Monday, November 30, 2015

VFFT Week 17 - Harlem River by Ernest Lawson

I find that paintings of New York City feel like old friends to me. Its almost as if I had found a picture of my sister in someone's scrapbook or Facebook page. Even though I wouldn't have taken the picture, I would know it was her the instant I saw it.

Harlem River, 1913, oil on canvas, Ernest Lawson (pic taken by me as seen at the MET)

To be frank, "Harlem River" by Ernest Lawson is more like a picture of my mother's childhood friend than of my sister. Either way, Lawson's rendering of (the way he paints) the river caught my eye immediately. I knew those dark green waters, the reflection of the bridge overhead, and the straggling trees on the riverbank. I've passed it hundreds of times on the express bus.

I think Jean Francois Millet had it right when he said, "It is the treating of the commonplace with the feelings of the sublime that gives to art its true power." Lawson takes the commonplace subject matter of an urban river landscape, making it beautiful with his attentive brush work and devoted use of lifelike color. It makes me sentimental for my city.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Memoirs at the MET

Out of all the places I could go in New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the only one I could go to every week and never get bored. My connection with this place started when I was a freshman in high school. My sister, a friend, and I jumped on the 4 train and rode it down to 86th Street with 75 cents between the three of us for admission, and $10 for lunch. Yup, we were real fancy that day.

Before I knew it, we were wandering, giggling, and commenting on the odd objects we saw (I was a far cry from the serious artist I am now *wink*). While it may sound cliche, we were like three princesses in a castle... where we couldn't touch anything. Its funny how history can repeat itself. This summer I had my two best friends visiting from abroad and we ended up doing the same thing.

Another time, I went with my sister and we got lost wandering through Central Park before finally making it to the Van Gogh Exhibition (it was her fault of course).  At the time, I didn't realize how special it was to see an entire room dedicated to this dear and troubled impressionist.

For me, the halls of the MET are filled with life and fond memories. I look at the permanent pieces in each gallery and I remember a moment where it made an important contribution to my life experiences. Art is like that.

While going with friends and family is great fun, I find taking time to go on your own is just as exciting. Yesterday, I went from gallery to gallery as free as a bird, without any agenda to guide my feet. First I went to the Egyptian section and explored artifacts both massive and minuscule. The METs current show on the Middle Kingdom attracted so many tourist's and school groups, I had just as much fun people watching as I did looking at art!

After taking in some natural light at the Temple of Dendur (seen above), I struck out again and made my way up the great stone steps, into the European Painting galleries on the first floor.

Okay, so this is probably closer the American wing, but the layout is the same. I wandered so far right that I started seeing pictures of George Washington! Definitely not European. All I can say is, the galleries are gorgeous an way worth the risk of getting lost in. Somewhere around gallery 733 I found a pair of glass doors and found myself on a balcony level overlooking the American Wing Cafe and this.... sculpture garden??

After only 2-3 hours, I dragged my sore feet and happy imagination out of the main hall and into the rain. What incredible fun! I was able to view one last body of work: The building itself. With its magnificent and decorative architecture, its like the cherry on top of a sundae, and a great way to end a trip to the MET. 

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