Tag Archives: Budget NYC

But I Don’t Want to Pay Full Price…

Last weekend I had a visitor! That’s right, Daphne drove all the way to Canarsie, Brooklyn!!! After showing her all that my neighborhood had to offer (namely Caribbean food, bodegas and residential housing), we decided that we should venture into Manhattan.

The Met

Because Daphne was thisclose to finishing her Bachelors in Art History we chose to hit up some museums. Neither of us had been to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in years, so that was an obvious choice. One of the great things about a large city like New York are the sheer number of artists on display. As a matter of fact, one of the artist’s Daphne was writing a final paper about was a featured exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum, and as luck would have it, there are free visiting hours on Friday’s from 5:30-7:30!

So first, The Met. Being the frugal gal’s we are, we were hoping to find a way around the $20 entrance fee. Turns out, that amount is just a suggestion. For student’s the suggested entry fee is $10. Even that was a little steep for us (in our defense I’ve been unemployed for longer than I’d like to admit, and Daphne has been a full-time student without an additional job), so we paid about half the suggested fee.

Egyptian Wing

We began in the Egyptian Art area, simply because it was right in front of us. Daphne had an ambitious plan, because she seems to think that walking around a museum does not expend any energy. As an avid walker and gawker I knew that I would be tired after a few hours, but I let her choose the itinerary. Her goals: European Painting and Sculpture and Greek Art.

Creepy Child

Van Gogh

Van Gogh (up close)

Greek Legs

We had fun walking around. I especially enjoyed giving Daphne numerous pop quizzes. It went something like this:

Daphne: This is a great painting!

Me: Why? I need some historical evidence.

Daphne: Blah blah blah art history information…

In fact, Daphne was quite informative, and I actually learned a bunch. It was great getting historical context, learning specific terms, and her descriptions of what was going on in terms of symbology.

Walking around the museum was also fun because we have similar but diverging tastes in art. We both like impressionism in general. I like the more romantic paintings, and for some reason I also like creepy lithographic prints. Daphne likes creepier and ominous paintings (although I’m sure she’ll deny it now).

Near the end of our walk around The Met, which involved quite a few wrong turns (that place is impossible to figure out, thank goodness for the docents/security guards!) Daphne’s feet were in immense pain. For some reason she decided it would be a good idea to break in new shoes while being a tourist.

I read a great story in The New York Times (my favorite source for art reviews, apparently) about an installation being built on the roof of The Met titled Big Bambú by the Starn Brothers. I was very excited to check it out, and we were both excited about the opportunity to sit in the sun and relax. So up to the roof we went!

Big Bambú from within the piece.

Big Bambú from the side (tourist's are to help reference the size)

Daphne on the roof of The Met

I loved how the viewer really gets the chance to interact with the art. You are literally walking through it, touching the bamboo, watching it being built before your eyes. It feels almost as though you are in an unique little jungle. You can even sign up for tickets to walk along catwalks that have been incorporated into the design (unfortunately we didn’t know that ahead of time). The piece will be growing all summer, so you should definitely try to get over to the roof of The Met and experience it yourself.

After resting on the roof for a bit we decided to head over to The American Folk Art Museum to see Henry Darger (1892-1973).

American Folk Art Museum

Based on what I learned from Daphne, he was a very interesting man. Looking around the first part you saw his collages, which I thought were pretty appealing. A lot of his subjects were young girls, and girls from coloring books. That is when Daphne Started to fill me in (the following is a synopsis of what she told me). He wrote the largest manuscript in the world at approximately 15,000 pages single spaced. It was about a race of evil women who wanted to enslave a race of young girls. He illustrated the manuscript with large, graphic murals that depicted all the little girls with penises. This was likely not attributed to him using artistic license, but rather due to his incredibly sheltered upbringing. He simply didn’t know that boys and girls are different. Daphne said that Darger had some far more provocative pieces, but wondered why they weren’t included in this exhibition. I speculated that the museum wants to foster discussion, but needs to toe the line when it comes to outright offending people. I’m not entirely satisfied with this answer though, because I know some exhibits can be quite offensive, and that their point is to make the viewer uncomfortable.

All in all it was an informative and educational day. We both thoroughly enjoyed The Met, and hopefully Daphne got some interesting material to put the finishing touches on her final paper!

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Target Free Fridays at MoMA

I actually went to The Museum of Modern Art in New York City to see the Tim Burton exhibit about a month and a half ago. I paid student admission, and it was still $12 (down from $20 for the full admission price). I decided to return to the MoMA because I read a review of the Cartier-Bresson exhibit in The New York Times. I love photography, and I wanted the opportunity to check out these works.

Target Free Fridays take place every friday from 4-8 p.m. at the MoMA. The line was daunting at first sight (it goes around the block), but it moves very fast. After about 5-10 minutes I was at the front, received my free ticket, and entered the museum. Visitors can also get a free audio guide, all you have to do is leave an ID for collateral.

