2010 Retrospective, gallery trip to Chelsea, New York City

In April, 2010, I took the bus into New York City, to see art.  NYC has the most extensive collection of contemporary art galleries in the world.  I like contemporary art.  On my rare art trips to New York City, I used to go to the galleries in the SoHo neighborhood, Manhattan, which was good.  But, many galleries have moved to the west Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan.  On the brochure I picked up (published by Art in America, International Review – http://www.artinamericamagazine.com –  there are over 200 galleries listed.  Here’s a good gallery link – http://chelseagallerymap.com/.

I generally regard New York City as Gotham City, but I seem to have developed some peace with the place.  It helps that New York City is much safer than it used to be, and I finally figured out how to use the subway, which is also much safer than it used to be.  It seems silly to try to find a cab unless you have to, and I find riding buses to be confusing.  Subways are easier. I rode the subway in London – how hard can it be in New York City?  Not hard, since I read up how to do it ahead of time.  I learned the weird little quirk of the New York City subways – north is “uptown”, south is “downtown”, and pay attention to the entrance you take down to the subway.  If you go into a subway entrance for “uptown”, you can’t generally cross over to “downtown” and vice versa.   With those two things in mind, I was all set.

West Chelsea is fine, lovely in parts, and appropriately warehouse looking in other parts, which is great for gallery space.  It’s an upscale area now.  I had a fantastic wonderful time.  I found a pocket park.  I had lunch.  I walked by the Hudson River at the Chelsea Piers.  I went to about 20 galleries.  There are so many more galleries to go to, next time.

Here are some photos.

“The Commuters”, George Segal, Port Authority Bus Terminal, New York City. Photograph, April 2010.

Street Scene, 8th Avenue, Chelsea, New York City. Unlike most of my photographs there are some people in this picture. April 2010.

Rooftop garden, Chelsea, New York City. April 2010.

Lovely tall buildings, think it’s 8th Avenue, Chelsea, New York City. April 2010.

Coffee Shop, Chelsea, New York City. I like the sign. April 2010.

Building behind screen (construction), Chelsea, New York City. I like the interplay of the screen and the light. April 2010.

Chelsea Park, New York City. A very pretty pocket park. April 2010.

Jack Shaiman Gallery, W 20th Street, Chelsea, New York City. Most of the galleries are on the streets, not the avenues. April 2010.

ZietherSmith Gallery, W 20th Street, Chelsea, New York City. Most of the galleries look like nothing from the outside. It’s helpful to have a good map. April 2010.

529 Arts Building, Chelsea, New York City. The streets have an upscale warehouse area look to them, which I like. April 2010.

View from lunch at Don Giovanni. The umbrella looks like a sculpture! New York City, April 2010.

Interesting architectural detail. Chelsea, New York City. April 2010.

Street scene. Think it’s W 22nd Street. Might be W 25th. Chelsea, New York City. April 2010.

Hudson River from the Chelsea Piers, New York City. April 2010.

Interop 2009, Web 2.0 2009, New York City

On November 18th and 19th I went with a family member to New York City to attend Interop 2009 New York (http://www.interop.com/newyork/) and Web 2.0 New York (http://www.web2expo.com/webexny2009).  We stayed at one of the conference hotels, the Wyndham Garden Hotel Times Square South, Hotel, in the garment district of Manhattan (http://www.wyndham.com/hotels/NYCMT/main.wnt).  It was a short walk to the convention center.

I’m not fond of New York City, which I describe as “Gotham City and not in a good way”!  I don’t like the concrete canyons and the crush of people.  This time I really enjoyed myself.  I loved the hotel.  I liked my block in the garment district.  I liked the walk to the convention center and the wonderful Thai restaurant across from the hotel, Royal Thai Cuisine II (http://www.royalthainyc.com).  We saw a Broadway play, The Thirty Nine Steps (http://www.39stepsonbroadway.com/) and that was wonderful. I had a great time at both conventions.  I had a great travel companion.

I had expo passes to Interop and Web 2.0, which gave me access to the keynote speaker presentations, selected conference talks and the expo floor.

Interop is about business computer “stuff”, hardware, software, networks.  It’s targeted to the IT professional who has the authority to make decisions on the technical architecture and products for their company.  Web 2.0 is about “the web”, with a more inclusive definition of web stuff.  Think of the web as being at the center of what you do on the computer, both personally and professionally.  Web 2.0 is also about collaboration, social networks, updating information on the web in “real time”.  I think the term “Web 2.0” is also used to differentiate between companies that failed during the “dot com” bust, and companies still in existence doing web stuff, but that’s a personal opinion.

