Saturday, October 17, 2009

Arts and Travel Groupie

Living  life today in the world of travelers.  Two airports in one day.  I think what I am is a traveler groupie.  I love all the coordination and planning and the excitement of air travel, as long as I’m not the one going up in the air.

Like Ray Liotta on coke in Goodfellas,  I work in a manic fashion this morning to make this day work.  I am dropping Mom in Milwaukee and picking up Chip at O’Hare.

Wake up, feed the cats, feed the dog, check on Mom, make the coffee, get the girls going, take a shower, get dressed, walk the dog, load the car, drop Ally, drop Livvie, reminders about after-school chores, do you have money, do you have your cell phone, hug Nana goodbye, are we close?, you don’t have to come in, ok, come in, have a cigarette, up the escalator, walk to security, Mom, I can’t go past here…bye Mom, I love you.

Breathe.  A quick jaunt north and I'm on the doorstep of the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Peace.  I pull in under the giant bird on the lake and the doors are just opening to a quiet and empty museum. 

 Generally, I try to have a very important experience when I’m in a museum, but down deep, I'm a magpie.  I gravitate toward shiny and pretty objects.  So today, since I’m alone, I allow myself to just enjoy the pretty colors and the works of those not long dead if at all.  I’m not going to overthink the collection and I’m going to get to that elusive third floor.

First and foremost, I avoid the audio tour of the Warhol exhibit.  A little pang of guilt…but I let it pass.  My own intellectual purgatory, feeling I must be enriched following an exhibit.  But not today.   Goin' in dumb,  comin' out same.  Hey, his words are in the highbrow can he really be?

Second, I proceed directly to the third floor Bradley Collection, the furthest point from the entrance.   I’ve never been this far into the museum because even if I get close, I’m  tired, bored, in need of the loo or hungry so the visit is usually brief and distracted.   I pretty much ignore the Egyptian and Renaissance art coming in....sarcophagi, urns, little gold and brass thingies.  Usually I give them a passing glance to make myself feel cultured.  Aah, yes, that little talisman is very reminiscent of the Etruscan Period....yeah I don't think so.  And today, ignored!- gasp!

Familiar artists, American and French.   Artists original to me , Russian and German.  I purposely forget their names.   Some painters I just don't have to think about.  A whole room of works by Georgia O'Keeffe.  And an extensive folk art exhibit that is only too cool because it is the original idea and thought behind so much of American lawn art.

American Folk Art

Today, the art museum is my Pottery Barn.  I gravitate toward the pretty or the colorful or the striking.  I learn nothing in particular except I like sweeping away my own pretention.   I laugh at the Rothko, reminded of the Tate exhibit last year in London where even the curators hung one of his paintings upside down without knowing.

The middle school students swarm the exhibits by lunchtime with their notebooks and their need to touch everything. It's flu season.

I’m out of there.  Lunch alone at Café Calatrava overlooking the gray skies and gray water of a soon to be wintery Lake Michigan.

The coffee was especially good as the surrounding tables filled with all those people of midweek leisure.  Retired couples, women friends catching up over lunch, business guys, a grown son in from out of town visiting his mom, a preschooler with her mom and grandmom.  Easy to eavesdrop as a woman of a certain age.  I'm almost invisible.


  1. Brilliant idea to go by yourself. Must copy.

  2. Beautiful photos of the museum Julie. It is really a special place.