Sunday, August 03, 2014

Many days fell away with nothing to show.

Yesterday, the wife and I transported my brother and his family to Portland for their departure. In our absence, the kids remained in the cove, the girl anticipating the arrival of a summertime friend from Long Island.

This morning the two of them took a run together, along the route that I had shown her last week. She reported that the two of them made it a full mile, just past Crystal Pond to the community house. The girl said with a certain amount of pride that her friend had to stop a few times to catch her breath. In the presence of her peers the girl exhibits a steely resolve, she only complains to me.

Our time in Portland was marked by an auspicious visit to the PAM (Portland Museum of Art). Last Monday morning, waiting for breakfast sandwiches in a coffee shop in Springfield, I was taken by a painting on the wall. It wasn't a real painting, it was one of those photo-reproductions on canvas. I peered closer and squinted, and I felt sad because I was reminded that it has been a very long time since I have been to an art museum.

When I have been to museums, it has been with children, and that is a different experience entirely. For twenty years my wife and I have walked slowly, at the same pace, throughout galleries across the Midwest, the East Coast, in California and in England, searching paintings and sculpture. But it has been such a long time. I hadn't realized how much I missed it.

Richard Estes
Checkout (2012)
The PMA is currently featuring an retrospective of the photo-realistic paintings for Richard Estes. Not a particularly large museum, the PMA holds an extremely impressive collection of works in its permanent collection. However, beginning with Estes collection set me on an emotional pilgrimage which marked my entire experience in the museum.

Estes' ability to reproduce photography with paint brings into heightened relief the repetition and reflection in so much of what the human eye perceives in a modern, urban landscape. Also, his choice of subject matter, from Columbus Circle to Hubbard Glacier to coastal Maine just happens to capture travels I have taken with my wife.

These detailed images of Manhattan also remind me of the anticipation I have felt in this place for past theater festivals, both last year and also ten years ago. Treks are often their own reward, while others feel as elements upon which to continue building.

By the third floor of the museum I was nearly in tears. Searching paintings is an experience of emotional accumulation. Witnessing work that is new to me, I cannot help but be reminded of previous works, familiar technique, colors which are only present or noticeable in visual art, but repeat, and create mental connections across time and space and memory.

Tim Rollins and K.O.S.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Asleep on the Raft (after Mark Twain)
Temperature: 66°
Distance: 3.8 miles
Gear: Agh! Cotton!

Pompeii Playlist
Guns and Horses - Ellie Goulding
Fitzpleasure - alt-J
Run Right Back * - Black Keys
Pompeii - Bastille
Paddling Out - Miike Snow
Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend
Whistle for the Choir - The Fratellis
Amsterdam - Imagine Dragons
Something Good Can Work - Two Door Cinema Club

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