I went to see Vincent Van Gogh at Atlanta's High Museum of Art the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
I had waited for over two hours in line, one of the multitude that said, “shit, Sunday’s the last day for this exhibition.” I had called for tickets the day before and was told 3:30 or 4, the last two scheduled viewing times of the last day of the show.
Oh, I was cold waiting outside the museum. Oh, I was disgruntled. I wanted to sell the tickets. My feet, legs and back hurt.
Leigh was a trooper. Apparently, she hadn’t forgotten that art ennobles. “God-DAMN, this is ridiculous!” I thought to myself. Leigh read it in my looks and sighs. She reminded me that one must suffer for art. I scoffed. But I endured, pained look and all. I made a sound like a dispirited cow. I felt like one.
The line inched forward, put in the occasional lurch to keep you guessing. Finally, I accepted the absurdity. We were nearing the entrance and out of the wind. “It is to laugh,” I said. Leigh asked me if I was going to light up a Gauloises.
I meditated on it: It’s your own damn fault. One must remember that. What the world is, we are, as J. Krishnamurti said.
Thankfully, Van Gogh was, at one time. An artist. In this world, of this world. It’s so easy to forget.
But here finally, after snaking through the lobby, riding the elevator up to the top floor, and embarking on the experience sans headphones, here was an encounter with it, the art, the world, the expression of Vincent Van Gogh. Oh small and petty man, I said to myself. Sort of, once I finally got inside.
When I approached my first Van Gogh, a self-portrait, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Thank you, Vincent. “This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.”