Almost exactly three years ago, Natalya, Deborah, Robin, Vivien and I got together for the first time for an arty girl’s week. The photos got lost in my blog update a few years ago, but you can read about it here. Last weekend, we did it again! No Deborah (too far), and only for one day with Robin and two and a half for me, but it was fantastic all the same.
I brought my daughter this time, who was excited to take a train to New York. I think it sounded quite adventurous or sophisticated to her. So, we hopped on the train Friday morning and off we went, passing through DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia along the way.
Speaking of Philadelphia, this shocking pink grove of trees caught our eye as we sped by. It was followed by a pink bridge section and an orange building. Turns out they are an art intervention titled Phsycylustro, part of a revitalization effort called PlanPhilly (click link for specific info on the project).
In NY, my daughter was amazed at how many people were in Penn Station, and then at how crowded the sidewalks outside were. She’d been to LA on our road trip two summers ago, but it’s a sprawling kind of big, whereas NY is a congested kind of big. We switched transportation modes and took a coach out to Nyack to meet Natalya and her girls at a Russian Fest. If you’ve never seen Russian folk dancing, it’s very athletic and a lot of fun to watch. We also ate a delicious dumpling called pelmeni which I couldn’t pronounce, but was happy to eat.
Saturday was art posse (as another friend dubbed it) day. I’ll save the specifics of the larger exhibits for the next post. We met Vivien at another train station and then Robin in the city at the Museum of Art and Design where we saw two very intriguing shows. From there, we checked out The City Quilter and the adjoining ArtQuilt Gallery. The shop has their own NY themed fabrics which I eyed, but was quite restrained and didn’t buy. They also have a nice selection of books. In the gallery were quilts by Michael Cummings. They are the kind of bold, fabriholic, statement work that I love. And, I was even bold enough to leave a resume and CD of work (more about the weekend’s conversations in another post too).
After The quilt shop was lunch, and then we searched out The Hudson Guild to see the Urban Fabric Exhibit which was so worth the effort to find it off the beaten track. Serendipitously, that put us right under the High Line, so off we went to stroll NY from a different perspective.
Did you notice the face in the windows of the building on the right? The whole weekend seemed to have an underlying current of street art, from the view out the train window, to murals and graffiti seen from the High Line, to what we would see on Saturday — a museum worthy installation, and curiously tagged billboards on the BQE (a little Googling revealed they were by RAMBO).
Not too far away, on Broadway, are the Rubber Sentinels by artist Chakaia Booker. Interspersed with cafe tables and chairs in the pedestrian zone, this was the perfect time to take a cupcake pause and placate the tweens.
At this point we said goodbye to Robin who had evening plans, and returned to Grand Central Station where we had just enough time for a quick look at the Centennial Quilt show organized by The City Quilter and displayed at the Transportation Museum.
On Saturday, Natalya took me and my girl to Brooklyn. First stop was the Textile Arts Center. It is such a great looking resource, with looms, sewing machines, dye space, a small gallery, and little studios for visiting artists. The class schedule makes me wish I lived near Brooklyn! In the gallery, I recognized work by Joetta Maue, who I’ve admired, and weaver Erin Riley.
More street art along the way. I like the way the Bananaman ties together the yellow and the black in the building.
After TAC, we went to see Kara Walker’s installation at the soon to be demolished Domino sugar factory. Impressive! That in itself was worth the trip. We lunched nearby and then, on a whim, decided to visit the Brooklyn Museum to see Submerged Motherlands and Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party. While the Dinner Party was a huge influence in the feminist movement, and have most certainly paved the way for my friends and I, it was interesting to see it as very in-your-face and almost crass, despite the gild and shine and fine workmanship. I know that’s all part of it’s power, but at the same time, I was surprised at how far we seem to have moved in the time since. My peers can be so much more subtle about our subject matter and message, and we definitely take a lot of things for granted which Chicago and her peers had to grapple with. In contrast was Submerged Motherlands, which was also very feminine, but in a softer way. That’s the one that just blew me away. Loved, loved, loved it.
Sunday, we met Vivien again for a quick dog walk on an old Rockefeller estate overlooking the Hudson (lovely!), and then Natalya took my daughter and I back to Penn Station for our train ride home.
I don’t remember which bridge this is, but it’s for Natalya. It was a great, inspiring and invigorating weekend and we have pledged to do it again in a few years. I can’t wait!