Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Second Boston Trip

We took a second trip to Boston. We flew this time. I had a few pieces of my work in a group exhibition at the Bromfield Gallery, in Boston’s Back Bay area. The flight from Pittsburgh to Boston is pretty brief. When my wife and I travel, we normally rent a car (to spare our vehicles the mileage) and drive. Only this time did we finally realize that the cost of a rental car, gas, and toll roads exceeds the cost of air fare. Neither of us excels at math, though even we can figure such things out, in time. We don’t mind flying. We’ve flown before. The time saved, in contrast to driving, is wonderful. It’s convenient. The only aggravating aspect of the flight was the couple in front of us. They looked very affluent, sophisticated, white, and faux self-effacing. They looked like the sort of people who had generally decent taste in music, literature, and movies. They most likely drive some sort of European import luxury car. Perhaps a smaller BMW, as a larger one would be so obnoxious and overbearing. Their clothes were unassuming, but peppered with very expensive logos in subtle, tasteful places. They sat down and began to flip through the magazines and catalogs in the back of the seats in front of them. That particular flight had no first class section. We were all riding in coach. It was incredibly confining. The couple in front of us each reclined their seats as far back as they would go. It crushed my knees. I gently pushed back, to give polite indication to this guy that I’d been compromised. He paused, then pushed back again with equal force and distance. He didn’t budge again for the duration of the one hour flight. No big deal. It wasn’t hard to let it go. As we flew over the city at night, I looked down at it through the window. Everything man-made glowed. It was beautiful and hideous, all at once. The patches of development looked like luminous scabs, or lesions weeping light instead of infection, into the quiet inky black of the landscape. We landed without incident, and arrived at our hotel via a shuttle bus and two subway trains. We checked in and slept.

At 6am, we awoke to the sounds of loud young men returning to their room, the one next to ours. They were excited, alive, and probably drunk. I can admire all of those things. They had likely been out all night, and were simply not quite ready to end their party. I understood, and appreciated their right to that. They spoke very loudly, badly, and about very dumb things. It was piercing. It was aggravating. Sleep had ended. These young men were in every way the opposite of the couple from the plane. Both the couple from the plane and the group of young partiers returning to their room were apes, from my perspective. None of these people had any courtesy, regard, or consideration for their fellow man. None were cognizant of their surroundings or the people they were affecting with their behavior. Very few people are actually civilized. Most just try to look that way. At least the young partiers had youthful naivety as an excuse. The couple from the plane didn’t have that. Our trip had gotten off to a bad start.

Later that day, we found our way across town to the Bromfield Gallery. It was a beautiful-looking place, sandwiched between two other galleries. Two of my paintings were displayed up front, on the right wall. They were easily visible from outside through the giant glass front wall. They must have really liked my work to display it that prominently. It’s an artist-owned and -run gallery, so everybody working there is also an artist and a member. I’m 29 years old, and all of the other members appeared to be at least ten years older than me. We entered and I introduced myself to some of the women working in the back. They looked at me like I was insane and on fire. I told them that I was the new National Member of their gallery, the guy from Pittsburgh. They still didn’t seem to get it, and I gave up trying and just went and stood by my paintings in the front area, somewhat flustered, waiting to answer any questions that anybody might have. My wife and I walked around to the other nearby galleries which were also having openings that evening. We returned to the Bromfield a few times, dreading it each time. Every time we walked through the door, they looked at us like we were radioactive and stricken with leprosy. I noticed some new women on our third visit, and thought that I’d try introducing myself again. This time I was immediately identified by my name, and this woman took me around re-introducing me to the other women who had previously been confused by me. Their look of recognition was a relief. They apologized for not recognizing me the first time. All was well. We made idle chit-chat about the art world and the struggle involved with showing. It’s interesting to hear other peoples’ philosophies on it. I always pay very close attention when I’m talking to somebody 15 years my senior who’s still hanging in there, regardless of whether or not I like their work.

The opening was scheduled to run from 5:30 – 7:30pm. Our friends John and Kiarna, who both live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, had said they’d come down to Boston to see the show and hang out for the evening. We hadn’t seen them in about two years. I was really looking forward to seeing them. At about 7:15, I got nervous that they wouldn’t make it. At 7:30 we assumed they weren’t going to make it, and that the opening was about over. My wife and I each had our phones on, and John and Kiarna have each of our numbers. So we figured if they were going to make it out, they could call us. We left the gallery and went to get some dinner at a restaurant about two blocks away. I was really getting bummed out, thinking that they weren’t going to make it. At 7:45, my phone rang. They had made it to the opening. Apparently it was still going on, and they had just gotten there. I explained where we were, and they came over to meet us. We hugged them as they entered the restaurant and promptly rushed though the rest of our dinner. The rest of the evening was spent at Bukowski’s Tavern. We walked over. It wasn’t a great distance, and it wasn’t insufferably cold. We sat and drank and talked for a long time. It was magnificent. My wife and I have known John for almost ten years, and I love him like a brother. It was good for me to see him. After a while, they walked back to their car for an hour’s drive back to Portsmouth. We jumped on a subway back to our hotel. The rest of our long weekend in Boston was cool but generally uneventful.

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