Postcards/NYC: No Fooling around at PS1

It’s not L.A., but L.I.C., two blocks from the Courthouse and across from PS1.

If Margie didn’t live within a stone’s throw of PS1, and I wasn’t a MoMA member, I don’t know if I would even bother. Some of the shows have been provoking, some goofy, some like whatever were they thinking? PS1 is really a gallery of ideas. There is no photography allowed in the museum, they are that dead serious. Even a lot of the guards are dead serious, they just don’t have the kind of sense of humor you find in the  MoMA, or Philly or any DC museum.

PS1, by it’s number was the first elementary school in Queens, and figuring the location, Long Island City. When my cousin, Mary moved there over 30 years ago, it was factory town gone down. There was still Swingline Stapler, Chicklets and the old Busilla building. Eventually these closed or became something else. But there were real people, living the Queens life, as did I up in Astoria. PS1 was a relic of the past, closed and condemned. That old red brick schoolhouse even older than the PS11, I went to on Staten Island. It had that brick and terra cotta ornament that people drool over  in turn of the 20th century buildings in England. It was sad to see its empty schoolyard, with that handball wall now fenced in and forgotten. Old buildings always make me want to go in them.

Little did I think somewhere, when MoMA came to be housed temporarily in Sunnyside, did we get the thing that PS1 was becoming a museum. It is a cool structure for anyone brought up in New York City public schools of the age before concrete and aluminum clad glass structures. Walking into PS1 with its original 50s asphalt floors, the two tone (medium green on the bottom, a more minty green on top (in my day the bottom was enamel, the top flat paint). It is a good study in school design. Unlike my PS11, there were the separate entrances often in the old structures marked “boys” and “girls.” There is also a creepy boiler room, which they used one year with a dummy chained up and some eerie lighting and sound. I remember ours, it was kind of dark and crappy, but this one really gives you the chills.

You might not like PS1, but I will take my hat off to a museum which doesn’t charge, when it can only show a little bit. I wish the Orlando Museum of Art did that, when they took five bucks from my high school students about 10 years ago, while they had set up for an auction, and the full collection WAS NOT available to see. Or the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which charged full admission for about half a collection two years ago, while their curator appears in ARTnews telling about how swell the museum will be. Museums ought to be like supermarkets and other businesses. How would you like to pay for a double feature/bogo, and them have only 1 and charge full price. That even happened in Italy, where they informed you part of a collection is closed after a certain time. I got run out of the Cairo Museum a half hour early by armed guards, because they had rented the space for $$$ that evening!!! Museums ought to be as ethical as PS1: no ticket-no shirt.

Anyway, they are getting ready to put an installation in, and really except for some stuff on the 1st floor, there were more guards than pieces. In the meantime, PS1 guards might want to do a better job, sans humor or not, ’cause I’ve shot twice inside the pool installation. Which by the way, is the coolest thing in PS1, ever!

So much for the amateur hour video stuff they pawn off for art, and MoMA and the National Gallery have been duped, as well. Get with the program, tons of that stuff is available on You tube and for free!!!


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