Day 41 - SLAM! / by Edward Crim

Can you believe it, the Zoo was closed today!?! A bit of ice covering everything in sight, a few accidents here and there, and people don’t show up for work! What’s wrong with the world today? All those animals and no visitors; it’s a darn shame.

So, I went to the Art Museum instead, which, due to all the ice, opened a few hours late, but at least it was opened. There is a bill in Congress to eliminate ice, but if it includes ice cubes, I won’t think it was a good day. Today was a good day; I stayed true to the game and the world is mine. The world of art, at least, a good sampling of which is hanging in Forest Park on the walls to the Cass Gilbert designed Art Museum.

I like representative art, and homo sapiens are my favorite species to view, so I headed into the west galleries to look at 15th century and later art. I was particularly struck by a triptych featuring Saints Christopher and Blaise on the left, Mary (affectionately known as the BVM in certain circles) and Jesus in the center, and Saints Sebastian and Francis on the right. It was the expressions of the faces that drew me into the paintings. 

On the right side of the right panel, Saint Francis is showing off his stigmata (they glow) and the look on his face seems to say “Yeah, see what we saintly saints have to put up with?”

To his right, on the left side of the right panel (I haven’t left you behind, right?), Saint Sebastian, usually pictured tied to a tree half naked and so full of arrows that he resembles a porcupine, stands fully clothed and dolefully contemplating a handful of arrows, as if to say “Thank God that’s over with.”

In the middle panel, Mary is tickling baby Jesus with a “Cootchie-cootchie-coo, you cute little thing!” expression and posture, whereas Jesus had a hold of her blouse and an expression that really looks like “Mom, cut it out, I’m hungry!”

The left panel features Saint Blaise, a physician and early martyr arrayed in medieval bishops attire complete with staff and mitre,casting a dour look at the BVM behaving so frivolously with her baby, while on the far left the baby Jesus makes a second appearance on the shoulders of Saint Christopher, who looks as if the young messiah is heavier than he bargained for. Jesus’ expression could indicate that he is having second thoughts about the wisdom of choosing Chris as a mode of transport.

Then I saw the painting of Mrs. Butterworth. It is actually of a rather matronly woman by the 17th century Dutch artist Frans Hals, which, the label informs us, was painted to hang by a portrait of her husband by the same artist. The modern twist of this story of familial affection is that the woman’s portrait is here in Saint Louis, while that of her man hangs in Kansas City, 300 miles away.

I passed by the western grand stairs, which looks like it was bought at a fire sale from a casino in Las Vegas, noticed the dead man in the print section, and went to watch the action in the east gallery, where the Family Sundays Create Lab activity was going on. The theme seemed to be Chinese Lanterns, but, like always, the activity is free and the museum provides all the necessary supplies for the day’s art activity. If you have children or grandchildren, this is the place to be from one to four on a Sunday afternoon. 

I love this city!

Dead man not walking.

Dead man not walking.