New York

Reflections on April Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2023

This is the first time that The Big Jackfruit Tree is taking part in the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge. And the experience was awesome, to say the least. 

To start with, there was no question about the theme… it had to be about New York. After much thought, the criteria was decided… every day feature an attraction in the city (museum, monument, memorial, park, whatever) that is located within the five boroughs of NYC, entry is free during all open hours, and the location is reachable by public transit.

Here I’ve to express my thanks to my circle of friends for their suggestions and recommendations. There is no way I could have completed the list of without their help. So thank you! 

The next phase was the most interesting… visit each of the identified location and take photos. Happily, this was completed before winter and all I had to do was select the photos for use, adjust color, crop and resize, and add the copyright watermark. And of course, do the write-ups. What’s the hurry… the Challenge started only in April!

Whoever has participated in the Challenge knows the rest of the story… April rolls around, a-post-a-day is staring you in the face! And this was double trouble for me as our sister blog Pepper Route was also participating! For a month, life was on hold, fingers were on the keyboard, and eyes were going wonky. 

And at the end of it all when you have posted the Z… the immense joy, the satisfaction, the sense of achievement, makes it all worth the trouble. All I need now, is the T-shirt! 🙂

Somewhere around the letter M, I was thinking ‘never again’. At the end of the Challenge I’m already thinking of next year’s theme! 🙂

My only regret is that I could not return the visits and comments from many of my visitors. Lack of time is not an excuse, it is actually lack of planning, I know. All I can say is that I’ll do better next time around.

Hoping that the list of attractions will be useful to visitors to New York as well as to city dwellers, even though they might already be familiar with these, here I present you the list of April Blogging from A to Z Challenge posts.

a-is-for-american-folk-art – American Folk Art Museum 

b-is-for-bronx – The Bronx Museum of the Arts

c-is-for-castle – Castle Clinton National Monument

d-is-for-drawing – The Drawing Center

e-is-for-elevated – Elevated Acre… the Secret Garden!

f-is-for-federal – Federal Hall National Memorial

g-is-for-grant – General Grant National Memorial

h-is-for-hamilton – Hamilton Grange National Memorial

i-is-for-indigenous – National Museum of the American Indian 

j-is-for-jazz – The National Jazz Museum In Harlem

k-is-for-king – King Manor Museum

l-is-for-little – Little Island

m-is-for-maritime – Maritime Industry Museum

n-is-for-new-york – New York Public Library

o-is-for-old – The Old Stone House

p-is-for-park – Prospect Park

q-is-for-queens – Queens County Farm Museum

r-is-for-rockefeller – Rockefeller Center 

s-is-for-snug – Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden

t-is-for-theodore – Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

u-is-for-union – Union Square Park

v-is-for-veterans – Vietnam Veterans Plaza

w-is-for-waterfront – Waterfront Museum

x-is-for-xception – Museum of Contemporary Art

y-is-for-yards – Hudson Yards

z-is-for-z-train – The Z Train

Thank you for your support, visits, and comments. See you all next year!


04 May 2023

B is for Bronx

Located at 1040 Grand Concourse, The Bronx, NY 10456
Museum Website:

The Bronx Museum of the Arts

The Bronx Museum of the Arts (The Bronx Museum) is a contemporary art museum. Often featuring historically underrepresented artists, the museum was founded on the belief that art is essential for the path to social justice.

Opened on 11 May 1971, the museum aimed to generate interest in the arts in the Bronx borough. The Bronx Museum has more than 800 paintings, photos, sculptures, and other works of art in its permanent collection. 

Though focused on contemporary and 20th century American artists, the museum has hosted special exhibits featuring international artists from Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

The museum’s unique design element on the Grand Concourse side, a ‘pleated aluminum facade’ consists of seven irregularly-shaped vertical aluminum pieces connected by fritted glass, resembling an accordion or paper fan.

In October 2022, the museum adopted a new logo, replacing the old logo with an orange-highlighted ligature of an ‘X’ and an ‘M’. 

The museum described the new logo as ‘bold, distinct, and resilient so as to reflect the ethos of the Museum and its vital work at the intersection of art and social justice’. 

The Bronx Museum is fully accessible through the the museum’s galleries.

The Bronx Museum offers fellowship programs to emerging artists to prepare them for a fulfilling career in the art world. Details here: AIM Fellowship

The museum also holds family days to encourage creativity among children, film screenings and other community activities. A full list of activities is online

In 2013, the museum won a competition to represent the United States at the 2013 Venice Biennale.

When I visited last in September 2022, the ongoing exhibition was Jamel Shabazz: Eyes On The Street, an exhibition of photographs taken on the streets of the five boroughs of New York.

