Thursday, September 12, 2013

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

A brief thunderstorm has just cleared the air of some of the heat and humidity that clung to this city for most of the day.  The cooler air is so welcome.

It is like a late day gift on this day, my birthday.  Long time readers of my posts already know that the eve of my birthday has a history-marking date. 

We New Yorkers cannot possibly ignore the significance of the eleventh of September, yet I do try to let my own personal day be a time for celebration.

Valerie Greeley, the wonderful artist who posts as acornmoon, recently offered a giveaway ... and I was the winner of a gift certificate from Novica.  I selected a beautiful woven cotton shoulder bag from Thailand.  It arrived last week and I am delighted with this colorful, useful bag.  Thank you again, Valerie! 

Although I would have loved to have had a late beginning to this birthday morning, fate intervened.  My apartment building's management posted an announcement a few days ago that all our water would be be shut off today from 9 to 5.  This would allow the basement boiler that heats the water and radiators to be readied for chilly weather that will arrive in a month.  

I did not take this warning personally, particularly since I had an invitation to a members preview of a wonderful new exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Not only would this invite grant me entry to a beautiful show; it would also grant me access to all the Met's features, including running water, hot and cold.

And so, not long after 9 a.m., I set off on the crosstown bus to East 82nd Street and the Met.

The show is a beauty!  I do love textiles, but would recommend it to folks who truly don't know much about fabrics, warps, wefts, resist printing, ikat, etc.  

The exhibit is titled Interwoven Global, and it attempts to show the visitor how ships sailing around the globe in the 1500's, 1600's, 1700's, and thereafter allowed artists, craftspersons and patrons to experience cross-pollination.  It's a feast!

Ages ago, in a prior professional life, I was an archivist at the Met, and therefore, am still a bit aware of the rules and regs of various bits around the museum.  As I began my slow stroll through this magnificent exhibit, I asked a museum guard if photography was okay...since it seemed that most of the textiles on display were from the Met's own collections.  She said that she'd taken time to check and that yes was the answer.

And that is how I happened to take take these not so wonderful photos in the subdued light of the exhibition's galleries.

How I hope that those of you who do live within reasonable traveling distance from NYC will be able to visit this show.

Do you see the scary face on this warrior's jacket?  Do you also see the completely non-plussed museum viewer under the arm?  It is all in the context.

This is a large show, that begins with textiles from lands far away from the European trading countries that sent their ships across oceans seeking treasures and trading opportunities in faraway lands.

What becomes apparent, little by little is the way that these various cultures began to infiltrate each other, and influence both demand from patrons, and supply via talented weavers, embroiderers, printers, and other artists and artisans.  The traders, of course, were important players in this inter-weaving.

It's quite amusing when viewing some of the textiles to see the iconography of differing cultures appearing intermingled in the designs.

As I was taking my last photo, I was approached by a very gracious museum guard who advised me that in the hour since I'd entered the exhibit, he and his colleagues had been visited by their security supervisor and told that No Photographs Would Be Allowed.  And so, dear readers, the photos you see in the post could not now be taken without breaking the Met's rules.

Timing favored me and my Canon, even if I did not take very good photographs.

Leaving this fine textile show, I took the designated elevator up to the roof of the Met.  Every summer a particular artist is commissioned to create a piece just for the roof space.  The Met is on the eastern edge of Central Park, and so this rooftop space serves not just as a outdoor gallery, but also as a marvelous viewing point for anyone wanting to see the treetops of the Park and the skyscrapers at the Park's edges.

The weather was becoming more and more opaque as humidity and temperature signaled a storm arriving.  A perfect time to visit the roof and see what artist Imran Qureshi had painted on the concrete surface of the space.

To my eye, this mainly monochromatic linear painting had floral motifs.  Chrysanthemums, or dahlias, perhaps.  There was also an echo of the henna hand painting tradition.  The following photo shows an area where the floor painting continues up the side of the surrounding concrete wall.  I think that this photo also reads as a two-dimensional image, with a horizon line.

Here I show you a view of the floor at my feet, indicating how the petals extend across the squares of concrete.  Like a chalk drawing on a sidewalk, perhaps?  You will also see a few white painted accents.

My eye was also drawn to the periphery of the roof garden watching the clouds over the southwestern views change as the forecast storm sped up its arrival.

I could not resist taking this photo featuring a few folks walking about, just to give you an idea of the scale of the commissioned art.

The Met has thoughtfully provided some shady spaces on the roof, and also a refreshment stand offering rather expensive beverages and snacks for art lovers who do not find the views sufficient sustenance.  I could not resist taking a picture of this blossoming vine on a very old-fashioned trellis in the midst of this very au courant exhibit.

After leaving the museum, I boarded a Fifth Avenue bus headed downtown, on my way to meet a friend who treated me to delicious Italian pastry and cappuccino.  Thank goodness that bus ride provided good shelter and a good view of the heavy rain storm that occurred mid-trip.

The pastry was fabulous.  The company was fabulous.  By the time we left the cafe, the sun was out again, and the earlier heat and humidity had abated...just a bit.

It's funny that the Empire State Building does not really feature in the cityscape views from the Met's roof.  And so, I took this photo of that iconic building on my way walking back uptown, as I tried to exercise the departure of some the calories added on to my birthday self.

As always, I thank you all for your visits and comments.