Sunday, July 04, 2010

Memories of Melasti Street

Two weeks in Bali is better than Sixty Minutes - Lettering on Australian teeshirts circa 1990 in protest over a negative Sixty Minutes' report on Bali

"Big BambĂș", rooftop garden, the Met
My good friend Babs and I were sitting on a bench in the shade, on top of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was our first stop there, and we had organized our itinerary.

To our right was Doug and Mike Starn's exhibition of sticks of bamboo, tied together. You can see a small part of it in the photo on the left. It will, when it is finished measure 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 50 feet high.

"We could be in Bali," I said to B as we sipped our cocktails in the heat. She agreed. The bamboo looked exactly like building scaffolding I'd seen many times in Bali. What with the heat and humidity and the casual attire of the tourists who were everywhere, it felt like a day on Jalan Melasti, the street that runs through Kuta and Legian on the southern coast of the beautiful island of Bali.

We were having an afternoon at the museum. New York style. After cocktails at the roof garden, we went to a contemporary photography exhibition - "Between Here and There". The exhibition contains photos that "reflect on post-national, global existence, and examine perceptual and psychological disconnections "that accompany the same seismic transformations." Well that's what the writing on the wall told us. I'll take the curator's word for it.

But global seismology aside, the exhibition is worth going to, for Rineke Dijkstra's portraits of the transformation of a girl through adolescence to young adulthood alone.

"Look at that study in pink," Babs nudged me. I looked around at the photos, and then when I was about to tell Babs I had no idea what photo she was referring to, I spotted the object of her concealed attention.

It was a man, dressed in 1950s type clothes of an American housewife on her way to the PTA. Pink dress and pearls. And carrying a pink clasp purse. The dress which ended just below the knees failed to conceal two very hairy legs. As the man turned I saw that he hadn't shaved for several days. And what's more he was wearing man shoes.

"His girlfriend seems normal enough," I said to Babs. She agreed and said we'd best get moving if we were to cover the Picasso exhibition, the "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity" exhibition, cocktails on the balcony with music, and dinner at the Trustees Restaurant.

So we hot-footed it through what must have been several hundred Picassos in half a dozen or so rooms, past the twenty Rodins and on to the American Women fashion identity thing.

We loved it. Sample of costumes from eras of "Gibson Girls," "Bohemians," "Flappers" and "Screen Sirens, and movie clips of the all time greats of the thirties and forties projected on to the walls.

Through the Egyptian Gallery. "Why are all the Egyptians portrait in profile?" I asked Babs. She didn't know. Then she ducked in to Tutenkhamen's funeral, joining me 90 seconds later.

We were making excellent time. So we virtually strolled to the elevator. I noted that B called it a "lift". The heat must have been getting to her. Certainly it was getting to me. I'm dehydrated I told her. So we stopped of at the Trustees' restaurant, looked quickly at the menu, booked in for 6:30 and hurried down to the music area on the balcony.

The effect of the cocktails on the roof was wearing off, so we ordered white wine. Time got away from us as we talked about anything and everything and whether New York museums were better than the Tate or the Louvre. A tourist asked us what a "dime" was worth. We told her. All very cosmopolitan at the Metropolitan ...

We had the waitress call up to the restaurant to tell them we were running late.

But eventually we made it, ordered wine and food and relaxed after our fruitful late afternoon.

Suddenly it was ten o'clock. How time flies. We paid the bill and walked through the museum to the steps on Fifth. It was eerie, cool and quiet. Rooms that had been chockers just a few hours ago were deserted. I liked it. So did B.

We walked up Fifth, Central Park on our left and turned down 86th to Lex where B got the subway. I walked the next few blocks home.

New York!


Anonymous said...

Great day, ladies.

Grahame said...

I love the Met, only been there once, but every time I went into another room, there was a another painting I had studied in my high school art class!

Jaded NYer said...

This sounds like a fun day. Bet those old fashioned fashions were COOL.

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