I had not been to NYC since perhaps January 2001. So on my way back from a recent trip with Kathe, I promised myself I would attempt to recall some of what happened during our brief stay in NYC. Kathe attended the Art Education Conference and I mainly looked around the city and visited MoMA and the Armory Art Fair, while we both did take the opportunity to see a play, and a concert at Carnegie Hall, and then visit the Whitney. The overall visit seemed to evolve into some sort of marker in between the past 27years and actually leaving Winthrop later this summer.
After checking into our hotel, the Moderne on 55th Street we ventured out looking for a restaurant. I suspect we were a little overwhelmed by the lights of Times Square but eventually we found a small Indian take-out with seating where we had dinner. It was nothing fancy but it was inexpensive and OK. From there we found our way to the Roundabout Theatre with tickets for Arthur Miller’s The Price. The 4-person cast included Mark Ruffalo, Tony Shalhoub, Jessica Hecht and Danny DeVito.
The following day on my own I visited MoMA and there encountered the exhibition Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction. His eclectic work makes sense to me.
I thoroughly enjoyed time by myself with the work. The museum was not overly crowded so it provided time to see and think. Beyond the great collections in general there was also the exhibition A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde. I had wanted to find the new Museum of American Folk Art but it was not totally open. So I did return to our hotel, the Moderne on 55th Street. It was a small but quiet space in a great location with quite an arrangement of “wall accessories” and furnishings intended to highlight the modern décor of the lobby, hallways and rooms. Though the Moderne had its own distinct function and charm, the hotel’s furnishing reminded me of my job from 1975-77 in Passaic, N.Y. and New York at Greg Copeland, Inc., a designer and manufacturer of wall accessories. That is where I learned a little about mass producing frames, chi chi décor and navigating NYC. Our major client was Bloomingdale's, so I got to hang our showroom on 59th Street. There was another design showroom at 26 Madison Avenue that I also hung. And then I remember hanging the Thayer Coggin showroom at the furniture market.
That evening Kathe and I had a lovely dinner in a Greek restaurant near 3rd and 93rd with our dear friends, and Kathe’s childhood friend from Alexandria Barbara Adinaro (professionally Adrian) and her husband Richard Sabel. Here is the connection. Barbara came to New York when I still worked at Greg Copeland to begin her acting career. She lived with us until she found a place to live. I think she still lives in the same place. That must have been back in 1976-77 at least.
The next day Kathe continues at the Art Ed Conference and I figure out that the Armory Art Show, the big art fair in NYC is not far from the hotel March 2-6 at Piers 92 and 94. On top of that, Robert Walden, Jerry Walden’s son (Jerry is the art chair prior to me at Winthrop) who operates Robert Henry Contemporary Gallery in Brooklyn, has left tickets for me at the door of the Volta Art Fair at Pier 90 just down the street from the Armory Show.
So I figure that will occupy my day until I meet Kathe later that afternoon back at the Moderne. Well the Amory is overwhelming with art work and art dealers, art buyers and curious people like me. I wander through and I try to focus on this or that. I take a few photographs of things I want to recall. However, the most important event of that day was running right into John Moore.
I was introduced to John by artist Benny Andrews of New York and Georgia. Must have been about 1986 or 87. I was then director of the Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, N.C.. Benny had asked John to be a panelist on a public art selection committee I was organizing for Livingstone College in Salisbury. John would also curate an exhibition for the Waterworks titled Contemporary Landscapes: Five Views with artists Frances Barth, Susanna Heller, Michi Itami, Tobi Kahn and Cari Rosmarin. I would later ask John to be part of the inaugural exhibition at Winthrop Galleries and later still to do a talk and studio visits in the Department of Fine Arts. I recall that the artists selected as finalists for the Livingstone project included Mel Edwards, then at Rutgers University; Curtis Patterson then from Atlanta; and Boaz Vaadia from NYC.
OK, so I run into John at the Armory Show. We briefly talk. When I return to the Hotel Moderne, I check the email on my cell phone and a list serve informs me that Boaz Vaadia, one of the Livingstone finalist, has died. Ok, I think that is a coincidence. It was part of this marker that was this trip. That night we ate at a Thai restaurant on the corner of 55th and 8th and then walk up to Carnegie Hall as Kathe found tickets to a one-night only concert titled Django A Gogo, A Celebration of Guitar through the Music of Django Reinhardt. Musicians included guitarists Stephane Wrembel, Al Di Meola, Stochelo Rosenberg, Larry Keel, Thor Jensen, David Gastine, Ryan Montbleau, saxophone Nick Driscoll, bass Ari Folman-Cohen, and drums Nick Anderson. So when Al Di Meola introduces himself, he reminds the audience that he has not performed at Carnegie Hall for 40 years when he played in a very new group with Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke called Return to Forever. Kathe and I look at each other and realized we saw Return to Forever 40 years ago at Montclair State when we lived in New Jersey and I worked for Greg Copeland’s wall accessory company. This is a reunion of the mind so to speak.
The next day is our last in New York and we decide before we catch the bus back to the Newark Liberty International Airport from Grand Central Station, we will work our way down to visit the new Whitney Museum of American of American Art and walk along the High Line Park. As the Whitney Biennial is in the process of being installed, only the 7th and 8th floors are open. That’s fine. On the 8th Floor is the exhibition Fast Forward: Paintings from the 1980s; and on the 7th Floor is Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection. When we elevator to the 7th floor, the elevator doors opens and immediately in front of me is Alice Neel’s 1978 lithograph of Benny Andrews.
So NYC still sounds and smells like NYC and for the most part looks the same with the addition of the LED light show in Times Square. I suspect we arrived back at the Charlotte airport around 8 p.m. We drive home and settle in to watch SNL from NYC.