I had driven by the place several times, but it was my first visit there. Going reminded me of great trips with my family as a kid. I remember going to St. Louis and seeing paintings and armor, in Alaska with everything from stuffed Polar Bears to Inuit art and later going with my folks to the Eisenhower Memorial and the Truman Library.
But as for my trip, I got my map and decided that dawdling and meandering around, whereever I liked was the best plan of attack. Besides, I didn't need to be anywhere until 8 o'clock that night for the Philadelphia Orchestra and Leila Josefowicz (another post!)
I went to the center, looking at a large sculpture of Diana - sexy and breathtaking. Then I noticed across the ceiling a wonderful mobile. There it was in the great stairway, originally installed at the Guggenheim Museum. Reading about the history of the Calder family, the fountain in front of the Philadelphia museum is by Calder's father and another famous sculture downtown is by his father's father. It made me think of another artistic family from the city of brotherly love, painter Joe Teller and his famous son, Teller. It also made me think of a former lover, who adored Calder and Mondrian - which I thought of her again seeing several prime paintings of Modrian in the modern wing. But I digress.
Anyway, amidst the amazing paintings, I found myself wondering freely and taken in completely - relaxing and soaking up the works. It was great time spent for myself. I was drawn early on to the impressionists and a lovely room with a fountain. The sound of water was very relaxing. I spied Van Gogh's Sunflowers and knew, growing up in Kansas - the Sunflower state!, that I wanted to lose myself in this work.
Van Gogh's Sunflowers
So I walked around the circular room slowly and waited for the sunflowers to be last. I'm not sure how long I spent in front of it...but while I looking (appreciating?) the Van Gogh, I heard "John." No, the painting didn't speak to me, well it did speak to my soul, but it was a couple from Camp Hill visiting that afternoon that exclaimed, "It is John Clare!" [at this point the young Art Keeper (policeperson, security gal, what are they called?) eyed me as, who is John Clare?]
They were in Philly for the day, as they explained their son, home from college in NYC, dropped them at the rail station and they were making a day of it. They had caught both my lectures on Russian Music for the Friends of Frederickson Library's cultural series, and came up and talked to me afterwards. They also expressed their pleasure in my radio programming. We talked about the art and music, and they recommended other museums to catch both in Philly and around Harrisburg. It was really sweet. Indeed it is a small world.
I wouldn't have imagined being recognized in Philadelphia, maybe at a station sponsored event, or perhaps at a classical concert - but to be wrapped up in a picture on a Friday afternoon (luckily I had the blessing of being off that day, I wasn't playing hookey from work!) and being spotted was a suprise.
John enjoying a cigar in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.