Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day, the 5th of April, my sister’s birthday, had she survived the deadly cancer that raged through her body. I’m currently on spring break. While many have found ways to escape the stresses of daily life, I have found myself reliving a spring break six years ago when I went to visit my cancer stricken sister. We celebrated her birthday on Thursday and she died by the end of the week. My father followed her in death shortly after. Thankfully, I decided to do something that would delight my senses rather than dwell on what could have been. However, I am mixed with emotions of loss, love, and a sense that our country truly has turned into the two Americas that John Edwards always talked about. There are the privileged and everyone else. There are those like Dick Cheney, who have wonderful health care, and those like my sister, that didn’t and don’t.
There is an “America” in Toledo, Ohio where everyone can participate because it is free. I drove to Toledo to visit the Toledo Museum of Art. I had only been there once before and it was back in my twenties. I can’t understand why I haven’t sought this gem out in the past thirty years. I just have to say that if you are from Toledo, or the surrounding area, you are a fool if you are not visiting this museum. I didn’t have time to make it over to the glass museum, so I’ll be going back this summer and devote more quality time to both. The museum has many galleries loaded with unusual pieces of art and there is absolutely no cost to attend. Imagine a quality museum with wonderful art and it only cost me $5.00 for parking. That, in itself, is amazing! When I went to Chicago and parked underground it was nearly $30 so I was thrilled to think that anyone can attend this museum, any day, for free! I’m just going to touch on a few artworks that really stood out for me. Art inspires me and this seemed like the best of days to get inspired!
I was drawn to the Morrison Triptych because of its beauty and clarity. http://classes.toledomuseum.org:8080/emuseum/view/objects/asitem/96/30/invno-asc?t:state:flow=65b98ef0-38ed-4165-9fe8-8abf0503ce71
The artist is unknown. Morrison was the person that owned it last. In the painting one can see great effort at every little detail from the feet, to the rug, and even the background that gives a feeling that it could go on forever. When I was looking at all of the Christian art in the museum, I had a sense of how inspiring it must have been for people to see this artwork at the time it was created. I could see how spending time where the art was at, say in a church, could be the most beautiful part of your day. I’m sure the art was used to control people in some form or another through story telling with strong moral meaning. Whatever the case, it is easy to see how people would be drawn to places of worship just for the inspiration that would be provided. Today, religion needs more than a beautiful picture to inspire people to want to participate in daily devotion!
Another piece that I was drawn to was an artwork by Paul Signac, Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice, 1905. I have never paid much attention to the artwork of Seurat or Signac as tiny little dots just doesn’t really appeal to me. They almost seem too painstaking for me to find them interesting. I can appreciate them but I have always liked art that is faster and more expressionistic with quick brush strokes. However, my perception has been changed by this delightfully colorful piece by Signac. It is made up of rectangular brushstrokes of wonderful bits of color. From a distance it reminded me of some of Monet’s work but up close it is much more colorful and less subdued. My pictures were taken on my cell phone so they lack quality. My battery had died in my little camera and I didn’t check it before I left home so I snapped some shots off my phone. Here is a link on Flickr to a better shot so you can see the wonderful color and brushstrokes that I am writing about. http://www.flickr.com/photos/noctilux-mingqi/4658392020/lightbox/
Another piece that I found inspirational for its composition is a piece made out of wood by Louise Nevelson, Sky Presence I. I loved the fact that she took scrap wood and made something so magically beautiful from it. Each box alone is a wonderful composition but seeing them altogether is like different chapters to a book. They each tell a little story. It really made me wonder where she found all of the different shapes. The way she composed each piece is interesting as she put curvy lines next to straight lines and they work harmoniously together on the whole when you see them as this huge piece of art. It’s quite dramatic due to the black color and the size of the piece.
I also really enjoyed “Portrait of a Freedom Fighter” by Juan Schnabel. It is an artwork created from broken ceramic plates and oil paint. I was drawn to the three dimensional aspect of the piece and the broken fragments that up close just looked like a mess, but when I stepped back came into focus. It served to remind me that things are not always what they seem to be whether it is with art or in life. Some things need a closer inspection to fully understand.
The artwork, “The Salutation of Beatrice” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was just beautiful in a romantic way. It seems the artist was named after the poet, Dante. This was a tribute to Dante and his unrequited love for Beatrice. A portion of Dante’s poem is inscribed in both English and Italian on the frame. It goes like this:
My lady looks so gentle and so pure / When yielding salutation by the way / That the tongue trembles and has naught to say / And the eyes, which fain would see, may not endure.
You can see the piece up close here. http://classes.toledomuseum.org:8080/emuseum/view/objects/asitem/121/34/invno-asc?t:state:flow=adf30bba-874e-4a61-a6d3-f4c986b75cd8
The piece is beautiful but it is the look of longing in her eyes that really drew me into it. I loved the softness of her pale skin and the way the fabric drapes around her almost as though she was an “angel”. She just needs the wings and a halo.
An artwork by Paul Gauguin made me forgive him for leaving his family. He really didn’t belong in the business world. He had a gift for color and I am so pleased to have come across this image of a road that reminded me of the road he took which was so different from the road he was originally on! The piece is called, “Street in Tahiti”. It is full of color and a sense of a different world where people are at peace. I loved the brushstrokes of the palm tree. At the museum I could get right up to almost every painting. There were no barrier lines around most of them. You could breathe on them. That was amazing for seeing the brushstrokes so closely.
Another artwork, or should I say artworks, that stood out for me was “The Party” by Marisol. Here is a link to a Sotheby auction that says a bit about it. http://www.thecityreview.com/s05scon1.html
This piece made me smile. There was an artist statement about feeling alone even at a party. What I could see was the many looks of party goers. Some are looks of boredom, some of thoughtful reflection, like how can I escape? Some looks seemed to mock the haughty “elite”. I found this piece to be sophisticated and humorous and I loved the fact that Marisol said they scared her when she was working on them. I kept picturing waking up in the night to these crazy life size pieces! This is one reason I love art. I can be inspired, laugh, and take from it what I want. Art allows me to make my own interpretations. They may be what the artist was thinking but often art just makes me think! If you have the opportunity to visit an art museum in the near future, it just might make you think as well!
I will close with pictures from other artworks that I enjoyed on this fine day in April when I was thinking about my beautiful sister and missing her deeply.