In June I got to spend two wonderful weeks exploring the art galleries and museums of New York. In terms of art and artists, New York is unparalleled and with this in mind I tried to see as much as possible in the time that I had. My schedule of exhibitions and galleries took me from Queens to Brooklyn and the Upper East Side to Harlem. I was fortunate enough to be there whilst many influential artists were on show, my favourites included Frida Kahlo (beautifully set up in the city’s Botanic Gardens) Gilbert and George, David Salle, Laurie Simmons and Basquiat. I also got to experience many works that I have longed to see for years, such as Alexander Calder’s ‘Circus’, the High Line garden and some of Picasso’s books. Amongst these wonders were the unknown surprises discovered within small, independently set up gallery spaces.
I did not expect to find so much inspiration on the streets, in the shops and observing the people; the everyday monotonies of the city which is wired to so many creative pulses. For a long-time obsessor of the place, New York is a golden spring which continues to flow long past the novelty wears off. All the clichés -the books, the films, the tv shows – are true. Every block you walk down, every friendly native. Everything is flamboyant and bizarre and surreal. You cannot be disappointed. One of my favourite things to do at night was wander down Lexington Avenue, peering into the luxurious lit up shop windows. In Central Park I watched, people crying by fountains, models donning peacock feathered gowns and pouting for the camera, schoolchildren selling raisins for $5 to fund their soccer team field trip.
The desire to take pictures was overwhelming at first, I wanted to capture everything, to own it. So I tried to draw every day, mostly quick sketches in the park of impressions I’d been left with over the course of the day.
Before I left I was quite worried about being lonely travelling on my own, but I met so many interesting people. Even walking down the street, catching glimpses of interesting individuals, you can’t help but wonder where they came from, what brought them there.
The experience replenished my own art practice in many ways. From seeing how both professional and beginner artists active in the contemporary art scene present and exhibit their work, discovering new work and artists that would not normally be on my radar and trying to get my head around the weird and magical intricacies of the native slang. Even just watching people look at paintings in galleries made me think about making work in a different way. I hope the drawings that I did whilst there reflect how much I valued and enjoyed the experience.
Thanks so much Go Abroad Team!