Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Day at the Art Museum (not to be confused with the Marx Brothers movie A Day at the Races)

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Eight of us met at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a trip organized by Mike. We began our tours around noon, traveling in small groups or solo, agreeing to meet in 90 minutes for lunch, and then going off again for another hour.

Hard to believe but this huge art repository only has three floors: ground, first and second. Any questions about directions or even content of exhibitions are beautifully answered by the guards - the Allied Barton Security Force, attired in black jackets and white shirts. In Jan. 2010 the local Bread and Roses Foundation, of which I'm a member, funded their union to get higher pay.

I only get to the museum about once a year. If it were down the road I'd go once a month. The first Sunday of the month is pay-as-you-wish day, so I paid $5 instead of the regular $16. The 'greeters' are not only helpful but very influential giving suggestions on what to see. I checked everything off on my brochure.

And off I went. I took 50 pictures and will select my favorites. It seemed like every other person had a camera and was snapping away. I chastise myself when I first begin, saying things like: How can you pay attention to the experience when you're constantly looking for good shots? I rethink my position, imagine the joy I'll get when I see them on the blog where I can enlarge them and linger over them as long as I like, even watch em in my hospital room after the surgery, and, resolved in my mission, shoot away.

Hercules. I liked his bulging muscles rippling across his torso.

Hercules plate. 1589.

Couldn't resist this Ship of Fools.

Ship of fools is an old phrase.

The famous entrance to the museum. There's the ever-so-graceful Diana the Huntress behind one of Alexander Calder's mobiles, a form he invented.

Elevator to nowhere. I was the only one on this huge cavernous elevator, which, at first, I thought was a freight elevator. I'm always a little sccared it'll get stuck. Taking a photo helps you regain a smidgen of control where you actually have none.

The empty elevator actually took me to one of the galleries I wanted to see. I landed right in the middle of the American Ceramicists exhibition. Here's a huge vessel by Bill Daley, b.1925. I interviewed him in 1984 when I worked at Art Matters. He told me he worked in the basement next to the washing machine.

I was taking no chances. Walter walked me to the elevator to send me upstairs to my next destination. This nice man got on the elevator with me and some other people and pushed the button before he got back to his post. Oftentimes people are so incredibly kind to me. Possibly I come across as impossibly helpless. But I think I simply bring out the kindness inherent in people.

To tell you the truth, I only looked at these vessels cuz they were part of a special exhibit. Of course I fell in love with them and realized how much I enjoy three-dimensional objects for the dining room.


Believe it or not, these pieces are from America during our Revolutionary Days.

We do love a nice desk, don't we now?

Double-folio from the Qur'an

Oh darn, my flash came out in the middle of the Koran. The script was irresistibly beautiful.

From India. She/he really caught my eye. You can see Philadelphia faintly behind her.

I've got my captions mixed up. The delicate pitcher is actually from Asia, either Japan, Korea or China. You'll figure it out. Either that or I'll get fired.

More things from the age of Paul Revere. It's amazing. Revere was a real hero. Later his name is 'taken in vain' and used for commercial purposes: Revereware. Who knows? Maybe he was a blacksmith.

Ach! Can't believe I shot a blurry photo. Part of a burial of a Chinese emperor.

Look! What I wrote above is totally untrue.

From Cambodia.

We'll have to triple-click on this to read the very important description of the previous painting.

My Aunt Ethel had a chair like this but in pink. This indisputable fact predisposes me to be aware of chairs like this. I like it. Dyou?

Lovely, just lovely! If you look closely you can see the photographer's face in one of the meers.

Try as I might, I couldn't find them so had to ask. I don't mind asking, I'm not a man after all, but I like to stumble upon them unawares.

Shaker furniture

Gee, it feels good to go to sleep after a hard day in the fields and baking bread and singing glorious songs to our Maker. Sure wish I could have sex, tho. That guy with the suspenders was soooo cute.

I have to stare at this when I'm falling asleep? How bout a poster of Jimi Hendrix instead.

I know, I know. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Maybe I'm not cut out to be a Shaker. What other sorts of utopian communities are around so I won't have to go out and make a living. It's tough out there. Oh, you say, The Farm? I'll check it out.

Possibly the most famous Thomas Eakins picture. Someday I'll remember the name. It's something like The Gross Clinic.

I love stumbling upon The Annunciation by Henry Osawa Tanner.

The museum hides little gems like this chair in some of its nooks n crannies. I was actually looking for the room with Cy Twombly but never did find him or the adjoining Matisse paintings.

Tracey, Jim and I took the shuttle bus to the Perelman annex. Look at the b'ful park bench seats w/ornate side rails.
Perelman from afar. The bldg must've once been a bank.

OMG! I was flippin out when I saw the photos of Mark Cohen, b.1943. Never heard of him but he was wonderful. His photos are from Wilkes-Barre where he was born and apparently still lives there. Jim could really relate to the shots since he also hails from that northeastern Pennsylvania town. (Pronounced Wilks-barry)

Men's fashion exhibit. What I really wanted to get was a shot of one of the men in there. I got my man.

Now we come to the heart of the matter: The Alessi Exhibition. Alessi is an Italian firm who make innovative kitchen objects. I particurly liked this dapper guy in the hat, and that's Kamira the guard who had a no. of favorite coffee sets. We saw them all and were absolutely blown away! I was gonna say 'enchanted' but blown away is much more descriptive. Look on, dear reader, look on:

My god, what can you say about these shiny pitchers. Tracey and I were swooning.

Shine on! Delicate handles, delicate lid tops.

So SHAPEly. The quality of 'shapely' is something we humans prize, as in the previous photo of the Cambodian goddess. It certainly dates back to our worship of the female form from our very own tribes or families, then pressed into art.

Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

I really flipped out when I saw this coffee set was perched on pedestals. Mondieu!

Now I do have to admit I really enjoy looking at these online. In a moment I'll tell you about the new Google Art Project, unveiled last week. I just found out about it this a.m. in the Times.

Dig those huge black handles in contrast to the silver.

Here's Tracey admiring yet another coffee set. Alessi had sent about half a dozen of them for this exhibit. Kamira, the guard, said she learned about the exhibit from hanging around when it was being set up.

So. Roberta Smith of the Times had an article today, Feb 7, my daughter's 37th birthday, I sent her flowers by mail from LeRoy's in Hatboro, anyway Roberta said that the life of the art lover had been changed last week by the Google Art Project. 13 museums are listed, each selecting one work of art to be featured. Check it out here.


  1. very nice pictures Ruth! I Definitely have to go back there soon

  2. thanks, jim. i'll be happy to go back w/you any ole time! all i need is a ride down.

  3. I found myself in your post today - merrily and hap-hazardly adrift in that ship of fools.

    Nice tour - especially loved the photo of Walter, and the shapely place setting.

  4. i esp. thought of you, bill, when i saw the candid photos by mark cohen who seemingly had no fear going up to strangers and taking their pictures. today i signed up to be a reporter for and hope to make some extra money. they pay for stories and photos both.

  5. I love the main picture of the art museum you have right on top! Where was that taken from? I'm planning my first visit there soon.