It’s a jungle up here

Every summer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art mounts a sculpture exhibit on its roof. Aside from the sweeping views of Central Park and the mansions along 5th Avenue, it’s a chance to see some big-idea installations. I don’t know who curates these things but it’s been one home run after another. Last year’s Maelstrom by Roxy Paine was a hoot.

This year, Doug + Mike Starn have mounted Big Bambú. The project consists of fresh cut bamboo poles lashed together with nylon rope. The construction of the sculpture is ongoing and will continue throughout the summer. It closes October 31st, which is pretty late in the year for this sort of thing.


The cool interactive aspect of this project is that the sculpture contains a series of steps and ramps that allow you to actually walk up into it. During the day, workers continue to assemble the sculpture around you. Unfortunately, you have to be at least 10 years old in order to walk into the sculpture, so when I was with 8-Year Old Daughter, I couldn’t go up. But the exhibit is there for a while so I’ll make my way up at some point and post photos. At its completion, it’ll be 50 feet high!

You have to get a (free) timed ticket in order to go in the sculpture and my understanding is that you’re better off going on a Wednesday or Thursday because on the weekends, tickets for the entire day are taken fairly early in the morning. For me, the exhibit doesn’t have the “wow” factor that Maelstrom did, but it’s worth a visit simply because of the grandeur.


What’s a trip to the Met without visiting some old friends? Take a look at this photo and compare it to the one in my banner. She grows! The background on van Gogh’s irises was originally painted a pale rose, but over the years the pigment has faded out of the paint and now it’s a chalky white. The original color can still be seen along some of the edges if you get close enough.


Photo: Artistè Florenza

This shot of Damien Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde was taken surreptitiously. You can take photos of pretty much anything you want in the Met as long as you don’t use a flash. But a security guard is always on hand to prevent people from taking pics of this piece. I wonder why? I quickly snapped this while the guard was yelling at someone for taking a picture. Yes, the shark is (was) real.


Daughter made a special request to visit Degas’s little dancer. She walks around the Met like she owns the joint.


A little art deco in the morning

I’m feel a bit of a lazy bones this morning and I’m also inexplicably melancholy over the U.S. loss to Ghana in Saturday’s World Cup match. I didn’t think I cared all that much but it turns out I *did*! After the U.S. was ousted, I hung my hopes on England and you saw what happened there. It’s going to make for a long Monday morning. In deference to my laziness, I thought I’d toss up a few random art deco shots.

This is the interior of the Chanin Building on 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue. It’s another in a series of architectural masterpieces that seem to be around every corner out here.

The Chanin Building went up in 1929, just a few years before the Chrysler Building (which is right across the street). It was built by Irwin S. Chanin. Imagine; you’re such a megalomaniac that you build a skyscraper and name it after yourself, but a few years later, someone builds the Chrysler Building across the street and your place becomes a footnote.

This is, quite possibly, the most elegant font ever created. Bronze lettering on black Belgian marble.


This grill and reliefs are in the vestibule just before you enter the lobby. Hurried commuters rush past without giving them a second look.

This one reminds me of the cover of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.



I see thunderbolts/radio waves as a reoccurring theme in many art deco buildings. I guess someone discovers what works and everyone follows suit.


* * *

There’s a bit of a heat wave in the city. There’s no heat like New York City heat. The subway system keeps the ground warm and the skyscrapers reflect the heat downward onto the streets. The filth clings to your skin. And it’s only June! I just don’t feel myself in the morning unless my underwear is sticking to my ass and I get a blast of bus fumes in my face as I try to cross 42nd St.


I have an almost maniacal dislike of the fashion industry. It strikes me as an industry that’s wholly built on, and feeds off of, the vanity and insecurities of (mainly) women. I am tempted to say that it’s psychologically predatory but I’m afraid that would make me sound crazy, so I won’t say it. Plus, I’ve met F.I.T. students in my dating past and they always seemed kind of vapid to me.

Having said that, there’s a new public art exhibit mounted by the New York fashion industry that is simply fantastic. It’s called Sidewalk Catwalk and it runs through September 3rd. 32 giants in the industry (At least, I think they’re giants. I didn’t recognize 80% of the names.) dressed mannequins that are mounted on Broadway from 35th up to 42nd St. [It’s a portion of Broadway that’s been closed to vehicular traffic and made into a pedestrian mall, an idea that I wholly approve of.]

