Tribute to the Albright-Knox, Buffalo, New York
How did one kid fall in love with art? She was lucky enough
to grow up in Buffalo, New York, during the 40's through the
mid-60's, at a time when the arts seemed to matter. She attended
schools that brought students by the busload to hear the Buffalo
Philharmonic Orchestra, to gawk at the treasures in the Buffalo
and Erie County Historical Society, and to experience the astounding
collection of twentieth century art at the Albright-Knox Art
Did I understand or like everything I saw or heard? Of course
not. Mixed in with the feelings of awe or joy were moments of
boredom or discomfort. I know now that these were the developing
seeds of my own taste in the arts. The more I tasted, the more
my taste changed and expanded. I was enrolled in a lifelong
independent study, "Connoisseurship 101," a continuous
stream of learning about art and the arts. It's a course that
will never end for me.
I went to college across the street from the Albright-Knox
and felt the confidence of familiarity when I dropped in between
classes. Because I had been brought there as a younger student,
I knew and didn't know what was waiting for me inside. I remember
on some days I barely had bus fare to get to class, but I could
still stop at the Albright-Knox. It was free. Yes, free. "Free"
meant that I could gobble up Matisse's "La Musique"
or be intrigued by Courbet's "The Source of the Loue"
or be held spellbound by Gauguin's "The Yellow Christ."
Michael Kimmelman wrote, "People go to museums, in the
end, to have an experience unlike what they can get elsewhere,
because works of art are not like everything else in life."
["New York's Bizarre Museum Moment," New York Times
Arts & Leisure, July 11, 2004.]
Some things change for the better. A few years before I moved
to New England, a new wing opened, giving more space to exhibit
their expanding collection. Of course, when I visit Buffalo
today, I visit the Albright-Knox.
Some things do not change for the better: the color in Rouault's
clown sunk so much that I could hardly make out the shapes I
loved. Last time I visited, it wasn't even hanging in a gallery.
And, after a long and admirable record of free admission, the
museum began charging an entry fee in 1992. In October of this
year, it went up to $10. So, I show my memberships to the Worcester
Art Museum or the Wadsworth Athenaeum and get a reduced admission.
I gladly pay the price. I am an artist and art lover, and museums
are part of my continuing education and passion. Besides, it's
half the admission that I will have to pay at the Museum of
Modern Art in New York when it reopens its doors this month.
One of the things I do to prepare for writing "Judy's
Journal" is to talk with people. John Gaumond suggested
that it would be reasonable and good if the age for free admission
to all museums in the United States was raised to 21 for everyone,
not just students. Not to state the obvious, but I will anyway:
making museums accessible to children and young adults is an
investment in the future of the arts. I can only remember what
it did for me. Sometimes looking at "La Musique" gave
me the energy to go to class, and then to work. John added this
to his proposal: free admission could begin again at 80 as a
way of acknowledging seniors' contributions to society. It certainly
would make reaching 80 something for me to look forward to.
Let art without admission fees bookend our lives!
December's topic will be "Getting Rid of Elvis,"
which will be a look at revision in writing and artwork. I invite
you to email me with your ideas, questions or comments about
the creative process at firstname.lastname@example.org.You
can visit the Albright-Knox Art Gallery at www.albrightknox.org
and the Buffalo and Erie County Historcial Society at www.bechs.org.
PS Thanks to Patsy McCowan, who gave me the Picasso quotation
at the beginning of this journal and several others you'll be
seeing in the coming months.