Saturday, July 21, 2007


Today, while standing in front of Van Gogh's Starry Night at the Museum of Modern Art, I find myself thinking the same thoughts I always think whenever I stand in front of masterpieces...this is the ONLY place in the world that THIS piece of art exists...

But standing in front of this work is trumped today when I get home and read my email. My friends Henry and Casey, both teachers at Meadowdale, are spending their summer in Holland on a teacher home exchange (yeah, I know, how cool is that). Both of their kids, Harry and Julia, are with them. I asked Casey for permission to share this story (because she doesn't have a little brother who started a blog for her, poor thing, and she should, because I am enjoying their trip immensely)...but you'll see why Julia (16) will just yawn at my day after hearing about her night in Amsterdam:
"We arrive at the Van Gogh Museum to meet Julia.  Despite
my motherly fears,she arrives on a bike, clear-eyed and
cheerful. I do not sense she has spent the night in an
opium den. Amalia heads off to work, and we get in
line for the museum. Here is the conversation:

Mom: So how was your adventure last night? What did
you do?

Julia: Oh, we had dinner with Amalia's family, then we
rode bikes all over the city, drank some wine at a cafe,
and hung out at Vondelpark with her friends.

(Note: Julia is three months shy of the legal drinking
age here, but I am giving her a pass, because she will
not be here three months from now. Did I mention she
is oppressed?)

Mom: Did you like her friends?

Julia: Yeah, they were great. Oh, this one friend of
hers, Van Gogh's brother was his great great grandfather.
(She pronounces it "Van Gogkkkkkhhh"like the Dutch.)
And his dad was murdered, you know, that guy
who got killed because his movies pissed off the
Muslim extremists?

Mom: You hung out with the son of Theo Van Gogh,
the filmmaker?

Julia: Yeah, I guess. He was really nice.

I don't even know what to say. This is an experience
to have on your first trip to Amsterdam. If you don't
know the story of T. Van Gogh's murder, google it.
I've read that the Dutch consider it their 9-11, in the
sense that it changed the way this country views
religious tolerance. TVG is a national hero, a martyr
for free speech and artistic expression. Julia got
to chill with his son at Vondelpark? No big deal."

Uh huh.

Here is another excerpt:

"Why don't we have a tram system like this in Seattle?
I know there must be a good reason. (On a side note,
why isn't our yogurt as good as theirs? Dutch yogurt
is rich and creamy and comes in flavors like fig and
rhubarb. We put a man on the moon, what's up with our
lame yogurt?)"

Which made me think of something I wrote in October
of 2001 from Norway:

"The only items that I really prefer here are yogurt
and chocolate; in fact, Mr. President, I know there
is a war against terrorism going on, but could you
please see to it that someone looks into why we
don't have good chocolate or yogurt in the US?

Yep. It's clear what the president's priorities have
been since then.

I can't get this to let go of italics, so I will just
let it be.Here are some more works that spun me around
today: Matisse, Kandinsky...Picasso.
Les Demoiselles
only changed the art world in 1907, and here
I am, standing right in front of it. This is the most
amazing museum I have ever been to; it was impossible
to digest one work before I would gasp and see another.
I just wonder now how there is enough art in the
world to supply other art galleries!


The Norris Clan said...

Holy cow! So jealous of BOTH of those days...

Marjie, what will I do when you are back and not traveling or blogging? My nights will be so boring!

Mom said...

Oh, to stand in front of 'Starry Night'! I can only imagine the thrill.