Week Fifty Two

Mixed Media. 30 May 2008

Posted in Uncategorized by sarahbakerhansen on 13 June 2008

I fell in love with art when I was 16. I went to my first gallery opening and I went to New York. Then it was done.

One of my high school friends was the granddaughter of Bob and the late Roberta Rogers, so that’s how I found myself in Gallery 72 on the night of my first opening, a night when I usually would have been either sitting in the stands at a football game or eating Hot Tamales at a west Omaha movie theater. My infatuation was immediate.

The scene is still fresh in my mind. The second floor loft’s kitchen counter covered with pot luck goodies, smartly dressed people mingling and talking. Most of all, I remember the ceiling-to-floor art in the apartment, hung in a way I’d never seen, in a jumble of sizes and shapes. The space was full. The work wasn’t all “fine.” It was instead was a mix of posters, family snapshots, gallery announcements and of course, paintings, prints and drawings. I wanted to live there.

The same friend had an older sister who lived in New York, and we went to the city during our senior year spring break. We did the things 16-year-old girls do on their first trip to New York (Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, David Letterman). But my friend’s sister worked in the gift shop at the Museum of Modern Art, so we got free admission to the city’s museums. We spent hours trekking through MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We tried to get into the Guggenheim on an ill-fated Monday; I remember being disappointed at the dark windows of the circular building. Not even the sight of Mel Gibson smoking on a street corner a few blocks away soothed that wound. (Mel is short in real life, and not that hot, just in case you wondered.)

My friend’s sister lived downtown, and though I wanted to go “uptown” and see the fancy shops and pretend I was rich, our trip was cooler than I realized. We ate ethnic food in dumpy restaurants, sat on the apartment balcony and watched weird people on the street and stayed up all night because a band played without pause in the bar downstairs, keeping us awake. I wanted to live there.

Fast forward to now. Gallery 72 will close later this summer. I’m not living in New York. But that love that got me so long ago — got me before I even knew what happened — is still there. It’s unfailing, difficult and sometimes a chore. But it never hurts my feelings and always leaves me feeling satisfied.

It creeps up on me when I least expect it. Just like it did when I was 16.

— Sarah Baker

Mixed Media is a column about art. For tips, contact mixedmedia@thereader.com.

30 May 2008

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