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Subway Art

Last Friday started out as a great day because I was on my way to meet Jessie at the Met. The MTA made it all the better with some beautiful mosaics in the passageway from the E train at 53rd Street to the 6 train at 51st Street.

Take a look; first, this wonderful yellow-- worm? snake? rope? I made a video but my tech skills aren't sufficient to share it with you. I can't find the names of these artists--I'll go back there and search for more information.

Then this mural of wonderful hoops and constructions.

Thank you, MTA for brightening my day, for recognizing that color and beauty make everything better. This reminds me of an old memory. When I taught at Trinity people had to walk through the art studio to get from their classrooms to the library, and frequently, when they entered our space they would whistle or sing. This happened all the time! Students, teenagers and middle-schoolers, teachers, everybody! I asked my boss and studio mate, John Dooley, "What gives? Why does everyone burst into song when they come through here?" He replied, "It's the light. The rest of this building has no windows and coming in here, seeing the sunlight and a glimpse of the sky lifts their spirits--and they sing!"

Then I met Jessie and in our visit to Saint Barbara I found that my memory has played tricks on me. I swear this painting lived in the first room at the top of the grand staircase, just to the right as you walk in. I'd bet my life on it but nope, it wasn't there. I asked the guide,

"Would you please direct me to The Martyrdom of Saint Barbara?"

He looks blank. Can you give me a hint?"

"Well, her father is chopping off her head."

"Oh, take a right. There's a room full of heads getting chopped off."

Here it is. I also firmly believed that it was twenty feet wide but nope. It's a perfect square. So much for memory. My scarf looks nice with her dress, don't you think?

Lucas Cranach the Elder was commissioned to paint this scene; Jessie said, "Who would want this in their house?" But it was probably meant for a church, where worshippers could contemplate our girl's bravery and steadfast faith. The four witnesses are probably Roman authorities demanding that she make a sacrifice to the Pagan gods. She looks so serene she might be having her hair done.

Then we moved on to something more cheerful--Disney's fascination with 17th century French design and how it shows in his fairy tales.

To get there we walked through the Medieval gallery where I once took Jessie and her friends, Lily and Shannon, to see the Christmas tree.

They were in Kindergarten and I thought they'd be in awe of that glorious tree but they caught sight of a few crucifixes and were horrified at the wounds.

"Oh, no, they put nails in his hands? Didn't that hurt? Why did they do that? In his feet too?" They were all close to tears.

"Girls don't you want look at the tree? and all the beautiful angels? And look at all the animals, and the wise men and the shepherds? Aren't they great?"

Nope, they couldn't look past the horror.

Whoa, I took a turn to the dark side, didn't I? Well, after Christmas comes Good Friday. And then comes Easter. There's always dark and light.

This has been a rough couple of years, and this past week has been especially terrible.

We need to keep this in mind;

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot put it out.

and we need to keep singing.

January 27, 2022

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