Recently, while visiting NYC, I have allowed myself the flexibility to respond to serendipity. Yesterday, this presented itself in the form of the QUEEN SOFIA SPANISH INSTITUTE, which I happened to pass, at
684 PARK AVENUE
NEW YORK, NY 10065
T (212) 628 0420 F (212) 734 4177
Currently on exhibit there is MARIO TESTINO's ALTO MODA. Anyone who has a weakness for rich fabrics and ethnic design ought to enjoy these large-scale photographs of Peruvian men and women in traditional festive garb from various regions of Peru. Both the skillful photographs and the clothing portrayed are works of art. Highly embroidered and embellished Peruvian costumes from corn-growing, alpaca raising and cattle-herding regions, are completed by amusing and sinister masks, which, due to the clarity and size of the photographs, can be seen in greater detail than if we were actually attending the ritual dances and activities for which they are created. The costumes and tableaus are freighted with a fair amount of social commentary. Cross-cultural influences are worth noting, such as the tiered, flouncy skirts and black leather chaps appliquéd with white leather guitars, which suggest a possible cross-pollination between Peruvian cowboy culture and our own in the U.S. An explanatory text is given to visitors to guide them through the exhibition.
New York seems to be a treasure trove of small exhibition spaces. It is justifiably famous for its magnificent museums of every stripe, and its galleries where a cornucopia of fine arts are exhibited and available for purchase. Not surprisingly, comparatively intimate and obscure venues, a number of which lurk behind the beaux arts, limestone facades of former Upper East Side mansions, frequently go unnoticed and under-appreciated. This is good news for serendipitous visitors who may find they have the run of still-elegant homes which they can wander through in stately and often solitary serenity. Yesterday, before leaving, I filled my water bottle from an elegantly arched marble dolphin water spout.