New York City is known as the epicenter of the art world. Is has hundreds of small galleries (free) and dozens of world-class museums where you can see the classics and the cutting edge. But one of the great things about NYC is that you can see art just by looking around.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the city: the people, the traffic and the noise. But if you take the time to stop and look around, you will see that art is everywhere.
In many of the small parks throughout the city you can find sculpture and installation pieces. The city is known for inviting international and domestic artists to create pieces for public spaces.
Large scale projects like The Gates (2005) by French artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude were featured in Central Park. Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s giant sculpture of a girl’s head (entitled Echo) was featured last year at Madison Square Park. Starting in May, the park will feature Pet Sounds, an interactive, large-scale, mixed-media installation by the California-based artist, Charles Long.
Brooklyn artist Joan Benefiel created luminescent red female figures for “The Fashion District Pilings Project” that appeared along Broadway earlier this year. It was surprising to see people pass by without noticing.
And then there is street art. While the 70’s era subway graffiti art is long gone, there is still plenty of graffiti and street art to be seen. In fact, the last 5 years has spawned some great street artists that have gone on to become notable such as Swoon and Gaia.
My favorite type of street art is called wheatpaste art (wheatpaste is liquid adhesive from vegetable starch and water). It is basically the process of pasting paper art to walls instead of the traditional spray paint graffiti.
What is great about these pieces is that you can find them in unexpected places and they give beauty and mystery to what is an otherwise rundown or unremarkable urban feature such as a doorway or an alley.
Art spotting can be a great game to play with children (a modern punch buggy). Where to look? On and around doors, above your head, near the ground, on poles and street signs and traffic signals and newspaper boxes and scaffolding. So look around, now you will see it everywhere.
TIP: Many entry fees for museums in NYC are suggested donations. So if you have a large family, do not feel embarrassed to suggest what you can afford to pay. As a student, there were many times when I suggested two admissions for two dollars.