A Day in Chelsea
Between Sixth Avenue to the east and the Hudson River to the west and from about West 14th to 34th Streets, you’ll find a treasure trove of art galleries, design shops, good eats, museums, event spaces, and play places. Interesting to note that while the area itself is a fascinating neighborhood, how it got is name is pretty ordinary. According to TheHighLine.org, in the mid-1700’s, the new owner of the land simply called the home he built after a retirement hospital in London.
The bowls are samples of offering bowls to the gods, an integral part of the Buddhist practice.
On one winter afternoon, the day started with an immersion into Buddhism and its many art forms and the cultures of the Himalayan region, then a walk-through of Chelsea Market, a stroll through Hudson Yards Public Square, and onto dinner, drinks and a comedy show at the City Winery. All this while the sun set along the Hudson River. Best of all, these locations but just a minutes’ walk apart.
First up, the Rubin Museum of Art. (150 W 17th Street). Entering the museum, it’s a nice change from the hustle of the street, to take in the quiet and the easy on the eye-dimly lit interior. The center hall staircase that spirals its way up through the middle of the five floors of exhibit spaces is also eye-catching. I was interested in the third floor’s Mandala Lab for an interactive experience in how our senses influence our responses and attitudes. We’re invited to sit at each of the six computer stations that had a button that released a different scent. Then, invited to consider what emotions that scent evoked. Maybe disgust, joy, or fear because of a past experience, and through this introspection, we can learn a little more about ourselves.
Gong – a way to understand anger.
Another exhibit focused on anger and featured a series of gongs of varying sizes. Guests were invited to strike the gong (gently, please, as the docent had to remind over and over again) to introduce the sound, and then with a pull of a nearby handle, the gong would be submerged into a pool of still water, so the sound would quiet. This provides what can be a great topic of discussion on how our anger can be diffused through a powerful visualization.
There are beautifully detailed and painted scrolls, centuries-old sculptures, and ritual items to bring a fascinating culture up close and with their symbolisms clearly noted. The most popular exhibit is the traditional Buddhist Shrine room with an altar filled with offerings and artifacts with the purposes explained on a nearby touchscreen. There’s a bench for sitting and prayer beads available so guests can experience a peaceful interlude.
Next stop: Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Avenue). The former Nabisco Biscuit Company was reclaimed as the Chelsea Market and offers a corridor of mini shops to wander through that include home goods from around the world, art galleries, bakeries, bars, and eateries, with places to sit and snack. We wandered into a designer’s 70 percent off clothing sale, and around my favorite bookstore because the staff has such a knack for creating theme-tables with interesting reads, both past and present; I always end up filling a shopping bag.
Last stop: City Winery (25 11th Avenue). OK, way too hungry now. Although we arrived a bit early for our reserved table, that didn’t matter, and were quickly ushered to one by the window, facing west, and the sunset over Jersey. My daughter and I shared two large appetizers: Kung Pao Cauliflower and Old City Hummus and while she worked on a wine flight, I had a draft Pilsner while awaiting the 7:30 comedy show. This night featured a really delightful MC, an opening comic, and Nicole Byer who was working on new material. There were bits that worked really well, some that fell flat, but she was adorable, open, and honest about the night’s intent, so there was not a complaint in the place.
Not a complaint at all.
All photos by MJ Hanley-Goff