August 17, 2023

our art quest: ask and you shall receive

Uncle Marty became engrossed in the ancient artifacts room in the Cleveland museum. Mini and I were NOT very excited about this particular exhibit. We were instructed to look for pieces from the middle kingdom depicting pharaohs with sad expressions. We didn't find any, and that was a disappointment to Uncle. 

"See that jewelry box and how it's showing the men carrying off another man, who has died or is injured (?), and notice how his arms are falling to his sides and his head is tilted and his penis is angled downward because he has been slain." 

There it is. Words I would've been fine NEVER hearing my elderly uncle utter. I guess art appreciation is not a trait that I inherited.

Mini and I were thrilled to move on to the paintings. There were beautiful works, and some quirky. Like the painting of a big family that apparently got even bigger after the painting, so a different painter added the new family members. Note the baby in the lower left corner - she looks deranged. 

One of my favorite photos of the trip. I call it: 
 art appreciating buds. 

Uncle knew so very much. At one point, Mini asked him, "Uncle Marty, is there anything you don't know?"

"Yeah, how to raise happy kids."

He turned and shuffled off to get lean into another painting and Mini and I slumped on a little bench for a few minutes, trying to recover. 

We stayed at an amazing place in Cleveland  called the Glidden House. We ate dinner at a French restaurant that was a few doors down, called L'albatros Brasserie and Bar. We enjoyed a wonderful meal outside in a beautiful garden. When we drove home, Uncle Marty commented more than once that this meal was a highlight of the trip. 

Glidden House

My meal:  duck, sweet potato,
and cabbage (?)
I admit I don't remember,
but it was delish

When we finished up in Cleveland, and when I say 'we' finished up - Unc could've stayed there for days, and Mini and I were starting to lose our minds as we had SEEN.ENOUGH, Uncle suggested that we stop at the Toledo Art Museum on our way home the next day. It was on our way, after all. Mini and I agreed to add the museum stop, but I made it clear that I would need to return home at some point. 


Wednesday morning, we headed to Toledo. When we got there, Marty raced off to find the bathroom. Mini and I asked at the desk how to get to the Winslow Homer. 

This is when we learned that one area of the museum was under construction. The woman wasn't sure if the Homer was available to be viewed. Yikes.

Uncle showing Mini (who is
 behind him) a Copley
while I chat with the boss lady. 
Uncle Marty was pretty distraught. I said, let's hope it is on display.

A worker took us to the room where the Homer should've been hanging. Then she confirmed that unfortunately it was not available. Uncle Marty was crestfallen. He and Mini approached a Copley painting that he was excited to see, and I asked the docent if I could chat with her for a moment. 

I explained our bucket list art tour:  my uncle is the last surviving member of his family, both of his children had taken their lives, he has prostate cancer. Was there any way that we could get into this other room to view the painting that we'd come to see?

Note the blue scaffolding in the
background, the glass case
 shoved out of the way, and
the frame on the floor,
THE Winslow Homer
on the wall, and a big
 fan perched on his walker.
She asked me to give her a moment. I thanked her and said I'd wait. I gave Mini a raised-eyebrow look. The woman returned with her manager and they waved us into the off-limits room. "Right this way, please be careful as the path to get to see the painting isn't very clear."

Uncle M pushed his walker between the boxes. He beamed as he examined the painting, and he pointed things out to his prodigy, Mini. I thanked the two women. 

Not sure if I ever shared that my sister, Ann, had texted in our sib group chat when Uncle was on the fence about moving to Chicago from Texas:  HE THINKS HE'S GOING TO ALL THESE ART MUSEUMS IF HE MOVES HERE AND HE NEEDS TO BE COMFORTABLE MOVING HERE WITHOUT GOING TO THE ART MUSEUMS, BECAUSE WE AREN'T DOING THAT. 

I had EVERY intention of doing an art museum trip BEFORE Ann insisted that we should all agree NOT to. Now, I am delighted to be able to add to my museum road trip my  LET'S SEE IF WE CAN'T MAKE THIS HAPPEN moment. 

As we worked our way back out to the open-to-the-public area, Uncle Mike whispered, "Thank you for your trouble." *this is funny to me, because my dad has always been more of a 'barking' type and his baby brother is as soft spoken and thoughtful as they come. 

We ran into the most horrible rain storm on our drive home. My wipers weren't moving fast enough to give me a clear vision of the road. I had the wheel in a death grip. It was such a relief when that storm passed. Then we stopped at the same Arby's, and breathed a sigh of relief over a good roast beef sandwich. I even got one, that the guy wrapped in lettuce for me.

When we got home, Mini and I stopped by my folks' house. My dad shook with laughter at our impression of Uncle Mike setting off the various alarms with his walker.

Would you most appreciate the artifacts, the paintings, or the dinner out? Eating out was a highlight for me, as the main meal prep person on the home front. Have you ever asked for a favor if something wasn't out for public view? 


Nance said...

You did The CLE up right, staying at Glidden House and eating at l'Albatros. Great choices. So glad your uncle was able to see so much of the art he loves.

We share the same motto: It never hurts to ask.

Pat Birnie said...

That’s so great that you got your uncle into to see the “bucket list” piece. I agree and I’ve always told me kids - just ask; all the worst that can happen is they say no. You are making a sweet old man very happy.

Ally Bean said...

It's wonderful that you were able to help your uncle see so many pieces of art that he wanted to see. I don't know anything about the Glidden House, but it looks lovely. As does your meal. I'd be like you and ask. Where's the harm in it? Glad that you did.

Nicole said...

I'm so glad you took him to see all this art, even if it wasn't up your alley. It obviously meant a lot to him. I love when people have a passion, and clearly his is seeing art. How lovely!

Kari said...

What a lovely trip. He, along with Mini, won't ever forget it.
And the picture of the two of them admiring the artwork is so precious.❤️

Jenny in WV said...

That is awesome that you were able to get your uncle into the closed area!

I'd probably appreciate the fancy dinner out more than the paintings. I've only had duck a few times, but is one of the best things I've ever ate.

I'm not really into admiring art, and I don't think I've ever been to a museum where paintings were a major focus.

Busy Bee Suz said...

You are my absolute hero for getting him in to see something unavailable. I LOVE THAT SO MUCH!!

I think I'd probably appreciate a nice hotel (no cleaning!) and a lovely meal (no cooking!) over the art stuff. I'm not a big art buff...but I do appreciate it.

My heart sunk at his comment about not being able to raise happy kids. Bless his heart; I hope he knows deep inside that mental illness or medication wasn't in his control. XO

joymariecooks said...

I laughed so hard over some of these art trip anecdotes . I’m so glad you made the trip work. I think you might have used his real name a few times though in this post as a heads up.

Anonymous said...

Oh... I think if I were him, I would most appreciate you and Mini. Because even before asking to see the Winslow Homer, the fact is: you were the ones who made it happen. And it sounds like you were lovely trip companions.

But behind the people, for me, would probably be the art. When I lived close enough for it to be useful, I had a membership to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was absolutely delightful to be able to as often as I wanted and to feel like it wasn't an extra expense because I'd already paid for it for the year.

I know it's not the same as going in person, but-- if you can get him to look at Youtube on a big screen, he might really enjoy some of the big museum-produced things that are out there. There are a number of museum tours, plus some really cool things in which curators talk through specific pieces.

Bijoux said...

I’m glad the CLE was a success! Yeah! I LOVE the Egyptian artifacts; that’s my favorite part of the museum. But you can’t go wrong with any of it. I’ve never had the pleasure of staying at the Glidden House or eating at L’Albatros. Nice choices! I’d never have the nerve to ask about something closed to the public, so good for you!

ccr in MA said...

Oh, I'm so glad you asked, and so glad they said yes and he got to see the painting! How wonderful.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Oh yay! what a great trip! Despite the very detailed art descriptions from your uncle!

Ernie said...

Nance- Looking be k I suppose I could've asked for suggestions but it's good to know that I done good. ;)

I agree- what's the worst thing that can happen?

