New York Art Trip: Ace Hotel/Metropolitan Opera/The Breslin/New Museum/The Glass Menagerie

We missed our 7AM flight from LAX to JFK.  We were coming to New York for the premier of  The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera, and to see The Glass Menagerie on Broadway, and to see the Whitney Biennial and the private collector show at the New Museum of Contemporary Art.
We tried to make it to LAX by driving as fast as traffic would allow, but when we arrived at the airport at the Virgin Atlantic counter, it was too late. Our flight had already taxied onto the runway. We were fortunate to board the next flight and get into New York around 5:30PM EST.

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The NYTimes columnist Thomas Friedman recently wrote that flying from Zurich and Singapore’s ultra modern airports to JFK was like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones. LAX airport is even more caveman like, and because of this, international carriers have threatened to overfly LA for San Francisco and even Vegas. LA has responded and is building a modern international terminal, leaving the American terminals looking like they have not been upgraded since they were built. LA may have the most impoverished looking airport in the U.S. Dwell magazine: “LAX suffers from a half century of insufficient and clumsy expansion. It is best described as a collection of drab terminals 
connected by a traffic jam”

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The seats in Row 8 do not retract. We found this out only after boarding. Fortunately the flight was good.

We would be staying at the Ace Hotel, which has received the most press for a hotel renovation that I’ve ever seen.
Travelzoo had a tremendous deal for $300 for 2 nights. We were upgraded to a Medium King. The room was totally cool, from the steel door to the closet spaces that were a stack of black metal boxes of a frame.

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Ace Hotel sketches, from the designers of the space.

When we checked into the Ace Hotel, we immediately fell into the fun and exuberance of the faux late 19th century experience of New York City, as vetted by 21st century hipster’s imagination. At the desk, which was manned by two young men in adorable faux late 19th century outfits. Both were from Studio City in suburban Los Angeles. Studio City is known as the ground zero of high end sushi encounters in greater LA.

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The Breslin lobby bar at the Ace Hotel. At about 9PM everyone who is not a hotel guest
is jettisoned, as the ultracool Ace Hotel lobby and bar become prime real estate for the
ultimately private club that the Ace Hotel becomes on Friday and Saturday nights.

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One of the many cool hallways in the Ace Hotel

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Lost in the Funhouse that is the Ace Hotel in New York City. Below is the lobby, which swarms with folk in the evening.

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The hotel won so many design awards that it published a magazine with just the covers of all of the press it received after opening. The Smeg refrigerators are loaded with a dazzling array of upscale delights from which to imbibe.


We were able to board the next flight, but missed going to MoMA between 4 and 7PM, as we were scheduled to arrive just after 3PM on Friday. We arrived in NYC to the hotel with just enough time for us to grab at sandwich in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House, at the ultra prestigious Lincoln Center, where the premier of Dimitri Shostakovich’s 1st opera, The Nose, was set to begin. South African artist and theater director William Kentridge directed the work. We were fortunate two have already seen 2 retrospectives of his art. We took our seats in the Family Circle section. I remember being surprised that there were any tickets available when I placed my ticket order online. As it turned out – the event DID SELL OUT. (We overhead someone say this as wen entered the house.) The art press reported that several of the New York artworld glitterati, including LA MoCA’s new director Jeffrey Deitch, were in attendance.

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Wall Street Journal photo

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William Kentridge’s animations for The Nose

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Some of William Kentridge’s art:


William Kentridge. Black Box/Chambre Noire, 2006; Model theater with drawings (charcoal, pastel, collage, and colored pencil on paper), mechanical puppets, and 35mm animated film transferred to video, 22 min., 141 3/4 x 78 3/4 x 55 in. (360 x 200 x 139.7 cm); Commissioned by Deutsche Bank AG in consultation with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation for Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin; © 2008 William Kentridge; photo: John Hodgkiss, courtesy the artist.


William Kentridge. Portage (detail), 2000; Collage on book pages, eighteen panels, each: 10 4/5 x 9 1/4 in. (27.5 x 23.5 cm); 10 4/5 x 168 1/8 in. (27.5 x 427 cm) overall; Collection of the artist, courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, and Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg; © 2008 William Kentridge; photo: John Hodgkiss, courtesy the artist.

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View of the corner of 65th and Broadway

The Nose performance was both remarkable in terms of performance, audacity, and majesty. It was interesting to see William Kentridge’s animations interspersed amidst so much high energy theatricality on the stage. One part that I truly enjoyed was seeing the magical costumes of that represented Red Russia during the age of Revolution.

The roof of Lincoln Center is getting the new Claire Tow space for experimental theater.

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Claire Tow experimental theater black box

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The new Claire Tow experimental theater, atop of Lincoln Center

Lincoln Center’s Film Society has published Film Comment magazine since 1962.

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The Elinor Bunin-Munroe Lincoln Center film screening showcase is part of the new Lincoln Center. It will have multiple screening rooms, including one room with a 130 inch plasma screen.

Lincoln Center is building a 20 million dollar restaurant, which will be run by Thomas Keller of Per Se’s chef de cuisine, Jonathan Benno. Keller’s French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley has trained several of Americans greatest chefs, including Chef of the Moment Grant Achatz, of Alinea, named 7th best restaurant in the world in 2010 by Sam Pelligrino’s annual global restaurant awards. Beno’s restaurant will be a sensation when it opens in the fall of 2010. The $1.2-billion transformation of Lincoln Center’s campus will draw more than the already 5 million annual visitors.


Chef Jonathan Benno, before the stellar new 120 seat Italian restaurant he will run at Lincoln Center, fall 2010.

After the event we took a cab back to the Ace and got a really good night’s sleep.

