Saturday, March 21, 2009

day +578

I can't believe it, but today marks 19 months since my allo stem cell transplant. 19 months! Wow. It seems so long.

The weather is terrific today. I spent the early afternoon exploring the Bronx Museum of the Arts' new exhibition, Intersections: Grand Concourse at 100. Last weekend, I visited a friend upstate where we saw the traveling show, Thomas Chambers (1808-1869): American Marine and Landscape Painter. I knew nothing about the scope of this artist's work before this exhibition. There's a famous painting he did of the venerable Old Ironsides (U.S.S. Constitution), but I didn't even know that he had done this.

His work is captivating. They're energetic, turbulent, romantic, and colored in rich, warm tones. In addition, I love the way in which he depicts clouds and vegetation, especially trees. Nature on his canvases isn't static. It's engaged. It's alive. It becomes as much a part of the scene as the main subject itself.

His naive, folksy style of painting runs smack against the more polished, European-inspired academic traditions of the Hudson River School of which I'm a faithful admirer. So, for me, learning about his remarkable marine and landscape masterpieces was a real education. I left blown away and moreover, had become a fan.

I'm guilty like so many. I confess that I considered Chambers and others of the naive tradition to be second rate artists. Nothing like the immortal masters, such as Church, Cole, and Bierstadt. But after being exposed to Chambers' fantastic creations and reading a recent NYT article, The Unheralded Pieces of the American Puzzle, I feel so more open to this under appreciated but lovely part of early American art. I can't tell you of the number of times that I've passed by the works of Hicks and his brethren with disinterest. Next time, I will stop and give these talented masters the time that is so due.

Finally, I had wanted to post about this earlier, soon after it happened. But I didn't have the time. Remember when I was stopped and questioned by the police a few weeks ago early one morning, because I was photographing traffic below the Macombs Dam Bridge. Well, guess what? Last Tuesday afternoon, two detectives visited my apartment to ask me questions about the incident. Amazing, heh? I was out at the time, but my mom was home. At first, she thought that perhaps I had gotten sick in the subway until they revealed the nature of their visit. Yes, I photograph bridges, she told them. It's a hobby of mine that I've been doing ever since my second transplant. Letting the cops know that I wasn't some thug that they were looking at, she laid it on them: I am a three-time cancer survivor, who has degrees from Vassar and the University of Chicago, writes and volunteers, and is looking to become a teacher. She gave them a copy of Bridges, the newsletter that I work on, showing them the cover photo of the Brooklyn Bridge which I had taken as well as the credit for it on the back. They told her (a few times) that I had done nothing wrong and that the officers were wrong for stopping me that morning. The matter should have never gotten to their desk, the detectives said, but as it did, they were forced to follow up.

When I arrived home late that night, my mom told me the whole story. The lead detective wanted me to call him back. So I did. I told him everything that happened that morning. He said that what I told him corroborated with what the police officers had told him. They too had been questioned. Again, he stressed that I had done nothing wrong, but he had to follow up. Why did he have to follow up if nothing was wrong? He asked me several more questions about my photography project, cancer history, volunteer work at Sloan, and employment. And that was pretty much it.

I couldn't believe that the cops actually came to my apartment, but I took the incident in good humor. My mom seemed to as well after she realized what it was about.

Unfortunately, there's so much distrust and fear out there . . . about ourselves and each other. America is not a police state. I've lived in police states and seen what they're like. But I do worry about this heavy handedness against our civil liberties. There must be some semblance of equanimity.

But I continue to shoot. Shoot I must.


Comment Anonymous Terri said...

First, a big congratulations on your anniversary!! You were right about the police, I was naive. I'm glad (and surprised) that they were civil and had common sense. Your poor mother, showing them your newletter as proof. Hey, at least she had a golden opportunity to brag about her son. I still think that it's great for citizens/the police to be alert. They could quickly determine that you weren't a sniper or a terrorist and then go catch
real criminals, hopefully!

10:30 AM  

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