Category Archives: USA

USA, New York – The Bronx twice (Botanical Gardens and Woodlawn Cemetery); One World Trade Centre and last few Manhattan snaps

Bit of a mix for the last post for this NYC trip. Sunny blue sky crisp days make getting out of town without having to go too far a great idea. My first stop for the first time was to visit the NY Botanical Gardens – which also happened to be housing a Georgia O’Keefe exhibit. An excellent way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny day.

I then headed for Arthur Avenue in the Bronx – the authentic Little Italy and ate real Italian food – not the touristy stuff you get in Little Italy in Manhattan.

The day after I was back in the Bronx to do the once a month free history tour of Woodlawn cemetery where numerous worthies from the commercial, entertainment and literary world are buried (including Duke Ellington and Miles Davis in an area where a lot of jazz related people are together). They do an impressive turn in mausoleums – some have curtains, are carpeted and many include Tiffany windows too. Another lovely spot to get away from it all and walk around quietly. I will definitely go back to try out some of the other tours.

Back in Manhattan I visited One World Trade Center (or the Freedom Tower for a spectacular ride to the top and pretty amazing views. They spend a lot of time telling you how safe this building is – a bit too much time….

And then I always love the light in NYC – especially when the sun its parts of buildings and provides a natural illumination. Farewell NYC – until the next time.

USA, New York – a pot pourri of NYC experiences – Tnhe Met Breuer, The Met, The Guggenheim and Phil Collins

This was my first visit to the Met Breuer which has taken the space where the Whitney used to be (it has moved to brand new premises in the Meatpacking district). In my view this building has always been ugly and lacking in flair as a place to showcase art and frankly that hasn’t changed with the Met moving in. However it has enabled them to showcase more items with special exhibitions. The first I visited was a throwback to my recent trip to Vienna – Klimt, Schiller and Picasso – but with an emphasis on their more salacious drawings. Interesting artistically but some of the drawings of obviously very young girls seem somehow less appropriate with a modern day eye on feminism. Here is a sample of some of the less salacious art.

The second exhibit was sculpture by Jack Whitten who dies last year. Some of his work was intricate and thought provoking as there is so much in each piece. Also below is a mobile that I just loved – I am a sucker for mobiles.

Although I focused on the amazing Heavenly Bodies exhibit from my last visit to the Met – I also chose to focus on some of the sculptures around the museum. The first is a starving prisoner with his sons who is trying to decide whether to die or eat his children – the children are imploring him to do the latter and one child has already died. Very graphic but amazing piece of work. Completely different this young girl is so clearly in a hurry – great physical movement. The thin lady is a Frank Lloyd Wright sculpture for one of his homes – he rarely did these so interesting and the last one is a very old Chinese ceramic of a lady of high position.

Then a trip to the gorgeous Guggenheim whose design never fails to amaze me. I always start at the top and work my way down the spirals. I attended the opening of a new exhibit by a lady called Hilmer Af Kint – a Swedish female artist who worked in the early 1900s and who rarely displayed her work publicly as she didn’t feel that people were ready for abstract art. Indeed she also insisted that her work not be shown until at least 20 years after she died. She was very spiritual and her paintings in this exhibit reflect her later works which are her “translation” of spiritual messages (not from the dead – more just being in touch with things beyond the obvious) into art. Incredible colors and designs and some very large canvases. It is great that her work is finally becoming accessible to a wider audience.

And then for something completely different – Phil Collins live at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn. Took me back to seeing him in the 80s both in Genesis and solo. He hasn’t aged as well as Elton or Billy J – but he has a great band to support him and his 17 year old son was the drummer.

Couple of bursts of music for those who remember….

USA, Pittsburgh, PA – a side trip to see Elton John’s farewell concert and the “other Frick House”

Pittsburgh is only a 90 minute flight from NYC and my friend Beth had kindly obtained floor tickets for us to see the Elton John Farewell concert. As I am a major fan of his this was a good reason to use airline and hotel points for a quick two night visit.

The Elton John concert didn’t disappoint – it is about my 26th time of seeing him but I never tire of watching him perform and remembering what I was doing when all those classic songs were first released. It really takes you back. Two of my school friends reminded me that we had all gone to see him around 1977 in a concert tour named “As loud as Concord but not quite as pretty”! Great name and of course I have to point out that Elton is still around – just saying……

A few memories from our night at PPG Paints Centre with Beth, Courtney and Lynn.

And for any of the other big fans – a couple of music bursts.

