For those looking for a behind the scenes tour of New York City, consider the Amon Focus Art Walk. Amon Focus, a New York based photographer/documentarian/creative director/street art lover, has lived in New York most of his life and uses that insight to his advantage with his new Amon Focus Art Walks, which take small groups on private, customizable tours around Manhattan and Brooklyn. The tours, well suited for both visitors and New York natives alike, give guests the opportunity to explore New York away from tourist attractions and crowds and get a feel for what the city is truly like.
The Amon Focus Art Walk is presented through a partnership with Kimpton’s recently renovated Hell’s Kitchen property, Ink48. The deal between the two parties was struck after Focus attended some of Ink48’s wine hours (where guests and locals can enjoy wine in the lobby bar from four to six every day) and promoted his first photo book, aptly titled I Love New York. Ink48 saw the opportunity for a partnership with the local artist to provide guests of the hotel as well as visitors and even locals of New York with the opportunity to see the city through different eyes – and the Amon Focus Art Walk was born.
Focus compares his Art Walk to that of a “speakeasy tour,” where he takes guests to unlikely spots throughout the city to find various works of art where they might not have expected to. He’s involved with the direct planning of the tour from the moment a guest books a tour through the hotel to the completion of their day in the city. The maximum size of an Amon Focus Art Walk is no more than six people, as Focus “never wants to be that guy with a blow horn directing a crowd.”
“I want it to be like you’re spending the day in the city with you family, like your cousin or something,” Focus said on a tour with Luxury Travel Advisor. “I want everyone to feel comfortable and engaged. It should be something relaxed and enjoyable by everyone.”
Focus started our tour at the acclaimed Angelika Film Center in NoHo. We ventured through the Bowery and the Lower East Side before passing through China Town and parts of the Village before completing our tour back where we started. Had we had more time, Focus would have started our tour in Bushwick, Brooklyn before continuing through Williamsburg and over the Williamsburg Bridge into the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which typically would take around four hours and is Focus’ ideal tour length and experience.
During our tour, we stopped at four different shops along the way that piqued our interest as we passed them. We explored a custom eye-glass store, RVS, who had art hanging on their walls that was made using MAC cosmetics on canvas. Further down, we explored the Olde Good Things antiques shop, where we perused old trinkets and listened to classical versions of today’s pop hits like One Republic’s “Secrets.” We visited the Pop International Art Gallery and ended our day at the Taschen Book Store and Gallery on Greene Street. We walked on cobble stone streets and marveled at architecture, discussed documentaries about street art and New York and a variety of artists, and took note of myriad of Focus’ favorite coffee shops and restaurants along the way.
Insider tip: On a strict time table? Don’t worry, tours are completely customizable. Focus’ tours typically run between two to four hours depending on the sites the group plans on visiting, but Focus is great with accommodating special needs. He arranges tours completely around guests’ needs whether that is to stay in a particular area, start the tour in a specific place or end the tour by a specific time.
Good to know: Focus is also the creator of the New York Said brand, which started as a photo series of all things Focus would see around New York that might be overlooked by the casual eye.
Guests of an Amon Focus Art Walk don’t have to know anything about street art to participate in one of the walks; Focus tailors each walk to the level of knowledge each group already has on the subject. He touches upon the differences between graffiti and street art, all the different methods of production, the culture and lifestyle and points out any art, from penny-sized street stickers to giant, commissioned murals high above street level on building sides.
To learn more or to make a reservation, call 212-757-0088 or e-mail [email protected].