New York Art Diary

I came down here to Manhattan mostly to see friends but ended up walking and talking our way through a handful of art museums and galleries. Here’s a report: Monday: Guggenheim Russia! show. Very exciting with 600 years of unfamiliar incredibly skilled artists. Save yourself the hassle and cost of getting a Russian visa and the trip to St. Petersburg and Moscow. Tuesday: Metropolitan Museum. The blockbuster shows have all closed but the Prague show is kind of nice for fans of medieval art. Wednesday: Chelsea Galleries. Joel Sternfeld’s photographs of experimental utopias across the U.S. were competent and the accompanying texts were riveting (Luhring Augustine, 531 W. 24th). Andy Denzler’s paintings of the Bush family and associates at the Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, 531 W. 25th Street, merit a visit, especially for the joyful and strange portrait of the twin daughters. Adam Cvijanovic’s murals at Bellwether, 134 Tenth Ave (18th), win the award for lowest cost per square foot ($75,000 for a huge Tyvek three-wall installation; peel her off and take her home!). Sol Le Witt brings up the other end of the value spectrum with some $45,000 pieces that you could execute yourself if you had access to some scrap metal and/or paint and an art student. The most disappointing art were photographs of strippers on poles by Philip-Lorca diCorcia at the Pace gallery (534 W. 25th if you want to see what others are paying $45,000 to own). Gary Winogrand did some great photos inside strip clubs, concentrating on the sad patrons. His pictures were available in large editions and were not expensive. DiCorcia’s photos are taken when the strip clubs were closed so there isn’t anything to look at besides a woman and a pole. They aren’t that different from what a working photojournalist would probably capture if given an hour inside a strip joint and told “take a picture of a woman hanging from a pole.”

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The Pan-Asian Wedding

I spent Sunday attending the wedding of two friends.  Generally the idea of being trapped inside a hotel conference room on a fine summer’s day fills me with horror.  In this case, however, the wedding had some cultural interest because the groom was Korean-American and the bride Chinese-American.  One big difference was the level of participation of the parents.  They came right up to the front and, before any vows were exchange between bride and groom, each of the young people promised to love and honor his or her in-laws.  Another difference was the level of intelligence and education in the room.  Asian-Americans are our most discriminated-against ethnic group.  They have a tough time breaking into the Old White Guys’clubs and golf games.  They are officially discriminated against by universities and government because they aren’t the right kind of minority.  How do Asians respond?  Apparently by studying and working like demons.  A person at the reception who attended an Ivy League college, earned an M.D. or Ph.D., and was a good enough violinist to play in a symphony orchestra would have been average.  The Taiwanese-American woman officiating had an M.D. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from MIT.  Twenty more years of Affirmative Action and we will have effectively bred a super-race of Asian-Americans.

My favorite part of the wedding was the groom’s mother’s toast.  She recounted how, not having ever been introduced to a girlfriend, she sat her son down and said “I’m your mother.  I will accept whatever you tell me, even if it is difficult.  Just tell me the truth:  Are you gay?”  Thanks, Mom.

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