Thursday, February 24, 2022

The National Arts Club


There are many small art galleries in New York City. One with an interesting past is the National Arts Club.

The National Arts Club is a private club founded in 1898 by Charles DeKay in order to “stimulate, foster, and promote public interest in the arts and to educate the American people in the fine arts.” It is in a brownstone on Gramercy Park South that used to be home to Gov. Samuel Tilden. The early membership included such New York luminaries as William Frick, JP Morgan, and Theodore Roosevelt.

The club has three galleries that are open to the public, and it hosts many exhibitions every year. In the past these have included shows of works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Andy Warhol, and Kieth Haring. When I visited in February of this year, the main gallery was host to a show of paintings by abstract artist Libbie Mark (1905-1972). Mark worked primarily during the 1950’s and 60’s in New York and Provincetown MA. Her paintings are highly textured with bold colors.

All the above works are by Libbie Mark. They are all Untitled.

Another show on display was of works by undergraduates students in art programs in New York City. This show is dedicated to Will Barnett (1911-2012), who was an artist, teacher, and long time member of the National Arts Club.

Los Enamorados by Chris Cortez

Opening Scene by Vincent Gunther

The Other Side by Amanda Jordan

Sophia by Amanda Jordan

Tito, Veny and Paputi on Dykeman by Bryan Fernandez

A visit to the National Arts Club is great place to stop in for a quick fix of good art. It offers wonderful exhibits by artists in the New York community.

Nuts and Bolts:
The National Arts Club is located at 15 Gramercy Park South (20th Street) between Park Ave. South and Irving Place.

It is open 7 days a wee from 10 AM - 5 PM. I suggest calling first, because the galleries sometime close for events. The is never an admission charge to visit the club.

Getting There: Take the #6 train to 23rd Street (Park Ave. S.) 

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Main Branch of the New York Public Library


Winnie the Pooh and Friends

A city’s main library says a lot about it. Young cities have new buildings with slick architecture and all the technological bells and whistles. Older cities have buildings built when the theme of “palaces of learning” was the norm. But few cities have a library as much of a palace as the Main Branch of the New York Public Library.

Detroit Publishing Company, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons - 1908

Now known as the Stephan A. Schwarzman Building, the library’s main branch is located on the eastern edge of Bryant Park, along Fifth Ave. It stretches from 40th to 42nd street, in the space that was once occupied by the original Croton Reservoir.

The Beaux-Arts building was designed by the firm of Carrère and Hastings, and opened in 1911. At the time, it was the largest marble structure in the United States. It housed both a circulating and reference library, with 75 miles of shelves and lots of room to expand. Today, it is only a reference library, Of course, its main entrance is flanked by Patience and Fortitude, the library lions.

Elisa.rolle, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

You enter the library through the Astor Hall. It is the kind of awe-inspiring entrance that was designed to say “This is an important place.” Its 34-foot vaulted ceiling creates an impressive space, and it is lined by large marble staircases.

On the first floor you will find several sub-collections of the library, including its photography collection, the Map Room, and the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room, where almost any magazine or journal can be found.

DeWitt Wallace Reading Room

The second floor is home to the Humanities Research division. It also has a large balcony that offers great views of Astor Hall.

The jewels of building are on the third floor. You start at the McGraw Rotunda. Its walls are decorated with murals created by Edward Laning, as a WPA project during the 1940’s. 

The Rotunda serves as the entrance to the heart of the library, The Rose Reading Room. Here, you can request any reference book from the library’s 160 miles of shelves, and it will be delivered to your seat in a matter of minutes. There you can sit and read the book, to do research, or just enjoy the story.

Diliff, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The New York Public Library is a collection of much more than books. It holds paintings, drawings, statues, and even stuffed animals. Most of them are usually out of the public view, available only to scholars. Now the library has created the Polansky Exhibition Space, where many of the these treasures can be seen by the general public.


