In Manhattan, A Sea of Cultural Artifacts

Early March is the season to sail into port, drop anchor for a few

hours and amble through “The Armory Show”. Now, in its
eleventh season, this sprawling show takes over the west side’s
Pier 94 and gives the intrepid art lover entertainment for a least
a few hours. Ticket prices were up ( $30 per person ), and sales
may have lagged, but the show goes on and on.
Last year’s standouts were back, and the nuevo primitivo
Nick Cave, gives us a set of shaman shrub figures made of red
branches and pearlescent beady wire that look like they got
off at the wrong subway stop when they were really headed for
the Museum of Natural History.
I would say the crowds were light on the first day, so seeing the
art was relatively easy; one could linger in front of the little
porthole at the Pierogi Gallery booth and stare at Patrick Jacob’s
green grass meadow diorama and wonder how he could have the
unworldly patience to assemble this marvel.
This year is not one for innovation, or so it would seem.
The gallerists are being cautious but there were real rewards
for those who look closely. International art stars and up and
comers are the order of the day. A wonderfully mesmerizing
ultramarine concavity of Anish Kapoor could stop you in your
tracks as does a bevy of sublime paintings of Giorgio Morandi
on the elder side of the pier show.
Along the way, I stopped for a suite of photos by Sze Tsung Leong
called “Horizons” which have an astringent aesthetic that satisfies, as does the tall collage
of Arturo Herrera at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
If you weren’t swamped by “The Armory Show”, there is always a choice to see “Scope”
at Lincloln Center, or “Pulse” along the west side, but I chose to go over to The Museum
of Modern Art and visit the William Kentridge extravaganza. This South African artist
is fixated by what drawing can do for the mind and body and here it is almost palpable.
Visit MOMA to see the unforgettable stage scenes from Kentridge’s production of
“The Magic Flute”; stay long enough to get the full impact of this animated set and see
the films projected in this show called “Five Themes”.
Before you pull up anchor, go next door to see the one and only showing of
Thomas Chambers ( 1808 – 1869 ) a marine and landscape painter at the Folk Art Museum.
A self described “fancy painter” whose work has great graphic instincts characterized the
Hudson River Valley with a kind of stylization that shows up later in the 20th century in
artists like Thomas Hart Benton.
Going down the “Great White Way”, watch out for the changing traffic patterns on Broadway,
but really – what a grand tour we had before heading out to sea!
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