The photographs included in the exhibition were representative of his work over the past 40 years. The exhibition was part of Our Stories, Our Voices – a year-long series of exhibitions and public programs celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Bronx Museum.

Street photography is a unique art form where everyone is both part of the audience and on display at the same time. In these photographs, Shabazz’s focus is clear… the people – men, women, young, old, black, brown, white – going about their daily lives and enjoying or rueing the moments on New York streets. 

You get the feeling you are actually walking along one of the familiar streets of our city and seeing these people. The sense of sheer joy and innocence of the youth displayed in many of the photographs is so endearing. 

According to Shabazz, his goal is to contribute to the preservation of world history and culture. He has held many solo exhibitions and also participated in many group showings.

Shabazz has published six books of photographs and has contributed to numerous others.

The sculpture garden at the rear of the structure on the second floor was closed for installation when I visited. Anyways, one more reason to go back.

Current Exhibitions

  • Abigail DeVille: Bronx Heavens (Oct 12, 2022 – Jun 18, 2023) is a constellation of sculptures and installations by the artist utilizing found materials and objects as a way to unearth forgotten ancestral histories, both real and imagined. 
  • Swagger And Tenderness: The South Bronx Portraits (Oct 26, 2022 – Apr 30, 2023) The show features over 60 portraits alongside archival materials from 1979 to the present, from the Bronx Museum Collection and other public and private collections.

03 Apr 2023

A is for American Folk Art

American Folk Art Museum

The American Folk Art Museum is the nation’s top organization focused on folk art and New York City’s only museum dedicated to folk and self-taught artists.

Founded in 1961, over the years the American Folk Art Museum has worked to shape the understanding of art by the self-taught through its exhibitions, publications, and educational programs.

It is difficult to come by a precise definition of folk art. In general terms, any art created by people not professionally trained, and representing shared social values and beliefs is considered folk art. These could be decorative or utilitarian, traditional or contemporary, the artists mostly self taught. To quote from the museum brochure, “For the last twenty years, the term self-taught has more regularly come to address these artists, whose inspiration emerges from unsuspected paths and unconventional places, giving voice to individuals who may be situated outside the social mainstream. Those individuals have been active participants in the shaping of American visual culture, influencing generations of artists and establishing lively artistic traditions.”

The museum has a permanent collection of more than 8,000 items dating back to the 1700s, including early American portraits, painted furniture and quilts along with art of the American South. More than 130,000 guests visit the museum annually.

The museum conducts various programs aimed at making art and its study accessible to all. These include symposiums, discussions, performances, and interactive education programs for children.

You will find unique handcrafted products and gifts at the museum shop.

When I visited the museum in October 2022, the ongoing exhibition was Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered. 

Morris Hirshfield was a self-taught artist of the 1930s and 1940s, who took to painting later in his life.

This exhibition was the most comprehensive gathering of Hirshfield’s works ever assembled. Including loans from private and public collections, the exhibition featured over 40 of the self-taught artist’s paintings.

His paintings reminded me of highly detailed embroidery where every single inch of the surface is picked out in thread. The compositions are often symmetrical and featured repeating shapes. The originality of his handling of the subject and the ornamental nature of the designs give his paintings a striking quality.

In his professional career as a tailor maker, he holds patents for shoes and slippers, the technical drawings for which were included in the exhibition.

Current exhibitions at the museum, running from March 17, 2023 to October 29, 2023

What That Quilt Knows About Me

Features 35 quilts and related works of art, exploring the deeply personal and emotional power associated with the experience of making and living with quilts.

Material Witness: Folk and Self-Taught Artists at Work

Features nearly 150 works of art, chronicling how artists across four centuries have utilized various components of the material world. Material Witness is the first in a series of thematic shows drawn from the Museum’s collection.

The American Folk Art Museum also organizes traveling exhibitions at other museums around the country. Current ones are:

  • American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Museum Collection (On view at the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine, February 3, 2023–May 7, 2023)
  • Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts (On view at the Dane G. Hansen Memorial Museum in Logan, Kansas, February 17, 2023–May 14, 2023)
  • Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Gift to the American Folk Art Museum (Coming soon to the Hunstville Museum of Art in Hunstville, Alabama, April 2, 2023–June 25, 2023)


Outsider Art is another word used for art created by self-taught artists as they are perceived to be outside the conventional structures of art production. The 31st annual Outsider Art Fair was hosted from 2 March to 5 March 2023 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan.

