Art & the Art of Buying

The trip to Providence late last weekend / early this week wasn’t satisfying at all – artistically and acquisition wise. Food wasn’t to die for, as we had normal chain-store fare and mediocre Asian cuisine. It is worsened by horrible traffic and a lifeless town.

So, after realizing we had a day off for Good Friday, we began planning for the three day-week. It began with my morning trip to the dentist in Secaucus. After a quick filling, hubs dropped me off at Loehmann’s while he got an oil change for the Acura. The oil change turned into a transmission fluid change and more, as it always does, and my 1 hour at the store became 2.5 hours of flipping through EVERY rack, including the men’s non-sale items. In case you didn’t know, my philosophy in shopping is – why buy retail when you can buy bargain at SALE price.

When hubs finally found me at the store, I had a pull-cart overflowing with dresses, capris, boots, men’s jeans, socks, tie and even a last-minute find of a Juicy velour coat. My legs were about to give way, and my stomach was going on strike and embarrassing the hell out of me with its constant rumblings. I even had enough time to go into the dressing room TWICE to try out my wares.

Hubs tried on the jeans that I picked out for him, and off we went to pay for our spoils. The wares entered the store at almost 50-70% off retail. Then their prices were further taken down with extra percentages off: anywhere from 30% to 75% more. On top of that, I had a 25% coupon for one regular price item. Add to that, I had my Loehmann’s  Insider Gold card and took an EXTRA 10% off from my discounted and then discounted wares. Oh! The joys of acquiring cheaply!

I ended up paying less than $100 for a pair of khaki suede tall boots, three dresses – one of them by Romeo & Juliet and a pair of teal capris by DK. Hubs got two pairs of pants and the black Juicy velour coat for less than $100. Satisfied, we headed to the Mall at Garden State Plaza for lunch at 3 pm.

Starving, we settled on California Pizza. We made small talk waiting for the food to arrive, while my eyes kept darting back and forth at the food surrounding us. Hubs eyes were just darting from the scantily clad women on ONE good weather day. My side serving of bread before the entrée never came. I felt cheated. I could have gnawed on the leather chair. I have a little more restrain and dignity than that. When my Thai linguine and hub’s jambalaya pizza arrived, I swallowed my food without much chewing involved. In fact, it felt more like drinking.  I don’t recall the chewing.

We strolled around the mall thereafter, if not to try to digest the food but more to convince ourselves that we weren’t utter pigs to go straight home after a meal and crash. We stopped long enough at the puppy mill to drool over the puppies, walked in and then out of the Hello Kitty! store, tested out the sofas in Restoration Hardware and circled around the lower level of the mall before heading home.

During the drive home, I took a much-needed piggish nap. The blood was only in my stomach. Upon arriving home, hubs took a five-minute nap before rushing out the door again for his hair appointment at the local “barber” in Secaucus. It’s time we moved to Secaucus. I take donations.

After he left, I began the clean-up of the house, finishing up the laundry, putting Jessie’s “wardrobe” and accessories away from her trip, and cooking the week’s meals. It’ll probably not last a week, but long enough to cover most of the work week. I had the vegetables chopped, minced, diced and julienned. Then the crockpot was started to begin the Japanese curry with pork, potatoes, carrots, squash and shiitake mushrooms. A pyrex of noodles were also thrown together in the microwave with pork, peas, carrots, crimini mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, eggs and jalapeño peppers at the same time.

By the time everyone came home, it was close to 7:30 pm and I haven’t even taken my shower yet. We usually have dinner after my shower. However,  still stuffed from the late lunch, I told my sister and hubs to go ahead with dinner without me. They waited instead. While they had dinner, I had a virgin mango martini that might have expired in 2007.

In the meantime, hubs suggested that we visited the museum, any museum, in the city the next day since Bank of America has a complimentary entrance during the first weekend of the month. After a little research, we settled on The Met.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or more fondly referred to as The Met, is located on 1000 Fifth Avenue between 81st and 82nd Street.

Off to the Met

Saturday morning began as it usually does, walk Jess, feed her and then im my father. Then it was off to brunch at 11 am at the local diner before we finally headed into the jam-packed city. At one point, before hitting Lincoln Tunnel, we wanted to turn back because of the traffic but thought that the day was still young for an outing to the museum.

After finding parking, miraculously, on Lex and 80th Street, even though it was only for 2 hours, we made a mad dash to the museum. We showed our bank cards for our free access (Asian cheapness) into the museum. First stop, King Tutankhamun’s Funeral at the Egyptian Exhibition.

The Met’s collection of ancient Egyptian art is among the finest outside of Cairo. It houses approximately 36,000 items dating from the Paleolithic age to the Roman period (ca. 300,000 B.C.-4th century A.D.). Its collection is put together from the Met’s almost four decades of archeological work in Egypt since 1906. Most of the collection is shared between New York and Cairo.

