Today in New York was a compilation of charming events. No other particular theme, but lots and lots of charm.
The Transit Museum has a juried show of quilts commemorating the 100 birthday of Grand Central Terminal. Each one is an eye blower, filled with buttons, bows, blocks, clocks, clocks, and more clocks. A charming celebration of a most glorious building.
“What a treat!” exclaimed a man who wandered in. “You never know what you’ll see here” (meaning NYC). Others oohed and ahed over the workmanship in the pieces.
The quilt makers all had to work with at least one of four fabrics created by The City Quilter and cover at least 25 per cent of the surface with the selections. So you’ll see a kind of consistent look among these glories.
So I went to the other exhibits, hoping to outstay the press. The Civil Rights show is really worth a see. Yes, there are the familiar, painful photographs and a hummable sound track. But I appreciated seeing how artists commented on race and despair and anger and hope.
Themes like Politicizing Pop and Black is Beautiful and Beloved Community put some structure on the installation. I found myself responding to Norman Rockwell’s “New Kids in the Neighborhood,” which he did for Look because the Saturday Evening Post didn’t want his social commentary works.
And while several of the artists depicted the importance of education, Charles White’s iconic “Awaken the Unknowing” is the most lyrical and powerful.
I also really like the anger in Robert Indiana’s “Confederacy: Alabama” from 1965. More pointed than most of his work. The video of Nina Simone performing–amazing.
I did leave with mixed feelings. The hope the exhibit leaves us with and a wondering at our blithering politics since, which hasn’t accomplished anything close to 1964.
Then I surreptitiously walked through the rest of the museum, working my way to the Feminist Wing, where the Chicago “Dinner Party” and the special exhibit is. What happened was symptomatic of my charmed day. By standing at one corner of the “Dinne
r Party,” I could see and hear Chicago herself leading the press on a tour.
Then they walked right by me, and as she passed, she said, “hi. “. I said, “hi.” Me at my most gracious and articulate. Impressive, eh? Not even a “charmed, I’m sure…”
Here is the best picture I dared take of the pixie-ish and stylish artist. Her back, of course. I
just couldn’t muster taking a picture when she was facing me.
Courage is what the working girl in the 1930s had to have, to endure the sexual harassment in the workplace. “London Wall” playwright John Van Druten handled this and the serious lack of options single women had then with a light touch and sure sense of modern justice. Oh, and this was produced by Mint Theatre, which revives period plays that have been overlooked. This one is a corker. The play started slowly, but the third act is a refreshing whopper, all painted with a most charming brush.
My second celebrity brush of the day came with the ever-charming Dick Cavett. One of the key players of my second show “Hellmam vs McCarthy,” about the famous literary slugfest between Lillian and Mary, after McCarthy’s appearance on Cavett’s show.
In the New York Times, Cavett quipped that he wasn’t the first choice to play himself, and the House Manager said everyone associated with the show is in love with him. I got to the theater so early that I saw him arrive and share cheery greetings around. Woo hoo!
The show was pretty good, too, with Cavett as a quasi-narrator, doing his folksy schtick along the way. Afterward, he answered questions, keeping everyone in their seats for 15 more minutes.
So New York will do this sometimes–toss you a cookie. It’s all pretty charming.