Thursday, December 3, 2009

Philadelphia - Day 7

Day 7
- Quote of the day
- Barnes Collection
- One last private collection
- Back to blue skies

Henri Matisse: I have always tried to hide my own efforts and wished my works to have the lightness and joyousness of a springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it cost.

A late start is scheduled for our last day. We board the bus with our bags packed for the airport dropoff later, and head for the Barnes Collection visit. The Barnes is in Merion, a very upscale residential area and large buses are not allowed, so we rendezvous with a 25 seat van and switch over for the last 2 miles.

The Barnes lives up to its eclectic reputation. The neighbors have fought it for years because of the crowds, and now that the will has been broken and the collection is moving downtown the neighbors are upset and we see “Keep the Barnes in Merion” signs on lawns. Hmmmmmmm….seems like the neighbors can’t quite make up their minds. There are many Cezannes, Renoirs, Soutines, Matisses, Picassos, and a smattering of other less well-know impressionists and post-impressionists. Matisse came (and mis-measured) the space for a set of dancing figures panels that are stunning in the main gallery room, as are several of his other paintings. The paintings are mixed in with African artifacts, tribal pieces and rugs, two terrific tapestries by Picasso, and bunch of metal “decals” that are placed above and between the paintings, and a collection of antique furniture.

Overload doesn’t quite explain what it feels like to wander through the two stories of rooms. These pictures, some the finest of their period, are crammed together with other work that in some ways complement and in others just clutters your view and appreciation.

We then head out for lunch at the Merion Cricket Club, which now is primarily a grass tennis court club. Lauren and I stayed right near here over 10 years ago as part of a pre-college visit to Haverford and Bryn Mawr, and I remember seeing the Cricket Club and wondering what such a huge space was for (not really believing that anyone in US actually plays cricket now).

Pictures are of the Merion Cricket Club

After lunch, our last stop of the trip is at a farm house where the owners have a terrific ceramics collection as well as a significant overlap with DB’s art jewelry collection. In its own way it is just as crammed as the Barnes: there are a huge number of pieces displayed all throughout the house. We hear a story of their visiting the crafts fair in Rhinebeck in the 70s and finding many amazing pieces. We have the same story, probably were at the same fair; that was a golden age for emerging craft artists.

At the airport, 23 of the 25 remaining members (one left early for a wedding) of the tour depart the bus and head for the plane, we are all on the same United flight back to SFO. Of course, the plane is hot again and this time I wander back to the stewardesses and they explain that a) they have asked the cockpit several times to cool it down and b) that they believe that not cooling the cabin saves on fuel usage, and for ecological reasons (hah, something tells me it is the cost savings) they are keeping the cabins warmer. We’re in early and home by 10:20pm, local time. And, just like the flight out, there are technical difficulties, they have to stop the film half-way through and restart it: Julie and Julia, twice baked, and turn off the lights a couple of times to get them all working.

It’s been a great trip, easier to pick out the one or two things that didn’t work than decide on what the ultimate highlight was for each of us, quite a compliment to our tour planners and guides.

Thanks again to Raine for the pictures, to Evans and Judy, our well-earned "best guides" award, and to the bus driver on day 5 for providing some semblance of an "adventure"

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