Posts Tagged ‘museums’

It was a constellation of events. The Bride and Groom had a wedding to attend this past weekend in NJ, very close to Great Grandma Ada and Great Grandpa Hudson’s home. And even though we were just in Nashville for the Love Bug’s pirate birthday, we wanted to continue the love, so we drove north. At one point I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride, driving on 81 and 287, I forgot how many cars and trucks drive so close and so fast. Guess I’ve become a VA driver. Good for Bob, he still loves to hustle on the road!

The Bride wanted to introduce the Bug to the Big Apple. Taylor Swift is her number one crush of the moment, and she knows the singer moved from Nashville to NYC. She was hoping for a celebrity spotting, and so we ventured over the George Washington Bridge and down the East River. The same route that was embedded in my memory, when my family would take the bridge to visit my sister, Kay, on the Upper East Side.

What we hadn’t factored into the weekend’s equation was our only free day for New York was Sunday, September 11th.

I did not sit and listen to the names, because I know one of the names.

I did not write about 9/11, because I lived through that day. Waiting for the Bride to call me from DC. Wondering where the Rocker was since he had left his high school, along with his friends. Worrying about Bob, who was helping to coordinate disaster relief at a marina.

I did not play a video about boat rescues, because my friend was on a ferry that returned with ash covered people.

Since we only had a short time on Sunday, we decided to stay uptown. Men in saffron colored robes approached me, and I waved them off like a true New Yorker, but said “Sorry” like a Virginian. Pigeons fluttered in the glorious sunlight that streamed through the buildings. I asked my Bug if there were more pigeons or people in NY, and she smiled and said, “People.”

But actually the city was strangely quiet. Reverent. And it wasn’t until I recapped our day for Bob – at the Metropolitan Museum and visiting Aunt Kay – that tears filled my eyes. Because we went straight to the museum’s rooftop, where I was intrigued by the Roof Garden’s “PsychoBarn.” http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2016/cornelia-parker

A facade, the Queen Ann farmhouse looked as if it had dropped out of a Kansas tornado into this spectacular setting. Like a stage setting, It is “Simultaneously authentic and illusory.” The artist was alluding to a child’s fascination with transitional objects; something that helps to “…negotiate their self-identity as separate from their parents.” I told the Bride if only it were yellow, instead of red, it would have looked like my NJ home.

And as we gazed across the trees of Central Park, at the skyline of NY, I felt a certain nostalgia. But also an overwhelming sense of calm, a serenity usually reserved for my mountain view. I told Bob it was only right for us to be there, on top of a tall building in the center of one of our most beautiful cities, on this sacred day.   img_5189






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The Rocker and Ms Cait visited the Broad (a new contemporary art museum in LA) last weekend with my niece Lucia and her sweet family. Since Cait, an exceptional artist herself, started working there, I’ve been dying for a special tour myself. Currently on exhibit is Jenny Holzer’s work from 1979-1982.

Just as the Millennial Generation was being born, Holzer was creating some of her best work. She fused political outrage with bright colorful posters of text from brilliant minds around the world, and hung these installations all over NYC anonymously. The Holzer Studio describes the artist’s intent as:

“…a collection of 100-word texts that were printed on colored paper and posted throughout New York City. Like any manifesto, the voice in each essay urges and espouses a strong and particular ideology. By masking the author of the essays, Holzer allows the viewer to assess ideologies divorced from the personalities that propel them. With this series, Holzer invites the reader to consider the urgent necessity of social change, the possibility for manipulation of the public, and the conditions that attend revolution.” http://socks-studio.com/2013/12/13/rejoice-our-times-are-intolerable-jenny-holzer-and-her-15-inflammatory-essays-1979-82/

Those were the days; I was on diaper duty and Jimmy Carter was President. He was jockeying the Iran Hostage Crisis and a nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island. Then the Russians invaded Afghanistan, and we all know how that ended. China had experienced a cultural revolution the likes of which we may never see again, unless maybe Bernie wins?, and so a little Mao was sprinkled in with Lenin and Emma Goldman.

