A Rustic Escape in the Bronx: Van Cortlandt Park

This serene lake scene seems far away from the frenzy of the city, but really it's very close. Just take the uptown 1 train to the last stop, Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. The park is the 3rd largest in the city and offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including a swimming pool, cricket fields, a public golf course, and an extensive network of trails. Aside from the swan in the lake, another one is slightly out of view, tending to a nest behind the tree.

In places, Van Cortlandt Park feels more rustic than its counterparts in Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Nestled under the remains of old woodlands, many of the hiking trails veer away from the city. The 1.1 mile section of the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail is part of a regional trail that starts in Westchester County to the north. The east-west John Muir Trail, though far from Yosemite, covers 1.7 miles of woodlands.


Spring Interrupted and New York's Blooming Trees

Spring came. Spring left. That's what it felt like this past week or so as the winds howled and temperatures dropped to uncomfortable levels. During a stretch of warm and promising spring-like weather in late March, the blossoming trees on the streets and in area parks started opening and shimmering in shades of designer pastels. They were showstoppers, like Audrey Hepburn in a Givenchy pink dress.

Central Park near the Sheep Meadow. Easter Sunday. March 27, 2016.

Word on the street (that I heard from a clerk in the wine shop whose friend works for Parks & Rec) is that area trees have started to bloom several times already this spring. Even earlier. Many winter days were unseasonably warm. Remember that spring-like day known as Christmas Eve?

Most of the pictures shown here were taken on days when the weather was nice, perfect for rambling walks.

The Met Breuer, Madison Ave and 75th St. March 30, 2016


Mount Olympus on Fifth Avenue

Visitors who have enjoyed strolling through the Onassis Cultural Center, a hidden modern gem of ancient civilization in midtown Manhattan, will be glad to hear that the galleries are back open. After the renovation and expansion of the downstairs rooms at 645 Fifth Avenue, the Onassis Foundation is celebrating the opening with an exhibition, Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus. The center has scheduled an ambitious set of family programs, online resources, and even a digital game in conjunction with the exhibition. It's rare to see such exquisite classical works outside of a major museum.

Statue of Aphrodite Hypolymipidia, 150-100 BC. From Dion. Sanctuary of Isis. Archeological Museum of Dion.

Gods and Mortals, curated by Dimitrios Pandermalis, president of the Acropolis Museum and director of the excavations at Dion since 1973, includes a selection of rare artifacts as well as multimedia documentation of their extraordinary context within the landscape of Mount Olympus. While museum-goers most often view classical statuary, mosaics, and everyday objects as artifacts devoid of context, Gods and Mortals provides the opportunity to understand not only the changing historical world of ancient Greece but also the living, breathing landscape of these discoveries. It looks like a gorgeous place.


Vigée Le Brun at The Met

Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art through May 15, 2016, tells the story of an ambitious self-taught neoclassical painter who pleased the French court and secured a "prodigious" (her word, in translation) amount of portrait commissions, including ones from the Queen herself, but who had the foresight to see the Revolution coming and to get out alive.

The exhibition Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France continues through May 15, 2016 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755–1842) was one of the few women admitted to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. While her father was deemed an excellent portraitist and her parents entertained the artist set, young Elizabeth largely taught herself how to paint through copying casts and paintings in the Palais Royal. She steadily built an income through portrait commissions. While supremely skilled, she was not shy in seizing opportunities, including playing on her good looks. The Met exhibit strongly hints at such self promotion. She steadily climbed the social ladder, and in 1776, Mademoiselle Vigée married Jean Baptiste Pierre Lebrun, an art dealer, critic, and a very bad gambler.