Alighiero Boetti At NYC’s MoMA: Art Inspired By Travel And Geography




Have a look at the map above. In this globalized world, where countries are essentially brands, this map, which uses each country’s respective flag design to delineate its borders, probably doesn’t seem so unusual, save for that large red swath in Asia marked with a hammer and sickle. Created between 1971 and 1972, this “Mappa” is one of the signature works of art created by Alighiero Boetti, the Italian artist whose paintings, kilims, sculptures and mixed media pieces form an exciting exhibition at New York City‘s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan,” which runs at the MoMA through October 1, 2012, is the first major exhibition in the United States of the works of Turin-born Boetti, who made art from the early 1960s until his death in 1994. Associated with the Arte Povera (Poor Art) movement in Italy, Boetti found a lot of his inspiration by exploring travel, maps, geography, stamps and postcards.

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[Photo above courtesy MoMA]In the 1970s, Boetti traveled extensively, particularly to Afghanistan, where he collaborated with local craftswomen to create embroidered tapestries such as the “Mappa,” above. Without a doubt, Boetti’s Mappa series is his most famous, and these iconic, large-scale kilims are displayed in MoMA’s expansive, second floor space along with other tapestries that play with time, numbers, patterns and colors. Another innovative work on display here is “Tapestry of the Thousand Longest Rivers of the World,” which lists the world’s 1,000 longest rivers from largest to smallest. There is poetry in seeing the names of these rivers side-by-side and in a medium beyond the computer screen.

Boetti’s abstract look at geography inspired other works on display on MoMA’s sixth floor, which is where the majority of “Game Plan” is located. One outstanding series is “Territori Occupati (Occupied Territories),” works from the late 1960s in which Boetti collaborates with his wife Annemarie Sauzeau to create outlines of conflict zones and occupied lands ripped from newspaper headlines. Boetti and Sauzeau outlined conflict maps from daily editions of La Stampa newspaper. Then, they embroidered the zones’ shapes along with the newspaper dates, on cloth, creating “stateless” representations of conflict areas, such as the Basque region of Spain, Northern Ireland, and the West Bank, Gaza, and Sinai.

Perhaps the most whimsical of Boetti’s experiments with travel- and geography-related themes is his “Viaggi Postale,” a project that had the artist send 25 friends and colleagues in the art world on personalized travel itineraries through the mail. According to MoMA:

Because the addressee did not live at the destination or because, in some cases, the address was fabricated, most of the envelopes were returned to Boetti on each leg of their journeys. He photocopied the front and back of the returned envelopes as a record, then put each one inside a larger envelope and sent it off to the next destination; once more, many were returned, to be photocopied and sent out again until the itineraries were complete.

Imaginary journeys, maps and approximately 100 other works constituting “Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan” will be on display at MoMA through October 1. Admission is $25 but Fridays from 4-8 p.m. are free.

Cheap Vacation Ideas for New York City

budget travel new york city

New York can be crazy expensive. $8 for a bottle of beer. $300/night for a hotel room. $400 for dinner at famed Japanese restaurant Masa. As someone who spent most of 2008-09 writing about the Big Apple for Gadling and who’s lived here over 7 years, it’s a sad fact I’ve come to know all too well. But here’s another shocking fact I’ve discovered about my adopted hometown: if you know the right places to eat, where to stay and what to do, New York City budget travel can also be a surprisingly rewarding experience.

Best of all, budget travel in New York doesn’t mean you have to give up on all the good stuff. Still want to eat like a king? Stay in a trendy new hotel? Experience New York’s legendary activities and nightlife? It’s all yours for the taking. It simply requires an adjustment in your approach.

We’ve scoured New York high and low and come up with the following ten budget travel suggestions. Want to learn how to visit New York on the cheap? Keep reading below!budget travel new york cityThree Tips on Where to Stay
Tracking down reasonably-priced accommodations is arguably the most daunting part of any New York budget travel experience. Visitors who so much as sneeze near popular hotel spots like Times Square can expect to pay upwards of $300/night for lodging. Budget travelers, fear not: if you want to avoid the sky-high prices (and the crowds) check out some of these wallet-friendly options:

  • The Jane (doubles from $99/night)The Jane, a hotel that effortlessly blends old and new inside a beautifully renovated building from 1908, oozes New York cool. Best of all, you’re just steps away from free attractions like the High Line.
  • The Harlem Flophouse (doubles from $125/night) – don’t let the name fool you; this “flophouse” is part of an emerging crop of intriguing Harlem lodgings that are easy on the wallet. Part B&B, part art gallery, guests can immerse themselves in the home’s one-of-a-kind decorations. All rooms have shared bathrooms.
  • The Gershwin Hotel (doubles from $109/night) – you can’t miss The Gershwin hotel from outside. This distinctive hotel is adorned with a one-of-a-kind facade of curvy glass lanterns. The intriguing interior decoration (and the prices) don’t disappoint either. Especially thrifty travelers should check out the Gershwin’s $40/night hostel-style “Bunker.”

