Art in the City: A Curator’s Guide to Spring/Summer 2016 in NYC

By Duane Wells

What is summer without a little culture?

Natasha Schlesinger

Natasha Schlesinger is not only an award-winning art historian and art consultant who has been working in the art field for the past 20 years, specializing in the history of fine and decorative arts, she is also the Art Curator/Art Expert in Residence at the über elegant Surrey Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where she conceives and curates exhibitions that connect the hotel’s permanent collection to what is happening in contemporary art today. With that kind of resume, who better to ask for tips on exploring the cultural side of the Big Apple? 

To assist in planning your spring/summer NYC travel itineraries, I reached out to Schlesinger for her advice about the hot spots that showcase New York at its artsy best. 

Here’s what she recommends:

1.  The Surrey Hotel.

The Surrey hotel is always a fun place to hang out at either at the Bar Pleiades or the roof garden (accessible only to members and hotel guests). This year, however, the hotel branches out to become an alternative to art gallery spaces as they present their ArtSpeak exhibit with nine emerging and established contemporary artists dispersed through the lobby and the roof garden as a prelude to the annual Frieze New York arts fair which takes place from May 5 – 8 at Randall’s Island Park. For more info about Frieze New York visit And for information about the Artspeak tours at the Surrey Hotel, click here.

The Surrey Hotel private roof garden

The Surrey Hotel private roof garden

2.  The Highline.

Spanning from Gansevoort Street to 34th street along 10th avenue, The Highline offers much more than just a walk above the city. Expect temporary art installations by well-known artists such as Barbara Kruger, Nari Ward and Spencer Finch and art events, concerts and performances put on by the Friends of the Highline. It’s also a really great place to hang out either by day or by night. 

3. Park Avenue Armory.  

Though not necessarily what you might first think of as a youthful hang out, Park Avenue Armory has now become one of the hot spots to visit to explore and experience art and the historic space it occupies. Coming this summer is an experiential show by the well-known contemporary artist Martin Creed. 

4.  Rooftop Cafe and Martini Lounge at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

You don’t have to always just peruse the galleries at this iconic NY institution.  Why not just enjoy a drink on a Friday or Saturday evening on the rooftop of the Met from May through the end of October. And, while you’re there, take a moment to enjoy the annual installations. This year there is a spooky, surreal partial house by the artist Cornelia Parker called Transitional Object: Psychedelic Barn.  

5.   MatchaBar.

Brooklyn: 93 Wyeth Avenue

Chelsea: 256 West 15th street

These are among the city’s trendiest spots in which to hang out. Their moto "Matcha Fam" is all about the family that matcha bar creates and promotes. There is a daily cafe, cool events at night, great work space, artist and designer shows, pop ups and more. This summer, MatchaBar will also partner with ArtMuse to create a pop-up show of emerging artists who create their art in the matcha tradition of combining positive energy that produces life’s magic.

Artist Leila Pazooki "Crying in the Ocean"

Artist Leila Pazooki "Crying in the Ocean"

Find out more about Natasha Schlesinger and ArtMuse tours at

The Surrey Hotel, NYC