An Afternoon at LACMA

 

Candy Darling by Greer Lankton

If you are one of those extremely sensitive types, like me, a visit to an art museum can be a comfort. With a little extra time, I decided to visit Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a museum I belonged to for over 15 years, It was free after 3 so I wanted to take advantage of the deal.

I think museums are supposed to inspire us to reach higher, love more compassionately, live more adventurously. Go back to the canvas or the notebook or the laptop. Be prolific like Hockney. Don’t be waylaid by depression or self-doubt.

I walk around museums trying to determine where my art or art plight lands in all of this. I know I am no painter or sculptor or visual artists, but these last few months, I have things I have wanted to say, to espouse, to pontificate, even. I tell myself that the daily pickles I find myself in, others can relate to. I tell myself that if I can share my struggle, a weight might be lifted, a corner turned, and I might begin the walk into an easier period of my life.

There is a graceful irony in that we go to museums to absorb beautiful paintings and drawings and art installations that are mostly rooted in someone’s pain. Maybe a lot of people’s pains. And artists create in hopes of lessening their own pain. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

When I walk around LACMA, I can’t help but notice the benefactors’ names on the wall and in the galleries. One woman, figured prominently at LACMA, berated me several months ago because she did not like any of the tables my then restaurant had available for her. It was either raining or unseasonably warm, I can’t remember but we had 60% of the normal real estate. He impatience was directed at me and she shamed me loudly in front of other guests. Over a table. Her pain is a pain as much as anyone else’s. She left feeling like the restaurant had not acknowledged and responded accordingly to her elevated value as a human.

I know that some people go to museums to see works that we know to be worth several dollars. We go to see famous names like Picasso and Giacometti and Rothko and Warhol.

Most, or at least some, go to the museum to see those pieces that speak to you, maybe they challenge you, or comfort you, or remind you of a time or a person that you loved and went away. Maybe you drink up everything by Mapplethorpe and Cadmus and Eakins because you want to understand more about yourself and your own attractions and point of view.

Today, at LACMA I encountered two really beautiful pieces by an artist I had never heard of, Greer Lankton.

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Jackie O by Greer Lankton

Greer Lankton was born in 1958 and died in 1996 at 38 year old, gender identity was always at the center of her work. She struggled with anorexia and drug addiction her entire prolific, yet short life.

Since I got home tonight, I couldn’t stop thinking about Greer as well as two of her muses, Candy Darling and Jackie O. Women of strength who were no strangers to tragedy and misunderstanding. All long gone now and thankfully, and yes, that word again, gracefully, they are still among us, as examples, angels, lights, cautionary tales, glamaristas. These haunting, odd, beautiful dolls keep these women alive and we absorb their pain and they absorb ours.