Friday, October 14, 2005

The New de Young

Yesterday was a most interesting day. Even though physically I did not feel up to snuff, I decided to go preview the new de Young Museum in San Francisco. As a Member of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, I was able to view the new museum before opening weekend.

I was not certain that I would care for the edifice, as I am not fond of modern things, and I loved the old de Young. The de Young was closed for five years, as the old was torn down and the new was built. I must say, this is a striking building, very modernistic, but in my eyes a touch of pre-Columbian. It reminds me of a structure in the jungles of Central America, and it presents this feeling in its setting of huge palm trees and giant ferns.

The building is copper-clad, and will change color as the copper turns gray-green in the next ten years. The Hamon Education Tower is rather amazing and impressive. I was prepared not to be impressed, but, darn, I was. The top floor, nine stories in the air, is an observation area, all glass and wood. The huge windows allow one to view the city from all directions, with the top of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands in one direction, the Bay, the Financial District, and buildings running up and down the hills in other directions. The other floors in this tower house various offices and classrooms.

I was able to visit my favorite 19th Century American paintings. I have been unable to gaze at them for the longest time, and now they are hung on walls again for everyone’s enjoyment. Number one for me is Church’s Tropic masterpiece with the huge rainbow over mountains, falls, and palm trees – very surrealistic and a great study in luminescence. This huge painting has been installed as a centerpiece in the Art in America section on the second floor. I spent most of my time enjoying the paintings I love, but I also checked out 20th Century work on the first floor – at least most of it.

I think I am having a difficult time dealing with the fact that there is so much modern art in the new de Young. I realize that a large percentage of the population appreciates this art, but there is SFMOMA (Museum of Modern Art) where it can be shown. SFMOMA is a fairly new, large building, and I would think that it would be enough. I must be wrong. Also, I suppose, with the modernity of the new de Young itself, contemporary art fits the building. I would just hate for the art of today to take over the building. I should be happy with what they have for me, though, as I was not able to see everything I wanted to see, anyway.

I did not spend any time in sections New Guinea, Oceania, Africa, Textiles, as I was beginning to tire after having spent hours in line for the café and the tower elevators. I can always return for those sections. I had walked a long way to reach the museum. Parking was at a premium, and we had to park quite a distance from the building. I did enjoy the weather in Golden Gate Park, anyway. It was a beautiful day, and I felt if I took it slowly, I would be able to handle the walk.

I did manage to walk through the Rose Garden on the return trip to the parking space. I thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful blooms. Some were perfect, no blemishes at all, and they smelled heavenly. All in all, it was a great day, and I hope to enjoy many more. I just have to force myself to go do those things. Sometimes I just do not have the willpower to head on out to places. I am tired a lot of the time, and prefer staying home and puttering around the house. Then I kick myself because I wish I had done something. For the rest of the day, I thought about the building, and how wonderful it felt to experience something new while revisiting "old friends". This building is definitely a looming presence in Golden Gate Park.


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