Traveling can sometimes seem like a pursuit for the privileged. But many of us have the wanderlust, and even the poorest of the poor have been known to get around. I have one friend that globe-trots from “residency to residency.” This is her strategy for exploring the world affordably, and in this peripatetic manner she has managed to avoid paying rent for at least three years.
I’m a person that must leave my familiar surroundings at least a few times a year—and visiting family does not count! Oddly, when I do get away, I always seem to get roped into visiting an art museum in the area (never my first choice of vacation activity). My hosts always assume this is what I want to do; they will announce which museum shows they’re dying to see, checking the calendar sections before I arrive.
Although I’m grumbling now, I always end up enjoying myself. I marvel at each exhibition and the choices that curators make. I like checking out the permanent collections and experiencing the different buildings. I recently traveled east to visit friends and family. I had the pleasure of taking in the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed all of the shows—which certainly doesn’t happen much in Los Angeles. But I also think that visiting new museums and seeing what they deem important, visiting the grounds and the neighborhoods, adds to the experience. Like a dog sniffing unknown territory—all my senses are reawakened in the new surroundings.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit it but the most memorable show I saw during this trip east was the Toulouse-Lautrec show at the MFA. I went with my in-laws who are in their 90s and shared each other’s cane (my mother-in-law forgot hers). The exhibition had over 200 works and each piece was meticulously explained in such an engaging way that I believe we read every placard. Eventually I did skip a few and made my way to the gift shop to browse and wait for my in-laws to finish. They breezed through the door exhilarated from the “fabulous exhibit,” both beaming with utter satisfaction.
I just wonder, would I really have been so impressed with a Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit (he’s never been one of my favorites) if I hadn’t experienced it in a new venue, with special people, in another city?
That’s what you get from travel. A Jeff Koons can make you want to vomit at the Broad, but in the garden of the Bilbao Guggenheim in Spain, it’s not even offensive—as LA painter James Hayward tells us in this issue.
Traveling is all about seeing new things and having new experiences. One time I walked with my late husband on a trail that didn’t loop and expressed disappointment that we would have to return “the same way.” He pointed out that walking back in a different direction would give us a whole new perspective. I never forgot that.
Please enjoy our Travel issue this summer. Happy Trails.