In the Eye of the Beholder

My husband hasn’t spent much time in art museums. He’s a railroader by trade and an electrician by training. Part of the reason I married him was that he hadn’t spent much time in art museums. I’d spent ten years in Boston, steeped in a segment of society in which art museums were the temples, art galleries the chapels and we whispered the names of those featured in the Whitney Biennial.  It was a relief, finally, to not talk about art.

But the last year or two we’ve been going to art museums. For me, it’s always a bit like homecoming: some things never leave you. For E., it’s been the wonder of a new discovery. He really looks at the pieces and today, he was just a little awestruck with the precise perspective that give so many realist oil paintings their sense of life. It’s been wonderful really. He is deeply moved that he is really looking at a real painting really painted by Matisse or Miro or Picasso; and I am reminded again how important it is to really see the work.

I’ve been a grazer when it comes to art. I like what I like, and I can move through museum galleries at the speed of a skateboard. Or I can linger in front of a painting for half an hour. But my husband is teaching me to look more, look harder, see more clearly that which is before me. It’s a wonderful gift.

It’s also completely and utterly gratifying to see painting after painting of beautiful women– most overweight by today’s standards, some downright obese– and to see them anew. Their skin is dewy, their bodies curvy and lush, there is a sense of power about them. It is good to be reminded that the woman-as-stick-figure so prized in today’s popular culture was not always the gold standard in beauty. Maybe it was never the gold standard in beauty.

Yes, I’d like to be thinner, run faster, live longer, but beauty is neither defined by the scale or the tape measure. Don’t let them say you’re not beautiful.

. . .

Today’s target 55. Steps 7358. Breakfast: hard-boiled egg, nut bar, banana. Lunch: Cobb salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Iced coffee and half a piece of “swedish apple cake,” which is really akin to apple pie– about 2 ounces of it. A cup of popcorn. Dinner: apple pecan salad with half a grilled chicken breast and raspberry vinaigrette.

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