Selecting the best of New York City’s arts scene
Something we’ve always enjoyed about New York is how different time periods are mashed up together in a single space. When you stand in Grand Central Terminal’s main hall, for instance, you are here in the 21st century with all the bells and whistles of modern life, but you’re also in the early 20th century, enjoying the remarkable design of a beaux-art building that is majestic but comfortably human scaled as well. And the fact that this old building can work within the time it was built and a world its architect couldn’t even imagine, is even more spectacular.
The same feeling comes over us when we visit the National Arts Club. Here is a building of 19th century New York City, situated on a street rooted in that century’s urban planning, but inside you can see some of the latest art made by members with an international following. Their newest show, Women and Photography, is a crash course in modern art photography by club members from Helen Levitt to Fatemeh Baigmoradi. Each artist brings a singular style to her work, making the images instantly recognizable and memorable.
Another place where time seems to have a different meaning is the Nevelson Chapel at Saint Peter’s Church in midtown. This quiet space is very simple, containing nine wall-mounted sculptures of varying sizes and shapes, one small window, and twenty-five seats facing west. Anyone can go and sit there: to pray, meditate, or simply listen to the silence. For the last year the chapel has been closed, going through renovation to install a HVAC system to keep the room’s temperature stable for the artworks. Now that it’s been reopened, Saint Peter’s has mounted the exhibition Louise Nevelson through the lens of Diana MacKown, photographs of the artist by her long-time studio assistant. These images capture the artist in her daily life and are quite different from the formal portraits taken for publicity. Some photos show Nevelson in the chapel as well, making it easy for visitors to place themselves in the same location. It’s not often you can time travel to look over a great artist’s shoulder and experience what they saw but help of this exhibit, it’s possible.