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exhalations
Monday, February 25, 2008
 New York visit 
Just back from a fun trip to New York City. It's been over 30 years since I was there in the late 60's to see the musical Hair. I don't remember much from that visit, although I recall seeing Picasso's Guernica at the Museum of Modern Art. The painting was returned to Spain in 1981. The main purpose of this visit was to see the exhibit Lucian Freud: The Painter's Etchings at the Modern.

It was an excellent show, including many etchings and several oil paintings related to some of the etchings. I think Freud is one of the best artists currently working, creating provocative paintings and etchings of his many friends and family members. He is said to paint daily, 7 days a week, in two sessions, one in the morning using natural light, and an artificially lit night session.

The Chinatown bus left DC on time at 8am and after a brief ride on the F train to the Lexington Ave/63rd St station I walked along the edge of Central Park on 5th Avenue to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an afternoon visit. I was a bit disappointed that some of the Modern Art galleries were closed, probably due to a shortage of guards. I didn't care for the Jasper Johns exhibit, Gray, which I thought was very boring. There are some great works of art in the permanent collection.

I stayed at the Hampton Inn Times Square, a relatively affordable hotel in the heart of the theater district and not far from Times Square, MOMA, Central Park and the subway. The staff were very pleasant, the cookies freshly baked, the room large and clean with a good view. A marked contrast to the reviews I had read about the YMCA where I had planned to stay originally. It was worth the $80/night additional that I ended up paying. There was also a very good breakfast.

Upon waking there was a fresh coat of snow covering the city; so much for the planned bike ride on a rental bike from Midtown Metro Bicycles. I checked out the store the night before and their rate of $7/hour is very reasonable. The hybrid bikes they use looked to be in good condition. Since MOMA didn't open until 10:30am I took the subway to Greenwich Village, following some of the stops in Frommer's Memorable Walks in New York. While walking to the subway it was impressive to see the sidewalks being cleared of snow in front of all the buildings. After shoveling the initial heavy snow, some people were using large squeegee's to keep the concrete clear of new snow.

The lines for the check room were long at MOMA. Note to self, leave backpack at the hotel if possible. It wasn't that day as I had already checked out of the Hampton and was carrying everything I brought on my back; reading material, a notebook, a change of underwear, socks, and some toiletries. While the museum was crowded, it was early enough that I was able to spend some quality time at the Freud exhibit, even checking out a free audio guide for a second run through the exhibit while listening to commentary about some of the works.

The bus ride back was uneventful despite the heavy snow on the ground. I don't know how the bus companies can make a profit, charging $35 for the DC-NYC-DC round trip. The longer they are in business the more run down the buses will become. For now it's a cheap way to get back and forth.

It was a fun visit and I'm anxious to return.

Two articles about being painted by Freud:

Lucian Freud: Marathon Man—“After a chance meeting with Lucian Freud, art handler Ria Kirby agreed to sit for him a huge commitment which was to last for 16 months, seven nights a week, on top of her day job. Martin Gayford tracked the work as it progressed.”
Captured by Lucian Freud—“When Britain's greatest artist agreed to paint his portrait, Martin Gayford endured countless hours of staring into space and he can't even afford to buy the result. But for an art critic, he says, the process was bliss.”


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