Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Centerpiece, Central Park, NYC 2013
Thanksgiving Centerpiece
Today, Americans pause to give thanks for what we have.  I won't go into the history of the celebration other than to say it dates back to the days of the Pilgrims and marks the moment those early American immigrants came together as a community to celebrate the harvest.  In today's modern era, there are many variations on the Thanksgiving Day feast but the centerpiece is almost always a turkey.  I am looking forward to eating turkey today at my brother's house where the family that is still in the northeast will gather a bit later today to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  

Haunting, Man Playing Saxophone, Central Park, NYC, 2013
As I write this, the extravaganza that is the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade is on the background.  Richard Simmons has just arrived at 34th street closely followed by Happy Hippo (hmm, what show is he from you may be wondering -- can't help there, haven't got a clue).  The crowds are out in full force and it's a bright sunny day in New York City.  It does look a tad cold.  I think that I fall down  on the NY aunt duties when it comes to events like the parade.  We took the kids once when they were younger -- my sister, sister-in-law, and I.  My brother stayed home to cook the turkey.  It was a rainy day that year and I bribed the youngest with a promise of a Barbie doll if she lasted through the parade without a meltdown.  She did.  We actually had a pretty good perch in the 70s for seeing the balloons but not so great for seeing the marchers.  We've always said that if we went back, we knew what to do to snag a seat on the bleachers but we never have.  It is so much saner to watch it on TV all warm and cozy.

So, what am I thankful for?  For family and friends near and far, that's the first thing.  I am thankful that I have my health and that I made it through foot surgery earlier this year.  I am very grateful that I am walking without pain (Wiggling my Toes, Bending my Toes, First Steps and New Toys, and Rolling through My Toes. Still working on range of motion so I'm tip toeing around my apartment and doing heel lifts every time I have a chance.  I am thankful that I live in New York City -- one of the most vibrant places on earth and a photographer's paradise.  Although all the photos in this post are from Central Park, I am thankful that I made the decision to get out into the streets of NYC at least once a month.  It's challenged me to learn how to pick out the detail in the bustling city that is New York and to see my world through a different set of eyes.  I am very thankful that I am back on Instagram after a three-month hiatus -- what a powerful platform.  I am thankful that I have a roof over my head and a job that I love.  

Gapstow Bridge in Fall, Central Park, NYC 2013
Gapstow Bridge in Fall, Central Park,  NYC
I am very thankful for the geriatrics team at the University of Connecticut this year as they are always there for my Mom when she needs them.   We have too few geriatrics health professionals to care for our aging population and the rest of the workforce has too little training in the unique health care needs of people like my Mom.  I am thankful for each step forward that we take on preparing our health care workforce.  This year we took a giant leap with the Department of Labor's new interpretation of the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) that -- finally -- gives home care workers the same minimum wage and overtime protection that I enjoy.  We need this workforce if we are to help older adults to age in place. 

On the Path to Shakespeare's Garden, Central Park, NYC 2013
On the Path to Shakespeare's Garden
OK, I have to take a break to comment on the parade.  How weird is it that Kristen Chenoweth (OMG can she sing) is belting out New York, New York on a Royal Caribbean Float.  Really parade planners, you couldn't do better than that in terms of planning where she would be standing?  The float reminds me that I am always curious about the financing of the parade -- more and more it seems like a progression of advertisements for products (KoolAid, Ocean Spray, Lindt Chocolate).  It's kind of like half-time at the Super Bowl.  Having said that, I can't resist posting this little bit of fun from Cirque d'Soleil.  Amazing float and so glad I got to see its debut.

So far, this post has been fairly inward facing -- a prolonged contemplation of my own navel as it were.  Let's shake that up a bit.  Al Roker just announced the temperature -- 32 degrees and with a wind chill of 23 degrees.  Everyone at the parade is bundled up -- most likely in the latest fabrics for keeping us warm.  But what about those who are not at the parade -- the homeless who are tucked away in the corners of Central Park just trying to find a spot out of the wind or in the sun.  Over the past couple of weekends, I snapped a few   quick photos of homeless people in well-traveled sections of the park and I've been thinking about them ever since.  I know that whatever I can do is just going to be a drop in the bucket but I am making  contributions today to Partnership for the Homeless and City Harvest.  These are new charities for me but it feels right to make these gifts on this day.

