Engage the issue or be exposed… LOL
It’s cold out here to day! DANG! It’s days like this that make me seriously re-think my commitment to being single…
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-=[ Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond ]=-
Claude Monet | oil on canvas| three panels, Each 6’ 6 ¾ x13’ 11 ¾ | Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
“It took me time to understand my waterlilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them.”
As a child, I was once walking across the street with my mother in NYC’s Lower East Side. We were at a busy intersection, just off the Williamsburg Bridge — right by NYC’s famous “Bargain District” in Delancey St.
All of sudden there was a loud screeching of tires, cars honking their horns a car made a crazy u-turn and stop right in front of us. A woman jumped, ran straight to me and gave me a long, heartfelt hug.
“Mrs. Rubell,” I said, somewhat stunned. It was my 5th grade teacher — my teacher from the year before. We had since moved away from the neighborhood and lost contact with her. She couldn’t hug me enough. I think that if she could have, she would have adopted me. Mrs. Rubell loved me.
Mrs. Rubell influenced my life in ways I don’t think she ever understood. She was the person who actually awakened my intellectual curiosity. She was one of those teachers you never forget.
Mrs. Rubell’s main way of teaching was through her love of art. That one year, she took us, an overcrowded class of inner city children in Brooklyn’s East New York, to all the great art institutions of New York. By the time she finished with us, we were conversant in the major schools of modern art and could “read” paintings in ways that amazed the adults at the MoMA, the Guggenheim and all the institutions displaying modern art.
Yes, her passion was modern art and her passion would influence my artistic tastes for the rest of my life. That day, with her car left carelessly in the middle of a crowded NYC street, I somehow glimpsed how much she appreciated my gift. She did so much explore and transcend the boundaries of my world, urging me to read, to question, to dare contemplate.
Sometimes, especially when I visit a museum (which I do often), I think of her and I wonder if she knew how much she affected me, how her passion for modern art infected me and influenced how I look at the world, how colors inform me, even how I dress. I sure wish that she knew…
On my first visit to the MoMA, I sat transfixed in a large room surrounded by Monet’s impressionistic water lilies, while Mrs. Rubell sat next to me and patiently explained the painting, the artist’s vision, pointing out his use of light and color to effect a fleeting moment. It’s an event forever etched in my mind. I still go to that room, it’s like visiting an old friend.
In a very real sense, art saved my life. I like to think I love art as much as Mrs. Rubell did. When I was at my lowest, it was art and the creative impulse manifested through sublime works of art that reminded of the preciousness of life. In the midst of all that is ugly, of everything that is worst in the human condition, if you look in the right places you’ll come upon intricate beauty of a Faulkner paragraph. Look again and you can see the long stark shadows of a de Chirico urban landscape, immerse yourself in the unmistakable tone of Coltrane’s tenor. It’s one of my life’s pleasures that I can always go back to that room at the MoMA and look, with a child’s eyes, and if I listen closely, I can still hear my teacher’s passion for my gift.