Thursday, September 30, 2021

On MFAH's Ernesto Neto: SunForceOceanLife & the Beck Collection


This past Thursday was another great day at the Museum of Fine Arts.  First, my brother Jason & I went to the Ernesto Neto:  SunForceOceanLife exhibit – a hanging walkway of plastic balls, held together with crocheted textile.

While my brother opted to sign a waver & remove his socks to travel the suspended walkway of balls & textile, I chose to save my arthritic knee & myself embarrassment.

So I watched as he & others entered the opening, their feet sinking into the crocheted walkway of balls, their hands struggling to grasp the crocheted netting holding them & the walkway suspended in air.

My brother said it was scary & not easy.  The looks on the faces of people (all adults this day) who emerged from the walkway confirmed Jason’s experience was not an unusual one.

The museum employee in charge of collecting waivers on electronic notebooks told me that she brought her grandchildren, ages 9 & 6 to the exhibit.  They reveled in it & could not get enough of walking that bouncing path.

I wish there had been children traveling through Neto’s celebration of SunForceOceanLife that day – to remind me of how easy it can be if we just hold onto to the wonder of childhood.

From the Neto exhibit in the Caroline Weiss Law building, we traveled through a neon lit underground tunnel to the Audrey Jones Beck building to search the John A. & Audrey Jones Beck Collection Galleries for Van Gogh’s The Rocks.

In a gallery devoted to Impressionism.

Audrey Jones Beck was the granddaughter of Houston legend Jesse H. Jones, businessman, politician & entrepreneur.  Apparently, 16-year-old Audrey Jones encountered the Impressionists on her first trip to Europe.

Later, when Audrey married John A. Beck, she persuaded him to invest in art.  And together, they established a collection she called a “student’s collection.” 

It was, in fact, one of finest private collections in the country.

The Impressionists in the collection are displayed in one gallery.  Audrey Jones Beck specified that they were always to be displayed together & never to leave the MFAH.  The paintings are never loaned out to other museums & remain a room of amazing work for visitors to the museum.

We walked through the entire Jones Beck collection, my brother gravitating to some paintings while I gravitated to others.

When I encountered the gallery of Impressionism, I immediately searched for Van Gogh’s “The Rocks.”  I explored painting after painting, including two by Berthe Morisot, I marveled. 

And I kept thinking, these paintings in this room, in all these rooms, used to hang in a home.  A place where people gathered & shared meals & laughed & cried & conversed.

It is always too often too quiet in museums.  Except when there is an event, for charity or a patron's preview or a private event like a wedding – when people gather & share a meal & laugh & cry & converse.  All in the presence of amazing works of artistic expression. 

Perhaps, in truth, art demands companionship & conversation & music & shared experience.  And whenever possible, wonderful food & wine.

However, museums like MFAH allow those of us not invited to homes of art collectors to experience the wonder & inspiration of artistic expression.  And to share those experiences.

It was a fine afternoon at the MFAH.  I kept lingering in the Jones Beck galleries until my arthritic knee, too often my faithful companion, demanded relief.  So I found my brother & we exited via the neon tunnel & an escalator & an elevator.

Until our next visit. .  .  Although I have a feeling I will always return to the Jones Beck galleries.

Meanwhile . . .

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