Blog – New York art tours

walk-to-art in New York: 2017 tour highlights

artists, New York tours

30 June 2017
Anish Kapoor's 'Descension' (2017), at Brooklyn Bridge Dumbo, in New York City

Anish Kapoor: Descension (2017)

New York was a little warmer than expected for June, but what a great excuse for an early afternoon Negroni Spritz made with Verve at The High Line Hotel! Having a wonderful group of tour participants who really have become friends made everything better.

As usual, walk-to-art New York covered commercial spaces, to not so commercial spaces, to pop up spaces and private ones. A few things stay the same – we start with big commercial galleries and finish with a church on Sunday (optional gospel) –, but the itinerary is always unique.

I am fortunate to be able to see wonderful artworks both locally and abroad, and this is very helpful when planning my walk-to art tours. For example, artist Anish Kapoor exhibited Ascension in the Basilica of San Giorgio in Venice for the 2011 Biennale (read the blog post), and this year my New York group was able to view Descension at Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 1. A giant pool of spiralling water... it speaks for itself. Politically charged and powerful in all ways.

Lucy Sparrow: convenience store made entirely of felt

Lucy Sparrow: convenience store made entirely of felt

This was certainly one of my personal highlights, which also include:

Eight to Eight by Lucy Sparrow – A pop up convenience store made entirely of felt. You cannot but love Lucy's work. Every "product" is made out of felt and is tactile, well-crafted and energy filled. The Twinkies sold out!

Meeting by James Turrell at MoMA PS1 – A permanent Skyscape installation after a three-year restoration. What a special room to be in. A must see experience if you are at MoMA PS1. Check the weather before going!

Of course, our visits to studios are always so engaging and thought provoking. They highlight how much energy is required to make art and to survive. It was wonderful to touch base again with Bonnie Lane (featured in the first time that walk-to-art was on Channel 9's Getaway in November 2007).

Visit to Brian Willmont's studio

Visit to Brian Willmont's studio

This Australian born, New York based contemporary visual artist has been in USA for the last six years and just completed her masters at NYU. We were also excited to learn that Bonnie will be coming back for a residency at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) later in the year.

It was also a pleasure to spend a raining Saturday afternoon with New York based contemporary visual artist/painter Brian Willmont at Greenpoint Terminal Gallery and his studio. A lovely, talented man with patience of a saint. His work was carefully constructed, masked and sprayed. How wonderful to be on the walls of the Facebook office in New York as part of their artist in residence program.


walk-to-art on Instagram: What my eye picks up along the way

artists, Melbourne tours, New York tours, Venice tours

28 February 2017

walk-to-art is finally on Instagram!

Screen shot of an Instagram post by artist Shepard Fairey featuring Ai Weiwei

Shepard Fairey's post on Instagram (click image to view it in full)

After many conversations with friends and tour participants asking "why are you not on Instagram", I finally put the app on my phone.

I always prefer to see art work in the flesh and am always hesitant to view an exhibition online. However, it seems that the "hash tagging" has become rather important to today's way of experiencing everything.

Instagram has also become a way to archive works, reach an international audience, international curators and, of course, buyers and collectors who don't have the time to visit a show. Some artists use the platform to maintain a public profile and push the boundaries of censorship.

Ai Weiwei is an excellent example. Weiwei (@aiww) knows how to use the platform better than most, going beyond self-promotion to reveal the true power of social media.

Screen shot of an Instagram post by artist Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey's post on Instagram (click image to view it in full)

Having travelled back and forth from New York for the last 10 years, I am a fan of Shepard Fairey's murals and past-ups. Fairey (@obeygiant) is also political and uses the platform to reach a wider audience, but shares links to works by other artists as well – it's a global community.

