When preparing for a day trip to see some art in NYC, it’s good to have a plan: have an art plan, and have a food plan. There’s plenty to see in New York, and you can easily get distracted, overwhelmed, and lost. Arrive prepared.
An amateur mistake when visiting most large cities such as New York is trying to do too much. Unless you got word of the apocalypse, don’t try to do the entire city in a single day.
Most of it will be there when you return. Be realistic about time, accept your capacity for art consumption, and know where you’re going. While it is possible to hit multiple boroughs in a single day, let’s start small (relative to the size of New York City).
Saturday, October 26th I took a day trip to Chelsea to see some galleries. This is something I’d done many times, both while I lived in Brooklyn, and since I moved to Philly, but I was more prepared this time.
Art – Before you arrive, know what you want to see and where you need to go. This is for two reasons: 1) Doing this after you arrive takes up precious art seeing time; 2) Exhibiting signs of “touristyness” in the middle of any city is a really good way to get pick pocketed, or just pushed around by annoyed locals.
Galleries in Chelsea are located primarily between 10th and 11th avenues and approximately between 10th and 29th streets, with the heaviest concentration of galleries between 27th and 21rst streets. I highly recommend using this Chelsea Gallery Map app. It is also wise to ask arty people you know (like your professors) for suggestions on what to see. Frequently, these arty people are either showing their own work in NYC, or have credibility in knowing what would be a worthwhile use of your time. They also know you and your work and could make recommendations based on said knowledge.
I had a list of specific shows I wanted to see, including Painting and Drawing Professor Odili Donald Odita‘s exhibition titled This, That, and the Other at Jack Shainman Gallery at their 20th street location. It’s noteworthy to mention that many galleries have multiple locations in Chelsea, frequently with different work showing simultaneously.
I started on 25th street and worked my way south to 19th. I had no intention of seeing every gallery. First, on 25th street was Zhang Huan at Pace Gallery and Barry McGee at Cheim & Read. Barry McGee was a happy accident. I’m pretty sure I’d never seen a solo show of his, plus, it was the last day of the exhibition.
Next, I moved on to Jack Shainman Gallery’s other location on 24th street to see A Fist Full of Feathers by Brad Kahlhamer. I wasn’t familiar with his work, but I liked it even before I noticed he had ties to the mid-west. The group show, Post Culture at Elezabeth Dee on 20th street was a nice addition of artists unfamiliar to me. I didn’t enjoy all the work, but that’s ok.
Next stop were David Zwirner’s two locations on 19th street. (Zwirner also has a space on 20th street, which was closed for installation.) Here, I intentionally saw Raymond Pettibon’s show of new works in To Wit, and unintentionally saw Philip-Lorca Dicoricia’s 1990-1992 photographic series Hustlers. I was pleased with both experiences. I ended my gallery going with the Alfonso Ossorio retrospective show Blood Lines 1949 – 1953 at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery‘s new location on 19th street. This was a nice compliment to the contemporary art I’d seen throughout the day.
In total, I think I visited eight or nine galleries with a lunch break in the middle, capped with a snack of tea and donuts to sustain me through the final exhibition of Himalayan art. After my second round of galleries, I headed to Printed Matter, and concluded my art viewing day at the Rubin Museum of Art.
Food -Eat before you leave, bring snacks, and plan to have lunch and perhaps even dinner in NYC. You made the trip to see the art, don’t let hunger distract you. Even a day trip to see free art in NYC will require you to spend some money. Accept this fact and bring enough money to sustain yourself for a full day.
Although I had eaten a solid breakfast on the way, and planned to eat lunch in the city, I arrived with my bag full of both sugar and protein snacks, and a bottle of water. These would prove vital on the return trip and whenever my sugar dropped below the I-can’t-look-at-anymore-art level.
Sullivan Street Bakery on 9th Avenue between 24th and 25th streets will save your life for a less than over-the-top price. This is a new eatery (new since the last time I visited NYC), and it came on recommendation by one of the gallery attendants at Jack Shainman Gallery. That’s right, you can talk to the people who sit behind that desk at the gallery and ask them about where to eat and what to see.
A day trip to New York City is easy and affordable. Grab some friends, or go it alone. Either way, make a plan, stay fueled, and enjoy the experience.