Monday was museum day in the city, taking the 7:30 AM PATH train with a few commuters on their way to work. The train into New York City was not crowded at this time of day so we were able to find seats as we rode the train.
Just up from Penn Station is the Tick Tock Restaurant, my favorite Manhattan breakfast diner, where we had a lobster omelet and a sausage omelet, as good as ever with the quintessential New York atmosphere. From there the C and the 4 subways took us up to East 72nd Street, speinding some time walking through Central Park before it was time for the Guggenheim to open.
Fifty people waited in line with us for the museum doors to open. Upon entering the museum, I was able to receive our tickets from the membership desk and so we bypassed the fifty people standing in line before us. It felt like cheating, skipping passed all those people in line, and getting in for free as well.
The Guggenheim designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a cylindrical building that is wider at the top than the bottom. Its unique ramp gallery extends up from the ground level in a long, continuous spiral along the outer edges of the building to end just under the ceiling skylight.
The ceiling skylight opens to the main lobby while all levels of continuous spaces flow freely from one level into another. The concrete spiral building is designed for viewing from the top down and my impression of the Guggenheim is that the building is more impressive than the art inside. The art at the Guggenheim had an early modern flair by artists such as Picasso, and Chagall of many geometric brightly-colored paintings and mobiles but the theme seemed repetitive to me as we wound our way down the ramp. The Guggenheim also houses works of impressionism, expressionism, and surrealism.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is not a far walk from the Guggenheim and is a museum that we had always wanted to see. The Met is the largest museum in the United States with more than two million art items.
One of the current exhibits on display this day was a fashion display called Manus and Machina –The Fashion of Technology. The main attraction, a hand-stitched haute couture wedding dress by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel had a 20-foot train that projected the detail in its embroidery onto the ceiling. The pattern on the train was hand-painted with gold metallic pigment, machine-printed with rhinestones, and hand-embroidered with pearls and gemstones. The gist of the ensemble is to force a change in image of hand-sewn (manus – haute couture) versus machine (machina – ready-made) fashion combining these techniques. Ensembles of ordinary materials such as embroidery, feathers, artificial flowers, lace, and leather were transformed into extraordinary gowns and dresses. Exhibits tucked into alcoves showed dresses made of plastic drink straws and some of only fur.
The Met offered a chance for us to see Greek and Roman art, jewelry, and sculpture. A young woman visiting the Greek/Roman wing seemed especially in awe of a man’s ass on a Roman statue. The African and Pacific Island wing featured exquisite ceremonial carvings of stone and wood, masks, bowls, and spears. The Asian and Middle Eastern area exhibited helmets, sarcophaguses, ancient pottery, and jewelry. There was also an American wing that displayed American furniture and paintings.
The great hall of the museum led us to the medieval section for an impressive display of life-sized armored soldiers mounted on armored horses. The European wing had sculptures of all sizes, some very large and dating back to the fifteenth century. We ate lunch at the Met’s cafe and realized we would not be able to see everything in one day so we saw as much as possible before leaving to meet my co-workers for dinner.
Dinner was at Bertucci’s Pizza back in Jersey City, where we enjoyed the company of my work group. Finally to end the evening we walked around the Newport neighborhood with my New York City expert who is also interested in photography, who provided us interesting history of the redevelopment of Jersey City as well as the growth of lower Manhattan, directly across the river.