I woke up this morning feeling hungover from a difficult conversation I had last night. Dehydrated and sleep deprived, emotions rather than alcohol were the sources of this headache. My head was swimming in the things that were said, the things I wish I would have said, and the things I wish I had never said at all. But, the day must go on. Work felt good today, because I could focus my brain rather than let my thoughts wander back to the night before. While I pushed through as much as I could, when the work began to slow down during the mid-afternoon, I knew I could not just sit idly in the office.
I don’t usually take breaks at work, opting to plow through the day without any pause longer than a trip to the water cooler or the restroom. But, we all need a break sometimes. Today, I took a 45min break at the Harvard Art Museum. Located right across the street from Harvard yard in Cambridge, MA, this building looks like any other brick structure on the campus at first glance. However, upon entering one steps into a large atrium with arches and columns. I admit, I have visited the museum several times as a grad student here (free entry with a student ID), but this was my first time in a long while.
I started my adventure in the European art room. The walls were lined with famous impressionist artists including Monet, Manet, and Van Gogh. In a bit of a sad mood today myself, I naturally gravitated towards the darker paintings. I stared for a bit at Picasso’s “Mother and Child,” a large work painted during his “Blue Period.” Even Degas’s depictions of young dancers in his work “The Rehearsal” takes on a somber tone when one considers the dark dance studio and the blank-faced ballerinas.
When I travel, I do often stop at museums. For me, museum visits have always been a solitary activity, as I usually go at an irregular pace, stopping to read about one painting and looking over every inch of the canvass, but gliding through another room without locking my eyes onto anything in particular.
This little trip was therapeutic. In 45 mins, I saw light and cheery images as well as vibrant and striking scenes. The diverse collection of works excited my brain as if I were a child learning something for the very first time. I even saw something that struck me as a little funny. I played the clarinet in marching band in both high school and part of college. So when I saw Harnett’s “Still Life with Pewter Candlestick and Clarinet” I looked upon the work with more discerning eyes. Funnily enough, the clarinet is not assembled correctly in the painting, the mouthpiece is on backwards. While I agree, orienting the mouthpiece in this way is visually more interesting, it hurts my nerdy little soul to see the instrument constructed in such a vulgar fashion.
I’ve said it before and I’ll reiterate it here — it’s the little moments that make all the difference. The crooked clarinet, impressionist art, the beautiful building, and the 45min break, this little adventure made me a tourist in my own town. Stepping outside of your routine may be the best way to satisfy your wanderlust on a Wednesday afternoon. Maybe we all need a little art in our lives, Dear Reader, wherever you are, I hope you will find something beautiful today.