Word and Image

Museum

Iconic

The most iconic painting that equates Le Louvre to art is the Mona Lisa. And did you know Whistler’s Mother is owned by France. Don’t bother to go see the Mona Lisa. Its mounted under glass and crowded with people. You are stuck with the glare of the glass that prevents any meaningful examination. I did not know “Mother” was owned by France and loaned out across the United States. We were lucky to see it in Paris. What do I know? What I can tell you is that iconic paintings tend to be in accessible or hard to find. (they’re traveling.)

I’ve been to a lot of museums in the past several years. Am I making up for lost time? Who knows? What I can say is that I now try for a gestalt overview and then a detail of the brush strokes. It helps to include the label so I can identify the darned painting later. No, even though digital makes this easy, I don’t do it. There are a few painters I recognize. Mostly, I admire the technical prowess. I cannot tell much difference. It’s me. I can’t tell the differences in wine taste either. I’m missing a gene. No matter. I have other talent and am content to continue to look and try to be appreciative. It’s a work in progress (me). Ain’t educashun gran?


National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Yes, it’s free. But that is not the only reason we attended. It opened about two years ago. It was pretty moving. I learned more than I wanted to know. For instance, the ship model cutaway shows slaves stacked like cargo. Exactly. And it was assumed that there could be as much as 33% loss of cargo during the voyage. Really! I never knew the inhumanity. And it was not confined to a single country. Multiple nations took part and profited. The suffering was enormous. I can admit that this was not something taught in any school I attended. History is written by the winners. The losers don’t get much mention. I’m truly saddened and appalled.

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Reflection – reflecting pool/waterfall. It was on the list of places to see in the museum.

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This cutaway model shows how human cargo was stacked/arranged for the long voyage from Africa to the colonies. I was shocked. Somehow, i never realized the utter lack of regard for human life. I am ashamed at my ignorance of human suffering. I am sad.


National Portrait Gallery

It’s free! Well, no. I paid taxes. Therefore, my entrance fee is built in. Go figure. What  if you don’t pay taxes (see President Trump)? It’s still free. These days if it were up to the Republicans, there’d be no arts, no museums…. Meanwhile, aside from the portraits, there is art – aluminum foil art, and steam radiator art. The atrium is cool with a flat fountain (remember it’s free). And then, our government thought enough to make two museums in the same building. So, half and half. You can do that if your patron is one and the same (our fearless government).


I Can Read

Biggs Museum. It’s the best little museum ever! Free food! Ha! It was a concert event for the artist. She painted with pieces of music in mind. Musicians came to perform pieces with her art in mind. It was a grand event. We were fortunate to attend.

I can read music! I followed the pianist as she played and read her score. I followed the measures. She had to play many redundant same notes following the measures as she read. I wonder? How does she keep track as she plays the same note over and over. I’m sure I’d lose track and miss a note here and there. Besides, if she did, would anyone know? Hey! I don’t read music that well. My only regret is that I never paid enough attention while my kids were in the same music theory class as Alicia Keyes. Nor did I bother to record her early piano concerts when my kids played too. But, I suppose something rubbed off.


Bigg’s

The museum in Dover has been a bargain. We go for exhibitions. Openings are fun. They serve food! Free! Yum! I’m there for the food. Ha! Really, we’re there for the art?! In celebration of Black history month this exhibit was mounted. Free food! Ok, good art too. Fine art! Fine.

And the kicker? They had another “meet the artist” event a few weeks later. More free food! I guess old habits never die.

I was a moderately poor sleep deprived neurosurgery resident so so many decades ago. We were constantly trolling for food. I learned to sleep an extra ten minutes in the morning by drinking down Ensure or Sustacal instead of eating a proper breakfast. Yup! Yuck! But the chocolate flavor tastes vaguely like a “shake” if you cool it in the fridge. In the evening my chief resident would order seven dinners for the NICU patients – one for each patient. Mostly the patients were not yet cleared to eat. No matter. We would pick through the trays making a meal for ourselves as we prepared for evening rounds. He knew to go to the VA Hospital in the morning where we could get another free meal (breakfast). There, I learned that he ate scrambled eggs with ketchup. Nope, not me. But the food was always welcome. The old habits never die. I arrive at a buffet and get to eating promptly before the potions and choices dwindled. Yup! Free food!

 


Gown from “The Crown”

 

 

I’m not a groupie. NYC was too full of big shot celebrities for anyone to really be surprised. So it was always better to be cool. Did I tell you we ran into Richard Dreyfus and Judy Collins at a Bar Mitzvah ceremony? Lisa gushed all over Judy. She had profoundly affected her through her songs and music. With a bit of a pained and earnest look, Judy leaned in and asked, “Where’s the bathroom?” Yeah! Cool. Well, the gown was on display. It was the replica, not the original. So, it was silk screen printed. And the bead work was glued. Yup. Hot glue gun. So, it weighed a ton but not from precious stones, but from glue. Up close I guess you can tell. My camera zoom got close (sort of). All in all it was a small display. I must admit the hype was greater than the experience. No. Just be cool.


