A friend told me she thought a storm was brewing within me, and she was right. The graceless politics of the current era ignited a smoldering anger that threatened to burst into flame and consume me. I needed a break from the constant “What tha?” moments dividing our country. So I went to the Met – the Metropolitan Art Museum on 5th Ave in Central Park, New York City, United States of America – that Met.
I got lost. Not in the streets of New York – no, I got lost in the incredible variety of artistic expression. We are divine primates.
I stood two feet from Van Gogh’s Sunflower and was lost in his brush strokes and wheeling yellow-green. See how its set against the whirling blue and offset by a single light stroke of vermilion? Can you see how the natural form of a dying sunflower is transformed into an abstract masterpiece? Can you see Van Gogh struggle to communicate his sensations limited by paint and paper? This is sculptural painting.
I got lost in Renoir’s ecstatic bowl of peaches. A psychedelic background of vivid red, orange, blue and green repeated in the color of the fruit. A masterpiece in each and every peach. Light and dazzling color contained by a pure white cloth and blue lined bowl.
I got lost in Monet’s Water Lillies. There they are – see them – delicate flowering lillies floating on a clear, green pond – wait, whats this? Purple? Blue? Pink? Orange? Yellow? I dive deep into the pond, assure myself it is indeed only two dimensions and sit on a pad, involved with a swirly red, white, orange and pink lilly.
At the Met I saw Pollack, Picasso, Rembrandt, Degas, Lautrec, Colbert, Morrisot, Remington, Homer, Bierstadt, Rodin, Stuart and Washington Crossing the Delaware. I wandered spell-bound from room to room thrilled to see what was around the next corner. European art from Medieval to Renaissance to Impressionist to Abstract. American art from the Revolution to triumphant Western Landscape to our own Impressionism to Realism and Modernism. At the Met I saw statues and scrolls and paintings and sculptures from ancient Buddhist and Hindu cultures thousands of miles and hundreds of epochs away.
At the Met I saw an Asian woman in a wheel chair lift herself painfully to her feet, put her hands to her heart, close her eyes and pray to an ornate 6th century copper statue of Buddha. She sat and I told her she was beautiful. At the Met I saw an Indian man explain to his kids how an incredible spinning statue was the Shiva dancing all space-time into creation. At the Met I saw a Dutch man and his partner race from one Vermeer to another describing the technique, the structure, the magnificence to each other – timeless and enthralled. At the Met, I saw the world worship art.
At the Met the history of human art is on display. It is love and courage that created these pieces and love and courage that displays them. Beauty is powerful and subversive. Van Gogh’s Sunflower is as beautiful today as the day it was painted. Monumental strife and division have roiled society since its completion in 1887 – but it is still beautiful and will remain so for thousands of years. To stand in front of such an artifact created purely to express beauty, to see and feel the passion that created it – an artifact that, by being beautiful transcends politics, economics and culture – is a rich blessing.
Art is love, is courage, is grace…is us. Namaste.