Three Tips on Where to Eat
You probably already know New York is one of the best places in the world for eating. Did you also know it’s one of the best for cheap eats too? Thankfully, eating well and eating cheap in New York are not mutually exclusive. Here’s three of our favorites:

  • Xi’an Famous FoodsXi’an Famous Foods, which first found fame on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, recently opened an outlet of its famous Flushing noodle shop in New York’s East Village. Spice-lovers can grab a plate of the shop’s hand-pulled Cumin Lamb Noodles for under $10 bucks.
  • Super Tacos Sobre Ruedas – this unassuming taco truck, parked on Manhattan’s 96th Street, doesn’t look like much. Yet it’s one of an increasing number of under-the-radar New York spots to get outstandingly good (and cheap) Mexican food. Grab a cup of milky Horchata rice milk with cinammon and a couple Carnitas Tacos for just a few bucks.
  • Pies ‘N’ Thighs – think New York is all “fusion” cooking and snooty French cuisine? The down-home Southern cooking at Brooklyn’s Pies ‘N’ Thighs will prove you wrong. Enjoy Fried Chicken, biscuits, and apple pie at (nearly) Southern-level prices.

budget travel new york cityThree Tips on What to Do
Having fun and free are not opposites in New York. In fact, the city is filled with surprisingly fun activities and freebies for budget travelers looking to save a couple bucks:

  • Free Friday museums – even the city’s most famous cultural centers aren’t always expensive, particularly on “Free Fridays.” Venerable institutions like the Museum of Modern Art (Free Fridays from 4-8pm) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (pay-what-you-wish, Fridays 6-9pm) help art lovers enjoy these great institutions at low or no cost.
  • Wander Grand Central Station – It’s free to enter this gorgeously restored New York landmark. Gaze in awe at the vaulted ceilings in the Main Concourse, stop by the great food court and share a secret with friends in the Whisper Gallery. Here’s a few more Gadling Grand Central tips to help you out.
  • The High Line – New York’s High Line, the city’s newest and greatest park is built atop the ruins of an old elevated railway line. In its place is a beautifully designed park, complete with wild grasses, art exhibits and plenty of great people-watching.

One Wild Card
One of the most intriguing and cheap ways to spend a Saturday or Sunday in New York is at the Brooklyn Flea. This one-of-a-kind swap meet meets artisanal food tasting meets art show is one Brooklyn’s more intriguing weekend activities. Pick up inexpensive jewelry and handcrafted clothing and art from Brooklyn artists while enjoying cheap eats from local food vendors.

Just another surprising example of New York’s refreshing range of cheap accommodations, inexpensive eats and budget-friendly activities.

[Photos courtesy of Flickr users b0r0da, DanDeChiaro and albany_tim]

See the Museum of Modern Art in two minutes

Ever visited New York City’s Museum of Modern Art? It’s quite possibly the world’s greatest museum for art lovers – harboring numerous masterpieces from painters including Picasso, Pollack and Warhol, among others. But it’s also quite overwhelming. If you’ve never been, prepare to be overwhelmed by thousands of different works across multiple floors, ranging from sculpture to photography to film and special exhibits. You will be exhausted when you leave.

That’s where this neat video comes in. Someone took the time to create a video montage of every single piece of art in the museum’s painting gallery in April 2010, collapsing the experience into a YouTube video just over two minutes in length. It’s a dizzying reminder of just how much this great museum has to offer. Whether you’ve already gone or have yet to visit, take a minute to enjoy one of the world’s great collections of modern art.

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Five art exhibitions you must see this year

Art lovers, take note, 2010 is shaping up to be a great year for exhibitions. Here are five of the best, but there are plenty more than these!

Tokyo
It’s hard to beat Japanese art for sheer naturalistic beauty, and the Tokyo National Museum has an extensive collection of the best. See the work of one of the great Japanese masters in Hasegawa Tohaku: 400th Memorial Retrospective. This painter, who died in 1610, specialized in nature and Buddhist subjects, and you can see an example of his work in this post. The delicacy and ethereal quality of Japanese landscapes always gives me goosebumps. The exhibition runs from February 23 to March 22.

Madrid
Spain’s famous Museo Nacional del Prado is hosting The Art of Power: Arms, Armour and Paintings from the Spanish Court. This is a collection of weapons and armor from Spain’s Golden Age, along with paintings by important Spanish artists emphasizing Spain’s military might at a time when the country ruled most of the New World. Many of the suits or armor were the personal property of important kings such as Philip II. The show will be on from March 8 to May 16.

