Fifteen years ago today, George Rodrigue and I married beneath a Louisiana live oak, the same Evangeline-style tree he’s painted for years, in Rip Van Winkle Gardens at Jefferson Island, Louisiana. It was a stormy day, and yet the sun emerged just long enough, as we exchanged our vows.
“It seems like yesterday,” said George’s publishing agent, Roz Cole, last night, as we enjoyed chocolate cake and Perrier-Jouet in New York City. “It seems like thirty years ago,” mumbled George, half-laughing. And yet I knew what he meant, even as we played gin rummy in our hotel room well past midnight, arguing modern art between hands.
“It makes you sick,” said George, earlier this week, to himself more than to me, as we walked through the Museum of Modern Art’s contemporary galleries.
To see what the art world’s become? I asked.
“Yeah, it really does. I mean, am I at a trade show in Salt Lake City or in one of the most magnificent museums in the world? Video, chop box, trash, candy in piles. I’ll come back next year, like I do every year, and hope for the better.”
I coaxed him from the giant atrium and the small red tuft, and we shuffled through crumpled pieces of red notebook paper (part of an installation), to Cindy Sherman.
“Who?” came the question I expected.
I caught him watching me, as my eyes and brain expanded around the magnificent show, forty years of photographs of a single subject: herself.
“What a gimmick!” said the Blue Dog Man, a bit too loud. People glanced disapprovingly, and I pulled him out, planning my return alone, and knowing that he admires Sherman, her gimmick, and especially her fortitude, but that the fun exists in grumbling.
We ran through Diego Rivera's murals ("Genius!" exclaimed George, disappointed that I even asked), paused, as we always do, at Balzac, where George leaned slightly back on his heels, mimicking the giant bronze figure's diagonal stance, and headed for The Modern (Cafe), where we spent three hours discussing our new purchase: Sherman's catalogue.
“It was graceful and beautifully surreal,” texted my childhood friend Lisa this morning about our wedding, and I’m reminded that the chaotic reality show (long before reality shows) that seemed overnight to become my life may actually have been a real life fairytale, as I walked around an age-old tree, from twelve years alone to fifteen years together, cherished, occasionally misunderstood, yet more often redefined. In a word, awesome.
-for a related post, see “I First Loved Picasso,” linked here-
-also this week, “Francis Pavy: A Bicentennial Exhibition,” my latest story for Gambit Weekly, linked here-