Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Camilla Webster Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Camilla Webster
By Camilla Webster

“Have you ever had an art orgasm?” Dr. Tom Normand searched the class with his gaze, his strong Scottish twang rivaling that of James Bond. I racked my brain for an experience with a work of art that rattled my physical self…my soul…made my toes curl.  I was in my early twenties, sitting in a graduate class in art history at St. Andrews University in Scotland.

“Picasso’s Les Demoiselles D’Avignon was mine,” he proclaimed. “Set eyes on it in New York on my visit to the MOMA. You need to go there.”

I’m from there dammit,’ I thought, gasping at the slide overhead. What did MOMA hold for me? And would I experience a genuine ARTgasm?

Back then, I was innocent enough to believe a person could only have one. Decades later, I’ve had many. And you can, too…especially here in New York.

This is what Artbeat is all about. I’m here to lower the velvet rope on a world that can often feel rarefied and unapproachable. So let’s bridge the emotional gap and have an ARTgasm. Let’s have a lot of them.

ARTgasms may result from an experience of high art at The MET, or to an illegal mural on a subway platform. Could be Bansky.  Could be Herring. Could be the next ‘somebody.’ It’s what YOU see that matters.

First, you have to learn to really SEE — not simply look. If you do yoga or meditate, you know that the first few times, your body and mind don’t move the way you want them to; it takes practice. Then one day, it all falls into place.  Seeing is just like that. Start with a few minutes of conscious seeing at a time. How does what you’re seeing make you feel? What do you notice now?

There’s no better place to practice than across the High Line. Art is everywhere. It’s free. Open from 7am to 7pm, and 11pm in the summer. It’s a relaxed environment. It’s very approachable. And it changes.

Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Camilla Webster

Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Camilla Webster

There are wonderful places to sit, lean, walk, and stand as you practice your seeing. And you are seeing art in all its forms across the urban landscape. There is graffiti and landscape design; there are multiple installations commissioned for world famous artists. There is exhibitionism in the form of human behavior like spring love.

You will see the art you expect jutting from the gardens, like Antoine Catala’s Logo to Me and the other Breathing, which is officially part of the High Line art. Then there is the work of Jordan Betten on a rooftop, and Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra. Kobra’s wall mural on the side of a building at West 25th Street was inspired the iconic Alfred Eisenstadt photo from VJ Day at Times Square. I have come to visit this piece like a shrine of hope during the long dark winter of 2013.

Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Camilla Webster

Logo to Me and the other Breathing, Antoine Catala
Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Camilla Webster

Faces, Jordan BettenImage courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Camilla Webster

Faces, Jordan Betten
Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Camilla Webster

Logo to Me and the other Breathing, Antoine CatalaImage courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Camilla Webster

Times Square Kiss, Eduardo Kobra
Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Camilla Webster

There is work that calls to your heart and evokes the energy of Harlem, like Groovin High, the billboard by acclaimed New York native artist Faith Ringgold at West 18th Street.

And moments that amuse the mind like Ed Ruscha’s Honey I Twisted Through More Damn Traffic Today, 1977, 2014.

The backdrop for this motley gallery features some of the most famous architectural designs in history, like the recent Frank Gehry’s stunning IAC building on 11th Avenue and 19th Street, and the iconic Empire State Building in the distance.

Sit down for a while to admire the view, the views….feel the blades of long grass caress bare summer legs as you look around you.

Are you on your way to an ARTgasm? Well we’ve only just begun….

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