Chelsea’s Secret Gem

With mind distracted, never thinking, “Death is coming,”
To slave away on the pointless business of mundane life,
And then to come out empty—it is a tragic error.”
The Tibetan Book of the Dead

I feel like I’m about to let you in on a secret. On a relatively quiet and inconspicuous street in Chelsea, one of the most interesting spaces in the city awaits. I’m guessing you haven’t heard of it. If you have, then you’re probably smiling right now because you’re one of the lucky few in the know. Maybe you’ve checked out the Modernist Art from India exhibit (currently on display), an intelligent and exciting aesthetic exploration that distinguishes abstraction in the region as something other than Euro-American modernism. Or maybe you saw the eye-opening Remember That You Will Die: Death Across Cultures two summers ago. Could it be that you were at one of the museum’s intoxicating K2 Friday Nights with free admission to the galleries and Pan-Asian tapas delivered by beautiful (and learned) people to the beat of warm groovin’ DJs with names like Kamala and KindB? If you’ve been to the Rubin Museum of Art, you know that to be hip is to be wise, and what I mean by “wise” is the heavy stuff. The Rubin claims to be the “premier museum of Himalayan art in the Western world,” and with this great tag comes great responsibility. We’re talking about art and culture that has heard sermons shouted down from Mt. Everest. This is enlightened entertainment, rules for how to live a rich and meaningful life.

If you haven’t been to the Rubin Museum of Art, what are you waiting for? And if you’re into hearing singer-songwriters in an intimate setting, then go during an installment of the museum’s fantastic Naked Soul series. They bill it as “unplugged, but totally connected,” and it’s all that and more. The museum has featured diverse artists like Rosanne Cash (who performs annually), Mike Doughty and John Gorka, and as a little extra treat, the artists select images from what’s on display at the museum to be projected while they play. It’s a stimulating experience on many levels.

Then there’s the “Dream-Over,” which will most likely be the first time you bring your sleeping bag to a museum. You’ll have to plan for that one though. Certain gems are just really hard to come by.

alan semerdjian

Alan Semerdjian is a writer, musician, English teacher, and occasional visual artist. Besides LI Pulse, his work has appeared in Newsday, Adbusters, Chain, The Lyric Review and numerous other print and online publications, anthologies, and chapbooks. His first full-length book of poetry is In the Architecture of Bone (Genpop Books 2009). You can visit him digitally at and find out about his music at