Monday, March 20, 2017

Anabelle and Daddy Ad-veeeeen-tures! Yeah! *Jazz Hands* Day 11 -July 29

Art for Our Sake

As further proof that women mature faster than men, as much as we are huge dinosaur geeks, my daughter and I both came to the realization that we now prefer the Art Museum to the Natural History Museum.  I think it’s a matter both of density of exhibits, and emotional discovery rather than revisiting old friends.

It was supposed to rain, but happily didn’t as we drove to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or as Anabelle would come to call it:

“The museum of shiny things and spoons.”

There was close to zero traffic allowing a straight shot in. The only issue was driving through slightly misty vision as I realized the mature, competent and intelligent navigator manning the written directions and GPS while sitting in the passenger seat was the same baby girl that came to this museum for the first time in a backwards facing seat that connected to a stroller.

As part of our “Ad-veeeeen-tures” *Jazz Hands* planning, Anabelle decided we should focus more on sections of these places we usually gloss over at the end, rather than rehashing our favorites for the zillionth time.  In some cases, this meant going in reverse order.

Not actually walking backwards through priceless collections though, the guards frown upon that, and in fact yell at you… so I’ve heard.

We did a whirlwind tour through the Greek and Roman section.  It can’t be skipped since it’s at the entrance from the garage, and even though we’ve seen it a zillion times it’s cool enough to be worth some time again.   We said howdy to Grandma’s favorite Caligula head and a few other famous figures.  Sadly, she would not slow down enough to ask the obvious question as we breezed through the room full of Grecian Urns.

Anabelle had minimal interest in rehashing the Egyptian section which we always spend “forever” in.  Since I’m usually the reason for that forevering, I convinced her to take a quick jaunt through to check if the Costume Institute was open. 

It wasn’t, because it never is…but I got to see some statues, and she found some shiny things.  So, yay!

Next stop, following a hasty pass through Mediaeval Art, was the Armor hall.  Yes, we spend a lot of time there on every visit, meaning we should have minimalized it this time, but Anabelle was excited about going there.

That’s my girl!

After spending some time with protective and pointy shiny things, we’d reached lunch time.

Buying a granola bar to make our entry official, we unpacked our packed lunches in the American sculpture garden’s Stone Patootie Café.

Don’t judge, the only other option on that floor was in the European sculpture garden’s “Bronze Bazooms Bistro.”

AS an HGTV/ Learning Channel remodeling addict along with her Mother, some of Anabelle’s favorite parts are the decorated room exhibits. We spent a bit going through the American ones and sculpture areas.  This was much more of a general review than the “when we hit the lottery” type design choices made in the European wing later.

With our abnormal route, we made it to the round room surrounded by a painting of Versailles for the first time.  Or the first time she wasn’t in a stroller anyway.  Not only was she blown away by the set up, but she’s better at working the panorama setting on my phone than I am.

(Translation, she can use the panorama setting and end up with a photo that isn’t a smeary band of color.)

Once that was done, there was no holding her back from the “shopping spree” rooms of European decorative arts, particularly France of the 1700’s. 

Not only is the cast of Doctor Who’s “Girl in the Fireplace” represented, but due to the way they overlapped letters, Marie Antoinette’s rooms were decorated in Anabelle’s favorite color with her initials on them.

Anabelle’s favorite painting ever is Joséphine-Éléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn (1825–1860), Princesse de Broglie, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.  Or as she called it, “The pretty girl in the blue dress.”  It’s in the Robert Lehman collection up at the top of the museum.  It’s kind of terrifying to realize the reason those art works are set aside is they’re all from a single collection stipulated to be shown together. Therefore the insanely opulent rooms are a recreation of the home they came from.  All I can think in that section is the words of Benson DuBois upon entering the Governor’s mansion, “I ain’t cleaning this.”

As we found that diamond shaped gallery, there was a massive amount of dresses from the costume institute on display.  Anywhere else in the museum, this would be cause for celebration.  However, it wasn’t clear which of the permanent exhibits were closed, and my daughter panicked.  There was no trace of enjoying the journey, only the destination.

A bit of running around and through dress displays finally led us to gallery 957 and a sigh of relief from Anabelle that she could see her favorite, and from me that I didn’t have to deal with her if she couldn’t see it.

Calmer, we took our time to look at some seriously ugly, mostly plastic outfits highlighting the fact that 3D printing could be used to make clothing that was of equal quality, beauty and style to the 3D printed prototypes we use for disposable engineering samples.

There was also a wedding dress with a gorgeous, insanely long, gold infused train. We should have remained behind it, as the front of the dress was clearly designed in the “Early Frumpy” period.

My family has a long history of saving the Modern Art sections for the end of the trip…mostly to laugh at them.

We hit it earlier this time, to allow Anabelle to spend longer with the fair amount of works she appreciates in there.  She learned about Picasso and Pollack in school and other places, plus a few others as well. Yay education!

I did some reading as well, about how Rothko’s “simple” large bands of colors were made with insane numbers of thin layers of paint that can only be appreciated close up.

I also read about how Pollack’s drip technique used very specific fluid mechanics effects to get the patterns he created, and that his paintings have a fractal element to their make-up.

I have to agree with that, as from far away,
and from close up
Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) looks a lot like a mess of paint spillage. (I’d guess the other twenty-nine do as well.)

As you can see, we still made fun of a bunch of them, especially on the mezzanine, which I think they reserve for the really silly stuff. We had to pass it twice, because, going through the building “backwards” I got confused.  I did really like the massive Clothes Hanger Mobile.  Besides the effort that went into sizing them all correctly, the display was set up to make the shadow an interesting visual as well. 

