Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 21/60: The Brooklyn Museum

Saturday, 9/29:  Philadelphia to Brooklyn, 93 mi

Gee, I never thought traveling two hours could be so complicated. Both navigators sent us on a route that took us on many different highways and turnpikes, requiring constant navigation; plus, there was highway construction most of the way. Maybe there was a simpler way; maybe we didn't think it through enough.

Anyway, we managed to cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and swing by The Farm on Adderly, a restaurant which is actually on Cortelyou, where we met my cousin's daughter, Erica, for lunch, and only a half hour late. Can you believe we found a parking place right in front? Erica handled the parking fee and had a table ready. The attractive restaurant was packed and noisy, but we managed to communicate. The food was okay.

Erica is a lovely woman in her mid-twenties, slender and unconscious of her looks. She works in the fund-raising organization of a large university hospital; they are paying for her to get a master's degree in public administration. I'm so proud that my family produced such a sophisticated offspring.

After lunch I rearranged the car so that we could un-stow one of the seats. Erica got in front so she could navigate us to the Brooklyn Museum.

Brooklyn Museum: Cloudy Afternoon
Dan's photo
Erica Rippy at the Brooklyn Museum
Painting by Stuart Davis
Jan's photo

There I was honored to share with Erica a wonderful work of art by Judy Chicago called The Dinner Party. This is one of the most important works of the 20th century. Dan and I had made a point to visit it a few years back after the Brooklyn Museum gave it a permanent home. I wanted to share with my young relative Chicago's statement about women's achievements and women's importance as leaders throughout history. History is generally "his story," and ignores women's input. Chicago was trying to compensate for this by giving the great women of history "a place at the table."

Some of the imagery is unusual and shocking. I wanted Erica to understand that that's part of what makes The Dinner Party an important work of art. If it were thoroughly attractive, it would have been the same old women's craft: pretty but harmless. Chicago wanted to shock the viewer into thinking about women's history. A schema of women's history is displayed on wall panels in the adjacent room, as well as on iPads; I read the stuff on the wall; Erica went straight for an iPad.

The Dinner Party, 1974-79
By Judy Chicago (American, born 1939)
Dan's photo
Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204)
There are 39 place settings at The Dinner Party; thirteen on each side of the triangle.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Appropriately, we next viewed an exhibit by a woman artist who was empowered by the ground-breaking feminist art of Judy Chicago, whether she knew it or not—Mickalene Thomas. Both painted and collaged, her images of black women are big and bold—in your face, like Chicago's work.

Din, Une Trés Belle Négresse 1, 2011
Qusuquzah, Une Trés Belle Négresse 3, 2011-12
by Mickalene Thomas (American, born 1971)
Dan's photo
Le Déjeuner sur L'Herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires, 2010
by Mickalene Thomas (American, born 1971)
Dan's photo
Pursuing a complementary agenda is the work of Kehinde Wiley, who promotes the prestige of black men by posing them like famous figures in art history. The museum has a long-term, rotating display of his work.

Passing/Posing (Female Prophet Deborah), 2003
by Kehinde Wiley (American, born 1977)
Dan's photo

In addition to being very trendy, Brooklyn has a good collection of American classics, some of Dan's favorites. I can remember putting his slide film photographs in a book we compiled several years back, in a different era.

Shooting for the Beef, 1850
by George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879)
Dan's photo

Caught Napping, 1848
by William Sidney Mount (American, 1807-1868)
Dan's photo

Paul Helleu Sketching with His Wife, 1889
by John Singer Sargent (American, born Italy, 1856-1925)
Dan's photo

The Outlier, 1909
by Frederic Remington (American, 1861-1909)
Dan's photo

The Haymarket, Sixth Avenue, 1907
by John Sloan (American, 1871-1951)
Dan's photo

Ram's Skull, White Hollyhock-Hills, 1935
by Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)
Dan's photo

John I. H. Baur, 1974 by Alice Neel (American, 1900-1984)
Dan's photo

About 5:00, we went out in front of the museum and sat on a bench for a final chat. The sky was gray. The breeze was getting chilly. There was too much to say; I just basked in Erica's company. At 5:30, her sweetheart, Mark, picked her up; they were going to a party.

We headed for our motel in Long Island City, Queens, relying heavily on the iPad mapping application.

The Best Western City View hotel is in a most unlikely, and rather unhandy location, across from a huge cemetery. It is surrounded by small flats, small businesses, light industry. Dan chose it because it has free parking and free car service to the train station on Queens Blvd; we stayed there on two previous visits.

Less than a block away is a bar and grill called Bantry Bay. It is run by a real Irish girl with white blonde hair. We managed to get a salad with a lot of veggies, no cheese, and some grilled chicken; it was tasty. The atmosphere at the bar was lively.

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