THe Philadelphia Art Museum

 

The picture of Andrew and I is less than two weeks after my paralysis episode and at least in Philadelphia, I am walking upright and unassisted like a human. As I was trying to explain to one of my young friends, there is no difference to me between an adventure of the body and an adventure of the mind. All adventures are fun and a trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum is the same as Hang Gliding, Para-sailing or a trip to Space Camp. Fun is fun and it is all good.

 

Naturally my son ignored my undefined episode of paralysis and parked 50 blocks away, more or less. When we finally got to the steps of the Museum, he dropped the Rocky challenge on me because he thought he could beat an old cripple to the top of the steps. Naturally, Lauren captured the comradery at the start of the “race”. The last time we raced up the steps was in Praiano on the Amalfi Coast. I ended up with a pulled groin tendon and walked with a cane for six months but he never saw it as I hid my limp until he boarded his plane and swore his mother to secrecy.

 This time I was under Doctor’s orders not to exercise but as we read in previous posts, I am a very physical person. Andrew knew that and I definitely beat him to the top as he followed behind not believing I would accept the challenge. I also believe he was behind me to catch the corpse if my neck snapped during the effort and I once again crumbled to the ground.

 Of course in our family, it’s difficult to separate the physical or emotional from the mental. During the same week as Mom’s funeral there was a Picasso exhibit at the Art Museum and Lauren and Andrew asked if it would be proper to go. I thought of what Mom would say and the answer is of course yes so we all went and found it crowded. Lauren’s Doctorate and focus was on Medieval History and according to Lauren, the Philadelphia Art Museum has one of the best collections in the Nation. So when the Picasso exhibit was overwhelmed with people we decided on General Admission.

 I have been going to the Philadelphia Art Museum for 45 years and it is a very physical museum aside from Sylvester Stallone running up the steps in Rocky. There are guards all over the place telling you to turn off the flash, don’t touch the painting etc. but no one ever gets kicked out so it’s a great place to be up close and personal with great art just like it was in your living room. I hope Jerlyn remembers touching the Pissarro because not many get to touch the masters. This trip was routine for me as I only got yelled at half a dozen times and got up close and personal with Renaissance art.

All art has meaning but as my life changes, the meaning I am seeking also changes. On this trip two paintings jumped out at me begging to be remembered because there message is about 400 years old and still meaningful to me today.

 The first picture was poignant because it reminded me that my friend who has given up on love and trusting people is not all wrong.

 

This picture is over 400 years old and describes a principle that goes back to the Roman Empire.The title is:

Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus Would Freeze.

 Most know that Bacchus is the God of wine and parties but most would not recognize Ceres as the Goddess of growing plants hence the word cereal. The message is brutally simple without an adequate supply of food and pleasure in a person’s life there can be no place for love in the heart (Venus Freezes).

Think about the inverse and it is truly obvious. For those living a life of hunger and misery cohabitation is a necessity pleasure. Love and the ensuing sacrifices are a luxury.

 The next meaningful painting to me on that day was:

 The Massacre of the Innocents

 This painting is a pictorial representation of the Gospel of Matthew 2:16-18. In the story Herod the Great, King of Judea slaughtered all babies under the age of two because he was fearful that Jesus Christ would take over his Kingdom on earth when he came of age. Since he didn’t know Christ, he killed everyone under the age of two. From the 10th century, monks depicted this scene in manuscripts and every hundred years or so one of the Masters offered the world another version. This one was painted in Naples, Italy around 1640 by Francesco de Rosa. At my age, I cant help but reflect upon how innocent my childhood was and how much our mother protected us. Between social networking, poverty, the internet, loss of religion, television and all the other wonders of the contemporary world a day will not pass when there is not a story of murder or molestation by both parents and total strangers.

Right after returning home, I was watching two boys and a girl playing on the beach. She was submissively laying on the sand while the two slightly older boys were covering her in sand including her hair. Ste tired of the game and sat up. In unison, both boys slammed her in the solders with their hands and held her on the sand. She submitted and they continued burying her in sand without protest. All I could think of was:

The Massacre of the Innocents

Oh well it was a great trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum and I enjoyed all the times I had been there over the past 45 years and also, how much Dolores and I had enjoyed it.

 

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