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Another Inktober Post

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A portrait of my grandfather

I love to draw. I’ve been doodling as far back as I can remember. There’s something very soothing about the sound and feel of a pencil on paper, and I could sit for hours while I create a drawing from start to finish. It had been a while since I had drawn anything though because I let life get in the way, and I made excuses about how I had other things to do. But I was upset I had let it go for so long. 

However, I was reminded the other day that the things that are important to me are never a waste of time, and that in order to do those things, I just have to…do them. 

So I did. 

Here’s a portrait I made of my grandfather. 

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Hunter Museum of American Art

I thought it was a shame that I’ve been in Chattanooga so long, and I haven’t been back to the art museum here yet. I went about 6 years ago when we moved my sister here for her first year of college, and I remember loving it. So since I had today off with no other plans, I knew it was time to go.

I started the morning with a chocolate croissant and a fresh cup of coffee from one of the many local coffee shops around town, and I enjoyed the sunshine for a little while before heading inside.

I just thought I’d share a few of my favorite pieces here:

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Around the Clock with Red, Helen Frankenthaler

 

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Ruth Gleaning, Randolph Rogers

 

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Just as the baby’s feet cleared the ground Padfoot leaped into the air and buried his teeth into the feathers of his old enemy, N.C. Wyeth

 

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Slip, Courtney Wynn Cooper
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Spectator Sports

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My family took a trip to New York at the end of last summer to visit some of our cousins at West Point, but we did get to spend a day in the city. I have recently decided that I could not thrive in any kind of major city, and a visit was overwhelming to say the least, but we were able to hit a few places we’d been planning on seeing, as well as see a friend who had moved there several months ago now.

We took the train from New Jersey into Pennsylvania Station and then decided that it would be an excellent idea to walk all the way to the 9/11 Memorial. After we had all begun to suffer from hanger, we figured we better eat some lunch before we started to turn on each other.

Our next stop of the day was the Museum of Modern Art (we took the subway this time), where we met up with our friend Sarah. Now, I’m a pretty big art nerd, and while I may not know all the artists’ names or the titles of their work, I just love being able to stand underneath their art and bask in the glow of their creations.

But there was something strange about this museum visit. Being in New York, the MoMA is designed to host probably hundreds if not thousands of visitors, and that day had been no exception. People from all over the world had arrived to enjoy the great works of modern artsits from Van Gogh to Picasso to Warhol.

The strange part, for me, was the presence of all of the cameras and iPhones I saw hovering in front of the eyes of the spectators. I saw people looking through their screens as they wandered from room to room, snapping pictures of the paintings. There was one man handling a full-sized iPad who was so oblivious of where he was walking that he nearly tripped over a sculpture sitting on the floor behind him as he tried to get a better shot at the one in front. I thought the security guard was going to have a conniption.

I turned a corner to find a huge crowd gathered in front of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. I honestly did not know this painting was in this collection and let out a very audible gasp when my eyes finally found it. Everyone there was trying to shove their way to the front, fighting to get a better view – to take the best picture of it.

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I, of course, was doing many of these things, too. It became very important to me to record all of the things I was looking at. You know, so I could look at it later…

But thinking back, I wish I had just been there. Enjoyed the art work hanging there in front of me. I saw some people having very visceral reactions to particular pieces, and I did, too, I suppose. (I shed a few tears when I walked by the Klimt paintings and into the Monet collection.)

I guess it’s best to find a balance there. I don’t think recording your trips with the camera on your phone is a bad thing. But seeing SO many people wandering through this beautiful museum just looking through their phone screens and not really seeing struck a chord with me.

Next time I’m in a place like this, I’m going to do my best be there. And enjoy the moment for what it is.

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Maman Araignée

I first came across Louise Bourgeois in the form of her famous Maman sculpture, an enormous spider with long spindly legs that towers above all of her spectators. Its image has been stuck in my brain for nearly 5 years now, and I don’t think I ever want it to go away. I read that Bourgeois based this upon her own mother.

The friend (the spider – why the spider?) because my best friend was my mother and she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat, and as useful as a spider. She could also defend herself, and me, by refusing to answer ‘stupid’, inquisitive, embarrassing, personal questions.

I shall never tire of representing her.

Something about the way it’s designed to hover, or rather cast a shadow, over the audience drew me in. It can be a little unsettling for anyone who feels less than friendly towards spiders, but I think it’s so beautiful.

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Bourgeois said that she never made art for the sake of beauty but rather to release the emotions of her past. She made art for herself. And I admire that.

Isn’t it funny how something can stay with you for such a long time after seeing it just once? And when you can’t stop going back to it, you know it’s something important.

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Washington D.C.

I just recently got back from a quick weekend trip to Washington D.C. to see the boyfriend. He’s been working up there since August, and since he’s been back to visit me so many times, I’ve been determined to see him up there, if only for another chance to visit D.C. again. (Just kidding, babe.) I haven’t been to the city since I was in high school, and before that, since I was 11.

Each time has been so different, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been better able to appreciate just how much information is available in the Smithsonian’s, and how important it is to stand in awe at and understand all the history our country’s capital has to offer.

I also have really just missed the boyfriend. (Long distance relationships are hard. Really really hard. But so worth it when you find the right person to stick it out with you.)

We spent the first day wandering around IKEA because it rained all day, and holy cow! I didn’t know I needed that place in my life. I contained my usual impulse shopping to a minimum and managed to only walk out with 4 cereal bowls and 2 dish towels.


Next, we sipped on some coffee at the boyfriend’s local coffee haunt, Vigilante Coffee. We also walked into a local printmaking shop where I was able to purchase a beautiful piece of art to add to my ever-growing collection. Because the rain never relented, we enjoyed the rest of the evening watching movies and consuming copious amounts of popcorn.

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We spent all day Sunday in downtown D.C. walking around. After stopping for our first cup of coffee of the day, we walked to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where we were greeted by Alexander Calder’s mobiles suspended beneath an enormous glass ceiling.


Some of my favorite pieces I saw were the Georgia O’Keefe paintings on the first floor, Louise Bourgeois’ Germinal sculpture, Klimt’s Baby (Cradle), and Leon Berkowitz’s Coronation. There was also a Frédéric Bazille exhibit on the bottom floor that took my breath away. I wasn’t allowed to take a picture of one of my favorites (Young Woman with Lowered Eyes) in that collection, so here’s the link.

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Our next stop of the day was the National Museum of the American Indian. I wish we had been able to spend more time in this one because it had a very thoughtfully designed exhibit that attempted to touch on all the regions in which Native Americans live. (An an Anthropology major, I found this fascinating.) Each of these exhibits expressed the same truth: the survival of culture depends on the passsage of traditions from one generation to the next.

Native spiritual values live in stories. Passed verbally from generation to generation, the stories preserve Native culture, languages, and ways of explaining the universe.

-Emil Her Many Horses

There was also an exhibit on British imperialism in the Americas during the time of colonization. It juxtaposed the Native American viewpoint with the British viewpoint in a way that made for one powerful presentation.

After a lunch break at Union Station, and a long walk through the Botanical Gardens, we decided to head back into Maryland. However, the metro turned out to be a fiasco that evening (I’ll save that story for another time), so we wound up eating dinner at this neat place called Busboys and Poets that serves organic food in recipes from all over the world. There was also a book store right in the restaurant that offers a really interesting collection of books to encourage political and social conversations. I, of course, couldn’t leave without buying something.

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Being away on vacation seems to wear me out more than just a regular week at home. I’m not sure why that is. But I’m so glad I got to spend this weekend with my favorite person, so I won’t complain.