Tag Archives: new york city

Last few days working downtown

I have loved being back downtown for my workdays. Midtown with Central Park and the Lincoln Center crowd was fun but downtown is where I started. I moved to New York City in the early months of 1998 and was working downtown within 8 hours of my arrival. Next to the U.S. Custom House and then up to WTC2. So last year when I started at Sapient Global Markets on Fulton Street I was all a flutter of being back to my early stomping grounds. Lower manhattan wasn’t the same but than neither was I. It was busier and I was more (or less) grown up. I will be leaving Sapient next week and in these last few days I will try to think about what I will miss about working downtown.

The East River Ferry was very good to me. Early monthly passes proclaimed it as “The Civilized Commute” and I very much agreed. The best start to my day was coffee on the tidal strait. Somehow I don’t think the G to the L to the N will be nearly as meditative.


Why I will miss working downtownThere is history all around. Sometimes hidden or obscured but still there waiting to be noticed. After you visit Trinity Church, Century21, or experience the memorial take a walk down a narrow street towards the water. Down John Street you might find one of my lunch spots sandwiched between two buildings. The slice of a courtyard features this replica of Joseph Beekman Smith’s View of John Street, 1768, (completed in the early 1990’s). The original, painted in 1768, is on display in the John Street United Methodist Church.

I always thought it was pretty cool that I worked on the exact spot where Edison built the first central power plant (Pearl Street Power Plant), formed the Edison Illuminating Company (financed by J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt family), and delivered electricity to homes and businesses across the city. Still makes me tingly all over.

What can I say, I like the building! I really like it. Why? Well it looks like a neatly stacked pile of sofa cushions. I can’t not touch this building and so I always do. It’s strange because the architects, York and Sawyer, sought structural expressions of strength, stability and security. They intended to inspire public confidence in the Federal Reserve System through the architecture. It still looks like pillows to me. Also, I think its cool that 80 feet below street level is the largest gold repository in the world. Don’t get a bunion walking above the bullion.

I have a soft spot for the public art downtown. From the late 1960’s we have Jean DuBuffet’s Four Tress and Noguchi’s Red Cube. Looking for something more recent? Walk over to 7WTC for Jenny Holzer and Jeff Koons.

DUMBO Arts Festival 2012

Photo by R Lanham

Hindsight is Always 20/20
R. Luke DuBois
This installation examines the history of the presidential State of the Union address through the metaphor of vision. Using the Snellen-style eye chart the installation highlights the sixty-six most frequently used words from each presidential administration, starting with the most often used word on the top line.

Photo by Grizzly Grizzly

Skye Gilkerson was my favorite artist of the day. She is a participant of the Smack Mellon Artist Studio program. She showed a few pieces where she cut out punctuation marks and reassembled them to create a new meanings. I didn’t get any photos of this work but you can see a photo from GrizzlyGrizzly below and more of this series here.

ferry ride home

Tatzu Nishi: Discovering Columbus

It was great to see this statue from a totally different perspective. Up close and personal with the 13 foot Columbus did not disappoint. One highlight was when an older woman knelled and peeked under the garment to find nothing but a crease in his trousers. The guard quickly responded to her disappointment – “well it’s 120 years old- probably fell off”.

Tatzu Nishi Discovering Columbus pic

Tatzu Nishi Discovering Columbus pic

Tatzu Nishi Discovering Columbus pic

Tatzu Nishi Discovering Columbus pic

Bill Cunningham New York | Film by Richard Press

Tonight’s the night! I’m an avid reader (and watcher) of On the Street, who isn’t? So I’m looking forward to catching the documentary, Bill Cunningham New York, at Film Forum tonight. Playing through Tuesday, March 29, 2011.

(from zeitgeist films)
“We all get dressed for Bill,” says Vogue editrix Anna Wintour. The “Bill” in question is 80+ New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham. For decades, this Schwinn-riding cultural anthropologist has been obsessively and inventively chronicling fashion trends and high society charity soirées for the Times Style section in his columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours.” Documenting uptown fixtures (Wintour, Tom Wolfe, Brooke Astor, David Rockefeller—who all appear in the film out of their love for Bill), downtown eccentrics and everyone in between, Cunningham’s enormous body of work is more reliable than any catwalk as an expression of time, place and individual flair. In turn, Bill Cunningham New York is a delicate, funny and often poignant portrait of a dedicated artist whose only wealth is his own humanity and unassuming grace.

Film Website

NPR Review: Bill Cunningham: A Humble New York Skirt-Chaser

NYT Review: Capturing a ‘Look at Me’ Milieu With Impish Modesty

Christian Boltanski: No Man’s Land

Christian Boltanski, No Man’s Land
Park Avenue Armory
May 14 – June 13

Last weekend I walked over to Park Avenue Armory to see Christian Boltanski’s No Man’s Land. Other than reading Dorothy Spears’ New York Times review, I wasn’t familiar with Boltanski’s work ~ but I do have a soft spot for themes such as the arbitrariness of death and survival so it seemed like a good way to spend the day.

The piece incorporates 30 tons of discarded clothing, a 60-foot crane and the sound of human heartbeats. It explores the signature motifs of the artist’s forty-year career – individuality, anonymity, life and death. Visitors are invited to record their own heartbeat and offer it to the artist as he continues to expand his Archives du coeur, a collection of human heartbeats from around the world.

In chatting with one of the guards about the piece- she shared that Boltanski wanted “ordinary people” operating the cranes. The most interesting part for her was that every union crane operator brought a different style to the piece. So each day, the piece was different.

Sadly, I was a little underwhelmed with the installation – wanting and expecting a more layered experience.


“We are all so complicated, and then we die. We are a subject one day, with our vanities, our loves, our worries, and then one day, abruptly, we become nothing but an object, an absolutely disgusting pile of shit. We pass very quickly from one stage to the next. It’s very bizarre. It will happen to all of us, and fairly soon too. We become an object you can handle like a stone, but a stone that was someone.”
—Christian Boltanski


Christian Boltanski

Christian Boltanski

Dan Graham and Glenn Branca at X Initiative


Saturday, September 12, 2009
7:00pm – 8:00pm
X Initiative
548 West 22nd Street
New York, NY

Dan Graham joins avant-garde composer and musician Glenn Branca for a conversation about past collaborations, rock music, and shared interests working in New York City. This evening also includes a screening of Westkunst (Modern Period): Dan Graham Segment (1980) by Dan Graham and Ernst Mitzka.

This program will take place at X Initiative, 548 West 22nd Street. This is a free event. No reservations. Space is limited; first-come, first-seated.

This event is part of “My Turn,” a series of public programs held in conjunction with the exhibition “Dan Graham: Beyond.”

“My Turn” expands the definition of a museum program by inviting a guest artist to interpret another artist’s work. This unique public program series is organized by guest curator and artist Howie Chen. Taking the exhibition as a point of departure, Chen approaches Dan Graham’s work through musicians, filmmakers, and performers to provide a new and insightful look at an artist who has been influential since the 1960s.

See my post of Dan Graham exhibit at MOCA Los Angeles May2009