As the college was closed today, for Lincoln's birthday, I think, we get President's Day on the 21st, I decided to go to a museum.
Actually, I had planned to go to two: The Museum of the City of New York
and The Jewish Museum
However I spent the morning enraptured by the coverage of the revolution in Egypt, so I left in the early afternoon, meaning I could only visit one museum. I chose the Museum of the City of New York. I saw three things there:
1) A Retrospective of Herbert Katzman's work: he was an expressionist artist who drew inspiration from the city.
I loved his art: beautifully rendered. There is a clear Van Gogh influence, though it lacks Van Gogh's intensity. Which is totally okay. It's not about details with Katzman, it's about feelings and impressions and color. He painted many versions of the Brooklyn Bridge, with brilliant sunsets. But when he painted the harbor, he used much more muted colors.
His work shows real thought and vision.
2) The drawings of Denys Wortman, a cartoonist in the 30's and 40's for various NY newspapers
Most of Wortzman's drawings were about The Great Depression and the home front during WWII. While they are frequently funny, they also give an impression of the time, in a very different way than books or even interviews.
3) Ain't Nothing like the Real Thing: The Apollo Theater
I did not know that there was an Apollo Theater retrospective at the museum.
It was wonderful. There was a short introductory documentary, artifacts from various performers there (a dress Patti LaBelle wore there, old playbills, one of Miles Davis' guitars, etc.), and placards discussing various types of performers (comedians, dancers, singers) and eras (the 20's, the 40's, etc.)
A must see.
Also... I joined the museum because, Lord knows, I'm there often enough
Right before I left, I was sitting down and sorting my stuff putting my camera back in its case, putting my purchases at the gift shop into my backpack, etc. Well, the gentleman sitting next to me started talking to me.
We had a wonderful conversation.
He had come specifically for the Apollo Theater exhibit. We talked for a while (his wife was off going to the restroom and picking up her coat) . He was a retired music teacher who had spent a lot of his youth at the Apollo. He met Charlie Parker and Pearl Bailey. He told me that he had talked to Charlie Parker "right before he died."
He then said that he's now a docent at the Queens Museum, and discussed the art there. Much of the art at the Queens Museum comes from the immigrant communities in Queens, and we were discussing various diaspora... diasporas?... diasporae? ... diasporabus? (okay, this one is most unlikely, but I like how it rolls off the tongue.)
After he and his wife left, a lady walked up to me and said that she was there specifically for the Apollo exhibit, because she had memories of sneaking in there as a child. I told her that she would love it.
Then I left, caught the bus and came home.
I like the Museum of the City of New York. It's off the beaten path (5th Avenue and 104th St.), but has some really neat stuff.