London
From March 4-June 6 the British Museum will have Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures from West Africa. Ife was an important kingdom from the 12th to the 15th centuries in what is now Nigeria. Its artists specialized in creating human sculptures in brass, terracotta, and stone. I caught this when it was in Madrid last year and it was amazed at the level of artistic achievement in a civilization I’m ashamed to say I knew almost nothing about. The thing that most impressed me was how lifelike the sculptures were. I felt like I was staring into the faces of priests and kings who have been dead for five hundred years. My kid preferred the statue of the crocodile god.Paris
For something a bit more grim, go to the Musée d’Orsay between March 15 and June 27 for Crime and Punishment: 1791-1981. The dates refer to the year of the first call in France to abolish the death penalty and the year it was actually abolished. The exhibition is a series of paintings with crime as their theme, by famous artists such as Picasso, Goya, and Magritte. There are also paintings of capital punishment, showing that crime does not pay, at least some of the time. This show is disturbing enough that it comes with a warning label, a bit like the Eros exhibit of ancient erotic art in Athens, which you can still catch until April 5.

New York City
If you want to see something right now, The Museum of Modern Art is showcasing the work of director Tim Burton until April 26. It’s a collection of more than seven hundred drawings, storyboards, puppets, and other items from his films. There’s also a large collection of his personal artwork that even most of his fans have never seen. They’re showing his movies too!

New York City bargain destination perfect for a 3-day weekend

New York City may be the most expensive place to live, but if you like to walk; it’s a bargain to visit. Arrive by Friday late afternoon, and by Sunday evening you can knock off most of the must see places and eat without spending much money. By the end, you’ll know a good bit of what makes this city so grand.

I recently tested out this method with a friend of my daughter’s who is a high school exchange student from Germany. She wanted to see New York and I’m always up for a trip. We did stay with my brother, but I do have two budget hotel suggestions that have been used by people I know.

When going to New York, have a point of orientation. Mine is Union Square located at East 14th Street and Broadway. Union Square is a hub where the subway station below ground offers trains in every direction and the park above is a gathering place of street vendors, a community farmers market and people out for a stroll depending upon the season and the day. In December, there’s a wonderful holiday market with creative, high quality items from around the world.

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This is where we began our New York jaunt on a Friday morning about 10 a.m. after arriving at LaGuardia from Columbus in time for the first bus into Manhattan. (The shuttle bus from LaGuardia drops passengers outside Grand Central Station. We took the #6 subway downtown to the Union Square stop. The roundtrip bus ticket is $21,)

Day 1

From Union Square, after dropping our things at my brother’s), we walked down Broadway to Ground Zero, a place I had been avoiding ever since September 11. The walk led us through Washington Square Park, New York University and the gallery district of SoHo. Along the way, we window shopped and admired the architecture. The American Thread Company, 260 W. Broadway is one that caught our eye in particular. The building gave me a chance to point out the city’s industrial past and imagine life in NYC during the late 1900s.

Ground Zero is now a bustling construction site where it’s possible to peek through the fence to see the progress of the new girders. Along the outside fence are building plans. As devastating as the area feels, there’s also a sense of renewal and hope.

The other World Trade Center buildings are still bustling with commerce. The 3 World Financial Center-American Express Building is a wonderful mix of office building and shopping mall. With Christmas approaching, Santa was busy listening to children’s wish lists. I couldn’t help notice how the holiday lights, poinsettias and Christmas tree inside the building inside were such a contrast to what occurred outside eight years ago. From the top of the steps in the atrium, there’s an excellent view of the construction site.

The American Express building also has a small display of the history of American Express. I particularly enjoyed the brochures that were developed to entice people to travel to far off places. On the second floor, above where the museum is located, notice the four murals. Each is of a major city in one part of the world. Venice, Istanbul and Rio De Janeiro are three of them. I think the 4th is Hong Kong. The title plate was behind a barrier so we couldn’t read it. People who work in the building who I asked about the mural didn’t know either.

From here we walked along the river to Battery Park where we purchased tickets to Liberty and Ellis Island. The walk on this end of Manhattan will take you by lovely apartment buildings and public spaces. Of note is the right before you arrive at the ferry terminal for the Statue of Liberty. There is construction site fencing around most of it, but the quotes from famous people added uplift to the day.

After a short wait, we were on an early afternoon ferry headed for the Statue of Liberty. The $12 ticket purchased at the booth operated by the National Park Service covers the ferry ride to Liberty Island and Ellis Island which includes the museum. We arrived at Liberty Island with enough time to walk around Lady Liberty and spend a few minutes in the gift shop before taking the next ferry to Ellis Island.

By this time we were starved, so after seeing the free movie about the history of Ellis Island’s past as the gateway for immigrants, we bought lunch at the café. A bowl of chicken soup cost $4.50.

