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Spontaneous Philadelphia

Last Friday, I went down to Philadelphia to finish up a tattoo I’ve been working on for ages. After a mishap with my appointment, and tempted with the possibility of rescheduling for the next day, I ended up on a surprise mini-vacation. (And thanks to Automattic being distributed, plus filled with some of the best people ever, my good friend/coworker let us crash for a night.)

Having an unexpectedly free afternoon meant I was completely unsure of what to do. I’m a planner, and I usually have lists filled with what needs to be accomplished every hour. (Yes, I realize how that makes me sound.) So after lunch and a surprise visit on my team’s weekly hangout, I made my way over to the Philadelphia Art Museum.

No matter where I’ve traveled, the Philadelphia Art Museum remains my favorite. My love was solidified after a trip with my mother when I was about fourteen and she was indulging my newfound love of modern art. There was something about that visit that completely inspired me. After grabbing a new notebook in the museum gift shop, poetry just flowed out of me. I think I wrote about seven poems that night, ones that I look back on now and still enjoy. Ever since then, the Philadelphia Art Museum always felt like an especially magical place for me.

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During his trip, I saw the special Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography exhibit. As I walked through, I was particularly struck by his street photography and parallels between his subjects and the currently popular Humans of New York. At the end of the day, people are just people and a good photographer can capture that oneness like no other.

Similarly, his work in New Mexico was a nice surprise, including his iconic photograph of Georgia O’Keefe. I loved to see pictures of Taos, NM included, as well, which is one of my favorite places I’ve visited and even took some similar shots while I’ll was there.

Downstairs, Full Circle: Works on Paper by Richard Pousette-Dart was an interesting exploration of texture, abstract art, and design. What I liked most about Poussette-Dart’s work was the handmade paper on which he drew his designs. The variations in texture and the unfinished edges gave his work an air of organic disarray.

As I made my way through the museum, I stumbled across Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, which gave me chills the first time I finally saw them in person on a class trip. However, I was on a mission to find Marcel DuChamp’s work. As I made my way through all of the modern art, I smiled as I found that familiar white room, filled with sunlight flowing through DuChamp’s Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors.

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When I fell in love with art, I fell in love with Dadaist art in particular. Developed right in the heart of World War I, Dadaism questioned everything we thought we knew. It was designed to provoke, inspire, rebel, and tease. My favorite example, of course, is DuChamp’s Fountain, signed under the pseudonym “R.Mutt.” I love watching people get angry, questioning why a urinal, of all things, should be in a museum. Of course, that is precisely the point.

The Dadaists were experts at poking fun of the way the upper middle class sanitized artwork, designed to make them feel certain emotions, such as beauty and joy, when there was a war going on. The same sentiment can, of course, be applied to today.

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As I left the museum, I walked over to rybrew to get some tea and pick up a few goodies for dinner. We later made our way over to Frankford Hall for some Jenga and outdoor seating on a beautiful night. The next morning, Pure Sweets and Co. was the backdrop for lunch where I had a fantastic vegan, gluten-free quiche and pumpkin bread. It can be tough finding things to eat on my diet, but anytime I find a gem of a vegan/gluten-free juice bar, I feel even more inspired to experiment at home.

It may not have worked out at planned, but it was a beautiful and spontaneous weekend, Philly-style.

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