Friday, April 2, 2010

Heaven on Earth

Fuzzy fugitive photo by furtive fan.

I am still recovering from a four-day trip I led to New York with students from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Along with colleagues Dr. Ruth Bohan, chair of art and art history, and Gretchen Schisla, graphic design professor, we ran 12 students all around town.

It was exhausting but a lot of fun. Everyone was engaged, even if quiet, eyes were wide open. That was the goal!

The program, founded by former UMSL professor Susan Cahan, who is now at Yale, is an amazing program whereby students travel for free, (almost) all expenses paid for the trip. Friday we were at MoMA for four hours, with tours by Connie Butler, head of drawings, Emily Talbot, assistant in prints and illustrated books, with time for William Kentridge and Yin Xiuzhe. Then Marian Goodman, Greenberg VanDoren Gallery, a tour of Pentagram, then up to the Whitney for a tour and brief introduction by Biennial co-curator Gary Carrion-Murayami.

Then, the Met.

My favorite areas of the Met are the proto-Renaissance galleries, Velazquez, the Oceania rooms, Greek & Roman glass.

But they had up a show that made me weep with joy.

The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry was an exquisite show. Each page was mounted in a two-sided glass sheet so I could poke my nose in as close as I could, sans glasses.

I felt shivers of recognition with the works, thinking about the first time I was ever abroad, visiting the cool Gothic cathedrals all over France. I remembered taking an early winter train to Padua to see the Arena Chapel by Giotto, poking my head out of a round window in a foot-thick earthen wall in Ravenna while visiting the Byzantine mosaics, the insane cab ride I took my last trip in Istanbul to see some precious churches buried inside a bazaar.

I love my job, but in the flood of paperwork there must always be art at the center of the whirlwind.

Sore feet and hoarse voice aside, my eyes were wide open in New York. Again.

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