Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This proverb is often used when discussing art (let’s admit it, usually when we see something we don’t enjoy). Art appreciation truly is a subjective, personal experience. We’ve definitely seen our fair share of pieces that have induced that squinty-eyed, cocked-head pose, with a virtual question mark poised neatly above our heads. While we may not all agree on what constitutes art, whether it’s good or bad, or where it’s headed, we can (hopefully) agree that there’s an abundance of it and we’re better off for it. We’ve featured street art as well as the more conventional kind found in museums here on the blog, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t also talk about another way to access great art in the city: private galleries.
Although there have always been arguments about culture being only for the elite or art being corrupted by the super-rich, we (who are neither elite nor rich, much less super-rich!) have found no such barrier to entry, and we regularly enjoy visiting the multitude of galleries here in the city that have allowed us to get up close and personal with some stunning pieces of artwork. For free. There are bigger players like the Gagosian Gallery who have featured such heavy-hitters as Takashi Murakami and Roy Lichtenstein, but we submit that smaller galleries should not be overlooked. Gems can often be uncovered in these more experimental spaces. Such was our experience recently when we visited the Not a Photo exhibition at The Hole.
The Hole describes itself as a “contemporary art gallery in New York City representing emerging artists” where “filling a hole in the downtown community” is their goal. Not a Photo, which opened on November 29, 2015 and runs through January 17, 2016, features works by artists who use photography as a means to an end: the end being a much more complex, dynamic composition than a photograph. The pieces selected for the exhibition manipulate photos in different ways: Adam Parker Smith gives you a woman on canvas with long blond human hair blowing in a breeze (produced by an electric fan next to the canvas) which adds texture and dimensionality to an otherwise basic portrait. Ryder Ripps exhibits a painting where he digitally manipulates a selfie from an Instagram account of a self-help fitness model and renders it in paint. Susy Oliveira contributes a photographic sculpture of a bouquet. The exhibition is simple, yet provocative. Catch it while you can.
More detailed descriptions of all the artists and their pieces can be found on the gallery’s website here.
312 Bowery (between E Houston and Bleecker Sts)
Wednesday – Saturday 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Pair it with:
Brunch at Estela
The artists at Not a Photo render basic photographs to the point where they are unrecognizable, and the chef at Estela does the same to well-known dishes. Estela was a critical darling when it opened in 2013, then went on to achieve more notoriety when President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dined there in 2014. In Pete Wells’ New York Times review, he said “The cooking is almost familiar, but not quite, and it’s the little differences that get under your skin.” And he’s absolutely right. While burrata has been on the menu of every trendy restaurant, the one offered here feels unique: it’s served on bread in a green liquid that we licked clean off the plate. (We actually cried out when the waiter tried to clear it before we had drained it completely.) A delicious green liquid sounds like an oxymoron to us too. And if it’s on the menu, order the French Toast. There are different iterations but ours happened to be the one pictured above. There’s a caramelized top much like the kind you find on creme brulee, and it sits in a vanilla bean custard that is to-die-for. It’s unlike any French Toast we’ve ever had. It’s, I don’t know, Not French Toast.
47 East Houston Street (between Mulberry and Mott Sts.)
Sunday to Thursday
(Kitchen closes at 11pm)
Friday and Saturday
(Kitchen closes at 11:30pm)
Saturday and Sunday Brunch