to exhaust myself trying to see as much as possible each time I visit one of these institutions, I find my outings are much more relaxing and less stressful than they might have otherwise been if I was trying to pack too much into each visit.

As near as I can work it out, the weekly spend for my first week in New York was just $483, which averages out to a daily figure of $69.00. This includes transport, accommodation, food, recreation, and shopping. For readers coming late to these updates, my expenses are so low due to the fact that I am apartment and cat sitting for a friend, and I am contributing a very nominal amount to help offset costs associated with maintaining this apartment. Hence the biggest expense of any trip, accommodation, is turning out to be my least expensive cost, something for which am incredibly grateful for.

NYC Day 7: Michelangelo at the Oculus, Georgia O'Keeffe at The Met Museum

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Day seven saw me make my first foray below Midtown, where I went as far as Fulton Street, and went to the Oculus, that soaring transportation hub that covers a network of subway lines and PATH train lines link Manhattan with New Jersey. Coincidentally, a major display of large scale reproductions of scenes from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes had began that very day. It costs $15 to get up close and personal with the panels, but people can get a reasonably good look at the works without having to pay. However, the closer the experience, the better I would suggest. Having said that, I elected not to get up close and personal, but will do so before the exhibition ends on July 23.

Finding myself within sight of the Apple Store at the Oculus, I simply had to stop in and check out the new 10.5" iPad Pro. I am finding increasingly difficult to ignore the Siren Song of the new iPad, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it won't be too long before I treat myself to the latest iteration of that amazing device.

Met Museum art class in progress

After a late lunch I headed to the Metropolitan Museum for my first 2017 look at that major institution. Despite the several hours I spent there, I never got much further than a few rooms on the first floor. Specifically, I spent most of my time in the Greek and Roman sections, while using my smartphone to listen to audio guides associated with some of the art works.

I eventually made my way to the Modern and Contemporary Art wing where I was delighted to find Thomas Hart Benton's magnificent America Today series depicting aspects of American life as he saw it during the early 1930s. I also stayed until 7:30pm, long enough to participate in a talk about Georgia O'Keeffe's Cow's Skull: Red, White, and Blue, one of her best known works.

I could have stayed on until 10:00pm and participated in a Members Only tour of one of the major exhibitions, but by 7:30 I was way past hanging around until 9:00 when the event was due to start.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

NYC Day 6: A Visit to MoMA, and The Yankees

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Here's a quick wrap up of my main activities over the past three days. On Thursday I made my way to the Museum of Modern Art for the first of what will be many visits. I spent 90 minutes or so taking a good look at Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, a major exhibition that has been underway for a month or so already.

To be honest, I don't pretend to understand abstract art, and I suspect that like a lot of people who don't really 'get' this type of art, I tend to have a somewhat poor opinion of it. Even as I wandered through the exhibition, I could see other visitors making comments to each other about some of the works on display. The general feeling that a lot of people have about abstract art -- including myself -- is summed up in the comment, "Even I could do that!"

To which the artist in question might have asked, "Then why didn't you?"

It's a fair question, and one I don't have a good answer to, so I'll just leave lying there on the table for ongoing contemplation.

Once I felt I had seen enough of the abstract art, I took a quick look at Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking The Archive, another major exhibition that will require multiple visits to get the full value from. In fact, I was quite overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the exhibition during my brief walk through the twelve rooms (each of which focuses on a different aspect of Wright's extensive career).

From this exhibition I made my way up to the general art wings where I spent ten minutes with Money's Water Lilies, and where I paused briefly before some Mexican artists including of course Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. By this point I had reached my art appreciation limit, and was ready for some lunch. I was also dog tired, and would have loved to be able to lie down and get some sleep, but I have decided to stop my afternoon naps and push through each day well into the night in an attempt to get on top of my ongoing struggle with jet lag.

As tired as I was, and I was very tired, I took a Bx13 bus to Yankee Stadium to watch the New York Yankees take on the Los Angeles Angels, in what was being sold as a half-priced game. I should have realized of course, that 42,353 other people (or thereabouts), had also decided that they would take advantage of this special promotion. The massive queues at all the gates to Yankee Stadium had to be seen to be believed, and once seen had to be negotiated with great forbearance as they inched their way past hard-pressed security officers. Oh, and as for that 'half-price deal', it seems I didn't qualify for the deal because the promotion was being sponsored by MasterCard, and tickets had to be purchased with a credit card from that company, and I had left my card home. Ces la vie!

Since I had made the effort to get to the stadium, there was nothing for it but to pony up $21, which got me a seat in the boondocks high above the field of dreams with an eagle eyed view of the play far below. In fact, I joked to nobody in particular that if I was any higher up I would be in danger of getting nose bleeds because of the rarified atmosphere. Another pithy thought occurred to me to the effect that if I had to go any higher, I would need to be issued with bottled oxygen, again due to the rarified atmosphere so high above the ground. Some days I surprise even myself with my pithy thoughts!

For the record, the Yankees copped a shellacking from the Los Angeles Angels, despite leading the Angels early in the game 5 -1. I left at the start of the ninth innings when the Angels had reversed their fortunes and were well in the lead with a score of 10 - 5. Ces la vie, indeed!
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