Standing at the "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte"

Une anecdote de Un dimanche après-midi à l'Ile de la Grande Jatte

Skritch skritch go my Keen sandals on the wooden floor. Painting hung from the ceiling to thigh level. If I were levitated the painting would still exceed me in both height and width. Disappointing it does not rest on the floor. We are meant to regard then walk into it. Now it would take a lean over the sill and a slide on the belly or a scissors kick to get within. Like spotting a pie in a window, then noting more pies worth sampling indoors.

I took this photo.

Except for the glass pane. Disappointing, careful textured work now pressed behind it (or is it suspended above the paint?). Fear of a maniac somewhere, a testimony to the power of art by violating it with a slash and a chant or prayer for glory to be known as the maniac who...

To be honest, I'm not incapable of that, if ever riled. Double negative. A continental affectation. I am capable. A SERIOUSLY crabby mood, though. Until then, I shake my head at such people. Alas, ye erratic apes.

Shuffle my feet up to the calf-level stanchion wire.

Now for the inevitable tension between me and the museum docents/staff - how close will they let me get? Shall I squint and feign nearsightedness? No staff in the room. Security monitors scrutinized now, or do the cameras record for future review after the alleged deed? How close could I get before security is summoned, or would an amplified voice intervene first? "Sir! Back from the painting, please!" Me? Sir? The room turns and throws darts of disdain.

Light is diffuse enough to minimize the glare, yet. Damn it. I want to near my eyes and nose and mouth to see if the little dots taste like candy. Pointilistic dapples of tinted sugar, right?

How if I take off my sandals, and in my socks hop atop the wire with an initial wobble then with yoga breathing attain balance. Would those little metal posts groan toward my poised but 191 pounds of heft as I scan around and then peer deeper, hips jutting backward to balance?

Sod it, I'll only be here once. The wire is a guideline. I shuffle my feet so my toes transgress the imaginary forcefield. Such daring, may be only the 12th or 50th asshole to congratulate himself for such courage today. Or in the last hour. It's a museum. The artistic mind, even manqué minds, tend toward criminal pathologies. And as anyone who has had a phone or wallet or bike stolen or home broken into, most criminals like aesthetes are pedestrian.

Closer in. My sense of people standing behind me waiting for their chance at unmolested regard, or to take their ironic/irreverent/"Oh, YOU!" photo trying to pose within Seurat's work, wanes. Foiling those who would extend the sight to a tableau vivante may be why the painting is raised. Eyes go out of focus then pull into sharpness By the man's hand. As he was. As he wanted people generations later to see, my turn to obey his orders.

Feet standing upon the ooze of the grass on that day. Not closely cut, but the impression of cropped solidity by piling the blips of accumulated colors just so. Point your toes in, your feet drawn into the muck up to your ankles.

Nods to things in motion, but this painting is not alive. It is not a snapshot of a moment. It is a series of comments. Frozen impressions. Not drawn in to walk around each object. Frolicsome dog, garbage curious dog, distant frolicsome dog, playful child, tense arced back monkey all inserted to connote motion but Georges knew better, knew it was a dodge. We know better. Each point carefully applied. To bring in motion as crass and clumsy as a diorama of posed, pinned butterflies.

Dots of pods and seeds, beside flecks of dashed chaff, over golden grains. There is a sound of rustling waves of grass. Not totally inert here.

Micro splotches of milky pastel candies stacked on each other like leaves fallen sideways adhering to the canvas. Can hear the water. Smell the water. Was the grass freshly cut? Septic problems making the coloacal and mictural necessities more prevalent. Air fresher on the island shore? A sound behind in the room draws me back away and in the whoosh a whiff of paint a century past pushes by then is gone.

Bearded Mandy Patinkin in a white smock stands on a ladder painting on the other side of the scrim, harrumphnifting at something ripe delicate Bernadette Peters said to him. But now the work is done, I am not looking through the gauze of staged canvas to watch him, but standing to regard what he did, the complete object, from where he did it, the true Seurat absent and instead selectively dramatized as he wanted here.

I took this photo, too.

"What do you think...?" there is no one beside me. Only me. Uttered nothing.

Où est Georges?

Bet he was going to remain out, then overcame his reserve (in defiance of...?) to ultimately add his avatar. Seeing to the future, clearest detail, solo, drawing on his pipe. Sunlight warming his legs and pants and his feet obscured. Staring to the water knowing he would portray the world behind him. Not accurately, not needing to retain each element as it was. Who was truly behind and beside and before him at that time? Did not matter to him, as it does not to us now. The moment would be his, as he wanted it, and that would be what lasted.

"Un dimanche après-midi à l'Ile de la Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat. Photo borrowed from the internet.

"Un dimanche après-midi à l'Ile de la Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat. Photo borrowed from the internet.