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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today At The Art Museum ...

I took today off ... a Thursday. I could have asked friends of family members to join me, but I'm handling this adventure solo. With the car gased up and a quick breakfast stop at my favorite "royal" drive-through under my belt (literally), I'm on my way to Toledo and its art museum.

Not everyone can make a day of a museum, but the facility in Toledo is truly top notch, hosting world class exhibits and offering visitors a look at art at its finest.

There's nothing special I'm "after" today, but I always find something. In the past, the museum has awed me with El Greco and surprised me with murals by Picasso in his later years. And one visit had me captivated by the work of a retired microsurgeon from Michigan. It seemed that this gentleman was looking for some use for the expensive surgical tools he had acquired over the years. Being from Michigan, I guess he loved skiing and snow because he created hundreds of framed "snowflakes" ... the kind you make by cutting notches into folded paper. But besides a few traditional "flakes" and ski scenes, his work included detailed beach scapes, wrathful gods and goddesses from popular mythology, and even a crimefighting scene featuring Batman and Robin. I don't know how he did it!

Like with any art museum ... Columbus, Dayton, the Metropolitan Art and MoMA in New York, Art Institute in Chicago, etc. ... I tend to gravitate toward the Impressionists. It's the softness I think that attracts me, and the strong brush strokes. Centered around Paris in the 1870s and 1880s, Impressionist painters used bold colors with wet-on-wet application to blur edges and "play outside the lines." Also, because pigments had become available in lead tubes, these art-forward individuals could capture landscapes, still-life groupings, and even portraits outside. Impressionists such as Monet, Cezanne, Cassatt, and Renoir were said to favor painting in early evening when they could best visualize the battles between light and shadow.

I also love the post-Impressionist Pointillism movement ... Seurat, Van Gogh, Pissarro, and Cross ... where individual dots of pure color are arranged in patterns to create images comprised of hundreds of tints and tones. And modern art ... with its geometric shapes and loud splashes of color ... always sends me to the gift shop to rifle through a selection of postcards and not-always-affordable art books.

But I think the thing I value most about a trip to a quality art museum is the atmosphere. The quality of the air and sound is usually so hushed, almost reverant. There is a sort of comfort that patrons experience as they walk amongst the visual history or sit and stare at the interplay of shape and color. It's a "quiet" like no other.

POINT OF RANT: When you say to yourself "there's never anything to do," look up the stats on the various museums in your area.

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