The changes that New York City has undergone over the past decade or two are well publicized. It is far safer, cleaner and generally more livable than ever. Of course, as always, there are the detractors. There are those who charge that the changes have rendered the city soulless, uninteresting, that the very spirit that once made New York great is now dead.
In general, I find these laments somewhat absurd. I can't imagine that anyone really wants a return to the "old New York". I personally don't need to be riding subway cars that derail on a regular basis or to be accosted by miscreants as I walk down the street to feel that I am having an authentic life experience.
But I do understand the sentiment on some level. We all like to feel braver, tougher and more cutting edge than we are. And living somewhere that requires bravery and toughness can serve to cultivate the fantasy. I recall experiencing a brief frisson while wandering with my friend Rob through a particularly dark, deserted neighborhood in Philadelphia in the shadow of a decommissioned power plant in search of a Super Furry Animals show. And Marissa and I did feel quite hip attending a gallery party in the same Philadelphia neighborhood in what I can only assume was an abandoned industrial building. But both times, the excitement gave way to outright fear at certain points, which cast a decidedly unpleasant cast over the evenings. Ideally I'd have the cool without the scary.
So when I came across Far West Chelsea for the first time years ago, I was convinced that I had hit the motherlode. Just inaccessible enough to have remained vaguely gritty
it has retained enough of its industrial character
to be considered by the art world a suitably provocative place in which to locate galleries. And it is just accessible enough such that the moneyed classes were willing to follow the artists, resulting in safe streets and some adventurous architecture
by the venerable Mr. Gehry, Mr. Nouvel and Ms. Selldorf. And the Metal Shutter Houses, the renderings of which I admired a year ago, has now established itself in the pantheon as well. The amenities in the area are not bad either.
After brunch with a couple of friends at Trestle on Tenth this past weekend, I could hardly leave one of my favorite areas without checking out a few exhibitions that I'd been hearing about in the neighborhood galleries.
Gagosian's exhibition of Anselm Reyle's work put a smile on my face almost immediately. A myriad of shapes covered in brightly colored metallic finishes is almost always a mood enhancer...
...especially when said shape is a hay bale.
photo: ArtNet Magazine
I'm not sure I can say the same thing about nude photos of Charlotte Rampling and a young model in the Louvre...
...but I have a small obsession with Ms. Rampling so can kind of overlook Juergen Teller's seemingly careless photography. Strange...I've always liked those Marc Jacobs ads of his. I suppose everyone has an off day now and again. It's just too bad that his occurred in the Louvre while photographing one of the more compelling women around.
After wandering for a few blocks, walking through the irresistible new Balenciaga and Comme des Garcons stores on the way, I came across the highlight of my day--Maya Lin's "Three Ways of Looking at the Earth" at Pace Wildenstein.