Homeless at Bethesda Fountain, Central Park, NYC, 2013
Homeless at Bethesda Fountain
A Thanksgiving Appeal from Me to You
Before you sit down for your Thanksgiving Day meal or as you wind down this evening, consider making a donation to your local organization that serves the homeless in your community.  The original Thanksgiving was not just about family -- it was about community.  The best communities come together for more than just a Thanksgiving Day parade -- they come together to support those less fortunate.  I am thankful that I can give to Partnership for the Homeless and City Harvest.  I am even more grateful for colleagues, strangers, and friends who volunteer in soup kitchens and who work with the homeless on a daily basis.  They are the true backbone of a strong community -- one that watches out for those less fortunate and lends a helping hand.  My thanks to them for all that they do.

Shrouded, Central Park, NYC, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Expedition Kusama

Yayoi Kusama, Manhattan Suicide Addiction, David Zwirner Gallery, 2013
Kusama (from Manhattan Suicide Addiction)

 Since committing to getting out of the park (Central Park) and into the city (New York City), I seem to be seeing more art.  Last month found me chasing #Bansky all over Manhattan (Expedition Bansky, Goodbye @Banskyny).  Today was all about seeing the Yayoi Kusama exhibit, I Who Have Arrived in Heaven at the David Zwirner gallery.  More specifically, it was about seeing the mirrored Infinity Room.

Infinitely Me, inside the Mirrored Infinity Room, Kusuma, David Zwirner Gallery, 2013
Infinitely Me
Today, the wait was approximately three hours to get into the mirrored Infinity Room.  The urban lore in the line was that on some days that wait could stretch to six hours.  This was my second try at seeing the room.  I had come down on Saturday but decided that the day was too beautiful for standing in line and instead spent a wonderful afternoon exploring the High Line that included 45 minutes of watching the massive construction project that is the Hudson Yards (more on that in another post).  

Infinitely Me in Black & White, Inside the mirrored infinity room by Kusama, 2013
Infinitely Me in Black & White
For the mirrored Infinity Room, you get exactly 45 seconds (no more, no less) which given the space can feel a bit like eternity.  The room is one of those things where you might scratch your head and say, now why didn't I think of this.  It's like magic -- take some water, some mirrors, and some lights and "poof" you have art that wraps around you like a multi-colored cloak.   

45 Seconds in Heaven, Inside the mirrored infinity room by Kusama, 2013
45 Seconds in Heaven
I heard the door close softly behind me and I was alone with the lights.  Did I have time to breathe?  Should I spin?  Should I madly snap photos?  That was the gist of the mild initial panic that knowing I only had 45 seconds evoked.  And then time seemed to stretch out in front of me into an infinite space.  I began to notice that there were doubles and triples of me staring back from the walls and up from the water.  I snapped some photos with my camera and a few more with my iPhone.  I took a breathe and I looked down at the lights reflecting in the water.  And then there was a gentle knock.  My time in heaven was up.  Slowly I walked out.

Always Look Down, Inside the mirrored infinity room by Kusama, 2013
Always Look Down
Someone asked me if it was worth the wait and I responded that it most definitely was.  The best art takes you out of yourself if even only for a second and this piece did that in spades.

Not wanting to let go of the moment I wandered next door to visit the second Infinity Room and had the unexpected pleasure of being first on line (for a moment I thought I might be the only one in line).  I had seen this room on Saturday -- when they were allowing 45 seconds.  Today it was a whole 60!  Unlike the mirrored room, your time here is spent in the company of ten others and so the feeling of infinity is not so strong.  What I love about the room is the multi-colored tentacles that rise up from the floor and descend down from the ceiling.  The art did not so much wrap me in its multi-colored cloak the way the mirrored Infinity Room did.  Rather, it was like being surrounded by a sea of spotted octopodis while floating above a vibrant coral reef.  It was heaven of a different sort.