So walk-to-art's Instagram (@walktoart) will be about what my eye picks up along the way. Whether I am in Naarm / Melbourne walking the streets, visiting a studio, an art opening or on tour. Or maybe from the streets of New York to the magical lanes in Venice to the hidden bars for a cheeky glass of prosecco or two!


walk-to-art to celebrate its 10th anniversary where it all began: New York

25 June 2015

walk-to-art will turn ten in 2016 and to celebrate I have launched a 10th anniversary walk-to-art New York tour.

It's about going back to where this journey began – walk-to-art was conceived in New York, in my walks from Brooklyn to Chelsea. In that time I explored quirky art spaces, creative studios, music and eateries. I people watched every day on the trains and on the street and I searched for the best coffee in town. So it seems New York is the most fitting place to celebrate walk-to-art's 10th birthday.

photo of New York City

As usual there will be no itinerary given upfront and you just need to trust that you are in very safe hands.

My essential list will give you the rundown of organic grocers, fabulous brunch places, favourite coffee hangouts, burgers, bagels, corn with cream cheese, oyster bars, underground Mexican, diners and more.

  • We will stay in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and enjoy the local cafes and bars.
  • Our days will be filled with art, food and activity, finishing with the perfect Negroni or Martini.
  • We travel mostly in the afternoons and there are no forced dinners.
  • We will walk, travel the trains and experience a new borough, discovering art spaces, studios and interesting people.

Do you need more reasons to be part of this? You may be in need of a creative break to help you discover the artist within, an educator wanting to refresh your knowledge of contemporary art, an artist wishing to connect to the New York scene or just a lover of life...

photo of New York City

Join me on this special New York art tour in September 2016 to experience a walk through the remarkable back streets and to discover the abundance of culture that makes this city so special.

Get all the information about walk-to-art New York.


Art as a visual journey of one's life

21 June 2013

It takes a little while to "come down" after being in New York City. I start to have flashbacks as I reflect on the amazing works and spaces that my group of art explorers and I saw during the most recent walk-to-art New York, in May and June. It takes a little while to digest everything completely, and I have to be careful as I seem to start my sentences with "in NYC..."

The 2013 edition of walk-to-art NY was fabulous and I am incredible grateful to have wonderful participants – enthusiastic, open and patient – as we trekked all over Manhattan and Brooklyn.

One afternoon we had a special visit to The Elizabeth Foundation to see the work and studio space of Tamiko Kawata. A generous, gentle and intelligent artist, she has dedicated her time to the creation of beautiful wearable art, sculptures and installations. Tamiko creates her works through experimenting with materials that reflect her life and thoughts. Small, unpretentious and valueless things from daily life often become the primary medium. Tamiko looks for another language, energy, chaos and harmony, within quiet stillness.

I was fascinated by the Safety Pin Series in which Tamiko spends hours threading pins together to form wearable art and sculptural structures. Coming from Japan, Tamiko had never seen or used a safety pin before arriving in the United States. The artist used to fold everything before her first child was born. What a pleasure to listen to her journey, from a young adult landing in New York, finding work, meeting her husband, learning a new language and understanding what a hot dog was to her senior years as a practicing and exhibiting artist in this wonderful city.

Work from the Safety Pin Series by artist Tamiko Kawata (part of walk to art New York 2013)

The Safety Pin Series has become part of a continuous body of work. Tamiko imports pins from Japan and spends hours constructing her art. "I came from Japan in my young adult life, and I feel my works are often intuitive reactions to the American life that I have happily adopted; my art making is a visual journey of my life.

"Observing our environment is an exciting daily practice, and nature's phenomena... such as water, mist, shadows, wind are strong inspirations to form my works."

We all walked away thrilled to have met Tamiko. That afternoon she not only shared her studio space and her art with us... Tamiko shared her spirit and her passion.

As I wrote, it takes a little while to "come down" after being in New York City. However, it takes no time to fall in love with it. Over and over again.


Art travellers: overseas or in your own city

14 May 2013

It's that time of the year again (and it's fortunately been like this since 2008): I am about to hop on a plane and head to the United States for walk-to-art New York.

