Thursday, May 10, 2012

Meat, Art and Other Musings on Chelsea Streets

Recently seen in and around Chelsea:

Comedian Sandra Bernhard swearing a blue streak at a cab, 10:45AM, on 10th Avenue in Manhattan.
Or would it be comedienne?
Or is it sexist to differentiate?
Anyway, another brush with fame.

Up the avenue, a stack of meat on the street.
Chelsea is adjacent to what used to be a big meat processing/packing area - 
at one time up to 250 slaughter houses graced its mean streets.

The mean streets still exist today:

This fellow's shoes are shined, his blanket says "The Pines,"
and isn't that an LLBean bag?
Perhaps he's just taking the "fast, cheap, easy" overnight stay in New York,
on his way back home to his log cabin in the woods...

Two views of Chelsea architecture inaccessible to our friend above.
the 19th century Gothic-y Desmond Tutu Conference Center above,
a slinky Frank Gehry building below.

A couple of blocks up, at 551 21st Street, I visit the studio of Linda DiGusta and Mark Wiener.
Their building, sadly, will soon disappear, depriving many artists of great Chelsea studio space. 
Alas, such is the saga of many New York City artists.  
They had originally hoped for maybe a year in the space but a year stretched out to three, 
so it's been a good run.

Linda is an artist/writer who has stacks of linear, lyrical, luscious drawings and prints 
of peaches and of late, pears.
She talks about the studio and the fruit on her blog "Pearing the Apple" 

explaining how she became "peached out" and adopted the even sexier pear
as her model.

(photo provided by Linda DiGusta)

Linda's studio mate and life partner, Mark Wiener, has evolved a dynamic language of black and white:
spilling, pouring, spattering, splattering - there's some serious "action painting" going on here.
He spoke of his roots as a photographer fascinated by darkroom alchemies, 
those mysterious moments when darks and lights appear out of nowhere.
However, he didn't realize that his paintings were taking on the appearance of "developing" images
until someone pointed it out to him.
That's one of the magic things about being an artist, when people 
look deeply into your work and reveal things to you that you didn't quite see...
(photo provided by Linda DiGusta)

Speaking of magic,
the High Line Park is a place of strange signs and portents...

The father, the son, the holey wall?

The High Line Park runs above the streets, north to south from 
the west 30's to Gansevoort Street, respectively.

It used to hold the train tracks that shipped meat and other goods to the Gansevoort Markets, 
which is approximately where the new Whitney Museum's Renzo Piano-designed 
building will rise soon.

(unidentified internet photo)

Once the thoroughfare of endless carcasses, the High Line has been turned into a
bovine's cud-chewing dream.

 Speaking of chewing, here are two views of the not-so-greasy spoon
 on 10th Avenue that looks like it would have fit right in during those olden days.
I eat their pretty good omelettes for lunch now and then.
The "Star on 18 Diner":  Early spring above; early fall below.

 More Chelsea signs, courtesy of Manhattan Mini Storage...

(Okay, okay, this one is a bit further downtown by the Holland Tunnel...)

Chelsea, famously pegged as the epicenter of the art world, is home to galleries galore.
You can't turn around without being confronted by sculptural detritus.

At I-20 Gallery, 557 W. 23rd, I am intrigued by the work of Timothy Hutchings.
(April, 2012)
These "Flat Paintings," done with air brush and stencils, seem somehow painterly
even though there's not a stroke to be seen.
They're crisp, soft, airy and fresh all at the same time.
Which makes them sound like bread.  Maybe the art equivalent of really good bread - 
a baguette just out of the oven.

Speaking of bread, Hutching prices them according to how much pleasure each one gives him,
kind of like what it's worth to have the painting leave his life.
 Pricing one's art is always a strange endeavor - this technique makes a lot of sense. 
Here's a quote from the press release about this series:  
"A layman's take on third-generation Minimalism, 
mixed with a bit of Atari box art and the graphic nature of 1970s van decals."
Hutchings has a number of different series, each one with its own set of rules, limitations and liberties.
The piece below is from his After Effects-derived animation, which I was fascinated by.
In fact, I've invited Timothy Hutchings to be a part of the second
annual "Video Alchemy" screening in Norm's back yard at Creon Gallery on East 24rd St.,
post-dusk, October 10th, 2012 (save the date!)
curated by yours truly.

Out of the gallery, on the mean streets again, 

I see that most rare of sights, a dead pigeon.
This one seems to have come to a bad end which included some nasty barbed wire.
I often wonder where all the dead pigeons are, not to mention the babies.
Are they in another dimension?
Some sort of pigeon-style Avalon that exists simultaneously with the city, 
full of toddling babies and ailing oldsters?

Here are two views of a caramel-colored sunset on 10th Avenue.
Looking west, above; looking east, below.

A nice glass of wine with caramel overtones is called for.
Or would that be undertones?

Trestle, on the corner of 10th Ave. and 23rd St.
turns my glass of Chardonnay into an act of bravery.
What's in that resuscitation kit, anyway?

Finally, 1 World Trade Center, the so-called "Freedom Tower," 
can now be seen from the West Side Highway, 
rising above the skyline where the Twin Towers used to stand.
I'm of two minds about this building.
I like the way it marks the city like a huge exclamation point, visible from virtually 
all points east and west, like a gauge of sorts, a lodestar in the vast city, 
popping up where you don't expect it and then you think, oh, that's where I am!

On the other hand, I'd have like to have seen Ground Zero all go to 
trees and ponds and grasses and flowers-- 
kind of a "Low Line" Park, showing a little humility in the face of the
social, economic, political, and environmental complexities of the 21st Century. 

Alas, things go up, things come down.
Such is the saga of life in the big city.


  1. That's your second sighting of Sandra!

  2. I think that meat was put there by Hal...?