Manhattan is alive with art. It’s on the walls, on the streets, and bursting out of every second building.
Chelsea is the ‘art district’ capital of Manhattan, and boasts a number of galleries within about 7 blocks of each other. But it’s the street art everywhere, or *graffiti* to you old timers, that I found really invigorating – partly because of its ubiquity, but mainly just because it’s so damn fresh and interesting.
Street art on East Houston St
From the ‘did-you-know?’ files. Houston (pronounced How-stin) Street is a major street that separates several districts of the Lower East Side. Soho is an acronym for South of Houston, Noho = North of Houston, Nolita = North of Little Italy… you get the picture. Speaking of pictures here’s another one.
Soho hardware and lumber store with Deco mural
Now that’s a solid looking hardware store.
Great art is usually subversive, and often political, which is probably what tickled me about this stencil piece in Soho.
Laser Guided Democracy
Then there’s all the other forms of art: the music, the sculpture – the cinema. One of the most fun things we did was go to some rooftop cinema. Our friends Mathew and Allison invited us along to check out watching movies in the open air one evening. It runs once a month and in a different location for the duration of Summer; we found it was on at a school not far from our apartment. But can you say popular? We got there an hour early, which was lucky, because the queue stretched around the block.
The queue stretched all the way around the block for rooftop cinema
Once we made it to the roof it was a fairly spectacular setting, and so warm it felt like midday peak Summer in Auckland, even though it was merely a Spring-time evening in New York.
We got in early and set up a prime picnic position
Totally worth the wait, as the buzz from the setting and the crowd was magnificent. There must have been a thousand people up here.
They had to have another screen so everyone could see
I had a hankering to check out a place that had intrigued me from the night we landed – the legendary Bowery Poetry Club, which was only a few doors along from the hostel we stayed in for the first night. A proper dive bar, the joint had cheap booze, crusty locals, and atmosphere dripping from the walls.
Bill Popp & The Tapes rocking the Bowery Poetry Club
So we enter to the rocking sounds of Bill Popp & The Tapes, who despite a less than full house, had everybody in the joint swinging. Bill was followed by a young hip hop cat named Illard Scott who had initially persuaded us to check the joint out. Then during his set he was cool enough to give us a shout out: warm fuzzies ahoy.
Illard Scott rocking his conscious hip hop styles
But like the amazing art that’s free to gaze upon everywhere you look, there’s also music bursting out from every corner, particularly in Central Park on a sunny Saturday. (PS, Central Park is surprisingly hilly.)
Harp player near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park
The woman above was there in the same place, near a tourist hot spot, a couple of separate times we went past.
One of many Jazz trios jamming in Central Park
Ok I’ve reached the end of the line for this post, but fret not, because there’s loads more still to come. Feel free to ask questions in the comments area below if you have any.