Today reminded me how much I love visiting New York. The day erased all of the bad events of the day before and kept me smiling. It was a day for Alan and I to just enjoy ourselves. It reminded me of how much fun we have travelling together, and how much we enjoy walking in great cities. This week we were supposed to be in Paris with Joel and Jackie. The hotel was reserved and the day before my diagnosis Jackie sent us options for flights. That plan and trip went out the window as we dealt with the news, and had no idea of my schedule. But walking miles in New York, which is also a great city, visiting museums and walking through Central Park, was a one day substitute for the trip we missed.
We started the day walking to the MET because I wanted to see the Charles James exhibit. Good husband as he is, Alan suggested it because I had talked about it two weeks ago when we first visited Sloan. We got there before the MET opened at 10 a.m., went through the James exhibit – his construction and engineering were highlighted, and the dresses were like sculpture,although except for a couple, I would not want to actually wear them. We spent the rest of our time At the MET going through the Greek, Roman, African, Indigenous People and Egyptian galleries. All were massive. We only touched on them, although we spent a lot of time there. We heard that the MET has the third largest collection of Egyptian artifacts after the museums in Cairo and the British Museum. The African and Indigenous peoples’ gallery was a collection of Nelson Rockefeller, who donated it in the name of his son, Michael. Michael was just as passionate as his father about the fact that this was art that should be valued at a time when the MET and other museums did not consider it as such. He disappeared in 1961 in New Guinea on a trip there to collect art. His father named the gallery after him in honor of his memory.
The next stop was for lunch at the Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Gallerie, recommended by Lynn. It has German and Austrian food, so Alan felt he should have bratwurst and beer. I opted for smoked trout. Even without the fact I am not eating red meat, sausage does not really appeal to me. We then went through the gallery, which is housed in a beautiful mansion very near the MET. It is surprisingly good. After going through their permanent collection, including a number of incredible Klimts, we saw their special exhibit about the Nazis and Degenerate Art. In 1937 the Nazis collected 20,000 works of art they considered degenerate, including very famous artists such as Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian. They hated moderinism and anything that was not more formalistic. They destroyed 8000 pieces of art, but showed a number of them in an exhibit called “Degenerate Art” where they wrote scathing words about the artists. I had never heard of the Degenerate Art exhibit by the Nazis, so I learned something new, and disturbing. At the same time the Nazis were showing the Degenerate Art to ridicule it, they built a new building to show what they called German Art, the art of which they approved. The exhibit had some real examples of the art that was in the Degenerate Art exhibit, and empty frames with the names of some of the pieces destroyed by the Nazis. It also had some examples of the Nazi approved art, including a triptych that hung over Hitler’s fireplace. The most haunting piece was by a German Jew who foresaw his death by the Nazis in 1944. He painted the picture in 1938 and it shows him and other Jews being rounded up, with a yellow star on his clothes, and he is looking directly at the viewer, unlike the other figures in the painting. He and his wife were hiding in Belgium and found by the Nazis in 1944. They were sent to Auschwitz and killed shortly thereafter that same year. The exhibit was fascinating. The exhibit even had a silent film taken by a 19 year old American that showed the German citizens walking through the Degenerate Art show. We also used a free audio tape that gave a history of a number of the paintings and the exhibit itself. I was really glad that Lynn had recommended seeing the Neue. The size is just right. also loved the mansion.
We ended by walking through Central Park back to our hotel, with a quick stop for pastry, coffee and water. I am now sitting in our room, feeling peaceful and happy. Dinner is at another restaurant recommended by Lynn, Petrossian. Now I am ready to come home, start my chemo and finally get going. I am happy I will be home for this, but I will miss visiting this great city. New York is a wonderful place – endless museums, great parks, and some of the best people watching ever. Au revoir, New York.