It has been a week. And what a week it has been. I am one of those people who doesn’t like to admit to having faults or weaknesses. Or being vulnerable or any of those things. I suppose that most people do not. But I will fully admit that this week has been a tough one for me personally. It’s been a number of things in my life that have hit and it’s been tough. The realisation that our wedding is only six weeks away and that there is still so much to do (gah!). I have been pretty busy with work things (yippee!) and changes at my studio (which often is a full-time job in itself – I currently have six tenants). To add to that, Josh has been away on an incredible adventure to the UK as part of his new job. And as much as I do not like to place blame on things like weather, I really do believe that the winter blues have hit me hard this week. I just have not felt like myself. I had all of these ambitious ideas of what I wanted to accomplish with Josh being away for ten days and I have to admit, that I have not done many of them. But I have crushed a lot of candy, written in my journal and been reading a lot so I suppose those are things. I had a bit of a breaking moment on Thursday and once I recognised that there was a problem there, I decided to take Friday off just for me. I barely answered emails and didn’t even turn my computer on. I turned my phone on silent mode so no sounds would bring me back to reality. But most importantly, I headed to the Art Gallery of Ontario.
The AGO is my little haven and even though I do not visit it as much as I wished that I did, just knowing that it is there makes me feel better. I could wander the halls there for hours and forget the world. I have my favourite nooks and pieces of art there that I like to say hi to, as though they were old friends. A single membership is only $100 annually. A family (two adults and up to five kids) or duo membership is only $130. You could visit the gallery every day all year if you wanted with that membership. It is ridiculously affordable.
On Friday, the main purpose of my visit was to finally see the Jean-Michel Basquiat Now’s the Time exhibit. When I found out months ago that the exhibit was coming to the AGO, I squealed a little. I have loved Basquiat’s work ever since I first discovered him when I was in high school. I love the complexity of his pieces; all of the layers that you just want to peel away. He was an incredible and fascinating artist and I’m not sure that anyone since has ever matched up to his work. The gallery was relatively quiet on Friday so I was able to move thoughtfully through the exhibit without feeling rushed or annoyed by others. It allowed me time to read everything, to stare at each piece and to really absorb it all. I walked out feeling all of the feelings and had to sit down for a little while before seeing more of the gallery. It was that good.
The first exhibition that I remember ever seeing at the AGO was the Barnes Collection. It must have been when I was in high school and had just started learning about art history. My Dad took us on a family trip and I remember feeling amazed to see pieces of art that were in my textbooks. Not long after that, I got to tag along with another town’s high school (I know, right?!) on an art trip to New York City. This was big. We visited the Cloisters where we saw those gorgeous unicorn tapestries. We visited the MET and of course, we visited – which would quickly become one of my favourites – the Museum of Modern Art. Even as a nerdy, naive teenager, I remember how incredible it felt to be standing in front of Monet’s Waterlilies. I’m not sure that anything else will ever feel that way. On that trip we also visited the International
Centre Center of Photography. At the time, there was a Robert Capa exhibit on display. It was an exhibit that showcased a lot of his work – from his images of war (including the last photographs that he ever took before stepping on a landmine) to his incredible portraits (I love the ones that he took of artists like Picasso seen on the beach and Matisse photographed at home with his pigeons). I had never seen anything like them before and I was moved. That was the day that I decided that I wanted to be a photographer. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to create images that made people feel something. That showed them something they may not otherwise see. Later on, I would write an essay about seeing that exhibit and that essay was what got me accepted into the Image Arts program at Ryerson University.
After seeing the Basquiat exhibit and then visiting some of my old (painting) friends, I headed to the The Norma Ridley Members’ Lounge. Another benefit of having an AGO membership is being able to spend time here. No matter what, this is one of my most favourite places in the city to spend time. I had a lobster roll and a glass of rosé while I read a book. And when my wine was finished, I ordered an Americano and I chose to stay longer. Stretching out this solitude that was desperately needed. I watched people walking their dogs in the snow outside and I felt the warmth of the sun and it was perfect.
A habit that I have got into is buying a postcard from any art exhibit that I visit and love. Buying the card reminds me of it. I then fix one in my scrapbook and write about the exhibit. I write about why I enjoyed it. How it made me feel. I mark down any significant quotes that I loved from it. Having this is a great source of inspiration for me when I am craving some later on. (I also tend to pick up extra cards to send to friends. I live for real snail mail.)
Having Friday just for me felt great. I was able to step away from my current stressy-not-so-fun reality and doing so, even just for a few hours, helped me feel rejuvenated. It’s the little things that help us cope with the big things and I am so thankful for recognising what those little things are for me personally. Art soothes the soul.