11.28.2008

Looking Back on Thanksgiving Week: Jones Street, Papabubble, New Museum, Star Trek Art, and More

Thanksgiving Week began for me on Monday when the sun came out after several days of rainy weather. Recovering from a cold and a sore knee, the result of wearing the wrong pair of glasses, misunderstanding the distance from the street to the sidewalk, and then falling down, I wandered, well, hobbled, northwest on Bleecker Street and, later, the same direction on 4th Street. After the rainy weather, and given my state of mind, I thought the streets looked like they were recovering from a trauma.

I stopped to gaze down Jones Street, wanting to see the street again after mentioning it in an earlier post about Johnny Mercer. He lived along in here in the early 1930s when he was a young, struggling songwriter /actor/Wall Street errand boy. It's an unhurried block of a street, nestled between the far busier Bleecker and W. 4th Streets, and it looks like it can weather good and bad times. I was on one of these walks that have no purpose and no destination, plus I was walking slow, so I could take my time to explore some nooks and crannies. I peaked into the window of The Slaughtered Lamb and noticed a cozy fireplace. As I'm on an unhurried mission to find taverns like these, especially within easy walking distance, I went in for a minute and chatted with a couple of friendly people who work there. They were putting up holiday decorations around the bar, and I promised I would come back. As I left, I noticed across the street the window of Patisserie Claude, one of the finest croissant makers in the city, covered with paper along with a notice that they were closed for renovation. I hope that's truly the case, because I would miss it. (Ed. Note, December 2008): Great news-they're back open).

After staying inside Tuesday to finish a professional project, I was more than ready on Wednesday to get out of the apartment and take on some items of my To-Do list. First on the agenda was a hobble to Papabubble, the new candy venue on Broome Street near Mott. My expectations were more than met, largely because I enjoy seeing candy made like an artful craft, in this case much like glassblowing, and I thought the little candies were delicious. While on Broome, I explored several blocks, enjoying the mix-match of businesses, ethnic restaurants, civic and religious institutions, and so forth. As with the parallel Grand Street, a fun walk would be to stroll Broome from east to west, starting in the Lower East Side and ending in the South Village.

After wandering around Broome, I made it over to the New Museum on the Bowery (near the intersection with Prince St.) to see Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton. (See earlier review of her recent work at Gavin Brown Enterprises.) In a well-designed exhibit, the selection of works from her still-young career adds up to a fuller understanding of her preoccupations with portraiture and celebrity. She displays a virtuosity with line and composition, and all these little works pack a big punch. I sort of wish, however, that one of the on-hand gallery guides did not tell me that she sometimes applies Gesso on her heavily-primed canvases with strokes of a credit card, because I could then not stop thinking about how much money she gets for her artwork.

When I got home, I rested for an hour, and then I walked down to the W. 4th station to ride up to the 81st Street stop, the nearest stop to checking out the inflation of the Macy's parade balloons. I've written about that already and showed you my pictures. I also want to mention that the new Shack Shack on Columbus Ave. and 77th (we all know the one in Madison Square Park) looked mighty festive for the holidays, decked in pretty twinkling green lights.

Finally, the fun day ended with drinks in the downstairs bar of Le Poisson Rouge. I love this new performing arts venue on Bleecker. While sipping our drinks, we enjoyed seeing artist Devorah Sperber's uncanny and smart pieces from her Star Trek series. Here are the familiar images of the Starship Enterprise, Spock and McCoy, Uhura and Sulu, and so forth, but she's created the works out of thousands of chenille stems (pipe cleaners). (Sperber's website here) The knockout piece is one of her "Thread Spool" works. It's of Spock, but he's rendered upside down in a patterned arrangement of thread spools of different colors. You can only understand it's Spock when viewed through the clear acrylic sphere on a metal stand. The work is about perception, pixels and vision and the mechanics of how we see. Like Spock, it's perfectly logical.

Images: Jones Street, window of The Slaughtered Lamb, Papabubble, Broome Street, New Museum. by Walking Of the Big Apple. More images in this set on Flickr WOTBA.

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