Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tentative Plans

It is already December 4. Christmas is exactly three weeks away, and Joshua and I have made no Christmas preparations whatsoever.

Neither have my parents, and all of us need to make amends.

My parents have done nothing but relax since Thanksgiving, and I think they have enjoyed having a quiet period, with the house to themselves, for a few days between holidays.

Josh and I, having spent last weekend in Washington, will have to devote the next two weekends to getting things ready for Christmas, because we only have two weekends to get everything done before we head to Oklahoma.

Josh and I had dinner at my parents’ house last night, and this was the first time we had seen my parents in a week. They were very happy to see us, and so was the dog.

We told them about our trip to Washington. They loved hearing about the art exhibitions we attended, especially my mother, and I think my mother would like to see all three exhibitions we visited. Since the three exhibitions we viewed will begin to close, one by one, in January, my father told my mother to think about going to Washington the first weekend of January. My mother would like that very much.

We also talked about getting ourselves organized for Christmas, and we made some tentative plans so that we can get everything done the next two weekends without running ourselves ragged.

On Friday night, Josh and I are going to have my parents over for dinner. We are all going to plot our Christmas-gift selection that night. By the time the evening is over, we hope to have most of our gifts selected, and a good portion of them ordered online.

On Saturday, Joshua and I are going to move over to my parents’ house for the weekend. We are going to devote the weekend to helping my parents get the house ready. One thing we will do on Saturday afternoon is go pick out the Christmas tree. On Sunday afternoon, we will decorate the tree.

The following weekend, Josh and I will go over to my parents’ house again, and help my parents finish getting the house ready and help my parents wrap gifts and do assorted other things that will demand attention. By a week from Sunday night, my parents will be ready for the holidays, mostly—or so is our plan.

My brothers will be home on the evening of the 21st, but the following day Josh and I will be off to Oklahoma to celebrate Christmas with Josh’s family. Josh and I will return on the 27th, and we will spend the rest of the holidays with my family.

I cannot believe that Christmas is only three weeks away.


  1. Andrew, I caught Charlie Rose last night and coincidentally, the J.M.W. Turner exhibition in D.C. was featured along with an in-depth interview with the show's curator whose name escapes me now.

    The vastness of the National Gallery is overwhelming. Judging from the footage of the exhibition, one could definitely get lost in so cavernous a venue.

    The curator's favorite paintings are the artist's stirring "Marine" tableaus. I do think, however, that the colors appear to be even paler than they're supposed to be. Lighting could be a factor for this.

    Personally, I have never really been enamored with Turner's watercolors. I find his palette and subjects rather depressing, the colors seem drained of their vibrancy. As you already know, I'm really a Matisse-Rothko-Monet type of person.

    I hope you are well.

    Christmas already? I haven't even said goodbye to fall!


  2. J.R.:

    Thank you for the information.

    I am sorry we missed that program. It is at times like this that I wished we had a television.

    I think the main curator for the Turner exhibition was Ian Warrell, curator of 18th and 19th Century British art at Tate Britain. Assisting Warrell was curator Franklin Kelly of The National Gallery Of Art. Was one of those two guys the person interviewed on television?

    The exhibition ends in Washington on January 6, at which point it moves to Dallas and, eventually, The Metropolitan Museum Of Art in New York.

    Truly, J.R., I still do not know what to make of Turner. I am happy to hear that the curator appreciated Turner’s marine paintings most of all, because I thought that the marine paintings were the best in the exhibition.

    Other than those marine paintings, however, none of the other paintings did much for me. One problem with Turner is that he left so many paintings unfinished, and no one truly knows which paintings were completed and which ones were not. If he displayed them at the annual exhibition at The Royal Academy Of Art, they may be considered finished. If he did not display them at the annual exhibition, no one knows whether they were finished or not.

    Most of the watercolors were pretty vapid, at least to my eyes, but a couple of them were quite interesting. The one Joshua mentioned had colors so rich that it almost appeared to be an oil painting.

    If you want to see most of the paintings in the exhibition, go to www.nga.gov and click on “Exhibitions”. Then click on the Turner exhibition. When that comes up, go to the bottom of the screen and click on “press materials”. When that comes up, click on “Order Press Images”. That gives what purportedly is a complete list of all paintings and watercolors in the exhibition, along with photos and ownership information and dates.

