Places to Visit,Spend a Couple Hours »Pacific Science Center

pscfinal200 2nd Ave N, Seattle

Gears, wires, pipes, machines – these are my son’s passion. Naturally the Pacific Science Center, a hands on kids science museum was totally up his alley. We could have spent all day in the lobby room with its pulleys, gears, wacky mirrors and levers and he would have left satisfied.

Fortunately, though, the exhibits offered even more excitement including a tots area with water play and toys to climb, animatronic dinosaurs, a petting area with sea creatures, and a butterfly pavilion.

Mimi had a nice time too with plenty to look at and even a quiet nursing room!

Some reviews online complain that exhibits are sometimes old but they are missing the point. Kids love this place dated animatronics, duct tape and all.

When we decided to move to Seattle, the wealth of child friendly activities appealed to us. Not that NYC doesn’t offer them, but here, everything is easier to accomplish. In fact, we hadn’t even set out to go to the museum, but a morning drive happened to bring us there and it was a lovely spontaneous family fun day.

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Posted on April 21, 2013

Spend a Couple Hours »Cindy Sherman at the MoMA

February 26–June 11, 2012

While I was excited about the MoMA’s Cindy Sherman exhibit, I walked out an even bigger fan than I did going in. There’s something significant about seeing such a huge collection of her work.

I have always loved the film still series, which I was most familiar with, in which as photographer and model she took on manufactured archetypes from movies.

Later, however her work becomes arguably even more interesting – taking on existing archetypes like society women and Los Angeles hopefuls who come to life with great attention to mundane details. You can read one of her characters instantly in the way her hair is done, the scarf she has round her neck, the way she smiles at the camera.

It reminded me of one of my favorite parts of film making, when you’d find just the right accessory to make a character complete.

Visually I was most enamored with the centerfold series which boasts incredible color and are infinitely intriguing; her most mysterious works. I also adored the masterpiece portraits, lovingly displayed like the pieces that inspired them would be at the Met. Like all her work, there’s a great sense of humor to them.

Less visually appalling were the gross out ones. Vomit, plastic body parts, decay – these got the most reaction from viewers and the consensus was “grody” (some teenage girls were particularly disgusted). I however, had a much harder time with the giant creepy clowns.

This is one of the most anticipated museum exhibits this season so don’t be surprised by crowds, though we didn’t find it overwhelming.

Be sure to browse the rest of the museum too. Its worth the trip to see the feet on a pedestal in the lovely sculpture garden area.

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Posted on March 12, 2012

Spend a Couple Hours »AMNH (and Shake Shack)

200 Central Park West

Going to the American Museum of Natural History on a crowded Sunday with a toddler doesn’t exactly allow for casual, relaxed browsing, but as we rushed through some areas, I noticed the museum, which I’ve always loved, has benefited from some lovely make overs (Hall of Asian Peoples for one).

While we only saw some exhibits in passing, we did thoroughly enjoy the updated and fantastic Hall of Ocean Life. The familiar giant whale is still here, but there are new additions like a life size collage of ocean life and Van pleasing dioramas of seals, manatees, walruses, dolphins and polar bears.

The classic animal halls are still as awesome as ever, and made even more so when Van would “roar” at the lions and snort at the rhinos.

Crowds are unavoidable on the weekends, we even skipped dinosaurs completely because of them, but the museum is still a thrilling experience, any time.

And of course, we had to finish the afternoon off with Shake Shack burgers from across the street which surprisingly took a fraction of the time to get versus the original stand in Madison Square Park. There we discovered we might not be perfect parents after all (ha) after getting Van hooked on their cheese fries.


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Posted on March 4, 2012

Spend a Couple Hours »Weegee: Murder Is My Business

at The ICP Museum, 1133 Ave of the Americas

I’ve been looking forward to the ICP Weegee show Murder is My Business for months and it didn’t disappoint.

The larger than life tabloid photographer, never squeamish, brought the bloody and violent truth of NYC crime to the front page with shots of recently killed gangsters (and innocents), taken sometimes before the police even arrived (his nickname came from the Ouija board because people joked he used it’s powers to know about crimes.)

His images, though gruesome, are rarely without a sense of humor though. He not only took photos of the gorey, but often captured he way New Yorkers accepted the violence around them, often convening around crime scenes with smiles on their faces.

His Coney Island images, reversely, always have an element of creepiness among the smiles and summer fun.

