The daughter of my only elder cousin was commenting that her three children were so occupied by their friends and other interests, that she could no longer get any of them to go to the art museum with her. Was that my cue or what? I nearly flew out of my seat, like the child waving to the teacher to be called upon, “I’ll go with you!” I blurted out. She smiled and said that would be great. We communicated by e-mail and settled on a specific date.
On the morning of the agreed upon date she arrived at my home guided by her GPS – her first ever visit, so of course we did a quick tour of the house and then headed to the Cleveland Museum of Art to see the Pompeii exhibit. The construction of the atrium had been completed and I found myself in a very different place than the one I used to cross the street to wander through from the Art Institute where I took classes while I worked at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation back in the middle 1960s.
In those days I loved looking at the thirteenth century Madonna statues, the ancient church calligraphy of musical sheets and books of hand-lettered liturgy. My favorite painting was a small landscape done in various hues of blue. My favorite statue was of Rodin working on the Gates of Hell by Emil Bourdelle. I can no longer find those pieces; nothing is where it was forty years earlier.
Wendy and I spent the next three hours slowly proceeding through the collection of The Last Days of Pompeii artwork – a grand mix of contemporary interpretations, such as the small Andy Warhol acrylic screen print on linen in reds, purples, black and white, the large black on white by him, multiple old masters style paintings, and among the sculptures, a stunning white marble statue of a blind housemaid who was attributed with leading her master and his mistress to safety. In the last gallery were walls of Mark Rothko paintings in reds, oranges and mixes with some black, which by their intensity and hot colors, was a fitting close of the exhibit.
Ah, that explosion of color and after images of the art danced around in my head for many days.