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A few more highlights of Chelsea art viewing from New York City last week:

At Sikkema Jenkins, Leonardo Drew’s exquisite wood constructs were spectacular:


Photo courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins

A few selected views:

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And at Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe Gallery, Oliver Arms paintings knocked me out. Here’s a florid (but satisfying) description from Western Project:

Continuing his visual cacophony, the artist confirms his place as a master of contemporary painting. Each work in the exhibition is grand in scale, built up of multiple layers of oil paint, sanded and repainted dozens of times over months in his studio. Every gesture and every square inch is considered; as a surgeon works, exacting and emphatic. Arms’ art is not in the labor, but in the historic vision he creates. It is poetic, alarming, compressed and florid; it mirrors our culture of information and visual overload. He uses retinal contradictions: assault and fecundity, toxic and ravishing, momentary and endless, depicting immense densities and atmospheres. Each is a kind of micro/macro hallucination, a psychic, social, and spiritual tale, of epic landscapes of miasma. It is a vocabulary akin to Pollock and Lao Tsu; the finite and infinite, the internal and eternal exposed and unapologetic.


Photo courtesy of Western Project

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And as a close: This shot below is of the High Line in winter. It’s hard to believe, but we really are just weeks away from the verdant revolution that is spring. This view was a sobering reminder to me that this grand journey through space continues, that there is movement even though about now I am almost convinced the planet got stuck and can’t get back in its orbital flow. Not true, not true.

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The High Line as it looked in August

Like just about everybody else, I love the new High Line in Manhattan. So it is easy to enjoy a recent piece about public spaces in the New Yorker. Written by Lauren Collins, the newly-created (and mixed blessing) pedestrian mall at Times Square is juxtaposed to the sassier and more unexpected park that is the High Line. I am particularly enjoying some of its other sobriquets, like the Thigh Line.

Here’s a sampling:

According to the Post, guests have been putting on amateur skin shows in the floor-to-ceiling windows of the new Standard Hotel, at Thirteenth Street, which straddles what is referred to as the Thigh Line. (The hotel is the Eyeful Tower.)…The spontaneous rise of High Line lowlife seems to suggest a conservation theory of seediness: root it out in one place, and it will sprout up somewhere else. Whack a mole, and you may find, across town, the mole whacking itself.

The High Line, with its exposed tracks and sprays of wildflowers, might be considered a foil to Times Square. Lobbied for by designers and musicians, it is intended to convey instant insouciance. It is an indie park, an anti-campus, a pair of pre-ripped skinny jeans to Times Square’s creased 550s. The Times Square plaza dissipates into the sidewalk, but the High Line is a tight and narrow catwalk, a picture with a frame. Chelsea boys, JDaters, and pretty women, dressed in rompers, promenade in front of people-watchers, perched like fashion editors on wooden benches: urbe in rus.

I just returned from several days in New York. Some gallery shows and museums yes, but more than anything this was a set of days devoted to reconnected with old friends. Collen Burke. Eliot Lable. Mimi Kramer-Bryk and Bill Bryk.

One of the best moments: Walking the High Line in its late summer majesty of grasses and wildflowers, the city and the Hudson River in backdrop. I walked it at high noon and then again in the early morning, as soon as it opened. This is a zone of wild growing that feels magical at every hour.

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Bits and pieces of the protracted and complex story of how this elevated urban walk way came into being have come to me through various friends, and the High Line’s very existence is a kind of miracle all its own. But when you are there, you can’t help but envision the replication of this form of public access reclamation for every city.

And at another end of the same continuum of the “New York City in August” theme, this came in from my friend Andrew:

Those cooling water spouts in front of our friendly skyscraper are the perfect balm for these hot August days beside the sun scorched 9/11 site and always attract a share of tourists, whose children run shoeless and devoid of anger through the water and around the shiny sculpture, which the landlord’s website identifies as a “mirror-polished balloon flower.” I always thought it was a twisted body part.

Delmore Schwartz — who ended rather badly — obsessed about “the witness of the body” (as do I):

The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city. . . .