The boots, sweaters and coats of winter have long since gone to storage. The loafers, khakis, and jackets of spring have surreptitiously migrated to the bottom of the chest of drawers. And now, mercifully, the time for sundresses, chino shorts and flip flops — the compulsory uniform of summer — has finally arrived and New York City, in its typically brash, exploitative, never-halfway approach to everything, doesn’t just passively accept this change, it embraces it with something nearing pathology.
In a city with weather as temperamental as New York, that first sustained period of warm, sunny weather, such as was experienced on Memorial Day weekend, elicits a dramatic reaction from its denizens, particularly so when they have had to wait until the tail end of spring to enjoy it.
Elated sun worshipers take to the streets in roving, sweaty hordes; cafes and rooftop bars — the packed, impenetrable fortresses that they inevitably become — offer admission only begrudgingly; and seemingly endless queues stream from ice cream parlors, nearly around the block. But there’s also a feeling of community that comes with this fervor, and nowhere is this phenomenon more evident than in the city’s wealth of public parks, where pristine lawns magically transform into movie theaters and stages, while water features convert into makeshift public pools.
Washington Square Park, with its nearly 10 acres in Greenwich Village, epitomizes this spirit, offering visitors an expansive lawn, an enormous central fountain, numerous statues and monuments, and a breathtaking arch — modeled after the Arc de Triomphe — at its northern gateway.
Our recent visit was inspired by our love of art. The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit is a biannual affair held in the spring (Memorial Day) and fall (Labor Day). It was founded in 1931 by famed American artist, Jackson Pollock, when he found himself in the unenviable position of being so broke that he was unable to pay the rent at his Greenwich Village studio. His solution: set some paintings up on the sidewalk outside the park and offer them for sale. Eventually, friends and other artists followed suit, and the rest is history.
So check out the white tents along University Place and see if you can find a piece of original art for that spot above the dresser. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover the next Pollock or de Kooning. The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit continues on June 4th and 5th then returns on Labor Day weekend.
University Place and E 13th St
Noon – 6pm
Pair it with:
A meal at Umami Burger
Derived from the Japanese concept of a “fifth taste” in addition to the established tastes of sweet, sour, salty and bitter, Umami is defined as “a category of taste in food, corresponding to the flavor of glutamates, especially monosodium glutamate”. So what does that mean? And why on earth would Adam Fleischman, the founder of this establishment, incorporate a principle known until recently only to food scientists outside of Japan, into his ever expanding burger enterprise? In answer to the first question, I have no idea what it means. And to answer the second question, quite simply because the result is delicious. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a balanced, simultaneous pronunciation of all possible tastes, combined with a wide variety of textures, makes for something indulgent and memorable. Or maybe it does.
432 Sixth Avenue
Sun – Thurs 11:30am – 11pm
Fri – Sat 11:30am – 12am