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September 15, 2013 / betweenstops

Museum exhibit

Walking through the exhibit at the museum, I have what I often have. An uneasy feeling.

I notice that the child gurgling is attracting more attention than the paintings, just for a second. Then the patrons go back to viewing the paintings. After the brief bleep of real life passes, art appreciation or faux appreciation, of art or faux art, resumes.

Two other children are with their parents in the exhibition. The goal of these kids is to move as quickly as possible. They are playing a game. Upon entering the new room, they look for the “EXIT” sign. As soon as parents allow, they follow it.

An older woman in a seventies medium brown pant suit severely limps. She steps with one leg and then drags the other one after her. She moves awkwardly along trying to catch up with her husband which she eventually does when he stops in front of a painting.

I am drawn to the work that is the early work. This work shows some artistic ability. The later work, before which people dutifully stand, seems to me not to deserve the stop of attention. It all seems like a case of the emperor’s new clothes.

I find myself at the end of the exhibit and I go backwards to the beginning. I see the exhibit a second time, to be sure of my judgement. I am giving the artist a second chance and I want to remember the few works that I do like. Having done that, I find I can not exit through the gift shop, therefore I go through the exhibit a third time. I stop a third time at the charcoal drawing of a seated woman in a striped dress which is my favorite work.

Upon this last viewing I realize this drawing reminds me of expensive clothing store ads from my childhood. Those days artists drew the objects for sale. They were good drawings.
The artists were not trying to prove anything. They were just making a living. They weren’t even called artists.

In the museum signage, the famous painter’s statement claims not to stop at the beautiful but to go deeper. To me deeper wasn’t deeper, it was just messier. No one else seems to feel this way. They stand reverently at what is presented to them by the esteemed institution.

In the museum rest room, while washing my hands, I peripherally watch a woman in front of the mirror. She keeps looking in the mirror like she is trying to fix something that can’t be fixed. She is looking at time in the mirror but can not see it. This is what she is doing.

Leaving San Francisco going over to Oakland in heavy traffic, I anticipate the change that happens after Treasure Island. The white wideness of the new half of the Bay Bridge is wonderful and uplifting to drive on. People on the side are walking and riding their bikes. It is a good feeling to like the new version more than the old. To be driving on a man made object that makes sense.

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