New York City: A Calm Oasis in Chelsea

December 17, 2015
SHIRLEY MUELLER, MD

Manhattan, known for its frenetic pace, has a patch of calm this month in Chelsea. Starting with the Rubin Museum on West 17th Street to the Sundaram Tagore Gallery on West 27th there are several exhibits that create tranquility within though there can be chaos outside.

Manhattan, known for its frenetic pace, has a patch of calm this month in Chelsea. Starting with the Rubin Museum on West 17th Street to the Sundaram Tagore Gallery on West 27th there are several exhibits that create tranquility within though there can be chaos outside.

The Rubin Museum is never crowded, though it is large and opulent. Its concentration is on art from the Himalayas, India, and neighboring regions. This, in itself, tends toward the divine and spiritual, a soothing force in itself. Plus its current special exhibit extends this feeling.

This month it features Steve McCurry, the photographer who photographed the Afghan girl with green eyes featured in National Geographic in June 1985. McCurry follows up on his inclination toward the exotic with an exhibition of photographs from India. To be honest, they are variable in the calming effect they have on the viewer. The primary tranquilizing force of the Rubin is the building itself—expansive and luxurious, with a friendly staff and good café plus a gift shop with unique items and nice restrooms.

Rabari Tribal Elder, Rajasthan, India 2010 by Steve McCurry in the Rubin Exhibition. The exhibit runs until April 4, 2016.

The dramatic stair case in the Rubin. The museum building was Barneys New York City until 1998.

The pleasant dining area in the Rubin. It is not necessary to buy a ticket to the museum ($15) to eat there. The gift shop is located nearby.

West of the Rubin and two blocks south toward the Hudson River is the David Zwirner Gallery on 20th Street. It features Morandi paintings. These still lives of common objects painted in muted colors bring nostalgia to the viewer. They are familiar and yet distance. My overwhelming sensation is always a calming feeling when I am in front of a Morandi; I have heard others say the same.

A surprising feature of this exhibition is that only four or five of the paintings are for sale. Though this particular gallery show closes in mid-December, there is another that is on-going until June 25, 2016 though in SoHo rather than Chelsea. It is at the Center for Italian Modern Art at 421 Broome St, Fourth floor. Guided tours are given on Fridays and Saturdays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. The cost is $10 per adult and reservations may be booked ahead.

One of Morandi's painting in the Zwirner Gallery.

A few blocks up on 22nd street Wolf Kahn is showing at the Ameringer McEnery Yohe Gallery. This artist, too, does work that evokes serenity. For the current show, he painted trees in multiple palettes. The artist is 88 years old, no small feat in itself. This exhibit closes Dec. 23.

A Wolf Kahn panting at the Ameringer McEnery Yohe Gallery.

A Wolf Kahn panting at the Ameringer McEnery Yohe Gallery.

Further North on West 25th is the Gallery Henoch featuring familiar still-lifes along with an assortment of other paintings. Those by Janet Rickus especially inspire a feeling a calm as well as happiness. This show closes Dec. 31.

Borrowed Series oil painting by Janet Richus at the Gallery Henoch in Chelsea, New York City.

Some would say the most serene is last. It is the Hiroji Kubota exhibit at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery on West 27th Street. His photographs are arguably among the most beautiful in the world. The exhibit closes Jan. 2, 2016.

Tsurui, the “crane village,” Hokkaido, Japan, 2002 by Hiroji Kubota

All photos by the author.

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