ICP has added a couple neat components to the show including a replica of his room and an interactive station that shows Weegee’s images next to the current locations in NYC. It’s hard to imagine people being shot in broad daylight on the steps of the chic stores in Soho and Little Italy.

Fans will be thrilled, but the salacious material should gather new fans too. Don’t forget the gift shop – I always like to get a little something from the best shows I see and they have mugs, totes, pins, and posters.

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Posted on February 12, 2012

Spend a Couple Minutes »Paul McCarthy: The Dwarves, The Forest

Hauser & Wirth New York32 East 69th Street (Ends Tomorrow)

Normally I’d see a show before recommending it, but I am so sure the Snow White gone awry Paul McCarthy exhibit, The Dwarves, The Forest at Hauser & Wirth will be great, I have no qualms listing it sight unseen.

More importantly, it ends tomorrow, so I wanted to give fans a heads up!

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Posted on December 16, 2011

Spend a Couple Minutes »Tony Fitzpatrick:Nickel History: Nation of Heat

177 North 9th St, Williamsburg

Quick! Make your way to Pierogi Gallery to gaze at the intricate mini etchings by Tony Fitzpatrick (the show ends Oct 9).

From Bazooka bubble gum to Dick Tracy,mutant birds to off kilter snow men, this small collection is like traveling through someone’s half remembered childhood memories. If those memories could be gorgeously rendered.

A few of my favorites are posted but you really have to see them all in person.

A really nice surprise on a Thursday afternoon walk and a wonderful introduction to an artist new to me.

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Posted on September 29, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Queens County Fair

Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway

Pigs, chickens, alpacas and beer! Here, here!

The Queens County Fair may not be the biggest in the country (we plan on going to that one some day) but we had a great time.

Nice to show Van actual animals that he’s read about in books and nice for Jim and I to enjoy one last outdoor Oktoberfest ale in a plastic cup.

We just missed a pig race and were too early for the arm wrestling but will probably be more into the scheduled activities next year when Van’s a little older.

Have always loved the Queens County Farm Museum and their various special events (see Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Pow Wow).

A nice piece of rural living only a short drive away.

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Posted on September 19, 2011

Spend a Couple Minutes »Eccentricity

At Yes Gallery, 147 India St, Greenpoint

Looking for interesting things to do with afternoon strolls with Van (there’s only so many times we can go out for coffee and baby food) I looked into local galleries and found Yes, an almost hidden space on India was hosting an interesting exhibit of drawings.

Beautiful yet sinister, Dana Bunker‘s bold drawings of women in tangled are eye catching and expertly crafted. They belong to a new wave of illustration style that surely has a name but I’ll call it realistic fantasy (see Deanne Cheuk and my old friend Ashley Macomber‘s work to see what I mean).

It’s very appealing stuff that reminds me as much of hand painted wallpaper as it does Italian Vogue.

So bold are her images that Kenneth Burris‘s almost fade into the background but they are worth close inspection. Some of subtle renderings of skyscrapers and ships are quite lovely, especially in the miniature drawings in the front room.

The pencil work is subtle and intricate (therefor also hard to photograph with just an iPhone, so excuse the lack if photos) but they’re better to see in person anyways so head down before October 9 when the show closes.

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Posted on September 16, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Jim Henson’s Fantastic World (and More)

3601 35th Avenue, Astoria

The Museum of Moving Image underwent a major renovation recently and looks great. Their current semi permanent exhibit is a fun look at movie making. It explores costumes, sound design, acting, editing and more with crowd pleasing artifacts (like Chewbaca’s mask, a Freddy Krueger prop and a large Blade Runner model) as well as fun hands on features.

Kids we having a great time doing voice over work and making special effects while Van and I made our own little video which we could and did buy as a flip book in the gift shop (pictured below).

It’s a family friendly environment and all ages will love the current Jim Henson’s Fantastic World exhibit. Just good to note: no strollers or photos allowed so bring that carrier for little little ones.

Many actual puppets are on display from Kermit the Frog, to Miss piggy, Fraggles to Bert and Ernie but Van was simply tickled with the Mahna Mahna and backup singer puppets – laughing and pointing when we got near them. He also found an old Kermit video about jazz absolutely hilarious.

Some of my personal favorites were early drawings of big bird, some wicked Skeksis jewelry from the Dark Crystal, and a delightful early film he made that plays on a loop on the middle level called time piece. Also be sure to watch the La Choy dragon commercial within the commercial video loop. It’s awesome.

