I’m not really sure why, but I feel very drawn to Spanish Harlem (El Barrio). Living on 96th street, sometimes I feel like I’m on the border of where two very different worlds collide. Not in a dramatic, abrupt fashion, but as you walk either North or South of 96th street, the differences become more apparent. Language, money, ethnicity and lifestyle are among some of the major factors that differentiate these two worlds.
Before 2000, East 96th street (the neighborhood’s southern border) was one of the most famous socio-economic “boundaries” in North America: to the south of it lied the affluent Upper East Side and to the north - the significantly less affluent East Harlem, where within the span of a few blocks, the average household income plunged to only a fraction of its sub-East 96th value. That contrast has been softened and the border bluerred somewhat by gentrification of the late 1990’s and 2000’s.
Gentrification aside, the population of East Harlem remains considerably less affluent than that of its southern neighbor. The neighborhood contains a significant number of housing projects run by NYCHA (Carver, Lexington, Washington, Clinton, White, Metro North, Lehman, Johnson, Taft, Jefferson, Corsi, Wagner, Robinson, Lincoln).
Today I spent some time at El Museo Del Barrio, which is “committed to celebrating and promoting Latino culture.” Besides showcasing Latino artists, the museum details the history of the immigration of Dominican’s, South Americans and Puerto Ricans to New York City (a lot of which had to do with the sugar industry- something I probably learned in a world history class back in the day and failed to remember).
One of the most interesting works on view is an installation titled From here to there, by Puerto Rican artist Antonio Martorell, about immigration from his native island to New York.
The work is a type of airplane, with chairs dressed in clothes from various moments in history, in which visitors can sit down and watch a documentary. The windows show photographs of immigrants, in which passersby are reflected.
“The intention is to bring visitors close to the experience of Puerto Rican immigration,” the artist explained.
Marci Reaven, the show’s curator, said that it had become critical to tell the story of demographic change in the United States as the country debates immigration reform.
“There is so much debate right now about who belongs in America,” she said. “It seemed like an important political statement to say that in New York that people from Latin American have had a long history here and they’ve been here for many centuries, not just for decades.”
Below are a few pictures from a stroll through El Barrio last weekend, enjoy.
There’s a lot of beauty here in East Harlem, and I want to experience more of it.
The Museum of Copenhagen is free on Fridays, and that’s exactly where I was last Friday afternoon.
The museum is dedicated solely to the city’s history and is located in an old-fashioned small blue house that used to be the club house of the Royal Shooting Society. Above is a picture of the shooting targets; you can see the bullet holes. I was expecting something a little more grandeur but the trip turned out very interesting nonetheless.
Outside the building is a miniature city model of Copenhagen in the early 1500s!
The museum was organized chronologically from when the city was founded until about the late 1990s. The museum was quite small and not very well lit in the lower floors so it felt like being inside a historian’s hobby room for the most part.
This is King Christian the V’s Danish Law issued in 1683. It’s slightly mind-boggling to think that whatever was written in this just one book governed everything about society back then.
They knew how to party at least; a 17th century Icelandic drinking horn.
The Bombardment of Copenhagen was a British invasion of Copenhagen in 1807 to seize the Dano-Norwegian ships. An authentic account of the battle was described by an English author in this book.
These are remnants of lead fireballs during The Bombardment of Copenhagen. The fireballs were stuffed with flammable substances and then wrapped with canvas, before being hurled as a ball of fiery doom at the enemy.
After all the old stuff, I headed upstairs with exhibits that described Copenhagen’s journey of modernization. It was pretty absorbing, especially after they legalize porn in the 1970s.
The curator told me that those were “theatre vaginas”.
We visited this Korean coastline museum in our bid to seek shelter from the torrential rain while in Sokcho. We weren’t entirely convinced that the combination of crystals, model cars and motorbikes, disco lights, stuffed deer, leopards, polar bears and paper mache sharks was an accurate representation of life on the coast here, but it kept us dry and entertained for a while anyway!
Saturdays were made for drinking, but Sundays are all about learning. I gently nurtured my hangover while tagging along with some fellow knowledge junkies for an afternoon at the California Science Center.
First up was a trip to their IMAX theater for a “Hubble 3D” documentary, a fascinating history of the Hubble Telescope, the crews that maintain it, and the incredible pictures it has captured of our universe. This alone made the entire trip worth it. Space rocks!
Now it’s been easily 10 years since I last made it to the museum itself, and luckily they’ve made a few additions to liven up what was becoming a pretty tired spot. Giant aquariums make everything cooler.
But their section on “cutting edge technology” hadn’t changed since 1995. Though infrared is always cool.
Then a trip outside to smell the roses at the Exposition Park Gardens. The only way to finish off a perfect day.
My drawing professor Brooke Larsen requested (with much enthusiasm) that we make time to visit the MoMA. Seeing that, as an SVA student, I get in for free and that there was a huge Matisse show going on on the top floor, I didn’t need to be told twice. I didn’t need to be told once, actually.
While I wasn’t able to take photographs of the show on the top floor, I did take a few shots of some stuff I liked, and some of the more popular pieces.
BTW I had no idea Starry Night was here. I guess maybe in the back of my mind I knew it was, I know it was told to me last year at Buffalo State. I guess it just didn’t register. So When I wandered into a room on the painting floor, I stopped dead in my tracks at Mr. van Gogh’s painting. Oh My God. There It Was.
Ahh! AHHHH! There’s something so awesome about looking at painting up close, seeing all the brush strokes, and sometimes even the pencil lines that went underneath. So beautiful =].
Also, friggin’ Les Demoiselles d’Avignon?!
I’m so unaware of everything.
Here was a piece called After Renoir.
From a distance the piece appears upside down. The entire installation is made of spools of thread.
Then glass orbs are supplied, which when you look through…
the piece is rotated. After Renoir and others by Devorah can be found at the PEM in the exhibit, Eye Spy: Playing with Perception.