Thursday, September 23, 2010

New York City

One of the major requirements for studying in a foreign country is obtaining a visa. Through a series of events, I was not able to procure one until this morning. Actually, last week-turned-yesterday-turned-today (don't ask). There are three British Consulates in the United States, located in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Student applicants are allowed to make an in-person appointment at one of the consulates, and they usually receive their visa later the same day. I opted for this route and took the liberty of exploring the Museum of Modern Art for an hour or two. Note that I do not claim to be an artist, but the museum was in my book of "501 Must-Visit Destinations. " Therefore, we go.

I believe this is somewhere on 53rd St.
Abbreviated MoMA (pronounced mo-ma? I was never brave enough to try...)
The museum was founded in 1929 as an educational institution and is esteemed as quite possibly the best collection of modern masterpieces in the world. Paintings, sketches, photography, architecture, sculpture, and contemporary pieces were all included. My first stop was the information desk to pick up a free audio commentary. I was desperate for any interpretive help I could get since I felt slightly like a fish out of water. I didn't mind having a personal tour guide that looked like a cross between a walkie-talkie and a cell phone - at least it only talked to me when I wanted it to...

The sculptor was originally criticized for appearing simplistic, but oftentimes the simplest things are the hardest to create. Similar to engineering or ballet: the mark of an expert is seemingly effortless beauty.

There is probably significance to these, but my commentary was silent so I have no clue what it is.
Up close of one of Monet's Water Lily paintings. The scaly texture is the result of many layers of paint applied over months.

The full version of the above painting, which spanned an entire wall.
I really enjoyed looking at Monet's paintings. One of his water lily paintings was a single mural and the other was three murals strung together. As soon as I stood within hypothetical painting range, the colors blurred together and I completely lost where I was - lost the "bigger picture," if you will. Stepping forward and back gave me a new appreciation of the skill required to paint in the impressionistic style on such a large scale.

The MoMA had a plethora of gift shops, as you can imagine. My favorite find was an item meant to hold hot serving dishes or pots on a dinner table.

The holder is designed to impersonate a school of fish.
The holder scissors out to whatever size you need, creating the effect of swimming fish. Very pretty.
After I finished at the MoMA, I met up with a friend of mine from undergraduate. Unfortunately, I did not have much time to spare before my return train. He and I talked as fast as we could during the walk from 53rd St. to Grand Central. I had the pleasure of playing at his wedding this summer and was looking forward to seeing his wife, but she was busy with law school and interviews. I wish I had time to catch up properly with both of them, but I was able to snag a quick photo with him.

Good friends are such a joy in life.
To end the trip, I would like to share a few photos from the train ride. The Metro-North Railroad runs alongside the Hudson River quite a bit, and the trip from upstate to the city is one of the best ways to catch a glimpse of New England glory.

West Point (faintly)
The pointed right side of the gap is the Point of West Point
Bannerman's Castle. I always thought it was a sunken castle because of the turrets in the water, but perhaps it was designed that way.

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