Saturday, August 6, 2011

Biking the East River

Mark on Randall's Island
Today we ventured over to the East Side of Manhattan for a bike ride.  On the way up (click here to see map) we left the house at 8:30 a.m. and took the PATH to 33rd Street, rode up 6th Avenue into Central Park for what we thought would be a leisurely early Saturday morning ride through the park.  Unfortunately, there was an organized running race going on, so we got off at 81st Street.  Then we rode down 86th Street and the river, to Carl Schurz Park, which we've been wanting to visit for several years now.  It's a beautiful park along the East River.  From there, we rode the bike path up to 102nd Street, where there's a pedestrian bridge to Randall's Island.  We biked around the island, which is mostly sports fields, but with a couple of parks.  There were not very many people there, and it provides a great view of Manhattan.

The return trip we rode along the bike path as much as possible, except for a stretch of about a mile where we rode the streets (with a couple of hills!)  By this time it was late morning and the path was getting crowded, especially around the South Street Seaport area.  Then we biked across lower Manhattan over to the World Trade Center PATH station and home to Jersey City.  The ride was about 22 miles, and we finally got to bike the East River!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Queens 'n' Art

Once again we traveled to Queens.  This time we went to Long Island City to visit Socrates Sculpture Park, the Noguchi Museum, and MoMAs PS1.  We first stopped at the sculpture park, which was a disappointment.  A large part of the park was closed off due to construction, and the part that remained open had sculptures made out of trash by students.  The park itself seemed geared toward school groups.  We then walked several blocks to the Noguchi Museum.

Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) was one of the twentieth century’s most important and critically acclaimed sculptors.  Through a lifetime of artistic experimentation, he created sculptures, gardens, furniture and lighting designs, ceramics, architecture, and set designs.  His work, at once subtle and bold, traditional and modern, set a new standard for the reintegration of the arts.  Noguchi, an internationalist, traveled extensively throughout his life.  (In his later years he maintained studios both in Japan and New York.)  He discovered the impact of large-scale public works in Mexico, earthy ceramics and tranquil gardens in Japan, subtle ink-brush techniques in China, and the purity of marble in Italy.  He incorporated all of these impressions into his work, which utilized a wide range of materials, including stainless steel, marble, cast iron, balsawood, bronze, sheet aluminum, basalt, granite, and water.  aterials—are still being produced today.  In 1985 Noguchi opened The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum (now known as The Noguchi Museum), in Long Island City, New York.  The Museum, established and designed by the artist, marked the culmination of his commitment to public spaces.  Located in a 1920s industrial building across the street from where the artist had established a studio in 1960, it has a serene outdoor sculpture garden, and many galleries that display Noguchi’s work, along with photographs and models from his career.  Not only are Noguchi's works spectacular, but the museum itself is beautiful.

We then walked the 12 blocks back to the subway to get to the area where MoMA's PS1 is located.  We had read on the Internet that the Burger Garage restaurant served gluten-free hamburgers and french fries.  We were eagerly anticipating this as it is very difficult to find a place that serves a hamburger on a gluten-free bun.  BUT BUMMER!  They were OUT OFF GLUTEN-FREE BUNS!  So I had a gluten burger and we split the fries.

Then we went to PS1.  This old public school (hence the name) is devoted to "cutting edge" modern art.  Unfortunately, almost the entire space was devoted to videos, which are not really something we appreciate.

Mary and Mark with a Manhattan in Manhattan
The next leg of journey took us to Union Square in Manhattan.  I sat in the park while Mark went to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.  Then we walked over to the Village to Buvette for a truly outstanding Manhattan.  A very full and fulfilling day.