July 3, 2004
A day in QueensThe Isamu Noguchi museum re-opened last month. It's been closed since October 2001 for renovations. Jean mentioned the museum at lunch yesterday and, with no previous plans for today, I decided to go. I called Simone and David to see if they would be interested and we decided to meet at 42nd street on the N/R platform.
We took the wrong train into Queens and had to backtrack. To board the right train we would have had to come back to Manhattan, and so we decided to walk from a nearby station. We walked west along Broadway, past bakeries and cafes with al fresco seating. Soon the majority of the restaurants were Greek. Later in the afternoon we watched as a car drove by with a huge Greek flag jutting out of its roof; Greek flags were pasted to the windows and trailed off the trunk. The Euro Cup finals are tomorrow.
At an intersection, David suddenly declared he knew exactly where we were. He pointed to a White Castle and told me they had stopped there on the last New York City Bike Tour. Simone started salivating. I said I had never had a White Castle burger and so we decided to stop. The burger was uninspiring.
The museum garden is small. Sculptures dot the rock lawn; a curved path winds from one end to the museum store. On the ground floor, other sculptures dot sterile rooms. There are no plaques. The second floor is another thing altogether.
From now until October 3, the museum is presenting a number of Noguchi's works in an exhibition designed by Robert Wilson. The first room contains set pieces that he designed for Martha Graham. The room is kept intentionally dark. A soundtrack completes the mood. Carefully arranged and toned lights not only show off the artwork to its best effect, but also cast artful shadows on the wall. The marriage of sculpture to exhibition space is perfect.
Another room shows off a number of his lamps and tables in a collage of home settings. The sounds of a social gathering permeate the room. Next is a winding path through a darkened stone garden, spot lighting illuminating individual sculptures or living arrangements. The exhibition is exquisite.
I bid adieu to Simone and David at Queensboro Plaza, transferring to the 7. I was on my way to P.S.1 for the summer warm-up. Both Peanut Butter Wolf and Madlib were on the bill, and I had told Lynda I would meet her there.
The line was around the block, but it was moving. By the time we managed to enter, we had already missed Peanut Butter Wolf, and Madlib's set was midway through. I made my way into the museum to view the exhibitions. I was surprised to find a facsimile of the notebook in which Chris Marker sketched out Sans Soleil.
An hour or so later, the bass driving itself into my head, I decided to go. I had lost Lynda and her friends in the museum, and the DJ was one with whom I was unfamiliar. I sat on the edge of the courtyard, watching people come and go. A mist machine created a cloud around the bamboo canopy that serves as this year's courtyard installation. Under another part of the canopy, people waded in a small pool. The crowd thinned. I called Lynda to leave a message, and then the evening attendance dropped by one.
Links: The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, P.S.1, Madlib, Peanut Butter Wolf. Posted by eku at July 3, 2004 9:31 PM