Floating among a Sea of Tentacles, inside a Kusama infinity room, 2013
Floating among a Sea of Tentacles
I was about to dash out of the gallery to get home for a conference call when I spotted the last major piece in this installation (there are a number of paintings by Kusama as well) -- the video installation of her performing Manhattan Suicide Addiction.  

A snippet of the Kusama Video in Still Photography, Manhattan Suicide Addiction, 2013
Art Goddess
This piece is easily the most powerful of the works on display in this gallery.  Backed by an ever changing montage of patterns and clad in her signature polka dotted robe, Yayoi sings us a song.  Like the Infinity Room, there are mirrors and if you stand in the right spot, her image stretches out into eternity.  She is an expressive performer -- using her hands and her facial expressions -- not to mention the patterns that swirl behind her -- to punctuate her performance.  I lingered here for a very long while.  Eternity if we were measuring the time in seconds. 

Infinite Kusama I, Manhattan Suicide Addiction, 2013
Infinite Kusama I
Infinite Kusama II, Manhattan Suicide Addiction, 2013
Infinite Kusama II
Infinite Kusama III, Manhattan Suicide Addiction, 2013
Infinite Kusama III
Infinite Kusama IV, Manhattan Suicide Addiction, 2013
Infinite Kusama IV
Infinite Kusama V, Manhattan Suicide Addiction, 2013
Infinite Kusama V
Infinite Kusama VI, Manhattan Suicide Addiction, 2013
Infinite Kusama VI
Manhattan Suicide Addiction is the art that knocked my socks off yet it is not the one that I stood on line for three hours to see.  And that's OK.

And now, a final word from the art goddess herself...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Late Afternoon Walk In Riverside Park

Hidden Spaces, Riverside Park, New York City
Mysterious Spaces

Last Sunday, I forced myself out the door around 2:00 pm to run some errands and take a late afternoon walk in Riverside Park.  The day was a bit blustery and the park had an abandoned feel to it particularly as it got closer to dusk.

Closed for the Day, BikeandRoll Stall Riverside Park, NYC
Closed for the Day

Floating Docks

Under the Westside Highway, Riverside Park, NYC
Under the Westside Highway

Sunlight & Sailing, Sailboat, Hudson River, 79th Street Boat Basin, NYC
Sunlight & Sailing

Stairway up to the City, Riverside Park, NYC
Stairway up to the City 

Under the Westside Highway II, Riverside Park, NYC
Under the Westside Highway II

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

#BGWindows :: Holiday on Ice

#FAOSchwartz, #holidaydecor, #NYC
FAO Schwartz - Holiday Decor 2013

It does seem a bit early to be thinking about the holidays but many a store cleared out their Halloween stock and went straight to Christmas goodies.  I guess there is not much of a market for Thanksgiving decorations.  Signs of the season have started to appear in Manhattan -- the star is hanging over the intersection of 57th and 5th and the lines are forming at FAO Schwartz (I wonder if they all know that Toys R' Us now owns that venerable emporium as I reported in Behind the Flagship Store?).  Louis Vuitton has unveiled windows that feature geese.  I am kind of hoping those are just a placeholder and not their holiday windows but the sleigh filled with gifts that the geese are pulling is pretty indicative that these be it.  Sigh.

Reindeer, Reindeer, Goose, Louis Vuitton Holiday Windows 2013, NYC
Reindeer, Reindeer, Goose?

Across the street at Bergdorf Goodman, David Hoey and his holiday elves appear to be hard at work behind the curtains that mask the windows.  As my friends know, I am slightly obsessed with the Bergdorf Windows (Just a Mannequin Sporting a Mohawk, Head Shots, The #BGWindows Follies) and it's not just because I won their #Instagram contest last year (Wow)!

At this time of year,  I love that Bergdorfs hangs curtains on the outside of the building -- allowing for the curious passerby to inspect the progress being made.  There wasn't much to see last weekend (yes, I peeked).  I took some photos anyway -- in the process learning that my new camera (the Olympus OMD EM-5) slips into small places a lot more easily than the old one. 

