NYC is for Art Lovers
New York City. It is a magic place. I experienced love at first sight when I was 9 years old. I hit NYC on a 2 day stopover on the way to Brazil with my family, instantly fell in love and vowed to move there. So about 2 weeks after college graduation, that's just what I did. NYC has always been good to me. I worked at Vogue magazine as an art assistant turned junior designer, then to Annie Leibovitz's Studio as a full time Designer. The people I met and the fun I had could fill its own blog post ( another time ) but the creativity and artistic expression that is bursting from this city is enough to fill me up from the inside out every single time I'm there. Recently a good friend asked what she should see on her upcoming trip to this magical land. Since I hear this question a lot, and since I just visited recently, this post is the answer!
The Highline did not exist when I lived here. When I first saw it I swear I could have fainted (NYC brings out the dramatic in me). How could an already insanely cool city get EVEN BETTER?? Honestly. The Highline wins for best feature in a major city. Am I right? It is an old train track perched above the lower West Side turned into a stunning park full of killer architectural details, natural beauty, and views for days. And it's free! It's a park! I think if you have one day in NYC this is what you do, even if it's raining.
It's 1.5 miles long so there are so many rad parts to the Highline, every section is different. It just wins completely. One of the best parts is that apartment buildings are butted right up against it so you can totally check out people's homes, which is amazing.
Also that incredible feat of architecture perched over the start of it? That's the Standard Hotel. I think that Hotel is creativity and style and innovation at it's best. Staying there is totally worth it, every room as a view to die for. But even if you don't stay there, having a drink at the restaurant at the top is gorgeous.
It's got this killer mid-century vibe and did I mention the views? NBD.
For some reason I thought the champagne should be the star of the photo, over the World Trade Center in the background. Guess we know where my head was at. But you get the idea, this place is tops. Best view in town.
I recommend starting the Highline at the Meatpacking end, and finishing in Chelsea. This puts you right in the heart of the Chelsea Art Galleries. All free, and full of interesting art of every kind. Do I love every type of art I see? Nope. And you probably won't either. But this is one of the most fun, and most "New York" days you could ever have. Just cruising from one killer space to another like you know exactly what you are doing. And it never fails that I see 2 or 3 exhibits that stick with me and inspire me long after I leave.
Most of the galleries can be found between 21st and 27th streets between Avenues 10 and 11. Some of my favorites are:
PACE Gallery 537 W 24th
Metro Pictures 519 W 24th
Lyons Wier Gallery 542 W 24th
Obviously 24th street has got it going on! But actually there are loads of other great galleries, and what I like might not be what you like. That is the magic and fun of art!
I also make sure to hit the Gagosian on W 21st street. I don't have any photos of it because I was laughing too hard. No, well probably. The type of art that is in the Gagosian is the type of completely existential what-the-hell gigantic ultra ultra modern conceptual art that I just don't get. But I don't have to. Obviously thousands of people do because it is one of the most well respected galleries ever. Which is one of my favorite things about art! We all truly do not like the same things, how boring would it be if we did? I can appreciate that when other people pour their heart into creating something physical, it does not look the way it does when I do. I like that. So I never miss it.
If you've got the time and the interest, the New Whitney museum is right at the Meatpacking point of the Highline and worth checking out. Yes for the art, but honestly, this museum is brilliant for it's inside/outside design and flow. It is many stories of smaller spaces stacked high, probably to have a small footprint. I recommend taking the elevator to the top, then passing through each floor and using the outside stairwells. These beautiful outdoor spaces are home to sculptures and art, as well as getting some welcome fresh air every 10 or so minutes! Being in a museum for too long can suck, right? This gets you outside over and over to be invigorated by the beauty of the city too.
One of the best things about New York is that you don't have to go into museums to find art. It is quite literally, everywhere.
And whatever you are into, there is a shop for you, and it's probably the very best one of its kind. Like this stationery shop on W 8th street. I love notebooks, I just do. This shop has the most amazing collection of notebooks I have ever seen anywhere. It still seems unbelievable to me that such a shop exists. But that is how it seems to work in this city, someone picks something and just excels. They go all the way.
But since this city is home to some of the very best museums in the world, let's talk about my very favorite shall we? The Met.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is on 5th Avenue bordering Central Park. This museum just does it for me. Working for Conde Nast had many perks, one being a pass that got me into any museum for free. This meant if I had a spare hour I could just pop into the Met, and that place saw me all the time. It is enormous and the building itself is so grand and inspiring. The Met has a world famed collection of European paintings that I completely love. It's my favorite room in the place, but that's just me! There is something for everyone here. And the Temple of Dendur should not be missed. You can pretend you are in When Harry Met Sally.
The Met also has many exhibits that change so you are always sure to see something new. Right now through September they have the Costume Institute's collection from Rei Kawakubo of Comme de Garcons. You guys, this show is beyond incredible. I was surprised how blown away I was. I think clothes are art you wear for sure, but this exhibit shows the level of talent that came together in every way. Not only her amazing creations, but the way the show was presented. I think it is so inspiring to see what we humans can come up with. Also everyone attending the exhibit had incredible style. People watching at it's best I tell you.
Lastly, if you have the time and inclination, the Guggenheim is so fun to visit. It's a spiral you can cruise at your own pace and be as delighted by the art as you are with the space you are in. It's a treat.
When I was there I saw a temporary exhibit from grade school kids. One project had kids paint numerous pieces of clear acrylic with the different aspects of their personality. When you put them together you see how they all relate to each other and how beautiful the whole is. SEE? You never know what cool and thought provoking art you might see!
Thanks NYC! I could not love you more!
Please share this post with anyone you know planning a trip to the Big Apple! And I'd love for you to comment with your favorite spots for art and beauty in this amazing city! Then I check them out next time!