It Started With A Protest
My son Connor will pursue a degree in Political Science at college in the fall. Which college? The jury is still out on that, but it will be in the Washington, DC area. On March 22 we flew from Orlando to ORD in preparation for an accepted students’ day tour of George Mason University. Upon arrival, we dropped our things at the hotel and took the Metro into to DC to explore the Smithsonian Museums. Connor was thrilled that this college visit was perfecting for us to join the gun control protestors at March for Our Lives. My son organized the walkout at Lyman high school in Longwood, Florida on March 14 in conjunction with the national school walkout, both a memorial and protest to honor the lives of the 17 people who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneham Douglas high school in Parkland, FL.
Protesters at March for Our Lives urged for universal background checks on all gun sales, raising the federal age of gun ownership and possession to 21, closing of the gun show loophole, a restoration of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, and a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines in the United States. Turnout was estimated to be between 1.2 to 2 million people in the United States, making it one of the largest protests in American history. –courtesy, Wikipedia
Over a million people, people as far as the eye could see; it was incredible. We arrived early, and found a spot very close to the front, we could see the stage from which the students would speak and the performers would sing. We had beautiful weather, sunny blue skies and pretty warm, considering there were still clumps of snow on the ground from a storm a few days prior.
All Grown Up
We toured the George Mason University campus in Fairfax, VA after attending a presentation for accepted students. Connor was excited about the traditional campus feel, combined with the proximity to Washington, DC for internship opportunities. It seems like just yesterday that my Dad took me to tour Syracuse University, and I was the same age.
I guess we are ALL grown up.
Connor and I had a wonderful weekend in DC. Because this trip was about him, I didn’t insist we visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum–next time. We visited the National Air and Space Museum, and then took a stroll through the Hirshhorn Museum’s Sculpture Garden. I explained to Connor about crocuses being a sign of spring when I was a kid growing up in Massachusetts, as well as the source of saffron.
You’re never too old to learn new things from a native northerner!
Thirty Two Years Later
My next jet set was April 2nd to Chicago, on my way to teach my beginner collage Paper Paintings Workshop for the North Suburban NeedleArts Guild. Since I have some friends (both high school and college) in the greater Chicago area, I booked my flight for early morning the day before my class started.
Deric and I met as McDonald’s employees in the summer of 1986. We shared the joys of polyester, French fries, and fatigue, which forged a common bond that would carry us through two summers of working at a non-stop fast pace in the drive through. Only the best employees ended up in the drive through for the all-out lunch rush, so I guess you could say that we were amongst the Westfield Shoppes McDonald’s elite.
My claim to fame that summer and the next.
Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, our path’s crossed many years later as adults. Deric and his wife LaDonna said “If you ever come to Chicago…” when NSNG invited me to teach for them, I remembered. As we sat across from each other eating Chicago deep dish pizza when I looked at him and said “What the heck? It’s just surreal to be sitting here with you at nearly 50 years old when the last time I saw you we were teenagers.”
Deric agreed, it was Salvador Dalí surreal.
Meet Me at the Jelly Bean
I told Deric to look for me in hot pink mirrored sunglasses and black leggings with combat boots. “You can’t miss me I texted.” He didn’t. Deric recognized me from a mile away. We walked around Millennium Park, catching up.
“So what have you been up to for thirty years?” “Well, where do I start?”
After lunch we headed to the Art Institute of Chicago, Deric had offered we could explore the museum together and I jumped at the chance. (not to mention it was so freezing outside, I was happy for an indoor opportunity)
An Amazing Opportunity in The Windy City
We headed to the Modern Art Collection where we took in some incredible paintings and sculptures (yes! they even had work by my favorite sculptor Alberto Giacommetti). I was thrilled to be sharing this visit to a brand new place with a very old friend.
I’m actually a bit older than you Deric.
This landscape by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian caught my eye, as I really only know him for his abstract black line with primary color works. I absolutely love reflections, in landscape, in water birds, in flower vases. Although Mondrian is best known for his non representational paintings, his basic vision was rooted in landscape. Historians say he was particularly inspired by the flat typography of his native Holland.
