Museum Day

My museum experience up until last year was to go to the museums that were part of a school field trip.  I remembered museums as long days and being told to be quiet and remain still.  It was great to get out of class, but at the same time, I was often bored. As an adult, it wasn’t a priority.  I had kids that were hard to get out of the house and as far as I know, my ex was never into museums.  At the end of the day I’m okay going alone, and museums are occasionally far more interactive.

I’m not artistically inclined, and have at times been almost proud of the fact that I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler.  What I see in my mind is never what my hands create.  When I was studying literature, we often discussed the same Greek Mythology that inspired some of the artwork I saw yesterday.  We discussed art pieces but they were in the textbooks we read, and it was more about the philosophies that inspired the artists.

To visit a museum and to see the art was an amazing experience for me.  It was the personified history of each piece that felt like wonder.  It’s became an extension of my love of literature.  Literature is less about amazing words and prose and more about what was able to accidently survive people.  Really early literature was written by someone who could actually write because being literate is not something that is guaranteed by birth.  If you can read and write, you have been blessed by life in a way that many people across the world still cannot grasp.  Literature and art has to survive naughty children, angry scorned lovers, thieving rogues, hostile political takeovers and censorship carried out through destruction.  Not all literature is amazing beyond the mystery of its survival.  Of course my opinion is highly subjective.  I can’t appreciate Moby Dick and I finally got through it after several attempts a few years back and I saw it as an epic disappointment.

I’m appreciating things differently lately.  I don’t have a musical ear. I like music.  I sing loudly, but I couldn’t tell you if it’s off key.  I took vocal lessons as a child and imagined being a singer for a while (I was the youngest of the Secret Rendezvous but that’s a story for another post), but it’s not a skill as much as joy.  When I was listening to a friend’s musical score, composed into late night hours and experienced by me here, I realized it’s sometimes just about what something makes me feel.

Yesterday I visited the Getty Villa, made a quick stop at a beach where I got wet but the pretty rocks were worth it, and then visited the Getty Center before stopping at home and visiting Co Labs Gallery in Highland Park.  I’m sharing my observations.

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At the Getty Center, The Ransom by John Everett Millais

This first piece was the first to make me feel something.  I tend to walk quickly through each room and some pieces will call out to me and demand my attention.  This was one of them.  I stopped and almost immediately could feel the burn at the bridge of my nose telling me I should have brought tissues.  I blinked away tears, but I was so surprised at what I felt.  I read the description, and to paraphrase from memory, this is a picture of a father paying the ransom for his daughters.  I was moved.

The many interpretations of mothers and nursing children were beautiful to me.  I nursed my boys and it was by far my favorite part of their infancy. There is calm in the snuggle and their is a sleepiness that falls over you when you are feeding your child.  It wasn’t easy with my first born, but it was worth the pain of his rejection for the first 4 months because that’s how long it took to get him to latch on.  This piece included the picture of a missing father and that was what made it special.  So much of motherhood is the support needed from the other parent.

Furniture is different and beautiful when it can make it into a museum.  I love huge mirrors gilded in gold leaf with ornate moulding.  I sometimes imagine knocking out my ceiling to make room for this. I love couches that could double as a bed, and feathers on beds are what magic is made of.  Also, I’m so grateful that I don’t have to dust anything there.

I admit that odd, excited noises came out of me when I saw the books.  Books!  They were beautiful and hand drawn with rich colors.  They were enclosed in glass and I could imagine the smell of old paper and slight mildew.  This made me happy.

I loved the pieces that were carved into stone.  It surprised me to find a little black boy amongst the art that was mainly Greek or Roman.  I was surprised at how many statues were missing penises.  I wondered if there is any correlation between missing statuary penisses and missing straight men walking through the museum without a companion.

Museum rules about not touching the artwork are just as solidly in place as when I was a little girl.  This was different.  This is a piece that we were invited to touch.  You could feel the difference between what she held and her skin.  Her body was smooth, but the cloth had a rougher texture to it. Now I wonder what her hair felt like, as I didn’t think of it then.

As I shared on Instagram and Facebook:

To catch a bathing Venus and touch exposed marble flesh with murmured prayers of her gift of love to flow through all I touch with giving expectancy . . . Such a beautiful morning to be me.

The water features were beautiful and tranquil.  The plan is to go back when we aren’t suffering through a drought and might enjoy the sound of flowing water.

These were things that made me want to create.  I loved the mosaic tiles and jewelry.  I loved the glass.  I loved the displays that teach you where the pigments came from and how they were used and for just long enough, I felt like I could create and it doesn’t have to be good as long as it makes me feel something.

On my way to the Getty Center, the ocean called to me.  I happened to slip into a parking spot along PCH and walked out to find so many rocks begging to be picked through.  I started my day in jeans and a tank top with tennis shoes.  I keep flip flops and water shoes in the car.  I thought I was prepared.  In my search for pretty rocks I ended up thighs deep in the ocean and laughed it off.  I also had a purchase from American Apparel to return in my car and decided to make it an exchange instead.  They don’t carry larger sizes so I walked out in a skirt shorter than I have worn in at least a decade.  I was so self conscious, if dry at first.  I could feel the back of my skirt flapping against my butt, and it was well above the tattoo on my thigh.  I don’t feel that a mom needs to cover up for the sake of being a mom, I just got comfortable in sweats and never got used to mini skirts again.

Co Labs gallery was full of woman forward artistry and angsty pieces I would have been embarrassed to explain to my kids. Visit them! You’ll love it. A few pieces called out to the deeper parts of me I acknowledge but rarely voice. I almost bought a pocket sized pencil drawing of a man’s face. The artist called it, “Drawing UH Hipster, ” and signed it SD. It was a perfect drawing. He was cute and for a bit I imagined keeping him in my pocket. I could pull him out when I wanted a smile. Then I realized how badly that reflects on my love life and decided on pencils instead.

By the end of the day I realized walking half of nearly 9 miles in flip flops was dumb, and my feet hate me.  Jumping from 2 miles a day to what I did yesterday means I feel it more than remember it.  I don’t have to own the fact I’m rocking a mini skirt, I just need to be at peace with not being in wet jeans. And extra clothes in the car doesn’t mean I’m a whore if it’s the ocean making me wet.

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