The primary purpose of this trip was born out of an impulsive decision to purchase a single concert ticket, and subsequently a single plane ticket, to New York to see the reunion tour of a lifetime: Temple of the Dog. I won't bore you with their backstory, but rest assure this means a lot to me.
My first day was spent walking the Chelsea Art district, which, considering how dense it is, probably consists of over 100 galleries. One full block within that district contains more art than all of Vancouver. It was exhausting and overwhelming, in a totally good way.
Highlights of that trek: -the Mark Rothko exhibit at Pace gallery drew the largest crowd by a landslide, and rightfully so. I'm no art historian, but Rothko means a lot to the city of New York, and vice versa.
-the Joan Mitchell exhibition at Cheim & Read was by far my personal favorite. It's interesting seeing other peoples reactions to art. No matter the demographic, everyone I observed at Cheim & Read was visibly moved and in awe. I think a lot of contemporary art tends to fly over the heads of most common folk, and thats why I think it's refreshing to see some of the masters of abstract expressionism in the flesh, Mitchell being one of them.
-lastly, an encounter I would have never guessed in a million years. I had started my walk through Chelsea as soon as the earliest galleries opened. The streets were pretty quiet, and considering I was in the middle of downtown New York on a weekend made it feel even more unusual. Chelsea art galleries are purposefully poorly labeled. Their signage was so minimalist/non-existant to the point that I probably walked past half of the galleries thinking they were fire exits. One gallery I happened to stumble into was one of these inconspicuous fire exit looking doors, Mary Boone gallery.
The only reason I actually managed to walk in was because someone was holding the door for someone else, and as I walked by I happened to see giant white walls and thought yep thats gotta be a gallery. So I walk in as I normally do, feeling that all eyes are on me as if i was scoping the joint for a major midnight heist. As I round the corner of the reception area, I am taken aback by a giant, reconstructed tree, which without even having to read the information sheet i knew was a piece from Ai Weiwei.
What a treat I was in for, I had never seen an exhibition of his before. It was that exact moment that my eyes glanced over at a small group of people congregating around someone, who i thought was a gallery director or staff member. But it wasn't. It in fact was Ai Weiwei himself. Holy fuck, I thought. For those of you that don't know, he is considered the most important living artist today (saying "today" is redundant, but it sounds silly without it). How cool was that to see one of the most famous artists of all time, talking about some of his latest pieces, in front of maaaaybe 10 other people. He was incredibly quiet, which only heightened your engagement.
He took questions, and I asked him if he has ever gone to see his "F Grass" piece in Vancouver. He said nope. Probably because he has only recently been granted the ability to leave his country by the Chinese government. I'm not the kind of guy to take selfies with people, or even in general, so i snapped a shot of him, but other than that, I put my phone away and just soaked in the moment.
I later found out that this was a private event, which explains why this place wasn't packed to max capacity. That probably explains some of the weird looks I got when I raised my hand to ask him a question. "Who the hell is this guy?". I get that a lot.
Seemingly every street is under construction, which explains the symphony of car horns I hear as I walk down the street. All this time I thought I was a victim of cat calling.
It sure is going to be a strange time to be in the big apple, what with the election taking place next Tuesday. not to mention the season finale of the Voice on Monday. How will america decide? Only time will tell. Here's Carson Daly with the results...