My friend Abby from North Carolina was in town visiting over the weekend. She had come for business, and had a big long meeting on Friday, but on Saturday she had the day free and we decided to pack in as much as possible. Luckily, it was a fantastically gorgeous day, with the first real Spring weather of the year. On our way to get breakfast at H&H Bagels on the Upper West Side, I noticed purple and white crocuses sprouting from recently barren flower beds. We ate our bagels on the steps of a church, soaking in the morning sunshine. Next we walked over to the park, and through it to the East Side, and visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit that Abby wanted to see was one that I also had been meaning to see--Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard. Walker Evans was an amazing photographer in his own right, but he was also a collector. He collected things from everyday common life, like pull tabs from soda cans and old postcards from junk shops. Over his lifetime he amassed thousands, keeping them catalogued by subject in shoe-boxes and leather suitcases. He even wrote essays about postcards and several, along with selections from his collection, were published in magazines over the course of his life. It was so interesting to see all the different postcards from Evans' collection on display, including ones that had been sent to him by friends (Diane Arbus for one) and ones from junk shops that had all sorts of mundane yet mysterious notes scrawled on them: "Arrived on the two o'clock train. Send my love to Mother." The thing that struck me about the postcards, most of which were produced in the years from 1900-1950, was that they were in most cases just pictures of tiny little towns, factories, country roads, etc. Nowadays we see postcards when we visit big cities or places like Disneyland, but back then people traveled to little towns across the country and without email needed a way to send details of their trip and greetings to those back home. These "postals" live on at the Met, a fitting place for the dying but beautiful art of correspondence.
I got yelled at by one of the Met employees for talking on my cell phone, though! But it wasn't fair because I was practically whispering and yet this other lady was talking really really loud to her friend the whole time, and I think she was more disruptive than I was! Oh well. While at the Met, we also cruised through an exhibition of drawings called From Rembrandt to Renoir, which included a lot of very nice studies by Degas, Millet, and others. Then we headed to Abby's favorite book store, Crawford Doyle Booksellers, on Madison Avenue and 81st. Afterwards, for refreshment we stopped at that New York icon, Tasti-D-Lite, for a snack of soft serve frozen yogurt, and ate as we strolled down town a few blocks before hopping on the subway.
We met up with Abby's adorable cousin Warren down in Greenwich Village. He took us to a fabulous little Italian restaurant (so sad I can't remember the name of it!), where Abby had delicious spinach gnocchi and I had an amazing omelet that came with the perfect fresh basil salad and fried potatoes. I thought that was heaven, until afterwards, when we wandered over to Grom and I had heaven in a cup. It was some kind of dark chocolate drink with a scoop of chocolate-orange gelato in it. Seriously, it was like drinking a cup of the most delicious dark chocolate syrup you can imagine. So rich, so divine! We sat in a little park and ate our gelato and then wandered around the Village some more. We stopped at Brooklyn Industries, where I found the best bag ever! I'm very excited to use it for everything, because it is just the perfect size for my lunch, a book, and all the other stuff I have to carry around everywhere. And it's so unique. Plus, it has a lifetime warranty! And it was 60% off. Enough said.
Warren then managed to get us entry into the Pulse art fair which was happening over at Pier 40. Contemporary art fairs have been occurring all over New York this week, with the main one at the Armory. However, Pulse is a pretty big one too, and so fun to see. An art fair consists of many different galleries and art associations that each get a "booth" or space in a huge room full of such booths. They display works by their most important artists and collectors, dealers, and other art people wander through, assessing the state of the art world by what they see, buying art, and making connections. There was certainly a lot of crazy stuff, a bit of really good stuff, and some familiar things. I was happy to see one artist that I admire represented. Marci Washington is dark, but I love her. I always to tend to love figures rendered in flat color.
The three of us wandered around a little bit more in the Village, admiring the weather, the picturesque neighborhoods, the cute shops, and we wished we could afford to live down there where life is so lovely. Then, we parted ways with Warren and met up with Israel and Mark, who suggested we try a place nearby called Souen Restaurant, an Asian fusion macrobiotic joint. None of us knew what macrobiotics were, but we learned that it is a way of life that involves healthy eating. Luckily, healthy can be tasty too! My seafood vegetable kuzu stew was so good! I had to take most of it home with me, because I'm unaccustomed to eating this much food in one day, and I was stuffed! Nevertheless, I had a little room left in me for Rice to Riches, the most fun place in the city for an unusual dessert. There they have rice pudding of all flavors, served in darling little bowls that you can take home and reuse. We shared four flavors--I loved the cherry mascarpone and the chocolate hazelnut. The four of use wandered around a little more in that neighborhood, but even though it was only 9 o'clock Abby and I were exhausted from having walked around the entire day, so we decided to call it a day and head home. And once back in Harlem, the only way to possibly cap such a delightful day was by watching a youtube video of Morrissey sing "This Charming Man."