Finding yourself amongst the Masters

I need beauty in my life.

I need it for inspiration, for relaxation and for rejuvenation.

I need beauty to satisfy my creative soul and soothe the savage Mama’s-over-tired-can-you-please-leave-me-alone-for-more-than-10-minutes beast.  More often than not, I get no such respite.

But this weekend with the bizarrely perfect near 60 degree late Winter weather in the East, the muses beckoned and my honey, hearing the siren song, set plans in motion, providing all of us with a much needed soulfully satisfying family excursion.

Before going any further, I’m only a tad bit ashamed to admit something that precious few know about me;  I have never been to one of the world’s greatest museums: New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.  My formative years were spent in Pennsylvania and California.  What’s a girl to do?  I’m not from here!

Considering that I live just 30 miles north of the City, this fact is an atrocity but understandable considering my first couple of years in the region were spent as a single mom and full-time Cantor with a six day work schedule.  Despite my close proximity to art and culture, back in the day with two young children, I mostly coveted sleep more than anything else.

Thankfully those challenging days are behind me, and this weekend provided the perfect opportunity to take my maiden voyage to the Met and introduce my children to the magnificent museum as well.

How appropriate that some of my fondest childhood memories came from visits to the Philadelphia Museum of Art with my mother and siblings when I was the same age as my children are now.

I vividly remember those visits.  They always started the same way, with a deliciously warm and salty pretzel from the stand parked at the base of the museum steps.  I would thoughtfully munch and wipe hot mustard from my face while peering up at Rocky Balboa triumphantly posing in his brazenly bronze form atop the museum steps.

Once inside my mother would point out her favorite painters ending always with her beloved Mary Cassatt portraits.  Now it was my turn to share the same joy and splendor standing in awe before the multitude of David’s, Monet’s, Manet’s, Gauguin’s and my honey’s favorites, the Van Gogh’s.

I pointed out the works that appeared in one of our favorite bedtime books, James Mayhew’s, Katie’s Sunday Afternoon, which depicts a young girl on a wild adventure through the museum as the paintings come alive.

We even pressed our noses inches from  Vincent’s indescribable Wheat Field with Cypresses to observe the brush strokes up close – a tad too close for the guard nervously hovering nearby.

For this maiden visit to the Met we had a clear agenda: armor hall, Egyptian wing, the musical instruments and the impressionists (with a slight detour for the European Masters as well).

Just as I thought the day couldn’t get any more perfect, we whisked past the Infinite Jest exhibit on the way to see the impressionists and I was struck by a feeling, no, a sensation; I could almost hear the sound of my Grandfather’s voice, chuckling as he stood next to me.

This weekend my beloved Grandfather, a world renowned art marketing consultant, would have been 90 and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him.  My honey knew this and I am sure this was part of the motivation for bringing us to the Museum on such a glorious day.  For the record, I also miss my Grandmother, his wife of over fifty years.  She taught me Shakespearian sonnets and musical theatre songs, he taught me about art and aesthetics.

What a fitting tribute to their memory to spend hours in a museum sharing and celebrating art, music, joy and beauty.  My Grandfather’s company was called GeeTeeBee which stands for Goodness, Truth and Beauty.  His primary aim was to guide working artists through the maze of business decisions and marketing choices that artists always face and handle badly, offering 24/7 support to those whose business skills lagged behind their artistic abilities.

I won’t soon forget our trip to the museum.  It reminded me that sometimes the choices we must make between our many pursuits and the things we hold near and dear aren’t easy.

Add the constant pressure we often feel trying to manage our daily lives and it’s not surprising that we often miss the most beautiful opportunities  to decompress, recharge and revitalize that are right in front of us or at least, a short drive away.

After eating pretzels soaked in mustard (some family traditions are worth continuing) we drove home from Manhattan to our lovely Westchester Northern village.  My son plugged his iPod into the car stereo, and soon was singing softly along with Sir Paul McCartney: “…let it be, let it be.”  “Whispering words of wisdom, let it be.”

I’m sure my grandparents are smiling as much as I.

4 Responses to Finding yourself amongst the Masters
  1. Stacey Kannenberg
    March 9, 2012 | 7:01 am

    Your goodness, truth and beauty shines too!

    • Diva-Mama
      March 18, 2012 | 7:14 pm

      Thank you Stacey! From such an esteemed colleague and lovely lady, that is high praise indeed.

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