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Archive mensuelle de octobre 2012

Rain and Art in Newark

Last year I made a New York-bound train connection at Newark’s Penn station.  From the train, I caught a fleeting glimpse of downtown Newark and at the station I followed the bustle headed to the infamous sister metropolis, a mere 18-minutes away.  That was the extent of my contact with New Jersey’s biggest city.

 

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Newark, New Jersey

 

This year I planned to go to Newark on October 7, to participate in the Quarter Mile Print. I looked forward to volunteering at this large scale community printmaking project.  The public was invited to create monotypes along a plastic sheet measuring a quarter of a mile, to be printed onto paper by steamroller.  Mother Nature had another agenda.  Due to rain, the event got postponed to October 20.

 

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Newark Museum

 

Nevertheless, on October 7, I visited Newark.  On this wet Sunday, after the whirlwind of Manhattan, as I walked along the empty streets from Penn station to the Newark Museum, I wondered where everyone was hiding.

The Newark Museum, New Jersey’s biggest museum, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009.  According to Smithsonian Magazine, it is “The place where Shangri-La and New Jersey meet. Staunch commitment to its diverse community and treasures from Tibet to Timbuktu make the Newark Museum a little corner of paradise. »

 

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Multi-Purpose Studio, Newark Museum

 

At the museum, I met Stephen McKenzie, manager of the Arts Workshops for the past twenty years and organizer of the Quarter Mile Print.  It was a pleasure to meet him and to visit the Arts Workshops department.  There are three well-equipped and bright studios: a multi-purpose studio featuring an etching press, a jewelry studio and a weaving studio.  These spaces provide a lovely setting for creating art.  The Newark Museum also has an interesting Artists-in-Residence program.

 

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Jewelry Studio, Newark Museum

 

The education program features a wide array of classes and workshops such as Bookmaking, Quilting, Design, Photography, Metals and Jewelry, Dollmaking, Sculpture, Fiber, Digital Media and Printmaking.  The Arts Workshops department, which also has a program for children, teens and families, has a very welcoming aura.  There is even a lounge, tastefully adorned with faculty artwork, where students and teachers can mingle.

 

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Angel, Abbott Handerson Thayer 1889, 92cm x 71.5cm Oil on Canvas

 

Stephen gave me a tour of the museum, a place he knows like the back of his hand.  In and out of back doors reserved for museum staff, we visited the galleries.  It was wonderful to discover the various collections and the special exhibit, Angels & Tomboys: Girlhood in 19th Century American Art, where angelic, domestic girls hang side by side with tomboys and working girls.

 

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Ballantine House

 

I particularly enjoyed visiting the Ballantine House, a wing of the Newark Museum.  This mansion was  built in 1885 for Jeannette and John Holme Ballantine of the celebrated Newark beer-brewing family.  It is a designated National Historical Landmark.  There is something magical about visiting period rooms.  The beautifully restored dwelling, that once contained twenty-five rooms and sixteen fireplaces, is suffused with a Victorian atmosphere that transports you to another world.

 

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Stephen McKenzie

 

My visit to Newark coincided with Open Doors, an annual citywide event showcasing the arts, organized by the Newark Arts Council. The event features tours, with free shuttles, of curated, juried and pop up exhibitions, galleries, artists’ studios and available artists’ spaces.  It also spotlights special events such as the Quarter Mile Print and the Creation Nation Art and Peace Parade.  It was a perfect opportunity to discover the flourishing art scene in the city and once again Stephen, ever so jovial, was the perfect guide.  A stroll down Market Street revealed a series of galleries housed in former furniture outlets.

It was interesting to discover the Studio Residency Program at Gallery Aferro, where for a reasonable rate, selected artists have access to sectioned studio space on the second floor of the gallery.  I browsed through the studios, discovering artwork by the current artists-in-residence.

 

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Summer Lightenings, video by Victor Alimpiez

 

I enjoyed Rupert Ravens Contemporary.  Stephen introduced me to Rupert Ravens, his buddy from Rutger grad school days.  Many eclectic pieces caught my eye. I was captivated by Summer Lightenings, a video by Russian artist, Victor Alimpiez.  Hiding in the back room, this video shows school girls drumming their fingers on their desks and covering their mouths with their hands while thunderous tracks of summer lightenings are superimposed intermittently.  The effect is menacing and eery.  On a lighter note, the group show featured a big metal hopscotch board with embossed numbers, fixed to the floor.  It begged to be played with, so I did, hopping all the way to number 4!

My understanding is that as the supply of large studio spaces in New York wears thin and rents skyrocket, artists and galleries are now turning to Newark, adding effervescence to this once primarily industrial city.  As much as I wanted to participate in the Quarter Mile Print, it was an unexpected treat discovering the established and contemporary art scene in Newark.

 

Talleen Hacikayn

Thank you Stephen McKenzie for opening the doors of art for me in Newark.

