I recently finished Lisa Olson’s 8 Days of Joy Workshop. One day our assignment was simply: do something that brings you joy. What fun! Since I was going to be in Philadelphia for the weekend I knew this would be a cinch. There are many things I love about traveling to different cities. Among my favorites is visiting Art Museums.
It fills me with a sense of pride to reflect on the many museums I have been to throughout the US and Europe. Seeing a famous painting can render me starstruck. The Vermeers in Amsterdam, Rodin’s The Thinker in Paris, Picasso’s The Old Guitarist in Chicago; all of these stopped me in my tracks and made me cry. The Louvre and The Uffizi hold wonderful memories for me, mostly because I sprinted through them to see their crown jewels: The Mona Lisa and The Birth of Venus respectively. I genuinely appreciate the classics from great masters, but I am a Modern Art girl at heart.
Some of the paintings in the permanent collections of New York’s MOMA and The Guggenheim are like dear and personal friends to me and I visit them often. Especially those by Jackson Pollock whom I credit with igniting my passion for art. One day, walking the halls of MOMA his paintings called to me in the most seductive way and I became transfixed by the emotion of his canvases. He will always occupy a special place in my soul.
When visiting a museum for the first time, I adore entering a gallery of contemporary art and quizzing myself, seeing if I can guess the artists without looking. A quiz plus great art? Joy squared!
But for all my joyous Museum experiences, I had never been to an Art Museum at night. This past Friday my boyfriend Jesse and I decided to go to The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Turns out they have live music and serve wine and food on Friday evenings. It sounded like a grand time, and it was! There was a good crowd of all ages, the atmosphere was festive and the setting idyllic. We sat on the stairs with our wine and had as much fun watching the people around us as we did listening to the fine musicians.
As we sat I noticed that, though the museum was quite crowded, there were very few people walking in and out of the galleries. So I nudged Jesse, and we walked to the contemporary art gallery.
There we were, standing before Magritte, Picasso and Monet with nary a soul in sight. Imagine entering a room filled with impressionist paintings and having an unobstructed, panoramic view of every single one. Instead of quizzing myself quietly, craning my neck to get a better look, I could announce my guesses out loud to Jesse and then run around like a kid seeing which I got right.
I had intimate moments with Kandinsky, Degas, Cezanne, Rousseau and Vincent (we’re on a first name basis, of course, as we’ve seen one another so many times in so many places). As I wandered there was the ever present anticipation of glimpsing Jackson Pollock. He’s sure to be here somewhere, I thought and of course, he was. We had our happy reunion, just as we always do.
We were in the galleries for close to an hour, enjoying the quiet, whispering about what we were each drawn to, gazing in reverie. It was a perfect evening in the most unexpected way.
From this experience I feel inspired to seek out what I love, but imagine ways to do it differently. Find the twist that makes it fresh. It seems to me there is terrific joy to be had in that.
Thank you Lisa Olson for another wonderful workshop!