IsraelIsrael went with me this year to B.P. for Memorial Day Weekend. We had a good time together, and I usually acceded to his desire for less rather than more contact with the group - though we did manage a few encounters. One I still can feel was the prolonged bear-hugs I received from a studly midwesterner at Steamworks. His embraces combined with the very hot water had a chiropractic effect.
 
I had the pleasure of meeting the affable [livejournal.com profile] muckefuck, who was warmer than I expected. With Albrecht Dürer hair, a serious demeanor, and a sense of drama he could easily nab the part of the Paschal Lamb Himself at Oberammergau. It was also nice to meet [livejournal.com profile] aadroma.
 
The Art Institute had a Matisse exhibition which we saw both Friday and Monday. I'm glad we went back. Besides being quietly radiant, it had a subtle organization that I was only cognizant of the second time through. I think the idea was to showcase the A.I.'s large Bathers of 1913-1917 with work that might have logically led up to its painting. It was a successful plan. Matisse repeated not only pictorial composition, but grouping, models, patterns, and colors from one work to another - obsessing over the same material till he had reduced the composition to a few elegant but crucial lines, and the colors to their fundamental essence. The Bathers was hung toward the end of the exhibition. The first painting was a small Cézanne that Matisse had acquired in 1899 at great personal cost. It was also a scene of bathers. Walking through the many paintings, sculptures, and drawings between the two, it was easy to see the powerful effect this small Cézanne had on Matisse and how many of his most celebrated paintings from 1900 thru 1920 are its direct progeny. The exhibition extended the scope to other themes also suggested by the Bathers. I think it was one of the best exhibitions I have seen in a long time. It didn't have the gross and draining blockbuster effect, yet at the same time was not trifling by any means. Each piece was placed with great sensitivity to context, yet nothing seemed forced.


Millennium Park

I am always nostalgic when I have to leave Chicago. I think it is my favorite American city.




In Chicago this past weekend for my umpteenth Bear Pride - somewhere along the way I lost count. It was fairly muted for me this time. I only interacted with the bears a little: randomly at the hotel, and in Boystown for a couple hours on Saturday. Other than that I did the flâneur thing, hit the museums, got buzzed at Touché late at night. Of the restaurants I stumbled upon, I liked Blackbird best. At the Art Institute I made a mental short list to keep the visit reasonable. One was to seek out any Zurbarán's. And Zurbarán's there were: a crucifixion in the grand Spanish manner to mirror the Prado Velasquez, and a sublime still life. Close by was the blazing resurrection by Caravaggio's little brother.

Sunday, I flew up to the Twin Cities for John's remembrance on Monday. Sunday evening there were hamburgers at Glenda's nephew's house, replete with husky daddies at the grill, incredible potato salad, and toddlers. The daddies and the teenagers took off to a Twins game, while I took Glenda and John's daughter Megan to the airport to meet a nephew.

Monday was almost a perfect day. John had said he wanted nothing like a memorial but rather something like a Christmas party. Perhaps 150 people were there altogether, it was a come and go event. Highlights for me were witnessing the gracious, successful, and caring person Glenda has become; conversations with John's Chinese relatives; slipping away with Megan to a coffee shop for a quiet break; and a placid ride around the lake with a group of five - each person astonishingly different from the others.

Toward the end of the day, a small group was left in the living room: me, Cindy - a grand daughter of John's sister Mary, and two nephews - Jonathan and Ben. Glenda and Megan were in the kitchen talking. Jonathan asked what music John had left on the piano. There was an old book of Christmas carols, and under that a copy of Schmann's Carnaval and the Kinderszenen. Jonathan asked me to play something out of them. So I opted for the first piece from Kinderszenen, and then Träumerei. His old Knabe was the ideal instrument, and the Schumann pieces were the ideal medium for a chance encounter with his spirit.
bear pride in chicago was the least memorable of the 7 i've been to. maybe i'm too old....

friday, there to see barenboim conduct the last act of parsifal - one of his farewell concerts. (the1st half of the concert being 'notations' - boulez.) this was the perfect antidote to the whole da vinci farce. and quite sublime. it didn't hit me in the gut the way bruckner's 9th did last year at the same time. although i enjoyed it just as much. odd to think of wagner as cerebral...

also the frank lloyd wright home/studio on sunday....what a pleasure...invoked nostalgia for the affluent, liberal childhood of 80, 100 years ago.

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