Thursday, January 16, 2020

Newport's Cliff Walk is a beautiful path between mansions and the sea

Newport, Rhode Island, is a town of old money. It sits on Aquidneck Island in the Narragansett Bay. If you visit, there is a lot to see, and I would suggest that its Cliff Walk should be at the top of the list.

The town of Newport was founded in 1639. It became the largest city in Rhode Island colony, and was home to a diverse population, including the first, and today oldest, synagogue in the United States. The town became a center for whaling and trading ships, which included playing a large role in the slave trade. In the middle of the 19th century, rich families started to spend the summer in Newport, building large “cottages” along the coastline. And it is a magnificent coastline. Many of the mansions sit along cliffs that overlook Narragansett Bay, and The Cliff Walk is a great way to see both these mansions and the views.

Cliff Walk is a 3.5 mile path that, as its name implies, passes along the cliffs of Newport. It offers breath-taking views along the water. I started my walk at Easton’s Beach (also known as First Beach. It sits along a strip of land that stretches in between Easton Bay and Easton Pond. And since my visit took place after Labor Day, parking was free. The beach also offers bathroom facilities and a snack bar.

I walked up to the northern end of the Cliff Walk, which adjoins the grounds of The Chanler Hotel. Built in 1873, and a summer mansion for members of the Astor family, this beautiful house has lovely grounds which look out on to Easton Bay.

As I walked south along the Cliff Walk, I passed many cottages, but most of them were behind gates and hedges. But the bay looked great, and it gave gave a wonderful view back to the beach. About 0.75 miles down the walk is The 40 Steps, which offer a way down from the cliff top to the water.

Further on, the path drops down closer to the water, which gives a great view of the waves breaking on the rocks, but also offers a chance to get really wet. All told, I walked about 1/3 of the way, past The Breakers, and Salve Regina University, before heading in to town for lunch. There are several places along the walk to join or leave, and if you stay for several days, you can cover the entire length. 


Gazebo near Ruggles Ave

Path under the Breakers Overlook

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Fotografiska is a new photography museum in NYC

Fotografiska NYC

New York City is home to many museums, but only two focus exclusively on photography. One has been around for forty five years, the other for just a few weeks.

In 1974, the International Center for Photography was founded as a school and exhibition space in midtown Manhattan. For 45 years they have been the number one photography center in New York. They have offered exhibitions covering a wide range of photography, and classes for all levels of students.

In December of 2019, Fotografiska, a new photography museum, opened in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of the city. It is the New York outpost of a set of museums founded by brothers Jan and Per Broman. The sons of a Swedish photographer, in 2010 they opened their first gallery in Stockholm. They built a tremendous reputation, and have started to expand their presence around the world. In June of 2019, they opened in Tallinn. Then in December they opened in New York City at a totally refurbished 19th century building. They have maintained the beautiful, and landmarked, exterior, that was built in 1894 as the home of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church.

Fotografiska’s web page gives their mission as follows:

“Brothers Jan and Per Broman built the concept of Fotografiska on the foundation of photography as a haven for innovation and free expression. Our goal is to inspire a more conscious world through the art of photography.”

Their mission is to offer a wide variety of photographers and styles, from long established to emerging, from documentary to abstract. Their initial exhibits in New York achieve that goal.


The sixth-floor performance space has been turned over to Danny Clinch. This is appropriate as Mr. Clinch is a photographer of portraits of rock, pop and rap performers taken over the past thirty years. Danny Clinch is almost a New York City local, having been born in Tom’s River NJ in 1964. He started his career as an intern to Annie Liebowitz. Mr. Clinch’s portraits are wonderful look into the lives of his subjects. Whether it is Neil Young , taken in the rear-view mirror of his car, or Eddie Veder leaping across the stage, he presents his subjects in an insightful way.

Wall of Portraits

Niei Young

Ellen von Unwerth (b. 1954, Frankfort) has been given the fifth-floor gallery for a retrospective of her amazing images of women. Ms. Von Unwerth views herself as a feminist photographer who stated in an interview in with Harpers Bazaar “The women in my pictures are always strong, even if they are also sexy” (HB 5May2018).

Four portraits by Ellen von Unwerth


Casual Sunday

Fotografiska’s fourth floor has been split between to amazing, but vastly different photographers. Tawny Chatmon (b. 1977, Tokyo) produces beautiful portraits of African-American children. What sets her work apart is the way she has taken inspiration of Gustav Klimt. She adorns her photographs with gold paint and gold-leaf to her life size photos, creating multi-media works of art.