Thank you Mother Nature for raining in Newark on October 7 and letting me walk through those doors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple of My Eye

Apple of My Eye subway

Times Square-42nd Street subway stop. Mural by Roy Lichtenstein.

 

Every trip I take to New York is different.  Yet each visit is a condensed, exhilarating and enriching experience.  Whenever I step foot into NYC I have a “the world is your oyster” moment accompanied by a surge of energy.  I navigate the streets and the subway system, often with a fixed plan, sometimes with a loose idea of an area to explore, always with camera at hand and expectation in my soul.

 

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Driving down the I87

 

I recently drove to New York with my friends.  To be more accurate, I was driven to New York by Tom, my friend Gelin’s husband.  I was well accompanied in their spacious van, with Gelin, her five-year old twin sons, her two-year old son, her husband and mother.  I have traveled to the Big Apple by bus, train, plane and behind the wheel.  The best way to go is “chauffeur” driven, door to door, with good company to boot!

 

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Great Hill, Central Park

 

New York feels like my backyard playground, and at 532 kilometers south of Montreal, straight down the I87, it’s a breeze to get there.  The complicated piece of trip logistics, barring visa issues, is lodging. My friends and I rented an apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a hop away from Central Park and the subway.  We had four comfy bedrooms, two closet-sized bathrooms with cereal box-sized sinks, an infinitely long hall that begged for a skate board, a brick walled living room and a kitchen where we churned out delectable meals concocted from ingredients bought from China City in Chinatown.

 

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China City, Chinatown

 

This was Tom and Gelin’s mother’s first visit to New York.  It was a sunny Saturday.  New Yorkers and Columbus Day weekend visitors flocked the streets in short sleeves.  The itinerary started with the inevitable Times Square, a stroll down Fifth avenue to Rockefeller Center, in and out Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, past Bergdorf Goodman, down to the subway, up the Canal Street stop, through Chinatown to a table at the back of a bustling Cantonese restaurant, which my friends chose for the shiny roasted ducks hanging in the front window. You haven’t tasted lobster until you try their ginger shallot lobster.

 

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Times Square

 

Now imagine doing this hike with our party of seven. Tom, with laptop in tow, often carried a twin on his shoulders while pushing his toddler in the stroller.  By 5:00 my friends were ready to go home.  I wasn’t.  I gave Gelin a rendezvous at 7:00 p.m. in Times Square. Yes, this can be done successfully.  I met my friend on the imposing red glass stairs, where I was able to witness a young man kneeling down and proposing to his girlfriend while a crowd of strangers cheered him on.

 

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The Phantom of the Opera

 

Gelin, a theatre fanatic, invited me to The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. The show was spectacular, powerful and moving.  During standing ovation, the man next to me had tears rolling down his cheeks. A couple of nights later we went to see Evita, despite the fact that it was Ricky Martin’s night off! It was entertaining but the Phantom stole my heart.

I spent Sunday afternoon in Newark, New Jersey, an experience that deserves its own blog.  Stay tuned!

 

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“Tumors Personified," part of the survey show of Alina Szapocznikow’s work at MoMA.

 

On my last day in New York, my dear friend, Hasmig, invited me to the Museum of  Modern Art.  The highlight of that visit was the Alina Szapocznikow exhibit.  At first I did not realized we had stumbled onto a solo exhibit of this accomplished Polish artist’s work.  When I saw her first piece, I was captivated.  As I advanced through rooms and was treated to more of her work I fell under her spell.  The show ends with her “Tumor “ sculptures made with resin, gauze, crumpled newspapers and photographs.  Through these powerful pieces Szapocznikow wanted to preserve the impermanence of the body.

 

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Strand Book Store

 

What is a trip to NYC without a visit to Strand Book Store?  This is a veritable Ali Baba’s cavern brimming with new, old and rare books.  In the 1970s, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist George F. Will wrote, « the eight miles worth saving in this city are at the corner of Broadway and 12th Street. They are the crammed shelves of the Strand Book Store. »  For a good hour I lost myself in page after page.  I loved the section of New York books and always cherish reading true stories of people’s first impressions of New York.

 

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Manhattan skyline

 

In 1950 Truman Capote wrote in his essay, The Diamond Iceberg:

“It is a myth, the city, the rooms and windows, the steam-spitting streets; for anyone, everyone, a different myth, an idol-head with traffic-light eyes winking a tender green, a cynical red. This island, floating in river water like a diamond iceberg, call it New York, name it whatever you like; the name hardly matters because, entering from the greater reality of elsewhere, one is only in search of a city, a place to hide, to lose or discover oneself, to make a dream wherein you prove that perhaps after all you are not an ugly duckling, but wonderful, and worthy of love, as you thought sitting on the stoop where the Fords went by; as you thought planning your search for a city.”

I call it New York, the apple of my eye, the place I like to hide and seek myself, time after time, always new, exquisite, exhilarating and exhausting!

 

Talleen Hacikyan

Photos by Talleen Hacikyan, except for Phantom of the Opera.




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