Instead of wallowing in my current funk, I decided to take myself out on the town yesterday. The plan? Hit a few museums, eat some good food, and catch a bit of independent film.

Though it was abominably crowded because it was closing weekend, I saw Kara Walker’s exhibit at the Whitney. Fabulous. The large-scale silhouettes wrapped snaked around outsize walls; intimate watercolors, sketches accompanied by meditations on race, class, and gender captured on 3×5″ notecards, eloquently framed. By the time you read this, it’s likely finito, but if the exhibit travels elsewhere, I couldn’t recommend it more.

After, I wandered through Central Park (see picture, above), down Museum Mile, and took a quick tour of the Neue Galerie, where Gustav Klimt’s works are being exhibited. Gorgeous, but again, quite crowded, so I ducked into the gallery’s Cafe Sabarsky to clear my head over espresso (err, Grosser Brauner). It’s spendy, but between the heady Viennese brew and my slice of Klimttorte (chocolate ganache and several layers of dense hazelnut pastry), it’s well worth the premium.

 

Refreshed, I decided to head to the Lower East Side, having heard that there were some interesting events in Chinatown tied to the Lunar New Year. On February 9, a parade is on in Flushing (which is arguably New York’s more authentic center of all things Chinese/Korean/Asian).

More wandering ensued; then, feet wearied, I dropped into Bar Veloce for a tipple and a small bite. Excellent panini and red wine by the glass. Afterward, with a bit of time to kill, I decided to sample the appetizers at Madras Cafe. My judgment may have been clouded by the Kingfisher I knocked back, but the samosa chat was excellently spicy, and the idlis at least passable — a fitting end to a long, indulgent day.

(Instead of drinking my way through the Village …)

1. Gustav Klimt at the Neue Galerie — an old favorite; what’s not to like about Viennese art nouveau?

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2. “My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love,” Kara Walker, Whitney Museum of American Art — probably the best-reviewed show of the year; I don’t explore contemporary American art nearly enough as I probably should.

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3. “This is War!”, Robert Capa, International Center for Photography — a retrospective of the Magnum vet’s war photojournalism, and a reminder that the images coming out of Iraq now lack a certain independent spirit of earlier eras.

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4. “Pricked: Extreme Embroidery,” multiple artists, Museum of Art and Design — I stitch, I bitch, therefore I am?

5. “Arts of Kashmir,” Asia Society — a deeply divided region that nonetheless houses some of the most beautiful art in the known world.