Wednesday, May 16

chicago day trip

i abandoned work last thursday to see the cezanne - picasso show at the art institute. i had procrastinated until the last possible moment to see it. i am shocked it is mid-may.

i went downtown early to beat traffic and had a few hours to kill before the museum's free hours kicked in. hot town, summer in the city. the fountain in millenium park was a nice break from scorched sidewalks.

it's hard to make a bad photo of the bean. shiny reflective surface, odd shapes, endless lines of people completely unaware of others as they stand in awe of the thing, and i see something new every time.

once i forgive myself for taking pictures of something so photographed (so "done" already), i just get lost in it and have fun. somehow i think this is what it feels like to paint, responding to form and moment in a half-imaginary way.

the exhibit was beautiful and packed with people.

underneath this portrait of vollard by cezanne there was a quote from the artist, "I am not dissatisfied with the shirt front.” i almost laughed out loud. i've had similar thoughts about every image i make. not that i'm anywhere close to cezanne's mastery, but it's good to know even the masters struggle with perfection. it was a pretty exquisite shirt front, by the way. hard to tell in this small image but it has a cyan opalescence to it. see it in person if you can.

i remembered a lot about the artists, tidbits about their lives, and the ideas that inspired great works.
i had an amazing teacher for art history in high school. thank you janet russell. i don't remember a lick of calculus but some of the pieces we studied have become companions in life in a way. i run into them in strange places, in different times in my life. i find new things in them, new resonances, each time, but they also take me back to the other times i saw them, the first time i saw them.

the galleries were hot and packed but for the most part silent. it's amazing how quiet a few hundred people can be.
a few cell phones pierced the hush drawing groans and dirty looks.

most people were taking the audio tour. somehow having a black headset on makes you oblivious to others and excused for trespasses against social graces. no apologies for stepped on feet or walking right in front of you. i'm in an alternate world because i'm listening!

the best example of this was an old man moving slowly across the floor with a cane in hand and headset blasting. with each step he let out loud farts, each one with it's own extended gassy coda. for those too cheap to buy the audio tour, myself and other hipster-student types, it was like a car-wreck in the gallery, a really funny, yet totally embarrassing car-wreck. we all watched the guy walk to the other room, unable to stop staring, sure that at any moment he would realize, or other people would realize, or there would be some recognition of this amazing display of flatulence. but there was nothing. the audio headset crowd just moved along in his farty wake.

the rest of us waited for the air to clear, tried not to laugh, and then followed.

there was more to the show. more than i can write about. scenes of paris and being moved to tears. thankful for the same anonymity afforded the farting guy. the space to feel in a crowded public place without needing to flee.

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