Monday, October 31, 2005

Weekend in New York - Part III - RUSSIA!

On Sunday my parents and I went to Guggenheim Museum to check out a collection of Russian art. Creatively named RUSSIA!, this exhibition is billed as the most comprehensive and significant exhibition of Russian art outside Russian since the end of the Cold War. It is largely useless to try to explain in this blog how wanderful the whole experience was. You simply have to go and see it for yourself. Let me just tell you that most of the artworks have never before traveled abroad. In addition to over 250 masterpieces of Russian art from 13th century to present day, there is also a selection of first-class Western European paintings and sculptures from Russian imperial collection and from Morozov's and Shchukin's collections.

Word of advice here - go early and allow plenty of time (upward of 3 hours). We got there at 11am on Sunday and by the time we were ready to leave, at 2:30pm, the museum was packed and the line went clear around the building. Also, spending extra $5 on an audio-tour is recommended.

Afterwards we went to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. It is a noisy, smelly, dark, and dirty place crowded with thousands of hustling and bustling Russians with attitudes as thick as their accents. It's a place worth visiting for all the great people watching. Based on the mix of stores there one might think that Russians are born to eat, drink, read books and medicate themselves. So why do I try to go to Brighton every time I'm in NY? Well, because I love to eat, drink, read books, and medicate myself. In all seriousness, just this time I spent over $70 on books (and books are cheap here, compared to Barnes & Noble). There are also some food items that one cannot buy in a normal American grocery store, especially not in Florida. These include all sorts of dried salted fish, smoked fish, pelmeni, varenniki, all sorts of chocolate, including bitter dark chocolate, blinni, and other such yummy goodness.