Yesterday I had a day off and I went touristing in NYC.
Those in the know, know that touristing on the weekends in NYC is a nightmare because everyone else in the LITERAL WORLD is touristing in NYC on the weekends so you have to be responsible and efficient and tourist when you have a random weekday off it’s the only way.
There are still tourists from the rest of the world crawling all over the place and they’re annoying as hell and they all have like SUPER EXPENSIVE sneakers and bags and it’s like WTF where do these people get this money to tourist in NYC and wear expensive shit and get in my way? But I digress.
Yesterday I was on the island of Manhattan to get my nails done and I was like “oh I’m gonna tourist! I’m gonna go to a museum!” And my first thought was to go look at the Basquiat stuff at the Guggenheim because I didn’t know about Basquiat before, but a few months ago I watched that movie where Bernard from Westworld was Basquiat and David Bowie played Warhol and I was like “OMG THE COLORS!” And then I became an instant Basquiat head. It was that fast. The colors!
Also the last time I went to the Guggenheim I was with my college boyfriend and just like everyone’s college boyfriend he was a total emotionally abusive dick the whole time and made me cry. Your college boyfriend DIDN’T do that? Oh. Weird.
But I really wanted to go to the Guggenheim and have fun memories with myself and bask in Basquiat’s brilliance and I was really looking forward to it but while I was getting my nails done on the Lower East Side I was like well shit the Guggenheim is like, ABOVE 23rd Street (I rarely go above 23rd St) and it is like, not just north, but BY CENTRAL PARK north so maybe I can’t go there.
So opened up the map and I was like what museums are by here and I saw the Tenement Museum and the New Museum and I was like oh I haven’t been to the new museum in a while and that was fun last time New Museum it is!
I should have gone to the Tenement Museum but I’ll tell you about the New Museum since we’re here and I went.
First of all they only had two floors open. And I willingly accepted this, they were very up front and told me as I arrived that only two floors were open. And I was like “well I’m here! Let’s NEW this!”
So the dude and gal at the counter, as is tradition in NYC and at 95% of art establishments, were not very friendly. Not very friendly at all. They kind of just started at me as I asked questions, or asked what the heck I was supposed to do. I didn’t know how much to pay because they said it was by donation and I was like I don’t know how much to pay for this shit you tell me. And then they just stared. Then stared a bit more. Then finally told me $5. Thanks for nothing. Then I tried to walk into the thing and the security gatekeeper man was like “no backpacks you have to check it” and I was like okay but there is no one at the coat check and I just stood there for like 5 minutes and people working here but not currently working at the coat check just stared at me smugly without alerting anyone and tumbleweeds blew through the door of the coat check because no one has been assisted in checking their belongings in decades and I don’t know what to tell you. I was that annoyed. I don’t know why but I was really wound up. So then I went BACK to the desk with the unhelpful gal and dude and the dude slowlyyyy meanderrrrred overrrr to the coat check and I was like okay I’m trying to look at some freakin art over here let’s get a move on you guys. I mean maybe they were just exhausted by the tourists wearing the expensive shit. I know I was.
So finally I got in the elevator and rode up and looked at art and what follows is the first person account of what I saw.
The elevator door opened and there was a lot of wind and white noise because there were a bunch of fans involved in this exhibit.
The first thing I noticed that I liked was a piece called “Blue Sail” which was like a weighted blue sheet hanging over a single oscillating fan and as the fan moved around it blew the sheet and I looked like a wave. Visually I really liked this and the sound of fans calms me (I sleep with one on every night) so this was enjoyable. Thank you, Hans Haacke.
Next fav thing was this mound of dirt with grass growing on it called “Grass Grows.” Grass does, in fact, grow, because apparently this dude got the dirt and put it somewhere and put grass seed in it and then it grew. I don’t really know but it was a pretty pop of nature in the gallery and I was into it.
I then walked into a room that had a bunch of pictures of addresses in NYC and pictures of the homes at those addresses and they were organized in a kind of timeline around the room.
I walked around a little and tried to figure out what it meant. Or like…the why. I noticed that the addresses traveled from north to south down Manhattan as I walked from left to right and I was like ok still but why?
Then I was like I can’t wait til these numbers get to 23rd st and below so I can see if I recognize anything please play the one we know.
And finally I came across some art guidance! I don’t know about you but I always need art guidance to really appreciate art. Like someone always has to tell me what it means. I’m not always able to figure out what it means to ME.
So this guidance said that one day the artist had a thing and he asked all the people that came to the thing to put a blue dot on where they lived currently and a red dot on where they were born on a map of Manhattan and also the other boroughs. Not the 6th borough of Jersey City though that was offensively not included and I almost burned the place down.
So after they marked out their current homes and birthplaces he went to around those places and took pics of each, then spread them out from north to south along this timeline, and it showed where most of the people that came to his art thing lived. And it was cool/weird/funny because not many of those people lived above 23rd St! It was a thing! I felt seen!
JK there were quite a few on the Upper West Side but besides that it wasn’t that plentiful. It was interesting. And I was glad I solved what it was about with some art guidance and I enjoyed it.
Next I came across “Ice Stick” which I found odd and didn’t really get. NEXT!
Last was “Wide White Flow” and it was more sheets and fans and blowing and I thought it was cool but I liked the blue one better BECAUSE COLORS.
Then I went back downstairs to see work by Carmen Argote and came across THE most important takeaway from this museum visit. There is an app called “gesso” that has art guidance and other types of museum guidance ON IT. You just get the app and tell it your location and it’s like oh cool you’re in so and so museum here is some GUIDANCE. So as I looked at Carmen Argote’s art I listened to her talking on the app about how she made the art and it was very cool supplemental info.
The supplemental info actually MADE the whole thing because I was bored by the art. I’m sorry, it wasn’t enough colors. It was like browns and more muted reds. Not really my style but that’s okay. In the art guidance she spoke about how she painted it on the floor and then hung it up so that made it seem cooler. Then I eavesdropped on a tour and the tour guide pointed out how the artist had used her feet to make something and I was like whoa! That part was cool. Other than that I needed more colors so I realized it was time to move on.
Pretty often when I go to museums I realize that I really like the gift shop/bookstore/merch booth better than most of the stuff in the museum itself and this was true here as well. Again…COLORS! And also books. Love books.
Anyway, that was my day of tourism. Slightly underwhelming. Actually very underwhelming I’m sorry I’ll do better next time.
Do you like the New Museum? When was the last time you’ve been? Is viewing art in NYC less fun because the people are more smug? Yes. It is. Do you like touristing on your days off? Can you tell me better places to go? Thx bye.