This day was, as my dad likes to say, “a keeper”.
He decided to join us on a recent Thursday outing. Our plan was to visit two spots in the Bronx, where it just so happens my dad was born and raised.
We started the day at City Island.
City Island is a teeny tiny (literally – it is only 1.5 x .5 miles) island that is technically part of the Bronx. I say “technically”, because as you cross the bridge that brings you over, you feel as if you’ve entered a New England fishing village where time has somehow magically stopped.
It was a beautiful morning, perfect for a walk along the water, and watching the boats and seagulls. Noah had fun at a nearby playground, and we finished with a lobster roll lunch (after asking two life-long residents where “the best” spot was).
If you’re planning a day trip to City Island, I recommend this article in Mommy Poppins, which offers great tips about when best to visit and what to do while you’re there. We went on a Thursday morning, off-season – I would imagine that it is a far different experience during the summer, especially on a weekend. If you can get away mid-week like we did, bring your camera, park the car wherever (you can easily walk everywhere with no worries about getting lost) and enjoy the day.
Our next stop was to the Andrew Freedman Home, and the exhibit “This Side of Paradise”.
From the exhibit’s web site:
“The Home was once built to be a haven, a paradise, for the rich elderly who had lost their fortunes. Bequeathed by millionaire Andrew Freedman, the Home provided not only food and shelter but all the accoutrements of a rich and civilized life style – white glove dinner service, a grand ball room, a wood-paneled library, billiard room and a social committee who organized concerts, opera performances and the like.”
It’s been years since the home was used for such a purpose, and it had fallen into a state of disrepair. The non-profit art group “No Longer Empty” has organized an exhibit that allows public access to many rooms (which had been completely sealed off) for the first time in decades.
More than thirty different artists took over the hallways, bedrooms and even bathrooms, to create their installations. Many used found artifacts like gloves, keys and old typewriters. We spent several hours exploring the rooms and looking at the various ways that the artists sought to interpret the spaces they worked in. The whole experience felt like walking into a time capsule. It was fantastic.
I loved that the three generations that comprised our little group each got something so different out of the afternoon. My dad really connected with the history and stories behind the home and its original residents (and, in true fashion, spent time chatting up one of the very friendly curators). I enjoyed seeing how each artist expressed his or her “voice”, while incorporating the architectural details and found objects within the house. And Noah was beyond excited about the colors and overall playfulness of most of the spaces (we did, however, keep him out of the room with a mound of splintered glass in the center).
Click here for more photos from the exhibit.
The New York Times wrote a great piece about the Andrew Freedman Home and “This Side of Paradise”, and you can learn more on No Longer Empty’s web site. If you are local (or plan to be soon), I highly recommend seeing this exhibit.
As for my dad – I think he’s planning on becoming a Thursday “regular”.
It’s okay; he’s a keeper too.