Thursday, October 15, 2009

Turner to Cezanne

Last Friday hubby took the afternoon off and we went to the Everson Museum's exhibit of fifty-three masterpieces from the National Museum of Wales. This exhibit will be here until January. If you live in Syracuse, find the time to go see it. Even the young man who yelled at me (yes, truly "yelled") for being too close to the paintings couldn't spoil my absolute joy in seeing this collection. (And, young can't really appreciate the pencil lines in Turner's astounding watercolors unless you look up close.....I'm old and can't see much with my bifocals.....give me a break.)

One of the few happy childhood memories I hold dear is that of sprawling on the living room floor or my mother's bed with her art books surrounding us. My mother would carefully flip through pages until she found the painting she wished to "review" with me that particular day and then she'd tell me about the technique the artist used or tell me stories about the artist's life. I learned as I grew older that some of what she told me was fiction fueled by alcohol, but much of it was based on her knowledge and love of art.

And there at the Everson were many of the very paintings we had studied: "The Good Samaritan"; "La Parisienne"; "The Conversation". As I wandered the rooms, VanGogh, Millet, Renoir, Manet, Pissaro, Bonnard, Meissonier, Daumier all "spoke" to me, inviting me into their lives, as they had when I was a child full of dreams of living in Paris and writing poetry, a dream I have not yet let go.

Then I saw Claude Monet's "Waterlilies", well positioned and nicely lit on a back wall. My mother loved these paintings most of all and had told me how he had fashioned his own pond in his backyard so he wouldn't have to leave his house to paint them. I had always wondered if this was true or not....and there on the plaque near this painting were words describing how he tended to the lily ponds on his property. It brought tears to my eyes....not only to view the astounding beauty of the painting.....but to realize, once again, that sometimes truth could be found in my mother's words.

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