Some thoughts on New York City, or the Tragic Unfairness of Life

So now that I’ve had about a week to process my trip to NYC (by “process”, of course I mean catching up on all the work I didn’t do while I was gone) I thought I should probably start posting some things on Arts Undone.  So on tap for the very near future will be my take on the Armory Show, the Yinka Shonibare show at the James Cohen Gallery, some thoughts on the Met and the John Chamberlain exhibit at the Guggenheim.

But first, something completely random.

So I was at the Guggenheim last week, admiring the aforementioned Chamberlain show.  In the museum that day were a large group of small school children.  I’m not good at guessing ages, but these were little kids, I’d say second grade mostly, with a few groups of older but still elementary-school-aged kids.  They were well behaved, so this isn’t a rant about screaming kids in museums, it is rather a self-pitying lament over how kids today (in certain locations) don’t know how good they got it.

Ya know where I got to go when I was a school kid on a field trip?  The Will Rogers Museum.

The Will.  Rogers.  Museum.

The highlight of the trip, EVERY YEAR, was a trip to the museum shop to buy a RABBIT PELT.

Seriously.  That was the fun we had in northeast Oklahoma.

Now I’m not saying anything against Will Rogers, or the fine volunteers and staff of his museum.  I’m just sayin’ when I, as an adult, weigh my childhood experiences looking at dusty dioramas in a dark wood paneled exhibition space, only to be rewarded with the privilege of spending my allowance on a dead animal skin, against these children’s experiences sitting cross-legged on the floor of one the world’s premiere modern art museums surrounded by contemporary and historic, priceless masterpieces*…. Well, I get a little jealous, that’s all.

As I stood at the top of the Guggenheim’s ramp walkway, looking down into the center of the building, seeing those small children, who would probably never fully appreciate the extraordinary privilege they were experiencing, I thought to myself for not the first time that I had grown up in the wrong place(s).

I blame my parents. **

But now, on to the art-talk…

* A group of them were admiring Wassily Kandinsky’s Komposition I and having a very thoughtful conversation about form and meaning that I only long to hear from my freshman college students.  That is so not an exaggeration.

**  Please read with all intended sarcasm.


“It’s great to be great, but it’s greater to be human.”—Will Rogers.

Image from

Published by Dr. EMS

Art history professor and lover of all things contemporary arts. Teaching and living in Zhejiang province, China.

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