The Chelsea Modern Art Scene

Posted on
Oct 23, 2009
Posted in: City Guide, WTF

I can appreciate modern art. I won’t stand in front of a painting and discuss, seemingly to no end, the different elements of a painting, its composition, or what I thought the artist intended. But I will, on occassion, turn to my husband and say, “I like that.” And, often, he will reply with, “Me too.”

Of course, there are a lot of people who like to spend way, way too much time analyzing brush strokes and trying to determine whether or not the artist was constipated. I find these individuals equal parts annoying and entertaining. Sometimes, I want to join in with fake facts and nonsensical observations.

“Ah, you know Andy Warhol‘s father worked at a cannery, yes? And that Andy himself was deathly allergic to tomatoes? Thus, his Campbell’s soup can paintings represent both the fate he was convinced he’d have, and his own mortality.”

OR

Duchamp’s toilet was not about redefining art. It was an homage to his childhood pet, a mutt named Rover that had a weak bladder – hence, R. Mutt.

You know, bullshit like that.

The numerous art galleries in the Chelsea district of New York are made for just these sorts of blasphemous observations. (Note from Geraldine: It was at this point that I decided to finish this post, drunk, on midnight on Thursday in London. My apologies). Since all of the art is by relative unknowns, you can make up all sorts of crap, and odds are someone will buy it (your lies. Not the art). Here are just a few tidbits that you can choose to share:

  • “His first sexual fantasy was about Ernest Borgnine. The experience inspired this piece.”
  • “She once starred in a re-enactment of Hamlet, featuring characters from The Brady Bunch.”
  • “Notice the use of color? It’s completely ironic. The artist is a mime.”

There might be a slim chance that I’m being slightly disrespectful (ALSO, HOLY CRAP AM I DRUNK). But honestly, the pieces in the Chelsea art galleries are so completely out there, what else is left to say but absolute b.s.? Don’t get me wrong – it’s all delightful – but part of that delight comes from not taking any of it too seriously. Art is emotional, and that means it can be fun and silly and even absurd, at times. Plus, all of the galleries are free. So I say start making crap up, and enjoy the hell out of them.

Because, really, what else can you say when you see a video of the animatronic George Washington in The Hall of Presidents ride at the Magic Kingdom, over which the artist has superimposed a video of himself cracking a bullwhip? No, I’m not kidding:

The artist also shredded the screen with buckshot. I cant make this stuff up.
The artist also shredded the screen with buckshot. I can’t make this stuff up.

Or this piece, which my husband accurately and endearing named “Flying Building Guy With Helicopter Penis”:

I love how Rand is sneaking around in the background of both of these photos, looking out for security guards.

I love how Rand is sneaking around in the background of both of these photos, looking out for security guards.

Or these over-sized LED books, “reasonably priced” at about FOUR GRAND each:

Photo courtesy of JulianBleeker, via Flickr.com

Photo courtesy of JulianBleeker, via Flickr.com

The galleries are clustered between 19th and 26th streets, and 10th and 11th avenues, on Manhattan’s west side (in Chelsea). The Chelsea Gallery Map has a useful layout of all of the different ones you can visit. Whether you need a laugh, some artistic stimulation, or just a healthy dose of “WTF” in your life, it’s worth a stop.

Leave a Comment

More from The Blog

On Instagram @theeverywhereist

  • The final, finished copy of my book arrived at our house today. Rand is very excited about it. (Everyone else has to wait until May 2nd, but you can pre-order it now. Link in bio.) #AllOverThePlace #AOTPbook #everywhereist #happydance
  • 9 foods we ate in Japan that I'm missing now:
1) Sushi! 
2) Kaiseki (a multi-course meal with tons of delicious little plates)
3) Croissants (Japanese bakeries seem to have mastered them) 
4) Okonomiyaki (multi-layered pancakes with noodles and all sorts of stuff)
5) Takoyaki (octopus balls) 
6) Ramen (so many styles, all so good) 
7) Yakiniku (grill your own meats!)
8) Tempura (so light and crispy) 
9) Onigiri (Geraldine was crazy for these - the best ones came from 7-11 of all places) 
#foodsofjapan #randtookthis #latergram #tastebudsforeverspoiled
  • Geraldine bought this frickin' adorable tea cup in Tokyo and I'm kinda jealous (even though everyone knows cups that hold hot liquids need handles!). #studioghibli #totorotea #randtookthis
  • Sayonara Japan. We loved you so much, we're already planning ways to come back. Thanks to @nicelleh & @wescarr for insisting we go, and for being our tour guides. #randtookthis #randaldineselfie #selfiesonaplane
  • It's not often you get to meet up with friends at Tokyo Station on the way to Narita, but we lucked out. Thanks @benhuh @emilyphuh for the great lunch and amazing company. #randtookthis #lastdayofvacation #selfiesatthetrain
  • That's no way to describe how stunning the ryokan & onsen is here. Maybe these 7 photos will help. It's definitely modern, but the landscape, the food, the lobby, the architecture, the service... everything is just spot on. And we even get to wear yukatas! #randtookthis #hoshiniya #karuizawa #beautifulhotels
  • Karuizawa has its own creamery, and they make both matcha and black sesame gelato. It's frickin' tasty. Who cares if we have to wear coats to eat it. #icecreamtime #lastdayofvacation #nagaifarm
  • Waiting for the bus. With a friend. 
#randtookthis #totorotime
  • This stone church in Karuizawa was designed by an American architect, Kendrick Kellogg, and serves as a popular wedding facility. Fascinatingly, it has no right angles in the design (though Geraldine spent most of our visit trying to claim that angles on exit signs or edges of photos inside technically violated this rule). #randtookthis #stonebuildings #curvyarchitecture
  • We have been incredibly lucky to stay at many beautiful hotels around the world (mostly thanks to generous conference organizers). But, #hoshiniya in Karuizawa almost certainly belongs in the top 3. Every detail is stunning here. It's almost sad to walk out of the resort! #randtookthis #randaldineselfie

All Over The Place

Pre-order my book now and I promise I'll never ask you for anything again.

Pre-Order Now!