NYC – Contemporary Art – free to look at.


Just Looking Around - with thombradley

Contemporary art at auction

Several times a year I try to share some of the art work you find in NYC auction houses. Today, I visited Sotheby’s to look at auction items for sale on March 1. The subject of this auction is contemporary Art.

Many of these will most likely put into private hands and rarely seen again public.




Barbara Kruger “UNTITLED”

Yoshitomo Nara WHITE PUPPY



Christian Rosa

Vik Muniz


Note: I noticed that the minimum bid at this auction was between 40k and 60k

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NYC – Bonhams – an auction house close to 5th Avenue

Over the years of writing this blog, I have uncovered many interesting items and pieces of art at Sotheby’s Auction House. I realize that I often visit Southeby’s as it is closer to my apartment. I have done this to the neglect of other excellent auction house but starting with today’s blog will attempt to broaden my horizons.

Several people have asked me if there were any places nearer the tourist areas (5th Avenue). They opined that when coming into the city for only a day, the location of Sotheby’s was too far to get to

Note: Visiting these auctions is a good way to look at expensive articles that not usually available to us outside of a museum. And the viewing if free!  Don’t be intimidated by security in dark suits, just walk in the door and ask if any galleries are open… simple as that!

Here are two that are right in the thick of the tourist area. If you have others, let me know and I will plan a visit to them.

Christie’s   20 Rockefeller Plaza, West Entrance is located at 49th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. 

Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:30am – 5:00pm
we are often open for weekend views, although the hours vary by sale. For specific viewing hours and other business matters, please contact Client Services at +1 212 636 2000

Bonhams – 580 Madison Ave (corner of 57th Street)

Hours: Monday – Friday: 9.00am – 5.00pm 
Preview days: 12.00pm – 5.00pm (please check as they are subject to change)

Modern Art

NYC – Mid Town East – Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay is a neighborhood in New York City, on the east side of Midtown Manhattan. It extends between 41st and 53rd Streets, and eastward from Lexington. Its most famous site is the United Nations and Tutor City.

My reason to visit, was the newly painted murals (5) in this neighborhood. They are sponsored by a labor group and the over-all title is Social Change

Turtle Bay almost feels like a different world: peaceful, uncrowded, and filled with brownstones and smaller brick buildings rather than skyscrapers. Much of the residential architecture is from the 1920s, often featuring basic Italian antecedents, stucco walls again bricks or tile.

Mid Town, Turtle Bay, is  an interesting place to visit and walk. 

Two buildings in Turtle Bay are the Seamen’s Churches of Sweden and Norway, which have hidden cafes inside that are open to the public though the organizations themselves primarily serve the expatriate community.

Seamen’s Church

It might look like a gated building front on East 49th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, but this between-buildings passageway, now known as Amster Yard, goes all the way back to 1830 or earlier. On this site, the stagecoach to Boston began its route on a now-vanished road called the Eastern Post Road. It has been rebuilt with an art gallery and a charming back garden. The complex remains open to the public on weekdays, except when there is a private event. (Spanish Cultural Center)

Then there is Beekman Place, also just a few blocks long. Its prewar co-ops nuzzle town houses with dormered windows jutting from their top floors.

Fun facts

As a non historical curiosity, the Hammarskjöld Plaza (Second Avenue and Forty-Sixth Street ) is the very center of the imaginary multiverse formed by all of the stories written by Stephen King, as described in his “The Dark Tower” series of books. It is actually the place that “keeps all those universes working”. So it is an interesting touristic point for the fans.


Number 227 – 247 East 48th Street and 236-246 East 49th Streets are famous remodeled brownstones which surround a private common garden and are the former homes of Dorothy Thompson, Katharine Hepburn, Stephen Sondheim, Maggie Smith and Tyrone Power

This area is right on top of the United Nations Building. 


NYC – Walking down Broadway from 42nd street to 14th street

This Saturday the weather was very spring like – plenty of sunshine and a milder temperature. Looking for something to do outside, I heard a TV announcer say that Broadway would be closed to auto traffic from 42nd St to 14th St.. I decided that this is the time to walk down the middle of Broadway. So, off I went!

This walk starts (or ends) at Herald Square and walks down Broadway to the Flatiron Building (Madison Square Park) continuing to Union Square. added a short walk on West 16th Street and then back to Union Square.

Broadway and 23rd Street

Broadway and 23rd Street

Madison Square Park

Walking over to West 16th Street

If going from Union Square to the Chelsea Market area, I would suggest walking west 16th Street. It is much more “old” New York than West 14th. West 16th is a great example of a Chelsea neighborhood. And, the Chelsea Market and the High Line Park can be a welcome stop to eat and relax.

Church of St. Francis Xavier – West 16th Street

Church of St. Francis Xavier

This church is quite impressive. The murals are excellent and the Nave is adorned with beautiful art.

