Something Beautiful is a 2013 self-imposed initiative to find a visual feast for each day of the year.
Missing a plane isn’t the way I prefer to begin a Sunday. But I hate wasting time being angry, stressed, or resentful. I’m an optimist. And, abide by the adage, “Buck up and move on.” Yesterday was another opportunity to build more skill. No need to belabor the details in this post—just key points that led me to today’s beauty.
Sunday, February 17, 2012 9:30am White Plains, NY
I wave fond farewell to friend Vicki Delcourt and aim my rented black Nissan west. The Garmin GPS tells me that if I am a good girl, I will get back to Cincinnati in 12 hours. Long drives are dangerous for active minds. No more than 30 miles from White Plains, I hatch a plan that seems brilliant. For two years, I have contemplated a road trip to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Waters near Stanton and the Barnes new and controversial contemporary art collection at the Philadelphia Art Museum. Over the Hudson River in the middle of the Tappan Zee Bridge, I conclude that the route home has both these sites within spitting distance. OK–Philly was about a two hour’s spit from my course, but the President’s holiday meant I did not have work until today. Go for it.
The longer I drive toward Philly, the more it all looks like a case of “eyes to big for my stomach,” but I continue. Damn if I will not find a good story in all of it. Besides, I’ve never been to Philadelphia. Fast forward. There is a detour. A half hour stop at McDonald’s to recharge my phone/GPS. A wrong turn. And, a missed turn out of a roundabout. I arrive at 1:45pm. The only parking costs $15 but I happily take the ticket just to get out of the car. The museum compound is huge and the new and specially built Barnes building is a modern standout. The wind is biting and there are people milling around the ticket building. I walk up to a young blonde woman and ask for a single ticket. “We are sold out for today,” she unemotionally tells me. I won’t go into the full dialogue but the ridiculous quest appeal fell on deaf ears. I even went into the museum hoping to find someone sympathetic to my pilgrimage. I was told the ticket waitlist is a month long. Outside all I can do is laugh hysterically at my folly and shake my head in disbelief. I ask a young couple departing if the museum is all they claim. They live nearby. Didn’t know about the waitlist either. Didn’t see the collection–either. They did get into the children’s art room downstairs. Their daughter looks up at me. Ah, the empathy of a child. “You can go down there and draw, if you want to.” I thank her but know that in my current mood, I will draw something that will frighten the “other” children. Resigned to the universe’s sense of humor or alternative plan, I get thee out of Philly–but not before noticing that there is some splendid architecture.
Of course, the entrance and massive cement stairs in front of the museum’s main building is famous from the first Rocky movie. But the backside is fabulous collection of period buildings on the water and in the background of a wonderful waterfall. Fairmount Water Works was built between 1812 and 1872 operating until 1909. A National Historic Register site, it has an interesting history. Having realized that my impulsive side trip would
now make my ETA in Cincinnati approximately 12:30am, I do not stop to explore this place. I will come back when I have tickets in hand for the Barnes, good weather to do plein art, and a better attitude. For now I must sally forth into a ridiculous 11 hours of driving and not much more . . .