Sunday, January 9, 2011


I've just walked in the door, through snow and chill, returning from a short trip to New York. Snow delays at both ends mean my flight arrived about two hours late, but somehow there was amiability rather than short tempers at the airport and on the plane, so it felt relatively painless. Another treat was a pleasurable conversation I had at a bar at JFK while waiting for the flight, with a young woman who was also headed to Toronto.

SO what about flight hassles, when the day's been so wonderful. Earlier today I got to the Met and saw the exhibit of photos by Stieglitz, Steichen, and Strand. SOme are soft and tender, other formalistic; Georgia O'Keefe's hands and breasts and neck and everything; reflections and buildings and geometries, as the images moved through the first decades of the twentieth century. I loved the effects Strand got by using a gum something-or-other to add colour, hints of colour, to some of his black and white silver prints. I know nothing about printing techniques, but the results were haunting, some of them. The most famous image using this technique are the three versions of the Flatiron building print, each coloured differently.

It was a major shift of gears to walk from that into the Gossart exhibition. He was an early Renaissance painter from the Netherlands, late fifteenth and early sixteenth century (he died in 1532). There are Mary and Christ-child images, some very intimate-feeling, others more formal and stylized, but also portraits that are astonishingly humanistic and modern in feeling. Worth a long look, both exhibits, though a little indigestible viewed in the same visit (like eating oysters and chocolate ice cream in one sitting perhaps?)

In for a penny... so I hurried on to MOMA to see the "On Line: Drawing in the Twentieth Century" exhibition. It ends February 7; get there if you can. You begin with line and gesture, Picasso and Braque and then Jan Arp and Sophie Arp and lots of names I don't remember... Calder is there of course, line suggesting volume, and Agnes Martin and others in pure linearity but nuanced and thoughtful, deeply absorbing. Then the more recent works by still-developing artists are another surprise: Julie Mehretu's huge piece there grabbed me, and so did a huge layered hanging web of threads connected by small beeswax balls that hangs in the entrance to the show (artist's name not in my mind right now, sorry).

I am going on and on, apologies, but it was just one of those "art is so transporting!" days and I am still bursting with it, as you can tell.

My last stop before heading to JFK was to hang around in T's welcoming kitchen for an hour. Such a good friend. She fed me an array of yummy leftovers and made me a neatly wrapped sandwich to take on the plane. What a great thing to have when the plane is delayed, a prosciutto and dried tomato and mozzarella sandwich on multi-grain bread.

And there was a bonus to arriving late in Toronto: no line-ups at passport control.

I came rushing out of the airport at nearly midnight, my handcarry slung over my shoulder, to see the TTC bus just rolling past the terminal. I waved and the driver took pity and stopped for me. What a lovely thing that is, when a bus or streetcar driver stops specially! It makes me feel rescued, cared for, attended to. And tonight after that delayed exit from NYC, the driver's flexibility felt like a extra-welcome gift.

Now here I am snug at home with Tashi and with Silky the cat. No energy to make tea or do anything but lumber to bed, feeling grateful.

No comments: