artist date

Recently Jeff posted a great story about what he called an artist date with a friend. At the end of the post he posed the question, “Have you allowed yourself an artist date in a while, if so what, where?” That question started a long trip down memory lane for me, and although I never thought of it in those terms before, I have had a few very memorable artist dates over the years…

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

In the late 1980s my mother and I found ourselves staying at the YWCA in Boston to be there for my grandfather, who was having by-pass surgery at a hospital there. All the details escape me. But while Grandfather was actually having the surgery, to keep ourselves from going nuts, Mother and I decided to go to the museum and check out a current show. It was something about the object as art, or something like that. Mother had already been diagnosed with and had some treatment for her breast cancer. In her opinion some of the “art” in the show didn’t seem to be worthy of the name, and I had to agree. It was the first and only time I went to an art museum with my mother. The wild taxi ride, zigzagging at high speeds over the crooked little back streets of Boston, back to the hospital, was much more memorable!

I think it must have been in the late 1990s when I visited the Boston Museum of Fine Arts again, this time with Tim. I had chanced across a used coffee table book on Renoir at the Book Barn, which I bought, and then fell in love with paintings, which seemed to me to be expressing celebrations of the simple joys in life. When I learned that Dance at Bougival was at the museum in Boston I had to go see it. When we got there we studied the floor plan to try to figure out where it might be, and set off on our search. As we went from room to room I started to fret, thinking I must have been mistaken about it being there, etc… I almost walked past it, it was on the wall behind us as we entered a room. “Barbara,” Tim said from behind me as he gently tapped me on my shoulder. “Look.” I turned around and there it was! Much larger than I expected, life-sized! And then I had an intense moment of transcendence, don’t know what else to call it. Time seemed to stand still and at the same time the dancing couple was moving. They were as alive as could be. The colors were vivid. I was stunned and got a huge lump in my throat as I tried not to let the tears come.

“Dance at Bougival” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

That’s when I learned how art is similar to music. One can listen to a recording with great pleasure and appreciation, but there is nothing like live music to stir the soul. And one can also look at a picture of a painting with great pleasure and appreciation, but there is nothing like the original painting with the living spirit of the artist still present on the canvas and in the paint used to create it.

It’s time for me to continue cleaning for tonight’s party. It was too cloudy to see the lunar eclipse last night. 🙁 And I wish I was on Cape Cod — they got 11 inches of snow in Dennis yesterday!!!