Maquette of Lift Every Voice and Sing by Augusta Savage

Black Manhattan by Romare Beardon

Drawing for 'Bad Hat and Fountain" by Ludwing Bemelmans

Drawing for "Through the Looking Glass" by John Tenniel

Street Music - Jenkins Band by Norman Lewis

Said Abdullah and Vénus Africaine by Charles Henri Joseph Cordier

The Fantastic Turban by Frank Mason

Liberty and Justice by John Moore

"I Am A Man" by Ernest C. Whiters

Political Prisoner by Elizabeth Catlett

Costume for Tevye's family for Fiddler on the Roof by Patricia Ziprodt

A Red Record by Ida B. Wells

Libraries are wonderful places. A visit to the main branch of New York Public will remind you that wonder is a great emotion to feel.

Nuts and Bolts:

  • The Main Branch of NYPL is located at 476 Fifth Ave, at 41st Street.
  • It is open seven days a week, Mon - Sat  from 10AM - 6PM (Weds. until 8 PM), and Sundays from 1 PM - 5PM
  • The following subway trains stop at 42nd street, at various avenues:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, B, D, F, M, Q, R, W

Thursday, February 10, 2022

The Brooklyn Museum

Southern Landscape (Southern Flood) by Eldzier Cortor


New York City is home to several world class art museums. The Met, MOMA, and The Whitney would each make any city proud. There is one more world class museum in the city, one that is often overlooked -The Brooklyn Museum

 Elisa.rolle, , via Wikimedia Commons

The Brooklyn Museum is the third largest art museum in New York City. Its roots stretch back to the 1823, when the Brooklyn Apprentices Library was formed. In 1843, the library became part of the Brooklyn Institute, and began to stage exhibitions of art and lectures on many subjects. In 1890, the Institute reorganized as the Brooklyn Institute for Arts and Sciences, and included the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. During the 1970’s all four parts of the institute became independent entities.

Brooklyn Museum - Prospect Park (1910) via wikicommons

In 1897, The Brooklyn Museum moved into its permanent home on Eastern Parkway. The Neo-classical building was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead and White, the premier New York architectural firm of its time. In 2004, a major renovation of the main lobby was completed, creating space for some larger major works to be permanently exhibited.

The museum offers many important exhibitions every year, but I visit regularly because I love its permanent collection. In particular, I am drawn time and again to the American Art galleries. Works by American artists spanning back to native peoples before colonization are on display. It is here that I find my favorite piece in the museum - Niagara Falls by Louis Rémy Mignot.

The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks

Seated Couple by a Jalisco artist

Jaguar Effigy Vessel by a Jama-Coaque artist

Art versus Law by David Gilmore Blyth

Niagara Falls by Louis Rémy Mignot

Composition (After the Storm) by Ooloosie Saila

Out of Doors Study by John Singer Sargent

Old Blue Tiled Mosque by Edwin Lord Weeks

An Interesting Game by Frederick Arthur Bridgeman

Pennsylvania Station Excavation by George Weslley Bellows

Self-portrait in a teapot by Jonathan Lessuck

My other regular stop is the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, where I spend time at the permanent home of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party. The ceremonial banquet is staged to celebrate the lives and memories of important women in history. Thirty-nine place settings have been created, each one with an embroidered runner, unique utensils and goblets, and a china-painted porcelain plate, all decorated in styles to commemorate the individual woman being honored. The table is placed on a tiled platform that has the names of an additional 999 women inscribed in gold.

The Brooklyn Museum holds a special place in my heart. When I was a teacher, I spent eight years at a high-school that used Brooklyn, along with other museums around the city, as teaching resources, presenting themselves as additional classrooms and primary sources. The museum is a great place to explore a wide range of art.

Nuts and Bolts:
The Brooklyn Museum is located at 200 Eastern Parkway, and can be visited via the 2, 3 or 4 train taken to the Eastern Parkway - Brooklyn Museum station.

Entrance fees are Adults $16/ seniors, students and visitors with disabilities $10. There are additional fees for special exhibits.