Monday was a holiday in the US, for some at least. Columbus Day is an odd holiday in that not everyone I know gets the day off. In fact I’d say that nigh on half my friends work for companies that don’t take it as a holiday, including poor old Tel Aviv, so for those friends it’s business as usual. Thankfully that’s not the case with the company I work for, so technically I was blissfully free of responsibilities for an extra 24hours. I say technically as I had intended to come into the office for a few hours on Monday to try and clear a few bits and pieces from my plate - I’m still up to my eyeballs - but when Monday came I just couldn’t face it and accepted an invitation for a lovely lunch with Nigel at Morandi instead to catch up on the latest goss on his love life - single handedly keeping Match.com afloat that one, he goes on so many dates. Suffice to say I paid the price yesterday by having to work until 11pm, but it was well worth it to have a 3day weekend. It made me realise just how much I need a break. Happily I have a trip to Chile to look forward to in just under a month. I cannot wait, although with only a few weeks left I’d better knuckle down and brush up on my Spanish pronto.
As for New York, well, it’s been too damn hot for me recently; it was 80-odd degrees at the weekend and very humid, completely inappropriate weather for New York in October in my opinion, when it’s supposed to be in the 50s or 60s. I’m supposed to be flouncing around in cute fall clothes right about now, not rummaging around on the top of my wardrobe to retrieve the summer togs I put away a few weeks back when it briefly turned nippy out. I’m not the biggest fan of summer in general, well that’s not strictly true, I do like it and I enjoy it for a few months, but I love the seasons and come September I’m more than happy to see summer make way for autumn, hands down my favourite time of year, unfortunately for a moment it didn’t look as if autumn was about to happen and I was worried we’d go straight from summer to winter as we seemed to do last year, however it’s raining today, so perhaps I’ll get my wish and we’ll see a break in the heat and a return to more normal temperatures in a few days and I can bust out the fall clothes and let the flouncing commence :-)
My friend Melissa isn’t a big fan of hot weather either, so the two of us were a couple of moaning minnies traipsing around in the heat and humidity for Open House New York on Saturday. It was a fun day though; we pretty much stuck to checking out a few places in and around Chelsea as time didn’t allow us to go much further a field, it’s amazing how long the OHNY tours can take, as you really only get to see a handful of places, so you have to pick your places in advance. This year we toured the meeting rooms of Grand Masonic Lodge on west 23rd and 6th avenue, which wasn’t as interesting as either of us had hoped – once you’ve seen one overly ornate meeting room you’ve seen them all and disappointingly we didn’t find out about any Masonic secrets or learn any complicated handshakes – followed by a visit to the gardens tucked away in the General Theological Seminary on 9th Avenue and 20th street, that was nice, very peaceful, and open from 9am-3pm every weekend anyway, not only for OHNY, if you are ever in the hood and need a spot to sit and navel gaze in peace - and afterwards stopping for coffee at Ninth St Expresso and a wander around the shops in Chelsea Market, a fairly regular haunt for me, as I have friends in the west village and often stop by 202 restaurant for brunch, but I was gobsmacked to discover that Melissa, a lifelong New Yorker, had never visited. However, by far the best thing we did in my opinion was to take a trip over to see The Encampment’, a large scale art installation, by Thom Sokoloski, of 100 white, illuminated tents pitched on the south end of Roosevelt Island.
According to the blurb from the website…
"The Encampment is a large-scale public participatory art installation. 100 - 19th century luminous tents will be erected as a work of optical art on Roosevelt's Island Southpoint. From 7pm to 7am each night, New Yorkers will be able to view the luminous symmetries of the tents from both sides of the East River, as well as visit the actual site and experience the installations in each of the tents. It proposes an archaeological dig as its metaphor; the search for artifacts is replaced by the search for a collective memory of Roosevelt Island."
I’m not sure I got all that from it, but it was fun wandering around and peeking into the tents, which have different…um…installations I suppose the word would be…inside - I’m not sure what these were supposed to represent – bowl of fruit anyone – but each interior was conceived by a number of different ‘creative collaborators’ who worked on the project with the artist.
Here’s a picture by Robert Bennett for the New York Times.
The tents are illuminated from 7pm-7am each day to pleasant effect. It was very interesting to see and a gorgeous night to be on Roosevelt Island which has great views of the city and, in my opinion, provides one of the best views you'll ever see of the Chrysler Building, which is often obstructed by other buildings when you’re in Manhattan. It’s definitely worth a quick trip over there for the view, although there’s not much else to see on Roosevelt Island as far as I know, especially now that the tents are gone. It was a brief installation, only up for 3days.
Personally I love a bit of installation art. I’m not sure why, perhaps because it’s something I couldn’t come up with myself. It’s usually so bizarre. I’m hoping to be able to convince Tel Aviv to have a wander around the art galleries in Chelsea this weekend as Rafael Risemberg is leading one of his monthly best exhibits tours. I love these tours. If you are ever in New York and want to do something different to the usual museums I highly recommend them. It was via Mr Risemberg's best exhibits tour that I came across my favourite installation piece to date, the harmonica playing vacuum cleaners, or, to give it its proper title, ‘Harmonichaos’ by the French artist Celeste Boursier-Mougenot, a sound installation of 13 vacuum cleaners each with a harmonica in their ‘mouth’ that were alternatively set to suck – do you suck a harmonica or blow? I forget – so that they would play a tune of sorts. It was weird, like being in a Dr. Who episode, I kept expecting them to come at me a la the Daleks. It was also a little eerie since it was held in a large windowless back room of the Paula Cooper gallery so it was almost pitch black in there other than the small amount of light coming from the vacuum cleaners and it took a moment for your eyes to adjust. The picture below doesn’t fully capture the effect of being in there in the dark amidst 13 humming vacuum cleaners, but it gives you the gist.