In Other Rooms, Other Wonders: New York’s Coolest Art Lives Here
President Trump might have the nuclear codes soon, and there’s not enough time before Armageddon to to fight through a four-deep crowd for a glimpse of Picasso’s blue period; follow instead Beth Citron, curator at Rubin Museum of Art, as she winds through the city’s hidden art hotspots.
Dream House: Climb one flight of stairs in an unassuming Tribeca building you’ll instantly forget the annoyingly pert proliferation of spinning studios, wine bars, and strollers below. An ongoing, lifelong artwork first conceived in the 1970s by avant-garde musician and artists La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, the Dream House plays Young’s sine-wave sounds with Zazeela’s sculptures and light installations against a complementary visual backdrop. The Dream House rewards a longer stay, so grab a floor pillow and get comfortable. http://www.melafoundation.org/, 275 Church Street.
New York Earth Room: The last place you expect to encounter the smell of fresh earth is in Soho; but that’s the first thing that will strike you while entering The New York Earth Room (1977). This work is a simultaneously powerful and straightforward interior sculptural environment by Land Artist Walter de Maria, composed of 250 cubic yards of earth, installed over 3,600 square feet, 22 inches deep in a Soho loft. Visitors can view the work from outside, but not enter the room. It’s a meditative experience, at once canny and timeless. http://www.diaart.org/sites/page/52/1366, 141 Wooster Street.
Nicholas Roerich Museum: This free museum, tucked into a Morningside Heights townhouse, offers a personal and humanistic narrative of the life work of the Russian-born artist Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947). Primarily known as a painter, Roerich traveled widely and painted mountain ranges and mythic landscapes across Asia. He was also invested in Eastern and Western spiritual traditions, and painted important figures from Tibetan, Central Asian, and Russian Orthodox lineages throughout his life. Roerich was broadly interested in science and peacemaking, themes that emerge in his canvases and in the museum’s presentation. http://www.roerich.org/museum-about.php, 319 West 107 Street.
Morbid Anatomy Museum: Worth the trek out to Gowanus, the Morbid Anatomy Museum presents the weird and wonderful with a cosmopolitan gloss. The core of the museum is a permanent collection and library of thousands of books, artworks, and ephemera; these consider broad themes and topics including medical museums, anatomical art, cabinets of curiosity, and death. Rotating temporary exhibitions explore these themes further, with recent shows considering mourning culture from the 18th-20th century, and 19th century waxworks from a Berlin-based Panoptica. Lectures, parties, and other programming make for a dynamic scene. http://morbidanatomymuseum.org/, 424 Third Avenue, Brooklyn.
Judd Foundation: This may be the hardest ticket in town (that you didn’t even know you wanted). Minimalist artist Donald Judd moved to 101 Spring Street in 1968, becoming one of the first artists in what was then a derelict industrial neighborhood. As Soho grew into the center of New York’s art world over the next generation, 101 Spring Street was often its focal point, as Judd hosted exhibitions, community meetings, performances, and legendary dinner parties. He renovated the building floor by floor, and the place became a laboratory for his ideas. Today it is a haven from the commercial world outside and a glimpse of Soho at its most idyllic. Reservations at least a month in advance are essential. http://www.juddfoundation.org/visit_ny, 101 Spring Street.
Beth Citron is the Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at Rubin Museum Of Art.