Those truly interested in folk art may want to visit the Museum of International Folk Art, located at 706 Camino Lejo on Museum Hill in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Location 2 Lincoln Square, Columbus Avenue at West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023

01 Apr 2023

Drifting in Daylight in Central Park

Today is the official first day of summer, but the weather has taken on the airs of summer a while back. And what a summer it is shaping up to be! An imminent trip to Canada (Toronto, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa), an invite to a summer wedding in London and an end-of-summer visit to San Francisco… not to forget the list of events happening in and around the city and there you have the perfect recipe for a perfect summer!


Central Park, a joy to visit any time of the year, is at its best in the spring-summer seasons. Add to it an incredible art show nestled among the greenery and you have one of the best summer experiences ever!


Drifting in Daylight, organised by Creative Time in partnership with Central Park Conservancy, is an eight part performance, display and participatory show running for eight weekends at various locations in Central Park.



Starting at the northern end of the park, you see S. S. Hangover, a fishing boat reimaged to look like the boat in a party scene from the mystery movie ‘Remember Last Night?’ (apparently no one does; hence the name of the boat!) sailing on the Harlem Meer. The boat carries six musicians playing a classical composition by Kjartan Sveinsson, musician and composer.



Notice how fat the Pegasus (okay, plump; we don’t want to offend the creature!) on the flag looks? According to the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, creator of the show, that Pegasus is a ‘symbol of the artist struggling to reach sublime heights’.



The first time I visited the show, it was sort of pouring and this was one of the two performances that went ahead despite the rain.



What is the perfect symbol of sunset in a park? An ice cream cone, of course! Spencer Finch captures this symbol with his ‘Sunset in Central Park’ ice cream truck. The truck is fully powered by solar energy and the colour of the ice cream, varying shades of the sunset, is from the pigments extracted from a painting of a sunset over Central Park. He intends each soft serve cone, free of charge, as a poetic gesture revering the sun and nature in the park.


Central Park has always been a favourite spot for movie scenes to be shot. Taking inspiration from these movies, David Levine presents the show ‘Private Moments’. Scenes from eight famous movies are placed into their original locations, actors dressed like the characters re-enacting the scene in a continuous loop.



A scene from Bullets over Broadway



Another from The Royal Tenenbaums


So now when I see a person not dressed to suit the season, the first question is, “which movie?” 🙂


Karyn Olivier’s ‘Here and Now/ Glacier, Shard, Rock’ is a pictorial representation of the life of the park, connecting the past, present and future. It is a transformational signboard in three sections, which alters your perception every time you move. The scene fluidly transforms from the blue glacial waters which formed the rocky underpinnings of the park to the present day topography and back. The scenes are knit together by a shard of blue pottery from the Seneca village which was moved from the location so that the park could be established.



Printed using the lenticular technology, the panels of the huge signboard evoke a true seamless 3-D vision.


‘Cartas al Cielo’ (Letters to Heaven, in Spanish), an artwork by Alicia Framis, presents a link between the earth and the sky or heavens, as reflected on the mirror-like surface of the sculpted form.



Viewers are encouraged to write letters on the cards provided, addressed to someone who is not on this earth anymore. The cards, dropped into the globe, are collected and at the end of the show will be symbolically forwarded. Apart from the physical cards, the sculpture is a poignant reminder of the relationship of the earth and the sky and the here and the departed.


‘And all directions, i come to you’ is a contemporary dance performance that moves through the North Woods of the park. The dancers move through the rough pathways of the woods, their audience following them.



Their presence is airy, their movements delicate, ethereal. Though choreographed, the movements seem so spontaneous and magical.



Don’t let their gazelle-like appearance deceive you; these dancers are a hardy lot! This is one of the teams that kept performing all through the rain, that too on the muddy pathways of the woods!



Presented by the conceptual artist Lauri Stallings and performed by nine artists from Glo, the experimental performance platform founded by Stallings, this is one show that you can watch for hours without the fear of getting bored ever.


Central Park is a haven for bird watchers… And Nina Katchadourian’s ‘The Lamppost Weavers’ replicates the habits of birds of using human objects for building nests. Made out of basket balls, footballs and old shoes, these points out the connection between wild life and human utilitarian items.



These pseudo birds’ nests hang from the lamp posts, but the Department of Transportation did not want the real lamp post arms used for anything other than actual lamps. So the curators of the show had to build pseudo arms to hang them from!


‘Black Joy in the Hour of Chaos’, presented by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, is an animated, energetic performance of dance, music and poetry. Inspired by present day racial politics, the performance looks back to the movements in the African-American history and the legacy of hip-hop.



Following the style of the second line parades of New Orleans, the performance, on the Great Hill of the park, is lively and vibrant.