Tutankhamun’s Funeral Exhibition runs from March 16, 2010 to September 6, 2010. This exhibition explores the materials and rituals associated with the burial of the pharaoh, including some 60 items pulled from the Met’s own vaults.

Interestingly, this King Tut’s exhibition at the Met coincides with a major exhibition of treasures from the tomb of Tutankhamun at the Discovery Times Square Exposition from April 23, 2010 to January 2, 2011. This exhibition returns to New York city after 30 years of departure.

More than a century ago, in 1908, while excavating in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, American archaeologist Theodore Davis discovered about a dozen large storage jars. Their contents included broken pottery, bags of natron (a mixture of sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium sulphate, and sodium chloride that occurs naturally in Egypt), bags of sawdust, floral collars, and pieces of linen with markings from years six and eight during the reign of a then little-known pharaoh named Tutankhamun. The Met was given six of the vessels and a good part of their contents in 1909. In time, Herbert Winlock, curator and field director of the Metropolitan’s Egyptian excavations and in the 1930s Director of the Museum, came to realize that the natron and linen were the embalming refuse from the mummification of Tutankhamun (reign ca. 1336-1327 B.C.). He also suggested that the animal bones, pottery, and collars might have come from a funeral meal. Winlock’s analysis was an important clue that led to Howard Carter’s 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb some 110 meters away.

Based on preserved botanical collars and the complex process of mummification, which took about 70 days, it is believed that the young king died in December or January.

Often called the “boy king,” Tutankhamun was about nine years old when he ascended the throne of ancient Egypt; he died approximately nine years later, possibly owing to causes that include disease and a broken bone. His death may have been unexpected, so that his own tomb was still unfinished; the rather small tomb in which he was actually buried had been started for another person, not for a king. Eventually, workmen’s huts completely hid the entrance to the tomb, and its location was forgotten. The discovery of the storage vessels and the accurate identification of their contents were instrumental in the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. – The Metropolitan Museum of Art

King Tut

King Tutankhamun

Title: Head of Tutankhamum • Period: New Kingdom, Amarna Period
during Tutankhamun’s reign • Dynasty: 18 • Date: ca. 1336-1327 B.C.
Medium: Limestone • Dimensions: H 42.5 cm (16 3/4″) x D 23 cm (9 1/16″)

This bust is part of a statue group representing the god Amun seated on a throne with Tutankhamun standing or kneeling in front of him. The young king’s figure is considerably smaller than that of the god, indicating his subordinate status in the presence of the deity.

Some of the reconstruction of the daily lives of the Egyptians left us in awe. For example, when the Egyptians went for a picnic, they brought the entire kitchen in a boat with them to stew the soup, roast the lamb and pummel the wheat. And I thought my three bags of food, seating mat and camera were extravagant.

As we were leaving the sarcophagus of Egyptian art, we took a final glimpse at what was King Tut’s tomb before heading towards the Bronzino exhibit. Cheh said, “We’re at King Toot’s. The Bronzino exhibit is upstairs.” I’m sure King TOOT appreciates the new name. She and her funny pronunciations.

Chinese Gardens

Chinese Gardens

We were still laughing at her when we made a quick stop at the Chinese exhibit to take in the garden of scholar.

Virgin and Child with Saints - Ghent Painter

Virgin and Child with Saints - Netherlandish (Ghent) painter

In the early seventeenth century the paint layers on the figures of the Virgin and Child and Saint John the Baptist were scraped off and repainted with a representation of the Marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. The later additions were subsequently removed, revealing the meticulous preparatory underdrawing in brush and pen for the original figures that is typical of Netherlandish practice. The authorship of this extremely fine painting is uncertain, although it has been ascribed to both Hugo van der Goes and to Jean Hey.

Agnolo Bronzino

Agnolo Bronzino

Then we headed to Bronzino’s exhibition staged in the Met from January 20, 2010 to April 18, 2010. It is right next to the European paintings hall.

This exhibition is the first ever dedicated to Agnolo Bronzino (1503–1572), and presents nearly all the known drawings by or attributed to this leading Italian Mannerist artist, who was active primarily in Florence. A painter, draftsman, academician, and enormously witty poet, Bronzino became famous as the court artist to the Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici and his beautiful wife, the Duchess Eleonora di Toledo. This monographic exhibition contains approximately sixty drawings from European and North American collections, many of which have never before been on public view. Accompanied by a catalogue, authored by a team of international scholars, published by the Metropolitan Museum. The exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in collaboration with the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi and the Polo Museale Fiorentino, Florence.

Paul Reubens

Paul Reubens

Artist: Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640) • Title: Rubens, His Wife
Helena Fourment (1614–1673), and One of Their Children • Date: mid–late 1630s
Medium: Oil on wood • Dimensions: 80 1/4 x 62 1/4 in. (203.8 x 158.1 cm)

This is a portrait of Rubens with his second wife, Helena, and one of their five children – either Frans Rubens, born in 1633, or, more likely, Peter Paul, born March 1, 1637.Rubens married Helena on December 6, 1630, when he was fifty-three and she was sixteen. She then became his model and inspiration for many his paintings by Rubens dating from the 1630s, particularly those dealing with themes of ideal beauty or love. The present composition was considerably revised during execution to shift the emphasis from Rubens, as the dominant half of a courtly couple, to Helena, as ideal wife and mother. The parrot, long a symbol of the Virgin Mary, suggests ideal motherhood, while the fountain, caryatid, and garden setting imply fertility and recall Rubens’s own garden in Antwerp, where he frequently escorted Helena.

Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas

Artist:  Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917) • Title: The Dance Class
Date: 1874• Medium: Oil on canvas • Dimensions: 32 7/8 x 30 3/8 in. (83.5 x 77.2 cm)

The Dance Class was exhibited in 1876 at the second Impressionist exhibition. The subject of the work is a dance class conducted by the famous ballet master Jules Perrot. The work is generally thought to be a tribute to the teacher rather than a depiction of an actual class conducted by him. The scene is a careful arrangement of what seems to be a random collection of postures and poses. One ballerina, who is the central focus of the composition, dances while the others mill about around her, presumably waiting their turn. Some adjust their costumes, while others just sit or stand in various postures. The women in the background on the right are the dancers’ mothers, who chaperoned their young charges during the rehearsals and were there to either protect the girls from or introduce them to the wealthy male subscribers who visited the dance halls and often watched the rehearsals.

Like most of the dancers in Degas’s works, these ballerinas are not performing. Degas has caught them in the unglamorous environs of the practice hall.

This painting always reminds me of the times when I watched my younger sister during her ballet lessons. She never wore the tutus, but she was every bit as graceful if not more.
Claude Monet

Claude Monet

Artist: Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926) • Title: Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies
Date: 1899 • Medium: Oil on canvas • Dimensions: 36 1/2 x 29 in. (92.7 x 73.7 cm)
Claude Monet

Claude Monet

Artist: Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926) • Title: The Path through the Irises
Date: 1914–17 • Medium: Oil on canvas • Dimensions: 78 7/8 x 70 7/8 in. (200.3 x 180 cm)
Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh

Artist: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890) • Title: Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat
(verso: The Potato Peeler) • Date: 1887 • Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 16 x 12 1/2 in. (40.6 x 31.8 cm)

In 1886, at age thirty-two, Van Gogh arrived in Paris “not even know[ing] what the Impressionists were.” By the time he left, two years later, he had cast off the muddy palette and coarse brushwork that had characterized his earlier efforts and embraced the latest developments in painting. Here he demonstrates his awareness of Neo-Impressionist technique and color theory, using the back of a Dutch peasant study he had taken with him to Paris.

Van Gogh produced more than twenty self-portraits during his Parisian sojourn. Short of funds but determined nevertheless to hone his skills as a figure painter, he became his own best sitter: “I deliberately bought a good mirror so if I lacked a model I could work from my own likeness.”

Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh

Artist: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890) • Title: The Potato Peeler
(recto: Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat) • Date: 1885 • Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 16 x 12 1/2 in. (40.6 x 31.8 cm)
Joan of Arc

Jules Bastien-Lepage's  Joan of Arc

Artist: Jules Bastien-Lepage (French, 1848–1884) • Title: Joan of Arc
Date: 1879 • Medium: Oil on canvas • Dimensions: 100 x 110 in. (254 x 279.4 cm)

With the loss of the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), the national heroine from Lorraine, Joan of Arc, acquired new symbolic importance among the French. A succession of sculpted and painted images of the medieval teenaged martyr appeared in the Salons of the 1870s and 1880s. At the 1880 Salon, Bastien-Lepage, himself a native of Lorraine, exhibited this painting, which represents the moment of Joan of Arc’s divine revelation in her parents’ garden. His depiction of the saints whose voices she heard elicited a mixed reaction from Salon critics, many of whom found the presence of the saints at odds with the naturalism of the artist’s style.

Two hours later, due to the parking meter, we were out of the Met. It was a nice, quick in and out of the city but getting back into Joisey with the traffic was a pain in my behind. We still had errands to run before the day ended. We thought we could make a quick run into Target for a few necessities after that. In the end, we got MORE than just the necessities of soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and cleansers. We purchased two Blueray DVDs – Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man (yes a small tribute to Robert Downey Jr.). However, to watch the Bluerays, we had to get the Blueray player too. That’s how hubs work. Rails me in for one thing, and then sells me on another. All the same, we used a ton of coupons for our necessities and had an extra 10% off the entire purchase. I love me my coupons!!!

By the time we were finally home, we were beat. And hungry. Did I mention that I think I have worms?

I guess there really isn’t a need to leave home for a get-a-way.

Art, we have. Human beings, we have a plenty. Traffic, we’re not lacking. Chain-store food, a dime a dozen. Retail therapy, hell yeah. All things considered, my backyard is still the best. Next time I take time off, I’m staying home.

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