My morning started off in a happy way by visiting the Bata Shoe Museum, named after Sonja Bata who collected shoes from traveling around the world. There were two pairs from the collection that I wished were mine: silver ankle bracelets from India and Elton John’s boots. The ankle bracelets were so gorgeous that I wondered why we, in America, don’t wear them as a statement piece. Elton John’s boots, I thought, would have looked better on me as they were designed on a platform and had a luminous glow of leather to them. As much as I like shoes, my main goal for the day was to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).
As Frank Gehry designed the new addition to the AGO, I was eager to be in his space. A NYT architecture critic wrote the following in describing Mr. Gelry’s genius: “…a supple feel for context and an ability to balance exuberance with delicious moments of restraint…” How beautifully put! Upon entering the museum, my friend and I felt lucky to find out that Frida Kahlo’s exhibit was there. It would be impossible to describe all the beauty and awe my friend and I witnessed at AGO. Some highlights, other than the numerous Frida Khalo’s and Diego Rivera’s art, were August Rodin’s THE THINKER as well as ADAM, and, of course, Peter Paul Rubens’ THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS. As I studied this latter piece in college and saw numerous representations in books and other media, one cannot imagine the rich, vibrant colors that one can only see in person. This is another reason yet, again, to travel–to see great works of art in person to see its true colors.
Among the nearly 2,000 pieces of art worth an estimated $300 million donated to the AGO by Ken Thompson upon his retirement, there were numerous skull pieces since he was an avid collector. As I was taking pictures of the skulls displayed in a small alcove, two men were also viewing them, although with slight trepidation. One of them asked his friend, “why all these skulls?” When his friend didn’t have a response, I took action by saying, “you know, time passing by…how we are all mortal…reminding us that our lives are temporary…and how we should enjoy this very moment NOW… hello?…” The two guys paused and without saying a word left. Was I too abrupt? Too deep, maybe? It reminded me of reactions I get when I show some people the pictures of the bone church from Kutna Hora. Of course, I think all skulls are exquisite but some people just get freaked out. They fear death, perhaps. Anyway, my favorite skull piece at AGO was art that I could not take a picture of because of its small size and the glass case that enclosed it. It was a prayer bead, carved exquisitely on wood, and the size of a walnut. This prayer bead opened up to reveal a sublime skull, ever so tiny and expertly crafted. Oh, how I would love to possess such an exquisite piece to pray with! I would carry it with me everywhere… and pray, of course, for more travel…
Elton John’s boots Frank Gehry’s genius
A coffin necklace! Tiny but blown up Another tiny skull but blown up
travel to next?