The Island Today: Museum exhibit captures city’s grit

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From its earliest years, New York City was the stage on which the transformation of America played out, reflecting economic and historic upheavals that led to the city’s place as both the financial and art capitals of the world.

New York, New York presents the city’s grit and glamour, its excitement and bustle, and the heartbeat of a great metropolis through the work of John Sloan, Reginald Marsh, Childe Hassam, Red Grooms, Robert Henri, Fairfield Porter, Berenice Abbott, Milton Avery, Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Leipzig and many others.

Guest curated by Director Emerita Constance Schwartz and including more than 140 works of art, New York, New York opens at Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor on Saturday, July 22 and will remain on view through Sunday, Nov. 5.

From the extraordinary to the everyday, New York, New York reveals the daily life of the city’s populace at work, in their homes, on the streets, and at leisure, enjoying the parks, the beaches, the clubs and the bars of the city.

In oils, works on paper, photography, prints and sculpture, the works on view explore the city from the early years of the last century almost to the present day.

The exhibition is organized thematically to focus on areas of New York City life such as transportation, entertainment, work, home, leisure and more.

Everett Shinn’s watercolor shows us patrons of McSorley’s as the famed bar and its customers appeared in 1908, while Francis Luis Mora’s 1914 oil, “Evening News,” glimpses people reading the paper as they ride home from work on a train, an innovation of the time that revolutionized travel throughout the city.

New York’s café society of old is represented in Reginald Marsh’s watercolor, “Memories of the Stork Club”; Marsh contrasts this image of the city’s elites in his oil, “The Bowery,” depicting a male-only group of drinkers.

Mora’s work is seen again in the large-scale series entitled “Manhattan Cocktail 1626-1938,” created in 1938 to be showcased in the 1939 World’s Fair.

Harold Roth’s “Water Street,” showing kids dashing through the waters of an open hydrant, and Rebecca Lipkoff’s “Street Play Monroe Street,” portraying youngsters in street games, both photographs depicting city streets during the 1940s, will bring smiles of recognition to anyone who grew up in New York City.

Romare Bearden’s 1972 collage “110th Street Harlem Blues” dramatically portrays the city’s most famed African-American community.

Red Grooms is represented in New York, New York by several pieces, including his massive 1984-85 installation, “The Alley,” a work certain to engage audiences of all ages.

Other highly diverse art of the 1980s includes Tom Blackwell’s “Herald Square,” Richard Estes’ “Old Police Headquarters,” Henry Groskinsky’s “Fireworks in New York City from the Empire State Building” and Christo and Jean Claude’s “The Wrapped Building: Times Square Allied Chemical Tower.”

The exhibition moves into the 1990s with Andy Warhol’s “Abstract Sculpture” (Headline series) and Yvette Jacquette’s “Herald Square Composite 11.”

The most recent artwork in New York, New York is Red Grooms’s “Lunchtime on Broadway,” a huge 2009 charcoal on paper.

The iconic Brooklyn Bridge, a favorite subject for artists since its opening in 1883, is seen in several works and media — a photograph by Roth, an oil by Milton Avery, a work on paper by Georgia O’Keeffe, and a welded steel construction by Red Grooms.

Another frequent subject, Washington Square, is depictured in 1910 and 1912 oils by William Glackens and in a 1950 photograph by Rebecca Lepkoff.

The many pleasures of Coney Island, New York’s much-loved playground, are seen in paintings by Reginald Marsh and Milton Avery and in photographs by Arthur Leipzig and Harold Roth.

The showing of New York, New York will be amplified with public programming that will enhance viewers’ appreciation of the exhibition.

A 50-minute film, “Modern Dreams: Art of America,” screens daily.

There will be three lunchtime talks about the exhibition; each talk is followed by the daily public exhibition tour.

The exhibition’s curator, Constance Schwartz, will present a gallery talk on Sept. 10.

Each of these programs is free with Museum admission.

Accompanying New York, New York is Glamour Icons, an exhibition demonstrating fragrance and cosmetic packaging as an art form through the work of the renowned designer Marc Rosen.

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