On the morning of September 20, I took the bus back to New York City, only three weeks after our Labor Day visit. In the afternoon I visited three exhibits that I had read about. The first was James Turrell”s “Aten Reign” at the Guggenheim. The photo above was snapped in stealth. For more pictures click on this link and scroll to find a video of James Turrell and curators Carmen Giménez and Nat Trotman discussing the role of light, perception, and site in Turrell’s artworks. There was a long line to see this exhibit, so my advance online ticket was handy. As Turrell intended, I settled down on a reclining bench and entered into the experience slowly. There was a large circular mattress pad on the floor beneath the skylight, but it was constantly full of 40 or more eager, reverential art worshippers. Turrell’s transformation of the Guggenheim atrium made it a divine space, evoking Dante’s circles of Paradise, with the shifting colors of a Texas sunset. Steve and I had experienced Turrell’s Skyspace on the Rice campus last year, which included both artificial and natural light. The Guggenheim installation was mostly LED lights, but the museum’s skylight provided the link to the heavens. It’s gone now. I’m glad I had the chance to see it for myself.
The second exhibit I saw was “Interwoven Globe” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which will be on view through January 5, 2014. This exhibit encompasses textiles produced from 1500 – 1800 in many parts of the world: gorgeous silk quilts, exquisitely embroidered bedcovers, expertly-printed and painted tablecloths, fancy kimonos, ball-gowns and clerical garments–but no photos allowed. I wished that my friends Marjo and Nancy had been with me to ooh and ahh and appreciate the quality of the workmanship and its preservation. It was interesting to learn more about worldwide trade in that period. It wasn’t just spices and slaves, but also these beautiful textiles specially designed for export. And it wasn’t just China and India with Europe, but the Americas were trading partners, too.
After a pleasant walk down Fifth Avenue next to Central Park on a beautiful afternoon, my third stop was “Iran Modern” at the Asia Society. Again, no photos allowed, but a fascinating display of art created in Iran from 1949 – 1979, before the overthrow of the Shah. There were over 100 artworks by 26 different artists. You can scroll through five of them on the link above. I especially liked the mosaics that included mirrors, such as the first one you’ll see. Over the years I’ve met so many wonderful Iranians; this exhibit, supported by funds from Europe, the Middle East and the US, reinforces my hopes for better relations between Iran and the US.
In the evening I met my brother Joel, his wife Elisabeth, his daughter Kate and her husband Willy, who had just arrived from Texas. Joel treated us to cocktails at the bar in the Hotel Carlton, where we stayed. Then we walked to a restaurant in Little Italy that had an outdoor garden and good food. They were excited about their upcoming trip to Europe on the Queen Mary 2–it was such fun to be with them. My brother intends to treat each of his four children to an Atlantic crossing on the QM2.
The next morning we walked over to the High Line Park, passing the Empire State Building and a lovely Catholic Church, where Elisabeth and Joel intended to worship the next day. Kate was a whiz at spotting interesting photo ops along the way. Willy had edited a video promoting the High Line several years ago, when it was just a proposal. After walking 50 blocks on Friday; I clocked another 50 on Saturday. You can see my photos of the sights we saw at this link. When they went off to a Broadway musical, I caught the bus back to Arlington and Steve.