Thursday, June 4, 2015

What I Did Today in the Form of a Letter

June 4, 2015

Dear Helene,

Thanks for your phone call this morning telling me about “Pregnant Women with Depression Face Tough Choices” on Terry Gross. I’ll share it with my support group.

In fact, a woman in our group just gave birth yesterday to a healthy baby girl. She was on no meds.

Just came home from a presentation at the Abington Free Library you would have loved! “200 Years Young: A Short History of Collecting and Exhibiting at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts.” 

Image result for pafa museum     The unusual colorful walls.

Image result for pafa museum    Gothic Revival according to Wiki. I saw Eiko Fan dancing there in 1984.

Image result for eiko fan 

Eiko, according to the Internet, now teaches at PMA.

It was a slide show. No one turned off the lights. I had to get up my nerve, but did, and switched em off, with a satisfactory click.

The museum was founded in 1805, a time when there was no art work to be found in the young nation of America. So PAFA, which is THE oldest art school and museum in the entire country, sent away to England and France for art work, paying good money.

The unusual building that houses much of the collection – apparently there are several buildings – was designed by famous architect Frank Furness and one George Hewitt. I am using the Internet to guide me here. The woman sitting next to me was taking notes.

Do I know you? she asked.

Ruth Deming, I said.

She shook her head no and said her name, but I couldn’t hear her. She was short with white hair.

I asked her who the woman was in the front of the room who introduced the program.

Rebecca, she said.

Oh, I said. It’s Rebecca from the reference desk. (I talk to that woman at least once a week asking her questions.)

PAFA’s “vision” is holdings of American art works. Someone gave them a couple of Andy Warhol photographs which is not in line with their vision, because “photography” is outside their boundaries. So they don’t display them very often.

Ridiculous! Apparently they’ve always been very conservative. Thomas Eakins worked for them, teaching art to segregated classes – men and women.

He was a proponent of drawing from nude models. The Board frowned on this and finally fired him. Then 13 years later they gave him a prestigious award. Where is the famous Gross Clinic?

It’s on loan, said the blond woman at the projector, to the PMA.

Reader, look up the Gross Clinic yourself. I couldn't get a decent photo of it.

PMA, thinks I, she should tell the audience what it means. Philadelphia Museum of Art, of course, but still, I’ll bet the man whose wife dragged him along had no idea.

I’m sitting in my upstairs office drinking delicious hot Licorice Tea – licorice, your once-favorite flavor – and I just poured me a refill of hot water from my Gevalia carafe I bought at Impact Thrift in Hatboro.

A slide comes up of nearly 500 holdings that Linda Lee Alter has given PAFA. When I got home I goggled the old girl. First, she’s not that old. Born in 1939 makes her, uh, 74 years old. She looks good. White hair, like ours. A color photo in the Inquirer shows her painting in acrylics, her preferred medium. 

Image result for linda lee alter

The narrator talked about Linda founding the Leeway Foundation. You dared me to enter. You may not remember this. You played reverse psychology telling me I’d never do it.

I won the 1998 Edna Andrade Award for Creative Nonfiction. Edna, herself, is among the painters that Linda Lee gave PAFA.

I think The Michener Museum in Doylestown has a couple of the late Edna’s abstracts. Abstracts like your friend Burt Wasserman. Wonder if he’s still writing for Art Matters.

Hey! He’s got a YouTube video. Altho he’s slumped over in his chair - he's close to 90 - he’s still the same. Fabulous laugh and unstoppable talker.

Sculpture, he says, we admire it in space. It has a tangibility. When you make an artwork, you draw on all you have been, when you bring it into being.

One time Burt and I walked through PMA and he was my own personal docent.

Oh! I’m enjoying the New Yorker you lent me. I read an unscary story by Stephen King, I learned about Beijing and promoting a book there – the American author walked around with his own personal censor – but he wanted to get his books published in China.

Am reading Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris, a blond who still works at the New Yorker. She says she edited all of Philip Roth’s books. He made a remark about her – Gonna marry that girl. 

She says, Philip, if you're reading this and are still interested, I'm available.

No comments:

Post a Comment