So this is time to re-search artists, studios and art spaces, and read cultural online newsletters. Friends have emailed new places and must go bars... and I'm trying to catch up with the latest eateries and coffee shops. All of this needs to go into the little black book before I leave Naarm / Melbourne!

If you are not joining our group this year (I hope you can make it in 2014), but would like to go overseas to enjoy art, how about Asia? If I were not going to NYC my destination would be the Hong Kong International Art Fair, between 23 and 26 May. This is the first edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong.

There will be a number of Australian galleries there and it is a fabulous way to engage in the international art scene – you can get an an overview of what's happening around the world in just 3 days! Art fairs are interesting not only because significant galleries are invited to participate, but also local galleries tend to curate strong exhibits to attract the art lovers in town.

If you have no plans to travel, why not be a traveller in your own city? These are great shows to see in Melbourne:

Anna Finlayson – Shhh (The Hexagon Trip)
Sarah Scout Presents
Level 1, 1a Crossley Street, Melbourne (view location on Google Maps)
Thursday and Friday, 11am to 5pm; Saturday, 12pm to 5pm
Until 18 May

image from Rhys Lee's Still I'd Sea exhibition displayed at Utopian Slumps in Naarm / Melbourne

Rhys Lee – Still I'd Sea (image above)
Utopian Slumps
Ground floor, 33 Guildford Lane, Melbourne (view location on Google Maps)
Wednesday to Saturday, 12pm to 6pm
Until 25 May

Ben Quilty The Fiji Wedding
Tollarno Galleries
Level 4, 104 Exhibition Street, Melbourne (view location on Google Maps)
Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturday, 1pm to 5pm
Until 1 June


All my passions put together: this is my job

10 April 2013

People often ask me what I do. In simple terms, I have gathered all my loves and made it into a job!

Having graduated a while ago from the VCA, in Naarm / Melbourne (view the details in the About us section), I put together all my skills and used them to mentor artists, facilitate the connection between business and the arts, and educate the public along the way.

Meet the Makers 2013 Most of my days are spent in my Collingwood studio, organising tours, speaking with artists and getting myself ready for the next big project.

Recently I curated the first edition of Meet the Makers. It was a weekend of inspiring, educational art events over Fitzroy and Collingwood, with the support of the City of Yarra. I am an ambassador for the council and was involved in their Discover Your Own Backyard campaign, with things to see and do in suburbs like Abbotsford, Carlton North, Clifton Hill, Collingwood, Fitzroy North and Richmond.

As an art consultant, I work with many talented artists and assist people in purchasing art. They often don't know where to look or start, so an art consultant can bridge that gap.

I am also the director of walk to art and, at the moment, I am getting ready for the next walk-to-art New York in May. It is very important that I travel, see and experience; both in Australia and overseas. In October I am heading to Italy's La Biennale di Venezia for the second walk to art Venice. Recently, I visited the Brett Whiteley Studio in Surry Hills; definetely a place to visit if you are in Sydney.

And Melbourne is constantly changing, so I have to be out and about to discover new spaces and new exhibitions. I use a fabulous calendar, Art Openings – Melbourne, maintained by a friend of mine named Charles. It is an excellent resource tool (you could be at a different opening every night!).

Not one day is the same and I am very fortunate to work in Naarm / Melbourne and other great cities, get to know many talented artist and meet people who are so interested in learning about art.


2013: time to enjoy great events in the arts calendar

15 January 2013

Melbourne's art world is slowly coming back from the holidays, and there are great events in the 2013 calendar:


  • The Midsumma festival takes over most of our art spaces in the first few weeks of the year, from 13 January to 3 February.
  • The Substation, Craft Victoria, Edmund Pearce Gallery and Chapter House Lane all reopen on Thursday 17 January.
    Your Old Self, at Tinning Street Gallery
  • On Friday 1 February Tinning Street Gallery, in Brunswick, reopens with a great drawing show titled Your Old Self (from 6pm to 9pm).
  • Also, the White Night Melbourne festival is coming! On Saturday 23 February, from 7pm to 7am, the state government will open up the city for a dusk-to-dawn festival of art, culture, film, fashion and sport. Melbourne will effectively become a 24-hour town.


