Day #4: The Met, Winslow Homer, American Fashion, and the Temple of Dendur

On day four of our trip, my mother and I took our regular pilgrimage to the Met, in particular to see the Temple of Dendur. A person could spend an entire day in the Met, so we did.

Not only was the Temple of Dendur still standing, but the Met had several new exhibits on display for just this occasion.

We first set out to check out the Met’s exhibition of “Winslow Homer: Crosscurrents,” a new Met exhibit that had been advertised across the city.

Winslow Homer was controversial in his time, which would have been during the Civil War, for depicting people of color in his works and for showing a woman’s bare legs in a painting on the beach. He’d been deeply influenced by the Civil War, which bled into his work, having personally followed the conflict from the North. 

His work took place throughout the Americas, living up to its name of “Crosscurrents” by containing an idyllic, yet dangerous sense of nature, through his depictions of sharks brushing up against ill-fated rafts in the middle of the ocean, choppy waves, storms brewing in the background, and doomed rescue missions across stormy seas. 

I’d never heard of him before, but fell in love with his works. Not only were these poignant, historically-relevant paintings, but they were beautiful and realistic, not chaotic and messy. Most of the artwork that I’d seen from that era featured extremely pale people sitting still with their hands neatly folded in their laps, staring blankly at the viewer, not these sensationalized images of people galavanting across beaches and trying not to drown. We stood in front of the paintings, admiring them until our feet hurt from standing.

From there, we saw the Met Gala’s exhibition. The Met was showcasing their: “In America: An Anthropology of Fashion,” as part of the Met Gala’s “American Style theme.” It feels like it was just yesterday that I was being disappointed by the outfits worn to the Met Gala… and then disappointed again a year later when they were just as bad, if not worse.

What would I have done for the Met Gala, you don’t ask?

For American Style I would have dressed as an homage to Zelda Fitzgerald. She was from the south, moved to New York, enjoyed writing, painting, and swimming, and supposedly either wrote or contributed whole chunks to “The Great Gatsby” (if that’s the case, then F. Scott can go choke). She is everything I have ever wanted to be, up until she burned alive when her mental institution caught on fire. Zelda was America’s first ever flapper girl, making her synonymous with American style and feminism with her skirt at her knees and page boy hair cut. 

For the Gilded Age, I simply would have worn a deeply-ironic gilded soot-gray dress, since Mark Twain coined the phrase “The Gilded Age” to convey the fact that era looked like it was shimmering and golden as a mask for the corruption beneath. Alright, so that’s enough about my Met fantasies. 

After we perused the entire Met and saw the two new exhibits, we closed down the Met in the Temple of Dendur. My mother and I sat in the Temple of Dendur writing our novels. It was as sweet as it sounds. It had always been my dream to live in New York City full time, writing my novels in Central Park, the New York Public Library, and at the Met’s Temple of Dendur, an ancient Egyptian temple that has since been turned into a chic part of the city for parties and, at least once, a Chanel fashion show. As the story goes, the Metropolitan Museum of Art was given the temple as a gift from the Egyptian government before it could be destroyed by the creation of the Aswan Dam. 

So, The Met excavated it brick by brick and the temple has called New York City its home ever since. We wrote until the Met turned out the lights. It was a very productive day and a beautiful one to share with my mother. This was her final day with me in New York before returning to our home. 

My next few days in New York would also be filled with art and perhaps a bit of novel writing. More on that soon.

The Tragic Queen,

Raquel

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