Me, distorted but contemplative

Free your mind

I was mesmirized by the Zhan Wang sculpture that's currently in the lobby of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It's a large rock, covered in or made of highly-reflective stainless steel. It's meant, in part, to remind us to make room for contemplation and nature, even in the midst of modern cities. "Zhan is ultimately interested in opposing forces, such as the old and new, natural and man-made, and the friction that occurs when these forces meet," according to this article about him and his work.

Check out some of the other photos I took of the sculpture here.

Edward Hopper at the MFA

My mom and I went to the Edward Hopper exhibit at the MFA yesterday. It was fabulous. There were so many paintings there that I had admired in books or prints or postcards but had never seen in real life. Nighthawks, of course. And Chop Suey, on the left, which I always thought was my favorite. But after seeing the paintings in person, while I still love Chop Suey (the painting, not the dish ... I had a conversation today about the difference between "regular" Chop Suey and American Chop Suey but that was just a coincidence) I've decided that my favorite is actually Automat.

The paintings, up close, are not exactly what I imagined--especially the ones of women. The paint is thicker, more layered and textured than I expected. In most of the paintings, it looks as if the women are wearing clay masks. That blank look that so many of Hopper's women wear (like the one on the woman in the green sweater in Chop Suey, and the woman sitting alone with her cup of coffee in Automat, left, and of the many paintings he did of women dressed or undressed but always alone in hotel rooms) is much more intense in person. It's uncomfortable, sometimes, to look at them. Also, Hopper, himself, was not what I expected. He looks arrogant in one self-portrait. Like a banker in another. Somehow I thought he would be more artistic looking, more romantic. Why did I think he was a romantic? I think it's because of all those paintings of women who are alone. These paintings seem so intimate, so personal. I assumed that he felt something for them. But after seeing them in person, at all those blank stares and awkward poses and unflattering points of view, I'm not sure how he felt about them after all.

Hopper's notebooks were featured in the exhibit, but under glass and so you could only see the few pages that were open. He made sketches of each painting he made and made notes about what kind of paint he used, what colors, where he painted it, etc. His wife added how much each painting sold for, calculated his two-thirds cut, and sometimes made funny little comments about the paintings. You can browse virtual versions of one of Hopper's notebooks online (not sure how long this feature will remain available on the MFA site). You can flip through the pages and zoom in on each one. Very cool.

I also took some really nice photographs which I will try to post soon. (I'm always inspired by a trip to the museum.)

Anyway, I enjoyed the show very much. What I did NOT enjoy, however, was the woman whose cell phone went off not once but TWICE and who, rather than dying of shame, smashing her phone against the nearest rock to get it to stop ringing or racing out of the exhibit hall as if her hair was on fire, actually answered the phone and started talking on it. In fact, the other people at the exhibit didn't even seem to notice (except to check that their own phones were off). Apparently this is just normal behavior now, to talk on your cell phone in restaurants, at movies, in museums and during weddings and funerals and AA meetings.

New tricks

Just got back from three days in Nashville, TN, with some folks from work. One of my co-workers expressed some concern that I might quote her on my blog. I didn't tell her that until she is as cute as the dog or as crazy as the crazy dead upstairs neighbor, she's not likely to be immortalized here.

Does she dance like a ballerina on command? I don't think so.

Nashville was a lot of fun. Next time I'd save more energy for the honky-tonk bars and the live music, though. We went to the world famous Tootsies the first night, but by the time we got there (via a series of local eateries and drinkeries) I was wiped out. I would have also liked to see the Frist, but our schedule didn't accommodate. The truth is that when you're traveling for business you often don't have as much time and energy to be a tourist as you'd like.

I will tell you one story (it's a very safe one, I promise). At supper on the second night someone asked the table, "If you could be in any band in history, which would it be?" I knew my answer right away. But can you believe that someone I had just met the night before guessed which band I was going to choose before I even said it? I mean, that's a little spooky, right?

Katie: I am back and want to hear all about the passing of the papers -- Woo hoos all around -- and I like the new design on your site, too. I still want to help you learn how to upload photos ... I really do. Then I can say "You should put that on your blog" to you!

One more cute picture of the dog's new trick here.