Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Give Me a Museum and I'll Fill It"

I'm going to try to get through this post while the events of the day are still fresh on my mind, but it's going to be tough.  I've consumed mass quantities of food today and I feel kind of green at the moment.  To gloss over the morning and early afternoon, let's just say that the new Belgian waffle maker made an appearance and we hit up a barbecue shack called Phat Boyz.  Moving on.

This is a post about art.   We're really excited about what's been going on at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts the past few years.  In 2009, the museum completed a $100 million expansion, a beautiful addition that has resulted in some stunning exhibits.  We saw a collection of Tiffany work last year - stained glass, sculpture and painting.

The highlight this spring is Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris.  The exhibit features works from the artist's personal collection, on loan from the Paris museum during its renovation.  There are only three U.S. stops on the tour, and this is the only exhibition on the East Coast.  One month in, 75,000 people had seen the exhibit.  It's only here until May 15, so get crackin'.   

To make it easier, here are our tips from today's experience:

Dummy's Guide to Picasso

Go even if you're not an art-lover.  Let me explain that I'm not well-educated about art.  Most of the time I look at it, head cocked to one side, trying to figure out what the heck is going on.  I can't understand why some choices are called "bold" or "provocative" when I just see a bit of a mess.  If you feel the same way, I'd still encourage you to give it a go.  It's the opportunity to see some work normally living in a Paris museum that was hand-selected by a legendary artist to define his legacy.

Get the audio tour.  We didn't, and it would have been helpful.  There's not much explanation of the work beyond the notation next to the piece.  You will get a booklet that explains his different periods, but if you're not familiar with the work, you'll get less out of it.  Or, download a free tour (thank to our friend Roger for pointing this out).

Appreciate the genius, even if it doesn't make much sense!  We were struck by Picasso's wide-ranging techniques and styles.  On one hand, you have finely drawn portraits, and on the other hand, less realistic images with weird, uh, hands.  All from the same guy.


Go with a friend.  I feel pretty dense about art.  Bobby does, too, but he's able to see more in depth than I am, and ask questions that make you think about what's really going on.  We try to talk quietly, though, because we don't want anyone else thinking we're idiots.  Because we're the first to make our own comments about that idiot over there waxing on about the Blue Period.

Be prepared for delays.  Now, we walked in at 4 pm on a Saturday.  It was a mad house.  The earliest tickets we could score were for 6:30.  That actually worked out great, because we walked over to Strawberry Street Cafe for a fantastic dinner.  The staff does well monitoring the flow of the group, but if you don't purchase your tickets online, don't expect that you'll walk right in.

Tickets are $20 each.  There are extended hours all this week.  Check the website for more details and to order online.  

Some of our favorites...

I really loved this sketch.  It's not pleasing or pretty.  It's supposed to indirectly represent the Spanish Civil War, but really it addresses more suffering in general.  All it made me think is that when I'm at a sobbing, gut-wrenching low, I feel exactly what he's sketched.  So if you get one "a-ha" moment like this, I guess you've experienced art?

We thought this one was particularly powerful, and had a discussion over coffee about the effects of war.  What's going on in the minds of the victims, and in the eyes of the soldiers.

And this one is still totally serious.  Still talking about suffering.  But all we could think of was Bug yelling, "I don't KNOW where my shoes are, mom!"

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