Here’s a nice example of how I love to play with reflections in my collage landscapes, this piece was painted en Plein Air at the New Smyrna Beach Paint Out last December.
Matisse makes me happy. I love the bold colors and flat patterns his work. Matisse goldfish have inspired me in my own work with their bright color, simple shapes, and reflection/refraction in the water and glass. In the above Woman Before an Aquarium from 1923, I love the way her gaze is focused on the fish while the light comes through the bowl and onto her face. This was one of my favorite pieces of the day. In my collage above Polka Spots (2014), I paid homage to Matisse’s Goldfish from 1912.
Many thanks to the ladies of the NSNG for bringing me to the Windy City! I have been through ORD more times than I can count to change planes, but I had never actually left the airport. Many thanks to Val and Shelly, who had both taken my class in other locations, for recommending me to the Guild. That’s a special feeling right there.
My last night in Chicago, I met up with some dear friends from Syracuse University. Mark and Peg Boutchia were students in Upstate NY with me, way back when I could endure cold weather without complaining. Mark was one of the first kids I met my freshman year and we remained friends ever since. Peg spent a semester abroad in London the year after I did, she left me to look after Mark.
“Why is it so cold here, it’s April!” “What did you expect Beth?” “I expected TULIPS!” Mark laughed, hard. That’s how our night started, just like no time had passed.
What a great evening sharing stories about where our kids are now, the Boutchia’s eventual move to Phoenix (yeah that’s some climate change!) and how long it’s been since we’ve last seen each other. “A couple of years.” I told my Uber driver…
Mark informed me that the last time we were together in person our sons were in preschool. Ok so, time flies!
15 years, in a blink.
Friends like this are the kind that you pick up right where you left off. Mark told me a lot of “remember when….” stories from our time at SU that made me laugh so hard, I cried. Peg reminded me how good of a driver I was with a manual transmission in the snowy sloped driving of Syracuse in the winter. Those skills are dormant now that I’ve lived in FL for over 20 years.
Thanks guys! for a great night, and for dinner. I have the best job.
The City That Never Sleeps
On April 6th, the morning after my dinner with Mark and Peg, I headed back to ORD and caught a Jet Blue flight directly to LaGuardia airport. Emilie (my daughter) is attending Marymount Manhattan College, earning a BFA in Dance. She’s working hard in New York, dog walking, studying, dancing, rehearsing, and performing. About a month ago she asked me to come and watch her perform in the Spring Dancers At Work program.
“Well, I’m already going to be in Chicago, just finishing up my workshop…. “ I decided to support my little girl. She’s a sophomore at MMC and I’ve not yet had the opportunity to see her perform there, so I decided to head from Chicago to NYC.
The Dancers At Work program features student choreography performed by BFA program dancers. There was no photography or video allowed, so I’ve got nothing to show you! But I can assure you it was wonderful and that I cried. I cried because I haven’t seen my daughter perform since her high school recital. After watching her dance since the age of two and compete from the age of five, It was emotional to be in the audience again.
My dog walking, dancing daughter is trying to raise the airfare to get to Israel this summer, to attend a summer dance intensive. She’s saving for, and covering, the course fee and her room and board. If you are interested in learning more about this program, and maybe giving her a little support for the airfare. Please visit her GoFundMe page.
Emilie and Sam let me crash on their couch, which is what makes a visit to NYC possible for me. Thanks guys!
Between the two days of dance performances, I headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is only a few blocks from where Emilie and Sam live in the Upper East Side, so I walked. Even though it was cold, I wanted to enjoy the journey, be present in the city and in the moment. How amazing is it that I can visit my dancing daughter and take in such incredible museums along Museum Mile?
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” ― Henry David Thoreau.
Oh for my love of pattern (and fashion) this portrait in the Modern Wing begged me to come closer. I must say that I was surprised to find it was created in 1918 by Joan Miró, a Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona. I am most familiar with Miró’s surrealist works in a limited palette, you can imagine I was surprised to see this portrait was by him. Early in his career, Miró primarily painted still-lifes, landscapes, and genre scenes, but Surrealism really captivated the young artist, who relocated to Paris in 1921.
