Thursday, August 27, 2009

Paris it's not.

This is the first time I've been on Broadway at Times Square since they closed it to traffic between 42nd and 46th or 47th - I forget. Well, they have replaced the lawn chairs with cute little tables and chairs but, ya know, it just doesn't look right. If this is supposed to be a charming spot for people to sit down with their Starbucks take-out coffees, it misses -- by a mile. Does this look charming to you? Where are the cafés? Where is the landscaping? Where are the flowers and trees that would make this look like an oasis? Looks more like a desert with traffic cones and a couple of half-hearted planters. I can imagine it would take some time to decide what they will do to enhance this space - but in the meantime, they might want to take inspiration from Bryant Park, which I walked through on my way to meet Leni Wiener at the Neue Galerie on 86th and 5th. It was threatening rain when I left home but the sun came out and the day was balmy and perfect for walking. I snapped a few photos en route. These made me smile.
I love the irony hereand the pure joy of color and rhythm here.
The Oskar Kokoschka exhibit at the Neue was a visual feast. He and the other German & Austrian expressionists between the wars produced some of the most powerful art of the last century, at least as far as I am concerned. The Neue has portraits by George Grosz, Max Beckmann, and the remarkable Otto Dix - among others. There is work by Gustav Klimt, including the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer that the Nazis had stolen and was finally returned to her family several years ago. Ronald Lauder purchased it for the Neue Galerie and the family later donated two retrieved sculptures so they could be reunited with the portrait. Unfortunately, IMO, this work has become almost a cliché from overexposure and Klimt painted some beautiful landscapes that you would never attribute to him because they are so different from this. Anyway, Leni and I had a lovely lunch and were able to chat and spend a lot of time together because after the museum, we walked down from 86th to 42nd St, where we parted ways: she to Grand Central for the train and I to the Port Authority to catch the bus. Since 20 city blocks in NY = a mile, we might have walked off a bite or two of the Viennese cake and coffee mit schlag. It was a wonderful day!

11 comments:

Sherryl said...

You are right.. it is pretty sterile.. Hopefully, someone will figure it out and add some greenery.I would hope the economy may be the reason for the sparseness.
I love Klimpt. I have a small book that I love to look at... a feast of color for the eyes.

Eva said...

Maybe the town administration haven't dedicated this space to pedestrians permanently; they seem to test it and collect reactions (like: how does it influence the streams of traffic -- beyond people's opinion). Well, your pictures show what a difference proper green will make, once they decide to plant it.
I wish I could see the expressionist exhibition. We love modern art.
NY seems to be a collection of European life styles! You wouldn't get authentic Vienna café life in Hamburg -- the little things like a glass of water anlong with the coffee. My friend from Vienna kept looking for it.
Alright, keep collecting reasons for me to be yearning.

LOVE STITCHING RED said...

Hi, just to say I loved your thought provoking post and I agree about that space in Times Square. It does seem to be lacking a certain "je ne sais quois". Perhaps it needs some fountains and sculptures and a tree or two plus beautiful cobbling and some piped street music

Aleeda said...

What a fun day! Apparently the morning (maybe 6 and 7 a.m.????) is the closest Times Square comes to anything approaching charming. How about a clean bathroom, like they have in Paris? LOL! I LOVE Bryant Park. That was an ugly duckling that became a four-season swan. Movies in the summer on Monday nights, the lawn at lunchtime, Wi-fi, a lovely outdoor grill and indoor restaurant, ice skating in the winter surrounded by craft stalls selling their goods, and a sanctuary at 8 a.m. when I passed through it each day on my way to work. Plus Gertrude Stein sitting there like she owns the place... :-) The Neue is exceptional, as well, and so often overlooked.

Judy said...

Days like that are golden, aren't they!

xo

Approachable Art said...

It sounds fantastic. I was planning to be in NYC in a couple of weeks, but our plans changed slightly and now we'll have to take a pass on the city this trip. Makes me sad- we LOVE the city of Houston, it's alive and vibrant in ways you'd never expect, but we miss the sprawling, older NE cities when we've been away for too long.

sujatha mohan said...

Sounds like a great day, Rayna. Personally...I love NYC the way it is. I even loved the tacky green sagging chairs they had. Ok ..maybe some greenery would help...All those imperfections ..thats what makes the city so perfect. Someday ..when you have time ..I would like to meander through Bryant Park with you...

Diane Wright said...

That is my idea of a great day. I love the Neue! Serge Sabarsky was an instructor of mine a year or so before he died and actually brought some of those sketches by Egon Schiele to class! Every time I go to the Neue I remember him.

Mandi said...

I agree on the Klimt images!

Gail P said...

Thrilled for you that you had such a marvelous day! Nope, that isn't Paris!

Merrilee Tieche said...

I have been all over the world, but never to New York. It's a long way from home for a Left Coast girl! NY seems very exotic and exiting to me, even if Times Square could use a little HGTV help. One of these days, I want to see it all!