Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sorrows of the King

One of my favorite moments at the Pompidou Art Center in Paris is catching sight of Matisse's collage of paper cutouts.

Jenny and I learned a good museum trick from our Aunt Judy. Go at the moment of the museum's opening and race up the stairs to the top gallery, working your way backward chronologically. This way, you get some time alone with the sorrowful king.

I must reveal that Jenny was terrible in museums. She was compelled to rush from one room to the next, always wondering what was to come. And continually consulting the guidebook for relevant quips about what we were viewing. I'd implore her to just look at the art, and she said she'd be able to relax after racing through the whole collection. Then, she could return to her favorites. She was this way with books, too, often reading the ending first, so that the suspense wouldn't override her enjoyment of the earlier part of the story.

When we saw a beautiful Miro at the MOMA in New York, she lamented to me that, as soon as she left the museum, she'd begin to forget the painting. Was she doomed to return to her favorite paintings for a lifetime, to fight the forgetting? I told her to focus on one detail, sketch it in her mind, and that could hold the impact of the painting for her. It worked. And me? I've completely forgotten the painting. Perhaps some red? A fish shape? Come to think of it, we might have been at the Met.


Anonymous said...

Dear Serena,
I was just searching the internet and decided to google Jenny's name because I remember hearing about her accident around this time of year. I happened across your blog, which is a beautifully written dedication to her and her vibrant imagination. She was my after school day care teacher in elementary school, about 10 years ago, and I have endless fond memories of her. She was the first person who taught me to delight in simple pleasures. I remember trading stickers with her, and she told me over and over that she would trade any sticker besides her prized fuzzy eggplant, which I too began to covet. I remember that she was radiantly excited about the muffin tin she recieved for her birthday one year- I remember starting to understand that the fuzzy eggplants and muffin tins of the world were the things worth being excited about. Her delight has been an inspiration for me over the years, and my memories of her remind me how important it is to cultivate what is innocent and excited and true and childlike within myself as I grow up. I am truly grateful for your sister. It is such a fantastic thing that her memory lives on so vibrantly in you and your words.

Serena said...

Oh, Lauren, what a beautiful thing to say. Jenny was, indeed, truly the appreciator of the present moment and the small details. I know those fuzzy eggplant stickers well--I got them for her at Kinokuniya in Seattle, and we often talked about them. She told me how much you wanted those stickers back in the days of sticker club! If I ever find them, I'll send them to you...xoxo Serena