Thursday, October 22, 2015

Four days in NYC to meet up with Gaye Applebaum and eat...

October 20, 2015

If you live in Albany, NY, or various other locations serviced by Amtrak there is a good chance that your first stop in NYC will be Penn Station, a horrible unwelcoming hole in the ground beneath Madison Square Garden, another monstrosity in its own right.  The original Pennsylvania Station, a Victorian style crystal palace of spectacular proportion and style was torn down the 1950's for no particular reason anyone can fathom, and replaced by this anonymous cavity in the tooth of the NYC and which remains a sore spot for a great many New Yorkers old enough to remember, which are becoming fewer as time goes by.   Not much to say about these four days other than it was great to meet up with Gaye Applebaum and go to a chamber music concert at Lincoln Center with her, grazing and ambling aimlessly for 4 days in perfect weather.  Once again I saw enough of the city to make me swear I will never return, which of course is a lie...Took a few good, pictures, had a few good meals...

And yes,  Penn Station is as sterile and undistinguished as it looks.  People stand transfixed by the departure board with little else to draw their attention.  I am here and eager to hit to the hazy frenetic horn blowing squeal of NYC streets to begin my long downtown destination Ludlow and Rivington Streets.

On my way to walking toward Second Avenue,  I found Gramercy Park and circled around it once, then walked through Stuyvesant Park, which is a lot like Gramercy, except that you don't need a key to get in, eventually reaching  2nd Ave, at 17th St.  Passing the B&H dairy restaurant at 2nd and 8th, I realized I was hungry and since I had never actually been inside, although I often thought about eating there,  I went in, grabbing a stool at the counter and a menu...

The place is only about 16 feet wide but they had 6 different soups and a big menu.  It was a tough choice, so I went for the split pea, an old standby...With the grill and food prep area, the counter and stools and 4 or 5 tables against the wall all wedged into such a small space, everybody seems to get to know each other quickly, with service being a communal effort, with the cooks passing food to the people at the counter who pass the dishes to the people at the tables, so you get to be on personal terms pretty quickly...

The soup was great, very hot and delicious.  Still hungry after that I ordered one cheese blintz which was quite large and came with sour cream.  Also great and stuffed with cheese.  No photo, but what I soon found out was that pea soup and a cheese blintz are a lethal combination, digestively speaking, for me anyway.  Good thing I still had a long walk and was thankfully able to keep it down.

Made it to 2nd Ave. and 1st Street, bypassing Houston to cut across town a few blocks and came across an interesting confluence of diverse takes on artistic expression in a one block stretch...

Alexander at the maybe 14 foot wide Elaine Houston Gallery (didn't have my tape measure, which I keep meaning to bring) who was nice enough to pose for this.   A pocket gallery big enough for 6 or 7 pieces.  No place to work if you are claustrophobic, but ...


and this is Paulo Govea, a Brazilian artist who does a lot of wall mural work.  I was lucky to catch
him just as he was putting the finishing touches on this 1st Ave masterpiece.  Walking around the city
a lot, I can see that apparently officially sanctioned mural work is popping up everywhere and it appears to be the latest thing to have a mural on the outer wall of your building, if you have one.  Banksy, once reviled, now collectable, really started something big in the city. 

Passing the uber famous Katz's deli on the corner of Houston and Ludlow, a must experience stop on the Lower East Side,  I am now just across the street from the Ludlow Hotel where I will be spending the next few days strategically ensconced.  Gaye is one of those people who has been to the city a thousand times and has wanted to go to Katz's but never quite got there, till now, so she met me at the Ludlow, and we went.  After a look see at Russ and Daughter's on Houston, which I have have hyped for years, but which can be a little disappointing as a destination if you are not eating,

 it was off to Katz's where she happily woofed down a portion of kishka, a pastrami sandwich, and some pickles.  Mission accomplished!!!

Not my most productive photographic effort,  more of a diary entry really,  as are many of the postings, but it does answer the question many of you have been asking about what ever happened to Gaye Applebaum since my last posting about her during our coverage of the protest in front of the Russian Embassy in Ottawa in the early 80's.

Here she is!!!  Sitting in the lower right hand corner of a photo taken in the atrium of the Ludlow Hotel, studying her subway map below the  King Tut's Wah Wah Hut mural remembering what used to be a very avant garde/interesting club/theater  on the Lower east Side on 7th St. & A that closed years ago, but someone must have been fond enough of the place to paint the mural.

And one last picture taken at 20 Rivington Street, LES, on our way to Morgenstern's ice cream place at Rivington and Bowery that Gaye had read about and wanted to go.  It has nothing to do with Morgenstern's but I just liked the photo.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Umi Raby...

Santa Fe
Erev Rosh Hashanah, September 13, 2015

Just got into town, and was out on the streets for a while, hoping to get a few good photos of Santa Fe before the holiday began.  Walking down Palace, Street, I took a couple of throwaway shots, but was bothered by the crowds gathering to watch an oncoming parade, so I made a seemingly arbitrary left turn onto Burro Alley, a small side street running for one short block between Palace and San Francisco Streets to escape the crowd.  There's not much on this little alley, but as I was passing the small, unpretentious Umi Gallery, a place that barely calls attention to itself, my eye was drawn to the lower right hand corner of the window, where I noticed a small, odd, unpretentious, convoluted little blue painting that caught my interest and drew me in.  I inquired about the painting,  but Umi deflected my superficial inquiries about price etc and set the small painting on a small easel in the center of the gallery, appeared to descend into something of a semi trance like state and proceeded to talk about the various quadrants and components of the painting I had chosen as a metaphor for my life;  how the various components spoke about my past, my dreams, aspirations, my perceived failings, my relation with my father, my daughter, my insomnia, anxieties, drinking, my future where all would turn out well, and a variety of other personal issues that seemed to make sense in the intensity of the moment.  But to even try to put into words the impact of Umi's uncanny diagnosis of my existential condition, based on my choice of a painting, would diminish it.

The experience was unexpected.  Silent and spellbound I sat, emotionally immobilized in a manner I was not accustomed to, exposed, revealed, humbled and overcome with a great sadness and surprise.  Somehow my choice of this image resonated with my soul in a way that Umi seemed to divine.   In Santa Fe, the third largest art market in the country with countless galleries dominated by oversized canvases, inflated egos, and mediocre art that overcompensates in size what it lacks in quality, the fact that I was drawn in by a dark little 11x14 canvas tucked away in the corner of the window on Burro Alley, was revealing.  In the real art world, the painting itself is the point at which the psyche of the artist and the admirer somehow connect.  As I passed by that afternoon, I was immediately drawn to something inexplicable and Umi appeared to understand this nexus, this portal into the realm that brought the creator and the seeker together, if only for an hour or so.

So I bought this little painting, this convoluted portrait of my soul, remembering little of what was said, but carrying with me the visceral experience it represents.  I was supposed to go for lunch at the Blue Corn Cafe for their roasted corn and chile chowder afterward, but now couldn't bring myself to go, which would have made the gallery visit just another activity and thereby diminished it, and besides, I was no longer hungry.