An afternoon at the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery

I spent my last year of high school  living  in Antwerp, Belgium, just a block away from the Musee des Beux Arts. It was possible to walk to the museum, and stroll past the Magrittes, and Delvaux, and park  on a bench in front of a Bruegel and contemplate the Fall of Icarus for an hour, undisturbed.  Antwerp was way off the tourist radar, and the place was an empty respite from rainy Belgian afternoons and the gloomy company of my parents.

Visiting the Walker is nothing like a visit to the Beaux Arts. It’s a raucous art mall, in comparison.  But there are plenty of amazing galleries, right in St. Paul, where you can enter and find yourself alone,  to gaze at the work, and allow yourself to be transported, or transformed.

I was a little daunted by the task of finding my way to the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery. Even if it had not been the day after the most recent snow storm, I had to steel myself with some instructions from a friend about where to park and how to enter the building.  But several of my friends in the arts had told me that the show was well worth a visit, and now I’m writing a post to attest to their truth.

There are only a few days left to see this show – it is up through April 3.  It’s worth scrounging around for parking on Randolph Avenue, and traversing slippery sidewalks and confronting the “brutal” era of concrete construction in which the gallery is housed.

Entering the gallery is like entering a chapel –   except  this chapel is a place  for the  worship for humanism.  Stop in front of each of the portraits, and allow yourself to look into their eyes.  See how their faces bisect the rays of light. You can inspect the portraits,  and find yourself looking, the way you would  almost never look at  a person.

I hope the gallery of portraits above compels you to make the effort to visit.

The work of Carol Lee Chase is in the gallery opposite.  It is equally compelling, in a completely different way.

Let me know what you think.





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