Part 2: Spring in NYC

On the second day in NY, we went to the farmer’s market at Union Square. It’s one of the advantages of staying in that area. Vendors sell a variety of organic meats, cheeses, fresh and dried flowers, baked goods. Nothing like a good farmer’s market! It’s simply lovely to walk by all the different vendors from all over the state and area. My favorite name for a vendor is the Flying Pigs Farm. The next time I go, I’m going to try the ostrich jerky that one vendor sells. They also sell ostrich eggs but that would be a little harder to deal with without a proper kitchen. But ostrich jerky I can handle.

Then we went to Midtown to run some errands. I mostly wandered around, taking in the luxurious stores lining 5th Avenue and Madison avenue. I did wander up to Jacques Torres Chocolate since I wanted to try some of their truffles. In the past, I had only had their hot chocolate. So I got three truffles. One had chili spice in it; the other two had Chai tea and Earl Gray tea. The chili one didn’t have as much of a kick as I was hoping. The Chai was white chocolate but not overly sweet for me. The Earl Grey was not distinctive. Of the three, the Chai was the best. Go figure. I’ll keep trying different truffles when I go back. I really love their hot chocolate.

After lunch, we decided to head up to my other favorite bookstore Crawford and Doyle. It’s a small shop on Madison near the Met but it’s always got an excellent selection of books. It’s not the place to get bestsellers unless they are really of quality. This is a place where the art of bookselling is alive and well. These folks know good books.

Then we went to my favorite place of all: the Metropolitan Museum. Yes, it’s huge and super crowded but I can never get enough. It just doesn’t feel the same without a trip to the Met. We made a beeline for the Temple of Dendur, which has to be one of my favorite rooms in a museum ever. It’s simply magnificent. There is the temple surrounded by a reflective pond next to windows on Central Park. It’s the best tribute to Ancient Egypt you could ask for. I heard that my former favorite band actually played a concert there several months ago. So jealous.

Then we wandered into the American room where the amazing stained glass windows live. I love Louis Comfort Tiffany; he really takes his stained glass into a new world. I also love saying hello to the Louis Sullivan staircase that used to be here in Chicago. We miss you!

Then we meandered through the medieval era where I was distracted by amazing door jams and locks. I love the artistry that some metalworkers put into their work. They make some impressive looking creatures for these functional pieces.

Then we spent some time in the South American civilization room. I love seeing the amazing pottery shaped like animals and plants. The Moche and Nazca pottery is simply magnificent. I also took a closer look at some of the textiles they had, which is fairly impressive considering the material and age.

Nearby the Metropolitan was a gallery space that I wanted to check out. I had read in Hyperallergic, an online magazine/news source about the art world, had mentioned an exhibition called “From Ancient to Modern: Archaeology and Aesthetics” at the NYU Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. It’s a very small museum, just two rooms, but I really enjoyed it.

The exhibition was interested at looking at ancient objects and their lives after discovery. It focused on the ancient Sumerian culture. It showed some beautiful sculptures along side notes and photos by the archaeologists who found them. It also had a wall of newspapers about one spectacular find of Puabi,  a possible Sumerian queen who had been bludgeoned to death and found with twenty of her ritually sacrificed attendants. An amazing headdress was found. It was interesting to see how interpretation of her changed from powerful queen wrongly put to death to cruel queen who made her servants die ritually after her. Very interesting.

The other room had a more modern view of the objects. It paired objects by William de Kooning, Henry Moore, and some ancient objects for inspiration. It had some sketches by Alberto Giacometti too. Most interesting for me were the two most recent pieces. One was a series of twenty small photos by Jananne al-Ani that were a reaction to the first Iraq war. The photos show ancient artifacts, portraits of family members who’ve survived the war, and common images in the press about the war. It was a powerful look at how war impacts daily life and families.

The other was the piece “The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist” by Michael Rakowitz. I’ve talked about this piece before in last year’s MCA and more recently in my adventures at the British Museum. It was smaller display that at the MCA and definitely bigger than the British Museum.  Lying on a simply unfinished wooden table are various artifacts made from disposable consumer paper (like candy wrappers) that replicate artifacts that have been lost from the looting of the Baghdad Museum. Each piece has its own placard talking about the piece, its status, and a quotation relevant to the event. Most are quotations by Rumsfeld and his lack of compassion/comprehension at what the looting meant.

The piece keeps revealing itself to me. I got see a part of the work that I had previously missed. I noticed this series of drawings on the wall behind it that had  text about the ancient sites and some of the people who worked at them. It talked about one archeologist/curator who ended up having to flee Iraq because of death threats. Very poignant. I’m glad that I’ve had the chance to see this work several times.

That evening, we had Spanish food in Greenwich Village. We strolled through Washington Square Park on our way home. It’s always beautiful at night (well, during the day too). There was one guy who had found some spotlights meant for the archway and he was showing off his moves. Only NYC!

That’s all for now!

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