Broadway Morey Boogie
For their latest offering, you won't have to go far; you can see a sculpture every ten blocks or so starting with a sort of "Smokey the Bear as gauche tourist" sculpture towering over the entrance to the Columbus Circle monument. The exhibit "surfs" northward from there.
I understand Smokey weighs in at 2.5 tons. He's very tall and imposing, and I am afraid he's already worse for the wear having been scratched at, skated on and possibly been the victim of a scofflaw pooper-scooper. Closer to home, there is a very intriguing piece, "96th Street Aperture," by Paul Druecke in the form of a sort of historical plaque with its center, and hence half the information, missing. The comment as I read it, and one apt for much of our area that was bulldozed by Robert Moses, harkens to what is missing or lost, not what is being memorialized. You can see it at W. 96th Street in the median and judge for yourself.
So anyway, back to the reference-packed title of this exhibition. Let's break it down.
Anything with "boogie" in it takes me immediately to the grit of the 1970s disco scene (think of the lyric: Dance! Boogie Wonderland by the impossible to resist group Earth, Wind and Fire). There is a bottomless archive of such videos on YouTube, and not all are good. But in this period of my life where everything 70s brings a flood of nostalgia, I enjoyed reviewing many such tunes for this post.
Going back, 100 years before disco, there was the Texas genre of "boogie-woogie" -- a jazz piano style -- that became the vogue for about 20 years starting in the late 1920s. And while there is enchanting example after example of this, my mind goes straight to the Andrews Sisters, Company B, and the boogie-woogie bugle boy blowing Reveille.
One listen to this and you've got the foot-tapping, infectious beat hard wired.
It's as if the canvas is plugged in. Like a Times Square neon sign. Kinetic and alive, Mondrian's painting captures the city's grid and its groove glossing over the grit with his signature primary palette. (And thank you, MoMA for making sure it stays city-side, nestled right in your 4th floor gallery). I feel the need to disclose that I love this painting. It makes me happy. It rejuvenates. It sings. Almost 40 years ago, it was a magnet that would eventually draw me to New York, the New York of decades goneby anyway. And this painting makes me want to find that New York every day still.
So we've more or less covered Broadway and boogie. What in the heck is a Morey? I had to read the reviews of the exhibit to understand that this is a reference to surfing innovator Tom Morey and, duh, to his eponymous Morey Boogie body board. Nearing 80, the eclectic Morey -- now known simply as Y -- has that rare combination of engineering aptitude and love of hobby that in his youthful days enable him to pair his knowledge of composite materials with his passion for surfing. Back in 1971, he basically and single-handedly revolutionized surfing. Heard of the Boogie board? Think Tom.
I suppose the curator of this Upper West Side-long exhibit had many of these elements in mind when the show was named. Were the organizers trying to say that the art catches a wave and surfs down Broadway? Or is it us doing the Morey Boogie? Their materials never quite make the title clear. It's a curious choice. And perhaps a stretch. But I thank them for stirring my nostalgia, for things 70s and earlier. Can't get enough of that.
By Caitlin Hawke