I had been feeling a bit deprived of culture, a bit uninspired and in need of art or letters or music to refresh me. So we decided to spend the day in the two coldest indoor spaces one can find (outside of the modern office building): A museum and movie theater.
The Cincinnati Art Museum was our first stop for their current exhibits.
30 Americans and Divine Felines were our top priorities.
If you haven't been to CAM lately, you have until August 28 to see 30 Americans. It is deeply moving and thought-provoking.
From the CAM:
30 Americans showcases art by many of the most important African-American artists of the last three decades. This provocative exhibition focuses on issues of racial, gender, and historical identity in contemporary culture while exploring the powerful influence of artistic legacy and community across generations.
The above installation of Rodney McMillian's "Untitled, 2005", which is an enormous piece of what was once someone's wall-to-wall carpet, was one of the pieces that stood out to me.
Stained and worn, you can see where the closet would have been, where the couch likely rested, where life took place. It is simple yet arresting — who's lives were lived on this carpet? A million things happened here to people who loved and were loved and now this, just their carpet. We are forced to speculate their entire lives: What happened here? A wall-to-wall Rorschach.
After lunch at the Terrace Café, we headed to another one of the CAM's current exhibits, Divine Felines.
We laughed. We cried. It was better than... okay, sorry.
It was truly delightful though. And whoever was the curator, well done. From the hilarious quotes by famous authors who loved, lived and were possibly held hostage by their cats, to the explications and puns through-out, it was wholly charming.
A wall of cat paintings by my new favorite artist, Inagaki Tomoo (1902-1980).
Ray said the above painting is what it looks like when I pick-up Chuck Norris. I love Ray, but he doesn't know what he's talking about. Chuck Norris is the picture of calm contentment when I hold him.
We also spent quite a long time in the Cincinnati wing of the CAM. I had been through it before, except not really because I realized yesterday it just keeps going. Painting, sculpture, furniture, silver, pottery, fireplaces. The collection is expansive and amazing. I don't know how I missed it all in the past.
And something I had never seen before, a bronze model of the Tyler Davidson Fountain, circa 1868.
And I stopped to see a favorite of mine from the regular collection, Andrew Wyeth's 'Henry Teal.' I am attracted to this painting for so many reasons — the simplicity, the realism, the open table, Henry sunning his serene face against the window.
For such a simple scene, there is much to absorb.
(I interviewed Wyeth's grand-daughter, Victoria Browning Wyeth, for an exhibit on Christina's World at the CAM in 2007 and wrote a post about it she was so entertaining. She referred to him only as 'grandpa Andy' and talked about his love of black turtlenecks.)
And no trip to the CAM is complete without a photo of Chihuly's cobalt beauty. I read an old Enquirer story that says it's 11-feet tall, 7-feet wide, weighs 810 pounds and consists of 282 pieces of free-blown glass.
It's also a twisting, alluring, tornado of blue.
We spent the rest of the evening at the Esquire eating popcorn and watching Absolutely Fabulous. I loved the show and watched it endlessly in college, but unfortunately the movie is a dud. It doesn't capture the crazy, frenetic spirit of Patsy and Edi, and the laughs are very few and far between. Too bad.
The chef (Biagio, I assume?) cooks everything on four open stove flames facing the dining room, right near the entrance. If you want to know where the second exit is, just ask Ray, as the open flames, the grease and the lack of ventilation to the outside always causes him to double-check where the alternate exit is. (Not that this is unique to Biagio's, by the way, as I've watched Ray scout for exits in hotels, bars and any number of restaurants.)
But you leave Biagio's little bistro full and smelling like garlic, which I generally consider a dining success.