i ♥️ museums (the californian takes new york, part II)
It's now the end of my first month in New York, and I've fallen into a nice routine at work. While my official title is "Account Management Intern," a perk of working for a small agency is that you get to be involved in everything. I'm kind of the all-around creative intern and I do everything from strategy to design work, which is super-fun for me, because I like to be busy but not bored. And I actually get to do work that goes directly to the clients, which beats getting coffee. We're working for some cool clients right now like Pepsi/Sierra Mist, Jack Daniels, a bone-healing technology company, a Russian wine company, and a sustainability-focused creative agency.
When I'm not working, I like just walking around the city and exploring. And eating (of course). Meeting up with people in the city is pretty much my excuse to eat at as many different new places as possible. My family's apartment is close to the East River, so sometimes we'll walk there after work and hang out at the dog park.
You meet some pretty cute dogs there. Exhibit A (and my favorite):
I signed up for a "photo walk" on a whim, where a group of about 60 or so people got to follow around this semi-famous Instagram photographer (he's only like 17 or something and his name on Instagram is @kostenn, check him out). We walked around the West Side, and everyone kind of followed each other around taking pictures, modeling for each other...it was pretty fun. Even though it was a thousand degrees out. But I think the pictures all came out beautifully, so it was worth it. I even made a friend! Check out the insanely-talented @abraham_garib's profile and see you if you can find me :).
Museums are probably some of my favorite things in the city. Not only are they filled with endlessly fascinating things to occupy you for hours, but they're also air-conditioned and often the price of admission is pay-what-you-want, so it's good for college students.
And I love art. It's one of the most innocent and most complex pleasures in the world. But I don't like pretentiousness when it comes to art (my former roommate who's an art major agrees with me). I don't like people telling me what it means or what I should feel. It's art...I just want to soak up as much of it as possible and enjoy it.
I absolutely adore The Met with a passion. There's always so much to see. Probably my favorite out of the three.
I love the Greek statues; they always look so exasperated.
My favorite exhibit by far was China: Through the Looking-Glass, which was an exploration of Chinese art and culture on Western design. It was kind of an homage to Chinese tradition mixed with high fashion.
There were displays of Chinese-inspired dresses by designers like Chanel, Valentino, and Yves Saint Laurent; they were all breathtakingly gorgeous, and a seamless blend of modern European/American elegance and classic Chinese aesthetics. I liked the dresses inspired by Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong, silk and embroidered with dragons, and the ones in the Blue-and-White Porcelain gallery, which evoked the look and feel of intricate Chinese pottery.
The last gallery I almost didn't see, because the entrance was tucked away, but it was incredible and should have been the centerpiece of the whole thing. It was huge room, with a moon projected on the ceiling to emulate the night sky, and Chinese-style pavilions that reminded me of the Summer Palace in Beijing surrounding a black obsidian "lake," with Chinese gowns on display in the center.
This exhibition received some criticism by the Washington Post and the New York Times regarding exoticism and cultural appropriation, but despite the prominence of stereotypes (re: the bottle of YSL perfume called "Opium"), personally I loved seeing Chinese heritage celebrated and used as an inspiration for art. I think an often-small discrepancy exists between what is appreciative and what is appropriation, but if fashion is truly classified as art, imitating Chinese design can only be called flattery.
This was an interesting experience...I'd never been before but I've heard it mentioned a lot. The museum has a distinctive shape—a spiral; you start at the top and walk down.
The art was very abstract, very statement-y. A lot of it had pretty dark themes, grotesque in the way that sticks with you and makes you stare at it.
I have a love-hate relationship with modern art. 70% of the reason I go to modern art museums is to enjoy the art, and 30% is to laugh at the kinds of people who go there. It's that thing with pretentiousness. Sometimes you look at paintings and think "I could do that." Sometimes you see someone rolling around on the floor in a black sack.
But sometimes you're standing in front of a real-life van Gogh looking at the swirling brushstrokes that were painted 200 hundred years ago, and everything just kind of slows and you have to stop and appreciate it.
My cousin really liked the video game exhibit. It was huge; a long hallway with floor-to-ceiling white walls that served as the screen. The game was designed in the style of Super Mario Brothers, but as a critique of the Communist regime.
Besides Starry Night, I think the Andy Warhol exhibit was my favorite. There's such an imprecise but striking quality about replicating the same painting so many times.
And of course, no blog post would be complete without food pictures!
My friend Evan and I went to this place in Midtown called Turntable Mad for Chicken that was this tiny Korean restaurant and bar (literally tiny; we couldn't even see it from the street, and we had to walk up to the second floor to find it) that was '50s-themed. They were famous for their chicken wings, so we split a basket of them and french fries with truffle mayo (we spent like 20 minutes trying to figure out what it was because it tasted so familiar). The wings were hot and crispy and perfect. Probably some of the best chicken wings I've ever had.
I also met up with some relatives that I haven't seen in about seven years, and they took me to this place called Soba Nippon that was also really good. Apparently they make their own soba noodles, and at the end of the meal they give you a teapot full of the water the noodles were cooked in, which was...odd. It just tasted like hot, starchy water. And then fresh mochi bites with green tea paste inside...they so cute and squishy and delicious.
I mentioned my tea obsession to my aunt, who suggested we go to Alice's Tea Cup, which is this cute little tea shop a couple blocks from the apartment that served brunch and tea and desserts. It was adorable. Very pink, but still cute.
I think high tea is one of the greatest traditions. The Brits have it right. And I'm sad that Americans don't do it. I love the aesthetic of tea places. They're much quieter, relaxing, and have a certain charm to them. They're practically made to facilitate good conversation. I don't like coffeeshops quite as much; they're always so loud and bustling all the time.
Stay tuned; Part III coming soon! Someone give me dessert suggestions heheh :).