Monday, October 3, 2011

On the way to the art museum, Sunday

I always have to park blocks from the Princeton Art Museum, even on Sunday, which is fine because I park up a side street with all kinds of back views of campus buildings, and old houses with great tiny flower-stuffed yards.

Like this one, mostly wildflowers. Here's a peek into their back yard

and here's what their sidewalk looks like

and here

and, oh, guess who's living in the garage

Then formality intervenes as I pass Prospect, once house of Woodrow Wilson when he was President of Princeton U,before he went off to be President of that other place.

The gardens are formally laid out, changed with the seasons, and usually a tourist magnet. Yesterday no exception, I bumped into French, Russian, Polish, and various other languages I couldn't identify, being spoken by visitors.

The art museum was lovely as always, great medieval section which I'd never been in before. You know when an exhibit is excellent, when it engrosses you even if you had little interest in the subject matter before you saw the installation. And this one was. As was a show of historic photographs, again I found over and over items that I really wanted to see. So it was good. Then, by contrast, there was a big Rothko, just the one, on temporary loan.

I like this museum because it's small enough that you aren't overwhelmed by the numbers of artworks. Just one Rothko is plenty to study for one day, no pressure to "see the others".

And there was a great spoken piece, a continuous loop projected onto the wall, with English subtitles to a Spanish spoken narrative, about a document the narrator's grandfather had written about the Holocaust. Not a journal, but a philosophical thought process about memory and how it turns and how you substitute what you can bear to remember for what you can't, and altogether gripping. A young woman came and sat with me and we talked about oral history for a while. Great interlude.

This work was there in relation to an exhibit about the life and death of cities, a terrible wallpiece about Dresden after the firebombing,shameful episode, and other cities which had suffered destruction and had a rebirth. It was done in connection with September 11, to put it into context, I suppose. This is one I need to go back and see again, since I was at saturation point before I got to it! fortunately the museum's not far to go.

And then I passed all the gardens again on my way back to my car.


  1. I love looking at other people's gardens - large and small - and admiring their hadiwork. I just wish I had the inclination to develop some real green thumbs.

    The museum trip sounds great. I would have loved to have joined you.

  2. There's a small museum a few miles from me called the Museum of Russian Art. I saw a wonderful exhibition of ancient icons there last year. At the same time there was an exhition of Soviet poster art downstairs. A wonderful contrast and both interesting. Now they have Ukrainian art on display and I must get there.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful journey, the gardens are beautiful and uplifting. Thanks for inviting me along with you!

  4. Backyards are always more interesting, aren't they. The fronts are tidy, plantings are with an eye to the public, and the grass if there is any is usually pared down frequently.
    But the back yard is, much as it has been since ancient times, the private place where you plant the flowers you like, have barbecues, take yo' shoes off.
    And what's out there says a lot about the family inside.


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