blog > Posts tagged "new york city"

The best thing about the hurricane by Misha Lyuve

Nov 11, 2012
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Rockaway beach, New York

I never experienced a natural disaster and hurricane Sandy was the thing that got the closest to my home. With that, the area where I live hardly holds a trace of strong winds of that day, but just 20 miles East in the Rockaways – it is a different story.  When I reached this narrow strip of land, I saw a war-zone like landscape with helicopters flying overhead, people in military uniforms, abandoned cars and destroyed houses. For most of us, if we don’t see it, it doesn’t exist. But this was now in front of my own eyes.

The ocean looked calm and quiet, almost gentle. It was hard to imagine that it was responsible for that much destruction.

Rockaway beach, New York

Rockaway beach, New York

What used to be boardwalk

What used to be boardwalk

Sandy's aftermath

Sandy's aftermath

We were cleaning out debris in a basement of one of the houses that was flooded during the storm. I asked the two guys in my group where they were from, expecting to hear Brooklyn or Queens. But those two drove all the way from Maryland the day before.  And that is how I discovered the best thing about the hurricane – volunteers. It was heart-warming, especially as a New Yorker, that there were people for whom there was no better place to be on a sunny weekend day as helping out strangers after the hurricane hundreds miles away.

Check out Team Rubicon, a disaster response veteran organization, that we worked though. They know how to mobilize their people from all over the country – our team leaders flew from San Diego and Michigan.

Volunteering matters.

Volunteers at Rubicon

Volunteers at Rubicon

Volunteers in action

Volunteers in action

You are a Rock Star, old lady… by Misha Lyuve

Mar 25, 2012

So I am walking on my street and I see an old lady with a walker crossing West End Avenue. The traffic light is turning from green to red, and she is right in the middle of the road. The wind blows and you can see how it rips into her small body while she is holding on to her walker. She has these really big glasses, but I don’t think she can see much. As I help her to get to the other side, we chat and I find out that it is her first time out after the hip replacement surgery. She is on the way to McDonalds. She is in excellent spirits. In fact, she is thrilled.

Now I am done with my errands and on my way home. The lady is still stubbornly pushing her walker – she is a bit more than half way through the block where I left her off…

I set goals. I am in action. I question myself daily, annually and lifely whether I have accomplished enough. I use comparison to others to judge myself… or them. But what’s really an accomplishment? What’s enough?

And all I want to do is scream at the top of my lungs – Good for you, old lady! You are a rock star! - For getting yourself dressed and out of the apartment, walking against wind and traffic. Keep pushing that walker!

Thank you old lady for letting me see how differently a definition of an accomplishment is written for each of us. Thank you for allowing me to appreciate the efforts people around me make to live their lives and push their walkers; how those efforts vary in size and scope; how they are not always seen and, if seen, not always noticed and, if noticed, not always acknowledged.

And what are you pushing?

p.s. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the original lady, but the one here is one of the local troopers.

An Enlightening Ride by Misha Lyuve

Mar 17, 2012

Every New Yorker knows how important it is for your cab driver to take the shortest and the quickest path to your destination.

So on my way from Washington Square to Upper West Side, my cabbie takes 6th avenue up – that would raise anyone’s eyebrows. But when he is starting to make a left turn on 47th street, I can’t help but scream out: “Are you really taking me through Times Square???”

As we are stumbling through traffic among other cabs, vans, ridiculousness (pardon my judgment) of stretched lemos and big eyes of overwhelmed visitors, I am fuming. “What was he thinking?”, “This is outrageous”, “How dare he be so disrespectful of my time” and even “How unprofessional of him” – the guy is about to get it from me.

…Suddenly my mind stops for a second, as if I get pulled out of my head into the space from which I can watch my cab, Times Square and my upset self from the outside. And I realize that I don’t know who this person taking me home is, how long he’s been driving in Manhattan and what kind of day he had. And I can also clearly see different paths in which my life can unfold from this moment on – like me giving him a passionately condescending speech and then being upset myself for the rest of the evening; or him throwing me out of the cab in the middle of Times Square; or me joking with him about the hurdles of New York City driving; or finding out where he is from; or just not saying a word.