See, I can be a fan of non-representational abstract art as well…

As long as it’s not created with a paint roller.

Because of general patterns, and my Egyptian obsession, we tend to usually hit the 19th and early 20th Century European paintings near the end of an excessively tiring day in this mammoth structure.  This is kind of stupid as Anabelle and my favorite paintings are there.  Hitting it mid-stream this round was a much better decision.

I can reference Doctor Who again for Van Gogh but she’d done some non-science fiction television research on him as well.  His paintings are deep in the popular culture, but it’s easy to miss why he’s treated as such a visionary without seeing his work live.  There’s a three dimensionality to his paintings that both lifts the image off the canvas and imparts a feeling of motion to it.

At least that’s what I was sure to tell Anabelle in a loud voice after hearing another father answer his child’s, “That’s it? What’s the big deal?” with, “I guess.”

Talking loudly to my own child was a much more socially acceptable option than how I was forced to handle similar situations in my single days, which often began with addressing a total stranger as, “You boorish, narrow minded Philistine!”

Anabelle and I of course took in the dance inspired works of Degas,
especially the painting that looks like it has Rosa in it.

We also spent time in the vast collection of impressionists there.

I think they fix cars too…

Due to our new and exciting route, Anabelle was introduced to the Middle East and Mesopotamian art for the first time.

She didn’t care, but that’s not the point dang it…this is educational parenting here.

She did think the giant Sphinxy looking things were cool, and it provided us passage to another first time section that she found a much greater affinity for.

The Asian art section, with its Zen garden and fine silks were more appreciated than another bunch of stone statues. However, it was the little upstairs section that made it worth the trip.

A HUGE collection of Chinese shiny things!

She grabbed my phone and filled much of its memory documenting this amazing discovery.

Having lived with the dangers of crazy hungry much of my life, I recognized she had inherited the family curse. I was on the giving, rather than my normal receiving, end of forced snack bar delivery.

Near the end of Asia was an odd modern thing.  Someone took a taxidermied deer, and covered it in various sized glass spheres.  It looked like an oversized, morbid Hallmark ornament, but somehow still pretty.

The balcony between Asia and America did not overlook the Pacific as one might suspect, but instead was filled with shiny things!  I lost my phone again amidst the silver and glass work, as Anabelle fully developed her new obsessive appreciation for spoons.

The massive size of the place began to wear, generating some reluctance to view the American paintings.  Washington Crossing the Delaware always remains impressive in spite of, or because of, being filled with historical inaccuracies.  It’s a testament to the amount of masterpieces in the place that some magnificent landscapes get ignored because they’re in the room with that gigantic thing.   There was a tour guide explaining that in the years before cameras, people would study the painting, and then go home and try to recreate the image by posing with friends to share the experience.

I guess that was the 1800’s equivalent of my friends and me smacking each other with plastic oars and whiffle bats in the summer of Seventy-Seven to recreate Star Wars.

I got her to grudgingly come and see the Hudson River School landscape rooms which have always been a favorite. (Thank you Professor Abrash, American Art, RPI 1991.) The way I achieved this is a promise of returning to the balcony of Shiny Things and Spoons. 

Sadly the Musical instrument room was closed, leaving only the Old Masters European art section.  We were both extremely tired and I knew trying to force her to view everything in a section filled with more flat religious art and naked chubby people (often on the same canvas) would test pre-teenage boredom limits.

I did intentionally wander us on the way to the gift shop, and even my exhausted daughter admitted to finding many cool paintings.

We dragged our spent forms up and down the steps, Anabelle finally finding the perfect set of Impressionist magnets to bring Mami as a souvenir.  I also found an interesting bit of abstract three dimensional wall art…until I realized it was a poorly organized fire hose cabinet.

We started to exit the museum, where she once again refused to make the slighted pause or acknowledgment of me in the Grecian Urn room.

There was a discount gift shop near the parking garage exit, and while hunting in there she revealed one of the reasons she spent so long in the main gift shop was the hope of finding a book with the “Shiny Things” in it.

With this knowledge, we returned to the museum proper. In the main gift shop she found the Walking Tour guide of the American Art section.   (AKA, The Book of Shiny Things and Spoons)
I would order the European equivalent book on my next Amazon order.

On the way out she was grateful enough to FINALLY ask, “What’s a Grecian Urn?”
Was I able to give the proper comeback in a state of exhaustion and near dehydration?
You bet your bippy!

Thanks to her newfound excellent navigation skills we exited the city in another low traffic drive.  While far less experienced in an automobile, she has one advantage over her mother as a navigator.  Anabelle leaves her eyes open when we drive in Manhattan.

We stopped, burned out and starving, at the traditional On the Border for what can only be described as ludicrously too much Mexican food.

Our only trouble was the waiter being unable to understand Anabelle’s correct pronunciation of Spanish dishes. Luckily I was there to mangle the names into a form he could recognize.

We rolled out of the restaurant, stopped at Shop Rite for supplies, and went home to collapse and watch Chopped After Hours and Junior.

I think I was a little tired, as I totally snapped when one kid mentioned being from NyywOrleans for the millionth time.  Something along the lines of:

“WE KNOW!!!! WE KNOW!!!! 

Only as a ten minute rant, until Anabelle had to pause the show and run to the bathroom.

She went to bed, and I did some laundry and exercised watching Predators for the second time in less than a month.

Seriously, how did no one let me know Robert Rodriguez was behind that film?

Of course I couldn’t only watch part of it while on the bike and continue the next night, so by the time I got the clothes on the line and myself into bed, it was Three AM again.

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