There are a lot of cool exhibits happening now. One is ‘Picasso: Themes and Variations’, which focuses on Picasso’s lithographs. I particularly liked how they were displayed in sequences that showed the artists progressions, from life-like to abstract and vice-versa. The Tim Burton exhibit was in it’s final days, and was sold out. Good thing I went to check it out last month. On my previous visit ‘Rising Currents’, an exhibit where MoMA and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center address the issues of ocean rise due to climate change, was advertised. I was glad to see it in its entirety, and it was something I found particularly interesting because of my environmental background.

Rising Currents

One of the more avant-garde exhibits was “The Artist is Present” by Marina Abramovic. She is an innovative artist who uses performance art to illustrate her point. The New York Times wrote a piece about how some of the performers feel as nude models interacting with the public. I thought it was interesting how the viewers were able to participate in the art, invited into the pieces in several instances.

The Artist is Present. Here patrons are able to participate by sitting across the table from the artist (in red).

The permanent collection at The MoMA is pretty incredible. I enjoyed walking around and viewing the pieces. I loved looking at different canvases and imagining which artist was inspired by their fellow artists, who may have worked together. The audio guide came in quite handy as well, helping provide insight about artists’ inspiration and hidden meaning in symbolism.

One of the last pieces I saw before I left the museum was ‘One and Three Chairs’ by artist Joseph Kosuth. It’s simple: a picture of a wooden folding chair, the actual chair, and a dictionary definition of the word chair. Listening to the audio guide describe it you learn that Kosuth made this piece to get viewers to really discuss what makes art art

One and Three Chairs, Joseph Kosuth

What do you think? does this deserve a place next to such famous pieces as ‘Starry Night’ or ‘Cambell Soup’?

van Gogh, Starry Night

Warhol, Cambell Soup

Art is subjective, and museums are a great place for fostering discussions about different philosophies, cultural phenomena and art, but there is never any one correct response. Just go and have fun!

To Zoo or Not to Zoo?

Bronx Zoo EntranceLast Wednesday I went up to the Bronx to meet my PhD advisor for the first time in person. I decided to begin implementing my low-cost NYC attraction tour. My two options were going to The New York Botanical Garden or The Bronx Zoo. I had just listened to one of my favorite podcasts, Stuff You Should Know, and the topic was “Are Zoos Good or Bad for Animals?”. That, combined with the fact that I volunteered at The New York Botanical Garden for 3 and a half months, helped make my decision to go to the zoo.

Donation Day!

Upon entering the zoo I went up and told the ticket seller how much I wanted to donate for my admission. The suggested donation for an adult is $15. For $5 you get a Bronx Zoo pin, and for $10 you get a Bronx Zoo DVD. I paid $2, so I didn’t get anything!

I hadn’t been to the zoo since I was in Ornithology at Skidmore College. We took a Saturday field trip the day after Halloween to check out the incredible bird exhibits. I remember having a good time then, with a slight hangover, and that I really enjoyed getting to see what I had been studying in the ‘feather’.

This time, however, I was torn. I’ve become more and more skeptical as to whether or not zoos are cruel or educational. In the podcast they broke it down using the pros and cons of zoos. The major benefit of zoos is the funding they provide to conservation efforts and studies around the world. Some negative aspects are the caging of mega-fauna for entertainment, and keeping the animals in unnatural environments, causing major behavioral defects.

Cocky Peacock

My experience at the zoo was pretty standard. I had about an hour and a half to walk around before I had to leave. The first thing I noticed upon entering was that the peacocks seemed to have the run of the joint. They were all over the place! I probably could have touched them, if I had wanted to (which I did), but I restrained myself!

My favorite things at the zoo are always giraffes and big cats. In South Carolina you can feed the giraffes at the zoo. This is not the case at The Bronx Zoo, and I think I like it better that way. Seeing the big cats was fun, even though they were sleeping through the heat of the day. There are tigers and lions and snow leopards, and I wanted to hug them all! Obviously the thick glass and/or moats deterred me.

Giraffes!

All in all it was a fun enough day at the zoo. I guess the problem I was struggling with is, how do I feel about zoos? I think that after this experience I am actually anti-zoo. It was kind of depressing seeing the huge polar bear sleeping in the small bit of shade in its cage, panting in the heat. What gets to me the most is how small many of the enclosures are for animals that are used to traveling tens or hundreds of miles a day.

Chillin' out, or dreaming of greener pastures?

It reminded me of a group discussion in a philosophy class I took. We discussed if zoos were ‘okay’. From there we moved on to livestock. And after that it moved into domesticated animals used as pets, like dogs and cats. Everyone in the course was a graduate student, everyone was a rational person. The consensus was zoos are inherently bad because they are unnatural environments. The class was on the fence for domesticated animals, some arguing that we need them for a balanced omnivore diet (anti feedlot, pro free-range), and others that a vegetarian or vegan diet is entirely realistic on a country-wide scale, and therefore maintaining livestock animals is unnecessary. The interesting part was discussing pets. The group became irrational at times,  with the pet owners extremely defensive about the relationship with their animals, and how it couldn’t possibly be cruel. As a pet owner myself I am totally devoted to my animals, and I admit to being a crazy cat lady. I still wonder at times if it is really in my pets’ best interest to be domesticated. Would they be happier chasing mice in a field, or are they OK fetching stuffed mice that I toss them. It’s an interesting debate…and its intriguing to see where people are willing to draw the line in their own beliefs.

Roar!