Friday, January 2, 2009

A day for museums . . .

First stop today is back to the Eat and Go Diner that we went to yesterday. Bro Michael was so taken with the waffle yesterday that he orders the same again - only to be disappointed when it is served with the fruit salad on the side and no cream :-(

I had poached eggs (they do them SO well) and hash and Michael orders a waffle with bacon, ham and sausage and fried eggs (which they initially forget!) but the food is hearty and we start the day ready to take on some of the museums in New York. Thank God we went up the Rockerfeller Centre yesterday - today is not overly cold with the wind far less gusty, but it is overcast with a forecast for snow flurries.

The Guggenheim Museum is located opposite the Lake in Central Park on 5th Avenue at the corner of 89th Street - that makes it 26 blocks uptown and 6 blocks to the west - so a cab is in order! As we arrive, we are not disappointed - Frank Lloyd Wright did the most wonderful job of creating a space that complements rather than competes with its exhibitions. You need to see the building to really appreciate it and all through the spiralling space there are questions, statements and comments that compel you to reflect, think and react.

Current exhibitions include The Any Space Whatever, Catherine Opie: American Photographer, the Thannhauser Collection, and Kandinsky and Expressionist Painting before World War I.
I find it hard to believe that I am standing less than a metre from some of the most talked about works by Gaugin, Chauvel, Picasso, Van Gough, Manet, Monet, Pissaro and Renoir and others. They are vibrant and rich, challenged and disturbed, compelling and descriptive and the commentaries provided by one of the curators is full of passion and knowledge. I would never have believed that I could have been so moved by rooms of paintings! Sue - I understand, I understand!!!! Picasso's Blue Period is moving and disturbing at the same time.

By contrast, the photographic exhibition of Catherine Opie is a contemporary commentary on life in the United States and the impact of media. It depicts a sometimes comfortable, sometimes provoking view of the world of today through the lens as a different medium.
As I move through the Kadinsky Collection, I can clearly see snow falling outside and Central Park is clothed in a soft coat of white. The harsher winter picture of the Park is definitely softened with a cover of snow. I imagine that the view from the Rockerfeller today would be very limited.

We had arranged to meet after 2 1/2 hours if we went seperate ways, but after 1 1/2 hours I find the Michaels waiting downstairs for me. So off to the next museum. We hail a cab and head across town to the 'west side', to Pier 86 where the former aircraft carrier the USS Intrepid is now located. The Intrepid is now the Sea, Air and Space Museum and is specially suited to the boys.

We begin the discovery of this historic piece of American active marine service on the Flight Deck where the Michaels drool over lots of planes and helicopters that are tethered to the deck, ready to be called back in to action and in the wind, they seem to strain at the opportunity of catching the updraft.

The weather is cold, and the wind is cutting, so I venture indoors. Through the Gallery Deck with former workings of the ship - the Combat Information Centre, Radar and Air Traffic Control rooms. The Hangar Deck has a number of parallel displays - one technology based and the other reflecting the human spirit. A multimedia presentation relives the day that the USS Intrepid was attacked by Japanese Kamikaze planes. Then there is the Exploreum - an educational hands on exhibit that is today being overrun by cub scouts and their 'handlers'! The third deck shows the day to day lives of the 3,388 people on the ship at any one time. You should see the kitchens here - anyone would think that you were cooking for giants judging by the size of the kitchen equipment and utensils - my god, you can just imagine those biceps girls ;).

All rugged up since my arrival whenever we go outdoors, I have been likening myself to the Michelin Man (well, that is who i feel like). Bro Michael however, has coined a new one and today I finally see what he is referring to - from hereon in I will be known as 'She of the Ewoks'. If you don't believe me, take a look at this photo!!! And that is NOT dandruff - it is honest to goodness snow.

Outside the Intrepid on the Pier sits the actual British Airways Concorde Alpha Delta. Its a boys thing and the two M's go for a look see. Interestingly they both report that it would be very cramped to fly in it. But when the trans Atlantic flight lasted only 2 hours, 52 minutes, 59 seconds what is a close space between friends. (However, when the flight is almost 10 hours it explains why Michael and I are trying to upgrade our Delta flight from Atlanta to Stuttgart to Business Class!).
So it has been a day of discoveries and learning. Very different venues, showing very different sides to life, but one as compelling as the other.

On the way home, we come up to Broadway where I am finally able to buy a pair of Rockport walking shoes that are more comfortable than my loyal old black pair. They are great for carpeted halls of employment, but are not any shelter from the cold, hard, cobblestoned paths that I find myself treading more and more.

Off to Washington tomorrow - 3 hours by Amtrak and an opportunity to see some of the countryside as well journey through New Jersey, Philadelphia and Maryland enroute to Washington DC, technically a district and we guess something legally like Canberra back home. See you on our return!

No comments: