One might consider me outgoing, energetic and a chatterbox. So perhaps you might not believe me when I say I am an introvert. I work with the public eight hours a day. By the time I get home, my energy is completely drained. I just want to sit down, be quiet and read a book. It is no secret that my Alopecia diagnosis pushed me in that direction but I was pretty much already there. As a young lady I would spend hours drawing, riding my bike or playing piano. I enjoyed these solitary hobbies very much. I still do actually.
It seems natural that I found my way toward art studies in college. I loved art and art history even though most of my classmates dreaded the memorization – title, artist, period and media. Wow. I still can’t believe I remembered it all. Too bad I’ve lost some of it from the catalog in my mind.
I remember how immersed I was in art. I always had a stack of books from the library and I tried to go to every exhibit. Now that I am older and married with a career, it is hard to get to any exhibit! But this month I made a point to take time and do so. A friend and I had a long tiring day in NYC and it was SO worth it.
Lucky for me, two museums in NYC were featuring exhibits of my favorite artists – Frida Kahlo and Robert Mapplethorpe. In my lifetime, I have had the pleasure of seeing a few Mapplethorpe photos and only two or three Kahlo paintings. Imagine my delight when I visited these two large exhibits in the same day!
The Mapplethorpe exhibit at the Guggenheim was great and had a nice variety of his portraits, self-portraits and what he called “sex and magic” photos (those are not for the faint of heart). I was delighted that the exhibit featured a few of my personal favorites, more specifically the portraits of men with Alopecia.
The Kahlo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum was HUGE. It was three rooms of everything you could imagine – her paintings, dresses, jewelry, torso casts personal collection of artifacts and even her makeup. The place was packed, so much so that the large rooms were stuffy and hot. I was sad to learn the museum did now allow photographs but at the end of the exhibit they featured a larger-than-life photograph of Kahlo on the wall with a bench where guests could sit and take photos. We enjoyed that.
Visiting exhibits like this move me for a variety of reasons. But most importantly they serve as inspiration to FEEL (much like reading). And feeling is important now more than ever. I often feel guilty about the amount of time I spend on my smartphone and social media. I need to invest more time making art or anything that inspires me and others. I’ve unfortunately been duped into the illusion that posting photos on Instagram is making art. Sure people see them and like them. But doesn it mean anything? Will it be catalogued in history like museums? My friend and I were having some deep conversation about art making. Is it art if it is in a museum? On social media? Any outlet where it can be appreciated? If it is your career and you sell art is it really art? Lots of unanswered questions.
Kahlo’s paintings are so intense. I feel like every single one of her self portraits stares right at you and holds you there as if it were magic. This woman had a hard life of physical pain from her injuries and mental anguish from her marriage. And somehow she poured it all into her art. I remember doing the same thing through my journey with Alopecia. I am trying not to let this day and age stop me from feeling. That is exactly what smartphones are doing to us you know.
Here are some photos from the day: