Senior Gallery Assistant and Grad student extraordinaire Anna Estes reflects on the fall Curatorial Practicum trip to NYC…
This October, the Curatorial Practicum class at DU, taught by Dan Jacobs, took a field trip to New York City. It was an art-tastic weekend, full of studio visits, galleries tours, and museums. For many of the students, it was also their first trip to the city; as for those of us who had been before, the trip was a new way to experience New York. It was exciting to meet artists, see their studios, and also see some of the greatest modern art collections in the world. We all took full advantage of every minute, and managed to squeeze in some fun time outside of the itinerary too.
We stayed at a great hotel called the Wellington in mid-town, right around the corner from Carnegie Hall and just a couple blocks away from both Central Park and the MoMA. Upon arrival on Thursday evening, thirteen of us were let loose on the town, free to explore the neighborhood, visit friends, or just hang out. (My room discovered that there was rooftop access from the window, with spectacular views of the skyscrapers in the rain).
Friday we were off bright and early, on our way to rural Pennsylvania to visit a private collection outside of Philadelphia. The West Collection is housed at an investment company’s corporate headquarters in Oaks, PA, and is an innovative repository of contemporary art. We took a tour with the Collection’s director, and saw such marvels as giant licorice shoes, life-size rubber sharks in a tank, and a huge Buddha face made out of carved phone books. After lunch, we sped back to the city for an appointment at Grey New York, a successful advertising company famous for the E-trade talking baby commercials among other things. Though their art collection was still in the beginning stages, our group was able to meet Tor Myhren, creative director of the company and step-son of Vicki Myhren (yes, the very same Myhren that the gallery is named after and who accompanied us on our trip). There were some pretty amazing rooftop views from the building, too. Friday night, our group made its way over to the Met. While the museum has one of the most legendary collections in the world, it was a bit overwhelming to go through in an hour and a half! Some decided to go to the Whitney directly after, whereas others of us opted to head out and explore other parts of the city.
On Saturday we were up and out the door again for a packed day of Brooklyn and Soho studio visits. First stop: Industry City, Brooklyn, to visit Nils Folke Anderson in his huge warehouse studio space. We had all met Nils before in Denver, when he’d come to install his large-scale Styrofoam sculpture for the Dikeou Collection. Because of the scale of his work, Nils needs a big space; we were all very impressed with the cavernous studio (a rarity in New York)! Then we were off to Devon Dikeou’s studio loft in Soho, which had a completely different vibe. As a conceptual artist, Devon’s work is best understood contextually. Always the gracious hostess, she had hot towels for us, and roast beef sandwiches (part of an art project, of course). After a Thai lunch, we headed back to Brooklyn, where we toured the James Fuentes gallery, then went to visit Lucky DeBellevue in his studio. Lucky was currently working on some mixed media prints, as well as a slender table-top sculpture made of fire engine red pipe cleaners. Just around the corner was artist Brad Kahlhamer’s space, which we also invaded. The majority of his studio was taken up by a large “float” comprised of a mishmash of Kachina dolls, banners, and other random artifacts that spoke of Brad’s Native American heritage. Exhausted after a long day’s work, our group convened at Roberta’s Pizza, a stronghold of the Brooklyn hipster.
If anyone had a late night on Saturday, they were sure to regret in Sunday; we were up and out the hotel door again early in the morning, heading to the MoMA to have a private tour of the recently opened Willem de Kooning retrospective. The show lived up to all the hype, in my opinion – a beautiful tribute to the Abstract Expressionist’s life and work. Every single on of us in the group opted to stay at the MoMA to check out the rest of the museum on our own, instead of jetting off to the next stop on our itinerary. We were there for a good four hours. Some of my personal highlights: the Surrealist room (love Magritte and Dali), Marc Chagall, and of course, Picasso’s “Demoiselles d’Avignon,” what many people claim to be the first modern painting. It was such a memorable experience, to stand in front of art that we’d only ever seen replicated in textbooks from Western Survey class. I think I could have spent four more hours there very happily, but sadly it was not to be. We trekked to the airport to catch our flight home to Denver. Our sore feet and muddled brains were a small price to pay for an amazing, art-filled New York weekend!