Road Trip: NYC Part 2

In my first post about my recent trip to NYC I mentioned my favourite store in Manhattan, Fishs Eddy.

With recent recessions and global awareness hitting home, I've been trying really hard not to be such a consumer (and really, I think in comparison to many, I was in a good spot to begin with). But there are two things that I can't help myself with. Shoes, and glassware. And yes, I bought some shoes while in NYC. Of course I did.

But I also bought some glassware. At Fishs Eddy. And best of all they were ones I spotted a few years back on a trip, and couldn't bring myself to lug home. This time, things were different.

After our crazy-amazing steaks we were waddling back to our hotel. We hadn't planned on trying to find the store again (really, how many ceramic platters can you take on a plane?)  but we just happened upon it by accident. And it was open, at 10pm on a Sunday. I love NY.

This store is such an amazing retail experience. They have managed to capture the feeling that you are in a flea market or back storeroom of a closed down manufacturing facility, merged with modern shopping ease and style. The merchandising is incredible and feels so authentic.
(as always click to enlarge photos)
 The store started when a buying trip landed the owners in an old barn that had caught fire. They found stacks of old sturdyware from roadside diners, hotels, railroads and country clubs. They bought all of it, cleaned it and began selling it. 25 years later, they are still selling commercial grade dishes and glassware.  They carry mostly store-brand items, but they also offer a selection of other American-made items like Libbey Glass. The store had a wide array of art on the walls and sometimes you find yourself staring at things, wondering if you could buy them, but then you realize, it's just part of the decor.

Like, for example, all the crazy portrait art.
I honestly could have bought one of everything. But like a good little recessionista, I didn't. I bought a set of four tall drinking glasses, that happen to fit nicely into a collection of similarly themed and shaped items. I'll write a post about that collection someday. They are perfect for a tall rum punch, as pictured.

When you first enter the store there are numerous hands reaching out at you - they are old ceramic rubber glove moulds - and while I wanted the large versions of those, I couldn't figure how I'd lug them home. So I picked up two of the mini versions, which I'll use as ...well, chochkas, I guess.

I plan to add them to a vignette in my bedroom. I love how bizarre they look standing on a shelf or as bookends. I guess I could put rings on them too, but my last trip to Fishs Eddy did result in the purchase of a small Brooklyn-themed tray that I keep bedside for my rings and other things. I felt like a bit of a jerk when I bought that tray, because though I loved the illustration, I hadn't ever been to Brooklyn. Well, I made up for that this time.

On Monday we visited Surtex, which is such fun. Artists and agents gather to sell and license art, surface pattern, illustration and product concepts. Booth after booth of inspiration and artwork. It actually becomes difficult to look at art after a day there - it all starts to look the same, a sea of colour overwhelming you, but you do your best to work through it and find the gems. I enjoy so many booths there and the  artists are a joy to work with. It's an exhausting day, but a positive, inspiring one. After we finished up, we walked back to the hotel and got geared up to take the subway to Brooklyn for dinner and to meet a friend. Boy, did we eat. Can I remember the restaurant name? Nope. But it was in the Park Slope neighbourhood, and I ate a sandwich that had pear on it. And it was delicious. I drank a tequila spiked lemonade and sat on the patio. After that, we walked through Prospect Park.

Found in the heart of Brooklyn, Prospect Park is a 585 acre masterpiece designed by the same architects that created Central Park.  It has a lake, meadow and forest, trails, playgrounds and an audubon centre.
Oh, and a zoo and it hosts a variety of arts festivals. Really, when a park is this grand, you don't want to leave. We walked through it and many road cyclists were busy whipping by us. Moms with babies in strollers were out jogging. This was after dusk, so I take it the park is safe.

(the Grand Army Plaza at one entrance to the park)

After our walk we found ourselves hungry again (ha!) and so we went to check out The Chocolate Room. This tiny delicious cafe serves coffee and chocolate, in a wide variety of formats. They seated us with tiny delicious dishes of chocolate sorbet. I had their famous chocolate cake (it's award-winning and oprah-approved so the menu told me) and a cafe americano, both of which were incredible. The table also tried the mousse and a mint-chocolate chip ice cream that was made with fresh muddled mint. The only way it could be described is to say it was like a fresh cut field in your mouth, with chocolate on top. Highly recommended!

Day three, our final day, we woke up to torrential downpour. Depressing, since it was the day I'd taken as vacation and my free time. Boo rain. Alas, we did our shoe shopping first thing, and then had a delicious lunch at a corner deli. I of course took part in the stupidly-awesome salad bar and Jenn had "Manhattan Salmon" which she reports, was also delicious. It seems to qualify as a Manhattan salmon, you have to be covered in french fries. Or what I guess they call freedom fries or pommes frites these days.

We tried to walk to the Guggenheim, our planned destination. We tried, we really did. But the rain was coming in horizontally and my newly purchased umbrella didn't do a thing, so we hopped on the subway.

I've never been to the Gugg before, so I was excited. Here's one pic I took inside, looking up. I think this is the pic everyone takes there.

 The place was packed - I've never seen a gallery so busy in all my life. We took in some parts of the permanent collection as well as the exhibition Haunted.

Haunted explored themes of memory, trauma and history through contemporary photography, installation and video. It was haunting alright. The lobby had a sound installation that was both eerie and joyful, while each level walking up the ramp explored various formal and conceptual themes on topics like appropriation, how we record our history, the ties that bind us together and shared experiences. I used the audio tour and I really enjoyed delving deeper into the meaning of some of the conceptual pieces. I was happy to see works by Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince and Robert Mapplethorpe among many others.

Though the show was filled with morbid images like electric chairs, holocaust victims, grave stones and  wax replicas of the deceased, I didn't find the show depressing. Rather I found it to be an interesting comment on the ways that we record our lives and how interconnected our experiences are. There was one piece by a Canadian - a review from reads

"One exception [to the dark images] is a suite of color prints by the Canadian artist Sarah Anne Johnson, which manages to make palpable the distance between on-the-ground reality and the kind of imaginary world that we carry around in our heads. Chronicling a kind of summer 4H project [B.C. Tree Planting] where young people worked together to plant trees, the project juxtaposes photos documenting the ignoble aspects of the venture (hard work, dirt, mosquito bites, beer-drinking, hooking up) with ones taken of the artist’s handmade dioramas, in which little painted figurines enact idealistic scenes of people working together and communing with nature, the very stuff of good memories and more. Works like this, uncovering the mechanics of representation and ideology, are always welcome."

After 4 hours killed in the gallery, we realized we were very late for both grabbing dinner and catching our plane. We hightailed it back to our hotel to grab our things. Well, hightailed is one way of putting it. It was rush hour and we had to get off at the Grand Central Station stop. That was an experience and a half. I've done busy subways before, but I've never been so close to someone in public as that was truly intense. I picked up a tshirt for my bf in the Brooklyn Industries shop in Grand Central because I had promised to replace the I <3 NY tee from last year that disintegrated (what does one expect when one purchases 3 for $10 tees?) and out into the rain we ventured again.

We ate pizzas at Cosi accompanied by unsweet tea, and dilly-dallied so long that by the time we caught our cab and got to the airport, it was 8:05. Our departure was scheduled for 8:25. 

Luckily, our flight was delayed. Home again!

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