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  • Writer's pictureRossella BLUE Mocerino

My art studio is in NoMad

Updated: Nov 19, 2022

NoMad stands for North of Madison Square Park. It is the Manhattan neighborhood boarded by East 25th Street to the South, East 30th to the North, Sixth Avenue to the West and Madison and Lexington Avenues to the East. See NoMad through the eyes of an artist.

The Churchill Tavern is on my block on East 28th Street at number 45. I understand they play Churchill’s speeches in the bathroom. Did you know Winston Churchill’s grandparents lived at 41 East 26th Street? Did you know Winston Churchill turned to painting when his political career was not going well and continued to paint through his old age?

My tour of NoMad continues with the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Ave between East 25th and 26th Streets. I am drawing your attention to this edifice, not because it is an imposing Beaux-Arts building but because it was here in 1913 that New Yorkers were introduced to Modern Art. The exhibition on International Modern Art held at the Armory included works of American and European artists such as Coubert, Degas, Manet, Duchamp, Matisse and Picasso. The reviews of the European artists were not favorable. They were charged with immorality, insanity, quackery and even anarchy. President Theodore Roosevelt simply declared that these works were not art.

The Nude Descending a Staircase by Marcel Duchamp was verbally critiqued and even satirized. A New York Times critic referred to it as ‘an explosion in a shingle factory.’

Here is another unmissable place in NoMad. The Oscar Wilde Restaurant and Bar on 45 W 27th Street is home to Victorian nostalgia. I especially like their statement:

Oscar Wilde turns the Victorian Era on its head - without relinquishing any of its glamour. Just like Wilde himself, we believe life should be lived to its fullest, with a touch of sophisticated debauchery. Why miss out on the fun? We encourage living it to the fullest with Wilde abandon.

NoMad is also home to jaw dropping historic buildings. The James New York on the corner of 29th Street and Madison Avenue was built in the early part of the 20th century. This Beaux Arts majestic building was known formerly as the Seville Hotel and then the Carlton Hotel. In 2018 it became known as the St James. It earned the status of New York City designated landmark in the same year. I love the green bay windows. Copper turned green? Architect: Harry Allan Jacobs

If you know anything about me is that I am passionately in love with Venice. The lion of Venice, a winged lion to be precise, is the symbol of the city. Sculptured images of lions appear everywhere around Venice. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that I also like the lions of NoMad.

Lions of St James Hotel
Lions of St James Hotel

Lions of The Evelyn Hotel above entrance
Lions of The Evelyn Hotel

The cast-iron clock on the façade of the Gilsey House tells the correct time but it takes us back to another era in New York – the 19th century Gilded Age, a time of immense wealth for the upper classes. Notice the clock is being supported by two mermaids. The Gilsey House was originally built as a 300-room hotel. This lovely mermaid clock is located on Broadway and West 29th Street.

Gilded Lady Mural in Nomad

The mural on 236 Fifth Avenue, known as “The Gilded Lady”, is full of references to the rich history of NoMad starting with the Gilded Age. The image of the woman is that of Evelyn Nesbit, a famous model and chorus girl of that time. Notice the Gilded Lady has a copper badge pinned to her chest. NYC police officers used to wear these badges so they became known as coppers and eventually it was shortened to cops. This mural was created by artist Tristan Eaton.

East 28th Street Subway mural with bench

One of the entrances and exits of the 28th Street Subway Station is right on my block. Like so many other subway stops, its walls are decorated with murals. Like all the other subway murals, these are unique to this station. The perennial flowers that can be found in Madison Square Park adorn the walls of the 28th Street subway. Produced by the Miotto Mosaic Studio based on drawings by artist Nancy Blum.

If you enter or exit the subway through the New York Life Insurance Company on Park Avenue South, you will have a totally different experience

Entrance of New York Life Insurance Company on Park Avenue South
Subway Entrance New York Life Insurance Company on Park Avenue South

Detail of Emmet Building with canopy and Madonna

Do you think this is from a church in Italy or France? No, it is a detail of the neo-Renaissance Emmet Building located at 89–95 Madison Avenue at 29th Street. Canopies with Madonnas and other Medieval figures, gargoyles, cavaliers and courtesans are feautured on the lower part of the building.

Detail of The Little Church

The Church of the Transfiguration at 1 East 29th Street is known as the Little Church ever since 1870. At that time, a pastor from a nearby church refused to do a funeral service for an actor. Apparently there was something wrong with being an actor. He suggested the funeral could be done in the little church on East 29th Street. The Church of the Transfiguration has been connected to theatre people ever since.

Detail of Appellate Court Statue of Wisdom

The Appelate Court is not located downtown with all the other courts but in NoMad at the corner of Madison Avenue and 25th Street. The influence of Andrea Palladio is clearly evident in this classical Beaux Arts building - the columns with their perfect symmetry, the statues adorning the edifice, the Roman temple elements combined with Renaissance style. It was designed by James Brown Lord. It became functional on Jan. 2, 1900.

You don't have to be in Italy to see Italy. At the border of NoMad and The Flat Iron District, the imposing MetLife Tower stands (photo on left). The Campanile of San Marco in Venice was the inspiration for the MetLife Tower (photo on right).


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