Monday, June 27, 2011
Let me tell you about the Cleveland Museum of Art. It is one of the unquestionably good things about this city. There is no debate. We have this amazing building, and an awesome collection, and it's free all the time. We all went there on school trips. On weekdays with our Mom. Dates in high school when no one had any money, and then dates later when the two of you were pretending to be more cultured than you actually were. Off days from your shit job when you lived over there with the college kids, and could walk to the reflecting pond there with your coffee and book just to get out of the house for a while. When you were unemployed for those couple months, and would bus around dropping off resumes, then go there and spend the rest of the afternoon just sitting around on various benches thinking about things and people while staring at strange frozen faces in European oil paintings.
This place, that whole Circle of the Natural History Museum with Steggie positioned outside for school kids to climb on, and the Botanical Gardens where that guy kissed you one night after a concert and also where they have the Teddy Bear show and the Orchid show Buddy goes to every year, the art school with its movies and Western Reserve with the pretty cars, and the treat of going to Severance Hall every once in a great while when you can afford it. I mean can you even imagine the hole in your heart that would grow if University Circle didn't exist? It would be like someone chewed off a part of your soul. Raw. Also, how would I get to the East Side ever if it weren't for MLK Drive? I wouldn't, is the answer. That's a memorized path. Always take the Shoreway to MLK, then on the way back go through Clinic Land to 490, for everything over there, which is of course Coventry for bands, and Little Italy for dates and Cedar Lee for movies.
When people who live here tell me they haven't been to the museum ever, I judge them. Sorry, but true. If you want me to stop judging you, then go. It's FREE. What's wrong with you?
So a few years ago, the museum started undergoing huge renovations, which are still in progress and probably will be forever, but hey, it took 200 years to build some churches. And then they started doing this annual Solstice party, and it was the very best idea since the Parade the Circle idea. You can see my pictures from the first one here. I didn't break out the camera that much this time, mostly because I'm trying to be more careful with it, like not having it out all the time when I'm drunk in huge crowds, or swimming out in the water with it to take pictures of the shore. It's a fight.
There were 4000 people this year, it sold out again. I love the way they have the tickets set up. Like, if you want to be fancy, you can buy a 160 dollar ticket to come really early and have food and drinks. Or if you want to be somewhat fancy, you can pay 60 to come a little bit later and drink a little more. But lastly, you can show up 10pm for the 20 dollar ticket, which is when us riff raff shows up, the ones drinking at friends' apartments beforehand and the college girls in their modcloth dresses, and the place suddenly becomes a giant dance party in the courtyard, and the bars get packed, and it's a vortex of socializing. You will say hi to 10 people you know before you even get in the door. You will then bounce around for 30 minutes just saying hi to other people. I wasn't sure I wanted to go this year, who I was going with was up in the air for a while and I was overworked and tired that Saturday, but then Julie said yes, come with us, and I ended up in sparkly eyeshadow and a nice enough dress without even trying, a few shots of vodka in us already as we tripped through the crowd in heels and smiles. Well, I didn't wear heels, I know better to try and walk around courtyard stones and up marble steps drunk in heels.
I separated from my friends after the marching band played, and wandered drunk around the galleries, still running into people constantly, but also having some quiet moments alone to be in the museum at night. I made a point to compliment girls on their dresses, because everyone worked so hard at being cute it was like being in an alternative universe Nutcracker. If I had thought about it, I would have done some Sartorialist style picture taking. Everyone in costume. Everyone dancing around the crowd. Feeling yourself caught up in this Whirlpool Wander, just around and around, and other people were also caught in the Wander, and you were all moving around each other in this vast pattern that maybe if they took the ceiling off the museum, and someone looked at us from space, they would have seen the swirl instantly. I ran into my friend Erick and his friends every time I turned a corner, because we just happened to be near each other in the Tide.
There are three paintings I have to see every time I go there. (Also, did you know the CMA collection is online? It is! Man, the love I feel for that place is a tight balloon in my chest.) You know how sometimes, before you could afford actual grownup prints, you would stop in the gift shop and buy postcards to put on your bedroom mirror? Well, these three. So when I got a little too drunk, and tired of exchanging the three word conversation with people, I got myself to them, stood quiet and still and solid in front of them, and I thought of all the other times I've said hi to them, and that particular sense of disembodied lightness and calmness and glow hit me in my wine flushed cheeks, a combination of the childhood sense of needing to appear respectful and proper mixed with the very specific kind of soft loneliness you feel when faced with great accomplished beauty, and I could try to explain to you why these three, what is special about them, but that's like trying to explain why a certain song makes you play it 17 times in a row, or how one person's opinion matters more than the rest of the people you know.