Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The artist's daughter

This past weekend, I visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) because it was the last weekend they were going to be open before they closed for 3 or 4 years for a major expansion. My interest in art coupled with the knowledge that my dad would have loved to go further propelled me to make the effort to visit.

The museum was incredibly crowded because they offered free admission to everyone on their last days. I slid in and out of the groups of people to see photography exhibits, dystopian architecture drawings, and even some Matisse before I drifted into the rooms of abstract paintings. My dad was primarily an abstract painter and was incredibly influenced by Richard Diebenkorn (who just so happened to live the Bay Area for a large chunk of his life and so his paintings are found all over around here). Going into the museum, I was worried that I would be flooded with memories of my dad, but the way that the museum was arranged, I got distracted and kind of got lulled into a false sense of security. That is, until I went through a room of nothing but Clyfford Still and then, bam, turned my head to see this Rothko:

No. 14, picture from Wikipedia

I don't know if it was the radiating orange glow or the sudden realization that I was in a room full of my dad's idols, but tears flooded my eyes and I had to turn around and sit down on a bench in front of a Clyfford Still to minimize the number of people who saw me breakdown. 

On one hand, it's wonderful to have an artist father since he left so much of himself behind for us to cherish forever. On the other hand, knowing what inspired him and having his work at hand makes for a lot of gut punching moments of sadness. 

Diebenkorn's daughter is giving a lecture in a few weeks to kick off a special Diebenkorn exhibit at the De Young Museum. My dad would have killed to attend these events and so I am planning to go and enjoy the experiences, regardless of the potential tears I will cry and how much of a tool I'll make myself look. Maybe I'll even manage to tell Diebenkorn's daughter about how inspired my dad was by her dad and bond over being daughters of artists. 


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