Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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October 23, 2003
More than just "the Lollipop Building"

I don't read newspapers. I stockpile them.

That is why I did not discover until today Tom Wolfe's paean (and memorial) to Edward Durrel Stone's 2 Columbus Circle. The New York Times published Mr. Wolfe's essay about ten days ago, in two parts.

Had I been around NYC during the mid-to-late 1960's and old enough to give a damn, I could have visited and appreciated the building during the five years when it housed the Huntington Hartford Gallery of Modern Art.

Wolfe writes:

Take the red carpets, for example. They played an integral role in one of the most ingenious pieces of engineering ever attempted in a building that tall, 10 stories. Stone had divided the galleries into split levels connected by short, luxuriously wide flights of red-carpeted stairs, creating a grand central staircase with the galleries themselves serving as the landings. Any ambulatory person could walk from the ground floor to the topmost gallery, looking at pictures the whole way, without even realizing he'd done it. Not even Frank Lloyd Wright's spectacular spiral ramp in the Guggenheim Museum could compare in originality or function.

What will become of the building? Read the depressing answers here and here [edit 1/10/06: now here].

"Depressing" for whom? Me. Why? Because the building in its current form is one of my favorites in New York City. And not only because I have seen its big, white, blank facade used as a movie screen [edit 1/10/06: now here].

What if I had been around as an adult during the mid-to-late 1960's in New York City? Would I really have hung out at the Huntington Gallery? What kind of art did they show there? Would I have liked it?

My preliminary, lazy research yields an answer to the question: "doubtful." Among people who had art displayed at the gallery I have only so far found LeRoy Neiman and a fellow named Earl Hubbard. Would I really have dragged my ass from below 23th Street to see such exhibitions? The answer is unknowable.