A Day in New York, a Few in Chicago, a Few in Moline, and Lots of Snow

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005 | Art, Travel

BC and I just returned from a visit to his relatives in Chicago and the Quad Cities. We took the long way, via New York, to visit the gallery where I’ll be showing in March, to make psychic adjustments to my proposed installation, and to see the Fra Angelico show at the Met. Fra Angelico is one of my favorite artists. His airy, colorful, spare narratives make heaven seem like such a delightful place, and Christians such pleasant people. The real discovery for me was his Christ with Crown of Thorns, a portrait of Christ with blood-filled eyes and tortured expression. Unlike most of his works that we know about, the figure in this painting isn’t located in any particular space, but presented against a dark background and brought dramatically into our world. His bright red lips and red eyes form an inverted triangle at the center of the painting with black holes for mouth and eyes that draw one into his suffering. And then, there are these incredible little curlicues at the ends of his locks of hair, a purely visual diversion from the point of the painting that reminds us that this is an aesthetic experience as well: the divinity and humanity of Christ echoed in the subject and physicality of the painting.

We also braved the crowds at the Van Gogh drawing show and the completely thrilling The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult, an exhibition of photos taken mostly around the late 19th century documenting the immaterial world of auras, ghosts, ectoplasmic effluvia, and fluidic effects. “The Birth of Ectoplasm” was my favorite, with something that looked like cheesecloth coming out of some chick’s special place. Pornography for the spiritually enlightened.

We didn’t get to see much else, as we had to zip down to Chelsea and scope out the situation. Here’s the view outside of our hotel room window. BC wouldn’t let me include the picture of him in his undies opening beer bottles using the window sash.

The next morning found us in Moline, up to our ankles in snow. We crossed the mighty Mississip to visit the new museum in Davenport, the Figge, which is fabulous architecturally and spatially, but the curators should sell every one of their horrendous 17th century spanish paintings and focus on regional artists. Their Grant Wood room, for example, was so well thought out, presenting a wide range of work in the context of the countryside that inspired young Mr. Wood.

BC and I, and his darling sisters Beth and Margie, drove to Chicago to visit their Dad, Stephanie for the weekend. She was her usual glamorous self. I’m firmly convinced that her transexuality has nothing at all to do with her sexuality. She’s a transclothesual, cloaked in the trappings of an ideal femininity. Being a sucker for dinosaurs and dioramas, I dragged everyone to the Field Museum. On view was an exhibit about Pompeii, which included several very touching casts made from the voids in the hardened ash that had encompassed the bodies following the eruption of Vesuvius in 79.

Only three more months until my New York debut. Panic attack panic attack.

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