A philanthropist shows me around her public-art collection. A curator gives us a private tour of a sculpture collection. I drive 5 hours to see one of the US’s newest museums in Arkansas. I nearly jump in the arms of my long-time friend at the Getty Center whom I haven’t seen in two years and who gives me the low-down on a couple of exhibits. I call an arts consultant on the East Coast and he readily accepts my help in writing a paper.
I am soaking in all that is beautiful about the human endeavor. Doors are opening, around me and inside my mind. I stand where my mother would have liked to stand—inside arts organizations, hearing people make decisions, take risks, bet on the future. We are talking about access, equity, artists’ rights, technology and the arts, what cities can do for culture, what cities can’t do, the UNESCO, how to handle art stolen by the Nazis that’s resurfacing, how to imagine a cultural center, how to show people a society in which art glues us back together.
This is why we lived in Europe when I was a child. This is why I moved to NYC five years ago. For one short year that’s already felt like three, I will stand at attention without repose or distractedness and grab any butterfly that drops a little powder off its wings. I will tell you about it until you’re bored, and I’ll be so into it that I won’t pick up on your social cues. I apologize in advance.
I’m here because of my partner, who said I couldn’t pass it up, and who said he wasn’t passing it up either. I’m here because of my mother, who passed on to me her sensitivity for any expression of humanness. I’m here because of my father, who made the tuition possible, and who believes in lifelong learning. I’m here because one sister wouldn’t stop pushing me to do it. I’m here because another sister has paved the way. I’m here because my roommate in Montreal offered me a place to call home. I’m here despite the deep concentration and isolation because my little Labrador, my sweet dark quiet shadow, keeps me sane.
This is what I’ve been giving thanks for this weekend. This is why I haven’t picked up your call. And shhhh, don’t tell anyone: I even found time to make a little art. There, could you do that over Christmas? I think not. I’m grateful for the silence in which my ideas are heard.