Sharing the fourth floor is Helene Schmitz (b. 1960 Stockholm). Her haunting landscapes bring focus to effect of human activity on nature. One example is her set of pieces on kudzu, an ornamental plant that was brought from Japan to the United States. It was planted in the south as a highway decoration, but now grows out of control, covering everything in its path.

The third floor gallery is showing an exhibit in conjunction with Time Magazine. In Other People’s Children, photographer Anastasia Taylor-Lind (b. 1981, Swindon, UK) documents to jobs of women in New York City who spend their days taking care of children who are not their own. From hospitals, to day care centers to nannies, thousands of women in the city make a living by leaving their kids at home, and spending their days and nights with other children.

Fotografiska is a wonderful addition to New York’s museum collection. I look forward to seeing what other treasures they bring to the city.

Nuts and Bolts:
Fotografiska is open Sun - Wed 9:00 AM - 11:00 PM; Thurs - Sat 9:00 AM - Midnight
Admission: $28 adults/ $18 seniors, students, military

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Cooperstown NY, Home to more than the Hall of Fame

Main Street, Cooperstown
Here’s a question, What if you are in Cooperstown New York, and you have no interest in the Baseball Hall of Fame? What is there to do? Well, actually, there is a lot going on, and here is some of what I found on a beautiful fall day.

My first stop was at Doubleday Field, two blocks down Main Street from the Hall of Fame. I visited on a day when there were not a lot of people in town, and the Doubleday Field parking lot was convenient, and at $2/hour, reasonably priced. The field opened in 1920, and its current stands were built as part of a WPA project in 1939. From 1940 through 2008, Doubleday Field was home to the Hall of Fame Game, a mid-season exhibition game between an American League and National League team played during the Hall of Fame induction weekend. Since 2009 it has hosted an Old-Timers game in conjunction with the ceremony.

Today, the field is available to be rented for games and tournaments and the stands are (usually) open for free. The day of my trip, there was a weekend tournament of senior teams from the Baltimore area. They were all wearing some variation of orange and black.

After spending some time at the field, I headed for my main interest - The Fenimore Art Museum. What I quickly learned was that those who live in Cooperstown do not have the best concept of distance. Two different people assured me that the museum was “about half-a-mile” away. In fact, it is about three times as far. It was a beautiful walk through the town along Lake Street, which parallels Otsego Lake, although there is no sidewalk for about half of the walk. Along the way, I passed on the highest rated resorts in the country - The Otesaga Resort and its Leatherstocking Golf Course. Both sit overlooking the Lake. The resort opened in 1909, and still operates today from April through Thanksgiving.

Otesaga Resort

Leatherstocking Golf Course

As I headed for the museum, I also passed The Farmers Museum.The Museum represents 19th century rural life through its two dozen authentic buildings and over 20,000 artifacts. The farm itself was originally owned by James Fenimore Cooper. While it passed through several families after he died, in 1944, it opened to the public as part of the New York Historical Society. Over the years, many buildings from the 19th century were moved to the site, and today visitors can experience aspects of life in those days. Visitors can enjoy the  Empire State Carousel, which depicts the history of New York in its art work and the twenty-five hand carved animals that you can ride on. You can also visit the Cardiff Giant, a 19th century hoax that supposedly represented the body of a ten-foot tall giant.

Empire State Carousel

My walk ended at the Fenimore Art Museum, which occupies James Fenimore coopers farm-house. I sits on a rise that looks down on Otsego Lake. Its collection represents both fine and folk art from New York State, and the rest of the country. It also houses the Thaw collection of American Indian Art. I brought lunch from the cafe and went out to the beautiful terrace to enjoy it. On the day of my visit there was an exhibit of paintings by William Sidney Mount, and composer and artist, who was born and lived on Long Island. His work often depicted musicians, and was also known for realistic portrayals of African Americans.

Sugaring Off by Grandma Moses

Left and Right by William Sidney Mount

The Banjo Player by William Sidney Mount

Summer costume - Northwest Territories

So, yes, there are many things to do in Cooperstown, even if you aren’t interested in the Baseball Hall of Fame. So come and enjoy your time there.

Nuts and Bolts:

Fenimore Art Museum - Open from April 2- Dec 31 Tue-Sun and May - Columbus Day every day.
Admission: Adults and Teens $12/ Seniors $10.50

The Farmers Museum - Open from April - Halloween, Tue-Sun, and May - Columbus Day, every day.
Admission: Adults and Teens $12/ Seniors $10.50

Tickets bought are good at both of these museums.