See you around the galleries and in our tours!


365 days weeping, crying and shedding tears

15 June 2011

Travelling takes you to places and gives you experiences that you may never have at home. Maybe it is because you go searching for that something to excite you.

As I spend my last few days in New York, I write about the artist who has ignited yet again my love for beautiful photography: 35-year-old New York City based photographer and video artist Laurel Nakadate.

I was introduced to Nakadate at MoMA PS1 whilst researching for walk-to-art New York. Excitement filled the air as I very happily sat and watched video work and engaged in the stills that covered the walls.

Nakadate's work is soft, with 1970′s coloring and beautifully shot. The exhibition at MoMA PS1, Laurel Nakadate: Only the Lonely, brings together bodies of work over a 10-year period.

These works touch:

  • voyeurism
  • loneliness
  • the manipulative power of the camera
  • the urge to connect with others.

I feel very lucky as not only is Nakadate showing at MoMA PS1 (until 8 August 2011), but also at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects. 365 Days: A catalogue of Tears and Lost Party Guest is on until 25 June 2011.

Laurel Nakadate's artwork

This body of work is a visual diary of Nakadate photographing herself over 365 days weeping, crying and shedding tears.

"Nakadate's year of suffering, her calendar, her breviary, is a recognition of a shared language of regret that yokes us together, therefore, and a recognition that this regret and loss are somehow beautiful, no matter how they look."

It has been wonderful to discover Nakadate's work. The beauty, discipline and passion are evident.

I am very happy that Nakadate cried for 365 days of 2010.

22–25 Jackson Avenue at the intersection of 46th Avenue (view location on Google Maps)
Long Island City, NY

Thursday through Monday, 12pm to 6pm
Until 8 August 2011

Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects
535 West 22nd Street (view location on Google Maps)
New York, NY

Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm
Until 25 June 2011


New York art secrets and highlights

12 October 2010

Oh, it's been a while... I've been in the fabulous city of New York. It was a great trip with a lovely group of people (read about walk-to-art New York).

I was able to meet very talented artists and it was very special to catch up with those artists who have consistently supported and contributed to the walk-to-art program. There were many highlights and each tour changes with new contributors and new places to visit:

I discovered excellent quirky eateries and found special hang outs for me to people watch.

Unlike in Australia, many artists in New York have agents... This time around I noticed so much more marketing and networking going on. Charity functions and private house exhibitions have become an alternative for those artists un represented – which are many, especially in these economic times.

Bushwick Brooklyn is becoming the new artist area, as the rents are affordable with maybe a little more space.

The DUMBO Arts Festival 2010 was fun and I discovered so many studio spaces for locals and international artists.

Keith Haring's artwork

I loved going to visit Keith Haring's Crack is Wack mural in Harlem and was surprised to see the playground surrounding the mural was named the Crack is Wack Playground.

Shepard Fairey's artwork

It was also great to wander the streets and discover new paste-ups by Shepard Fairey.

Want to know more? I need to keep a few secrets to myself and to those who will be joining us on tour in May 2011. I hope you will be there!

That is all for now!


walk-to-art's first New York artist in a residence

14 July 2009

walk-to-art, in conjunction with Melbourne Girls Grammar (MGGS), will host our first New York artist in a residence.

Ryan F Kennedy, an emerging New York artist from Brooklyn, New York, will be artist in residence at MGGS. RFK will be accommodated in North Fitzroy by walk-to-art and will then exhibit at fortyfivedownstairs, in Naarm / Melbourne. The small room has been generously funded by MGGS from 1 and 12 September 2009.

