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The Games People Play...

I am a docent.

At an art museum.

Before you roll your eyes remembering that boring academic lecture in front of a Cezanne on a docent tour you suffered through, I need to tell you that at The San Diego Museum of Art, we docents do things differently.

Interactive. Conversational. And often quite fun.

There's a new interactive installation in the portrait gallery.

Here’s one of my favorite docent colleagues, Pam Munro, fooling around with it:

Her first outcome looked like this!

Looks like fun, huh?

Many entertaining, emotional, and educational happenings go on in an art museum. I wrote about a few of those in my new book, After Goya – A Mature-ish Fairytale.

About Anya, the aging princess, and her emotional visit to the museum:

"She did eventually and moved slowly to the middle of the breathlessly quiet gallery. Across the vast space, the dramatic intensity emanating from a striking small canvas mesmerized, drawing her toward it. As she stared at the radiant light on the young man’s right cheek, she let out a long sigh and crossed her hands across her chest, grasping her shoulders. Her heartbeat slowed, beating calm and steady. Rembrandt, the talented twentysomething, gazed directly at her; she stood stone-still, simply taking in the artist and his art. She stayed with Rembrandt’s stunning self-portrait for a long time, long enough to take her away from the cares and concerns of the contemporary world."

About a prominent contemporary artist and her work:

"At the San Diego Museum of Art, the Paintings from the Confinement exhibition featured small paintings in tempera by Marianela de la Hoz. The artist’s Online Mourning[GW1]  portrays a man slumped over in grief; on his computer screen is a memorial service for a loved one. In this mighty and powerful small image, she comments, 'In this era of seclusion where everything is done online, attending a funeral might be the saddest event in our lives.'

The artist stated, 'We are no longer the same as we once were; will we be better or worse after the confinement? Have we really learned from having witnessed and lived through so much pain, so much uncertainty, so many deaths, or will we pretend that everything is the same?'

Anya knew things would never be the same after the pandemic."

And about how that mature-ish fairy tale between Anya and Marcus began in the art museum:

"As a nod to his demeanor, which, at the time, she categorized as somewhat highbrow and a bit haughty, Anya gave Marcus the Goya oil painting—an important Spanish neoclassical-style portrait and a cornerstone of the museum’s European collection. Somehow the aristocratic and refined Duque de la Roca, Goya’s sitter, reminded her of her student, the surgeon. He came off a bit pompous at times. Maybe because he had been a docent at the Yale Center for British Art before relocating to San Diego. What is it about those Ivy League sorts that intimidate the rest of us? Anna asked herself. No doubt he knows a lot about things I don’t know about, but it is my responsibility to make certain he’s trained in our style, she counseled herself.

He’ll like this assignment she decided and took some time to look at the painting again. Yeah, it’s a good match, she told herself."  

And how that same mature-ish fairy tale blossomed fully in that same museum:

"As Anya lingered, she wondered how on earth Goya, the painter, could ever have imagined the lasting ripple effects of his portrait. That his portrait, created so long ago would have such resonance hundreds of years later in a faraway land for a make-believe princess living high on a hill . . .

And how could either the suave surgeon—her prince—or she ever have entertained the notion that their love affair would unfold from a work of art, his endearing interpretation of the museum’s painting by Goya? Same color palette. Scarlet reds, crisp whites, and heavenly sky blues. Round cherry cheeks, a pouting smooch of a mouth, a quizzical and hopeful expression on a melancholy face; a sloped body in an open and inviting soft S-shaped pose angling toward her. So unlike the Spanish general’s erect, soldierly posture and stern expression."


I am a docent.

At an art museum.

At the San Diego Museum of Art.

I am also a writer.

I find inspiration for my writing in not only the prestigious collection of art at The San Diego Museum of Art, but also from docents there like my silly, spunky, super smart friend, Pam.



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Well that's fun. Making faces, I mean. Love all that you do.

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