Private Tour

We got a private tour. That is part of the benefit and beauty of old age. We went to Winterthur and were the only ones at that hour to show up. It was a work day. Voila! We got to walk around and get all of our questions answered. Well, mostly. Some things we asked stumped the guide. I did learn a few things. The candle stand was adjustable. That way the light could be adjusted. Ha! Great idea. And the blown glass window was made of remnant panes. That is to say the panes were the discards from blowing glass. When made into a window it was considered art. Go figure. I’m leaning all sorts of new things these days.


Patterns

Blown glass, woven fabric: anything lends itself to interesting inspection. The pattern on this woven garment was from individual dyed fiber. It was not printed. The pattern was done with a computerized loom. No, it was not a computer. And it was not done mechanically. It was all done by hand. But the plan and weave were aided such that a more complex pattern could be undertaken. Puzzled? Just take my word that this was a pretty good weave that I could never do in a million years of trying. Do ya think it’s easy? Huh? Ok?


Pins and needles

Richard Cleaver does some strange work. It’s unique. I’ve never seen anything like it. It is a bit out there for me. It would appear he liberally uses hat pins. No matter. The work is eye catching. And you would have to admit it took a lot of time to complete. Wondrous things are lurking in the minds of talented artists.


Art

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The last time I played with watercolor was in kindergarten. I was forced to paint something for parent teacher conference. My only goal/task during free time was to take out all of the wooden blocks. I never got to play. Just taking the blocks off the shelf used all my time. Insanity!? (doing the same thing over and over … hoping for a different outcome) So, I sat before a paper clipped to an easel, took a single color, filled my brush, and painted a squiggly line, filling the page, and then sat back contentedly. Have I told you this before? When asked I responded to the teacher, “It’s a roller coaster.” She walked away counting to herself. I remember that part too. So, you’d laugh to think we signed up for watercolor lessons with an artist of considerable renown. To be sure my significant other wanted to meet the artist. Aha! But why take lessons? I fell upon the sword immediately and claimed to be a complete novice.

I mean there were folks there with some serious paint, brushes, and paper. Mission accomplished. We scored an invitation to visit the artist in his studio. I was complemented on my work (ha ha [but he really did – a good teacher]). The artist’s style complimented my own. He just threw the paint upon the paper and then closed in on the details as he went along. I had no details and was very good about throwing paint on the paper. Hey, there’s potential here. Oh, his frames were also art. He was a metal worker in the other half of his life. And, I work in wood. Hmm…..


Local

What they never told me is that you can join a museum and get reciprocity at others. We have been to a lot of museums for free. And I mean in Chicago and in LA and points between. Of course, the exhibits are there to stimulate discussion. Hey! I just retired. Do we really need colored plastic heads strewn about? Humpf!! Gates!? Jean Claude and Christo – Central Park many years ago. It was about orange gates in the park for a few weeks. It was mesmerizing. The artistry is in the concept. The concept pictures and proposal sell for tens of thousands – enough to fund the project’s million dollars bill. I mean millions of dollars. So, the sales earn a lot of money. That builds a lot of gates. By the way, most of the proposals and projects never got built.


Modern

Modern art is baffling too. Rauschenberg painted white on white with rollered house paint and no brush marks. He instructed it to painted over if it aged. Okay! Bullets in road signs. Yeah, that is art too? Jackson Pollack – Drip painting. He put the canvas on the floor, walked around it, and painted away. The upper two to the right are black and white. I kid you not. How imaginative.

It reminds me of the art I was forced to do in kindergarten. My mission was to take out all the blocks. In fact, play time was over before I ever took out all of them. Meanwhile, there was nothing to show for parent teacher conference. To the easel! Reluctantly I took one paint brush and one color and proceeded to paint a twisted curvy line. One. One line.

Teacher, “What is it?”

“A roller coaster,” I replied. The steam was coming out of the teacher’s ears as she stalked away. So much for my budding art career…


Icons

MOMA. Spend a day in New York City. So many things to do, so little time. Eat. Walk around. Duck into the museum from the rain. Museum of Modern Art. Starry Night – Van Gogh, Christina’s World – Andrew Wyeth. There were many more. But these are pretty famous icons. We got to see them up close. There was a huge crowd surrounding Starry Night. The Wyeth was hanging in the hallway. It was cool to have seen them both. People were 10 deep around the Van Gogh taking selfies. The Wyeth was quietly passed in the hallway. So much art, an icon like this would be center stage. Here, it was relegated to the hallway. So much art, so little space.