RFK has been in demand even before he graduated from New York's Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). After a group exhibition at Location One gallery in New York, RFK was chosen to work for Ralph Lauren in textile and design.

walk-to-art discovered RFK in 2006 and has been following RFK's creative journey ever since. RFK has opened his studio doors to accommodate walk-to-art groups in New York and has generously given time, enthusiasm and artistic knowledge to all those who have visited. In conjunction with MGGS, walk-to-art is very excited to be giving this fabulous opportunity to a very talented and unique artist.

"I am so excited to do this project. I believe every person has a defining moment at school; the one experience that alters them to pursue a career or a passion as they move through life." For me it was the adults around me who where consumed by their artistic process. It would mean everything to me if just one student is touched in a similar way as we create our works together," says RFK.

RFK works in multiple disciplines that include found object, fibre, installation and performance. RFK draws from the dynamics within the environments he finds himself in bringing concept to form through his creations.

RFK recently finished a floral sculpture for New York's fashion label Coventry by Matthew Terry. Coventry commissioned an 8-feet tall floral sculpture as a bone-fire for inspiration, which became a 10-feet in diameter and 11-feet tall over-grown Salem Which Trial bundle. The work composed of cedar, white oak, cherry, magnolia, whispy willows, moss, rock and mushrooms was finished with 80-feet vines braided and multiple other vines wrapped around the center.


RFK continues today with installations and wall works for international companies and private collectors.

RFK has been written and reviewed in The New York Times, Village Voice and Women's Wear Daily to name a few.


Beacon – Art on the banks of the Hudson River

31 May 2009

At 11am sharp we meet under the American flag at Central Station... my group is always on time!

It's Sunday and it's a nice idea to travel out of the city and take a breath from the busy streets of New York. We are taking the train to Beacon to visit the great space Dia; Beacon.

Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries is the museum for Dia Art Foundation's renowned collection of art from the 1960s to the present. The museum, which opened in 2003, is situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, New York. Dia:Beacon occupies a former Nabisco box-printing facility that was renovated by Dia with artist Robert Irwin and architect OpenOffice.

We have tickets in hand (actually, if you purchase the tickets online, you can get a package deal for train + Dia), bagels and coffee... It's wet, cold and a good day to be on a train.

This time I have decided to bring a picnic for us to enjoy. A visit to Dean & DeLuca ensures that my basket is filled with everything gourmet.

walk to art New York

It was such a special day and it did not rain until the end!

Get more information about walk-to-art New York


Gagosian – It's not often that I am wowed; today is an exception

28 May 2009

There is something very special about New York. The trains, the people, the food, the art, the parks, the spaces, the energy.

Today is the only day that the walk-to-art group travels to Chelsea, the commercial art precinct of New York. It's not often that I am wowed; however, today is an exception.

As usual the group has no idea of where we are going or what we are about to see... We sit in a park on the corner of 10th Avenue and 22nd Street, and eat cupcakes from Billy's Bakery... little creations of edible art.

The most exciting and breathtaking exhibition of the day was at Gagosian Gallery West 24th. The artist, Yayoi Kusama. The exhibition, celebrating Yayoi Kusama's 80th year. The piece that was the most outstanding was "Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity" (2009).

"Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity" (2009), a mesmerizing "infinity room" that operates on a system of simple, yet ingenious, optical devices. In a dark void, a delicate, shimmering mirage unfolds around the viewer, a myriad of gleaming lights that reproduce and reflect endlessly upon each other in golden silence. Oh, and we can't forget the pumpkins... Kusama's representation of her alter ego or self portrait, on show in New York for the first time.

walk to art New York

The art spaces in Chelsea are opulent; everything is presented on such a large and professional scale. Therefore, drinks at another opulent space is required... We head to the Meatpacking District for a quiet drink at The Buddha Bar (17 Little West 12th Street).

Read words from previous groups of walk-to-art New York