This is a guest post by Dream & Do friend, Heidi Harrington-Johnson. If you don't recognise the name, you'll recognise the face as she's an international model now pursuing her studies in Journalism at the New York University.
Along Manhattan’s North Eastern tip, two smaller islands sit known as the Undesirables. Initially Native American land, they became property of New York’s early Dutch farming settlers. George Washington then created a short-lived smallpox quarantine and hundreds of thousands of bodies were relocated here from Manhattan graveyards. Juvenile delinquents, orphans, and the insane also lived on these shores. Today, the larger of the two, Randell’s island, is host to New York’s annual Frieze Art fair. Intended for curators, collectors, dealers - anyone in the art business - Frieze has also become something of a social event in New York. The fashionable and the curious flock by ferry over four days to see works by some of the world’s most prominent artists. Highlights this year included performance artist, filmmaker, and painter, David Wojnarowicz, conceptual artist David Ireland, and Lisa Yuskavage and Isa Genzken.
A week later, NADA art fair on Manhattan’s lower southern tip, was host to another selection of younger, more experimental galleries. Two of my favourites booths were 11R, showing Marsha Cottrell’s monochromatic prints, and Fernando Otero’s architectural sculptures at LAMB.
A quick bite of Spicy Cucumber Salad and hand-ripped spicy noodles in neighbouring China Town at Xi’an Famous Foods followed before a walk across Brooklyn Bridge, catching the sunset whilst dodging speeding bicycles and adventurous runners. At the Sunview Luncheonette, a disused diner in Greenpoint, Issue Project Room, an avant-garde performance art centre, played host Abigail Hobbs. The newsreel footage, live music, and readings were eerie given with the work’s content; a tribute to Boleskine House, once home to occultist Aleister Crowley, Led Zeppelin, and Jimmy Page.
Cindy Sherman’s first show in four years opened at Metro Pictures Gallery in Chelsea. Her transformations into Hollywood starlets from the 1920’s and 30’s are hypnotic, nostalgic nods to yesteryears of glamour and fame - images rarely seen of women past their prime in an age fixated with youth. Also engaging are Jessi Reaves contorted sculptures of found furniture re-imagined at Bridget Donahue. At Richard Tatting Gallery in the Lower East Side, Jorge Mayet’s ‘Broken Landscape’ features a series of trees suspended from the ceiling and walls, their roots clumped with soil sometimes extending into the gallery space.
New York is at the forefront of the urban agriculture movement and this month I co-produced a story on the various guises this is taking in the city in-between feasting from my local delivery of sustainable, organic produce from food co-op Nextdoorganics. For the story, we visited a number of operations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. North Brooklyn Farms, a community garden in Williamsburg, hosts dinners and a container growing Smallhold’s hydroponic mushrooms. Project Eats, a larger scale operation, focuses on providing produce, knowledge, and skills in working class and low-income neighbourhoods. They’ve created organic vegetable gardens in a disused tennis court and employ the homeless to farm the beds they operate on Randall’s island. This small and sometimes overlooked island off the coast of Manhattan was once undesirable but is now host to things quintessentially New York — great art, thoughtful food, and community spirit.