A feast for the stomach, a feast for the soul.

Trip Start Aug 24, 2012
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10
Trip End Sep 19, 2012


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Flag of United States  , New York
Monday, September 3, 2012

'I could make modern art too, you know - I could just smear a turd on a canvas.'

You would assume from this statement that Shane hates modern art.

Well, he insists that he doesn't HATE it; he just thinks its ridiculous and pretentious.

So when, on a gloomy New York afternoon, I dragged Shane down Fifth Avenue with the full intention of spending a few hours at the MoMA, understandably he was a little put out. Even more so when I (only half) jokingly suggested that I could make my own modern art audio 'installation' (a ridiculous and pretentious word that modern artists use that really should only refer to events like someone coming to put blinds up on your windows, according to Shane) based on his recorded observations and responses to what we were about to experience.

I say only half jokingly because after our recent expedition to the Art Gallery of NSW, I had found Shane's at times absurd running commentary to be quite titillating, in the way that the 'it's CRAP, Ray' guy from Full Frontal was titillating.

We'd spent the morning wandering Central Park, ducking across to the Time Warner Centre to grab ourselves a delicious picnic lunch from Whole Foods Market; one chain store I am going to severely miss when we leave this country.

Let me spend a moment telling you about Whole Foods Market, which I introduced you to in San Francisco, because Shane will probably say that we spent more time in these stores than anywhere else in America. Which of course, is completely untrue. But it would be easy to get lost for hours once inside - especially the two I have now explored in New York.

Whole Foods Market is the adult health nut's Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. The farm-fresh produce alone was enough to have my mouth watering. But then there's the deli section, where every kind of cheese, cured and fresh hot and cold meat, fish and pre-made delicacy you could possibly imagine is on display. There are stations to build your own pizza, build your own sandwich, build your own sushi. You can even crush your own cashews, peanuts and/or almonds to make your own individual nut butter blend. There are hot and cold salad bars where you compile your own salad box and pay by the pound. Need I add that all the foods are, wherever possible, locally and sustainably produced. And then there are the aisles and aisles of cereals, nuts, snacks, sauces, even pet foods and cleaning products. All certified organic, all made in the USA, all in pretty packaging just designed to catch my eye.

Ok, enough about Whole Foods Market now, you say. You want to know what else happened today. You want to hear about the MoMA. Well, lunch comes first.

The Sheep Meadow in Central Park was the backdrop for our alfresco lunch, and being Labor Day, it was understandably crowded with tourists and locals alike enjoying their public holiday. We found a spot under a tree, and watched the nearby boisterous game of 'beach' volleyball.

Again, middle of the day, hot and humid, and Americans wanted to play sport. I was getting enough of a workout just pulling the heavy air into my lungs. Shane and I were happy to take refuge under our tree and lay back with a book (Shane) and iPhone and iBooks (me) before getting back on our feet for the afternoon.

Shane wasn't too keen on my initial idea of spending the afternoon in Tiffany's; 'you did that last time!'. What he didn't realise was that I had suggested the Tiffany's excursion solely because I knew after that the next option - an art adventure - would seem like a walk in the park (pun fully intended) in comparison.

So as the sky darkened further we headed down 6th Avenue towards the New York Museum of Modern Art. Shane rolled his eyes melodramatically the whole way, but secretly I think he was delighted he wasn't being dragged shopping yet again. Or forced to walk around another gourmet food market of some description.

After checking our backpack with a particularly cheeky coat room attendant (he was old, and black, and as camp as a row of tents), we were ascending the escalators to the top floor of the MoMA, and one of the temporary exhibitions.

As a member of the Educational Experience team, 'Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900-2000' sounded like an exhibition that would be right up my alley. Shane scowled as I dragged him in, past an oversized table and chairs that were designed so that even adults would feel like children sitting at mum and dad's table. These were available for guests to pose on, but given the length of the line, I felt that it would have been pushing my luck with Shane just a little too much to ask him to wait for a turn.

Amazingly, Shane seemed to find the exhibition more interesting than initial indications had suggested. What I mean to say is, he found the pieces relating to Hitler Youth and War time Europe particularly fascinating. I'm not by any means suggesting that Shane has Nazi leanings. It's just his passion for history that drew him in particular to the propaganda posters and the toys made by Japanese children during World War II.

Me? While history fascinates me, I was more interested in the toys! Oh, and the conceptual drawings for the 'Its a Small World' ride at Disneyland (anyone who knows me also knows that on particular ride I was like a kid in...well...Disneyland...when we visited California last time we were in the States. Of course, I ordered a print of these drawings to be shipped home to me. This was just one of the fabulous technological features of the museum - tap a few buttons on a touch screen, and yo can send yourself home a print of any number of art works from the museum. They can even frame it for you before the send it, if you like.

I was also delighted to note two products from the Educational Experience range were featured in the exhibition - ZOOB and the Bilibo. Kudos to the designers of these fantastic educational toys - clearly the MoMA thinks they're worth every penny, and should be in every home, school and early childhood service in Australia. I suggest contacting Educational Experience (if in Australia) on Toll Free 1300 134 211 or online www.edex.com.au for more detail on these fantastic products (shameless plug, I know, but hey, I stand well and truly in support of our wonderful range of open ended resources).

There was one other big stop I needed to make in our somewhat whirlwind tour of the MoMA (we spent 2.5 hours in the place, but to do justice to all 8 levels, you'll need much more time than that). But first, I indulged Shane and we took a wander through the architects and design gallery.

It was a fascinating meander, and particularly because Shane was quite engaged. It was easy to see why - the gallery featured furniture, buildings and other creative inventions which actually served a purpose in today's world. Clearly these pieces (a portable 'home' for that attaches to air conditioning vents in a city to inflate and heat a sleeping area for a homeless person being one of the designs we saw) weren't just frivolity and the fancy of some stoned/tripping/drunk hippy (Shane's opinion, NOT mine).

But the piece that I really wanted to see, and the one that I knew would prickle my eyes and send goosebumps to my skin was a very simple impressionist piece.

Waterlilies.

Ever since I was a child, and Mum gave me a book about a girl who holidayed in France and wandered through Monet's garden, I have been fascinated with the artist's work. I was delighted when last year on an excursion to Canberra to view one of his pieces in the National Art Gallery. But to see it here, in the famous MoMA, in one of the greatest cities on Earth, really brought tears to my eyes.

Tears I of course held in check because I couldn't possibly stand the ribbing I would no doubt receive from my husband.

Thankfully, he indulged my fancy, and allowed me to gaze lovingly at the piece for as long as I wanted. And so I did.
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