Boston 2017: Part 3

We awoke to our third and final day in Cambridge. For those of you keeping count, that is a different place each night. Our first night was in Boston, second in Westport, and third in Cambridge. And as luck would have it, we spent our first day in Cambridge and our final day in Boston!

We headed to the one of the finest museums in the country: the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Due to the generosity of our friend, we had passes to go and were able to bypass the incredible line outside to get in. What a place. We started in the brief exhibition of paintings by Renaissance Grandmaster Raphael. Very few of works ever make their way to America. While small, it did have some really exquisite pieces of his work along with some of his contemporaries. Here, his work outshined them all.

Our next stop was a gallery of musical instruments, which I adored. There was a piano with blue white Wedgewood decorations, crazily shaped horns, and a wooden case filled with glasses that you filled with water and played! Next to the gallery was a little exhibition about revivalist jewelry; different eras of history became fashionable in jewel form.

The main special exhibition was an interesting pairing of Matisse’s paintings with the objects he owned and featured in said paintings. It had gotten really good reviews. It was thought-provoking to see certain objects depicted in multiple paintings but many weren’t his most interesting works. They did have some wonderful paintings of wall hangings and Moroccan chairs etc. that were worthwhile. You really got to see his passion for color jump out. It ended with some drawings of robes he made for the Matisse Chapel in Vence, one of my all-time favorite chapels!

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We spent the next hour or so wandering the museum as our whims took us. We ended up in the American wing to see some gigantic photos of Washington. I personally fell in love with this portraitist; I had seen his work earlier in an exhibition about food at the art Institute. This painting of a young boy and his pet squirrel made me particularly happy.

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We also ended up in the section of American indigenous art (in the same wing as the other American art!). I loved that they had incorporated some contemporary Native American art into the gallery of Native American artifacts. I always love seeing the juxtaposition of tradition and interpretation. This piece by Stan Natchez, inspired directly by Picasso’s Guernica, was particularly striking.

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By popular demand, we headed to the impressionist wing to check out the Monet’s. I found another one of Degas’ ballerinas, one of my favorite sculptures. The Art Institute has one. And so did the Harvard Art Museums. Two on one trip!

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We ended our trip to the museum with a brief foray into the contemporary art wing where I got to see a lovely Kara Walker and a Guerilla Girls piece. Next time, we’ll have to spend more time here.

We had a final lunch of sushi at a nearby restaurant and then headed to the airport.

It was a good but exhausting trip. Next time, we might try to stay put in one place and see a little bit more of Boston itself.

That’s all!

Part 2: Argentina

On this trip, I really wanted to go to the Buenos Aires zoo. I love animals. I watch a lot of animal documentaries and love going to the Lincoln Park Zoo here in Chicago. I should have gone to the zoo when I lived in Buenos Aires but I was foolish. I told myself, “Why should I go to the zoo? I can go to the one in Chicago.” Yes, very short-sighted of me. This zoo would certainly have different animals considering its a hemisphere away. And the zoo would be different overall. Time to rectify a wrong.

This time, I made sure that I went.  It’s quite a different zoo from either the Lincoln Park Zoo or Brookfield. It feels older. Throughout the zoo, there are buildings in the styles of different cultures. For instance, in the elephant habitat, there was a building that seemed to be inspired by Indian architecture. There were pagodas, and little houses. These structures were used to house animals at night or add ons to their cages.  And there was a monkey island. Enough said. And you can buy food to feed to some of the animals (something I did not do).

Elephants!

Elephants!

However, I will say that there were a fair amount of actual cages, which was disconcerting. It was a little difficult to look at the birds and the monkeys behind literal bars.

On the other hand, there were a far amount of animals wandering around the zoo. There were these large black geese with vulture heads. There were also these tiny deer-like creatures lounging all over. There was a bit of a surreal moment when I saw a habitat that contained the same animal while other deer-like creatures sat in front of it. Then here was a sign telling people that these creatures bit. Curiouser and curiouser. There were also small beaver like creatures scattered around the park; they gravitated towards water.

What are these animals?

What are these animals?

One thing that struck me was how close you got to the animals. One side effect of the cages is that the animals can see you. They even react to you in a way most animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo can’t. I had a monkey stare at me and then swing around and around keeping his eye on me. I also watched a seal (possibly sea lion) crawl up vertically on the rocks and gaze at me with longing. I think he was exhorting me to help him escape.

The selection of animals was pretty neat. They had your traditional zoo animals: rhinoceros, giraffes, elephants. But they also had llamas, lemurs, ostriches, and Patagonia penguins. Also, I watched a rhino gnaw on a giant tire for awhile. So that was neat.

I think it was worth a visit. There is another zoo outside of the city, the Lujan zoo, where you can get in the cages and pet the animals. We’ll see if I can muster up the nerve next time.

After the zoo, I decided to stop by the botanical garden nearby. I’m finding myself drawn more and more to these green spaces. Part of it is that the winters are so long in Chicago, I miss vegetation. The botanical garden was lovely. It’s not quite as incredible or large as the one in Rio de Janeiro but I had nice time wandering around. It’s fall in Argentina so I did get to see some amazing vistas of colorful trees.

One of my favorite things about Buenos Aires is the statues. There are incredible and interesting statues throughout Palermo, a neighborhood with lots of parks (kinda like Lincoln Park). I’ve seen statues of street cleaners and Cuban martyr Jose Marti in the same trip. The botanical garden had a nice selection of statues. For instance, there was a lovely statue of a nymph underneath dropping branches. And there was copy of the famous statue of Romulus and Remus suckling on the female wolf.

Sculpture, Botanical Garden

Sculpture, Botanical Garden

I ended my day at the Museum of Fine Arts. I’ve had a strange relationship with the museum. When I lived in Buenos Aires, I remember touring the museum. That trip, the first floor had the Masters, like Rodin, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt, while the second floor had a wonderful collection of Argentine art through the ages. I didn’t get to spend as much time on the second floor so I resolved to come back. When I did on that same trip, it happened to be the day the museum was closed for a special event. Grumble. Then I went back two years ago when I was in BA. Then, the second floor was under renovation. This time, the second floor was still under renovation. Now I’m starting to think that universe doesn’t want me to see that amazing collection of Argentine art. Or maybe it got moved elsewhere.

It’s still worth checking out. They do have a fairly impressive collection of Rodin sculptures and bronzes including the famous statue of “the Kiss.” There is also a wonderful selection of bronzes made by Rodin for a door called “The Gates of Hell.: There are some Argentine works including these five painting series about a decisive battle in Argentine before, after and during the battle. It’s quite impressive.

What blew me away was a special exhibition on a cartoonist named Miguel Rep. The exhibition was about his work lampooning the art establishment, touching on various themes like critics, models, reality v. art, and the artists themselves. They were hysterical and poignant if you like comedy about art. For instance, one cartoon showed an artist peering through a key hole and painting a picture of a woman undressing. Wonderful lampoon of artists focusing so much on the female nude. There is another parody of the famous painting of doctors overseeing an autopsy called, “The Anatomy Lesson, of Nichlaes Tulp” by Rembrandt. In the cartoon, the artist stands next to his nearly completed canvas. Behind the canvas is the real scene showing the doctors posing covered with flies. They ask, “Much more time, sir?” What a humorous look at the gulf between art and reality. Neat exhibition though Spanish literacy is highly recommended. Here’s a selected few from the website. 

That’s all for now!