New York, August 2010


note the operator's hand in window....

30 years of all this!  I first started to go to New York in 1980.  In 1980 & 1981, I hitchhiked there.  In 1981, I took the bus home.  The hitching was getting to be a bit rough and taxing.  I gave up on it.        

There was still graffiti all over the subway trains.  Some of it was just “spitting” style but there were beautiful works too.  Keith Haring was doing his chalk drawings, down in the subways.  This was one of the things that inspired me to do art on Detroit’s Hudson’s Building in chalk in the 1990’s.        

The Times Square and 42nd Street area was pretty rough and even dangerous.  That’s where I stayed,at first, at the 9th Avenue and 39th Street.         

Since then, I’ve visited New York nearly every year.  In 30 years, I’ve only missed like 2 or 3 years.  Much of this “constancy” was made possible due to the generosity and fellowship of my New York friends.  Thanks to Gail, Ken and my brother Matt.  Thanks to Bill and Margie.  Your spare rooms, kitchen floors, couches and everything have been wonderful to me.  The Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan have tasted my footsteps.  I’ve also appeared in other boroughs.  There are some good museums in Queens.        

Only once, in 2006, did I have to negotiate NY’s systems of cheap lodgings.  Early on, I met someone who claimed he hadn’t been off of Manhattan in over 12 years!  I started a series on past adventures here:           

Moses Josiah, saw player

I arrived Thursday August 5.  I get coffee and do some drawings.  I make my way over to the Museum of Modern Art.  There was plenty of great stuff there: a big Matisse show, a Picasso show, women in photography, a Maya Deren exhibit, work by Lee Bontecou, photographs of sculpture and an exhibit of artists using myth in their work, creating new myths.        

There was more that I’d not mentioned including their amazing “regular collection.”  This includes lots of Surrealism and other work I really like.  Especially since it’s been expanded, MOMA can be a bit exhausting and overwhelming.  Yet it’s always inspiring.  For the practicing visual artist, it has special secrets and messages.        

Gil Scott Heron was playing for free at Marcus Garvey Park.  I couldn’t quite get my energies together to get to that.  I didn’t sleep much on the bus ride.  I just wandered around.  That’s always fun for me, in and of itself.  I missed other great free shows too including the xx and Brazilian musician Hermeto Pascoal (who worked with Miles Davis).        

I got back and visited with Bill and Margie and slept well.        

found in Brooklyn

Friday, August 6, I took the subway to the Whitney Museum.   There were a few good exhibits there.  Pianist Marilyn Crispell was playing as part of a “Christian Marclay festival.”  She did a piece called “Shuffle.”  It was playing from cards drawn from a special deck.  I caught part of a talk by  musician Mary Halvorson.  I told her I was from Detroit and she said it was one of her favorite places.  

Later, she performed on guitar (with Anthony Coleman on piano) in a piece called Pret-a-Porter.  Two models kept changing their clothing.  The clothes had musical notes on them, to be read and played.         

Pret-a-Porter (ready to wear)

This was all very interesting.  I really liked this piece where Marclay blacked out the images in comic books, leaving only the sound effects (vroomm…kpow…CRUNCH….clunkk and the like).    I’d seen his Xmas LP mix thing here at MOCAD.        

There was good stuff in the regular collection too.         

The highlight was an exhibit of the wild landscape painter Charles Burchfield.  I’ve always liked his work.  It can get pretty intense and mysterious.  Sometimes, it even reminds me of Van Gogh’s paintings.    

Afterward, I wandered around the streets.  I went back to Brooklyn to Barbes.  There, I got to see Bill Carney’s Jug Addicts, always great to see.  I got to sit in for Saint James Infirmary on kazoo and lead vocal.  I’ve played with them a number of times.  Bill and fiddler Karl Meyer are both former members of Detroit’s Don’t Look Now Jug Band (which I’m in).  Bill even helped to start it!  They sounded great.    

Some of the good times I’d had with them were at Freddy’s, now being torn down for some reason.  I got by the site and saw it.  I’ll write more on that, eventually.    

Grand Central Station

Saturday, August 7, I got up and made my farewells to my hosts.  I went to the Museum of American Folk Art.  There were some good exhibits.  I especially liked Considering Abstaction which included many outsider art greats like Mose Tolliver, Scottie, Aloise Corbaz and Thornton Dial Sr.  There was also a Henry Darger show.    

I’d hoped to see exhibits on W.C. Fields and Otto Dix, but I ran out of time.  I went by Lincoln Center to catch part of their Summer concert series.  



by Lincoln Center, sun shines through the glass

I caught the show with Mucca Pazza (a 30 piece “circus punk” marching band) and Balkan Beat Box.  It was a good show that set off an intense audience response.  There was much shouting, dancing and several encores. I’d seen them before in Detroit.  They’re an interesting band including great drumming and saxophone.  Ori Kaplan, the sax player,  used to be in Gogol Bordello.  

at the Balkan Beat Box concert

Sunday, August 8, I packed up my things and got out of Brooklyn.   I took the subway to lower Manhattan.  I went through Greenwich Village, St. Mark’s Books, Tompkins Square Park, 14th Street and so on. 

 This is a great old building, I forget its story.  I remember it from previous visits.

classic Zen "oodle afe" (OUT NOW OUT)

Next, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, near Central Park.  First, I go see the big, crowded Picasso exhibit.  They’re showing everything they have thus including the great, the average (or even “bad)” and everything in-between.  

I also saw their great musical instrument collection.  How much fun it would be to play some of these odd and obscure instruments!  My Space Band cohorts and I  would get some good sounds out of them. 

Then there was some interesting New York street photography by Leon Levinstein.  Just at closing time, I chanced upon my favorites: 10 to 15 great Van Goghs, Paul Gauguin paintings and his hand carved walking stick and more.  It was a good finish to my 2010 NY museum explorations.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Catch some of the music at Lincoln Center Outdoors again.  It’s New Orleans night!  I was enjoying the Wild Magnolias but it was time to go.  I headed off to the Port Authority to catch the bus home.

It was a successful visit.  Traveling involves some work.  My knees would be sore by the end of the day.  I was glad to be able to make the trip though.

I happened upon a sculpture of a giant foot.....

Last year’s New York trip:

Leon Levinstein:{C9CE6916-DFEF-4B86-BDB0-EE290C523227}

Matisse Exhibit:

Bill Carney’s Jug Addicts:

Christian Marclay Festival (includes links to reviews):


One Response to “New York, August 2010”

  1. nbm Says:

    Your decorated red building is the Ottendorfer Library on lower 2nd Avenue. It dates back to the days when that was a neighborhood of German immigrants (among, of course, others).

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