Henry Clay Frick – the steel industrialist came from Pittsburgh. I have always been a big fan of the Frick in NYC which was his house and holds an amazing personal art collection. I never knew there was also a family home of his – Clayton plus an adjoining art museum and classic car and carriage museum – in Pittsburgh. This property is about 20 minutes from downtown in a ritzy area called Squirrel Hill. We paid $15 for a 90 minute tour and there was only 4 of us – excellent value. No pics allowed inside though but our guide knew everything about the house, the art and the family.

A great surprise was getting a bit of early access to an exhibition that was due to open two days after we visited. It was the works of Isabelle de Borchgrave – Fashioning Art out of Paper. She is Belgium and in her 70s and she started to make full size clothing out of paper only about 15 years ago. She seems to have exhibited all over the place including the V and A so if you ever see her work coming to your town I would strongly recommend it. It is hard to explain how amazing her work is so hopefully a picture makes it clear. Incredible to think this is all paper!

USA, New York – Heavenly Bodies at the Met

I used to live quite near the Met and visited regularly. It is a world within a world and somehow I would always magically find new parts of it on every visit – this still sometimes happens when I visit now – which I always do when I’m in NYC.

This time I visited on the last day of the much lauded Heavenly Bodies costume exhibit (seems the costume exhibits are now often curated by Anna Wintour). This theme was all about – fashion, medieval art (it was mostly housed in the area of medieval art and buildings) and Catholicism. An eclectic mix and all to the bellowing sound of orchestral church like symphony.

It was amazing – I hope this photos show why.

USA, NYC – a visit to MOMA, an Ivy League day out in Princeton and a visit to Gulliver’s Gate

Having very much enjoyed seeing Billy Joel and then the play Ferryman, it was time for some different tourist activities.

First stop was MOMA – this place is almost as fantastic for its building design and in-house restaurants as it is for its art. We took a free tour of the sculpture Garden which was a new thing for me. Also liked the Brancusi exhibit and Magritte’s Kissing Couple – weird but strangely more voyeuristic than seeing their faces. At least I thought so!

Then Marjory and I took the took the train to Princeton where her cousin is a professor. I had never visited this town or the university campus before and it is an extraordinarily attractive place to study. Old buildings, beautiful landscaping, sculptures and an excellent art museum all on campus thanks to donations from former alumni.

By the way the character above right was made somewhere between 200 BC and 200 AD. That design would work today. Love it.

And then something totally different – a visit to Gulliver’s Gate which showcases the world in Miniature. It was actually more fun than I expected (I got my face in Niagara Falls!) although major omission with no sign of Australia or NZ???

USA, New York City – a sombre visit to the 9/11 Memorial

I was working in NYC on 9/11 so of course remember it very well in a personal way. While I had visited the reflecting pools which were built on the exact sites of the Twin Towers, I had not been to the memorial museum before but now felt up to doing that.

Firstly I would say that it is very hard to create this type of memorial and it has been done sensitively but honestly too. There are some excellent short movies about the day and an enclosed exhibition where no photos are allowed which covers some of the the more personal and therefore upsetting stories including video of those who jumped rather than burn to death.

There are many parts of what was left of the original buildings including a set of stairs that many escaped down to get out of the building and a distorted fire truck impacted by the fall of the one of the Towers. The docents were excellent – I did a free guided tour – turned out her father had been a firefighter on 9/11 when she was 6 but had been reassigned from Downtown to the Bronx on that day so survived but he was heavily involved in the clear up exercise.

Next to the reflecting pools there is a single tree that survived the devastation and continues to get bigger and stronger each year. Good to see that.

The area outside of the museum and pools is much changed. The Freedom Tower – which I have yet to visit (it has an observatory) reaches up high and the Oculus modern design is the “cover” for a new giant Westfield shopping centre and the subway stations. Life goes on ….

USA, New York City – the High Line, Brooklyn Bridge, Architecture tour by boat, Greenwich Village, Billy Joel

Thrilled to be back in New York City – it just always feels like the place I belong to the most. It’s also been great to have my friends Marjory and Michelle visiting from Vancouver and London to join in the fun for my first few days here.

Started the week with a drizzly day walk of the High Line. Especially liked the look of the new Zaha Hadid apartment block that is going up along the route. I hear it is pretty expensive!

Big weather improvement for our walk across the Brooklyn Bridge – it has been a while since I did that and it is still a great way to get to Brooklyn and take those shots looking back at Manhattan.

Then a wonderful architecture tour which almost circumnavigates Manhattan- we had a wonderful day for that and a great guide from the Architectural Association. This skyline keeps changing so you could do this every couple of years and see new things but also find there are some buildings that are getting harder to see as they are dwarfed by others.

And then there was the foodie walk around Greenwich Village.

And to finish this week off we all went to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden. Wow!!

Never any chance to be bored here! Love it.