Friday, August 08, 2014

JMW Turner, Salem without Witches and some decent tacos!

In my attempt to stay active and entertained, I took myself to the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, MA on Tuesday.  I was particularly drawn by the promise of paintings by the inventive, bold, ahead-of-his-time, JMW Turner...(1775-1851)  and the fact that what use is a museum membership card if you don't use it?

 Unfortunately, most of the art was borrowed from elsewhere (primarily British museums) so I couldn't take my own pictures in the exhibit.  The website, is worth looking at, though.  (and maybe even the Tate).

How he managed to paint "the atmosphere"-- and making the painting look foggy, or humid,or snowy-- while still having just the right amount of definition of whatever was IN that fuzzy atmosphere boggled my mind.  From a distance, some of the paintings seemed almost photographic in the rendition of smoke, fog, etc.  And then from a different distance, it was all totally "unrecognizable" and impressionistic, or flat-out abstract.

I did figure out, though, that sometimes he used watercolor kinds of techniques when painting with oils and vice versa.  He also started his art career in a serious way when he was 14.  No wonder I feel behind.

I wish there had been more of Turner's paintings and less "dilution" of the exhibit with paintings by his influences, cohorts or those on whom he HAD influence.

Adjacent the PEM is a bricked plaza with benches, a fountain and street vendors.  Tuesday must not be their big day, which was fine with me.  Several lamp post had female figure heads as part of a Lady of Salem arts promotion. I only saw these three, but there are 20 more that you can see/find via their website.    (The Peabody's and Essexes were big traders in the dates of tall ships and their museum has always emphasized imports from Asia and Maritime art and objects.)  These figure heads, were sponsored by local enterprises.  I liked all of them, but I thought Lady Liberty with her I love Pizza shirt was particularly creative (sponsored by NY Pizza and Deli, which is inside the Museum Mall at the opposite side of the Plaza.

 I have seen this fountain/park feature when it was FULL of people and being wet seemed normal.  Since nobody but this toddler was in the water, it seemed like maybe it wasn't a good idea.  His parents were having a good time under the umbrella at a table, but they were unaware for too long that he'd climbed in.  There was quite a bit of ineffectual ranting and raving when they DID notice... but nobody seemed to care enough to a) get up or b) get wet in order to fish him out.  I've read about too many drownings this summer so it made me anxious.  Maybe he was smarter and wiser than his size led me to believe.

 After all that effort of avoiding the senior-er citizens at PEM (walkers, wheelchairs, canes and folks who moved at the speed of the glaciers), I was hungry. 

DH and I had gone to the Thai place last time we were in Salem, but I didn't want to go someplace with such large servings or prices.  So I took what I consider a "risk" and went to  i Taco.  I think of tacos as Mexican, but the flavors and accent were  not exactly "Tex-Mex."  Dominican?  South American?  Whatever it was, I got my quota of salsa, guacamole (for a $2.50 upcharge  :-( ), rice and cheese.  WAY better than Taco Bell!!

They also had banners of cut outs, which reminded me of my favorite "El Norte Mexican Grill" back in Plano, Texas!  Even if they are symmetrical (and many weren't)  I couldn't figure out how a crafty person would cut them  out without ending up with confetti!

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