On our way out we couldn’t resist the unique gift of a black and white Elmo doll, a strange Japanese product that van has taken a liking to wrestling with, hugging and eating it’s eyeballs.

Really look forward to taking him to future exhibits at this great new space.

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Posted on September 12, 2011

Places to Visit »Minnesota Children’s Museum

10 West Seventh Street, St. Paul, MN

On a recent visit to Minneapolis, we took a day at the Children’s Museum of Minnesota. Now, I remember LOVING such hands on places while growing up, and while most of the exhibits were for kids older than Van, we had a blast.

From a lego land exhibit about knights, castles, and dragons (with a joisting corner to boot!) to a tiny town where kids could don costumes (like firemen and postal workers), from an indoor jungle with simulated clouds and lighting kids could move themselves to a sidewalk art patio, there’s plenty here to keep a kid happy.

Van loved looking at everything and made fast friends with the stuffed animal puppets that littered the rooms (surprisingly not available at the museum shop – Van absolutely loved the woodchuck and I would have got it for him, but alas.)

The most awesome part for us though, was the baby room, where kids under 3 can let loose. Van was thrilled to spend time in the padded lily pad area that had mirrors, toys, and fun stuff to climb around.

What a great idea! (Will have to see if our local museum boasts a similar room and make a date to go there soon if so).

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Posted on August 14, 2011

Places to Visit »Leviathan Installation by Anish Kapoor

at the Grand Palais In Paris Through June 23, Guest Written by Shaun:

Just got back from Paris and saw an overwhelmingly massive installation by Anish Kapoor at the Grand Palais titled Leviathan.

Leviathan seems to stray away from his general use of reflective mirrored surfaces and this time the material is canvas and rubber blown up into three connected balls.

The first part of the exhibition enters inside the structure where pinging noises can be heard bouncing around. It’s dark and bloody from the inside, then you are directed outside of the structure and into the Grand Palais where you see the full size and scope of the piece.

It is pretty much impossible to describe how large this piece is, but if you happen to be in Paris, the installation is up till the 23rd of June.

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Posted on June 17, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

at the Met thru July 31

The Alexander McQueen exhibit, Savage Beauty at the Met is extraordinary as McQueen was the most extraordinary of designers. To see his fantastic creations in person is awe inspiring and the Met has done an unusually wonderful job of displaying them dramatically and respectfully.

Of course, like any fashion show at the museum it can test ones patience with all the crowds (at one point it was literally shoulder to shoulder) but if ever a show were worth the inconvenience this is it.

The exhibit spans the whole of his career and leaves one not only breathtaken at the details and imagination but heart broken as well. I was more moved after walking through than I expected and found myself with a knot in my stomach and a bit teary eyed by the end to know such an amazing talent is gone.

I couldn’t help but act like I still had pre-baby disposable income and splurged on the gorgeous, hologram covered book (Happy Mother’s Day to me!) but wisely, the museum has offered more affordable souvenirs including a very nice calendar and a pretty humorous armadillo high heel paper weight.

This is a must see!

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Posted on May 8, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Wang Qingsong: When Worlds Collide

at The ICP, 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street

The main floor of the ICP is devoted to the historically important uncovering of thought to have been lost Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and Chim photographs of the Spanish Civil War, but at the risk of sounding uncultured, it wasn’t totally my thing. I found the downstairs exhibits much more interesting starting with the staged giant photographs by China’s Wang Qingsong.

While on a simply visual level they are impressive for the amount of effort to elaborately stage the scenes they remind me a little of the glossy hyper real work of someone like David LaChapelle (who, for the record I can’t call my self a fan of). Thematically, though these imposing images are far more complex and interesting. The modern story of China is infinitely intriguing and Qingsong’s interpretation of recent history – particularly it’s new role in and fascination with consumerism – is thought provoking and revealed things I didn;t know before.

Around the corner is a much smaller exhibit of Baptism photographs and postcards. There’s something haunting and almost eerie about a baptism (just ask the people that made the intro to True Blood). Strolling past the images, I was drawn into the ritual, the costume, and the often blurred faces that looked like ghosts. The tone takes a dramatic shift, however when you read the ignorant and often downright racist messages on the back of some of the postcards. Baptisms were seen as very exotic by visitors and though probably never witnessed by most, postcards depicting the act were sent back home for relatives and loved ones to marvel at the strangeness of it all.

