We spent a few painful years on the Art Hates Us tour, the Saucy-A and I, consoling ourselves after each crushing disappointment with butter-glistened lobsters and French 75s, or steak tartare and a sinister Bordeaux. At least Food loved us. Beverages, too.
It began, as such things do, with a Grand Plan: Saucy-A pausing in NYC en route to join her fiancée’s family vacation in Italy, a 48-hour Manhattan blitz — pilgrimage to Century 21, champers lunch with the girls, wedding dress window shopping — culminating with the Matthew Barney “Cremaster Cycle” exhibition occupying the whole of the Guggenheim. The timing could not have been better, as the exhibition was in its waning days, the initial throngs thinned.
The first 30 hours clicked by like clockwork: meals, shopping, friends. We debated transportation options in the Thursday morning drizzle, opted for a taxi — ladies of leisure and means, we convinced ourselves if not our bank accounts — arrived at a Guggenheim absent a line snaking out the door. Glory Be! The Universe Smiles!
The museum doors refused to open. Had we inadvertently arrived on one of the newer civic holidays freelancers like us had a tendency to overlook? The Saucy-A’s eyes as damp as our wilting clothes, she pointed a shaky finger towards a discreet sign “Closed Thursdays”.
Saucy-A purchased the commemorative coffee-table tome — the museum gift shop open and ready to sell — wisecracked over a snack of marrow bones and Chianti how hauling it around the Italian countryside would be her penance for failing to confirm the Guggenhiem’s hours.
It would be years before a Sex in the City plot pivoted on an almost identical Guggenheim/Carrie scenario, yet as the (transplanted) New Yorker of us I vowed a make up if not a make good. Thus a few weeks later I picked up a far more Italian fluent Saucy-A, shuttling her to Vermont for a family visit before returning to her West Coast home. The Art Plan Part Deux: a side trip to Dia:Beacon, home of massive site-specific art installations, including seminal sculptures by Richard Serra, he who featured so prominently in Barney’s “Cremaster Cycle”.
We set off early, ahead of the Manhattan summer Friday exodus, commending ourselves for so handily besting Mapquest’s estimated drive time. We sailed up to the gates in a spray of gravel.
Dia: Beacon is shuttered on Fridays in the summer. And on unspecified occasional Saturdays.
Flashforward a couple of years, Saucy-A and I on separate Paris trips — she, romantic weekend with husband; me, business — found the Picasso Museum behind scaffolding, closed for renovation.
Determined to break the curse — we had a long history of coast-to-coast exhibition indulgences — we made a return trip to Dia: Beacon (operating days and hours checked, triple-checked), although we were forced to scrap plans to dine at the Culinary Institute of America (closed, summer break).
Dia: Beacon, a modest modernist entrance, portal into a vast, beguiling world for us Alices to adventure through. Size-stammered, we approached one of the towering Sera oxidized walls, followed the curve inward, inward, the path between two concave walls narrowing as we spiraled ever more densely, delighted laughs dissolving into nervous titters, our breath shallowed, our nerves tightened, sounds of others in the adjacent sculptures echoed — or did this have a sound installation accompaniment? — our gasping exclamations melded into a single intelligible sound with specific translation: ImightNeedtoGetOuttaHere, discomfort and adventurousness battling in our chests. We cleaved to a tight turn, burst into a spherical clearing, gazed upward.
We deploy words in everyday conversation — awesome, amazing, fantastic, FUCK — diluting impact through repetition. “Love” went long ago, “Oh my God” morphed into OMG by texting teens and became an adult punchline, emoticons begat Emoji, attempting to convey meaning via a medium of emotionless DNA, bits and bytes and binary code.
We killed Latin, gave birth to temporary taxonomies, fugacious languages as fungible as technology.
No wonder descriptions of Art —the arts — is a bewildering read, hieroglyphics interpreted by practitioners, critics, academics. How does one address the Divine having heard “darling, that dress is divine” in multiple media and personal contexts? We twist and turn and torture words, contort sentences into unnatural phrasings in an attempt to illuminate a deep emotion, a revelatory spark, a moment of transcendence.
The Saucy-A and I stood inside the cylinder of soaring steel, we stood in panting silence, we stood humbled, inspired, together transformed.
We had no need for fancy food, afterwards. We were brimming, satiated beyond sense. Art Full.
“thunderstruck” courtesy of @margagogo who blogs about margaritas (and life) at margagogo.com
This post was handwritten while sipping a thematic Spicy Margarita at Entwine west village, nyc
Caffeinated inspiration from Roasting Plant west village, nyc
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