I drove to New York last weekend to see all the photo-as-art shows, including AIPAD at the Park Avenue Armory, but really, I was desperately seeking signs of Spring, which usually shows up in Central Park about two weeks ahead of its arrival in Massachusetts.
We dined Friday night at Il Cantinori Restaurant, as guests of owners Steve Tsolis and his wife Nicola Kotsoni, where a towering bouquet of forced cherry blossoms redoubled my resolution to look for flowers blooming in Central Park. (Il Cantinori has always been famous for its extravagant floral displays, which are created by Nicola.)
Running all over Manhattan, I never managed to take my camera into the Park—no time—but as I scurried about, I began to feel like Alice in Wonderland, encountering all sorts of super-sized flora and fauna.
Walking up Park Avenue from 57th to 67th, I photographed gigantic red and pink roses—rising up to 25 feet high. They were created by artist Will Ryman, who decorated them with whimsical beetles, bees, ladybugs, aphids and thorns. (He said the thorns are meant to give them “a sense of foreboding”.) The artist had even scattered giant rose petals on the mall outside the Armory, six of which will also serve as lawn chairs when the weather becomes balmier. (The display of giant roses went up at the end of January and will stay through May, when Park Avenue’s traditional fields of tulips will add color.)
A Park Avenue restaurant displayed giant daisies, probably inspired by Will Ryman's roses.
Whimsy also greeted me on 57th Street as I saw tourists photographing each other in front of the windows of Louis Vuitton, featuring super-sized ostriches and ostrich eggs decked with super-expensive shoes and luggage.
Saturday night after dinner we walked to Central Park South because I wanted to get a look at the spring solstice’s full “super moon” which was supposed to be bigger than ever before or after. But I only succeeded in annoying the horses lined up with their carriages waiting for tourists. The moon was a disappointment: it looked no bigger than the street lights.
On Sunday, as we drove away from our hotel on Seventh Avenue, I glimpsed yet another super-sized Manhattan animal –this giant red-eyed rat. New Yorkers know that it means that the employees are on strike and some non-union scabs have crossed the picket line. Not exactly a cheery sign of spring, and I don’t think it really counts as art, or even pop art, but it made me smile anyway, remembering a dog-sized rat that once crossed my path running into the Park. As Cindy Adams likes to say at the end of her column: only in New York!