Half a Bowl

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MOMA has a shop that specializes in gadgets and things. It’s Modern! Duh!? Yup, it’s half a bowl. Odd but somehow… why didn’t I think of that? Neat! So I did them one back. Half a person – at the info booth. Neat too?!

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Campbell’s Soup

I grew up on Cream of Mushroom soup. Campbell’s. I make my own now. I’m much much better. Better ingredients. No chems, preservatives… I got real stuff – real whole mushroom slices. Grew up! Grown up! A few years back the (Campbell) family donated and created a gallery of their soup tureen collection. It’s worth millions of $. Sure, it makes perfect sense that they collected soup tureens. I bet they don’t put their 99 cent soup in them. I’m ok with that. I got my Revere ware pot and the extra can of water to go with your mushroom soup.


Rock

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The German – Andrew Wyeth

Rock! I’ve been under a rock. I missed the most liked tweet – ever! Ah! But I’m not on twitter – tee hee. I got this bit of news from late night TV.

Seriously, I’ve been searching for a way to express my feeling without joining up with the “Antifa.” There is good in the world. Click your heels three times and you’ll be back in “Kansas.”

 

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Chagall Picasso Calder

I have been exposed. I have been there. I have seen them. Cool. Checked off the to do list. Sorry. It’s like smelling bacon. It is not something to be described but to be experienced. Words do not adequately describe a taste or smell. What I see goes through my occipital cortex. Where it goes from there… clueless – me.


Sunday in the Park

… with George. A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884. Pointillism, George Seurat. It was part of the title of a musical by Sondheim. Enough? Look closely and there is no actual detail. It’s “pointillism.” Get the point? Been there more than once. Seen it. I believe I missed the “art gene.”

I had no art work for show and tell – parent visit on conference day in kindergarten. Forced to confront a blank sheet of paper I took a single color and proceeded to paint a twisted path all over the paper in one color with a single brush. Asked what this was, I replied, “A rollercoaster…” I do believe I remember the steam rising as the teacher silently walked away. I was not asked to produce another piece of work the rest of the year. Every kid needs the right button. Points of paint – that would have intrigued me enough to experiment with the science of art. Some people are art and others  – not.


Art

Very bad joke – not PC – sorry to you “trumpers” –

What to you call a boy with no arms and no legs hanging on your wall? – “Art.”

I’ve been to many a museum. You go to appreciate art. But, I ponder the photo op. How? What? You go to the source to see the painting. Brushstroke? Texture? Cracks? Detail? Is there some connection to the original that supplants the image in a book, online, or from my camera? I still don’t know. What? I’ve shot full frame and detail. I’ve seen iconic art in different museums. I saw the Mona Lisa in Paris. Try as I might it’s still a work in progress for me. I go. I look. I photograph. None are keepers for me. I keep going so I guess I haven’t given up.

… a boy with no arms and no legs on your doorstep – “Matt”


Bedrooms

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Van Gogh painted his bedroom. It’s famous. It’s been in my subconscious always. I think. I’m not an artist nor too much interested. The Chicago Art Institute is well known. Duh? They put on an exhibition,” Bedrooms.” The lines were out the door. Wisely we looked up the time and found that you could order up a fast pass. Skip the lines. Get into the exhibit fast. Pay extra. Time was money. Paid online an hour before we went. It seemed like cheating. Well, we paid for it, for sure.

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Got there, got in, cut across the big line. In! To the exhibit. There’s plenty more to the museum but we wanted to see the exhibit. Go! Front of the line and the man with the bar code scanner said, “Whoa! You have a fast pass but that does not get you into the Van Gogh exhibit.”

“Foul!” I cried. No problem. Back up. Pay $5/per more for entry. Dammit. You’d think that all that other money would have gotten us in…

The fuss? Van Gogh painted his bedroom three different times. Side by side you can see the differences. And otherwise I am sure I have seen this painting. But I never knew there were three versions. Yes, I do brain surgery. I’ve been under a rock. So, look. The background in each version is slightly different. The three paintings make for an interesting exhibit. I am a photographer. I took advantage that the museum let me take pictures. So many people crowded in front and with their smartphones shot a remembrance. Few paused long enough to appreciate the paintings. I mean ten seconds and one smartphone pic later, that’s not terribly fulfilling. But in today’s world you have about fifteen seconds before the next event hits the news cycle.

To be honest, I did not notice the differences until they were pointed out. This is art not science. I gladly claim happy ignorance. Teach me.

No, I won’t photograph my bedroom three times. No one will care a hundred years from now.