Architecture, Art, Cities, Exhibition, New York, photography, Placemaking, street art

Meeting Manhattan

So after a gritty introduction to DUMBO via a warehouse loft, I have now settled on the Upper East Side, in a very modern studio apartment.

Manhattan is beautiful with tree lined streets that have these cute little fenced off areas areas bottom. My best friend who is getting married here next week (hence my visit) told me that people can take on gardening in the spaces outside their homes. Since I was told this, I have noticed how each one is subtly different.

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I have fallen in love with all the green landscaping around the streets and even on the buildings. I have been interested in how plants can interact with space for a while now and have been developing a body of work based on plants that ‘take over’ spaces. I found some amazing terraces with vine trees that look as though they are married perfectly with the building facades.

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As well as carefully curated garden landscaping, there are also the empty lots with weeds overflowing, offering a juxtaposition much like home. I find these places truly inspiring and can be nice ways to find out what a ‘place’ wants naturally. If a place is lush with weeds, maybe it’s perfect for a garden? I’m sure ‘friends of the high line‘ would agree.

In Newcastle, Australia we have some places in Hunter Street mall that are lush with weeds, waiting for a community style garden.

Here’s some shots from empty/fenced off lots around New York; from Brooklyn Bridge Park to First Avenue.

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The last two above were taken on First Avenue. It was a surprise to see such a levelled and empty block in such a new and filled area. As I was leering through the peephole, two men commented that there was a better view from his vantage point, so I joined him to see he was making a joke about the empty eyesore that it was.

We began to chat about how this could happen (the financial crash has halted the developer from building some new condo style living there) and I mentioned how fascinated I was to see nature take back these spaces, in the meanwhile. I mentioned how much I liked the square viewing window, as it helped give community a sense of place by allowing them to see in. In Newcastle, lots are fenced up and forgotten about. This is possibly the worst thing, as there’s no sense of ownership given to people who walk past everyday. It’s as though one can be locked out of your own place, with walls keeping us away.

As we all really related to the ideas, we introduced each other, Kelly and Frank were just so friendly and interested to learn I was from Australia. As it’s on Kelly’s ‘bucket list’ to visit! I gave him my card and offered him my Australian time, when he gets to the land down under. I was very pleased to see him email me really quickly and show me a link to what he does. Kelly is an actor and comedian, whom has had a diverse career in the military before following his passion in the theatrical arts. Please see his website to find out about this friendly New Yorker who just made my day. I’ve even got some tips on local comedy club to visit. For those of you that know me personally, humor (or homour, back home) is a huge part of my personality and also the basis of some of my best friendships. The friend that I’m seeing get married this week has such a great sense of homour and it’s really how we bonded when at high school. I’m somewhat sarcastic and cynical at times, if you didn’t know! It’s all in good fun though 😉

After this great interaction, I continued my journey towards fifth avenue and Central Park, to visit the Met Museum.
Here’s some stuff I saw on the way there and back.

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The Met Museum was enormous and so very grand. If I lived here, I’d be a member and would visit regularly. It was just so big! I went for the Egyptian, Medieval, American Collection, Modern and Contemporary section. By then, my feet were getting tired so I was about to leave but I forgot how to get out! When I went to an info booth the lady assured me that I needed to see the rooftop bar before I go. And how could I not?

Here’s some pics from Met highlights. I loved the Tiffany room and a lot of the antiquities in the American collection, the medieval designs in stained glass and seeing some studied artworks from the modern era. Seeing Picasso up close was just fabulous. The surface textures were so raw yet finite and just something you cannot fathom from a reproduction in a book. I have a thing for Warhol, so that was special. the whole experience was very special and a nice reminder of my academic roots in Fine Art. Yes, I love street art but one can’t deny the art history and all it’s offerings.

It wasn’t until I got home that I completely missed the photography section. My photo pals will be half as disappointed as I am that cod overlook this. But hey, you can’t always have it all. I still have the MoMA to visit. That’s how I justify it, anyway.

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