Text and photos by Regina Mogilevskaya
When out-of-towners arrive in New York City, their eyes glaze over when it comes to the endless possibilities of what to do first, what to eat first, where to go first. Over time, it seems that a typical checklist has been honed on these visits to the Big Apple: Times Square, Central Park, a Broadway musical, a soft pretzel, a few major museums here and there. For an art lover coming to NYC, however, sometimes a crowded, two-hour wait to the McQueen exhibit at the Met just won’t cut it. For the connoisseur who craves the latest in contemporary movements and would rather spend a day perusing Manet paintings than clothing shelves, then Chelsea is the place to spend the day.
The galleries are a collection of dozens of art spaces scattered across the neighborhood of Chelsea, each offering a unique art experience. Quiet, sleek, and—best of all—free, the galleries are an ideal place to soak in and reflect upon different mediums of art, sans distractions. Because most galleries give a distinct style and area of interest, in two hours one can walk among the black-and-white couture world of Richard Avedon, wander in and out of video installations, and find oneself nose-to-nose with a Picasso.
The Gagosian, for example, one of the most well-known galleries in NYC, currently has Picasso and Marie-Therese: L’amour fou on view, a collection of the master artist’s sketches, sculptures, and paintings, inspired by Marie-Therese, lover and insatiable muse.
If cubism isn’t your thing, the Peter Blum Gallery on West 29th has LANY on view. Organized by Mario Diacano, LANY is a collection of works by seven artists, some based out of L.A. and the rest out of New York. The exhibit combines sculptures, portraits, and even photographs turned into paintings. A press release by the gallery promises “exploration of the academic principles of perspective,” “emotive paintings layered with complex narrative structures,” and even describes one artist who dabbles in physical and mythical mountain systems represented through maps she has carved out of cowhide.
The truly great thing about the galleries is their locale. Chelsea, which runs from 15th Street to about 34th (between 6th Avenue and the Hudson River) offers a lot more than just its art scene. Just past the West Side Highway are grassy fields, playgrounds, dog parks, and benches on piers, allowing visitors to take a seat and look out onto the river for a while.
The High Line, an elevated rail structure that has recently been renovated into a picturesque park space, runs between 10th and 11th Avenues. Quite popular with both tourists and locals, the park offers a serene getaway in the middle of the big city, allowing visitors to picnic, read, people-watch, and even enjoy native New York plants and trees, all while thirty feet up in the air!
So if you happen to be in New York this summer, take a day to venture away from Midtown and see a different side of the Big Apple. Step into Chelsea.
For a complete list of galleries, click here.