Bucket list, of a sort

Ever since the concept of the bucket list became popular, everyone I know has made them, imagined them, or, at least, discussed them.  I am no different.

Usually bucket lists include places one wants to visit (Machu Pichu on the full moon) or experiences one would like to have (sky diving while wearing a clown suit).  Again, I am no different.  But having seen Monument Valley I’d be okay if I never saw anywhere else.

But I have another bucket list — my art bucket list — and it is much more intimate and private, and I just checked off another one.

See Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pieta: no check; never going to get there; too old to deal with Milan.

See Michelangelo’s Slaves:  check.

See Rodin’s Burghers of Calais:  check

Hear Bach’s Mass in B minor:  check, but with an asterisk, because I have never heard a rendition that moves me like Karl Richter’s grand, stately, profoundly spiritual rendition.  Still hoping for that.

Yesterday I got to check off one of my most treasured art bucket list pieces:  seeing Frederick Varley’s Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay, in person.  Actually, I got to fill the bucket to overflowing by being in the Canadian National Gallery surrounded by the works of the Canadian Group of Seven, the painters whose works, for whatever reason, touch me like no others.  I think it has to do with their simplicity, humility, and ability to evoke my beloved north country.  They paint its spirit, and whenever someone catches the spirit of something in an art work, it moves the spirit of others who share that spiritual affinity.  These are works that have my spirit shouting, “Yes!”  And Varley’s Stormy Weather is first among them.

Here are two pieces — I could have added a whole gallery full — that caused me to try to do the impossible of catching their spirit in a photograph.  Stormy Weather, of course, and Tom Thomson’s little sketch painting of a storm, not much bigger than a foot square, which jolted me when I saw it.  I had never known it, but it just jumped out at me — or, perhaps I should say, pulled me into it.

What a joy it is to love works of art so much that they reduce you to tears.  I don’t often talk about being blessed, but I felt blessed to see these works in person.  I’m a better and a richer man for those few hours yesterday in the presence of those works.  My bucket is emptier but my heart is fuller.


8 thoughts on “Bucket list, of a sort”

  1. I found you through your trilogy of Neither wolf not dog. You are such an interesting man I think my bucket list would be to meet you and enjoy conversation with you. Thank you for opening many doors for me.

  2. Mary Lou Panatopoulos

    I met you through your trilogy Neither Wolf Nor Dog. I am fascinated with your education and experiences. You have touched my soul. I look forward to reading more of your works.

  3. I have been brought to tears by art. At the Art Institute of Chicago seeing Monet’s Waterlilies. I came around a corner into the gallery, and never dreamed the canvas was so large it stunned me into silence, then tears. Thank you.

  4. Eileen Patricia Walsh

    In Amsterdam I went to random art museums; I didn’t know enough to be choosy so I made opportunities for serendipity. This is how I stumbled on The Black Watch, and spent an incredulous hour looking at it from different angles. The best experience was being on the second floor of some old house-type museum, with few customers close to closing, where I kept saying “one more room” until I got to an empty room, stood in the doorway and glanced to the left, and there was A Girl With a Pearl Earring” at eye level, right next to me.

  5. Was born too old for Milan. Went there a few years ago on a steam hot summer day. Felt totally overwhelmed.

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