Fly, My Butterfly
I did it. I dropped her off. I hugged her on a New York City sidewalk, turned and walked away.
They told us at orientation that it needed to be done this way. No long drawn out emotional stuff that would be too hard for our kids to handle as they entered this already difficult, new phase of their lives.
They don’t know my kid. Emilie told us on day-two of Pre-K that her father and I could drop her off in the parking lot “I know my way.” She confidently stated through her pink butterfly sunglasses.
She’ll be fine–It’s me I’m worried about.
I looked for comfort at that moment, like anyone would. Some people go to food or drink. I went for art. Here in New York lives some of the very best art in the world. And so I set out to explore.
First, I went to see the Klimt.
The Neue Galerie
The collection of Neue Galerie New York covers a range of media, including painting, sculpture, works on paper, decorative arts, and photographs created in Austria and Germany between 1890 and 1940. The extended Neue Galerie collection is comprised of works belonging to Ronald S. Lauder, to the Estate of Serge Sabarsky, and to the museum itself. The artworks currently catalogued on this website represent the holdings of the museum only. –Neue Galerie website
Last summer when My Butterfly and I were up this way for a Summer Dance Intensive in Staten Island, I took the ferry into Manhattan and explored, while she was at class. I just didn’t have time to take public transportation all the way up to the Upper East Side and then get back to her by end of class. So last summer, I could only think about Klimt.
Marymount Manhattan College is in the Upper East Side of New York City. The Art Gods were smiling on me when that fell into place. Any time I need comfort when I am here to visit my amazing dancing daughter, I can just make my way to Museum Mile and find it there. Waiting for me
The Lady in Gold
Selections from the Permanent Collection” features highlights from the Neue Galerie’s superb holdings of Austrian fine and decorative arts from the first half of the twentieth century. –Neue Galerie website
Klimt’s portrait, Adele Bloch-Bauer I has been waiting for me for 26 years. I first saw her when I took my pilgrimage to Vienna, Austria–I was 22 years old and fresh out of college. Upon graduating from Syracuse University with a BFA I obtained a work permit for the UK through BUNAC and promptly went to London to find work. With a one-way ticket, $500, no job and no place to live, I entered the customs area at the Heathrow, London Airport. The officer hesitated, looked at me, said “Good luck.” as he stamped my passport. I was on my way to experience the art and culture of Europe.
After I was settled in a flat with some other Americans in Earl’s Court, I secured a job cleaning hotel rooms in a very upscale boutique hotel The Beaufort (check it out, its stunning), three blocks from Harrods in Knightsbridge. And then, I began to work toward my trip to Vienna.
Determined to see the work of Gustav Klimt in person, I secured youth hostel accommodations at $5 per night just outside of the city. I took my German/English dictionary, borrowed a winter coat from my Ohio State rugby player roommate (I literally was swimming in it), gathered up all the money I had, and I was off!
Somewhere along the way I procured a huge loaf of bakery bread, which I carried around with me for the weekend. I think I actually checked it with my oversized parka in the gallery coat room… Back at the hostel I kept can of Slim Fast drink mix that I mixed with water to keep me sustained nutritionally. I did’t have much money, making beds in London doesn’t sustain fancy European travel. But, my Student Youth Discount Card got me a cheap flight and the hostel digs–if you can dream it, you can do it.
And I did.
We Meet Again
And so, 26 years after sitting on the floor with my sketchbook in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere (housed in Belvedere Palace) for hours and hours (and museum guard shift change) yesterday I was reunited with the Lady in Gold — Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I as well as The Dancer and several other works by Gustav Klimt. In 1990 I was fortunate enough to see all of the paintings that the Galerie had to turn over some years later to Maria Altman in her famous lawsuit that is the subject of the movie, The Woman in Gold.
When I came upon the second floor gallery, (there is no photography allowed in the Galerie) I was overwhelmed with emotion, I cried crocodile tears. Perhaps it was about leaving my baby girl, or maybe it was about looking back on the last 26 years of my life, or maybe it was simply about how art resinates with me, to the very core of my emotional being. The way in which we all experience art is based on and influenced by what we bring to it from our personal selves, so indeed my tears were about all of these things, whisked together into one emotional bowl.
Like the scrambled egg whites I used to make her for breakfast.
New York, New York
So this weekend I am staying a couple of extra days. At first I told myself I’d be here in case she wanted to get coffee, or if she needed anything. But the reality of it is that she’s in college orientation now, as of 8am this morning. She’s going to be just fine. It was me, who needed the comfort of some of the most famous art and artists in the world to make it over this hump.
At the Guggenheim I spent a significant amount of time marveling over their Thannhauser Collection. I stood up close and personal with Picasso, Seurat, Pissarro, Degas, Monet, Manet, Cézanne, Kandinsky….
Couscous and Cats
I was mystified by a model of the city of Ghardaïa by artist Kader Attia, created from couscous. Although installation art is something that I try to connect with… painting remains my one true love. I kept coming back to Picasso’s Lobster and Cat painting, I had never seen it before, not even in a book. It made me look twice, it made me examine space, color, and pattern, it made me think, it made me smile, it made me happy.
After my visit, I sat outside of the museum and had a soft pretzel from a street vendor. I enjoyed the crooning of a singing man who was positioned right next to a falafel cart. The day was lovely, the sky was blue and the air had a slight feeling of fall in it.
It was all going to be ok.
Beginning to Blossom
I have been trying to blossom and perhaps even bloom in my own work recently. As I make this transition with my Emilie off to college and the recent new chapter of my own life, I have decided to take some time to deviate from the animal collages that I have been doing for years and years.
I’m exploring florals, particularly women and florals. The idea was to combine my love for fashion illustration (something I studied with joy in college) and strong women, with blooms that are representative of my new life, as things continue to change and grow for me and my family.
Did you know that The Hawaiian name for the flower means, “little globe” and that in artwork it represents a new life, love, or beginning in the circle of life? My tattoo artist informed me of that in a recent FaceTime consultation…. more on that soon.
As always, you can find these blossoms and blooms in progress and for purchase on my studio Facebook page. So far they are all spoken for, and that means the Universe is telling me something.
It’s time to grow.