Along this walk are many more interesting places to look at or explore. I selected but a few of the sites for this blog. If you look at a map of Manhattan you will see that thre are many other interesting places nearby.

SoHo – Cast Iron Buildings – Vault Lights – More


Many of you come to New York City and spend some time in China Town and  Little Italy. Just a hop skip and a jump from there is SoHo –  the home for high-fashion, cast iron buildings and cobblestones.   Just roaming the streets and popping into the many boutiques can be a fun experience. I will note that the prices may also be a subject of dinner-time talk as well.

Since it impossible for me to accurately describe what a shopping experience would be like, I will try to give you a picture of this neighborhood and its uniqueness to NYC.


SoHo is filled with intricate, yet simple, cast-iron architecture.. Walking along streets like Mercer, Greene, Crosby or Wooster you will notice cobblestone streets
lined with cast iron buildings. (A few of you may recognize this area as the backgrounds in many commercials,most notably auto ads.)

SoHo began as an area for manufacturing or department stores, it was built before electricity was invented so they built buildings IMG_2230with giant-scale windows, allowing daylight to enter the basement and the far reaches of the storefronts.

Also, cast iron is a stronger product than other irons (such as wrought iron), so it allowed  buildings to span greater distances. The material could be prefabricated offsite and quickly put up on site. It also allowed the delicate designs of the time to be mass-produced. In order to go higher the buildings store fronts were supportedby columns rather than brick.


Along with the many stores there are living spaces above with giant windows, tall ceilings, and expansive living spaces. A great place to live.

Cast iron columns are hollow, enabling architects2012_march_11_Marshall_Vill_008_Ato build higher without the thick walls previously required to construct brick buildings.

IMG_2277Foundry stamps were often placed at the base of cast-iron buildings.

Many stores have loading docks close to the buildings. They were designed at that height to lift people up and out of the walkway, as well as to come closer to the structures so they could window shop.

A magnet will stick to cast-iron, but not other building materials. Bring one with you as you wander the SoHo streets. 

Small circular glass bulbs dot the sidewalks of Soho–are they chic street stylings or art?

Many of the sidewalks in New York are hollow but especially in this area. In many of the older buildings the basements extend beyond the building’s footprint- opening up to a “vault” space under the sidewalk. The glass bulbs are actually tiny windows–called “vault lights” or deadlights–to allow sunlight into the basement factories before the introduction of electricity.They permitted daylight to reach otherwise dark basements (or “vaults”) that extended out beneath the sidewalks this created more useable or rentable space for building owners.


You might also notice that the street signs in SoHo are brown, not green like standard street signs. This is because a large section of SoHo is a historic district.

SoHo’s cobbled streets and atmosphere make the district unlike any other area in Manhattan. The uniqueness boils down to the most simple details such as the street names. In SoHo the streets have names rather than numbers. Spring Street, Prince Street, and Broadway are all well-known streets.

Broadway is probably one of the most well-known streets in NYC, and also runs right through the center of SoHo. Many big name shops have their flagship stores here, right in the heart of SoHo. Broadway is not only the longest street, it is also the heart of shopping in NYC – Definitely worth a visit!

Here is a collection of some unique items you can see in SoHo

NYC – Leonard Cohen at the Jewish Museum

This week,  I went to the Leonard Cohen exhibit at the Jewish Museum. (East 92nd and 5th Ave). The museum is housed in an old mansion and along with this exhibit, has other exhibitions that explore art and culture from ancient to modern times.

I enjoyed my visit and have written a few observations but first you must read an excellent review  written by Jordan Hoffman in the AMnewyork newspaper.

“Don’t come to the Leonard Cohen exhibit expecting a typical collection of memorabilia. There are no dog-eared notebooks under glass, no stage fedoras on display. For those of us sick of that sort of thing, let’s quote the man and say ‘Hallelujah”

Click  here  to read more of his  review.


The exhibit is very unusual as most of the exhibit is located in very dark  rooms. This use of black walls allows you to focus on the wall  projections, images and videos . Each space  has seating (a little hard to find in the dark)  but the darkness creates  a feeling of intimacy and gives Cohen’s music, as well as the visual images, more impact.

Before going I thought that this would be a typical visit where you can leisurely walk through the exhibits. However, this is an exhibit that, to really enjoy,  you must be willing to take quite a bit of time to sit in the different areas. Whether a fan of Cohen or not, sitting and watching the stories unfold before you lights up the mind and enhances your enjoyment.

Is it worth a visit?  I would say that the museum as a whole is worth visiting. I feel that the Cohen exhibit might be better enjoyed by people who are familiar with Cohen’s music and career. (Exhibit open until September 8th,)

postscript: The music was great!