By 4:00 p.m. we were back in Manhattan heading to Union Square to meet up with my dad and my brother, then off to the Museum of Modern Art-MOMA. On Fridays from 4:00-8:00, the museum is free. To get from 2nd Ave. and 14th Street, two blocks from Union Square, we took a taxi–$17 including a tip.

From MOMA it’s a short walk down 5th Avenue to Rockefeller Center and across the street from there is St. Patrick’s Cathedral. During Christmas, be prepared to be jostled a bit while you look at the center’s Christmas tree and watch the ice skaters. Give skating a pass. It is not budget travel.

Next stop, back to Union Square via subway where we headed to Chat ‘NChew, 10 East 16th St. for a late dinner. Chat ‘NChew’s specialty is comfort food. I ate the red beans and rice-a dish under $5.

Day 2

First stop, Union Square’s holiday craft bazaar where I bought non-alcoholic glugg for $2.50 before we headed to the School of Visual Arts Gallery via subway which took us to Chelsea. The walk was the chance to see the transition from a working class neighborhood to a warehouse district that has been changed to gallery spaces.

From there we walked to the Empire State Building on 34th Street, passing Madison Square Gardens and Penn Station along the way.

Before getting in line for our tickets to the observation deck of the Empire State Building, we ducked across the street to buy a slice of NY style pizza for $3.50. I had the spinach and feta cheese variety. When I forked over the $20 admission to the Empire State building, I swallowed the ticket price by seeing it as a contribution to preserving American history. The Art Deco architectural details are splendid.

We were blessed with a clear night so I was able to point out various buildings and bridges. Look for Times Square and the Statue of Liberty. The Chrysler Building is obvious.

Next was a walk past the Macy’s windows decked out for Christmas on our way to Times Square and Broadway. As always, there’s a surprise on some corner in New York. The biggest one this time was at Broadway where the annual Santa pub crawl was in full swing There were hundreds of people dressed up like Santa Claus milling about in the midst of .the flashing neon.

After our Christmas spirit fix, off we headed back to Union Square and a walk to Hollywood Diner at 16th Street and 6th Avenue. If you’re with another person, split the appetizer platter. The mozzarella sticks, chicken wings and chicken fingers cost us less than $6 a piece.

Day 3

After breakfast on-the-go at Chomp on 14th Street near 2nd Avenue where a small cup of coffee and a bagel is $2 we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art via the # 6 train. The museum has a suggested admission price of $20 for adults, but you can pay what you want.. Don’t feel cheap if you pay less. I do. For a trip through the best of the world’s cultural and artistic riches, here’s the place. My favorite exhibit was The Amercans, photographsby Robert Frank who created a photo essay of his travels across the United States from1955 to 1956.

At the other side of Central Park from the Metropolitan is the American Museum of Natural History. We stopped here long enough to see the atrium where part of the movie “Night at the Museum” was filmed. The two large dinosaur skeletons make an impression. Since I had been here two weeks before and we were limited on time, this stop was brief.

The walk through Central Park took us past the Delacorte Theater, home Shakespeare in the Park in the summer. We stopped long enough to take a picture of a couple who had just become engaged. They made a fetching site and asked us to take their picture when we passed by.

Next on the list was The Dakota where John Lennon was killed. The building is not well marked. The entrance is on off of Central Park West.

From here it was on to Grand Central Station where we stopped by the holiday crafts show, the whispering wall and the train museum. The whispering wall is by the food court on the ground floor. Look for two arches in an entry way. If one person stands on one end of an arch and another person stands at the other, you can hear each other talk, even if you’re whispering. Face the wall for it to work.

Next stop Chinatown and dinner at the Shanghai Café. on Mott Street. There were four of us. We had an order of steamed pork dumplings, chicken lo mein, chicken fried rice and a broccoli dish. The bill came to $24. From Chinatown, we headed up Mulberry Street through Little Italy. In a few blocks we came to Umbertos Clam House where we split a carafe of red wine and the high schooler had a cappuchino. The bill came to about $25, as much as dinner. No bargain, but a lovely way to end the evening. The half carafe would have been plenty.

With an early afternoon flight, we headed to the bus stop at Grand Central for the 11:00 a.m. (or thereabouts) bus and had enough time to go to the New York Public Library. Because you can’t take luggage inside, I waited outside for my high school friend to visit. She proclaimed it to be the most wonderful library she has ever seen and marveled that it was free. The library has rotating exhibits so it is always worth a stop.

So there you have it. New York City on the cheap. In all we, spent about $18 each on subway rides. I lost track.

For an inexpensive place to stay near Union Square, try Hotel 17 or the Seafarers International House..

The only place on the high schooler’s list that we did not see was Tiffany’s but we did see Tiffany stained glass windows at the Metropolitan. She also hoped to see the Naked Cowboy, but all those Santas made up for it.