Sunday, June 22, 2008

New York City Trip: Chrystler Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art (Part 2)

Thursday, October 8

I slept in today and had planned on taking one of the tours of the city. However, it was rainy and overcast so, instead I thought I would spend the early part of the day at the Met. I had decided to walk to the Met which is a pattern that I have followed throughout my touring opportunities. One seems to get so much more out of the experience on foot as opposed to taking public transportation.

New York City is by far the grandest city I have ever seen; BIG, BIG, BIG and again I say BIG. There is no end to the size, there is no end to the grandeur. Never have I seen so many large buildings in such a compact area. A lot of cities have skyscrapers, but New York City collects them. One skyscraper in particular caught my eye. I was walking down by Bryant Park when I saw a building of about 40 stories with a white arched base. It had no other markings on it other than the single word "Grace."

For some reason this particular building commanded my attention. It was no different from the other buildings around it, but for whatever reason it just seemed to be speaking to me. It was a very humble building, but it occurred to me that it shouldn’t have been. A strange observation to make I should think. I thought, in any other city in the world this building would be a headliner. People would come from miles around to see it and over time, it would be a signature attraction. However, this mysterious building had the ill-fortune of being birthed into the Gotham city and thus, it’s just another large building in another neighborhood surrounded by hundreds of others just like it.

I didn’t stay above ground too long though, it wasn’t long before I discovered the subway system. It was too long of a walk to the Met, so I caught an uptown train. It was a short walk from the nearest station.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art attracts more visitors (over 5 million a year) than any other site in New York City. The museum boasts eclectic collections from famous Egyptian art to classical Greek and Roman statuary to African Art. As always, I spent most of my time in the oil paintings.

Among my favorites were works by my favorite painter, Titian. I had seen some of his paintings in Paris at the Louvre and in Washington DC at the National Museum of Art. I had also seen some of his work and visited his tomb while in Venice. His paintings have an odd effect on me. Personally, I find them very thought provoking. Even his paintings of simple events seem to tell a story much deeper than a simple glance will unveil.

There was a large collection of Rembrandt’s paintings at the museum. I paid them special attention as I had never seen so many Rembrandt’s in the same place before. So many of them were simple, "dull" portraits yet I had never seen simple subjects presented in such a thought-provoking fashion. Rembrandt's Aristotle with a Bust of Homer was of special note.

I also enjoyed such famous works as, Bingham’s, "Fur Traders Descending the Missouri" Leutze’s, "Washington Crossing the Delaware" and John Singleton Copley’s masterpiece, "Mrs. John Winthrop."This particular painting is of special significance. Mr. Copley’s execution of Mrs. Winthrop’s reflection in the shiny wood table she is resting her arms on is truly remarkable.

Finally, Church’s, "The Heart of the Andes" is a grand representation of the American west. This work left folks awestruck when it was first disclosed to the public in 1859 and it placed me in a similar state. The painting was flanked by one of its rival paintings, Bierstadt’s Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak in the same way as it was displayed at the 1864 New York Sanitary Fair.

Other works that caught my eye were Canaletto by Giovanni Antonio Canal, Waterfall at Trivoli by Claude Joseph Vernet. And various paintings by El Greco, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Monet, and drawings by Raphael and Michelangelo. I also saw a special exhibit featuring the history and collected works of Tiffany.

From the Met, I took a subway train down to the 51st street station and decided to walk around a bit. It was still overcast and a bit misty, but the atmosphere was great. I took a leisurely stroll past The Plaza Hotel, which was once the home of famous writer F. Scott Fitzgerald who wrote perhaps my favorite novel, "The Great Gatsby." I also toured the Trump Tower, walked around Rockefeller Center, and spent a good deal of time in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I walked over to Carnegie Hall and saw Radio City Music Hall as well.

One of the things that impressed me most about New York City was the proliferation of Sushi bars. I am addicted to Sushi and thus feel right at home in New York. There seemed to be a sushi bar on every other streetcorner.

Chrystler Building On my walk, I encountered the Chrysler Building. To my knowledge, I didn’t know the Chrysler Building existed before my visit to New York City. I think that when I saw the Chrysler Building on TV or in magazines, I thought it was the Empire State Building. I stand corrected. The Chrysler Building rapidly carved out a niche in my heart. It has been described as "one of the most romantic skyscrapers in the world." I don’t know how a building can be called "romantic," nor do I know what makes it romantic, but I cannot deny that this building is nothing short of exactly that. It has quickly become my favorite building to gaze at, and I managed to take some beautiful photos of the structure. It was actually the largest tower in the world for about three months until it’s neighbor, the Empire State Building, claimed that title.

After my initial romp around the city, I returned to Patricia’s apartment and took a nap. I had arranged for us to see an off-broadway show entitled, "Blue Man Group." When I woke up, it was just about time to go. So, around 7PM I took off and met her near Rockefeller Center. This meeting gave me my first interaction with the city busing system which did not impress me in the least. Anyway, I eventually made it there and we ate a quick dinner at a little deli in the area and then headed downtown on the subway. We arrived to the theater a little early and had some time to kill. So, we stopped by Starbuck’s Coffee for a little pre-show snack. I ordered my favorite, heavenly concoction; a large Mocha Frappaccino. There is seldom a time or a place where I cannot find time for one of these delights.

When it was time for the show to begin, we returned to the theater. The "Blue Man Group" lasted about two hours or so and for the entire time, I was blown away. The show was absolutely hilarious. It was ingenious, thought-provoking, unpredictable, and fun. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking a good time in New York City. Tickets are a little on the hefty side though running around $100 for the pair. I still recommend it though, and am even hoping to take my best friend Shola to see it when he comes to visit me in the summer of 1999.

After the show, Patricia and I returned to her apartment and watched a little TV before calling it a night.

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