Saturday, April 5, 2008

First Friday

The crowd at First Friday @ the Guggenheim.

When my original plans for this weekend got scrapped, I thought I was in for a lazy time. Not even close. New friend M invited me to attend First Friday at the Guggenheim. The museum opens after-hours with a DJ or two, a bar and free rein to explore the exhibits. When I found out Stretch Armstrong was one of the DJs this time around I was sold.

M called at 9 to say he was heading over with his friends but I waited more than an hour to meet them. The week had exhausted me and I needed to recoup a bit. When I finally made it over at 10:30, the line was around the corner onto 89th St and drifting back towards Madison Ave. A bit defeated, I texted M to say it would be awhile before I got in. Luckily, he told me has was at the front of the line and if I hurried I could make it in with them!

After a minute of confusion I found M and friends K and A just about to get into the door. They were all ready to leave, having waited almost 2 hours to get to that point. No way, I said! You're so close. And I'm glad they agreed to wait the last two minutes, because WOW.

The museum was quite crowded. It was $25 cash-only to get in, but then you had to buy tickets for alcohol (lame). It took us awhile to find the bar. But it was the exhibits that really drew me in. I didn't think I was a fan of modern art but the more I've seen the more I've liked. Right now the Guggenheim is featuring several installations by Cai Guo-Qiang. I knew him for his firework art -- literally setting off carefully choreographed explosions by large canvases. But the main dome area featured several cars with light fixture arms extending out. It represented a car bomb exploding. It was at once disturbing, chaotic and beautiful, and whether intentional or not it was the perfect backdrop for the music and scene.

Cai Guo-Qiang's Inopportune: Stage One
installation at the Guggenheim.

Drinks were only allowed on the bottom level so we downed a glass of wine each and headed up the rotunda. There were several more of Guo-Quang's exhibits and all were pretty amazing. The third level featured 90+ wolves running from floor to ceiling and the front of the pack crashing into a glass wall. The next level up featured New York's Rent Collection Courtyard, many life-sized clay figurines modeled after a similar collection from China. The clay figurines had not been kilned so they were cracked and yet so lifelike at the same time. Many of the figurines were still in construction and so we got to see the wood frames underneath. I was pretty much in awe.

We headed to the top where we got a killer view of the party from above. One of the cars was so close we could nearly touch it, and K tried reaching out for it. We stopped after a nasty look from a security guard. But that was another thing -- I was amazed at how close the staff let us get to everything. Had we wanted to touch one of the clay figurines, we could have. Everyone was relatively well-behaved.

Almost close enough to touch.

I was pleased with the crowd...mostly young professionals like us. Despite the great music there wasn't much dancing going on. It was too crowded. That was disappointing. Also disappointing was the lack of mingling. We didn't really meet anyone new. But overall it was a very cool event. M and his harem, myself included, made it fun. Word is that it's less crowded depending on the DJ. I think I'll give this event another shot.

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