“Compare and Contrast” follows.

Keynote Presentations:  polished and professional, both at Interop and Web 2.0.  Interop had one main theme, cloud computing.  Web 2.0 had no overall theme.  The Interop presenters were senior executives at tech companies and other institutions.  The Web 2.0 presenters were a more varied group, writers, comedians, publishers, researchers, government types.  Interop did have one tech columnist, David Pogue, who was really good.

The presentations were all good, though the Interop presentations were consistently more compelling.  I think that’s because the world has changed.  Senior executives at big tech companies – they really know how to present.  Along with knowing their stuff, and wanting to sell it to you, it’s a media job.  Web 2.0 had more “talking heads” kinds of presentations (some funny ones too), also less polished slide content.  There were some gems at Web 2.0.  One of the most interesting presenters at Web 2.0 was Gentry Underwood from the famous design firm IDEO.  Gentry talked about designing for the web.

Focus:  Interop is focused on what I would call “things”, big things – electronic pieces of equipment, and the stuff to run them.  Web 2.0 is focused on communication.  This carried over to the personal space.  The fun presenter at Interop was David Pogue, who talked about and gave demos of fun applications for the iPhone, a piece of equipment, a thing.

Naivety:  Web 2.0 had the idea that, somehow, a speech, even a speech in front of 2000 people, was a collaborative event.  At the keynote presentations a background screen behind each speaker displayed live tweets about the presentation from the audience, displayed during the presentation, real time.  (Tweets are electronic posts over the internet, using Twitter).  The tweet screens were distracting and annoying, and of course it went bad.  At a presentation I did not attend, the tweets become personal and disruptive.  At the presentations I went to, the day after the bad incident, the tweets were displayed behind the speakers, but the tweet stream was moderated, with a small time delay.  I thought the whole concept of a live commentary was naïve, also a misrepresentation of what it means to give a talk in front of thousands of people.  The keynotes were speeches at a conference, not a dialogue, even if people felt compelled to talk about it, electronically, as it was happening.  Electronic forums have their own challenges; when unmoderated, they almost always become antagonistic and disruptive.  There’s also the “class clown” syndrome.  It’s human nature for people to try to get attention.  Given an opportunity, one person will try to outdo the other.  Generally, at a conference, you set up a presentation to maximize people paying attention, given the distractibility of convention goers.  At Interop there was no attempt to make the presentations “collaborative”.  For one thing, no Interop presenter would agree to such a disruptive element.  I found the straightforward attitude at Interop refreshing.  The attitude of the conference and presenters appeared to be “I’ll do the best job possible presenting, and I hope you’ll listen”.

The Expo Booths:  Web 2.0 and Interop shared the same exhibit space, Web 2.0 on one end, Interop on the other.  This was good for companies that wanted to address both audiences, such as Microsoft and IBM.

Expo booths are designed to display products and get you interested in buying the product.  At the tech conventions I’ve been to, I’ve found the booths to be colorful and well designed.  Both Interop and Web 2.0 had good booths, but the booths at Interop were better, better as in more dramatic, eye catching, bigger, with better free stuff.  The best booth was the booth for Qwest – http://www.qwest.com/business, a telecommunications company.  Advertising their “rock solid network”, you could get your picture taken as a rock star.  Qwest had all the requisite props to make you look like a rock star – tattoo sleeves, guitars, mikes, hats, dark glasses, feather boas (think 70s rock).  It was so much fun.

Why the difference?  I think the difference is due to the audience and the products.  Exhibitors at both conferences were showing their products so you’d get interested in their products and spend money, but there are differences in the nature of the products and the participants. Citrix, who had a booth at Interop, can sell you something small, but they really want to sell you big stuff, in terms of price and breadth — big computers (servers), virtualization software for your whole company.  So, they make a booth that looks like a spaceship.

I’ll conclude with some pictures:

Javits Convention Center, New York City, 2009. I like the space.

Citrix Booth, Interop 2009, New York City. Looks like a spaceship.

Expo Floor, Interop 2009, New York City

Qwest Booth, Interop 2009, New York City. We got to be rock stars!

Interop 2009, Keynote Stage, New York City

Web 2.0 2009, Keynote Stage, New York City

Wyndham Garden Hotel Times Square South, New York City, November 2009

Building, Garment District, Manhattan, New York City, November 2009