Students from Rye Studio had a brilliant time during their ‘whistle stop‘ tour of New York city. First New York icon to be ticked off the list was the Empire State Building. The view from the 86th floor, with the sun setting over New Jersey, bathed all in beautiful orange sunlight. Photographs having been taken of the vista below and of course the mandatory selfies meant that we could move on to our evening meal in an American Diner and then to bed. The ridiculously early start had finally caught up with us all.
The following morning we met up with Caroline Vazanna, writer, editor, stylist, founder and Creative Director of ‘Making it in Manhatten’ who inspired our students with a hugely informative and motivating presentation of how to become a successful fashion stylist, journalist and blogger. The students listened avidly to her tales of tenacity, hard work, internships and good fortune.
A chorus of thanks and a wave goodbye and off we marched along the East River water front to Castle Clinton to board our ferry to Liberty Island. Having read Emma Lazarus’s, The New Colossus, the students commented on the ironic timing of Trumps recent executive orders preventing the ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ and the ‘tempest-tost’ from passing the gates at immigration.
We paid our respects at the 911 Memorial, the thousands of names inscribed were a very solemn reminder of the horrific day in 2001. An unlikely survivor, a Callery Pear tree, rescued from the rubble, restored to health and replanted in its former position is a beautiful symbol of hope.
We visited Grand Central Station several times on our visit, built in 1903 this magnificent building with its cavernous main concourse was saved after a long court battle in the 70’s from the same fate as the demolished Pennsylvania Station. Ada Huxtable, a renowned New York architecture critic commented, “we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed." or in this case saved.
The next day we visited the meat packing district’s new Whitney Art Gallery. The students loved the Immersive Cinema and Art, the portraits and the modern painting exhibitions. Afterwards we walked uptown about a mile and a half in the beautiful linear park built on a raised former freight railway known as the Hi Line. We continued the journey via subway and a pretzl munching walk through Central Park to The Met.
The Met is like a amalgam of the V&A, The British Museum and National Gallery, two or three hours isn’t going to put much of a dent in it, so we had to be selective. To keep the fashionistas amongst us happy we visited the recently opened Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion exhibition featuring contemporary designers work as well as pieces from as early the 18th century. Continuing through the Egyptian galleries and a brief sojourn in European painting found us replete.
Later that evening we visited the sensory overload called Times Square. Bustling, brash, brightly lit and brilliant, it’s enormous electronic billboards, flashing neon, costumed characters, musicians, performers and throngs of people create an overwhelmingly brassy spectacle.
A walk through the relatively empty Saturday mornings streets of New York found us at The Rockerfeller Building and the NBC Studios Tour. We were guided through the history of the studios starting in 1939 to the present day. A very amusing and interesting experience for our media and filmmaking students who played the audience, host, house band, crew and guest in the recording of our own chat show.
A short walk from NBC was MoMA, a juggenaut of a modern art gallery. The large central atrium was dominated by choreographed performance of three dancers writhing and convulsing on huge digital projections whilst a computer played two grand pianos The sound reverberating hypnotically around the galleries like a repetitive Phillip Glass composition.
We were greeted by Picasso, Cezanne and Duchamp, the students commenting that seeing so many famous artworks in first hand was a very moving experience. One of the students, so overwhelmed by the art said that it had brought her to tears. I thought,” Job done, we can go home now”
But the day was not over, one of our students had insisted that we made a detour to Trump Tower to allow us the chance to witness history being made. Despite a large security presence with cordoned off streets there were only a hand full of die hard protestors holding placards.
Sadly we were coming to the end of our tour of New York. Our last day was one of shopping for last minute bargains and grabbing a few New York experiences such as toasted lox and cream cheese bagels and a quick viewing of The Flat iron Building, near Madison Square Park before we set off on our on return home.
All agreed that almost without exception the New Yorkers had been friendly, helpful, exhuberant and enthusiastic and although we had seen some amazing sights, learned some facinating facts, and had a really enjoyable time, we were now ready to make our way home.