The Hammer Museum on November 7th, 2012

Yesterday, after the hoopla of the election, after baking in the intensity of emotion that is desire, I did what I have always done. It was instinct refined by habit. I went to a great museum and let the institutional treasure house soothe me. YES!

I, also, had a friend in tow. He’s a young man with whom I study German, a few days a week. I love to study, German language and other…interests… studying is my hobby.

Thus, the museum has always, like libraries, played a vital role in this urban girl’s well being. I would go as far as saying, admitting that as a teenager a museum saved my life.

I was, 17, I think when the Museum of Modern Art, beloved, MoMa, ran the “Highs and Lows of Modern Art,” exhibit. One fine morning, my father forced, vegetarian, me to eat SPAM. I left the house, that day having vowed that I would off myself. I new that a bottle of Tylenol would do the trick. I’d make him pay.

I wondered into MoMa, in this wretched state-of-mind. (If you know me well, you know I’m a very decisive person. I was going to commit suicide.) Well, in my sleepy punk-rock costume: Dock Martins to my knees, tartan skirts with safety pins, strategically torn Dead Kennedys T-Shirt. I got in with my student ID for a few pennies.

I was dejected. Sad. Head bowled over like a wilting sunflower… When: BAM! I saw IT!

Ed Ruscha’s “Actual Size,” from 1962.

I looked. I looked. I woke UP! I looked around. There was a Paul Klee, a Brancusi, and MONDRIAN! Ah! It came to me. It was clear. I looked around, taking in the spotless, immaculate, pristine shine of the floors and the edifice around me. Ah! There was, after all, a place for ME in the world.

I understood.

Shortly, thereafter, I ran-away from home and embarked on the epic adventure that is MY LIFE.
*Of particular interest at the Hammer, right now, were two exhibitions: Zarina, “Paper Like Skin,” is an extremely sensual tour-de-force through the possibilities of paper. The artist’s world sensibility, passed through a New York filter, is Indian/Pakistani first, and truly universal in a pointedly idiosyncratic language of nearly minimalist intensity. A MUST SEE, experience.

The “A Strange Magic: Gustave Moreau’s Salome,” exhibit is moving, touching, lust provoking work of detail ornament and antiquated nineteen century ethnographic interest. The artist worked in the traditional academic mode, through studies, and elaborate, created seductive works, hypnotic with intricate orientalist ornamentation and grand narrative panache, only available French painting of the most rigorous salon style.