MODERN LOVE Aerobics and abstraction.
  • The Stranger
  • MODERN LOVE Aerobics and abstraction.

Last week I returned to my hometown of Albany, New York, where I love to visit the really stunning Empire State Art Collection hidden underground, beneath the Empire State Plaza and one of my favorite buildings in the world, the Egg. It's a public art collection.

Lunging to Louis.
  • Lunging to Louis.
I say that it's stunning because of pieces like this Bontecou. (Which I couldn't find out this time around, by the way. Did I miss it or was it taking a rest in storage?) Or this Morris Louis. Or this 90-foot Al Held. Or this Ellsworth Kelly. Or this Anuszkiewicz. I've written about the collection before, here, but part of what's worth pointing out repeatedly is that this collection was assembled starting in 1966, and it consisted of 92 new works. These were not tried-and-true purchases. The state bought adventurously.

It's also stunning because nobody seems to remember that it's there. Last week, when I asked a guard for the fastest way to get down to the art from the New York State History Museum entrances, he told me there isn't any art down there.

Then there was the aerobics class.

It was in the Corning Tower Concourse Lobby. And it was pumping.

This is not the same place it was five years ago, when I visited the Corning Tower Concourse Lobby. Back then, it was Homeland Security central, a place for metal detection and metal detection only. I had to make phone calls to officials and flash badges and receive passes just to get back behind the security desk to glimpse the paintings for five minutes, after which point I was whisked away.

Flexing to Frankenthaler.
  • Flexing to Frankenthaler.
Now aerobics were taking pumping place in front of the Morris Louis, the 1952 Jackson Pollock that was once in a fire (this image of it is way too brown—the yellows and reds are actually electric, almost garish), the dark Rothko, the Joan Mitchell, the unusually light-and-spacious Clyfford Still (pictured at top, hanging to the right of the Louis), the glowing Gottlieb.

Freedom fitness! The terrorists have not won.

The only question left is: Which abstract artist is the best for your heart rate?