When I land back into the back seat of the yellow cab, I’m no longer upset. There is nothing to do or to say, just to acknowledge that sometimes I can feel so much, at the moment it seems so true and wants to get expressed so fast – but it’s better to keep it to myself.

Thank you.

Nakedness: Lucian Freud @ Metropolitan Museum of Art by Misha Lyuve

Oct 8, 2011

If you want to hang out in a room full of naked people, the Lucian Freud’s exhibition at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is a very special opportunity to do that (it runs through December 31, 2011). In fact, I suggest that this time around you skip Roman sculptures and Asian decorative art as well as other rooms in the Modern Art section – go straight to Kimmelman gallery and allow yourself to fully immerse into the rich world of Freud’s paintings.     

Lucian Freud's Exhibition @ Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Lucian Freud's Exhibition @ Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

We live in the world where body image is a cause of emotional distress and psychological disorder, and an image of a body as a symbol of sex has become the strongest marketing weapon. The concern for how we look is now on a critical path of our pursuit of happiness. It is engraved into youngsters with clearly defined standards of pretty and ugly, acceptable and not. It has a flavor of despair, shame and guilt.     

And all that is a great reason to come and visit with Lucian Freud – he will challenge your points of view and have you questioning. What bodies do you consider beautiful? What do you think about your own body? Does nudity have to be sexual? Is it shameful? His paintings will confront stereotypes that have been passed on to you and the ones you developed throughout your life. What do you find repulsive? What are your thoughts when you see a body of an old person? What are your judgments of fat bodies?     

There is a good chance that after seeing this exhibition you will come out a better person.     

Naked Man Back View, by Lucian Freud at Met Museum, New York

Image credits: Lucian Freud (British, 1922-2011). Naked Man, Back View, 1991-92. Oil on canvas 72-1/4 x 54-1/8 inches (183.5 x 137.5 cm.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1993 (1993.71) © The Estate of Lucian Freud

Also read:
- Two Deaths in London
- Aging Fools

Where is your Picasso?? by Misha Lyuve

Feb 24, 2011

Writing about Picasso’s guitars in the last posting had me question what it would be like to walk around life having Picasso’s vision. His art is an expression of the vision, but the vision itself — is it accessible to us, mortals?? Can we learn it? study it? develop it over time? What would it take to uncover a not-readily seen beauty in a bottle of water or a plastic spoon full of my breakfast oatmeal? I was up for an experiment.

An opening came from nothing less glamorous as a lid of NYC sewer.  It was a very ordinary sewer lid, round, with sticky mud around the edges in a broken filthy sidewalk and a sign “NYC SEWER”, just in case one would get it confused with a passage into Alice’s wonderland. 

But as I sharpened my vision and zoomed in on the object, leaving behind what I knew it to be and what was underneath it, I could suddenly see a pattern and texture that in my eyes had a value of beauty. 

The rest was easy. Suddenly, most ordinary buildings, fences, stairs and floors were rushing to me to share their secrets.

Undressing a guitar by Misha Lyuve

Feb 20, 2011
This posting is inspired by Picasso: Guitars (1912-1914) exhibition in MOMA.

 

(To the left: Still life with Guitar. Variant state. Paris, assembled before November 15, 1913. Paperboard, paper, string, and painted wire installed with cut cardboard box)

 

The only reason we don’t have our eyes come out on the other sides of our heads looking at Picasso’s work is because we’ve been seeing it everywhere for a while. But if we did, like our predecessors in early 1900s, see it for the first time, we would be shocked. And I am inviting you to be shocked.  

Let’s start with how we normally see: our sight gently glides across an object paying attention to at most its superficial, obvious and/or already familiar to us characteristics. Picasso’s vision of his objects is from inside out, like of a lover. He strips his guitars naked, bringing out the most striking features of the outside and the most intimate of the inside, putting them together in a way that they turn alive, move and make sound even on a two-dimensional canvas. 

