Flowers and Pictures

Rachel came by around 8:30am, we picked up Whit at 10:30am and by 11:00am we were at the New York Botanical Gardens. Rachel is a floral arranger and this was my first visit to the gardens with someone so familiar with the aesthetics of plants. She oooh’d and aaah’d as I had my first time finding flowers so impossibly captivating that a portion of my brain refused to believe they were evolved. No, these lotuses must be made, designed to be more vibrant than a neon bar sign. Evolution is a war where standing still means continuous improvement and adaptation. What war could spawn such beauty?

From 2012-08-14 New York Botanical Garden and Museum of Modern Art

I know this is not the case. I know that each of these blossoms is either a direct adaptation or secondary exaptation that helps these flowers attract pollenating insects and that our enjoyment of them too was secondary until breeders began laying their genetic path. Each of these above facts makes them more not less beautiful although the awe response moves from amygdala to neocortex.

Whit is doubled over in laughter at a sign in the sensory garden that says “LOOK” with Braille beneath it.

From 2012-08-14 New York Botanical Garden and Museum of Modern Art

We next went to the Museum of Modern Art. I had never been, Rachel had, and Whit was a member. The top floor held an exhibition space on children which was very well done. The most moving piece there was a set of drawings done by kids showing planes in a dog fight. I remember my friends scribbling the same and smiled until I realized the date and time: Spain during the Spanish Civil War. We had imagined our dog fights, they had not.

From 2012-08-14 New York Botanical Garden and Museum of Modern Art

A floor down lied my four favorites of Magritte, De Chirico, Sheeler and Wyeth. The Wyeth was near a bathroom and I wanted my picture taken in front of it. I stood and waited for the crowd to clear but my presence made the crowd persist so I dodge over a piece until they dissipated and I got my shot or more accurately Rachel got my shot. Christina’s World is my poster child for underdetermination. The print looks like a meditation on distance, or feminine rights, or some other thing until one learns that the woman depicted has polio. This picture shows how she got around.

From 2012-08-14 New York Botanical Garden and Museum of Modern Art

The next object I stared at unflinchingly was Charles Sheeler’s an American Landscape. Charles Sheeler is probably the only artist who I like enough and that is unknown enough that I could become a leading scholar on them. His depictions of American industry are both patriotic and haunting. He paints portraits of technology and progress almost entirely devoid of humans or their affects. I first saw A Classical Landscape in a textbook in 10th grade and have loved him since.

The final two pictures were Magritte’s Empire of Lights, II and Dali’s Persistence of Memory. I much prefer the former as an original work and he matter-of-fact depiction of the impossible challenges the viewer to remember the limitations of painting. What is on the canvas is only as real as the paint it is made of and no more.

Persistence of Memory was quite small. I figured it’d be 16″x20″ or so not the 9.5″x13″ of its actuality and getting a shot in front of it was tough as it is comparatively dark. Compare this to Les Demoiselles d’Avignon which is almost 64 square feet.

We saw Starry Starry Night, we saw the masters of Suprematism, and we saw more Monet than I ever again wish to. The next floor down was 1940-1980 and very quickly I lost interest. Conceptual art by and large doesn’t move me as I think the concepts artists reflect upon are small and much better expressed in science and math. A fractal or algorithm shows repetition much better than several not quite identical boxes.

We went to PizzArte for dinner and I threw keto to the wind consuming four slices of very good pizza. Almost immediately insulin stalked my blood stream and I nearly fell asleep at the table. Whit thought I was faking it until I started slumping over and had trouble asking questions.

The ride home was quiet and the day was over before 10. It had been a while since I’ve had one stop so early.