Don’t you just love the wall pattern juxtaposed with her dress and that 80’s feathered hairdo? Historians say that Moró was influenced by the Fauvists, wild beasts who loved strong color and paint application more than their subject matter.
Hmmm…. I’ve been accused of that! Perhaps that’s why I gravitated to this piece after all, my fashion follows this form!
Paul Cézanne is probably known best for two things, his still lives with apples, and his paintings of a mountain in the South of France called Mont Sainte-Victoire. I was fortunate enough to visit Aix-en-Provence, Cézanne’s home town, on a mediterranean cruz some years ago. You can read about my day chasing Cézanne here. There’s even photos of the mountain!
When I came upon Cézanne’s Mountain in the MET it reminded me of that cruise, what a wonderful trip it was. Connor (my son) is taking Advanced Placement Art History this year. He has expressed that he wished he had taken the class before the cruise, as he is learning about many of the places we visited through lectures and in his Art Through The Ages text book.
Degas’ dancers make my heart swoon. Perhaps it’s all the dance classes I watched for sixteen years while Emilie grew up in the studio, especially when she was a toddler. Or maybe it’s just because I was so emotional about having been able to make the trip to witness her following her dream, earning a BFA in Dance, and performing at college.
The above portrait of a young Emilie was inspired by one of the dances that she took to the competition stage titled “Some Things I Know” I have painted many dance images over the years, being inspired by my daughter and her passion for dance. We traveled to competitions together from her age of five until she graduated high school. Those trips, spending time together, helping her as much as I could, being there to support her, those are days I’ll always cherish.
I thoroughly enjoy Degas mixed media, pastel and charcoal pieces. I love the line quality, the movement, and the way he makes use of a colored ground. (The pre-colored papers Degas work on are fading, and as a result are in a very low-lit room at the MET) There were many pieces in this collection to marvel over on my afternoon at the MET. Emilie told me that she had just been there the week before.
I guess all those mandatory art museum visits with me left her with a fondness after all.
No trip to NYC or the MET is complete without my finding the Klimt! I sucked my breath in when I came around the corner only to be face-to-face with nine-year-old Mäda! Klimt will always be my favorite, every time I see his work I am impressed, amazed, and emotionally moved. Mäda Primavesi is one of two Klimt’s in the MET.
As much as I loved the Modern Wing, I had to ultimately venture to the Contemporary Wing and the American Wing. There’s so much to see at the MET that you cannot really do it all in one day, and you have to go there with a mission.
Many thanks to the museum volunteers who helped me find what I was looking for, provided me with written notes on a paper map (you know THAT will end up in a collage), and who helped me achieve FREE admission through the Bank of American Museums on Us program.
I connected with my daughter after my museum visit and between her rehearsals for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon. I took her to Up Thai, one of her favorite places in the city to dine. Emilie said, “I haven’t been here since the last time you were here.” “WHAT?” I said, that seemed like a long time ago. “Yeah Mom, I don’t go out to eat, I can’t afford it!” Funny, I smiled and replied “Neither can I, soI guess that makes this special.” I also teased her about demoting her coffee from Starbucks, to Dunkin Donuts, to 7-11. Things change when you are making your own way!
Sunday morning I had to sneak out in the wee hours while Emilie still had sleepy eyes and the morning sun was just rising over the City. I had promised her brother I would attend a live Pod Tours America event with him in Orlando (his tickets were my gift from Christmas) that evening. So I headed home to Orlando in time for an 8:00pm show. “I’ll miss you!” We waved goodbye and I already missed her as I climbed into my Via rideshare on the corner of York and 77th.
I am so lucky to have two amazing kids, just 16 months apart. Just as Emilie has settled into a new routine and way of life at college in New York City, Connor is getting ready to make his own way to a bright new future in Washington, DC.
I am so lucky to have fans and followers like you! Thanks for reading and for taking the time out of your day to share a little bit of my story. And thank you for your support (in any capacity) for it is all of you who make it possible for all of us to have such experiences!
for being a part of my