Autumn in New York, with Lights from Dan Flavin

I feel like we’re in the beautiful autumn days that everyone idolizes in New York. Even the scraggly trees on the medians by the BQE are turning gorgeous shades of red and yellow. I just got back from playing some freestyle bocce ball in Prospect Park where the colors were stunning. So are those in McCarren Park as shown in the image above, although I don’t notice them as much while wheezing around the running track. My goal is to be able to run a mile by the end of the year. I think this is reasonable, even if my legs do not.

Last Wednesday I saw the fantastically entertaining John Hodgman, a writer/actor/famous minor television personality that you’ve probably heard or seen on This American Life, The Daily Show, or all those Mac commercials. I understand there was a rather important “bases-ball” game that night, although Hodgman kept us updated on the score and how many ravens had been slaughtered and how many tunnels dug. The Empire Stating Building has been lit in blue and white ever since that grand bases-ball game. Hodgman’s book reading at Barnes & Noble was focused around his More Information Than You Require book and I enjoyed seeing his self-serious humor in action and liberal use of nerd references, as well as his classy three-piece corduroy suit.

Thursday is always a big night for art in New York, no matter the week. This week Elizabeth and I went to an opening at the FIAF gallery for an exhibit of French monographs. After indulging in Ricard and wine, we went to the David Zwirner gallery and saw their current Dan Flavin exhibit. It is the best exhibit I’ve seen in New York so far and I was impressed with how massive the gallery space was and how well they had adapted it to Flavin’s art.

I’d never been able to get so close to Flavin’s minimalist fluorescent light installations before. Even though it’s been 13 years since his death, Flavin’s work still seems very fresh. I guess the light sculptures alter whatever space they are in, and the colors and dispersions of the light are really the art and keep it from getting static.

After the Dan Flavin exhibit, we walked on the Highline to 14th street. The Highline use to be a an elevated freight railroad, but now it is a park. On the way to the subway, we passed this whimsical window display at the Moschino store. I wish I had dreams like that.

Friday night I went to the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg, where you get to drink among the brewing equipment. As much as Williamsburg sometimes irritates me by being like a haven for what John Hodgman would call jocks posing as nerds, I do love its bars and coffee shops.

On Saturday, we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art before watching that horrendous OU football game. I was with a friend who had never been to the Met before, so we hit the usual highlights, and saw this gorgeous panoramic painting of Versailles that I had never seen. I guess I usually don’t make it very deep into the decorative arts section. The 165 foot circular painting was created in the early 1800s by John Vanderlyn, who apparently spent years traveling around with it and exhibiting it while trying to avoid destitution. Sadly, Vanderlyn faded into an obscurity that seemed pretty permanent at his death and through the years after, but the installation of this painting at the Met in 1956 helped him to get some art history recognition.

Tonight I’m stalking the internet for apartments. I thought that applying for jobs in New York was the most demoralizing and soul-sucking activity, but that was before I started to look for apartments. Doing both at the same time makes me feel like I’m climbing up a very high mountain without oxygen. And to steal a bit from Wayne Coyne’s recent interview in Spin, I don’t know if the mountain is going to turn out to be a volcano and I’ll fall in and be incinerated or if I get to plant a miniature flag at its peak. I’m hoping for the flag, or at least a little rest at a camp with some hot chocolate.

3 thoughts on “Autumn in New York, with Lights from Dan Flavin

  1. Terri Abbott says:

    I’m enjoying your NYC adventures. Your word pictures and actual ones allow me to experience in a very small way your great life there. Don’t be discouraged; you’re a great writer, and something will come. Good luck!

  2. m says:

    jon hodgeman…i am jealous


  3. Allie says:

    Thanks Terri! I’m sure it’s just a matter of time and something will work out. At least I’m living somewhere that has so much to write about. I am not at a loss for inspiration!

    You would have loved it, m!

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