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Smithson–the journey


smithsontriptrafficWe were our way to see the little Smithson-on-the-Hudson (see Cate’s post), driving up with Chuck at the wheel and Iris in the back, when we got detoured from the N.J. Turnpike. It took us four hours, partly because we tried to get back on the turnpike too soon and had to cirle back to the original exit and repeat the first part of the detour. Here’s a picture of traffic on Route 130. All the way, I felt bad for Chuck, who all too recently had been stuck in a similar, slow-moving line of traffic fleeing New Orleans and Katrina. The memories seemed too fresh. Iris, however, managed to nap through a lot of the hejira to go to the press preview of Robert Smithson’s “Floating Island.”

After a while, we discovered the cause of our detour was an accident involving a hazmat vehicle. We still do not know what the hazmat was.

smithsontriprocksOnce we found a place to park, the whole of the waterfront began to look like one giant photo opportunity. Sometimes we all ran to photograph the same thing, like this sleeping man who looked like just another rock.

smithsontripsnappersSometimes we all thought different items were worthy of our attention. Here’s Chuck photographing, um, I don’t know what he was seeing. Here’s Roberta photographing, um, I don’t know what she was seeing. And the picture is proof of me photographing something else entirely–the two of them.

smithsontripbreakA number of people walking along Hudson River Park were unsure what was going on. One young man, on a break from work, asked us and we told him all about the Smithson. He seemed amused, pleased, and puzzled all at once. Then we passed this group of workers on a break. I don’t know if they were staring at the “Floating Island” out in the Hudson, or just at the Hudson itself, which, like all bodies of water, is eye candy.

smithsontripfloatingislandIn this shot you can see “Floating Island” leaving the press preview event for it’s night-time berth on Staten Island. The arrow is pointing to an OSHA-yellow bollard that we thought at first was a fire extinguisher. For some reason that I can’t quite recall, we thought that was funny, so I added the info in case you want to laugh, too. The whole thing–the tug, the island, the bollard looked toy-like and optimistically boyish. This is how we prefer our icons of art history.

smithsontripgangAs the press preview broke up, we gathered together as a group to chat. (left to right, the man who was giving instructions to the tug boat, Cate, Iris, Chuck, Roberta’s back, and artblog contributor Brent Burket (see his previous post here).

smithsontripmoneyThen it was off to some nearby Belgian bistro after Village Voice inexpensive-food reviewer and Chowhound Robert Sietsema nixed Burket’s lowly diner suggestion (names escaping me like crazy). Roberta and I had both read about Sietsema and Chowhound in a Calvin Trillin piece in the New Yorker in 2001, and where he led, we would certainly follow. Lunch was pleasant. Great fries. We all threw our money in the basket to pay. Here’s Iris counting and in focus. The rest of us were blurry. The plus side of the trip–being outdoors, seeing people and seeing Smithson’s piece. The downside–six hours of travel for 30 minutes of art. We had a 3:30 bus to catch. It had no shocks and our driver was enraged about its condition.