Saturday, December 30, 2006

Joseph Cornell

Well, we're back home. I meant to write while on our journey but the timing just wasn't right. My parents only have dial-up Internet service, so the timing wasn't the only problem! I took nearly two hundred images. I deleted most, as usual. It took over an hour to color and contrast correct those that remained. Now, I'm ready to write; but, my mind is still spinning. A neat, orderly arrangement of the past week alludes me. Therefore, I'll try (with Blogger's cooperation!) to post several small thoughts in no particular order.

This first message is both my "beginning" and my "end". It is the reflection of the stained glass dome in the American Museum of Art/Portrait Gallery. The reflection was caught in a large pane of glass in a doorway. The building was once the US Patent Office. It closed for renovations the year Mathias first entered the Kirov. The work was slated to take four years but it took six. Basically, the dual museum re-opened a month or so after Mathias graduated. I'd been in the building in 1976. I remembered liking the architecture. We had joked that this would be the only museum I wouldn't visit during these years.

Anyway, Stephen Chesley, my mentor (a great landscape oil painter here in South Carolina who has been supporting himself successfully by his artwork for over 20 years), sent me an email about the Joseph Cornell retrospective. We even had a conversation or two about the man. I pretended the entire time. I didn't want to let on that I didn't know who Cornell was. I didn't want to seem as ignorant and stupid as I felt. I only recognized that the retrospective was being held in the building in which I wanted to return.

Well, I went. It was so strange and wonderful. Joseph Cornell loved all the things that I love. He worked in ways that I now work. He loved ballet, antique prints, shadowboxes, and open-ended projects. He collected ephemera and feathers and sea shells and small mechanical devices. If I had been orphaned, I'd seriously wonder whether Joseph Cornell was on my lost family tree. We are kindred spirits. Wandering through his artwork was both eerie and comforting.

By the way, I still liked the architecture. Why do I call this my "beginning" and "end". Well, it was at the start of our northern holiday journey but it is also what my mind returns to most often. Undoubtedly, the Joseph Cornell exhibit was a most profound and meaningful experience.

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