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Go for stillspotting but Stay for the Bronx: 10 Great Things to See

by Hrag Vartanian on October 11, 2012

This weekend, Oct 13-14, The Guggenheim Museum will be hosting the fifth and final edition in the stillspotting nyc series, stillspotting nyc: bronx.

For this installment, Guggenheim has teamed up with Charlie Todd and Tyler Walker of the prankster pop-up theater troupe Improv Everywhere and audiologist Tina Jupiter, to present Audiogram, a unique 65-minute interactive audio experience and theatrical group hearing test designed for the South Bronx. Participants will don mp3 players pre-loaded with sound compositions designed to heighten awareness of city’s latent audio background and wander around the neighborhood’s Joyce Kilmer Park while being led on a sensory journey through city space.

To make things even more exciting, on Saturday October 13, Hyperallergic has partnered with The Guggenheim Museum to host a stillspotting Bronx Art Adventure! We’ll start the day with the final stillspotting nyc event and continue on an art adventure across New York’s northernmost borough, including a trip to the Marcel Breuer-designed Lehman Gallery and a visit to Arthur Avenue, aka Bronx’s Little Italy, and Emilia’s Restaurant for a traditional Italian dinner (with wine!) to cap off the day.

While we know stillspotting:bronx is more than enough reason to head up to New York’s northernmost borough, there’s so much more in the Bronx that you should see! To help those of you that can’t make it to stillspotting Bronx Art Adventure, or for those that want to explore the Bronx on your own, we’ve put together a top 10 list of things you shouldn’t miss!

For details and tickets to stillspotting nyc: bronx visit stillspotting.guggenheim.org/visit/bronx

For details and tickets to the stillspotting Bronx Art Adventure visit: “The Guggenheim and Hyperallergic Present: stillspotting Bronx Art Adventure.” Please note: Tickets to Bronx Art Adventure are limited and have to be purchased by Friday, October 12 at 5pm.

Bronx Museum of Art

A view of the Bronx Museum of Art on the Grand Concourse (via flickr.com/hragvartanian)

Founded in 1971, the Bronx Museum of Art continues to be the premiere venue of contemporary art in the borough. Whether it’s their popular First Fridays or their special exhibitions, there is something for everyone at this institution. One big advantage to the museum is that it is always free!

Anyone going to stillspotting will invitably start here since this is where you check in for the event. Take some time and look around.

Arthur Avenue Retail Market

A view of the newly redone Arthur Avenue Retail Market in the Bronx (image via papadatos.com)

A foodie’s delight, this staple food market in the heart of Little Italy allows you to gorge yourself with a wide assortment of meets, cheeses, and everything else Italian, including an old school pasticceria. È fantastico!

This market is in the middle of the whole strip, known as Arthur Avenue, which is an Italian-American neighborhood that continues to retain its original cultural character without totally Disney-fying like Manhattan’s version of Little Italy. If you come on the Hyperallergic/Guggenheim trip this Saturday, you’ll be sure to see this landmark.

Marcel Breuer in the Bronx

Images of Lehman College’s Marcel Breuer-designed art gallery (via lehman.edu)

Who doesn’t love, Marcel Breuer? He might be best known for his iconic Bauhaus chair but he did a lot more than that.

The Breuer building, which is often in the shadows of its more famous arty sister on Manhattan’s Upper East Side (the Whitney Museum on Madison Avenue), is one of two Breuer-designed buildings on the campus of Lehman College. The Breuer gallery was initially built as a library in 1958 and the space is defined by large inverted umbrellas that were originally conceived as the roof and ceiling to a grand reading room. A curtain wall wraps around the north and west sides of the building while a honeycomb-like sunscreen runs around the south and east facades

Hyperallergic/Guggenheim tour attendees will be spending some time in this wonderful building tucked away from the crowds.

Edgar Allan Poe Cottage

A view of the Poe cottage with a peak of the surrounding urbanscape in the background. (image via flickr.com/contusion)

Built in 1797, this small cottage became a piece of American history when writer Edgar Allan Poe and his family occupied the home in 1846. During his time here, Poe wrote his poems “Annabel Lee” and “Ulalume” and his controversial The Literati of New York City series, which consisted of gossip-like discussions of literary figures and their work. Sadly, Poe only lived a few years in this building before he passed away in 1849.

