PHYLLIS ODESSEY

The Wish for Sanctuary

Shao Yuan
Peking Unversity
Beijing, China
Lois Conner
1991

CHINESE GARDENS:
Pavilions, Studios, Retreats

Metropolitan Museum of Art
August 18- January 6, 2013

Fragility is a word that does not apply to New Yorkers.  Robust, resilient, buoyant…these are the words that characterize the people, who live in this crazy city.

Hurricane Sandy was a test of our resolve.  I am lucky.  I have heat, water, electricity and a HOME.  Many do not.

Reaching out to friends and relatives, the first utterance, “Are you are OK?”

On Sunday, I was looking for a restorative experience.  For a lot of New Yorkers, this meant a working outlet and a warm cup of coffee.  I took a walk through Central Park and wandered into the Met.  The Museum was not as crowded as a “regular” Sunday, but it wasn’t empty either.  The most distinguishing characteristic of the crowd was the footwear.  Over 50% of the visitors had on running shoes.  I guess they figured that walking 26 miles around the museum would have to substitute for running 26 miles around New York City.

Traveling through Snow-Covered Mountains
Yao Tanquing
ca. 1300-1360

 I found the comfort I was looking for at the museum and also one surprise.  Walking around the galleries, was an alternate universe.  Saturated by TV coverage of Hurricane Sandy, I longed for another reality.  I made what I thought was a wrong turn and was disoriented.  A walked straight into the room I never knew existed:  The George Nakashima Reading Room (Gallery 232), as much a refuge as any painting in the Met.  The  Japanese artists of 2600 years ago excelled at escape from the political turmoil of the day.  The imaginary havens they created are still capable refocusing my attention.


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