Month: May 2014

Chelsea Galleries Tasting Menu

Visiting  art galleries in Chelsea can be an overwhelming experience. There are more than 350 of them that populate 18th-29th streets between 10th and 11th avenues. It can be difficult to figure out where to go and intimidating to enter when you have no intention of making a purchase. To overcome these “fears,” just bite off a little at a time and get a taste of what the neighborhood has to offer. It is a very different experience than seeing art in a museum.

saul gallery

A good way to start is to look at the New York Times, The New Yorker or Timeout Magazine, to check out gallery shows they are reviewing. Pick one or two that interest you and then head to Chelsea.  Begin by visiting the gallery you read about, but then meander down whatever block it’s on and go into random galleries that peak your interest.

One I’d recommend going to before June 14th is the Maira Kalman show: Girls Standing on Lawns and Other Subjects at the Julie Saul Gallery on West 22nd Street.

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Born in Tel Aviv and raised in Riverdale, Maira has written and  illustrated eighteen children’s books; is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker (remember the “Newyorkistan” cover from 2001?); collaborated with Michael Pollan to illustrate his  Food Rules; and just published Girls On Lawns, with text by Daniel Handler.  I love her vibrant colors and whimsical style.


There are two galleries I like to return to whenever I visit Chelsea. The first is the Jim Kempner Fine Art Gallery on 23rd and 10th Avenue which “specializes in contemporary art in all media, with a special emphasis on contemporary master prints.”  There are artists whose work is always on view, like hyper-realist Carole Feuerman.

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Then the gallery also has special exhibits, from well-known artists  like Wayne Thiebaud (“Cakes and ‘Scapes: A Selection of Rare, Unique and Hand-Colored Prints”), to emerging artists like  Craig Norton ( “Nineteen Very Old Drawing and a Coffin”).

Tag front

Another gallery I like to return to is Taglialatella Galleries on 10th Avenue between 23rd-24th. Their concentraion is on 21st Century contemporary art with a focus on the Pop Movement. A visit there is almost on par with going to the MOMA with exhibitions for artists including, Lichtenstein, Warhol,  Hirst, Christo, Frankenthaler, Calder, and  Basquiat.

Swoon Neenee, 2014

Neenee, 2014

Taglialatella also represents mid-career and emerging artists. One in this category, that I really liked, is Swoon,  a street artist who specializes in life-size wheat paste  prints and paper cut-outs of human beings.

The great thing about the Chelsea galleries is there is something for everyone — paintings, photography, sculpture and installations. So go check some out, and if it’s a nice day, take a walk on The Highline too.

5th Annual Chelsea Artwalk

Just a note regarding Chelsea Galleries. On Thursday, July 24th from 5pm-8pm you can join a free tour of the Chelsea art galleries. for more information go to:

Where Art Meets History: The New York Historical Society


 You may have heard of the New York Historical Society.  But you probably didn’t know that this is the oldest museum in New York City (it was founded in 1804), and it houses over twenty-five hundred American paintings from the colonial period through the twentieth century. It also holds one of the country’s leading collections of Hudson River School landscapes. Their permanent collection also includes some 800 sculptures and over 8,000 drawings. These cover the beginnings of American art when it was dominated by European artists, up through the 1860s.

Usually it’s the special exhibits at the NYHS that draw me there.  Past exhibits I’ve enjoyed include: The Armory Show at 100 and Swing Time: Reginald Marsh and Thirties New York.


This week I went to see “Bill Cunningham: Facades,” and “Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War,” two current exhibits. They were both very interesting and so different. I happen to be there just as a free guided tour began. I took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the permanent collection and discovered the greatest reason of all to visit NYHS: The Luce Center


One level of the Luce Center

Located on the 4th floor of the Society, The Luce Center is home to  nearly 40,000 objects from the New-York Historical Society’s permanent collection. You can see art and artifacts spanning four centuries,  from the nation’s premiere collection of Tiffany lamps, to “historical touchstones such as the draft wheel that played a role in one of the worst urban riots in United States history. “

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 I only got to see a small part of the collection. One of the objects that stood out  was a horse-drawn carriage from the late 1770’s. Owned by the Beekman family (of “Beekman Place”); it is one of only three such 18th Century American coaches to survive in original condition.  There was also a whole case devoted to artifacts from Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue founded in 1654. One of the funniest objects I saw was a ceramic cockroach trap from 1840.

It’s worth going to NYHS just to see this collection but hurry; it’s undergoing a massive renovation beginning in July 2014.

Hidden Treasures At The Met


The Metropolitan Museum of Art can be an overwhelming place to visit. Most people focus on the special exhibits, and “Charles James: Beyond Fashion,” which opened in early May, is certainly one to see. In the year I’ve been volunteering at the Met, I’ve uncovered several permanent treasures that I probably wouldn’t have ordinarily seen as a casual visitor.

Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio

Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio


The first is the Studiolo (or study) from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio. Located in gallery 501 in European Sculpture and Decorative Arts,  the  Studiolo was  intended for meditation and study. According to the Met, its walls are carried out in a wood-inlay technique known as intarsia, and the latticework doors of the cabinets demonstrate a contemporary interest in linear perspective.

The Astor Chinese Garden Court

The Astor Chinese Garden Court

Another meditative spot is the Astor Chinese Garden Court located in gallery 217 in the Asian wing. A recreation of a Ming Dynasty garden, the Astor Court was part of the first cultural exchange between the US and the People’s Republic of China.

snuff bottle

On your way to the garden stop by gallery 207 to see “Small Delights: Chinese Snuff  Bottles.” It will be on view through June 14, 2014 and they are truly delightful tiny works of art you might have otherwise passed by.

Trumpet Call Harmonica

Trumpet Call Harmonica

Located between European paintings and the American Wing, is another hidden treasure at the Met — The André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments. In  galleries 680-684, you can find traditional instruments like guitars and flutes as well as some unusual ones like the trumpet call harmonica pictured above. One hall is devoted to Western instruments, arranged by type or family, and the other to non-Western instruments, grouped geographically. Many of the instruments may be heard on the Met’s audio guide.

Gallery 354: Arts of Melanesia

Gallery 354: Arts of Melanesia

Another often missed area of  the Met are the 9 galleries that comprise the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. While they are all really interesting, my favorite is gallery 354, home to the Oceanic arts of Melanesia (subdivided into two areas: New Guinea and Island Melanesia) and Australia. Covering most of the ceiling in the room is a ceremonial house ceiling from the Kwoma people, which can be seen in the photo above.

Funerary carving (late 19th early 20th century); Papua, New Guinea

Funerary carving (late 19th early 20th century); Papua, New Guinea

Equally interesting are the funerary carvings that line one side of the room. They are part of malagan, the collective name for a series of ceremonies, as well as the masks and carvings associated with them. As described at the exhibit, these rituals, still practiced today, are held primarily in memory of the dead and combined with initiation ceremonies in which young men symbolically replace those who have died.

So by all means, see the Met’s special exhibits, but leave yourself some time to view some of the museum’s hidden treasures.