Sunday, March 25, 2007

Familiar Places

I walked through the Guggenheim Museum today and could not stop thinking about my mother. I wanted to tell her how I remembered the first show I went to there with her- something that highlighted Picasso’s blue period. I can still remember her hush as she walked around the halls.

I don't think I had ever seen my mother awed before.

My boys wanted to run up the long spiral and back down. They did not. Walter told me his first memory of the Guggenheim was very tactile- he wanted to skateboard down, run down and around; the building calls for motion, he said.

An exhibit of El Greco through Picasso was hanging on the walls.

Jake walked up to a picture by Edouard Vuillard. I like this, he said. It’s like a place I know.

Where do you think it is? I asked.

Paris, he said casually and moved to the next picture.

I didn’t mention he hasn’t been to Paris.

I found myself standing at the edge of the rail, wanting to tell her how much I liked the Kandinsky, how I enjoyed Joan Miro more than the Salvador Dali. Mostly, I loved how Kandinsky was structured, pulled together and yet completely chaotic with his images.

I missed her.

I tried to stop and think about how grateful I was I spent time with her in that building. How much I love the art she showed me. It was a familiar place for me.

It still ached.

Afterwards, we went to the new Apple store by Central park. I went down the stairs, turned around and went right back up. I am easily overwhelmed and after a stunning show at the museum, my brain was full. Done.

Jake came with me.

Did you like the museum? I asked him.

It was okay. Kinda boring, he said.

You know, your grandma used to take me there. I thought it was boring, then, too. But I knew it was important to her.

Why? He asked.

Because she loved art so much. Art and music. It was everything to her.

Did you like it? He asked.

Now I do. Didn’t when I was little. Thought it was pretty boring. Now? I understand why she took me there. Someday? You’ll understand, too.

Okay, he said and jumped up to run around the fountain.

Watch this, Mom! He shouted.

Might not be Paris, but it is New York City. It’s a place he knows.

I hope it’s a gift I’ve passed down from my mother. Gently and with no strings attached.

Art museums as familiar places.


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