Marilyn Golub single-handedly kicked off Armory Arts Week in New York City on Tuesday, March 2 – two days before the massive four-day-long spectacle officially began.
However, Golub is not a renowned sculptor or a sought-after art dealer, or even a reclusive painter. She is a retiree from the Upper East Side who spends her free time caring for a young grandchild, volunteering at Mt. Sinai Hospital and playing bridge.
Nevertheless, she also has a fondness for art – especially New York art.
“I’m a good person for you to talk to because I go to every museum in New York City,” Golub said with a smile. “I love New York. I’m one of the biggest proponents of New York.”
It was because of her desire for a hassle-free mode of transportation to Long Island City’s Noguchi Museum that Golub found herself on the southern side of Manhattan’s Grand Central Station recently, climbing aboard the LIC Art Shuttle for its maiden voyage.
The brainchild of the West Harlem Art Fund (WHAD) and its executive director, Savona Bailey-McClain, the Art Shuttle pulled away from the curb at 9:30 a.m., ushering in an era of inter-connectivity within the city’s often-segregated art scenes.
The Art shuttle, six years in the making, was initially supposed to ferry art lovers from one West Harlem hotspot to the next. But in so doing, it would have joined a legion of citywide shuttles that kept to a specific neighborhood, like ones operated in Brooklyn and Queens.
“They never went to Manhattan,” Bailey-McClain explained. “And that’s where the tourists are.”
With that in mind, Bailey-McClain, armed with an initial loan from the Manhattan-based FJC foundation and funding from the New York Power Authority, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and WHAD itself, decided to create an easy way for aficionados to experience the abundance of art offerings in the city’s far corners. Relatively far corners, that is.
The shuttle entered Long Island City about 15 minutes after it departed Manhattan, and a full day before the Western Queens art hub began its own celebration for Armory Arts Week.
While the Noguchi Museum was closed – per its normal Tuesday schedule – Golub, the lone customer on what Bailey-McClain billed as a “dry run,” was treated to the full one-and-half-hour tour.
Golub swung by the three hotels that have partnered with the Art Shuttle – Ravel, Fairfield Marriott and Holiday Inn Manhattan View – and stepped off at a few of the Shuttle’s eight stops. The stops serve as gateways to a number of renowned art institutions, including P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Socrates Sculpture Park, the Museum of the Moving Image and innovative galleries and studios like AES, The Space and Local Project.
One minute Golub was making a purchase in Vernon Boulevard’s Nook n’ Crannie furniture shop, the next she was marveling at the dramatic graffiti that coats the 5 Pointz Aerosol Art Center.
Bailey-McClain hopes to offer a similar experience to tourists and natives alike, and is aiming to soon carry 20 or 30 people per day.
The $45-a-ride LIC Art Shuttle runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays through May, when it will be replaced with a three-month route through the Brooklyn art hotbeds of Williamsburg and DUMBO neighborhoods. The Shuttle begins making its way through West Harlem in September.
“What we’re doing is connecting different artistic neighborhoods,” Bailey-McClain said, as the shuttle maneuvered down a narrow Long Island City street.
“I think that’s great,” Golub chimed in, much to her tour guide’s delight.
“Well, thank you for saying that because at first people thought we were crazy!” Bailey-McCain said, as a big smile crept across her face.