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

The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Every person in the city, whether a native New Yorker or a visitor, has heard of the Metropolitan Museum. And a majority would have been there too, at least once. But that is not the case with the Cloisters, located at the top of Manhattan. Though it is a branch of the Met, not many people are familiar with this unique museum.


The Cloisters Museum and Gardens is focused on the art and architecture of medieval Europe, mainly from 12th to 15th centuries.


In fact, the whole place is designed on the architectural principles of a cloister in medieval Europe, though not modelled on any particular one, instead borrowing features from many.


When you see the museum, you will realise the appropriateness of the name as cloisters were living spaces for the monks, attached to cathedrals and churches in medieval European history.


The building with its stained glass windows and column capitals truly exudes an aura of grandeur and you feel like you are stepping into a long gone age of chanting monks leading a secluded life.


Among the decorative and liturgical art collection from various parts of Europe on display are illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, metalwork, enamels, ivories, and tapestries.


Most renowned among them are a series of seven tapestries, ‘The Hunt for the Unicorn’, commonly known as the Unicorn Tapestries.


These tapestries tell the story of how the unicorn is captured and killed, yet alive again and happily living in captivity. Leaving aside the allegorical allusions aside, these tapestries are full of rich details. Over a hundred plants and flowers are shown in detail, each bearing a significance to the story. A trip to the Cloisters is worth just to look at this set of tapestries; they are so rich and wonderful.


The gardens at the Cloisters are unique in the sense that they are aligned with the culinary arts. There are all kinds of plants, fruit bearing trees and herbs used in the preparation and flavouring of food. Also, there are many medicinal plants as well. These are plants that played a prominent part in the daily lives of the people living then.


For example, you will see woad, weld and madder plants that were used in the dyeing of material in blue, yellow and red respectively. And remember, these are the colours used to colour the threads in the tapestries that we just spoke about.
Intriguingly, there is a section of the garden devoted to poisonous plants! Of course, these plants too had medicinal qualities in the right hands, but the medieval background reminds one of many a story of intrigue and treason where poison played a main role.
These gardens have been planned and laid out to replicate a cloistered garden in the medieval times, based on horticultural information found in medieval treatises and poetry, and garden documents and herbals. A herbal, by the way, is a book containing descriptions of plants put together for medicinal purposes.


And the view… Did I mention that the Cloisters is located overlooking the Hudson? From the walks around the gardens, the view of the cliffs across the river is awesome!


Included in the view is the George Washington Bridge stretching across to New Jersey.


Opened on May 14, 1938, the museum is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. And what better occasion than this to make a visit to the Cloisters Museum and Gardens? And the summer is the ideal time to pack a picnic lunch and spend a glorious day at this museum.



11 Jul 2014

A Street with an Identity

It was to Bloor-Yorkville, the so-called swanky neighborhood that I took my friend to show her the fashionable areas in Toronto. “Well, this looks pretty usual!” was her response; my friend didn’t seem very impressed.


I agreed with her as, unfortunately, that day, even the streets were crowded, with the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) plying shuttle buses from Bloor further south to downtown Toronto. So, the extra load of subway people on the streets along with the construction work obstructing the roads (related to the condos and the sidewalks) added to the chaos.

The high-end shopping malls and the big branded stores located in Bloor-Yorkville makes it known as ‘the shopping district of Toronto.’ According to the Fortune Magazine, it is ‘the seventh most expensive shopping street in the world.’


Bloor Street spans 25 kms and is an important arterial road in Toronto, the other being Yonge Street. Beginning at Prince Edward Viaduct in the east of Toronto, the road extends till Mississauga in the west. I could not find the exact year when Bloor Street was built but it was in the nineteenth century that the street got its name from Joseph Bloor, an industrialist, who established the Village of Yorkville in 1830, courtesy Wikipedia.

Gradually, the region grew into a major residential and commercial hub. 2008 data reveal that the shops in Yorkville earn a rent of 300$ per square foot and the condos are priced from 1mn$ upwards.


A section of Yorkville Avenue enclosed by Cumberland Street and Bellair Street looks hip and resembles a European town, with cobblestoned roads lined with cafes, pubs, sushi bars, posh restaurants, salons, and designer boutiques. Facing the opposite side of the street is an artistic park strewn with stone and metal sculptures and branded shops. For a change, my friend was charmed by the elegant surroundings there.


Cumberland Street is that part of Bloor Street where people love to be seen drinking, eating, and shopping.


Hemingway’s is a popular pub there and Trattoria Nervosa serves awesome-tasting Italian food, moderately priced. Definitely worthy of multiple visits!


Bloor Street has a unique historical appeal as it houses many old buildings embodying European style architecture and design. The intersection of Yonge and Bloor divides Bloor into east and west zones. Yorkville is situated on the west side while the east side mostly has tall corporate buildings and is more recently developed. The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) with the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, world-renowned as an architectural splendor, and the Bata Shoe Museum are two significant places to visit.



The ROM is a wonderful treat for art lovers with five floors of beautiful art and sculpture from cultures around the world, depicted through the ages. The natural history sections are also very informative whilst no kid can ever forget the huge dinosaur exhibits that they were delighted to see and which still remain as their fond childhood memories.


I have made a custom of visiting the ROM once every six months. Or so it happens! With each visit, it seems like there is more and more to see and I come away regretfully with the feeling of not having spent adequate time.


My friend was more interested in the Bata Shoe Museum that showcased the evolution of footwear for different societies along with shoes worn by prominent celebrities. I loved the intricately designed and beaded moccasins of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada the best.


10 Jun 2014