September 2014


My Brief Week Abroad / A Pause That Refreshed Me / North America

As y’all may have noticed, I was in New Orleans and Montreal last month – a weeklong trip to French parts of North America.

Michel de Broin's Revolutions

Michel de Broin’s Revolutions: Climb infinitely.

At the same time, the trip had some nice moments of symmetry – things that reflected back and made the overall trip fantastic.

New Orleans was to catch-up with friends who’d I not seen in a long time; it was also my first return to the city since Katrina. On both fronts, I was happy. My friends lead a great life in a vibrant, interesting city – New Orleans is clearly a city I would consider living in, if I had to return to the States. Its principle downside is, of course, the heat and humidity.

Overflow, 2005

Overflow, 2005

While in the city I went to a sculpture garden, where I saw lots of cool statues, including one of an abstract man formed through letters. It was, to be blunt, a memorable statue. Actually, there were a lot of interesting things to look at in the park, but this one stuck out in my mind – not because of seeing it there, then, but because a few days later, up in Montreal, I looked out of a window at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and saw its twin.

Shadows II

Shadows II

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was also my introduction to Kent Monkman, an amazing artist. I’ve already blogged about him – and how I saw his work in two different museums on my first two days in Montreal. I also mentioned that I bought a catalog of his work – perhaps the most expensive book that I’ve ever purchased. Reading it this past week made me very happy.

What I haven’t mentioned here, yet, is that on my last full day in Montreal I found his work again, this time at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. The museum is a bit bewildering to wander through, but I will forever remember coming into a space, looking at it and thinking, “Wow, Kent Monkman again!”

Kent Monkman: The Night of September 12, 1759

Kent Monkman: The Night of September 12, 1759

It’s really strange – I cannot remember any specific artist ever having had this kind of effect on me before. I’m searching out his work and even considering planning a trip around visiting one of his shows.

One last, odd, moment of symmetry revolved around a book: One Man Guy. I read the book early in the trip. I’m not sure when, exactly – possibly on the plane between Munich and Houston. It’s a YA novel targeted at GLBT youth. Featuring an Armenian-American teenager with excessively overprotective parents, he manages to meet a guy who breaks him out of his shell and takes him to a Rufus Wainwright concert.

Honestly, I’ve never (knowingly) heard a Rufus Wainwright song, but there’s this conversation about his song “One Man Guy” that moved me – probably the part of the book that moved the book from being a great book to an outstanding book.

Rufus came up again, this time at the Musée McCord d’Histoire Canadienne. I’m not a music person, but when the cashier at the museum asked me if I wanted to see the “Music – Quebec: From Charlebois to Arcade Fire” special exhibit, I thought to myself, “how often am I going to be in Montreal?”

Guests are given a pair of headphones and access to an ample variety of music to listen to. This is, of course, a good thing, given that the exhibit is about music. I lost myself – considering my musicality, this is a stunning achievement on the part of the museum.

For me, the moment of symmetry came when I discovered one of that one of Rufus Wainwright’s costumes and a plaque that discussed his work, much in the same vein as in the novel.

I ended up tearing up.

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