Fifteen years ago Eric and I went to Italy with our friends Alison and John. The visual extravagance of Italy can not be overstated. Everything was beautiful. On one of our first days there, in Venice, John and I were standing together looking in the window of a glass shop. There were blown glass jars, paperweights swirled with color, tiny glass animals, bottles, birds, butterflies.
“You could spend the rest of your life just looking in this window,” John said and I agreed. “And yet there’s a whole city of these windows. And then a whole country beyond that.”
Not to mention the country we live in, and the wonder that is NYC. While not as astonishingly ornate and decorative as Venice, Manhattan is just as rich in visual variety, which is just one of the senses that pop into prominence when I’m there, as I was on Tuesday.
David and I had planned to go to MOMA, but MOMA is closed on Tuesdays, so we headed to the Metropolitan Museum. Walking into the great hall that is the entrance to the American Wing is like walking into an enormous display case. The western wall and ceiling are all glass, and there are two balconies of glass, full of glass cases, full of glass and pottery. I felt like I was in Venice again. I could spend a life time sitting in the great glass hall, or staring into one glass case.
But not really. What I did was move from case to case, letting the views behind the views shift into a kaleidoscope of color and layers of glass. And then there was all I’d seen earlier in the day. David sat and sketched the head of a sculpture, and I finally sat beside him and let the saturation of color and form and texture sink into me, late afternoon light falling through the glass wall and ceiling, through bottles and pots and cases, into my rebounding memory.