The Casual Blog

Tag: Whitney Biennial

Jocelyn got married to Kyle! With some street photography

The Vessel at Hudson Yards. 

Our daughter Jocelyn got married in New York City last weekend.  I have a new son-in-law! That’s Kyle DePew, and he’s a good one!  It was a truly happy day, including a superfun party, though also a little drama.

Even for former New Yorkers like us, NYC is a tough town — hard to take in and hard to get around.   It’s really big and loud, and it can make you feel small. Some of it seems expressly designed to intimidate, like the new Hudson Yards high rise area on the West Side (pictured above), which I visited for the first time, and felt like the merest ant.  There are always unexpected flashes of beauty in the city, but even the intimate views tend to have some grit on them. 

Flower stand

On Friday morning I went to the Whitney Biennial, and took in some very new art.  Almost by definition, bold new art is hard to like, and there was a lot of work there that was not cheery.  There were several artists working on themes relating to racism and discrimination, and also some work relating to climate change — themes that regular readers know to be of interest to The Casual Blog.  

At the Whitney, Joe Minter’s sculpture involving racism and southern yard art

In the afternoon I walked down to Battery Park for  the NYC edition of the worldwide student strike for climate action, with tens of thousands of students and others.  I normally find large noisy crowds unsettling, but I was glad this one was large and noisy, and hoped it would be unsettling to the politicians that are still failing to mobilize to address our crisis.  The signs and chants expressed a lot of anger about the mess adults had made of the environment, but there was also hope for change.

Student protest at Battery Park

That evening, Kyle’s mom, Debbie, hosted the wedding  rehearsal dinner at San Marino Ristorante, a lovely Italian restaurant in the West Village.  The food was really good, and we enjoyed talking to some old friends, and meeting family and friends of the happy couple.

A sunny day for the protesters

The wedding was at sunset on Saturday at Sunset Terrace, at the end of Pier 61 on the Hudson.   A string quartet was playing as the 130 or so guests got seated. The groomsmen and I wore black tuxedos, and the bridesmaids had champagne colored long dresses.  Jocelyn was radiant in white! She gave Sally and I just one warning before we walked her to the front of the room for the ceremony: be sure not to step on the trailing veil, which was attached to her hair.  We walked slowly up the aisle with no accidents.  

Then, as Jocelyn turned to Kyle and we turned to find a seat, a shoe went the wrong way, and out came the veil.  In a fraction of a second, I wondered: can we get it back on, and if not, is Jocelyn going to freak out?  It took only another couple of seconds for all this to be clarified: she smiled and said, forget about it, just keep going.  I rolled up the veil and put it under my seat. I watched carefully for any signs of bridal distress, but there were none.  She seemed completely happy. I was so proud of her!

A fruit stand

The officiant was Dylan Goldberg,  a good friend of the couple’s.  His remarks were a sweet and highly personal appreciation of Jocelyn and Kyle and their love.   As he noted, the ceremony was an important symbol of the partnership they had built and the promises of their complete commitment.  It was really touching; I got pretty misty. They had a really good kiss at the end.

Then we had drinks, dinner, and an epic dance party!  Jocelyn and I managed our solo dance (to Stevie Wonder’s You Are the Sunshine of My Life) with more grace than expected, and I got some laughs in my toast to the couple.  As I meant to say (though I’m not sure I quite got out), I was grateful to our guests for serving as witnesses and helping to consecrate the new marriage. I thought about talking a bit about Martin Hagglund’s theory that love is precious not because it is eternal and unchanging, but rather because it is grounded in time, finite and fragile, and its existence depends on continuing devoted care.  But it didn’t quite fit with the vibe, so I figured we could talk about it another time.

Flowers and ice

But I must say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much radiating love!  It seemed to be coming not just from Jocelyn and Kyle, but from everyone!  I hadn’t danced to pop music since ancient times, and had almost forgotten how much fun it can be.  It was a blast. DJ Blak did a terrific job with the music, which was curated by Kyle, and managed to get just about everyone moving.  A lot of the guests boogied right up until the last song at midnight.   

While I wasn’t really surprised at how excited and happy Jocelyn and Kyle were, I was surprised at the intensity of my own happiness.  Our little girl! With Kyle now part of our family! Lives full of promise! And on the horizon — grand babies!

