An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Monday, October 21, 2019

A Mother, Two Daughters, and Vincent Van Gogh

For my mother's birthday last July I gave her three tickets for the special Vincent Van Gogh fall exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art. This past weekend we used those tickets. Here is what happened at the an art museum with my mom and my sister ...

1- My dad (reluctantly) gave up his ticket. When I presented the tickets to my mother, I suggested we could use them one of two ways: 1/ for my mom, my dad, and me  OR  2/ for my mom, my sister, and me. My dad immediately said that Laura should go; in fact, he insisted. I'm not sure if money exchanged hands, but Laura said she'd be happy to go and just like that my dad spent the afternoon on his recliner watching television while we went to the art museum. My poor Dad. Don't you feel sorry he missed the Van Gogh exhibit?

2- Wine on Sunday. Before the museum we attended Mass at my sister's church and then had lunch at the Blue Marlin. My mother and I each ordered a glass of white wine, and when I looked around the restaurant we were the ONLY ONES indulging. Everyone else was drinking tea or lemonade. I felt positively decadent having wine with lunch on a Sunday. In my mother's defense ... she's Italian. In my defense ... I just returned from Italy where I had been SPOILED with wine at every single meal. Including Sundays.

3- Poor Van Gogh. As well known as he is today, Van Gogh suffered from rejection his entire life. "You'll agree with me that ... you can do better than this ... art is too important to be treated so cavalierly" wrote Dutch painter Van Rappard to Van Gogh. When Van Gogh wrote another Dutch painter, Matthijs Maris, asking for instruction, Maris replies that it would be better for Van Gogh
"to hang himself." In fact, the experience of failure was as much part of him as any other life experience. 

4- The struggle was real. To be drawn into Van Gogh's art is to recognize the raw mix of pain, beauty, violence, and struggle that, at the same time, manages to convey introspection, beauty, and humanity. He struggled mentally and spiritually, and never has the idea of tortured genius been more exemplified than with his severed ear. 

5- My sister got in trouble. After the VanGogh exhibit we explored the rest of the museum and there, on the second floor, was The Nativity by Sandro Botticelli. The last time we saw works by Botticelli was at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and here was one of his masterpieces in (of all places) Columbia, SC. Evidently, not only is this the ONLY Botticelli in the entire United States, but it is also the only one exhibited outside of Italy. Well. Laura (who lives in Columbia) was in BIG TROUBLE for not knowing this important fact. Like ... she was in the doghouse. 

6- Introducing levity. You might think all this introspection and analysis was getting heavy, but we  three knew how to liven things up (see #2 above). In the spirit of fun, we took selfies in mirrors and interacted with the displays. 


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