Violin Hanging on the Wall. Possibly begun Sorgues, summer 1912, completed Paris, early 1913. Oil, spackle with grit, enamel, and charcoal on canvas. 25 9/16 x 18 1/8" (65 cm x 46 cm). Kunstmuseum, Bern.

 Newspaper, wallpaper, cardboard and sheet music - old and retired from their dialy duties - were not neglected and masterfully repurposed through Picasso’s vision for a new life in the world of high art. 

So yes, let’s be shocked by the creativity and vision of this man. My only problem with Picasso’s vision is that it makes me feel blind.   But also inspired.

Guitar. Paris, March 31, 1913, or later. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Art out of nothing by Misha Lyuve

Feb 10, 2011

My previous post, actually forced me into an experiment of finding art and beauty in my every day life. And my every day for the most part consists of subway rides, business offices, meetings, conference calls and quick meals. And when I am in the subway, I’m for the most part either planning something, answering emails on my blackberry or arguing with somebody in my head – pretty prosaic. But this time around I discovered the New York city subway as a well of inspiration. 

On Monday I actually allowed myself to stop and listen to a drummer on the 42 st. station. And he was really good. And let me tell you, unlike Joshua Bell, this guy wasn’t very interested in public reaction or had any expectations of how others should appreciate his talent. In fact, he was playing drums in a confident no-bullshit way as if he was doing it in his own living room for his own pleasure.   

Then I got on the train; and though I was too shy to use my camera openly, I figured out how to casually make pictures of how people sit. And I noticed that every pose, every pair of shoes had its mood and its story — tired, flirtatious, confident, studious… And seeing these moods and stories made me present to beauty. And what got captured is art out of nothing

Are you up for this kind of an experiment in your life? Share your art out of nothing.

Roerich: between Russia and Tibet to a hidden treasure in New York city by Misha Lyuve

Feb 3, 2011

Roerich Museum, New York city

Some place on the 107th st in New York city there is a small cottage that feels more like a cozy living space than a traditional museum. It is dedicated to the work of Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947), a famous Russian painter, philosopher, writer, traveler, and public figure, who left behind over 7000 painting and 30 literary works among other contributions.   

Madonna Oriflamma with Banner of Peace. 1932

While extensively traveling in Russia, Roerich observed how ancient monuments, churches and other historic objects were much neglected and saw a need to have cultural treasures protected in an organized way. It took him many years and continents, but in 1935 this idea was realized in Roerich pact, a treaty among pan-American countries that used a flag (Banner of Peace) to mark the protected historic monuments, especially during the war times. The treaty is still in force.  

Roerich and his family have done very extensive expeditions through India, Bhutan, Tibet, China and Mongolia. And I am looking back 100 years ago, when there were no planes, paved roads, fleece or gortex – but nothing could stop these people to follow their calling to visit far lands to explore them, to learn from them and share them with others. I guess I should stop complaining about the inconveninces of modern travel.  

The works of Roerich are dreamy and rich from saints to glorious mountain views to churches to nature and full of meaning and story and spirit – see for yourself: http://www.roerich.org/wwp.html    

And the boundaries were blurry… by Misha Lyuve

Dec 30, 2010

 So I was taking a walk (more of an obstacle course) in Central Park right after the big snowstorms a few days ago. Even with all the layers, gloves, a hat and a scarf it was still kinda chilly. And as I was climbing though snow mounts, I realized that in a year I completely forgot what winter’s like and that my toes get cold and that snow easily gets into boots and that gloves get wet……and here she was – a bride in a photo shoot; a real bride, in white, with bare shoulders, bride hair – the full bride shabadang (and even a groom hiding under a pink umbrella).

And suddenly I saw it right in front me – Life. All of it. Ridiculous.  Beautiful. Tragic. Funny. Unstoppable.

And it was up to me whether I wanted to judge, to laugh or to cry; whether I wanted to be a witness or a participant or both.

And the boundaries were blurry.