Stefanella's Drive Thru

Israel, U.S., conflict, war, peace, humor, travel, romance, fashion, fun

Art’s Passion August 8, 2009

For a long time I thought my overwhelming “museum feelings” were linked to certain sites or specific pieces of art.

The type of feelings that envelop with totality and without warning when viewing works of art.   

Like the time tears welled threateningly while glimpsing the Venus de Milo at the Louvre.

Or when my heart swelled wildly while touring Tutankhamun‘s tomb treasures in Cairo.

Perhaps the love affair with art began when I was in high school;  I chose French Renaissance Art as my subject for a term paper which meant spending weekends – quite willingly – in Cincinnati’s Art Museum Library conducting research.  My instinct, however, sez it started years before.

Nonetheless, I find that whenever I frequent museums or art happenings – Burning Man included – there’s usually a painting, sculpture, fixture or installation that renders me “struck”.  I get a lump in my throat and my vision goes blurry.

Yesterday’s SFMOMA visit was no exception; I was struck several times by vastly different exhibits.

Initially touring the permanent exhibits, I was quite surprised by Paul Klee early works described as “monstrous figures.”  I love Klee’s sweeping grandness and color but I was taken aback by this dark, detailed material.

Then I felt a swell of gratitude taking in originals by Dali, Diego Rivera, Magritte and Warhol.

The day, however, belonged to cutting edge fashion and portrait photographer Richard Avedon, whose career spanned 50+ years.

Avedon’s 1950’s-1960’s photos of Twiggy, Brigitte Bardot and Katharine Hepburn oozed natural beauty and starlet material.   But his image of Marilyn Monroe seemed to capture the icon’s mix of blazing sex symbol & confused nymph that would be her legacy.  THAT image presented an emotional moment for me.

Equally moving were Avedon’s images of Louis Armstrong, Igor Stravinsky, Nureyev’ “En Pointe” and Merce Cunningham who died two weeks ago.  His politicians spanned decades and worlds removed from Kissinger to Carter to Obama as Senator.  

Equally moving was the series of photographs documenting his father’s losing battle to cancer and the commissioned body of “In The American West” works portraying faces of middle America.  What a career span and what an incredible talent.

The MOMA also featured works by Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams which presented yet another revelation.  Georgia didn’t do it for me.  She used to but not anymore. That’s just the way it goes, I guess.  But the Ansel Adams works spurred  awe and yet another throat lump over his Sand Dunes gelatin silver print.

After touring, I sat on the museum rooftop in the sun beside the large installations basking in the afterglow of appreciation.

Museums are magical places; I am oh-so-lucky to have the mobility, eyesight and wherewithal to visit them.

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My Friend Jo April 19, 2009

Yesterday morning I found out my friend Jo died.  Via Facebook.

I knew Jo was ill & her condition rapidly deteriorating –  I had talked with her daughter in San Francisco earlier in the week.  But the Inbox message was shocking nonetheless.   It’s a sign of the times.  Notification via Facebook.  I don’t know if it would have been less impacting had there been a phone call.

I have been privileged so far in life  – I’ve lost no one close to me other than beloved pets.  This is a first & memories have been surfacing since receiving the news. I have cried intermittently.  It’s surreal.   What do I do with Jo’s address and phone number  in my contact list?

At one point when I was crying in my bedroom, my 7-year-old came in and wrapped his arms around me.  “It’s just like that in life sometimes, mom.  But you still have me.”

He doesn’t remember Jo but she visited him in the ICU after he was born, bringing him his copy of Goodnight Moon. She indulged his piano banging whenever we went ’round her place during his toddler years and she didn’t mind when he pulled out and scattered the cat and dog toys.  She was at his 1st birthday party, pouring herself a drink in the kitchen when I stormed in.

“The cake is horrible!” I panicked, my face flaming hot with embarrassment.  “Nobody’s eating it.  What do I do?”  Jo burst into raucous laughter.  “Tell them they don’t have to.  Let them off the hook,” she suggested.

I met Jo at the dog park when I moved to San Francisco in the 90’s.  We both had Golden Retrievers who became thick-as-thieves friends.   As publisher & editor of the reputable photo metro photography magazine, she gave me my first literary break as a reviewer of photographic works.

The years progressed and Jo & I attended photography lectures together, hung out in her kitchen, took the dogs for outings at Alamo Square, drove across the Golden Gate Bridge for a Thomas Friedman book signing and we shared. Gossip, hopes, dreams, disappointments, failings, family talk.  Jo was there snapping pictures at my City Hall civil marriage and she was there not long after offering refuge and comfort as the marriage went to pieces.

She was always ahead of her time with the latest Mac , scanner and photography gear, trying out digital but hanging onto her decades-old Leica.  When she discovered Photoshopping as a means of removing errors, she sat   for hours clicking away at dust particles and glitches.   The scanning phase…I don’t think there was a plant or flower for miles that didn’t get plucked up and pressed to the screen for scanning & photo-shopping.

Three years ago she was at the other end of the phone line as I sobbed.  My Golden Retriever Atticus had died.  Two days later she emailed. Her Golden, Chance, had perished suddenly  as well.  “Attie must have needed Chance.”  That comforted me – the thought of perhaps the two of them frolicking together in some parallel universe.

Rest,” she wrote “knowing that she is no longer in pain and that she will be with you always in the best of ways.  Don’t forget the (somewhat schmaltzy) crossing over the rainbow bridge where she will be waiting for you.

How apt.  Jo is no longer in pain.  And I hope she has crossed the rainbow bridge to meet her friends waiting on the other side.   When it’s my time to cross, I hope she’ll be waiting there for me  too.

 

The Winter Curb Jump-Dance February 1, 2009

What a great idea for a photo spread.  Check out the NY Times’ Bill Cunningham’s narrated Fashion display here

For anyone who has ever stepped off the curb into the slush…YIIIIIIKKKKEEESSS!!!  (You know what I’m talking about right here)