Amalgamated Housing Coop

Amalgamated Houses, above, was among the four cooperatively owned housing developments that Jewish immigrants built during the 1920s. (image via forward.com)

The radical housing experiment known as Amalgamated Housing Cooperative was started in the 1920s by a group of immigrants, factory workers and Communists, who wanted to transform the American Dream into their own.

By 1927, thousands of immigrant Jewish garment workers pooled their money to build what is affectionately known as “the Coops.” This was their little slice of utopia where they practiced their ideals of an equitable and just society. Depression-era cops called the 1,400-unit “Little Moscow” but today the complex is remembered as the granddaddy of the modern American co-op. In addition to their housing innovation, the group also made a major impact on society when they put their radical ideas of racial equality and rights for tenants and workers into practice with their many activities, including by inviting African American residents into the complex at a time when American life was very much racially segregated.

Sadly, by the 1950s the complex went into bankruptcy and the colony was no longer the laboratory of far left American idealism it once was. The complex remains though and they are a testament to the fact that the American Dream has always been a beacon of hope to people of every stripe and political persuasion even if we often forget that fact.

Hall of Fame for Great Americans

A hidden jewel in the Bronx, it features busts of many renowned Americans. (photo via flickr.com/wallyg)

The Hall of Fame for Great Americans is the original US hall of fame and sits on the former Bronx campus of NYU, and currently houses Bronx Community College.

The memorial structure is an open-air colonnade, 630 feet in length, and it is designed in the neoclassical style by architect Stanford White, who also designed the Washington Square Arch downtown. There are 98 busts of renowned Americans from various fields and it’s a quiet oasis in the heart of the Bronx. The original sculptures that grace this elegant space are from a number of distinguished American sculptors, including Daniel Chester French, who sculpted the Lincoln Memorial, James Earl Fraser, whose work includes the figures of “Justice” and “Law” for the US Supreme Court, and Frederick MacMonnies, whose reliefs grace Fifth Avenue’s Washington Arch.

1520 Sedgewick Avenue: Birthplace of Hip Hop

It may not look like some of the other spots on this list but this humble public housing establishment was the birthplace of hip hop and rap. Yes, the global movement that revolutionized pop culture and music was born at the basement parties in this West Bronx project. Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc extended the breaks of funk records at the gatherings here to develop a major new musical genre that continues to be a global force. Come pay your respects.

New York Botanical Garden

The Victorian-style greenhouse is a great place to start the NY Botanical Garden (image via flickr.com/ghbremer)

This is the largest botanical park in New York and wandering the grounds of this jewel is a treat. From the Victorian pavilion to the historical 19th C. Lorillard Snuff Mill, the oldest existing tobacco manufacturing building in the US, the 250-acre site is home to 50 different gardens and plant collections … that’s a lot of greenery. And since it’s fall, you can be sure that the foliage will not disappoint.

Added Bonus: Until October 21, NYBC will have two Claude Monet paintings — including one that has never been exhibited before in the US — on display, and a seasonally changing “interpretation of the garden that inspired his art.”

Wave Hill

A view of the Palisades from the pastoral pleasure of Wave Hill (photo via flickr.com/elephipelephi)

In the heart of the Riverdale section of the Bronx is a 19th C. estate named Wave Hill that was briefly the home of great American man of letters Mark Twain (1901–03) and continues to inspire awe for its pastoral feel. Part of the pleasure of this site is that it looks directly at the New Jersey Palisades, which means you see very little if any human presence when you look out across the Hudson River. If you close your eyes and think of an oasis in the middle of a city, it will probably look like this.

An added bonus for art lovers is that the estate often plays host to wonderfully curated art shows.

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, Pelham Bay Park (via flickr.com/kpaulus)

Tucked away in the northeast corner of the city is this historic site that makes it easy to forget you’re in 21st C. New York. Transport yourself to another era as you wander the 17th C. grounds and enter the 19th C. federal-style mansion.

*    *    *

For details and tickets to stillspotting nyc: bronx visit stillspotting.guggenheim.org/visit/bronx/

For details and tickets to the stillspotting Bronx Art Adventure visit: “The Guggenheim and Hyperallergic Present: stillspotting Bronx Art Adventure.” Please note: Tickets to Bronx Art Adventure are limited and have to be purchased by Friday, October 12 at 5pm.

 

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