New York City State of Mind

Growing up in the suburbs, New York was simply “the city.” To this day, I think of it as such, although other metropolises may have vied for my affections (see: Paris, Istanbul and Copenhagen). For the next several years, I will be a part-time resident of the city that never sleeps.  I am excited to more fully experience all that this amazing place has to offer and to share new discoveries and long time favorites.  This post focuses on two arts institutions that may not be on the top of visitors’ lists. Last week, I spent a wonderful morning at Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Institution’s design museum. Located in a landmark Andrew Carnegie Mansion, it was founded in 1897 and houses over 200,000 works showcasing 30 centuries of human creativity.

Thom Browne Selects at Cooper Hewitt

As part of an ongoing series, artists and designers are invited to curate an exhibit drawing from the museum’s collection.  Thom Browne Selects explores ideas of reflection and individuality and is on display until October 23, 2016. 50 mirrors and frames from across the centuries interact with 64 pairs of silver-plated men’s shoes, holographic wallpaper and modern furniture in a highly engaging fashion.

Cooper Hewitt’s Design Triennial (through August 21, 2016) features an astounding array of works by designers from around the globe. The triennial spreads over two floors and is organized into seven themes: extravagant, intricate, ethereal, transgressive, emergent, elemental, and transformative.

The Haas Brothers Afreaks at Cooper Hewitt 

A personal favorite is the outcome of a collaboration between The Haas Brothers, based in Los Angeles, and the women of the Monkeybiz collective in the South African township of Khayelitsha.   Afreaks – an entire gallery of whimsical objects designed using  hyperbolic geometric patterns found in nature and created with traditional beading techniques.  For an in-depth discussion (and much better photos), see Afreaks: A new series of works by The Haas Brothers and The Haas Sisters.

Neri Oxman Glass Vessel at Cooper Hewitt

Neri Oxman‘s exquisite vessels are at the other end of the creative spectrum, literally and figuratively. They are made using the cutting edge technology of 3d-printed glass.

Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village is a particularly beautiful enclave with many historic buildings and cultural institutions, as well as much of NYU’s campus. One highlight is the  Grey Art Gallery where I saw a terrific exhibit:  Global/Local 1960-2015: Six Artists from Iran. During my recent trip to Iran, I was captivated by the contemporary art scene that has thrived despite a sometimes challenging environment (see Tehran | Art and Culture).

“Heech” by Parviz Tanavoli in the foreground and works by Shiva Ahmadi and Shahpour Pouyan

Each of the six artists—Faramarz Pilaram (1937–1983), Parviz Tanavoli (b. 1937), Chohreh Feyzdjou (1955–1996), Shiva Ahmadi (b. 1975), Shahpour Pouyan (b. 1980), and Barbad Golshiri (b. 1982)–is represented by numerous works in a variety of media. I was entranced by the interplay of tradition,  culture and current events in their works. The exhibit closes on April 2, 2016. Fortunately, many of the pieces are part of the permanent collection at Grey and other institutions including the Asia Society and I look forward to seeing more of these artists and their work.

Also highly recommended:

Bedlam Theater’s production of  Sense and Sensibility (through April 17, 2016 – see New York Times review here),  Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture at the Frick (on view until June 5, 2016), and Mike Birbiglia’s Thank God for Jokes (through May 29, 2016) at the Lynn Redgrave Theater in Nolita.

8 thoughts on “New York City State of Mind

  1. I grew up just down the block from the Carnegie Mansion. You used to be able to buy a key to get into the gardens from 90th Street and I often spent the afternoon with my mother and siblings playing in the park. Where is your place in NY?

    Liked by 1 person

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