Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Experiencing Art

What a day today. Remember that part of what I'm trying to accomplish with this plan is to spend less on things and more on experiences. Well today I had a fantastic experience that cost me nothing but gas money.

I drove to the Clark Museum in Williams, Massachusetts with my family. My parents are long-time members of the museum and were able to each bring an adult along with them for free. Everyone under 18 gets in for free anyway. What a deal! I wouldn't have minding at all paying to see such beautiful art.

The Clark Museum started out as a private collection, but it has grown and it is amazing. I saw originals of artwork I've been seeing as prints my whole life - Renoir, Pissaro, Manet, Degas' sculptures, 15th century religious artwork, and more. What an incredible collection.

One painting that really caught my attention was completely new to me. It's called The Women of Amphissa, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. You can see it up top (barely), but it's better if you follow the link.

Basically, the painting shows a number of women lying on the ground of what looks like a roman forum. They are either asleep or just waking up, and you can tell they've been celebrating hard the night before. Another group of women stands near them - I took them for "respectable" women coming to do their shopping and finding them there, but I noticed that they didn't look disgusted or put out - they look a little wistful, actually.

Here's the explanation the Clark Museum has on their website: "The painting depicts an obscure story recorded by the first-century Greek writer Plutarch: a group of bacchantes from Phocis awaken after a night of celebrating the rites of Bacchus. They find themselves in the marketplace of Amphissa, a town at war with Phocis. The women of the town have been guarding the sleeping revelers, protecting them from attack by soldiers."

Isn't that awesome? Women are protecting women for once. Instead of judging them or looking down on the young women, the older ones are watching out for them, keeping their own men at bay.

I love it. What a beautiful, wonderful day. And what a delightful discovery to come across a brand-new (to me) piece of art that can move me right out of normal life. I feel transported.

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