New York Neighborhood Art Strolls

We love walking Manhattan’s neighborhoods. Each has its own unique character and unique surprises. While some trips target specific neighborhoods as destinations, our recent trip to New York City included a number of short, relatively unplanned visits to neighborhoods at which we had a specific destination. These included:

Ukrainian town

Although New York does not have a specific Ukrainian neighborhood, at least to the extent it has, say, a Chinese neighborhood, there is something of a concentration of Ukrainian restaurants, churches, cultural attractions and shops in the area around Second Avenue and 6th and 7th streets.

Our exploration began at one of two local branches of a very nice Ukrainian restaurant, Vaselka (see our New York Restaurant blog) and then morphed into something of a neighborhood Ukrainian cultural expedition.

This exploration began at the Ukrainian Museum, with its exhibitions of kilims, Ukrainian Easter eggs and a retrospective of paintings by a Ukrainian-American artist, Ilona Sochynsky. It then went around the block to the mosaics outside New York’s Ukrainian Cathedral and then across the street to Surna, a Ukrainian shop. Although Ukrainian town probably won’t become one of our regular stops, it was fun to see and to explore at least a small aspect of my great grandparents’ heritage.

An Artistic Hour in SoHo

What to do with an hour and a half before a reservation at at excellent Greenwich Village restaurant (Blue Hill). While we considered spending the time wandering the hallowed aisles of Murray’s Cheese Shop, we decided to tempt ourselves with art, rather than food. So we crossed Houston Street and wandered through about a dozen SoHo art galleries. While we wandered all through SoHo, we spent most of our time on the two northernmost blocks of West Broadway, stopping at a number of galleries that we most enjoy. These include Jamali, Campton, Franklin Bowles, Martin Lawrence, DTR Modern, Eli Klein and Axelle.

A Day of Upper East Side Art

As we trekked up to the Upper East Side primarily to visit the Frick Collection’s exhibit of Renoir’s full-length figure paintings, we always like to leverage such trips into multiple stops. Although we always enjoy walking Upper East Side Streets and a few of the Avenues (especially Madison, 2nd and 3rd), we also used our visit to the Frick as an excuse to go to two other exhibits that we probably would not have otherwise seen–the Asia Society Museum’s exhibition of Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong’s inks landscape paintings and The Gargosian Gallery’s exhibit of works by Picasso and his colleague/muse/mistress Francoise Gilot, Then, after a lovely lunch at Marea, one of our favorite New York restaurants, we headed to MOMA, primarily for the retrospective of Cindy Sherman’s photography. (See our blog on New York City Museums for discussions of each of these exhibits.)

Upper West Side to Harlem

After a morning at the Upper West Side’s Museum of Natural History and an early lunch, we decided to walk the 3 miles to our afternoon concert at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. We walked up to Harlem along the bustling Columbus Ave.

Since we arrived well before the beginning of our concert, we stopped one of the neighborhood’s interesting art galleries (Renaissance Fine Arts) where we saw an exhibit of Senegalese French artist Ousmane Gueye’s alabaster and agate sculptures. We then made one more brief stop at the Studio Museum of Harlem, which supports and displays the work of all types of African-American artists

Since we still had time for a quick pre-theater drink, we stopped at the newest Harlem hot spot, chef Marcus Samuelson’s Red Rooster bar and restaurant.

After a glorious afternoon at the Apollo, we had to make a quick stop at the Emmanuel Church of God in Christ Church for its regular Saturday afternoon evangelical revival, to which guests are invited. (Although it is very rousing (and also very loud) we still prefer the Sunday Services at the large, famous Abbesyneum Baptist Church, to which we did not go on this trip.) We then walked back to the West Side along the very upscale and very expensive Central Park West, before reaching our dinner destination at Boulud Sud, one of the Lincoln Center neighborhood’s hottest restaurants.

Art Gallery District

Unfortunately, we had to skip one of our favorite New York art strolls, along the High Line and the Lower West Side gallery district by 10th Avenue and the lower 20s. We did, however, spend quite a bit of time here on our previous trip, and plan to do so again our next trip-time permitting.

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