Here’s a photo essay of some of the more interesting ones. I can’t help wondering if they’ll survive the summer. Won’t they be destroyed by summer storms or ripped apart by screwball New Yorkers? Better see it while you can. I’ve uploaded larger-than-normal jpegs so you can click on them for a closer study.

Betsey Johnson. Of course. She’s like the crazy cat lady down the block except with a big pile of cash.


Michael Kors. I’d like to see Nursemyra poured into this one.


Nannette Lepore. Does anyone recognize that name?

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Victor Alfaro. Another name I don’t recognize.

This is made from a parachute, which billows out in the breeze. Clever!

Tommy Hilfiger. For my money, the best of the bunch.

Jill Stuart. The only mannequin with “hair.”

Thom Browne. Seashells. Really imaginative.

This is by Kenneth Cole. I only included it because it’s one of the names I actually recognize. But I think the design is kind of lazy.

I believe this one was designed by Parson students. It’s better than some of the “pros.”

Won’t a lot of these be annihilated by August?

A $22,500 used typewriter

Back in April I did a post about the annual rare book fair at the Park Avenue Armory. One of the more unconventional non-book items up for sale was Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter. Asking price: $110,000.


I thought it was silly and couldn’t imagine why anyone would buy a typewriter when, for that kind of money, you could almost have a complete run of Hemingway first editions. Almost.

Lo and behold, on Tuesday, Christies sold Jack Kerouac’s Hermes 3000 manual typewriter (not the one he fed a roll of teletype paper into to write On The Road) for $22,500. It was the last typewriter he owned. The estimate had been $20,000-$30,000. Auction listing here.


At the same auction, John Updike’s typewriter sold for $4,375 (est. $4,000-$6,000). Listing here.


Neither of those prices touch the $254,500 paid last December for Cormac McCarthy’s old Olivetti (est. $15,000 – $20,000!!! Proof positive that all you need at an auction are two people with deep pockets who want the same item really, really bad). Auction listing here.

This was the typewriter McCarthy used to write all of his major novels. McCarthy still owes me the $14.95 I paid for a paperback of The Road. A depressing, over-hyped novel that I didn’t waste my time finishing.


There’s no accounting for what people are willing to collect. I, myself, have a few book cases full of rare books that cannot be read. They shouldn’t even be opened for fear of cracking the glue in the spine. Books that can’t be read!? How lame is that?

Too many masterpieces

One of the many advantages that this shining city offers is an obscene wealth of art. There are the big-named museums that you’ve already heard of, but the nooks and crannies contain small galleries that occasionally house blockbuster shows.

A few weeks ago I did a post about the Monet: Late Works exhibit at the Gagosian Galleries in Chelsea. It was a large showing of water lily paintings, many of which are held in private hands, so it’s not likely they’ll be seen in public again anytime soon. I was so taken aback by the show that I had to insist that CB see it, as he lives just a short walk away (which he did), and I also wanted to bring 8-Year Old Daughter into the city to see it (which I did).


The show is set to close this weekend and as such, I thought it would be packed. But the blue, blue skies and warm summer temperatures caused a mass exodus from the city to the beaches, so Daughter, Artiste Florenza and I made the trek to Chelsea and the galleries were gloriously empty.

We had unobstructed views of the paintings. You could stand there and really get lost in the brushstrokes without anyone walking in front of you.


You’d think that that would be enough art for one afternoon but nooooo! While the Monet show is getting ready to close, at the OTHER Gagosian gallery just a few blocks away, the big Roy Lichtenstein: Still Lifes show just opened. And, Sweet Jesus! What a fantastic, fun show!


You don’t get to see that many still lifes from Lichtenstein, as it wasn’t really his thing. So to have such a large gathering under one big, beautiful, well-lit gallery is a rare treat. And it’s FREE! Just walk on in!

There are a few fun sculptures. This brightly-colored glass with a goldfish looks like a 3D comic when viewed against the stark white background of the gallery wall. The photo is a gross injustice. I wish I could buy this one.


CB, this gallery is on 24th Street, so I’m going to have to insist that you walk down the block and pay a visit. I’ll undoubtedly be going back for a second look before it closes at the end of July, so perhaps I’ll tag along.


I’m not convinced that Daughter is getting anything out of these museum visits, but the time we spend together is invaluable. Several years from now, she’ll be in her You Embarrass Me/It’s All Your Fault stage, so I’m trying to capitalize on these moments while she can still stand to be in the same room with me.


Just as she’s pulling away, the other one will be old enough for my New York City brain washing program. There’s no escape. Muuhahaha!