Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Whitney Museum

On Monday I finally made it to the new Whitney Museum of American Art. I had been to the old Whitney once, to see its final show on Jeff Koons, and I had been wanting to see the new space ever since it opened. I was wary of the crowds, but I had Monday off (happy Sukkot!) and some friends were already planning to go.

The building is shiny and new, although we immediately had some gripes about the flow of traffic—we tried to take the stairs but were forced to take the elevator—and only two of the galleries were open. The other galleries will reopen in October with new exhibitions, but there were some great things to see in the permanent collection. There were also some pieces of abstract art that make me groan—metal poles leaning in corners, entirely black canvas squares—but the pop art collection was entertaining.

I absolutely loved Women and Dog by Marisol, as can be expected from a work that includes, a "taxidermic dog head," heads with multiple faces and a random hand. I also liked the giant Claes Oldenburg ashtray and cigarette butts because larger-than-life soft sculptures of everyday objects are totally my jam.

The outdoor spaces at the Whitney are just as, if not more, impressive than the current art collection. There are multiple balconies featuring excellent views of the rooftops, Highline and buckets full of meat scraps below. It's an interesting statement on modern/abstract art that they had to erect signs warning patrons that the sculptures on the terraces are actually art and not, in fact, benches.

But in a museum that houses Warhol, de Kooning and O'Keefe, my favorite piece of American art was Leonardo DiCaprio, who I quite awkwardly noticed when I turned around and found myself inches away from his face. For a little over an hour, we then proceeded to watch him (and his model/actress girlfriend) look at the art—and what's more American than that?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lake George: Mini Golf

No matter what happens in my life going forward, our Labor Day weekend trip to Lake George will remain one of my favorite trips ever. The entire weekend was perfect—beginning with the diner stops on the way there, everything that followed was magical (not to mention the life-changing Magic Forest). We packed so many things into three days and it was the perfect end to a summer that flew by alarmingly fast. Every activity we did was summery, including not one, but two nights of playing miniature golf.

I can't remember the last time I played mini-golf, but it was probably when I was in Ohio and I was probably not an adult yet. I had almost forgotten how silly and fun it is, and how very bad I am at all sports, mini-golf included. The first night we went to the Around the World/US (18 holes for each) golf course, right across from Lake George. I wanted to see the World's Fair muffler man, which we did, before playing the Around the US course. Aside from some glaring inaccuracies (a Hoover Dam-themed course representing the wrong state), it was a really great course with just the right amount of kitsch and challenge.

In addition to the Bunyan muffler man, they also had a muffler man-esque Native American, a big lobster, the classic windmill, a surfer, Florida orange, Vegas roulette wheel and Colorado Rockies. The 18th hole was a New York subway station—with a real subway bench and a replica train car—that you actually went underground to play. I was unnecessarily excited to do so—considering we both spend a large portion of our lives in actual subway stations—but there was something weird and wonderful about being in one on a mini-golf course upstate.

Our last night in Lake George was spent playing Goony Golf, which we saw as we were driving around town our first day and knew we needed to play. If you have to pick only one mini-golf place in Lake George, I would go with Goony. It was colorful, whimsical and more stylistically cohesive than Around the World, although it was much more crowded.

I loved all of the brightly-colored concrete figures and hand-painted signage. Goony Golf is slightly newer than Around the World, but still has a vintage kitsch appeal in its simplicity and whimsy. My favorite was definitely the Goonysaurs, which we saw from the road, but was even better up-close with its glowing eyes and big bone cane. Even the trash cans were whimsically topped with clown heads. If heaven exists for me, I imagine it can't do much better than to resemble the Magic Forest, with a side of Goony Golf.