Table on a Café Terrace
Published works

New York Moment

*This article was originally published on The HUSH co., an arts blog, in 2015. I reposted it here since their website is down.

This December I decided to trail off to New York City in search of some much needed inspiration. I hadn’t been to the Big City in twelve years, and I was disappointed to find a consumer-driven place with Times Square as a beacon. I still don’t understand why Times Square gets so much hype when it’s really just an archetype of Americanism. NYC had made a lasting impression on me as a teenager and I was hoping to be as wowed as I had been during my last trip. But this time, I wanted to find a refuge in museums and bookmark-worthy restaurants far from the glitzy tapestry of advertisements. Here is what I found.

Table on a Café Terrace
Table on a Café Terrace (1915) by Diego Rivera

I saw the avant-garde galleries that included cubist works of art in the Modern and Contemporary Art section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I don’t get lost in a painting very often, perhaps once in every five exhibits, but when I do, I literally lose track of time. “Table on a Café Terrace” by Diego Rivera mesmerized me. It brought up memories of the biopic film “Frida” (2002) by Julie Taymor about Frida Kahlo, who was the painter’s wife. In this case, I landed head first in 1915. I’m at a table and I’m about to take a sip of absinthe. In fact, I have no idea if this is feasible, having never tasted the green liquid. Is this how they consumed it? This image is printed on my mind like a stain that cannot be erased. This notable painting which is both part Cubism and Pointillism completely transfixed me. It had a much stronger effect on me than the movie which was a bit too tacky for my palate. I almost felt like I was in a different time zone and period. The image of this sitting is deconstructed so as to fully grasp every angle of the table. Maybe I would start to see things this way, in polka dots and angular shapes, after a drink of absinthe. Through the exhibits, I was comforted to find familiar names like Pablo Picasso, René Magritte and Otto Dix, yet saw paintings I had never seen before.

Located on 5th Avenue in New York City, the Met is one of the ten largest museums in the world and the largest art museum in the United States. I strongly suggest that you look up beforehand which exhibits you plan to visit because you won’t have time to visit them all in one day. It also holds many special events, so make sure you check out its schedule. It is good to know that at this museum and other museums in NYC, they will ask you at the ticket booth how much you are willing to pay for your admission fee. Next time, I would like to see the two galleries of the Costume Institute and the many galleries of the European Paintings. If you plan on going to NYC next spring, I suggest you visit the exhibitions Van Gogh: Irises and Roses on from May 12 and August 16 or China: Through the Looking Glass between May 7 and August 16.

Photo: Met Museum

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