On the Town in Hudson Yards

Food, art and entertainment: NYC’s newest neighborhood has it all.

Thousands stream to Manhattan’s newest playground—Hudson Yards—for the gratis thrills of window shopping high-end retail and climbing 2,500 steps of the acrophobic, spiraling Vessel. But consider investing, as we did, in the full experience—from fine-or-fast dining to art and entertainment.

A starting point: Snark Park (on The Shops’ second floor). Light streams through gauzy white walls, illuminating a curious passage with stops for game boards and photo ops in comfy thrones. A Lost and Found handsheet challenges explorers to spot and sometimes enter columns lined with sequins, shag carpet, beads and mirrors. Spoiler alert: A blue-lit room with beanbag recliners lets everyone play Peeping Tom on fellow guests, thanks to one-way glass. Just outside find Snark Park merch at Kith Treats, the popular dessert bar that custom blends cereal, candy and ice cream. (Admission to Snark Park: Adults $18, children 4-12 $10, under 4 free)

 

At the edges of the bustling food hall Mercado Little Spain, three restaurants allow for full-service dining: Mar (seafood from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean), Leña (grilled vegetables, seafood and meats) and Spanish Diner (Iberian-meets-American fare under the High Line). Bringing vision to it all is José Andrés, the chef extraordinaire and humanitarian who, among other gracious acts, fed stricken Puerto Rico.

His Spanish Diner emits casual vibes with a spacious bar, flower stall, classic ceiling fans and vast doors that roll away for dining open-air. Sophistication, however, marks the comfort food—on our visit, Andalusian gazpacho that’s golden-pink with delicate cubes of peppers and cucumber, marinated mussels on patatas fritas, short ribs with olive oil mashed potatoes and Spanish cod with La Mancha pisto. Crispy churros arrive with lush chocolate; and whipped cream, conserved peach and vanilla ice cream grace the Barcelona-style flan. Drinks range from wines spouted by show-off porrons to tangy-sweet sangria by glass or carafe plus beers and vermouths sized to match small or combo plates. Note: A playful group might request one of two special café tables. José designed them with a glass surface for plates and glasses but underneath installed the handles, rods and opposing teams of a fútbol game.

  

During their training at Spanish Diner, staffers were shown the iconic 1932 photograph of construction workers eating box lunches on a precipitous skyscraper beam. They were told to think of themselves too as pioneers and to recognize that Hudson Yards demands an adventurous spirit.

 

New York’s newest performing arts center calls itself The Shed, a surprising name for this state-of-the-art venue with a mandate to showcase all things leading edge. Then again, maybe it fits, since the McCourt Theater here asks audiences to “shed” ordinary expectations of what a production should be.

 

The building, designed by Diller Scofido + Renfro with the Rockwell Group, is an engineering wonder. To accommodate large-scale events, The Shed’s telescoping outer shell deploys and glides along rails onto the adjoining plaza. This creates the McCourt with seating for 1,250 or for even more people by expanding into adjoining galleries. Those galleries, more often than not, serve as visual art museums. Column- and admission-free, the 19-foot-high spaces allow for immense installations,  videos and experiential zones.

Currently (through Aug. 25): “Collision/Coalition,” a three-part world-premiere Shed commission: Tony Cokes’ optical overload via LED panels that screen videos drawn from Hollywood films, archival footage, quotable celebrities and pop music to gauge the impact of modern life on making art; Oscar Murillo’s large-scale patchwork paintings, a maze of black “flags” to touch and pass through and a line of human-scale, stuffed figures that were paraded here from Rockefeller Center, an homage to the “working people” of Diego Rivera’s demolished mural there; and “Cinta Amarilla” (from July 31), a new documentary film by Yanina Valdivieso and Vanessa Bergonzoli on Beatriz González, one of Colombia’s most celebrated artists.

Upcoming at the Galleries:

• Oct. 9, 2019-Jan. 19, 2020: 130 works by Agnes Denes, including three new commissions expected to reflect her decades-long concern with ecology and experimentation

• Nov. 13, 2019-January 2010: “Manual Override,” confessional videos by Lynn Hershman Leeson, pioneering filmmaker and collaborator with scientists; four artists paired with engineers, AI experts and scientists itching to reimagine technical and personal inquiry

Upcoming at The Griffin Theater:

• Oct. 11-25, 2019: “A Quiet Evening of Dance,” five pieces of William Forsythe’s choreography with an unlikely source of primary sound—the breath of the dancers

Upcoming at The McCourt:

• Nov. 2-9, 2019: legendary video artist Joan Jonas and pianist Hélène Grimaud exploring mirrors and memory with video, projection and live performance

• Nov. 19-24, 2019: Perm, Russia’s orchestra and chorus musicAeterna performing Verdi’s entire Messa da Requiem, accompanied by a commissioned “artwork of moving image” by the late Jonas Mekas

Jean Lawlor Cohen
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