March 6th

We had breakfast at The Breslin. This was the restaurant of the moment, and we were there. The room is warm with the stark New York light mapping the architectural wonder of the space.

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I ordered the full english breakfast at the breslin. according to ny magazine, it’s the best in the city, at the moment.

We headed for the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

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SANAA, designers of the museum.

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New Museum models

SANAA Architects designed the museum and recently won the Pritzker Prize for architecture for their efforts.


Paul McCarthy’s silly yet playful and crazy sculpture.

Lisa Lou’s Foxy Brown sculpture, made of thousands of beads.


Stephan Balkenhol

As we left the museum I ran into one of the curators I knew from her time in Los Angeles.

We talked about the controversy of showing this collection, which open seeing it – does fulfill the role of offering the public something it could not otherwise readily access. The New Museum plans to periodically showcase other major contemporary art collections, meaning that to not go to NYC for these shows will be to miss out yet again on truly grand art exhibitions.

The Whitney Biennial 2010

The highlight of the show for me was the photography of Philip Lorca di Corcia. I’ve included inmages from the show and some that were not, to show the range of command of image capture and dialog with photographic space that this enormously gifted photographer employs.

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Ike Cole, 38 years old, Los Angeles, CA, $25′, (1990-92)



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My second favorite artist in the show was James Casebere. Here is a studio shot of him preparing to shoot from the fantasy world he has created just to photograph. I have to say that seeing his entire working method exposed, as in the photograph below, is far more compelling for me than his actual photographic product. I would have like to have seen both his studio process, as seen below, and the final product as a single installation. For me that would have been incredible.


IMG_5327 James Casebere by libbyrosof.

Huffington Post photo:

James Casebere. Studio View, New York, 2009. Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York. Photo Credit: Chris Rodriguez.

After leaving the Whitney Biennial, we caught a taxi back to our hotel, where we ordered our dinner to eat in our room at the Ace Hotel.


Lamb burger and fries for pre dinner theater

Later that Saturday evening we had tickets to see the Glass Menagerie on Broadway. I had purchased the tickets for $40 each using Goldstar. When we arrived at the theater, we were guided by theater hands to our seats. We were stunned. Front row center of the isle, the best two seats in the house! Clearly what must have happened was that we had been the first to buy the seats, which were assigned by the theater. My partner Diane was equally shocked by our tremendously good fortune in being so close to the live stage event, which was spectacular.

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The Glass Menagerie received sensational reviews from the major NYC press


Gritty Polish for a Tennessee Williams Jewel

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

From left, Michael Mosley, Judith Ivey, Keira Keeley and Patch Darragh in “The Glass Menagerie,” which opened on Wednesday at the Laura Pels Theater.

Published: March 25, 2010″

After the play we took a cab to dinner.


Buddakhan restaurant in the Meatpacking district. We had 11pm dinner reservations. One of the things I enjoy most about going to New York is being able to eat in fabulously designed restaurant spaces. NYC and Vegas have the largest numbers of glamourous rooms in the country. Even lesser restaurants in Vegas get the star treatment, which I really like as well.


March 7, Sunday

We had a quick stand-up breakfast on Sunday morning at Stumptown Coffee, part of the Ace Hotel.

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The toast with carmelized topping are both intoxicating and heavenly Stumptown Coffee in Portland.

Stumptown coffee @ Amsterdam by Wouter de Jong.

Stumptown Coffee in Amersterdam, their latest in their most but exciting global expansion program.

March 7
Sunday at The Armory Show and the Volta Show

I have to say that there were a handful of interesting works, but I think I gave up on the show. Adam McEven’s installation garnered lots of attention, yet I’m not understanding completely why.


“Sleepwalking” by Tony Matelli, 2008

Nick Cave soundsuit at the Jack Shainman booth

Jonathan Monk at the Armory Show 2010

Fortunately we had the rest of the afternoon until early evening at the Metropolitan, which always offers an entire world of wonders in its ever expanding and new galleries. We did enjoy being ferried by bus from the Volta Show, which I don’t remember at all, and the Armory Show. The traffic in NYC is so manageable as compared to our daily crazy LA commutes.

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles


Booker's del Hi (Los Angeles) 2002. Vincent Johnson


Biography July 2010Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Las Cienegas Projects, LAXART, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica and the Boston University Art Gallery. His photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming is a group show at the Kellogg Museum of Cal Poly Pomona.

Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Vincent  Johnson Artist Statement

Vincent Johnson’s work is a form of sustained cultural mining that explores the depths of his subjects. His photographic works created from 2001-2007 delved into architecture as fantasy, from the vernacular architecture of Los Angeles to that found throughout the American West. He has documented several of the no longer extant commercial vernacular structures in both South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that came into existence during the birth of long distance family travel by car. In 2007 he presented a fully fabricated work of sculpture – a 12 foot long six-foot high replica of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. This project developed as he was both researching and documenting a former military corridor in the San Fernando Valley that included a retired military airfield. His newest photographic works, all created in 2008 and 2009, are large-scale photographic montages, each of which confront significant cultural figures and several dramatic signal events of Cold War era Western cultural history, including Television, the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Space program, American home-based bomb shelter  program, and Vietnam. He is working on large-scale photomontages of the several major American political figures of 1960’s, including Martin Luther King, the Kennedy family, and Malcolm X, as well the representations of both Communism and Capitalism, Hollywood and Los Angeles and many related Cold War era subjects. Johnson’s photomontages can take several months to create as he captures hundreds of images from online sources, before selecting those which most well index a particular historical moment, personage or event. The creative juxtapositions and scale shifts of the found images is what he most relies on to develop his potent and illuminating photographic works.


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