Extreme Chelsea Art and Food Adventure

Hello readers!  Today was extremely busy, as the interns took a trip down to Chelsea to see the Whitney’s off-site storage area.  The storage area is, sadly, difficult to reach via subway and I mixed up my transfers so I ended up having to take a cab to get there on time.  Fail!  At least I know the proper trains (now) so I’ll have no trouble getting there next week when Theresa and I do some work there.

The storage unit is waaaaay out in Chelsea between 11th and 12th avenues and it looks like a nothing warehouse.  Which, I mean, it is, but said nothing warehouse just happens to store countless works of priceless art.  Like the Lichtenstein take was hanging out waiting to be placed in its crate, or the de Kooning hanging from one of the painting screens (sliding metal barriers on which they hang painting for storage).  Seeing the works in unglamorous boxes and hanging on ugly metal screens really causes one to realize that art really is just a thing, a simple physical object.  The market places prices, seemingly arbitrarily, on said objects and voila: you have priceless works of art.  My mind is always boggled when I see works in unglamorous storage.

Barbara, the registrar who gave us the tour of the space, gave many shoutouts to the CDI (Collections Documentation Initiative) project, which is my project for the summer.  Theresa and I were pleased to see (in crate form, but still) the physical evidence of the project on which we’ve been working.  As with most museums, the Whitney’s storage space is limited and shrinking.  For instance, they just acquired Liza Lou’s The Kitchen, a life-size recreation of a kitchen made with beads.  She created everything: sink, table, dishes, refrigerator, etc.  Out of beads.  And it is life size.  The concept is amazing, but as Barbara said, the work takes a lot of space to store.

Everything and the kitchen sink.
Everything and the kitchen sink.

Post storage tour we headed downtown toward a non-profit art gallery via the High Line.  The weather was oddly cold (well, cool, mid 60s, which, I mean, it is July people) and it was cloudy, but I still took more pictures of the park.




Our destination was White Columns, a non-profit art gallery that is extremely artist-focused.  The gallery has had a presence in the city since the 1970s, though it has only been in its current West Village location for about twenty years.  White Columns is the type of institution for which I would love to work: very focused on the artist, aware of new and emerging talents, not hopping on the next big thing, not profit-driven, community centered, etc.  White Columns has “White Room” shows which are literally white rooms focused on artists, primarily young and emerging, but there is also an initiative to give shows and recognition to artists in their sixties and seventies who, I’m sure, appreciate the renewed interest in their work.  The main gallery has other shows, such as the current “Collection of…” which focuses on the art collections of six figures in the art world: artists, critics, curators, etc.  Many of the works are by famous names: Andy Warhol, Nan Goldin, Anne Collier, and Neo Rausch are just a few of the people shown.  The collectors bought work when the artists were young and unknown (one of the Warhols was, apparently, sold for a mere $1,000 dollars; it is now worth over $100,000) or were given as gifts by other artists.  White Columns has also given many now-famous artists their first show.  John Currin had an exhibition there, as did Felix Gonzalez-Torres.  The deputy director of the gallery gave us the tour, and she was extremely enthusiastic and clearly loves what she does.  I was personally really inspired by White Columns, and, again, would love to have that sort of career experience.

After we left White Columns we trekked back up the High Line to our last stop of the day, which was an optional tour of the IAC building, designed by Frank Gehry.

The IAC building, as seen from the High Line.
The IAC building, as seen from the High Line.

IAC is a coroporation owned by Barry Diller, who was a major figure in ABC before founding Fox for Rupert Murdoch.  Now he does IAC, which owns a few websites you might have heard of, such as Ask.com, Match.com, CollegeHumor.com, Citysearch.com, etc.  He wanted a giant headquarters building on the edge of Chelsea, overlooking the river, and he wanted Frank Gehry to design it, and he got both of his wishes.  One of the interns has a brother who works for IAC, so he secured us a tour with the woman who had overseen the building’s construction/development and who now oversees the basic operations/decorations/requirements of the building.

The building’s facade is primarily glass, a curved glass that has never been used before.  The design is, supposedly, based on a blowing sail…something like that.  The lobby is enormous and has these really unusual curved wooden benches which Kanye West evidently loves.  Occasionally he comes into the lobby to just hang out on the benches.  And then, I guess, he blogs about it in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. He wanted to do a music video in the lobby, but Barry Diller said no.

Kanye West was here.
Kanye West was here.

The lobby is used for many events: fashions shoots and shows, weddings/bar mitzvahs, car shows, many parties, etc.  Behind the reception desk is a giant screen with an image of a globe.  A touch pad on the reception counter can spin the globe.  The pad also has a list of all the websites IAC owns, and when you click on a site, such as Ask.com, the globe will light up whereever people are on said site. It is fairly amaing.  The backside of the lobby, where most the parties happen, has the worlds largest high-screen definition system.  The system was currently down for repairs, so it was only showing pretty colors, but evidently it can perform amazing tricks, such as showing infrared images of the people in the lobby.

The building is, as to be expected, extremely design minded.  Every little detail down to the trash cans was debated and planned and discussed.  The building has art but it must be art related to IAC’s purpose–no buying Picassos just because Barry Diller can buy Picassos.  The interior is very colorful: the bathrooms are all colored tiles and chrome fixtures.  The upper floors, where people work, are high-class Ikea with tons of natural light.  Also, each floor has its own little snack bar with tons of free chips and candy bars and soda and hummus packs etc. for the employees–I guess this happens in corporate.  Evidently when Diller was giving his friends–magazine moguls, Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols, fashion people etc.–a tour of the building, an editor of a major fashion magazine looked at the snack bar and remarked: “All your employees are going to get so fat.”  Ah, fashion.  However we interns were tortured at the sight of the snack bar–it was nearly 2:00 and we hadn’t stopped for lunch, so we were starving.

I wish I had been less starving during the tour.  The building and its processes and history were really fascinating, as was Shannon, the representative who gave us the tour.  She is clearly an intelligent woman and really sort of stumbled into this position out of luck: she went to college for English and theatre and is finishing up her masters in film studies.  She says once she finishes school that she will start making movies–for IAC.  Lucky girl.  I’m not entirely crazy about the outside of the building, although I love the gradient shading on the glass, but the glance into the corporate world and the interior design/operations of the building were fascinating.  Equally fascinating are the parties and events that occur downstairs.  Definitely a different world.

At the end of the tour (and after stealing a diet coke and a bag of baked lays from the snack bar–we all had permission to take food, and I definitely did not hoarde like some of the other girls did!) I decided I needed lunch, stat.  Luckily one of my favorite food destinations in Manhattan, Chelsea Market, was just around the corner.  Chelsea Market is really awesome: a giant indoor tunnel of food goodness with stores specializing in everything from brownies to meat to thai food to a “dairy bar” which serves gourmet milkshakes.  Also, Food Network is headquartered there, and the studio where they film Iron Chef is on the premises.    Morimoto is on the premises, and Craftsteak and Del Posto are right across the street, so it’s really a little foodie empire in the middle of the gallery district of Chelsea.  Um. Win.

The main concourse of Chelsea Market, with lots of tables where you can stuff your face.
The main concourse of Chelsea Market, with lots of tables where you can stuff your face.
For some reason there's a weird fountain thing in the middle of Chelsea Market.  Whatevs, I like it.
For some reason there's a weird fountain thing in the middle of Chelsea Market. Whatevs, I like it.

I’d been craving lobster rolls, for some reason.  Maybe because I have never had a lobster roll, and they sound awesome.  Luckily the Lobster Place, a fish market that specializes in selling live lobsters, has a location in Chelsea Market.  The store sells fresh fish but also has prepared foods such as sushi and salads. In the back there is a little window where you can order sandwiches and other fresh-made food, so I put in an order for a lobster roll.


Having never had a lobster roll before I cannot compare it to anything, but I certainly enjoyed it.  The roll was split and grilled, which is evidently the proper way to do it–the buttery crunch cuts through the lobster salad mix.  I thought the lobster salad was great: giant chunks of claw and tail meat with mayo and a nice amount of tarragon.  The salad was a bit too mayo-y for my taste but I really like my mixed salads light on the mayo.  My only real complaint was that there was a shell in the lobster mix–but I guess that’s what happens when you are dealing with crustaceans, and I was also to dig around it.  The sandwich came with chips and cole slaw, which I mostly ignored–the chips were standard, and the cole slaw was too sweet for my taste.  This is coming from a girl who prefers her cole slaw sweet.


I wandered around Chelsea Market a bit more, took some pictures of food, and bought some brownies from the Fat Witch bakery, because brownies are amazing and I figured my uncles, who were coming downtown to meet me at the High Line, would appreciate some delicious baked goods. I’ve only had a bite of my brownie, which has caramel in it: it was gooey, moist, and very fudgey just the way I like my brownies.  The remainder of the brownie is in my refrigerator, waiting to be consumed.

Bread baking at Amy's Bread
Bread baking at Amy's Bread




After my Chelsea Market adventure (believe me, there will be many more next week, as I will be working in Chelsea for much of the week) I decided to go sit on the High Line and read my awesomely nerdy book about magic and swords and dragons and stuff.  I’m really not kidding about that.  Sam and Larry were in a museum nearby, and decided to walk down to the High Line to meet me.  While waiting for them I camped on on the highly contested High Line chaise lounges and relaxed in the sun.  I actually had my first real New Yorker moment on said chaise lounges.  You really have to battle it out to get one of the seats.  A seat became empty just as I was passing it, and I made a beeline toward it.  I collided with a European couple who was clearly also after the chair.  Anywhere else I would have given up my prize.  Instead, I sat myself on the chaise lounge, without even an apology or an excuse me.  That chaise lounge was mine, people, I have no guilt.  The chaise lounges are pretty neat: some of them are even attached to wheels on the old high line rail, so you can roll them around the track.  Super-awesome, folks.

Many Bothans died to bring you us these chaise lounges.
Many Bothans died to bring us these chaise lounges.

I sat on the chaise lounge and read my book.  The sun was out and there was a cool breeze, but sun + Lindsay = FAIL so after about thirty minutes I headed to a shadier part of the High Line.  Sam and Larry found me about fifteen minutes later and, after I gave to them the gift of chocolate, we walked down to Chelsea Market because they had never been.  I know, I was horrifed too.  Of course they were impressed by Chelsea Market because they are wise people who love food.

We parted ways fairly quickly after that to rest up/clean up/etc. for dinner.  We were meeting one of their friends for dinner at 7:15.  For that, however, you shall have to wait until tomorrow.  Today was long, and I am exhausted!  Friday again already?  The weeks move fast, folks.

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