Peeking behind the Curtain - #BGWindows, NYC
Peaking Behind the Curtains - #BGWindows

I am most definitely not expecting any progress on having mannequins that look like real people (see That Place Between Youth and Scattered Ashes over on GeriPal) and that makes me a little sad.  It's not like I expect David Hoey to go whole hog but it would be nice if he made a gesture that recognized that women come in all shapes and sizes.  Maybe his gesture was the tiny mannequins that he debuted over the summer in the smaller windows that typically feature accessories and shoes?  Hmm.

Tiny Mannequin, #BGWindows, NYC
Tiny Mannequin

Given the theme, Holiday on Ice, I think we will see a return of the giant polar bear and maybe the walrus will make a showing too.  From what I could see, I am thinking there will be lots of icicles!  Stay tuned.

Building a Winter Wonderland, #BGWindows, NYC
Building a Winter Wonderland

Sunday, November 10, 2013

When in Rome...

……. is what the man behind me said to his wife (or lady friend) as I meandered down a path off a Cherry Hill towards the lake.  If you are reading this because you think it is a post about a fabulous trip to Rome, you might want to stop reading now before you get disoriented by the pictures from Central Park.

The gingko trees above Cherry Hill are among my favorite in the park but I'd never traveled this particular path before.  It meanders along the edge of the cove, eventually landing at one of the old rustic boat landings.  The path provides slightly different angles on Bow Bridge and I finally got a couple of shots of that masterpiece that I like.

Bow Bridge, Central Park, NYC, 2013
Bow Bridge in Fall

Everyone takes pictures of Bow Bridge -- it's probably one of the most photographed spots in the park. I've happened upon photo shoots for many a bride and groom or engaged couple while crossing the bridge and unintentionally photo-bombed any number of tourists photos because, at some point, one has to seize the moment and just keep walking to get across the bridge.

Because everyone takes photos of Bow Bridge (professionals and us amateurs alike), I've steered away from doing so.  Oh sure, I've snapped quick photos as I wandered amongst the cherry blossoms in the spring but those never made it to the top of the heap when I got home.  

Maybe it's the new camera (Love at First Click and First Steps and New Toys) or maybe it was the angle from the path or maybe, just maybe, it was the words echoing in my head -- when in Rome...
Bow Bridge, Central Park, NYC, 2013
Bow Bridge, Central Park, NYC

As long as I am posting photos of things that many others take photos of, I might as well throw in  this shot of Gapstow Bridge.  In other words, when in Rome…

Boy on Rock, Gapstow Bridge, Central Park, NYC
Boy on Rock

Because I was following the trail to the jazz bands performing in the Jazz and Colors festival that had taken over the park yesterday, I also found myself on literary walk.  There is something so majestic about the trees that line that section of the park.  Hard to capture in a photo but when in Rome…

Trees, Literary Walk, Central Park, NYC
Stand Out

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Love at First Click

Follow the Leader, #fallfoliage, #fallcolors, Central Park, NYC
Follow the Leader
In First Steps and New Toys, I wrote about my recent decision to use AmEx points to order an Olympus OM-D EM-5 (EM5).  I've been anxiously awaiting its arrival ever since.  Well, it arrived on Friday.  So far, I've only been able to get out for a short spin in Central Park.  The title of this post pretty much says it all if you are wondering what I am thinking about this camera now that we've had a chance to go on a first date.

I most certainly am looking forward to seeing if the this love affair lasts.  Herewith a few photos from my first date with EM5.

