At the Art Institute of Chicago

Gustave Caillbotte’s Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877. Artwork captured by iPhone.
Little Dancer Aged Fourteen by Edgar Degas, 1881
Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884
My date knows the way to my art. July 2017.
Portrait of Jeanne Wenz by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1886
Self Portrait by Vincent Van Gough, 1887
Vincent Van Gogh’s The Bedroom, 1889
Vincent Van Gogh’s The Drinkers, 1890
Notre Dame de Paris by Jean-Francois Raffaelli,
1890 – 1895
At the Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1892 – 1895
The Girl by the Window by Edvard Munch, 1893
The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso, 1903-04
Fisherman’s Cottage by Harald Sohlberg, 1906
Water Lilies by Claude Monet, 1906
American Gothic by Grant Wood, 1930
Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses by Georgia O’Keefe, 1931
René Magritte’s On the Threshold of Liberty, 1937
White Crucifixion by Marc Chagall, 1938
Nighthawks by Edward Hopper 1942
Nude under a Pine Tree by Pablo Picasso, 1959
Ohhh…Alright… by Roy Lichtenstein, 1964
Four Mona Lisas by Andy Warhol, 1978
Anybody know this one? Credit fail.
???
Stamford after Brunch by John Currin, 2000 (or as I like to call it, The Three Sisters)
At The Art Institute of Chicago
	
I gazed at the blue-eyed
Vincent Van Gogh. 
With turbulent stroke, 
deep dejection clear,
hospitalized a whole year 
before the ear incident.
Then death by suicide.

His eyes held mine. 
“I want to touch people 
with my art,” he said.
“I want them to say: 
he feels deeply, 
he feels tenderly.”
I felt it down deep, 
faced him, and cried.		

“You remind me 
of my son,” I said.
“His gift, the cello,
sings. Yet other voices 
reside inside his mind.
Relentless and mean. 
I see you, dear Vincent.
Your help arrived too late. 
My worst nightmare 
is your fate.”

Photograph.

One Friday in April, I found myself home alone with time on my hands. I hopped in my car on a quest for murals. If you’ve been reading recently, you might guess that I Googled locations first, and you would be correct. With the first address in my phone map, I stumbled upon a little pot of gold. I ended up in EaDo, also known as East Downtown Houston. I can’t believe I’ve lived here nearly five years and had never seen this revitalized neighborhood. It’s vibrant and thriving, and I’ll be back. Meanwhile, I photographed the opportunity.

Thank you so much for supporting today’s A-Z Challenge post. After a year at home, I wanted to mix it all up a bit and thought surely someone would like a suggestion or two, maybe even twenty-six. This April, I’m sticking to a theme of action. Some are mental feats. Some are physical. Others spiritual. Some I practice already. Some I haven’t attempted in years. Others never. Your guess is as good as mine whether I can keep it up for ten more posts. Links below to my first fifteen:

Ramona Lives Her Life

Last weekend Kody and I masked up for an event at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston called The Marzio Years. Peter C. Marzio was the museum’s longest-serving director from 1982-2010, and the exhibition celebrates his thirty years of acquisitions.

At the museum entrance, an attendant took our temperature from an eight-foot distance with a device that looked like a camera. I’m not sure how that worked, but I didn’t ask questions. We were deemed good to go. Kody and I spent some time with Munch and O’Keefe, Pollock and Picasso, Rembrandt and Rothko. We saw Warhol, too.

Marzio helped found the MFAH International Center for the Arts of the Americas. He expanded African-American, Texan, and Latino art collections. When I visit the art museum, my goal is to really see one piece. Of course, I’ll see more, but I wait for the one that sees me. The one piece that will see me and speak. And da dum, da duh—this is she:

Ramona vive su vida (Ramona Lives Her Life), 1963

According to the museum plaque, Ramona Lives Her Life is one of the most iconic prints of the Ramona series. Argentinean Antonio Berni’s “xylo-collage” technique earned him the acclaim of international critics. Berni glued and collaged elements from Ramona’s everyday life—lace, machine parts, discarded gears and other industrial refuse—onto the woodblock print. This method gives his work an elaborate texture and relief.

I thought about Ramona…and me…and you…We are textured people. With interwoven fibers and elements. With distinctive qualities. Ramona in all of her texture reminded me to live my life. In these days of COVID, life looks different for us based on our qualities. As an introvert, I’m okay living my life at home. School is my life for now. I read books, and I’m writing one, too. I enjoy this time. School is online. Distanced. I walk outside most days. Distanced. I notice the squirrels fattening up. Do squirrels always size up in the fall? I’ve never noticed. The sun sparkles in the leaves at the tops of the trees. I take pleasure in these observations. I try to stay connected with my friends and family by text and phone. From a distance. Our conversations weave us together. These interwoven fibers make us stronger.

Sometimes I find myself surrounded by drama. That happens in families. I usually find myself able to distance from drama, except when it comes to my kids. With mental illness in the family, I’m not at liberty to give ultimatums. I mean, of course, I could. But I don’t want to be the mother who gives up. In my experience, there is no reasoning with brain disorders. Sometimes I feel like I’ve hit my drama quotient, like I just can’t share any more ridiculous stories, even with my closest friends. My introverted self keeps the drama concealed until I feel I might be breaking. How many times have I glued my own pieces back together? Then suddenly, I run into a piece of art called Ramona Lives Her Life. Ramona whispers directly to my heart, “Girl, go live your life.” I rub my hands together and feel their texture. Age. Experience. Ramona says, “You’ve made sacrifices your whole life. Take care of yourself, and speak your truth.” I allow these ideas to sink in. There is silence. I think of my own lace. My own machine parts. Ramona speaks again, “Your fibers are strong. You can handle whatever comes your way, and you inspire others to do the same. Be courageous, and do you.”