Month: December, 2007

New Museum opening

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007 | All Things, Arts, Events

New Museum opening

Technically, the first snow of the season arrived on November 19, but that ephemeral dusting was so slight as to hardly register. The snowfall on Sunday morning December 2 was more substantial, and seemed to inaugurate the true start of winter.

Since its founding by the late Marcia Tucker in 1977, The New Museum has demonstrated a commitment to showing visionary, daring work by living artists. Over the next three decades, the museum would be housed in a series of roving spaces: a staff of three began with an office in the TriBeCa Fine Arts Building on Hudson Street, hosting exhibitions offsite at donated galleries at the New School, later working out of spaces on Broadway, and more recently occupying temporary quarters at the Chelsea Art Museum.

For its first permanent home, the museum commissioned a building with a relatively modest budget of $50 million by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of Tokyo-based firm SANAA (an acronym for Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates). Prior to their hiring in 2002, SANAA had not yet built outside of Japan, which made the firm an unusual choice in this era of starchitects.

The results have been well-received: a seven-story stack of shimmering two-ply silvery grey boxes each teetering slightly off center, with three floors of exhibition space, levels for educational and administrative purposes, and a top floor offering open, spectacular views of downtown.

New Museum

New Museum

To commemorate the grand reopening of the New Museum, beginning at midnight on December 1, the museum was open to the public for 30 consecutive hours. We registered for tickets on Sunday morning, and at 10:00AM, we made our way through the falling snow to the Bowery to tour the new space.

New Museum

The museum’s inaugural exhibition concentrates on works that are purposefully Unmonumental, the kick-off to a three part, five month long exhibition that explores sculpture, audio, and collage by some of the most prolific and relevant international artists today. Not particularly my taste: sculptures made from a bundled pillar of old clothes and stuffed animals (“Bale Variant Number 001”) by New Yorker Shinique Smith, a plywood box through which was threaded flea market belts (“Split Endz (wig mix)“) by Glasgow-based Jim Lambie, an arched sculptural stack of broken wooden chairs (“Myth Monolith (Liberation Movement)”) by Marc André Robinson… well, actually I did think that last one pretty cool, if precarious-looking.

The stark white galleries, hallways, skylights, and hidden stairways were a destination unto themselves, though: a marvel to be contained within the museum’s 71’ by 112’ footprint.

The view out through the metal mesh:

New Museum

New Museum staircase:

New Museum

For those who missed the grand opening in December (and who wish to bypass the usual $12 admission fee), the New Museum still offers free hours on Thursdays from 7:00-10:00PM.

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Fat Cat Billiards birthday

Saturday, December 1st, 2007 | All Things, Events, Family

For J’s milestone birthday, his dear wife had arranged a surprise gathering of friends and family at Fat Cat Billiards in the West Village. J suspected that a secret plan was afoot when PL requested his assistance with the family’s move from the Upper West Side to Edgewater, New Jersey that Saturday morning. (More defectors!) J gamely agreed, little knowing then that the request was, in fact, entirely serious. It must have been quite a letdown to arrive on the scene expecting a celebration and finding only heavy moving boxes. Worst surprise party ever!

The real festivities, of course, began later that evening, and did not involve manual labor. We paid the $3 cover for access to the subterranean pool hall/game room, with its décor reminiscent of a Disco-era suburban basement rec room… but in a good way. This isn’t one of those sceney pool lounge spots — just a low-key place to down cheap beer and shoot stick with friends. Dim lighting, live jam sessions, worn couches, mismatched tables, and strewn throughout: billiards and ping pong tables, shuffleboard, foosball, and board games galore. New York magazine named Fat Cat Billiards the city’s “Best Pool Hall” in 2001.

We arrived early to commandeer the seating area behind the bar — a space which we shared with the owner’s large, friendly dog. I’m still not sure whether he actually liked us, or the John’s of Bleecker Street pizzas we had ordered in.

Fat Cat Billiards

Fat Cat Billiards

Later that night, in the homier environs of the Upper East Side, we toasted the man of the hour over a beautiful Black Forest cake from SoHo’s Ceci-Cela Patisserie — a delightfully potent, almost victorious, confection of Cointreau-sponged chocolate cake, brandy-soaked cherries and airy layers of vanilla whipped cream.

Happy Birthday, James

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