Friday, July 18, 2008

Today's Artdom word is...Metrohemians

Having spent the past two weeks house sitting a Brooklyn dog and two neurotic cats between art excursions in and around Manhattan, I believe my mental Metro card has finally "maxed out" on repeat experiences in NYC. This is certainly not a complaint, merely an observation.
As a card-carrying, (Soc. Scty.), registered, ol' fart, who first visited the city during the 1964-65 World's Fair, one of the first visual images that became etched into my mind, was the
taxis were all painted a mustard-yellow color.To me, this was a great salute to NY "landmarks" such as the street hot dog vendors, and Coney Island hot dogs from Nathan's with extra mustard.(?)
Today, the only mustard-yellow vehicles I see, are the New York News delivery trucks, and all 13,000 taxis are now painted some yellow-orange color that reminds me of rolling chunks of industrial-strength cheese! And right about now, you're thinking, "Yeah, old man, it's the "Now" color.", prompting me to ask: "Is it possible for a particular "Now" concept or design to be so "Now" and/or innovative, that its "over the top", and actually repulses rather than enhances? I say these cheese-yellow taxis prove that it is possible. So, Mayor Bloomberg, make it like it used to was, and order these damn things to be re-painted!
My second action-reaction scenario about the cabs, would be that since the city now has 8.3 million residents and 85 million(!) rats,(or 14.3 rats per person...and how is that second statistic constantly validated?), perhaps the rats are gnawing their way into social acceptance via some weird osmosis color-association mind control technique, and the cheese-yellow taxis are the first breach by rats into social acceptance.(?)
My second example of a gross example of social acceptance, is much of NYC's acceptance of scaffolding as Fine Art!
If you want to see the most flattering view of Olafur Eliasson's recently installed "Waterfalls" piece, find a copy of the June 12-18 issue of TONY (Time Out New York), and turn to page 26. You'll immediately notice that this photo shows very little of an integral part of the installation,...scaffolding. Surely there's already enough scaffolding to navigate through and around as a pedestrian, (plus getting hit with a brick from above, which one young lady experienced last week), just trying to get around Manhattan afoot!
The real tragedy, is that like graffiti, New Yorkers are now being asked to accept and appreciate scaffolding as possessing some aesthetic visual quality thats been overlooked and/or under appreciated until now. This tells me that the Big Apple either needs to be "polished" or another coat of wax. While I subscribe to the concept of man-made waterfalls at these four perfectly suited locations, Eliasson's approved final drawings should have never left the drawing pad until someone thought to cover the scaffolding with either reflective Mylar or some solid black material that would showcase the water, rather than make it an incidental part of the installations. (Can I get an "Amen"?!)
So, as I now sit here looking down 30,000feet at what looks like Canada, on my way back home to the SF bay Area, I would offer the following two travel tips to newbe NYC visitors:
First, just because you read that most New Yorkers leave the city during the hot summer months, you need to know that before they leave, they sub-lease their dwellings to us out-of-staters, so don't expect the 8.3 million statistic to be appreciably less, as far as trying to find a seat on the subway.
And secondly, after your first week of riding the subways and buses to and from the end of the line in most directions, make a point of getting on the "F" train during a weekday morning between 9AM and 1PM, and ride the "F" to Coney Island and back. Yes, it takes an hour or so, but the reward is that you will be able to hear and understand perfectly well, all the upcoming stops and connections that the driver announces! Having experienced this on 7/8/08 between 9:20 and 11AM from Berghen St. to Stillwell Av. I consider it just one more very-hidden treasures that makes NYC the most fascinating, diverse mixture of gastronomic and visual rewards anyone could possibly imagine or want.
I close with a word I invented that has actually been accepted in one online dictionary:
Metrohemians-Those Visual and Performing artists who establish an urban art community,(a la SOHO,DUMBO, Chelsea, etc.), but once established and popularized, experience gentrification, and are forced to relocate and establish an affordable art community elsewhere.