Next door are the photographs of Alonzo Jordan. If the baptism images show the divide between cultures, his show the similarities between black and white communities. Smiling gorgeous young African American men and women celebrate birthdays, weddings, home coming dances and football victories even as the realities of racism simmered in the back ground. In 1998, the town of Jasper, which these photographs capture years before, was home to one of the worst racial motivated murders in US history when James Byrd, Jr was dragged to his death. That one can clearly see in these photographs that the black people of the community were truly equal in their hopes and dreams makes the sting of reality that much more painful and hard to understand.

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Posted on March 16, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »George Condo: Mental States

at The New Museum through May 8

My friend Jessica directed me to the George Condo exhibit at the New Museum. I felt like a bad art student for not recognizing the name, but am glad to learn about the prolific artist now. The exhibit begins on the 4th floor where an onslaught of his work greets you. It’s actually an appropriate way to confront his manic work that ranges from dark Bacon-esque portraits (including one of my favorites, Man with Three Arms) to bright, almost slap dash paintings that look, and I mean this in a good way, like artwork from an insane asylum.

The next floor offers a series of paintings that merit more individual examination titled “Melancholia”. These disturbing, funny and sad portraits of archetypes with bloated faces and confused disembodied smiles were the most captivating of the show. Next were more provocative excessively sexual works entitled “Manic Society” and even if it makes me sound like a prude, I found their crassness uninteresting. “Abstraction” is the final room in this retrospective and featured huge layered canvases. Some of my favorites revealed small intriguing overlapping sad faces once you took a closer look.

Also on display in the other galleries is the work of sculptress Lynda Benglis. Some of her stuff is pretty cool. I liked the glowing neon blobs suspended out of the wall, but frankly it was harder to have enthusiasm for a big stick with glitter on it or pink paper mache with gift wrap sticking out of it. Too many memories of Freshman year art projects I guess.

Thanks to Jim for doing Van duty which allowed me a night out. The museum is open til 9 on Thursdays and to my happy surprise, it was free too. An even happier surprise? Birdbath has opened a cafe in the lobby!

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Posted on March 4, 2011

Web Sites »The Museum of the City of New York Collections

Digital Library

The Museum of the City of New York just put over 50,000 enthralling images of the city’s past online. Quite an undertaking and one that should be greatly appreciated by anyone curious and enchanted with the way things used to be in this vibrant, ever changing city.

Featuring the work of some of the most talented documentary photographers including Berenice Abbott and Jacob Riis, it’s fun to go through familiar neighborhoods and streets to see what they looked like over a hundred years ago. The museum is working to add even more images from their archive soon.

(images left and below: Jacob Riis, 1890, Berenice Abbott, 1935, Jacob Riis, 1890, Byron Company, 1899, Byron Company 1898)

Click here for the rest of The Museum of the City of New York Collections

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Posted on December 29, 2010

Places to Visit »Hollywood Wax Museum

6767 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

No one really goes to the Hollywood Wax Museum. But Jim and I are suckers for this kind of thing and the grimier the better. There are plenty of opportunities to ham it up with all your favorite celebrities like a frightening Jim Carrey, the Crypt Keeper, and a demented Will Farrell. The wax sculptors are not always generous to the famous people they’re creating – if I were Gwyneth or Toby Maguire I’d develop some serious issues after one visit (the former with the idea of inhuman all-body cellulite, the later with a completely dimwitted expression). If I remember correctly, it’s a bit expensive (as to be expected from a tourist trap) but so worth it to show our child photos of us hanging out with Austin Powers and Samuel L Jackson – he’ll think we are sooo cool.

There are lots, maybe too many, photos below/after the jump including an up shell shot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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Posted on October 15, 2010

Spend a Couple Minutes »Rags to Richesse: Rugs from Morocco

210 11th Ave

It was one of those 90 plus days, I had already been on my feet for a couple hours, but somehow I still managed to waddle all the way over to 11th Avenue to the Cavin Morris Gallery for thier Rags to Richesse show. It was worth the sweat and lightheadedness. These bright, vibrant, unusual rugs, called boucherouite are made from recycled clothing and materials, not necesarily in a move by the Morroccan women who make them to go green but out of necesstty as more traditional materials (wool in particular) has grown scarcer than the demand.

The show’s been extended through August 20 and is a must see. If my purse had allowed it, I would have walked away with a few of these for myself. Here is a great review in the Times.

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Posted on August 8, 2010