Bethesda and Frick – Solo Culture Day

So I left the Angel Bethesda and headed toward my original destination with a quicker step. The building to the Frick Collection is very stately and handsome. I walked in, and it felt like a huge living room. After I checked my bag and paid my admission (I wish I could do that for MY living room!), I walked toward the galleries.

Without the audio tour, you could probably cover everything in less than three hours. The place is a delicious accumulation of paintings and sculptures. Everything is well-placed, and not everything by the same artist is clumped together. The first piece I recognized was a Jan Ver Meer; it’s so easy to look at his work and tell. Frick also has El Greco, Rembrandt, Whistler, many others. He has an entire room dedicated to Fragonard. (Remember studying all the naughty interpretations of The Swing?) HUGE panel paintings whose frames are just inches from touching the high ceilings.

I love looking at paintings. Not very good at interpreting them, but it’s enjoyable just to examine them on micro and macro levels.

Macro: Wow, that’s a huge painting. I don’t like that rendering of George Washington. I like the red against the black. I like the soft lines. What’s the big deal about fruit in a bowl? Where is that place? I wish I knew the stories behind the portraits; maybe I can make up my own. The beiges and browns make my eyes lazy. Pink, that’s cool. Who can paint things that tall? How do people accomplish painting what they see?

Micro: Look at how thick the paint is there. Look at the strong lines. The dark folds. Look at how they show the eyes reflecting light with just the tiniest stroke of white. Or is that the glare from the lamp and too much shellac? Who takes the time to paint that many sheep in such great detail? Why are some close up items in better focus than others? Why must the men wear lacy collars and cuffs? So, THIS is how people accomplish painting what they see …

The museum was fun. I crossed Central Park again, gave my regards to Bethesda; descended into the underworld to catch the train. I got off at 125th Street to transfer to the express, and while I was waiting, someone called my name. I recognized her but her name completely escaped me. She was someone I’d known while attending the Brooklyn Branch. She was with a friend, and they were on their way to the Cloisters. They asked about a place to eat in my neighborhood, so I recommended a decent Indian Restaurant. We got off at the same stop. I pointed them in the direction of the restaurant and the Cloisters, then the girl asked if I wanted to join them for lunch. And of course I accepted.

We chatted and ate and had a good time. When we finished, we walked in different directions. She said it perfectly: We have to take advantage of chance encounters. Thus, we do.

It was a good day. Time with friends. Time alone, fed my mind and spirit. And I have church today. Couldn’t have been a better lead-in.

A little discussion.

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