by Kiel Torres
Every two years, my high school’s Art Department offers a five day trip to New York City. Between March 29th and April 4th, a group of 29 Point Grey senior art students including myself set out to explore the city under the watchful eyes of our four teacher chaperones. To describe the itinerary as “busy” would be a complete understatement. The minute we landed at JFK, the theoretical rug woven from relaxed, west-coast vibes was abruptly yanked from under our feet and replaced with one that was hastily stitched together and embroidered with the colourful veins of a metro map. Our itinerary mirrored the fast pace of the city and was jam-packed with gallery visits, theatre shows and sightseeing opportunities. Let’s just say that this school trip was the double espresso of school trips.
Before visiting New York, I thought of it as a place that only existed behind the screen of my television or in the lyrics of popular songs. That being said, exploring the neighbourhood around our hotel in Hell’s Kitchen on Day 1 was rather surreal in the way that I felt as if I had been there before. The city could be compared to Vancouver, but the buildings were taller, the cars drove faster, and there was an inescapable sense of invariable movement, even when standing still. Oh, and there was also Helvetica EVERYWHERE!
The art galleries we visited were by far the highlight of my NYC experience. We explored the Guggenheim, Neue Galerie, the Metropolitan, the Cloisters, the Museum of the Moving Images, and the Museum of Modern Art. With the limited time allotted to our gallery visits, my excitement overtook my sanity. I mean this in the best way possible, of course! Being amongst the work of some of the most renowned artists of all time was such an awe-inspiring experience. Honestly, it was a bit of a challenge to keep my composure!
The Guggenheim was definitely one of my favourites. The main exhibition, Italian Futurism, 1909 – 1944: Reconstructing the Universe, completely blew my mind. We had just wrapped up Futurist bicycle assignment in my Art Careers 12 class, so seeing the authentic pieces was again, rather surreal. It was like meeting someone in person for the first time after having intensely Facebook stalked them: seeing the pieces in the flesh not only provided proof of their actual existence, but also added a whole new dimension of appreciation.
In comparison to the Met and MoMA, which would have been a struggle to navigate without my trusty colour coded map, the graceful architecture of the Guggenheim made for an easeful viewing experience. The spiral design of the gallery also complimented the chronological organization of the exhibition. Beginning with Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto and ending with Futurist photo montage, it was really interesting to see how artists interpreted the Futurist ideals in expressions that ranged from sculpture and painting, to film, design, architecture, ceramics, poetry and fashion.
Visiting the Metropolitan was another stand-out experience. I entered the Great Hall as a weakling, and emerged as an athlete. With only 3 hours to spare in a museum that would take at least a week to cover in entirety, my stay turned into a test of endurance, strategy and navigational skills. My eagerness to see as much as possible clashed with my tendency to wander. The goal was to cover as much ground as I could but whenever I tried to get to a certain section of the museum I became sidetracked by all of the masterpieces and ancient artefacts along the way, thus resulting in a rather complicated relationship with the Met. All I can say is that I can’t wait to go back and revisit all of the sections I unfortunately had to barrel through.