Today was the day after Black Friday, and the city's shopping districts were undoubtedly crammed corner to corner with bargain-hunters. The great news for non-shoppers was, the streets in other areas were nearly empty. It was a glorious, sunny, late autumn day with the temperature hovering a few degrees above freezing and the wind making it feel even chillier. Walking through Chelsea from Eighth Avenue to Tenth, the loudest sounds were the scratchy rustling of dry leaves on the trees and the harsh, hollow clatter of leaves blowing end-over-end on the ground.
The Sean Kelly gallery on West 29th Street transported me to an imaginary and strangely beautiful neighborhood — James Casebere's photos of his intricate handmade landscapes.
Casebere makes architectural objects — houses, trash cans, even a tiny orange tube in an above-ground swimming pool — and builds neighborhoods with them.
The effect is surreal and dreamlike and yet, more than realistic. Another room in the gallery has black-and-white photos. The mad angles and Tim Burtonesque feel of this one appealed to me.
Next stop: David Vestal's wonderful photos of New York City in the 1940s, 50s and 60s at the Robert Mann gallery, whose website offers a great slideshow of the work. Here's one sample of what there is to see.
Passing by Lohin Geduld Gallery on West 25th Street I noticed the work of Laura Battle. She is a painter of intimate geometry and delicately dense patterns.
As I looked at her paintings, the patterns began to remind me of migraine hallucinations. As it happened, the artist was there, sitting on a bench chatting with another visitor when I passed through. So I asked her. The answer is no, she does not suffer from migraines.
Still on 25th Street, I came to Gallery Henoch and was dazzled by the work of Max Ferguson, a photorealist painter with masterly technical skills and a phenomenal eye for composition and light.
Almost all of Ferguson's work celebrates the parts of New York City that he believes are in danger of dying, so in a sense he is a documentary painter.
But sometimes he transcends the photorealist form altogether, as in this extraordinary painting of the Fulton Fish Market.
My final stop was the Gagosian Gallery, which has a new Robert Rauschenberg retrospective. It was mobbed, as if a Black Friday sale was in progress. I'll go back on a less-crowded day, but meanwhile you can read about the show on the gallery's website.