Sometimes, you know, it really is the company rather than the actual event. I know I keep saying this (especially on Sundays, which seems to be my day for getting morbid), but I really miss my Dad. The Ansel Adams exhibit at MOMA was wonderful, and I wish he had been there with me instead of my aunt. Dad really saw pictures and responded to them both intellectually and emotionally. He always had an insight to share, an idea, a thought, an emotion. Alice basically ditched me when we were in the first room and breezed through the exhibit, so I had no-one to say, “Isn’t that beautiful” or “How on earth did he get that shot?” to. And yet, she studies art and photography all the time. The thing is, this is what she usually does, and I never seem to learn. I always think it’s going to be different — the triumph of optimism over experience.
The exhibit was set up chronologically, showing what other artists and photographers were doing at the time Adams began his long career (in the 1920’s), putting his beginnings in context. The following rooms showed his evolution as an artist, from the sweeping photos showing the majesty of Yosemite and Alaska and the Grand Canyon through to moodier, more abstract works. You could see the artist honing his craft, learning. One of my favorites showed a desert town in New Mexico at night, an ancient graveyard in the foreground and the small adobe houses behind. A lone horse grazes in the moonlight, and the moon looks so close to the earth that you feel you could reach up and put your arms around it. Another wonderful photo showed how the spiky needles of a grove of pine trees was echoed in the starry grasses at its feet.
About the only thing we were both amazed by was an indescribable sculpture by Sara Sze, called “Things Fall Apart”. I can tell you that it was essentially a deconstructed red Jeep Cherokee in five parts, swooping up and up from the atrium of the museum, but that can’t even begin to give an idea of what a powerful, moving piece it is — both literally and metaphorically, since it includes electric fans that move various items of urban detritus within the sculpture.
We were rather late in meeting Rufus for dinner at Le Petit Robert. It was our first time there, and it won’t be the last. It’s a charming, simply decorated space, and the food is excEt. As in the adjacent bakery, the staff is French and both know and appreciate the food they are serving. Alice and Rufus had beer, but I had a perfect kir royale (champagne with black currant liqueur), which had the added fillip of a lemon twist on top. There were radishes with coarse salt already on the table, and a basket of the wonderful bread from the next door bakery. Alice had the traditional French onion soup, and two separate small plates: one of creamy potatoes baked with garlic and cr?me fraîche, and one of fried artichokes sliced very thinly. Rufus had roast chicken with matchstick thin frites, just like Paris. I had a salad of roasted baby beets with ch?vre, toasted hazelnuts, and tarragon, followed by mussels steamed with wine, saffron, and sweet onions. I had a glass of 1994 Sterling chardonnay with it. Again, I wished Dad had been there to read the menu and the wine list with me. We always had such a good time choosing the wine and the food to go with it (not the other way around), and figuring out what was in each dish and tasting each other’s. Sometimes we would reproduce dishes we really liked at home. There really is no-one I would rather cook with, drink a glass of wine with, or see an art exhibit with.
The desserts looked fantastic: coffee cr?me caramel; bittersweet chocolate mousse with an orange-caramel snap; canel? de Bordeaux with Bing cherries and custard sauce. But Alice had decided it was now too noisy and she wanted to go, so no dessert for Suzy (and I still want some!). Next time, I’m going to go there and order all three desserts and have them for dinner. You can do that when you’re a grown-up (or just look like one). It’s some compensation for having to go to work every day and pay taxes.