“I Love New York”: Creative Dating in the City
Summer is the season to get your love life heated up. As temperatures hit a blazing eighty and ninety degrees, New York City offers the picturesque weather that can lead to some perfect dating moments—none of which have anything to do with the old ‘dinner and a movie’ formula. This art capital includes the unique sites, opportunities, and art works that are both highly creative and will add that extra bit of cuteness to any romantic date. Even if you’re just looking to impress on a first date or are an established couple looking for a new thrill, take out that significant other and become inspired by the imaginative arts and activities the city has in store.
Madison Square Park, Flat Iron District
Right now at Madison Square Park, avoiding the obscene Shake Shack line, along the gravel walkways in the middle of a long stretch of green grass is a monumental, forty-four ft. tall white sculpture of a female head. This is a contribution by Spanish artist Juame Plensa titled Echo. This figurative work of art is a part of the Mad. Sq. Art, a public contemporary art program of the Madison Square Park Conservancy that places a new piece of commissioned art four times a year right in the middle of the park. Plensa’s site-specific bust of a young girl with her eyes closed is serene and at peace in the middle of the Flat Iron craziness. The clean white surface shines beautifully in the high noon sun. Bring a blanket, a baguette, some cheese, and meats and enjoy your own non-Shake Shack picnic on the manicured grass.
Picasso and Maria-Thérèse: L’Amour Fou, Gagosian Gallery, Chelsea
The current exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery (522 West 21st St.) explores the fruitful relationship between Picasso and his young muse and lover, Maria-Thérèse. The five rooms are full of paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and home videos that reveal the inspired mind of the prolific modern artist in love. Enraptured by the beauty and body of Maria-Thérèse for thirteen years, Picasso was constantly reinventing technique and referencing back to other artistic periods to express his desire and affection for his muse. After looking through this comprehensive collection of love, passion, and inspiration, you can easily walk up to 23rd Street and talk a long, easy stroll through the newly extended High Line. (Exhibition ends July 15th)
Color Me Mine, Tribeca
Color Me Mine, a make-your-own pottery studio (92 Reade St.) is not only for the kids. For a small studio fee, you can select from a number of pre-made clay miniatures, which can be anything from a mug to an owl to a mermaid. After designing and painting the ceramic, the piece is then glazed and put in the kin for you. The result, which you receive within a week’s time, is a handcrafted, personal object that you can give as a special little gift to that special someone. Besides being a great hands-on activity (please, no Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore Ghost re-enactments, there are children present still), a date at Color Me Mine can be a surprising, fun alternative to yet another night of dinner and drinks.
The Cloisters, Washington Heights
An hour train ride up from the city is the Cloisters (99 Margaret Corbin Dr.), an assembled set of buildings devoted to medieval art and architecture. This branch of the Metropolitan Museum brings together an impressive collection, from commissioned tapestries, devotional objects, and actual architectural elements from various locations in Europe. Besides being a full historical survey of medieval Europe, it is a spot that is more spacious, less crowded, and easy-going than the typical art museum. Also, the stony buildings are nestled within a cloistered garden, where there is enough green space to lounge around after a long day of exploring.
Freemans Restaurant, Lower East Side
Located in the heart of the Lower East Side galleries is a shadowy, graffiti-filled passageway off of Bowery called Freeman’s Alley. Walk through to discover a nook of boutiques and ‘hole-in-the-walls’ where Freemans Restaurant rests (191 Chrystie St.). The cozy, classic American restaurant feels like a rustic getaway from the city—aided by the taxidermy décor all over. The simple, homely brunch menu makes this spot a great location to go to before or after a weekend gallery walk. Try out their popular cheesy artichoke dip and their skillet eggs with bacon, spinach, and gruyere—a nod to the filling, traditional choices this charming restaurant has. Their storefront of overgrown, lush vegetation looks especially magical in the bright heat of daylight.
Dorian Gray, Alphabet City
If you’re in need of a quiet and removed spot for an after-work rendezvous, try out Dorian Gray (205 E. 4th St.). The bar could be confused as another East Village sports bar, but the literary-inspired name, the dark wood seating, and the black-and-white photos of Irish authors lining the brick walls mark this an exceptional pub. Come in for the amiable staff and the warm ambiance, and stick around for the English sports playing on the screens surrounding the relaxed atmosphere of other Manhattanites looking for a chill time. This Irish gastropub is a great place to wind down and easily converse over a pint. Such pub and dive bar models are really the best places for long, detached musings concerning life, culture, and current events.
Outdoors Movies, Brooklyn + Manhattan
Get out of the dark and chilly cinema and take advantage of the numerous outdoor movies that are held throughout the summer in Manhattan and Brooklyn. From more contemporary selections at Hudson River Piers to the classic films shown at Bryant Park to the more artsy/cult-status fare featured in Brooklyn Bridge Park (the documentary, Basquiat, on the nineties graffiti-cum-fine artist will be showing Thursday, July 28th), it is the perfect opportunity to grab a special someone, snuggle together, and watch a film against the jet black New York sky. Rooftop Films (an organization that features independent films and changes their exhibition space weekly) even has an advanced-screening of Bellflower, an apocalyptic love story due later this summer, perhaps not advisable for couples on the rocks, but for the indie-film-loving pair.
The Boutique Eat Shop, Chelsea
The Boutique Eat Shop (559 W. 22nd St.) offers the essential elements of an NYC art spot—quality, taste, aesthetics—but just applied to your high dining experience. B.E.S, founded by restaurateur and former owner Patrick Duffy, features the global cuisine of Charles Cho, offering such fusion fare as braised pork belly with watermelon salad and lobster ravioli with creamed corn and Tabasco foam. Yet, what is even more interesting is the constantly changing decoration—all art that is commissioned through partnerships made with local galleries. Custom-made bottle chandeliers, avant-garde installations, and distinctive fixtures make this urban eatery the place to see contemporary art in all its form while enjoying a fine meal.
Image via Madison Square Park Conservatory