I had one of the best dates of my life back in February on Leap Day when I took myself into the city to go to a bunch of galleries, walk the High Line, and then visit the Rubin. It. Was. Glorious. And then the world shut down not even a few weeks later.
I’m happy to report I had another glorious art experience. The Nassau County Museum of Art opened, and I was INSIDE a MUSEUM again!! What’s better is that I went with my friend BG, and he’d never been there before, so it was as if it were the first time I was there, too. New eyes on new art. Hooray!
The main exhibit right now is Blue. I don’t know if I didn’t get the memo or if it was just coincidence (if coincidence is a thing) or maybe serendipity (which definitely is a thing) that almost everyone there but me was wearing some shade of blue. I was decked out in a brown skirt, purple shirt, and pink heart-shaped sunglasses because I’m an 11 year old. I noticed the blue phenomenon when BG walked up to a painting, and I was like, You match! The security guard got a kick out of me, offering a chuckle behind his mask. Then I looked around the room–everyone was in blue. Such is life; I’m always the non-fitter-inner, and it’s taken me a while, but I’m super okay with that. Here are some shades of blue in the art.
The most striking pieces in the first room were by artist Antonio Santín. Three pieces looking like rugs, bejeweled and wrinkled up, dazzling and beaded. The claim on the placard was that they were each oil on canvas to which I replied, Nope, this is magic! I don’t know about painting or how paints work, so maybe someone with more expertise would understand how these paintings were made from oil on canvas and not a hot glue gun and a fabric store inventory. I’m convinced it’s magic oil on magic canvas, which makes sense because their descriptions compare them to flying carpets.
The next room had a punching bag hanging in the center. It had fringe and bedazzlement as well, a found/repurposed plus mixed media piece. My first instinct was, I wanna punch it. There was a little rope tied in a square around its base, indicating that maybe we’re not supposed to punch it. BG pointed out a sign that said Please do not touch. We agreed that punching would be a violent form of touching, so it was a no-go.
However, that room also was full of magic in a different way: a surrealist piece that had children seemingly floating over mountains (by Christopher Winter called Huxley’s Guide to Switzerland) and other pieces that had glittery goodness. There was also a huge untitled piece that was clearly a cow print, and why it wasn’t simply called Cow we couldn’t figure out.
We then got into the section based on Wallace Stevens’s “The Man With The Blue Guitar” and exhausted our wows. There were instruments deconstructed and painted. And then, right there on a wall, was a Lichtenstein, so I immediately texted my brother a picture of it because, you know, Lichtenstein.
The second floor has smaller galleries, so there were signs about waiting for other parties to exit before you enter. We entered the first one, and I was highly disturbed by a photo of a girl sitting with an arm in her lap that was not attached to a body. The title was something like Girl with an Unattached Arm November something something (look up Andrew Sendor). BG suggested it was a story among the three photos–girl finds an arm, girl freaks out in Hallucination, girl has a dream to work it out. It was all a bit out there, and also very blue, and that’s what art is supposed to be. We hadn’t spent too much time in there, but apparently it was too much time for the couple who came barreling into the room after waiting in the doorway maybe one minute. Signs and Covid protocol be damned–they wanted to see the girl with the arm in her lap, I guess.
One of the other rooms had these ethereal blue hangings (cloth? paper? I don’t know because I’m not allowed to touch, or punch, things) with white silhouettes of people (the artist is Han Qin). One reminded me of that last scene in Ghost when all the demon souls come up and grab that terrible best friend, dragging him down to Hell. (If I just spoiled Ghost for you, for shame! You should have already watched that movie. Whoopie won an Oscar! And Patrick Swayze is in it). There was one in particular that I was like, I don’t like that one, and BG was like, it kind of looks like two people. And then it dawned on us at the same time: ohhhhh, that’s two people clearly having sex. So to be clear, the one I didn’t like was the sex one. Got it.
Then there was the Buddhist room with shiny Buddhist pieces by Bettina WitteVeen and a poem. So that makes it two poems in one art exhibit!
The back room on the second floor usually shows films, but there were no films. We checked out some paintings by Andrew Calder, Robert Rauschenberg, and some others. Then we found the best title for a painting: Large Head of Vincent. Do you really need the visual? The title itself is worth the price of the art. (if you really need to see it, here ya go).
We visited the gift shop, which seemed less cluttered than usual. Maybe Covid rules or maybe my misremembering. I asked the guy at the register if they’d been busy. He said they’d had some good days. A lot of people were coming in from the city, realizing that it’s not such a far leap. The musuems there are still closed, so this museum being open is a treasure.
Outdoors in the sculpture garden were sculptures and large flying bugs that I was terrified of going up my skirt. All that hiking has really changed me, huh? Outdoors art is fun because you can get closer to it, and also, the sky.
The world is slowly coming back to life. I know, I know, everyone I talk to keeps telling me, Just wait until November. As if November is a definitive date of requarantining. It could happen before that. It could happen after that. It could not happen. Maybe a huge lesson here is that life is completely unpredictable, so while taking precautions and planning carefully are important, also important is now, this moment, and celebrating it in the ways we live. That’s what art does; it shows us all aspects of life, and we get to share it and enjoy it and think about it and explore it and then go home happy.