Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Died and gone to heaven

For the past two days we've been in Seattle for a mini-vacay. Most of the places we went were specifically for the kids: the Children's Museum at Seattle Center; Ivar's on the waterfront, so they could feed fries to the seagulls. Yesterday we visited the Seattle Art Museum, which currently has a small exhibit of Andrew Wyeth paintings. And while I could lie and say this was for the purpose of exposing Jimmy and Audrey to art, well... that's simply not true.

Jim was the one who suggested it; he knows how much I love Wyeth, and that I haven't seen any of his paintings since the summer after my senior year in high school when I visited the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine, with my Nana. We went through the exhibit once all together, and then Jim very sweetly offered to corral the kids off to the children's play area so I could go back for a second, longer look at the paintings.

It would be the height of presumption to compare my poetry to Wyeth's paintings, but as I was looking through the exhibit, it felt like a physical manifestation of the way I like to write: framing portraits of places I've been, people I love with as much realism and detail as I can. It was like being in a religious shrine for me, and I could have easily spent the entire afternoon drinking in the stark magnificence of just those seven paintings. But oh, what paintings:

If I had to pick favorites (which is difficult), I loved Braids and Cape Coat best. It was all about the details for me: how Wyeth painted light on the texture of a gray sweater in Braids by using so many different colors other than just shades of gray. How the edges of the watercolor paper for Cape Coat were torn and spindled, and the painting bled off the very edges, yet the brush strokes around the face, the buttons on the coat, were so crisp and sharp. I love how all his paintings somehow manage to juxtapose movement with stillness, capture passion lurking below the surface of something quiet. Love it.

Then, as I was leaving the exhibit, my eye returned to the photo of Wyeth at the entrance, and a quote printed on the wall next to it. And I admit I whipped out my camera and snapped a very illegal photo (just of the quote) because I didn't have a pen and paper to write it down:

Really, I think one's art goes only as far and as deep as your love goes. I don't paint these hills around Chadds Ford because they are better than the hills somewhere else. It's that I was born here, lived here—things have meaning for me.

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