I hope you enjoyed my little audio post. I'm going to do a better one, hopefully this evening, but for now, here is a long "dates with myself" entry, with a few links and photos for you to enjoy. There would be more photos, but my internet connection seems to feel about as well as I do just now.
Two weeks ago I spent my afternoon at the Cincinnati Art Museum. I'd been there once or twice before, but not in nearly a year.
I have visited major art museums in Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. They each have something special about them. In New York, in that massive old building, you see art you've heard about all your life. In Philadelphia you see what seems like a true richness of creativity. Lots of good examples of 20th century style; Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, Color Field, etc. Detroit has some great sculpture . I remember least about Chicago but what I do remember is being completely immersed in culture. Pittsburgh is a city that is practically made of art and beauty amidst a certain amount of decay. I'd want to talk more about the contemporary art there and could write pages.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is one of my favorite places to be out of everywhere I've been. It's beautiful, inside and out. There is a wealth of treasure there, literally, particularly the Imperial Chinese collection. And it's free, so you can wander in and out as you please, as you enjoy the complete outdoor setting, most especially in late Spring and early Autumn.
So for me, the Cincinnati Art Museum has a lot to measure up to. It does, you know, in one particular area of focus I'd never seen at another museum. That is local art, and in particular, the local art movement here in the 19th century. There was a thriving art culture here, you see, and the museum has great examples of it, but especially very good education on it. You really *learn* when you are at this museum, if you wish to.
The building is set on one of the hills overlooking the city, and is currently being remodelled. When you drive up to it you enter a park, and there is another one very nearby, where you can enjoy some great views by walking or by car. You pay to park but as in Kansas City, attendance is free. It's all very consciously tasteful, yet accessible. There is a hallway you enter which contains the "icons" of the collection. Here you see within black-curtained walls the prized pieces of the museum, and then you pass into the central area of the building where you turn this way or that to see the different eras and schools of art.
There's plenty worth having a look at but the local collection is what's worth the trip. You read about the development of the art movement here, major artists and patrons of the period, and see a number of fine examples. There's an area with paintings paid for by efforts of local schools so that they could each display a piece of art in their hallways. You see the development of the city through landscape works produced over several decades. And there are a good number of pieces from the Rookwood Pottery Company, as well as an exhibit on how the pottery and tiles were produced there.
Now to my recent trip there specifically. It was one of the few comfortable days we've had this month. I parked at the nearby park and walked up to the building, but felt no compunction about not paying to park closer. I put a few dollars in the collection box, and also had lunch there and bought some tea from the gift shop.
Anyway. While it's great to visit an art museum alongside someone with whom you can share the experience, going alone can be so satisfying. You read the cards exactly as quickly or slowly as you like. You spend ten minutes here, no minutes there, skip a room, visit one twice, just as you choose. My time that day was bound by external forces, but I tend to become overwhelmed at some point and never cover all I intend, anyway.
I had lunch in the cafe and enjoyed it very much, however, the service was incredibly slow and I felt like they really needed pulling together. I suspect that isn't always the case, though. The tea I had was so good I looked for it in the gift shop, but they didn't have that particular variety. But a few days later, I found the loose version of it at Jungle Jim's.
I looked at some early 20th century art after that and was headed backwards for an Impressionism area when I decided I'd had enough. I was so overwhelmed I was nearly in tears. This is a thing which happens to me very occasionally, though less so as I grow older. It was just all so beautiful and thoughtful and earnest, I felt consumed by it. On my way out, a painting, I forget which, caught my eye, and I stopped to look it over when I heard a man's voice say excitedly, "This is what they wrote!" I turned back just before leaving, and he said it again, this time clearly at me, though he didn't make full eye contact. So, I went toward him to have a look. He was holding an iPhone and reading from a website, the text of a paper being written on in the painting in front of him. It is a very good reproduction of this painting by one of the artist's students.
I didn't know it was a student reproduction at first, not being familiar with the work, but the young man told me about how you could tell the difference. Apparently, Ilya Repin created a timeline along the bottom of the canvas as he worked on it, which is not present in the reproduction. The young man told me the story of the painting, what the letter said, and a couple other things I confess I don't recall.
They aren't calling it Asperger anymore, but I think they should. To simply say he was autistic isn't to say much other than it might say a lot of different things. He was *specifically* Asperger in manner and movement, obsession with detail, relative ease of speech, and his almost but not quite eye contact. Recently, I lived down the street from a little boy who was just like this, only his field of expertise was Pokemon. I can say, at the same time, I'm glad that label wasn't around when I made my Monday visits to the school counselor in third grade, because while living without any labels other than "weird" wasn't easy growing up, living with one after I've outgrown it would be no good, either. (I know not everyone outgrows much of that or assimilates with it, but many people do, and this is just not about that, at all.)
So of all the people this young man could choose to target, he managed to find one who a) knew completely where he was coming from and knew how to talk with his kind, yet b) was too exhausted by external stimuli to be more than attentively polite while working to extricate myself from further engagement. But oh, how I wish he'd caught me on another day when I could square my shoulders and let him show me more.
It affected me deeply, and so did much of what I saw. I painted something the next day I'm sort of proud of or at least pleased with, and started another small canvas I will finish as soon as I'm over the strange ailment that wore me down this week. I do long slow paintings, and in between them, short quick ones. And I need to visit more art more often to assist with that. You know how there's just so much egregious poetry on the internet and it's mostly by people who don't read good poetry or any poetry at all? Painting can be like that. You have to visit more of it or at least the source of it; nature, people, interactivity, etc. I'm working on that.
I had more pictures to share but there is a technical difficulty occurring. Sigh. Here's someone interesting to learn about, though. Frank Duveneck