The last couple of weeks in Knoxville have been cold, rainy and dreary. We are preparing for Christmas and awaiting Olivia’s arrival from Haiti for a visit. Rather than ask Santa for more “things”, I decided another excursion was in order. After my NYC trip, I got curious about what was on display at the High Museum in Atlanta, a much closer option. “Infinity Mirrors” by Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese artist, was showing. Now I had never heard of this artist before, but it turns out she was very cutting edge back in the 60’s and 70’s and is still active in her 90’s(so inspiring!).
Getting a ticket was not so easy, but I finally scored one on Ebay. It was for 6:30 pm on a Thursday evening, which was a bit awkward, so I tried to find a place to stay for the night in Midtown. The Artmore Hotel was right behind the museum on West Peachtree, not too pricey and very comfortable. I decided to round out the trip with a lunch date out in John’s Creek with Holly Ozsan and her friend, Rick, before returning home the next day.
Driving in Atlanta is not for the faint-hearted. I frankly dread it. It takes something special to get me to go. Art show, theatre, music? That will do it. Visit with friends? That too. Add on a trip to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market and watch me pack!
Google Maps came in handy again and I found the Artmore Hotel with relative ease. It is dwarfed by the buildings surrounding it, Spanish Stucco and looks like it was once an apartment building. I am glad they have preserved it! I stashed my car with valet parking, checked in and stretched out for awhile. Around 5:30 I changed from my usual jeans and sweatshirt into black pants, a velour tunic and suede booties. I even put on a bit of make-up! Had a Cosmopolitan and some goldfish crackers in the hotel lobby, put on my winter coat and headed across the street for the short walk up to the museum.
Folks were already lining up for the exhibit and we had a while to wait, so I did some people watching. I was glad I had made the effort “to dress” because most everyone else had, too. An artsy crowd for sure! Lots of boots, some seriously fancy and seriously high heels, furry and feathered hats, elegant hairdos, red lipstick and retro eyeglass frames. Sequined dresses, short skirts and men looking dapper in suits, vests and caps.
There were 5 “stations” in the exhibit which you had to stand in line to wait for. You and 2 other people were let into the rooms for 30 seconds with the doors closed while you experienced the exhibit. All had mirrors, so your image surrounded by the art was reflected back to you. One had hanging strobe lights, another star-like lights that seemed to go on forever. Outside in the common areas were paintings and sculptures by the artist, some in paper mache, some in cloth. Kusama favors primary, cheerful colors.
Yayoi Kusama loves dots, dreamed of dots, hallucinated dots. She was also obsessed with penises (yes, I said the word penis) because they frightened her. As a child, her mother forced Yayoi to spy on her philandering father having intercourse with his various girlfriends. She would attempt to address the resulting fears by stuffing penis shaped pieces of cloth and adorning chairs and canvases with them, hoping to rid herself of the problem. She also uses a lot of tentacle shapes, shapes of microbes and gourd shapes. These are usually covered in precise patterns of dots.
The last two stations featured one area with enormous floating balloons that were covered with more dots. The last room, “Obliteration” allowed you to cover the white walls and furniture with more colorful dots before you exit.
After the exhibit, I wandered out to Peachtree Street and saw these beautiful, light-wrapped trees. Across the street in Colony Square, I had a great supper of shrimp and grits at 5 Church: many were out celebrating and the restaurant featured both a Christmas tree and a menorah.
The next morning I woke up to rain. I drove out to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market by 10 o’clock, again using Google Maps. It is an enormous market and feeds a lot of people. Many immigrants shop there (and also work there). It used to be a regular destination for me to get products I could not easily find in Knoxville, but that has changed over the years. I found a big bunch of dill to share with my mother, a slab of onion foccacia to share with Kevin and duck breasts that I am going to cook later this week.
My last stop was with Holly Ozsan and her friend Rick. We had a very relaxing, almost 2 hour lunch and great conversation! Until next time, Atlanta!