snowmen art show
Saturday, January 25 2003
Gretchen and I might have seen Brooklyn fade in the rearview, but rearview hasn't seen Brooklyn fade in us. If it had just been me leaving Brooklyn, my friends would probably never would have heard from me again. As it turns out, of course, I never took the time to make any friends in Brooklyn. All the friends I ever had while living in the brownstone were either people I already knew via the internet or people Gretchen knew. Unlike me, though, Gretchen is not someone to neglect her friends (unless, of course, there is a decisive falling-out). She's arranged our new house so that it invites contact with friends from far and wide. With two guest rooms and an open invitation for any of her friends to visit, our house presents itself an opportunity that it would be foolish to pass up, even in times like these with temperatures in the single digits and a foot of month-old snow on the ground.
Today's visitor was David the Rabbi. Actually, he was supposed to come months ago back before the major work was done, but he was sick that weekend. Since then, big things have happened in his life. Now he's got a new girlfriend, a renaissance woman who used to go by the media persona "Breakup G!rl." She had to go to New England for the weekend and couldn't come up with him, so we missed out on her comic genius, ice hockey vignettes, and record-holding obscenities drawn from four or five Romance languages (though her attempts to learn Basque proved unfruitful).
Amongst the things we discussed tonight at the Hurley Mountain Inn were the crazy nature of the Basque language, the fact that the last Neanderthal skeletons hail from the Basque region, amateur women's hockey, and the possibility that Gretchen could get her women's basketball fix by seeing girl's basketball games at local high schools. We've already been entertaining the idea of watching dramatic performances given by the theatre class at a local Catholic high school.
We went across the street to Stewart's for a desert of frozen dairy products. I was so full that all I wanted at this hour was a cup of coffee. Amazingly, it was actually good, even at that unlikely hour. Already David seemed to be deeply impressed by our little slice of the Catskills: the crystal-clear night skies, the views, the trees, the stale snow, our house and the things we'd done to it. But now he was relishing our community as exemplified by the Hurley Mountain Inn and now, particularly, Stewart's. As franchise convenient stores go, Stewart's is about as palatable as they come. The staff (at least on our side of the Hudson) are friendly, and in Hurley they even hang the artwork of local children on the wall.
Today at Stewart's there was a display of snowmen painted by the pupils in a nearby school. David and I stood beneath these paintings and admired them briefly. Doing so was easily as enjoyable as contemplating art in any snooty urban gallery. The most enjoyable aspect of this particular act of art appreciation was trying to figure out which of the children was most creative. This wasn't easy; the teacher had evidently set down extremely restrictive rules about how the snowmen were to be rendered, and they all ended up looking nearly the same. They were all on identical blue sheets of paper, and all of them were comprised of three pencil circles filled by the dabbed strokes of a sponge soaked in white paint. Their biggest zone of individuality was in the face, which consisted of tiny pieces of glued-on construction paper representing the eyes, nose, and mouth. Of course, there's always the possibility that there were more outlandish snowmen who were eliminated from this exhibit for that very reason.
David wondered aloud why more convenient stores didn't display the works of local artists, particularly in crowded places like Brooklyn. "Think of how many people would see it!" he exclaimed. But when I brought up the idea of perhaps hanging art in the Park Slope Key Foods, both he and Gretchen realized that there probably wasn't any significant amount of free wallspace in the entire store.
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