Crossing against the light

Our NYC weekend: travel troubles, eating, and looking

Leaving NYC from Newark

We did a three-day trip to New York last weekend with three objectives: see Jocelyn and some old friends, see the NY City Ballet, and see some art, including the Whitney Biennial. As always, New York was challenging and invigorating.

We flew from Raleigh to Newark on United, which could have been worse.  At least we weren’t physically assaulted and dragged off the plane.  But really, how do we keep getting assigned the last boarding zone?  Yet again, there was that unwelcome anxiety of whether there would be a spot in the overhead for the roll aboard.   And why did they switch to those seats with backs as thin and hard as church pews?

Is the point to remind ordinary customers, the non-elite economy class,  of how far down the pecking order they are, and make them consider paying more?   In fairness, I should say, the flight attendants were really sweet, and I was grateful for their not charging for a vodka tonic.

Transportation near and in Manhattan is more challenging than ever.  We consciously chose  Newark airport this time, since a cab from LaGuardia to Manhattan has been taking longer than the flight from NC. The NJ Transit train to Penn Station picked us up promptly, but went out of service after one stop, and we had to wait for another train.

Stuff like that kept happening.  We were determined to use the subway for longer trips, but there were long delays said to be from signal problems.  And when we wanted a yellow cab, they all seemed to be occupied.  In desperation, we tried Uber, but that was very slow, too.

But no matter, we always eventually got to our destination, and there’s just nothing like New York.  One big thing I learned this time was how easy it is to explore art galleries.  From time to time I’ve gone to gallery shows  when there was something I heard about that sounded interesting, but I’d never before just poked into a bunch of galleries.  I wasn’t at all sure whether they expected you to call ahead, or to show interest in actual purchasing.

A charcoal drawing by Robert Longo from The Destroyer Cycl

But after visiting several galleries on 24th Street on Friday and 57th Street on Saturday, I can say this:  they don’t mind at all if you just pop in and look around.  There are neighborhoods that are full of galleries, cheek by jowl.  I saw some things I liked, and some I didn’t.  But my major takeaway was that art is alive.  Amidst all the luxury goods on Fifth Avenue, art objects might be just another status symbol.  Yet there are real artists saying meaningful things, making us see more and feel more.  

From Keep Out, by Jay Heikes

On Friday, there was a torrential rain, and we got wet doing the Chelsea galleries, and then  soaked getting to 14th Street for lunch with our old friend Bob Dunn at a wonderful Sichuan restaurant, Auntie Guan’s Kitchen.   The rain was gentler when we finished eating and Ubered down to the Whitney to see the Biennial.  This is an exhibit of young, or at least living, artists, with several works of each of the featured artists.  

It’s hard to sum it up, since there were many different ideas and media.  There was a strong vein of protest and political engagement, and also some fascinating uses of technology.  As Sally noted, there were a few things that were repellent, but a little shock therapy can be good for you.  My favorite piece was an environment involving mirrors, interiors, and exteriors by Samara Golden called The Meat Grinder’s Iron Clothes.  It was at once disorienting and liberating.   I’m sorry to say, it is unphotographable.  You’ve just got to see it.  

At the Whitney Biennial: Exodus, by Jon Kessler

We met Jocelyn and Kyle for fancy drinks at Up and Up on MacDougal Street, and then walked to dinner at Olio e Piu.  My mushroom ravioli was delicious, and the conversation was wide-ranging.

On Saturday I went to an exhibit of ancient Greek art at the Onassis Foundation at 5th Avenue and 51st.   The works were mostly from 500-300  B.C. and drawn from great collections around the world.  The theme was emotion in Greek art and life.  This was a good lens for looking at the work.  There was love, jealousy, anger, and violence — the same emotions we know.

That evening we had a fine dinner with friends at Rosa Mexicano, and then walked over to Lincoln Center to see the New York City Ballet.  The program, one of the Here/Now series, included works by well established choreographers (Martins, Wheeldon, Ratmansky), and a couple of new choreographers from the company.  The dancers were excellent!  We particularly liked Wheeldon’s passionate pas de deux After the Rain, and Ratmansky’s brand new tango-ish piece, Odessa.