May 11, 2009

Dancing with the Clouds


She wore ruby red glittery Mary Janes. My children had similar shoes in their dress up box and I always smiled when they wanted to wear them in public. Perhaps they fancied themselves a modern day Dorothy, swept away by the tornado of activities, but with an assured way to still return home.

Magic shoes have always captivated me. I know when she put them on her feet, she was charmed, too. I would have snapped a surreptitious photo if cameras had been allowed, but we were at the Warhol museum and photography is prohibited. The irony was not lost on me. A museum devoted to a man who never met a photo opportunity he didn’t like, didn’t allow photography. I was tempted to sneak a photo, but security cameras were recording our every move. (Mercifully, someone braver than I took the attached photo). Big brother watched more carefully than I did. I wonder if the not so hidden cameras saw the red sparkling shoes.

Magic shoes in Warhol’s magic cloud room, a room filled with silver Mylar pillow balloons, migrating slowly around the room propelled by fans. The art is interactive and kinetic, with clouds floating gently around the room; brushing the people, moving away, and drifting near again.

It was enchanting and starkly juxtaposed with the macabre exhibits on the same floor of the gallery. Prior to discovering the Clouds, we saw suicide photos, grisly car accidents, skulls of many pop art colors.

Andy Warhol is one of my favorite artists because he looked at everyday things in ways nobody ever had before. He saw art in soup labels and newspaper headlines. It was art because he said it was art, not because it had ever been even noticed prior. He boxed the contents of what appeared to be the equivalent of a junk drawer and called it a time capsule. The museum encased his unused Christmas cards, pens and business correspondence in a display and we looked. We nodded our heads, knowingly, and looked a bit more. The voyeur was thrilled to glimpse, and even gaze. He made people look twice.

Because I couldn’t take a photo, I looked twice at the little girl in the ruby red slippers. My eyes followed from her feet to her head, filled with ringlets and bright eyes and a giggle that echoed as the clouds drifted around her. The children in the cloud room were simply grateful to play and have a respite from the galleries. The clouds floated by shining and reflecting her glittery shoes.

Children swinging their arms, batting the clouds like makeshift volleyballs, the clouds were indifferent to the glee and continued their steady calm drift. The children danced with joy. The ruby red slippers sparkled against the shiny silver chrome of the little girl’s wheelchair.

Her mother wheeled her back out and I knew, her shoes were indeed magic. For a moment in time, she danced in the clouds.


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