New York Neighborhood Guide for the Art Connoisseur
by Megan Eileen McDonough of Bohemian Trails.
New York is synonymous with creativity so it makes perfect sense that art is a constant fixture in many neighborhoods. Luckily, you will see art no matter where you wander, from pop-up exhibits in the Flatiron District to impromptu performances in Washington Square Park. That said, if you really want an immersive art experience, it's best to stick to a few key neighborhoods. From gritty street art in Bushwick and independent galleries in Chelsea to the architectural masterpieces of Soho, here's your ultimate guide to art in New York.
For galleries: Chelsea
Chelsea wasn't always the classy neighborhood it is today. Unlike twenty years ago, this downtown art hub is now filled with independent galleries, designer boutiques and trendy restaurants. Besides the impressive High Line urban park, Chelsea is home to 350 galleries. To view brand new work, gallery hop on a Thursday evening when many spaces open their doors to showcase the latest exhibits. There's usually free wine and cheese involved, too! The bulk of galleries are located between West 18th and West 27th Streets near 10th and 11th Avenues.
For architecture: Soho
Similar to Chelsea, Soho also has a dark past. Once a neighborhood plagued by crime, it's now one of downtown Manhattan's most desired places to live. Soho has a slew of contemporary art galleries but it's also one of the most architecturally fascinating. If you think about it, Soho is like an outdoor museum of cast-iron buildings, fire escapes and other architectural elements like scrollwork and glass bricks. Plus, many streets are paved with Belgian blocks, giving the illusion that you've quite literally stepped back in time. The beauty is in the details.
For street art: Bushwick, Brooklyn
A neighborhood art guide would not be complete without mentioning Bushwick. In recent years, Brooklyn has become a popular borough for millennials, with Bushwick arguably the most appealing neighborhood for urban art. Their annual three-day festival, Bushwick Open Studios, always draws a crowd but Bushwick's biggest claim to fame is the Bushwick Collective, which is a group of artists who adorn the building facades near the Troutman Street and St. Nicholas Avenue intersection. Even when it rains, these colorful murals don't go unnoticed.
For museums: The Upper East Side
This posh uptown neighborhood may not have the same street cred as Bushwick, but when it comes to famous museums, there's not better place than the Upper East Side. Between 82nd and 105th Streets, there are several major museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Head to The Frick Collection for artwork that dates back to as early as the 14th century or swing by the Asia Society for pieces from ancient India and medieval Persia among other civilizations.
For modern art: Long Island City, Queens
Don't write Queens off your New York itinerary just yet. Long Island City is not only but it's also a quick train ride from Midtown Manhattan, but it's packed with modern art institutions. Feeling adventurous? The MoMA PS1 is showcases experimental art from across the globe while the Socrates Sculpture Park and The Noguchi Museum specialize in innovative sculptures. Feeling adventurous? You can even learn aerial tricks at the performance arts studio, Circus Warehouse. Film fanatics will gravitate to the Museum of the Moving Image next door in Astoria.