This is the kind of visual art I can wrap my mind around – 100 words – not 140 characters in a Tweet. In fact, journalism forced me to deliver around 350 words at a time in expository essays. Trying to explain currents events and town happenings, without too much opinion, without being too provocative. Catching a reader by the throat, but only to tickle not to strangle. Holzer wanted to stop people in their tracks, she wanted them to confront change, she wanted to seduce us with her art as all good artists do….

The Artistic vein runs deep in our family. Sprinkled around our homes are paintings by the Bride, Grandma Ada, my sister Kay and our cousin Sheila. Even the Flapper is represented in a gorgeous portrait of an unknown African American woman. Lucia’s husband Mark Acetelli, is an abstract expressionist who paints hauntingly large, dream-like canvasses that come alive in his hands. In fact, I promised the Bride an Acetelli as a house-warming gift! That, and a trampoline!  https://www.artsy.net/artist/mark-acetelli

Should great art simply reflect its time, or provoke us? To see our lives from another perspective, to stop and step away? Here is one of Holzer’s more compelling inflammatory essays, one that is too contemporary for comfort, maybe taken from a Trump manual:


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My Ivy Farm Book Club is reading it. My MIL Ada just finished it. And the Bride wants me to send it to her, the book that’s all abuzz right now, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I finished the last six pages of the book yesterday, in the middle of the day because I couldn’t wait until bedtime when I barely have enough energy to keep my eyes open…and I was afraid of that white space; the blank white space at the end of a book. I knew that I’d have a lot of feelings to process in that white space, and my mind wouldn’t be up to that at midnight.

The Goldfinch is a coming of age story, in the tradition of Catcher in the Rye. We are drawn into the life of Theo Decker, a typical New York teenager who grew up around Sutton Place and went to a private school. He’s being raised by a beautiful and kind single mom, one we imagine is like Holly Golightly, except instead of being a call girl she married the wrong guy, a drinker who disappeared one day. They are a happy couple, son and mother, until one day a terrorist happens to set off a bomb at The Met, just as Theo follows a pretty red headed girl into a hallway.

Tartt sets off the bomb and the motion of her book early on, and so we are hooked, wandering around with Theo who is trying to recover his connection to the world. The cast of characters is familiar. The trust fund kids, the socialite/philanthropist types, the doormen. But it’s the stolen painting, Fabritius’ 1654 Goldfinch,  that glues this epic journey together, through a few lost years in Vegas with the wandering father and Boris the Ukranian best friend, and finally back to the Big Apple. I haven’t been so drawn to a book in ages. In some ways, it’s the small Dutch masterpiece that propels our protagonist forward – his mother’s love for it, a dying man’s plea for its survival.

In the last six pages I wanted more, and I suspect that Tartt was hoping we would. Ms Bean startled me by barking at the window. A lonely hawk was spreading its wing on a tree too close to the house. photo I remembered one of my earliest teenage rules for living, like never stay where you are not wanted, or never cry in public. Never, ever keep a bird in a cage. It was a sort of pre-feminist, Ibsen-like decision. Live free, or die! And I wondered what would happen to Theo Decker. Will he be pulled into a life of crime and drug abuse, or more crime and more drug abuse, by Boris and end up in prison? Did he settle in at Hobart and Blackwell and become a respectable antique dealer like this guy? http://www.themillions.com/2014/01/my-not-so-secret-history.html                           Will he marry damaged-goods Kitsy or Pippa of the morphine lollipop?

As you know, my sister Kay lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She raised her only daughter alone, sending her to the Convent of the Sacred Heart with ambassador’s children. I used to visit them all the time as a teenager, and we’d often walk to the Met for a special exhibit or just for lunch. Later, I would always meet Kay for our mutual September birthday celebration in the City. After 9/11, we roamed around the streets in the Village, trying to find a place that was open for our birthday lunch. Determined not to let the terrorists “win.” 

Fifth Avenue is magical in every season. I told Kay that we  need to see the Goldfinch at the Frick Museum. I want to see this little bird who is chained to her food box. The bird that really did survive an explosion in Delft that killed its painter. Is it serendipity that art is reflecting the current literary scene, in the same city this MS author has captured so well? http://www.frick.org/exhibitions/mauritshuis/605   


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