I have been looking at items from the Museum of the City of New York on their amazingly thorough archive online for the past few months. I have been looking at photographs of different architecture that I have viewed on my trip as well as influential events in relation to design in New York such as the World’s Fair in 1939, which included some incredible temporary modernist structures. I wanted to visit the museum to learn more about how the city came into being, as well as viewing items in relation to the period I was looking at.
The museum is situated at the top of Central Park, overlooking it, in what appears to be a former large mansion house. The galleries themselves are not massive but the exhibitions themselves are very considered, informative and of a very high quality of content.
The exhibition on the first floor covers the origination of the city as a trading port city, to the booming metropolis today, following it through various depressions. The exhibition’s text and visuals are accompanied by audio, film and selected objects from their archive related to each period. Particularly of interest to me were the periods between 1915-1940s and how the architecture considerably grew upwards in an early Modernist style we now call ‘art deco’.
Manhattan was named after the Manhatta American Indian Tribe which previously lived on the island of sorts. In the 1/2 hour long film narrated by actor Stanley Tucci, heee describes in a quickly brushed over way how the Manhatta tribe were happy to be paid a good fee to leave their land and move on. It was all made to sound very win win but I doubt it was this amicable.
However the film and is exhibits gave a good background on how this mega city was invented, including building a canal all the way down from Canada to power the cities water needs. The museum also talks importantly about how the country was built on immigration and how these cultures have lived side-by-side next to each other over time.
After this I visited The Drawing Center, which is a not for profit gallery that focuses entirely on artists who explore drawing. I particularly enjoyed the work of Elijah Burgher there.
Although I occasionally exhibit drawings, drawing is really the central park of my work and it informs all final work that I show. I have a lot of drawings and paintings in the studio that are stored away that aren’t the final work but make the bones of it all.
When I lived in London I had to work at home due to studio costs, and indeed the high cost of everything else, so I would mainly only work on drawings that were A2 size maximum.
My last meeting in New York was with artist Michelle Weinberg who is originally from New York, but was based in Miami for many years. She is now living in New York, at the amazing live/work space Westbeth in Manhattan and divides her time between projects in New York and Miami.
Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to meet up in Miami last year due to schedules but we have been communicating online since then. It was great to meet and talk about our work and experiences of living and working as an artist in each country. As we had so much in common it felt as though I had known Michelle for many years!
Michelle kindly took me to the Fashion Institute of Technology galleries that had some really interesting exhibits from their collection on show, which included an exhibition on the colour Pink which was just fascinating with so many unique designer items on show.
I finished off the week with a walk along the high line in Chelsea, which was lovely to see as I had heard so much about it.
I had a full 6 days in New York and it was brilliant to get to understand the beginnings of the development of the architecture I was looking at, as well as the art scene there. I’m really grateful to all the galleries, artists and residencies that met with me. I would of course really like to go back to develop this understanding more so watch this space! Onwards now onto Miami..