I Love New York: Art Surrounds Me

Art on the wall of a downtown gallery, The Giant Robot.

Art on the wall of a downtown gallery, The Giant Robot.

I have a serious love/hate relationship with my city, New York, but one of the things that I absolutely love about this town is the art and culture that surrounds me: the many museums, theaters, art galleries, music venues, film forums and cultural institutions that take residence here. 

There are so many places to visit and events to partake in that the options can be overwhelming.  It's hard to choose only one event to go to or worse, you forget about the places you have been and had plans to return to.

My love for arts and culture comes from my parents who did their best to expose me to everything and to share their love and passion for it.  My mother is a creative spirit who studied piano and the clarinet and is a designer and fiber artist and also writes!  My father used to play the saxophone when he was young and has always been passionate about photography, film and music.  A self-taught photographer, he's amazing and could have been a professional if he had really pursued it.

Together and separately, they would take me to concerts in parks around the city and at the Apollo or Madison Square Garden; and to museums, art galleries, art festivals and to see films.  They would also pay for me to go to events at Lincoln Center and on Broadway with my school or the many after-school programs that I took part in (Harlem School of the Arts and Boys and Girls Club of Harlem etc.).  I didn't have much money growing up, but my parents never let that interfere with my education or my exposure to the world.

Now that I'm an adult, I find that I must make the time to get out and go to different cultural events and spaces in my free time.  It isn't always easy, but I make time to go on my days off, on weekends and after work during the summer months.  I've found refuge in the galleries downtown that I stop into on my way home from work. 

I've also gone to the Uptown Bounce series, a weekly summer event in East Harlem, held jointly at the City of New York Museum and El Barrio Museum.  The museums open up all of their exhibits and have a DJ and dancing in the courtyards (and registration is free!).  There is a  musical theme such as disco, funk and salsa and I've seen exhibits with focused on the history of the South Bronx, salsa and boogaloo music, and the history of the Young Lords in NYC, among others.  It's usually a good time and I've gone alone or with friends and family.

My father taught me years ago that life may not be perfect and that you may not have everything that you like, but that you must find ways to enjoy your life while you are living.  For me, I find solace and inspiration in art and culture and part of enjoying my life is to surround myself with art.

Naj