I heart New York, too

March 10th, 2009



As I wrote in “Gainfully Unemployed,” a few weeks ago I went to Los Angeles to check out galleries. And this past week I went to New York to do the same. It was a fantastic, hectic, lazy, gritty, glittering, visceral, intellectual 5-day romp up and down and back and forth the city that never sleeps.

Without further ado–and in no particular order–here it is:






Top 10 Reasons I Loved My Trip to New York


1. Pulse art fair

There were over 100 galleries from 26 countries exhibiting, but still I was most excited to see some of the galleries I had visited in New York, as well as my own local (San Francisco) galleries. This last group included Rena Bransten, who sent me a very nice rejection letter last September, and Baer Ridgway Exhibitions, about which I wrote previously in “Yerba Buena Gallery Walk.” Kent Baer and I recognized each other and made a pact: He’d sell an “I love New York more than you” T-shirt in the next five minutes, and I’d find gallery representation. Kent, no pressure, but don’t forget you’ve still got my portfolio. 😉

2. Aaron Siskind at Bruce Silverstein Gallery

Bruce Silverstein Gallery has a fantastic, eclectic mix of work, fine art, urban landscapes, and portraiture. But the one photo that floored me was Providence 92, a close shot of a tar-patched asphalt highway taken by abstract expressionist Aaron Siskind in 1966. I take a fair amount of photos that are similar in their choice of subjects. But this photo, with its composition, and the way the texture is captured… It’s one of those images where you feel like you can’t help but be a better photographer for having encountered it.


3. Snow!

I’ve seen snow in Tahoe, Big Bear, etc., but I realized in New York that I had never before seen snow in a city. Snow on cars. Snow on a church. A squirrel eating a snowball in Central Park. A mountain of plastic garbage bags, black as coal, heaped high with pristine white snow. Beauty. Magic.

4. Christina Kruse at Steven Kasher Gallery

Dark, even harrowing photographs and photo collages, largely self-portraits, by this artist-cum-haute couture fashion model. The exhibit coincides with the publication of Kruse’s limited edition artist’s book, Reisebuch 1-5. The artist was on hand at the gallery tweaking the hanging of her pieces when I stopped by. I observed her interact with the staff, and field a request for work from an aspiring model. We chatted briefly as we shared an elevator back down to the street. All that talent and success (yeah, ok, and beauty), and she was completely gracious.


Christina Kruse, 2000

"Keep Smiling," (self-portrait) Christina Kruse, 2000


5. Edward Steichen at the International Center of Photography

Anna May Wong by Edward Steichen, 1931

Anna May Wong by Edward Steichen, 1931

Gloria Swanson, Zasu Pitts, Anna May Wong, Gary Cooper…. “Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Condé Nast Years, 1923-1937” at the International Center of Photography (ICP) museum comprises 175 of the most elegant, evocative, glamorous, and stylish photos I’ve ever seen. The images were a soothing respite after viewing the ICP’s hip but totally over-the-top ground floor exhibit, “Weird Beauty: Fashion Photography Now.”

Another treat at the ICP was “Munkacsi’s Lost Archive.” Hungarian photographer Martin Munkacsi’s photos were displayed printed as originally shot, alongside their finished, cropped counterparts, highlighting the effect of this editting on the overall feel of the photo. The exhibit included his memorable “Tibor von Halmay and Vera Mahlke.”

Tibor von Malmay and Vera Mahlke (ca. 1931)

Tibor von Malmay and Vera Mahlke (ca. 1931)

6. Coffee and a danish

You wake up in the morning, moving kind of slow, and stumble into Le Pain Quotidien for an apple-pear tart and a good cup of coffee. Ahhhh. I was sure this place was a secret New York treasure, but found out they’re also in L.A., D.C., Connecticut…. but not in S.F. Can you believe it? A distant second place for coffee goes to this cute little cafe called “Starbucks.” If you can find a location you should try it sometime.

7. A hole in the wall gallery. Literally.

I was walking up 11th Avenue to check out a dozen galleries in Chelsea when, somewhere between 21st and 22nd, I passed a hole in the wall. I mean, literally, a hole in the wall. At first it didn’t even register. But I turned around and went through the low, narrow… doorway, of sorts, and found a completely unattended gallery space filled with surreal portrait photography.


Later it took about an hour of googling to find out what it was–finally searching for “chelsea hole in the wall gallery”–before I found that this was… Honey Space. According to their website:

Honey Space is an independent exhibition space dedicated to presenting compelling work by contemporary artists in a non-commercial setting. Situated in a former warehouse that has intentionally been left raw, Honey Space presents exhibitions that are by necessity site-specific, and that are designed such that the space can operate without any staff. Metal security gates open in the morning, go down at night, and throughout the day the space is open to the public. Honey Space was founded by Thomas Beale in 2008….

The work I was admiring was “Tiberius” by Chadwick Tyler.



8. Drinking a Manhattan. In Manhattan.

Can’t say I loved the wild mushroom risotto at Giorgio’s of Gramercy, but the Manhattan was first rate. Chocolate undertones from brandy-soaked cherries, no less! It was the best Manhattan my friend had ever had, and it also happened to be my first. But when you start with the best, where do you go from there?

9. Rachel Papo at CLAMPART

Snezhana Backstage, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2007

Snezhana Backstage, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2007

CLAMPART featured two portfolios by Rachel Papo: Desperately Perfect and Serial No. 3817131. The portfolios visually compare the experiences of students at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersberg, Russia, with those of teenage girls in the Israeli Defense Forces. Papo herself studied ballet as a child, and 3817131 was her own serial number during her two-year service in the Israeli Air Force.


Lookout duty at the observation tower, Tsaelim, Israel, 2005

Lookout duty at the observation tower, Tsaelim, Israel, 2005


10. New Yorkers 

From the party atmosphere on the subway, being mobbed by helpful locals whenever I whipped out my map, or getting asked to dance by a Columbia student half my age, to being serenaded by a karaoke microphone-wielding singing cab driver, New Yorkers freakin’ rule. Fugghetaboutit!



Michael Singman-Aste
Postdiluvian Photo

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One response to “I heart New York, too”

  1. Jamie Watson says:

    What an awesome post! I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it.

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