Well, we're wrapping up teaching here and settling in for Spring Break next week. One lucky thing that I had to carry me through to the end was the prospect of a visit from Margi and Enrico. Enrico was coming to Denver for a physics conference, and Margi was coming along. And although I didn't get to see as much of Margi as I wanted to (boo, snow!) I did get some nice hanging out time with Enrico, some great dinners, and a trip to Denver's new art museum building to boot.
Now, I'd been to the old part of the museum when I was a wee lass of 14. I always remembered it as a repurposed corporate skyscraper, which is unfair, I guess. Nevertheless, the new Liebeskind-designed wing really blows the other wing away. Super wow.
It was a really great day to be out and about-- sunny and warm for the first time in months. We walked all over downtown, and then around the art building. The angles in the main hall are so freaky, standing in the third floor mezzanine made my knees start to shake.
As for the art, I saw a Yoshitomo Nara, two Takashi Murukami sculptures and a large silver painting, and a photorealistic painting of an infant Hitler being venerated as the Christ Child. I saw a sculpture of a naked man hiding under a cardigan, which I liked, but I can't remember the name of the sculptor. All of this was in a rotating gallery, someone's personal collection.
In the permanent gallery we saw all of the greatest hits: Taos modernists (Marsden Hartley! Woot!), Manets and Monets, and even (in Denver? Shocking!) Whistlers. I saw a Braque that brought back memories of grapes, and a Juan Gris that brought back memories of Braque. Had a debate with Margi over who is the best cubist- didn't come to a conclusion, but we both decided that Picasso needs to go away for a century or two. Tried to draw Enrico into the discussion, but he claims not to care for any art that's pre-surrealist.
Finally, we visited a rotating gallery that was showing the John and Kimiko Powers collection of 14-18th Century Japanese art. First: if you're going to show off your collection of oldoldold art, it's a pretty neat gesture to use an Andy Warhol portrait of yourself as the obligatory "meet the collectors" entryway thingy. Second: I realized just how bumpkinly ignerent of Japanese art I am. But also, I could not pull myself away from the calligraphy part of the show. I love calligraphy: I love how you can still sense the hand that made each brush or pen stroke. I love how you can see the choice of tool. I love how vital each line is. Myself, I'm a lousy calligraphist. You can see me overthinking each line, a hesitation that cramps everything up (this might also be the reason I'm lousy at crochet, but decent at knitting). So I spent about 40 minutes standing in front of a calligraphied banner, trying to follow the swoops in one ideogram by waving a rolled up piece of paper in front of me. The gallery security guard hardly left my side for the whole time. When I finally moved on, I found an even grander sight: poems written onto a gold foiled screen. The screen itself was so carefully gilded, but the calligraphy seemed almost off-hand and graffitti-like, done with a skinny brush. Unlike the paper and cloth banners, the poems just seemed to stop and begin, without any urgency to fill up the beautiful gold space. It just blew my mind that there was once a person who was so lucky/ batshit-crazy-in-a-good-way as to have something so magnificent and yet so casual somewhere in his or her daily life. Here's the curator's translation of one of the poems:When I consider
How fleeting is this world
That knows no tomorrow;
Very bitter is the count
Of days not spent in love.
-- Fujiwara Teiku, 1162-1241
This one made me sigh, and resolve to try to live a more beautiful life, one in which I appreciate my surrounding, my family, and my friends more. What a gift to have had a chance to see this screen. I feel grateful to the Powers for their loan to the DAM.
After the art museum, we find an Italian restaurant that is not crammed with physicists, and have a good meal. After that I drove home, and collapsed in bed.
What a great day. Thank you both, Margi and Enrico.