12 December 2011


My life-long friends Curtis and Anna Marie live in the tiniest town in Central Massachusetts. After some research, we decided Springfield, Massachusetts, an hour southwest of their home, would be an ideal location to meet up as I would be spending the next four days in their home. The Amtrak train stops in Springfield and Curtis could easily drop by since he was working out that way Thursday afternoon.

I had been warned that Springfield was not the nicest location so I was glad to hear that I would only have about two hours on my own until Curtis arrived. The night before, I consulted Trip Advisor to find out what I should do during my leisure time.

After witnessing the arrest, I decided to check my bags at the station and take a cab to a series of museums I found online. For $12.50 I gained access to the Springfield Science Museum, the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum, the Museum of Springfield History, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum and the Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts; all sit on the same property surrounding a courtyard – but not just any courtyard.

The courtyard in the center of the museums featured sculptures from a woman named Lark Grey Dimond-Cates. Lark is not only a talented artist, she happens to be the step-daughter of literary genius Theodor Seuss Geisel. Dr. Seuss, who grew up in Springfield, is featured in the sculpture garden, along with several of his famous characters.

The Science Museum was in the same building as the Welcome Center, so I began there. If it had not been for the Gingerbread Fantasy display, I would say this museum was a complete bust since it really resembled a stuffed zoo and consisted of exhibits that really had nothing to do with one another.

The homemade gingerbread houses inspired by fairy tales and Dr. Seuss books, however, were quite spectacular. Children and adults submitted houses in a variety of categories; finalists received a display in the museum’s gallery. The public is currently voting on their favorite house.

The Art Museum was mostly filled with artifacts and there were only a few displays so I blew through there pretty quickly. My favorite building was the Fine Arts Museum, which housed fascinating paintings and sculptures – real sculptures, not simply casts of real sculptures like in the other art museum.

I am a huge fan of the fine arts and am particularly fascinated with pieces that look real, reflect varying lights and invoke strong emotion.

One of my favorites was a painting that covered nearly an entire wall. The painting featured a number of towers that were more than 20 stories in height with a row of American flags encircling each tower. There were words about religion written into the painting that appeared in several areas. The detail of each building was amazing; I stood in front of the painting, looked at every inch, read every word and tried to understand what the artist intended to convey.

My face was centimeters from some of the paintings as I examined brush strokes and followed the paint’s movement. I love this kind of art.

One gallery featured a little bit of modern art. The first painting I saw was one directly across the door. Standing a few inches in front of the painting, I saw this:

Back by the door, I saw this:

Amazing, right?

Here is another of my favorites - keep in mind this is a painting, not a photograph (I checked):

Though I was impressed with a number of pieces upon entering this gallery, one in the corner caught my eye once the moment I saw the piece. I turned and looked to my right and saw from a distance what I thought looked like a man with one pronounced breast. Yes, it captured my attention, so, puzzled, I walked over to take a closer look.

When I approached the image, I realized that the person featured was a woman whose right breast had been removed. To the right of the image was a short paragraph about how this woman was diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently had a mastectomy. She first posed as a model for an art class in order to begin the healing process; she wanted to feel sexy again while faced with the reality that her body had changed.

The art teacher later asked if he could paint a portrait of the woman who was quoted as saying she refused to “hide behind pink ribbons.” I was so struck by this painting and its description, I just stood there.

Moments like this one make me grateful for the amazing young women in my life.

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