Red and Orange with a Hint of Gold, #fallfoliage, #fallcolors, Central Park, NYC
Red & Orange with a Hint of Gold

Peaceful, #couple, #fallfoliage, #fallcolors, Central Park, NYC

Standing Tall, #fallfoliage, #fallcolors, Central Park, NYC
Standing Tall

Fall Foliage in Central Park, #fallfoliage, #fallcolors, Central Park, NYC
Fall Foliage in Central Park

Monday, November 4, 2013

Goodbye @Banksyny

This is My New York Accent, Bansky, #NYC, #streetart, #notquitegraffiti
This is My New York Accent,  @Banskyny
Sadly, October 31, 2013 was the last day of Bansky's artist's residency in New York City -- Better Out than In.  And, oh what a run it has been.   In Expedition Bansky, I recounted my first foray in search of a piece of his art.  For 31 days he had us New Yorkers racing uptown and downtown and from borough to borough, all in search of his daily artwork.  On at least one day, most every one missed out on the art.  That's the day that the elusive British graffiti artist put prints on sale for $60 at a stand outside of Central Park.   He sold very few pieces.  Hopefully,  those folks that did purchase one have now figured out that they have won the art world equivalent of the lottery.

Banality of banality of evil, #Bansky, #NYC, #art
 Banality of the banality of evil, @Banskyny
Bansky certainly lived up to his reputation as an artist provocateur.  People were miffed by the "NYTimes-rejected" OpEd that he subsequently posted to his Web site (read all about it in the HuffPost).  And his Housing Works Thrift Shop donation set off a conversation about whether he should have painted a Nazi into a bucolic pastoral scene.  A local news channel was out interviewing folks about the piece on the day it went up at the 23rd Street Housing Works.  Their question?  Are you offended by the Nazi?  Wouldn't it have been more pertinent if they focused on the point he was making?  That evil walks among us in plain sight.  The world knew about the Holocaust and quietly ignored it until it no longer could.  These days, the world continues to ignore atrocities and governments sometimes seem quite insulted when called out on the fact that they are doing so (recent case in point?  Syria).   And then there is the size of his donation to Housing Works. The piece sold for $615,000 -- that's a great gift to give a very worthy charity.  Thank you @Banskyny!

Banality of banality of evil, #Bansky, #NYC, #art 
CloseUp:  Banality of the banality of evil, @Banskyny
My personal favorite day of the whole month is around a Bansky I never got to see in person.  Waiting in Vain. the door of the club.  It appeared on the door of the Hustler Club on the 24th of October.  By early evening the blow torches had come out -- I could see them as my cab flew up the Westside Highway on the way home.  Shortly thereafter, Waiting in Vain had been carted away for safe keeping and future display inside.  Really Bansky?  You couldn't have seen that coming from a mile away? So now your public art is going to only be seen by your employees and those customers (mainly gentlemen I suspect) who frequent the Hustler club. Sigh.

Untitled, aka Hammer Boy, Bansky, #NYC, #streetart, #notquitegraffiti
Untitled, @Banskyny
Kudos to the owners of the building at 79th and Broadway -- they simply covered up the Bansky with a piece of Plexiglas and left it for us to enjoy.  I love this piece alone (Untitled, above) but I love it even more with the pose this woman struck for her memory of seeing this art.  Reminds me of a mother looking on as her little boy tries to ring the bell at a carnival.  Priceless.

Delivery Truck, #Bansky, #NYC, #streetart
Delivery Truck - @Banskyny
Of course, there were some pieces where this interaction did not really make sense given the subject matter at hand.  Delivery Truck is a case in point.  It's a piece that first appeared in the meat-packing district and then wandered the streets making unexpected appearances here and there.  It is a tough subject -- animals going to slaughter.  Yet, even the newspaper photographer covering the art stopped and posed for a photo with her camera phone before rushing off to submit photos (or whatever newspaper photographers do these days).  Maybe this is because there is something charmingly disarming about the stuffed animals that he used.  Until you hear the banging from inside the truck that is.  

I'm going to miss this guy.  He made every day into a giant scavenger hunt -- even those days when I couldn't get out there and scavenge myself, I could follow along on #Instagram and #Twitter.  He sparked debates and excitement.  He exposed any number of people to street art and likely created some fans in the process.  Thank you @banskyny.  You can come back and visit anytime!

I leave you with The Reaper -- a piece that I traversed the city to see on what was supposed to be a lazy Sunday night.  It was worth the trip.

A very bad video capture of the Reaper, @Banskyny