Ernie said...

Pat- It was a good trip. I'm so glad they allowed us into that off limits room. He was so pleased and grateful.

Ernie said...

Ally- Both hotels we stayed in for the trip were lovely. The Glidden House had a wonderful complimentary breakfast too. I was honestly unsure how this would work. Would he get too tired? Would he have a medical issue that derailed us? Overall it was smooth sailing and I am so glad.

Ernie said...

Nicole- I am very glad that we made it happen. I am delighted that Mini has taken such an interest in him (as have the other kids, but with her scholarship she can afford to work a little less and is able to visit him a little more). He gave her a big art book to study and she did. Uncle is VERY passionate about art and it shows. My dad, on the other hand, very passionate about history.

Ernie said...

Kari- True. His art knowledge has rubbed off on Mini. It's funny you call that pic precious. Mini is always saying I LOVE UNCLE. HE'S JUST SO PRECIOUS.

Ernie said...

Jenny- Eating out at a nice place and travelling to other cities, going for a run in the Cleveland area, those were enjoyable perks for me. I am not one to visit an art museum, but I did find some of it very beautiful/interesting.

Ernie said...

Suz - Thank you. I felt like a hero. Mini and I were in full arm-pump mode celebrating the victory.

When I visited him last weekend I brought Coach, who had not seen him since he moved to Illinois. Coach asked how he was feeling and Uncle talked about how much he is enjoying getting to know all the great nieces and nephews but he also said he just really misses his family. Life can be so hard.

I am with you on wiggling out of cooking and cleaning and the other 'chores' I have this summer. This was a welcome retreat even if art is not my usual focus.

Ernie said...

Joymarie- I'm glad you got a chuckle out of some of our stories. I wish i had a video of Mini and I trying to steer him to the exit and how we would exchange a tired glance when he found SOMETHING else to look at before we could get him out the door.

Thanks for the heads up. I am accustomed to changing all names. When I think about it, I don't think it is really necessary -one M name interchanged with another will probably not reveal my hidden identity. ;)

Ernie said...

Anonymous- I do feel like we did good just getting him out there to see the art he loves. I didn't realize that he'd been to 2 of the 3 museums we went to until we were In tbe road. Its fine, but at first I was like WAIT, I THOUGHT THE POINT WAS YOU HADN'T EVER BEEN HERE. Regardless, he still wanted to go back.

I like your idea of introducing him to various art discussions by curators on youtube. After spending time with him, I'm not sure there is much that he can learn from ANYONE in the universe about art.

Ernie said...

Bijoux- we should have invited you to meet us at the CLE. You and uncle could have had long chats about the Egyptian artifacts.

Highly recommend eating at L'Ablbatros. It was amazing. Getting uncle to our table by way of weaving thru all the outdoor tables with his walker was a little challenging but we'll worth it.

I would normally be more comfortable asking for a favor at a place where I am a regular, but I thought WHY NOT?

Ernie said...

CCR- It really was a lovely time and I am so happy we made it happen.

Ernie said...

Suzanne- lovely trip, indeed. I really don't think I could've done the trip without a copilot so I am thrilled that Mini was up for it. We were able to share many glances- ie: LOOK AT HOW THAT PENIS LAYS.

Karen said...

What great trip. I love your writing, much of it reminds me of my own large family. Uncle Marty and Uncle Mike?😉

Ernie said...

Karen - It was a great trip. Thanks for the compliment. I find that often big families have similar chaos. Yep - I messed up and used both his real name and his blog name. I don't think anyone is any closer to cracking the code to determine who he is. ;)

Beth Cotell said...

Ernie, what a kind soul you are. I really love the fact that you made this trip happen for your uncle and that you got them to let him see that painting that wasn't on display. I know he is so appreciative of all this.

And I almost started crying when he said, "Except raise happy kids." Oh my heart.

Ernie said...

Beth - Thanks. You are too kind. It was a pleasure to get out and have an adventure, honestly. Yep, that was a heartbreaking moment for sure.