Ooh yesss, the Upper East Side—I’ve watched too many episodes of “Selling New York” to remain ignorant of this insanely affluent neighborhood. The land of Pilates-toned ladies-who-don’t-eat-anything-at-lunch. The enclave of grand limestone buildings and snobby, super-selective co-op boards.
Well, the Upper East Side beckoned Andrew and me with its promise of prime real estate too—its famed Museum Mile!
So here’s a recap of our art binge on Day Two:
Ticket to Ride
While crossing Fifth Avenue to get to the Met, I spotted supermodel, Helena Christensen, hailing a cab. Wearing slingback heels and a slouchy knee-length navy dress with her black lace bra exposed in the back, she’s just as otherworldly-gorgeous in person as she was in the 1989 “Wicked Game” music video. (She’s 44 years old, people! Must be the Danish genes?) Andrew was brave enough to snap this quick photo as her taxi was pulling away:
Whew! We had to take a moment to recover from the Helena sighting. It’s not everyday that a creature strides in front of you who looks like this:
“PUNK: Chaos to Couture” at the Met
We arrived at the Met shortly after the doors opened at 9:30 am.
After paying the suggested donation (skimping on art brings bad karma), we made a beeline to the exhibition “PUNK: Chaos to Couture.” No photography was allowed in the galleries, and I didn’t want to test the surveillance skills of the security guards. Overall, although the New Yorker had written a scathing review, I thought it was a fun and frivolous spectacle—good summertime fare. I liked its focus “on the relationship between the punk concept of ‘do-it-yourself’ and the couture concept of ‘made-to-measure.'” And I loved the pieces by Comme des Garçons, Versace and Viktor & Rolf, among others:
No, it wasn’t a sweeping tour de force like the Alexander McQueen retrospective in 2011. Then again, I wasn’t expecting it to be.
A couple of sidenotes:
1) On our way to the Punk galleries, I walked passed the daughter of “Real Housewife of New York” Jill Zarin. (How did I recognize her? I may have watched an episode or ten—and lost a million brain cells in the process. Definitely not worth scrambling to get her photo.)
2) Andrew, as is his wont, struck up a conversation with a bubbly, petite twenty-something girl who turned out to be a writer for Elle Poland. She had moved to New York a year ago and works part-time at the Antiques Garage. All of the city’s vibrant energy was channeled through this one beaming, fresh-faced girl whose words tumbled out about everything from Polish model Anja Rubik to taking the BoltBus to DC. She was amazing!
The Petrie European Sculpture Court at the Met
We stopped for a respite in one of my favorite spaces in any museum anywhere:
Boys Will Be Boys
Andrew was entertained by the punk exhibit (especially since he had been to CBGB when he was a lot younger), but what he really wanted to see was armor, swords and guns. (This may or may not have induced some major eye-rolling on my part.)
Upon exiting the Met, we threw our light-blue metal admission tags into the designated recycling box. Had I known that only six days later the Met was going to do away with them altogether, I would have saved them as keepsakes!
How the 0.001% Live
On our way to Sarabeth’s for lunch (where I had the most delicious seafood salad and Andrew was the only straight man in a sea of social x-rays), this gorgeous house on East 92nd Street was preening and begging me to take its photo:
I won’t even attempt to describe the site-specific installation better than someone like the New York Times’ Roberta Smith. You just need to know these two things: 1) “the ravishing ‘Aten Reign’ [is] an immense, elliptical, nearly hallucinatory play of light and color that makes brilliant use of the museum’s famed rotunda and ocular skylight.” 2) you must go and experience it for yourself.
The final stage of our art-filled day was perhaps the most rewarding and unexpected. I had read somewhere about a Maurice Sendak exhibit at an obscure little museum located not far from our hotel. Thank goodness we ventured there because it turned out to be an extraordinary collection of more than “two hundred never-before-seen Sendak originals…[including] rare studies, sketches, photographs, and ephemera, [plus] previously unpublished artwork from Where the Wild Things Are.” It was beyond delightful.
Dinner at Tao
Our friend Rachel suggested nearby Tao as our dinner destination. It was a loud and fun atmosphere filled with tacky young women dressed to the nines in short spandex dresses accompanied by cologne-dipped, greasy older men. (Trust me, it wasn’t a brothel!) I ordered pad thai, Andrew ordered Singapore fried rice, and Rachel ordered sushi. And there wasn’t an ounce of Lycra or Drakkar Noir among us.
P.S. The Loot
Shockingly, I didn’t build in a lot of time during this NYC trip to do major shopping but still managed to pick up a few mementos. I think postcards make some of the best souvenirs—they’re inexpensive, lightweight and packable.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art | 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street) | New York, NY 10028 | 212.535.7710 | metmuseum.org
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street)| New York, NY 10128| 212.423.3500 | guggenheim.org
Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators | 128 East 63rd Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues) | New York, NY 10065 | 212.838.2560 | societyillustrators.org
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