Reflections On My Excusion to New York City
by Jeremy Munro
I stepped out of the car and into the road. Here we were. New York City. The first day was gray and it was mid-afternoon. I had spent the past week mentally girding myself for the city, which I had yet to be in the middle of for any great length of time. Justine and Chris were with me, we decided to circle the block at the Hotel while Professor Asbury and Will figured out where the parking place was. My backpack was a comfortable reminder of who I was as my identity became meaningless in the middle of the city. Perhaps the greatest thing about the urban sprawl, the mass of people, is that no one pays any attention to you, regardless of what you are doing. Its a good thing to have your identity destroyed, part of the problem of a small college or living in a small town is it tends to give people delusions of grandeur, a false sense that they actually matter in the human world or the universe at all, when in most cases the former is not true and in the latter never true. Empires rise and fall, but the celestial bodies still move in orbit.
We stopped at a bike shop, which I had never really seen before. When we got back to the hotel we were ready to head inside. I checked for bedbugs thanks to my paranoia and the worldwide bedbug epidemic. We were clean. At night having been joined by Professor Banach and his car we went to a Malaysian Restaurant on the border of Chinatown. My stomach was already in a frenzy from the fast food at a place called “The Duchess” that afternoon in Connecticut. I had a feeling the classy title was where the classiness started and ended. I rallied my forces though and dug in. The food was spicy, very spicy. The tea they served came in these tiny little cups, it was at that point I started to enjoy the city. Later that night a few of us hit a coffee shop with Professor Banach and had some delicious cheesecakes and chocolate cake along with good tea.
The galleries we hit for the next two and a half days were a blur, but a good kind of blur. It was kind of like sensory overload. Christie's Art Auction was magnificent, the architecture was like something out of a movie and the auction itself let us get a look at the business side of high art, the upper class collectors at play. The Chelsea galleries were exactly what I suspected. Simple, plain, and gloriously modern. When I saw the pillar of salt in the middle of an empty room with the artist shuffling around it on his knees I stood there, unblinking for the entire time we were in that room and I was the last to leave. I thought “this is what you want to see in a modern art gallery in NYC.” It probably wasn't what the artist had intended since he did it to represent suffering and meaningless and here I was finding meaning in meaningless. I bet he and I could have had a good talk about that contradiction. The Strand bookstore was monolithic. So many books, including some very expensive first editions of great classic novels. I didn't buy anything. Justine bought a mug I think, so did Monica. I like the name “the Strand.”
We hit a few art openings at night. A lot of them felt really underground and off the wall and that is probably because they were. One involved cubes of light reflecting back via mirror upon itself creating infinity. To get there we went in a normal building down some sketchy stairs and it opened up into a full blown gallery. To get to another which involved photographs about the look of rooms juxtaposed against condemned buildings we went into a perfectly modern building with an old elevator that had a metal gate and when going up or down you could see the walls of the building where the numbers of the floor were painted. It was boss. The whole trip I was using terrible slang. I said “boss”, “man”, and “dude” more times than I ever have. Not sure why. One of Professor Beaudoin's friends had an opening in a garage in a classy building across the street from the Museum of Modern Art. His exhibit was a series of turf lined conveyor belts that slowly moved plaster houses downward until they broke. I watched for 15 minutes before one broke. It was anti-climactic so that made it worth it.
Every morning in the hotel I got up second and showered, then I sat in a chair by the window and wrote some thoughts. “Rode the NYC subway for the first time yesterday and got stuck on the entry side after our card ran out, hurried up and payed for my own, felt like a boss.”
The Met was cool but after seeing all the great works so many times digitally or otherwise they didn't resonate with me at all. Some of the stuff in the Museum of Modern Art struck me much more. Like drapes thrown on the floor or five screws put into a wall.
Professor Asbury's friend Sergei was the coolest guy ever. He talked to us about animation over at the Animation Collective which has done such cartoons such as Kappa Mikey and Speed Racer. We went out to dinner with him one night and he was a really interesting guy. Professor Banach had a good philosophical conversation with him about the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, funny how that works out.
Everyone on the trip was super cool and I met a lot of people who I hangout with regularly now I never really knew before at Saint A's. It also was a critical part of my decision to take up a Fine Arts Minor. I would like to thank the professors and the Fine Arts department for putting the trip together. It will definitely be a highlight of my Saint A's experience not only for myself, but for a lot of us who went on the trip.
This account is rather disjointed as I didn't take good notes of what happened. The Crier article by Jen Staltare will does a better job of an overview, this was just my personal experience. I focused more on making connections with my fellow travelers and trying to break out of my comfort zone. The city makes you do this constantly, for me, that was the best part of the trip. I felt like I grew up.