Each of these shows is unique and contributes to making the whole an unforgettable experience.


Drifting in Daylight forms the center piece of Central Park Conservancy’s 35th anniversary celebrations this year. What is special about this show is the way it deviates from the typical performance or installation art. It has that element of surprise that adds to the thrill of enjoyment, as you discover each of the pieces along the meandering paths. And as you make that discovery, you also discover that each artwork fits so perfectly and naturally to its surroundings as if born right there!


21 Jun 2015

New York City Marathon… a not to be missed event!

Someone recently asked me… what’s so special about the marathon? Why are people, generally not interested in athletics, so keen on running it? The easiest answer was ‘prestige’. Prestige and pride. The sense of accomplishment. The immense way it makes one feel good about oneself.


It is not about the running – in fact, running is the least of it – it is all about one’s self perception. The discipline and dedication needed to get to the level of training required for a marathon is tremendous. And of long duration. To prove that one can adhere to the punishing schedules with the accompanying scarifices for as long as it takes, to oneself more than to any others… there are not too many achievements that compare, at least in my opinion.


Training for a marathon brings structure and organisation to one’s life, often calling for life style changes. The fact that one can take all that in stride, and focus on a goal not tied to any financial goals… isn’t it proof enough of a person’s strength of character? Yes, that’s it… being able to prove that one has that kind of grit and purpose is what makes it so great. And of course, the bragging rights granted for life, doesn’t hurt either! 🙂


Spectators line the entire 26.2 miles – 26.219 miles to be exact – of the route the runners take, cheering them on. They bring placards and signs and personal messages to encourage the runners. The spectator involvement is so great that it actually amounts to a vicarious participation in the event. The energy of the crowd is palpable and contagious.


I went there to see the event and take some pictures… and came back with a hoarse throat with all that cheering!
The New York City Marathon route passes through all five boroughs of New York City, starting in Staten Island and going through Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx (passing through Manhattan) and ending at the Central Park in Manhattan. It is held on the first Sunday of November.


NYC Marathon has the largest participation among all the marathons run anywhere in the world, with both professionals and amateurs participating. Anyone who will be 18 years of age or older on November 1, the following year can participate in the race. This year, 50,530 participants finished the race with an average time of 4 hours 34 minutes and 45 seconds.


Wilson Kipsang of Kenya won the 2014 NYC Marathon, along with the $ 500,000 World Marathon Majors championship, with a timing of 2 hours 10 minutes and 59 seconds. The second place – with a difference of 7 seconds, yes… seconds! – was taken by Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia.


Among the women competitors, Mary Keitany claimed the first place with a timing of 2 hours 25 minutes and 7 seconds, just ahead of Jemima Sumgong by 3 seconds, both of them from Kenya. Mary Keitany placed third in 2010 and 2011, but hadn’t run in the race the last two years as she was on maternity leave.
The NYC Marathon is organised by New York Road Runners and has been held every year since 1970, except in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy made landfall around that time.


Demand for participation is so high that runners are selected by a lottery system. The start of the run is at 10:10 a.m, though it is regulated by a staggered start for different groups. The time limit for the completion of the run is 8 hours 30 minutes.
Running time is recorded by a computer chip attached to the runner’s bib, which records the crossing of timing mats located along the course.
Several TV stations in and around New York broadcast the marathon live. It can also be watched online.
However, the NYC Marathon is not just an ego boost for the runners; it has a major economic impact as well. Through the event, millions of dollars are raised for non-profits and charitable organizations. It also generates millions of tourist dollars for New York City.


Several organizations support their own team of runners and have an active presence at the marathon over the years.


Guides running with a participant in a wheelchair to help him along. In 2000, a new official division was introduced for participants using wheelchairs and handcycles.



Some of the messages on the shirt fronts of runners are quite interesting. This guy has definitely scored some points with his honey!



The runners have their names on their official bib and often on their shirts. We, the spectators, are encouraged to cheer by name, especially if we see someone tiring. However, we were told not to shout “almost there” as it might have a negative impact!
You can always see some interesting costumes at the run.

If you ever – ever – feel dispirited, inadequate, lethargic… or are on the brink of giving up on anything, all you need is a visit to the NYC Marathon to change your mood, to pick you up, to boost your candoo attitude sky high! The cheering of the crowds is enough to pick you up and hasten your footsteps even before you reach the runside! If you haven’t done so already, do add it to your bucket list!
BTW, I saw my first Salvation Army bell ringer of the season today… Also, holiday muzac is on everywhere… in the malls, in the elevator, even in the train station! WooHoo!


23 Nov 2014