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NYC - Day 2 by Leah Jean
For Saturday we had preordered afternoon tickets for the Staten Island Ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty island (2 different ferry stops). The bad thing was that the Statue of Liberty was being reinovated so you couldn't go up in it. Which was no big deal for me though because I had been up in it once before ... albeit about 20 years ago. So I knew that it could be a royal pain in the tush waiting because of long lines to get in and then move slowly up on the stairs in it. Also it was further away so we would have to have left at about noon to get there for our 1:00 ticket time.

But that trip didn't happen for me anyway because of another reason.

One of the main reasons I went to The Big Apple was to visit one or more of the very famous museums. I'd had my heart set on the Guggenheim at first ... another Frank Lloyd Wright architectural feat with modern art inside. But after reading a guide book it didn't look like such a good choice. Instead the author highly praised a couple of others: The National Museum of History (a hugh undertaking though!) and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA for short). Unfortunately I was a little disenheartened because the museums didn't open until about 10:00 in the morning and weren't open on Sunday. Well, Friday didn't work, Saturday didn’t leave much time, and Sunday was a complete no go. But I found out that the MOMA was only about 4 blocks from our hotel. So I figured, even if I only got to be there for an hour, at least it was a peek. So after taking a few wrong turns I eventually found the museum. I was soon in "hog heaven".

The building was built specifically to house the modern art of several donated private collections and was beautifully designed itself with large stairways, escalators, balcony type walkways, and very large windows. It even had a sculpture garden with plants, walkways, benches, fountains, and ... of course ... sculptures. There was an outdoor cafe if you cared to sit and enjoy the view while eating. It was a descent sized area surrounded by high walls and variously sized high-rises. Several of the sculptures were very impressive while some were a bit … uh … undecypherable. There was a Joan Miro entitled “Moon Bird”. Very large, shiny, and slightly resembled a very fat bird. But then it was modern art.

Then I headed for the other floors. And there was 6 of them filled with wonderful things. Here’s a list of the floors and what they contained:

1. Lobby, good sized store, restaurant, sculpture garden (technically not a floor but whose splitting hairs?).
2. Contemporary galleries (1980 – present), prints and illustrated books, special exhibits, café, store.
3. Architecture and design drawings, photography, special exhibits.
4. Paintings and sculpture: Lee Bontecou, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, etc.
5. Paintings and sculpture: Paul Cezanne, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, etc.
6. Store and special exhibitions

I started with the 5th floor. Just standing in front of so many paintings and sculptures that I’d become familiar with thru books, T.V., studing in classes, etc. was just amazing! I especially enjoyed the Picasso’s, of which there were several. The Harlequin one was definitely familiar. There was also Van Gogh’s very famous self portrait and “Stary Night”. I recognized some of the Monet’s, Dali’s, and Matisse’s ... if not the specific paintings definitely the styles. And they were all within a few feet of me. Of course, some paintings and sculpture you had to move forward or backup until you got the appropriate distance. Sometimes it was hard to gauge though. But it was all absolutely wonderful!

At this point I said to myself “forget the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island”. So I walked back to the hotel and informed the others that I’d decided to forego the Ferry, wished them a good trip, and then walked back to the museum. Museum tickets were good for all day fortunately.

So I returned to the 5th floor, finished there, and then proceeded on to the 4th. Again more amazing paintings, sculptures, … and some art work that kind of defied categorizing. A lot of the pieces were very thought provoking or just down-right enjoyable. One of the stranger bits was a sort of painting that looked like an old building wall with a large hole in it. The art piece, the frame of which was flat against the wall, actually sank into the wall. Guess they had to cut a hole in the museum’s wall to “hang” that sucker there. I recognized some of the works of more recent artists such as Jasper Johns and Roy Leichtenstein. I still wasn’t greatly impressed with the works of Warhol though. Even though his works were well executed. The subject matter … eh. Unfortunately my feet started hurting worse about this time. [Tired from Friday and Saturday running around.] So I took a break and went to the café for lunch. I then proceeded to the 6th floor store to purchase a few postcards and a video of the museum.

There was one rather annoying thing though. Apparently it was okay to take pictures of the … uh … pictures. Probably as long as you didn’t use a flash. Since there were suit attired guards in most of the rooms and people were taking pictures in the same rooms with them, it must have been okay. Especially Asians (Japanese?) seemed fond of doing this. Several times I had to go around or wait for someone to pose next to a painting while the other person focused and shot the “picture”. After awhile I finally got tired of this nonsense and just started walking in front of people with cameras who were blocking my way. Grrrrr.

Went a little faster through the 3rd floor because my eyes and neck were also getting tired. Being a tourist can be a lot of work! Some of the modern furniture on this floor was quite interesting. There was some pretty wild stuff you could actually use! Even though some looked not so comfortable. But even the not so comfortable chairs were lookin' awfully good to my poor old dogs. There was one smaller room on this floor that was one big piece of artwork covering all 4 walls! Now that I think about it, I’m not sure how they managed that because I think that the art work was directly on the walls itself. Did they bring in the painter to do it or was it reproduced from another exhibit? Can’t remember what the description said.

Kind of skimmed through the 2nd floor because my feet and legs were really sore by now. There was one special exhibition that was rather fun and imaginative though. Definitely worth a bit more discomfort. I think that the art pieces were called “corpses” or “bodies” or something else not too appetizing. Anyway it was a way that artists, when they got together, entertained themselves. Imagine 4-5 artists sitting around in a Paris café on an afternoon. One person would produce a piece of paper and someone would start drawing a picture on it of a (human?) form. Then each artist would take a turn at a different section of it. Probably starting at the top someone would draw the “head”. Then the next artist would draw the “neck”, and on down. Therefore the picture or body could end up with 4-5 sections with distinctively different modern styles. Needless to say, the pictures were very strange looking with some very weird body parts. Some of the pictures had the names of all the contributing artists beside them and some did not. [Lost over time apparently.] Most of the names I didn’t recognize but a few were definitely well known. I’m sure art students or experts could have a field day with these!

That evening after all the running around, most of our group sat out on the 3rd floor outdoors bar/restaurant of our hotel and snacked, drank, and played dominoes. I konked out around 10:00 but apparently the other crazy women walked down to the theater zone later and bought a pizza. Pat didn’t feel too good though the next morning. But I’d forgotten that she was a diabetic and she really shouldn’t have been drinking and eating like she did. Tsk, tsk, tsk. I think that she skipped her walk around Central Park Sunday morning with Kelly to sleep in. [Yes, we weren’t that far from the famous Central Park also.]

All in all, I think that we all had a pretty good day. Can you tell that I did?

Leah

p.s. Jim, your decision was a very good one. :)

 

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