One of my earliest blog posts was of the painting I was doing of the view from my studio window in Hell's Kitchen, on the West Side of Manhattan. I started my larger painting last fall after first doing a smaller study (a few days), but had to put it aside for a while during the winter. I started working on it again last month and just finished it this morning (and I mean, I really finished it: it's been varnished, photographed, and cabbed down to Eleanor Ettinger). Here is the shot of the painting on the easel.
I have been in Hell's Kitchen for almost 4 years now. The area is sometimes referred to as Midtown West (if you're being generic) or Clinton (if you are in real estate and don't want to have to say the word "Hell" to describe the somewhat uncategorizable neighborhood that was the background to West Side Story, the scene of the infamous 2008 Weekend-At-Bernie's episode in which two men rolled a dead guy to the Western Union on 9th in order to cash his social security check, and the choice parking spot of last month's failed Times Square bombing-- no smoking gun, but there was a smoking Nissan Pathfinder). Ah, yes, Hell's Kitchen: I shall miss you. Except, of course, on Broadway matinee days, St. Patrick's Day (when you are covered in green vomit), and New Year's Eve (when you are covered in vomit-colored vomit AND confetti).
The pink building on the left in the detail is Worldwide Plaza whose offices include the white-shoe firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where many of my diligent former law school classmates while away the days-- and nights--accumulating the accumulatable: billable hours. The white building with the green roof is PPAS, the Professional Performing Arts High School. It's not LaGuardia High School, of "Fame"-notoriety, but I like to imagine the lives of the school's current students-- at least as much as I don't like to imagine the lives of Cravath's current associates. The building with the diagrid glass facade is the Hearst Building, and the two matching towers next to it is the Time Warner Center, which I visit a lot actually-- the first few floors are like an upscale mall. Having grown up in Houston, I'm a bit anti-mall, but I actually go to Time Warner a lot because I'm bourgeois and I like Bouchon and Williams-Sonoma, and Hell's Kitchen has a dearth of bookstores, but the mall has a Borders (the worst Borders in existence, but a Borders nonetheless). That brownish-yellow building with the yellow stone accents, I have no idea. In the foreground we are facing the back of Restaurant Row there. I have actually never eaten anywhere on Restaurant Row because it reminds me a little bit of the main drag in Guilin, in Guangxi Province, PRC, where all the restaurants worked really hard to market themselves to travelers. I guess lots of cities that get guests and tourists have some strip like that, where everything is prix fixe and translated into multiple languages and the hosts call to you from just inside the awning. Guilin was just one of my earliest experiences of that.