    However, that list is NOT entirely accurate. There are about fifteen paintings on that list that were NOT part of the exhibition, and there were about ten paintings in the exhibition that were NOT on that list. Some lenders must have withdrawn at the last minute, and some lenders must have decided to lend at the last minute. Josh and I were going through the list last night, showing them to my parents, and we noticed last night that the list of works on the website did not coincide perfectly with the works in the exhibition.

    Further, apparently not ALL paintings shown in Washington will travel to Dallas and New York.

    Anyway, thanks for the heads up.


  3. Franklin Kelly, I think, was the gentleman's name.

    I'll definitely check out the site. Many thanks.

    I hope, next time, a major American museum mounts a Vélasquez, Goya and EL Greco exhibition. That would be a phenomenon. Maybe next century, those Spaniards are pretty protective of their national treasures.



  4. J.R., I think I love Velazquez above all other painters. I think he may have been the greatest painter who ever lived.

    My favorite painting in the whole world is a Spanish painting, but it is not by Velazquez.

    It is Jusepe De Ribera's "The Club-Footed Boy". I think it is the most complex painting (at least in terms of the varied emotions it evokes) I have ever seen.

    It quite literally makes me weep.

  5. Oh, absolutely!

    Vélasquez was in a league of his own. And my favorite painter from the Baroque period.

    His portraits were searing, true-to-life and most of all, evocative and deeply passionate. I have never been to Madrid but if I ever get there, I'd probably stay at the Prado for days. They'll have to kick me out.

    My absolute favorite painting of his is not the overly famous Las Meninas, but the deceptively simple full length painting of a nun against a black background. So powerful in its rigorous simplicity and stark composition. It gives me chill.


  6. J.R.:

    Do you know where the Velazquez nun painting is hung? I will try to find it online.

    My favorite Velazquez painting is "An Old Woman Cooking Eggs". It is at The National Gallery Of Scotland in Edinburgh.

    Velazquez was only twenty years old when he painted it, and he painted it for himself, to demonstrate his mastery.

    He painted a whole array of kitchen pots and pans and utensils of different materials and textures, just to prove that he could do so. Then he painted eggs frying in a pan, since he believed that egg whites cooking must be just about the most difficult thing in the world to paint.

    The two figures in the painting are an old lady doing the cooking, and a young boy looking on as if he is hungry.

    It is a beautiful, beautiful painting, and very grave, and very mysterious.


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  8. I'm familiar with that painting, Andrew. A tour-de-force of a masterwork. A real feat, to say the least, to paint that at twenty!

    As for my favorite Vélasquez painting, it is a painting of the Venerable Mother Jeronima De La Fuente, a Franciscan nun carrying a large wooden cross and staring piously to Vélasquez.

    You can see it here: http://www.posterlovers.com/spanish/i2574857.html

  9. By the way, that painting is in residence at the Prado in Madrid.

  10. That's a very beautiful painting, J.R.

    Very beautiful, indeed.

    Thank you.

  11. I'm sorry dear, I meant "Staring AT Vélasquez". Pardon me.


  12. No problem.

    J.R., are there many Spanish paintings at The Art Institute Of Chicago? I cannot remember.

    There are not very many Spanish paintings at The National Gallery. There are only one or two Velazquez paintings, if I recall correctly, and an equal number of Murillo, Zurbaran and Ribera paintings.

    The National Gallery DOES have several El Greco paintings--it claims that it owns the largest and most important collection of El Greco paintings outside of Spain, a claim I am not sure I quite believe--but I do not recall being overwhelmed by The National Gallery El Greco paintings.

    Apparently The Toledo Museum Of Art owns the finest collection of Spanish paintings in the U.S.

    I have never been to Toledo, but the family that donated the founding collection to the museum was once America's greatest collector of paintings from Spain's Golden Age.

    I would like to go there sometime.

    The Minneapolis Institute Of The Arts does not own many Spanish paintings, and the ones it does own are not quite top-of-the-line.

  13. So, you guys are still talking about art? If so, then I'm glad you came to Washington and let me be a part of it.

    Having you and Joshie here, Drew, made the exhibitions 100 times more meaningful and enjoyable for me. Without you guys, I think I would have been bored out of my mind at all of them (but then I probably would never have bothered to go).

  14. There are a few obscure Goyas at the Art Institute.

    You can see one of them here: http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/eurptg/citi/object?id=16355&collcatid=10#zciti_prov

  15. Thank you, J.R.

    I appreciate it.

    Josh wants to move to Taormina. He says it is too cold here.