Ground Zero Museum Workshop

Edification value  
Entertainment value  
Should you go?  
Time spent 57 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned I appreciated the inappropriate irony of this shot of a movie poster in the destroyed subway station at the World Trade Center.

Ground Zero Museum Workshop, New York
Collateral Damage

During this project, mercifully few museums I’ve visited have felt like a waste of time.  Some because they required significant travel time to get there.  Some because their collections, space, or abilities just failed to live up to expectations.  But up until I visited the Ground Zero Museum Workshop, I never felt ripped off.

Ground Zero Museum Workshop, New YorkThat it’s an institution related to September 11 doing the ripping makes it all the more vexing.  If you want to learn about 9/11, the large museum at the World Trade Center, the 9/11 Tribute Museum, or the moving display at the Fire Museum are all reasonable choices.  This is not.

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White Columns

Edification value  2/5
Entertainment value  3/5
Should you go?  2/5
Time spent 27 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned John Giorno T-Shirt, White Columns GalleryI don’t know much about John Giorno’s work, but I’d wear his super-cynical T-shirts.

John Giorno T-Shirt, White Columns Gallery
John Giorno T-Shirt

White Columns Gallery, New YorkWhite Columns has a venerable history, dating to 1970 and claiming to be the oldest “alternative art space” in the city. It’s an art gallery, but I have generally allowed public, not-for-profit galleries on my list, so like A.I.R. Gallery and the Aperture Foundation, I’ll grant it museum status for my purposes.  White Columns has moved around a bit during its life, from SoHo to Spring Street to Christopher Street, to its current location in the Meatpacking District.  Continue reading “White Columns”

Aperture Foundation

Edification value  2/5
Entertainment value  3/5
Should you go?  2/5
Time spent 22 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned A picture from a series of night-in-Manhattan photographs by Richard Rinaldi.  It made me think of rewriting The Red Balloon to feature a lonely club kid befriended by a semi-sentient disco ball.

Richard Rinaldi at Aperture Foundation
From Richard Rinaldi: Manhattan Sunday

The Aperture Foundation is well known as a publisher: of the eponymous quarterly magazine, fine photography books, and photographic art prints.  It also has a gallery space in New York as well, where it shows, unsurprisingly, smallish exhibitions of contemporary photography.

Places like the Aperture Foundation straddle that ill-defined line between museums and commercial galleries. As such, I’m sometimes unsure I should review them. Still, as a not-for-profit foundation, they’re not in it to rake in the dough, so I will err on the side of inclusion.

Aperture FoundationLike the nearby International Print Center, Aperture occupies a classic West Chelsea gallery space.  Super stark white walls, unfinished ceiling, scattered columns, industrial floor.  They had the space wide open when I visited, but it feels very flexible.

What I Saw

Alessandra Sanguinetti at Aperture Foundation
Alessandra Sanguinetti, “Ivana, Jardin des Tuileries, Paris,” 2016

I saw two shows.  First, “Le Gendarme Sur La Colline,” pictures of changing life in France by Alessandra Sanguinetti, and second a small series of works by Richard Rinaldi titled “Manhattan Sunday.”  The latter’s gimmick is  that Rinaldi took all the photos on a Sunday  morning between midnight and noon. 

I liked, but did not love, both shows. Sanguinetti and Rinaldi each has a good eye for composition, and both included portraits and genre scenes and landscapes. Both also had a narrative or even journalistic flavor to them. But neither contained any pictures that will haunt my dreams–or that I’d want to own and look at every day.

Who Should Go?

I don’t think everyone needs to go to the Aperture Foundation.  Like so many museums, partly it depends on what they’re showing–some photographers would of course justify the trip. Aspiring and professional photographers must make a pilgrimage there.  And collectors of contemporary photography, too. But for the average fan of photography, or of art, I’d say consider skipping Aperture. Plenty of other places (like the International Center of Photography, or The Met) will serve fine if you just casually like the photographic arts.

Aperture Foundation Bookstore
Aperture Foundation Bookstore

I’ll offer one other reason to go, though. I have not said much about museum shops in these reviews (although I did rave about the design shops at MAD and the Cooper Hewitt). But Aperture’s bookstore takes up a healthy amount of their space. It’s fantastic, and of course heavy on their books.  If you find yourself needing a fancy art photography book…well, actually head to the Strand.  But if you find yourself in that need in far west Chelsea, go to the Aperture Foundation and I’m sure they will hook you up.

For Reference:

Address 547 W. 27th Street, 4th Floor, Manhattan
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Whitney Museum of American Art

Edification value  4/5
Entertainment value  
Should you go?  
Time spent 176 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned Charles Demuth and Elsie Driggs Juxtaposed at the Whitney MuseumA juxtaposition of two pieces: My Egypt, by Charles Demuth, and Pittsburgh, by Elsie Driggs. Both from 1927, they present similar and yet extremely divergent visions of industrialized landscapes.  One is clearly prettier than the other, and yet, as Driggs said of her grey smokestacks and pipes, “This shouldn’t be beautiful. But it is.”

The Met’s Worst Mistake?

The Whitney Museum of American Art.  Yet another art museum in our saturated city. Why does it exist?  Mainly because the Met in the late 1920s didn’t care to own a vast collection of work by living American artists.  Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney had offered the Met her collection, with an endowment, even.  Yes, the Met’s Board wouldn’t take the art even though they stood to get paid to do so.

It reminds me of the scene in the movie “Pretty Woman” where Julia Roberts gets treated miserably by the snooty store lady on Rodeo Drive, only to return later looking fabulous to point out what a humongous mistake said snooty lady had made.  Which raises the question, which museum is Richard Gere? 

Anyway, I will say that if any member of the Whitney family now or in the future offers to pay me to take, say, a Hopper or a Rothko, I will gladly accept that offer.

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