“Art is a subtle essence. It is not a thing of surfaces, but a moving spirit.”–George Inness
Although I came to the Clark Art Institute for the Winslow Homer exhibit, which is wonderful, I lost my breath in a room of George Inness paintings. For a fleeting moment, I had the room to myself.
The gallery turned into a meditation on the seasons (see the slide show). I thought of how a room of Mark Rothko color field paintings now seemed obvious in their appeal to spirit. Here, Inness is quieter. You have to seek him out. He doesn’t call out to you, “Notice me!”
Instead, I seized the moment to feel his intent. As a Swedenborgian, Inness believed spirit/god was all around, and “as above, so below.” Swedenborg was certainly esoteric, but turning my mind off for those few seconds, I got it.
Then in came the other visitors, and the paintings re-entered their frames and hung on the walls again.
The big sky of the new musical Bridges from Madison County also transported me out of the theater. The space at the Williamstown Theatre Festival is so huge that the enormity of the Iowa landscape has been captured. A lone tree against seemingly endless fields and sky that changed with the mood of the story. The sunset and starry night sky put me right onto that farm porch.
I don’t know how often out-of-town tryouts get a Broadway stage before the tryout has even started, but I get it about this show. Everything about it is pitch perfect. The book by Marsha Norman and score by Jason Robert Brown are so tender. Elena Shaddow is the part of Francesca. Kelli O’Hara has already been announced for Broadway, and it’s not that she isn’t wonderful. But she’s more Meryl Streep (from the movie) than Francesca. Stevan Pasquale as Robert is more in his skin than in Far From Heaven. And their voices worked really well together, turning the histrionics of the book and movie into something more operatic, sensual, and immersive.
How I prefer a simple story about a family and a passion to that of a transvestite wailing about kinky boots. The end is so quiet, so poignant, so lovely, so memorable. How could the Broadway show be any better?
Out of the theater, a cold, driving rain soaked me. Eventually I drove away fromf the storm, and as sun broke through the dark clouds onto the verdant Berkshire hills, a rainbow thickly pushed up from the ground to the sky.
Another transcendent moment in a day of land, clouds, light, voices, and spiritual beauty.