The City is Dark – in Art & Life (O’Keeffe, NYC, Art in Bloom/Mia/Minneapolis, MN)

Cher’s Famous Art

25 April 2020

“City Night”

by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1889, Oil Paint, American

This COVID-19 pandemic has deprived me of one of my favorite pastimes in the spring: time at the Mia. 

First, I lead a tour of my university art history students to discover the delights of seeing art first-hand after studying it only in the pages of a book. This spring there was no Mia class, no students to get excited about seeing art up close and in person.

“City Night”

O’Keeffe’s “City Night” is shown here with an Art in Bloom floral arrangement at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN (Mia). 

City Night by Georgia O’Keeffe, Minneapolis Institute of Art – Art in Bloom

Art in Bloom

Second, this weekend each spring Mia holds an event called Art in Bloom in which local floral artists create arrangements using fresh flowers, inspired by the art works in Mia’s collection.  The colors and smells are intoxicating!  I look forward to it all year.  Sadly, this year . . . like most museums . . . the Mia is closed. No tours. No Art in Bloom.  Sad.

This painting is also significant both to me personally–and for this time.  Georgia O’Keeffe is one of my favorite artists; born in Wisconsin, she did most of her art in New York City and New Mexico.  This painting reminds me of when I moved from Minnesota to New York City years ago as a young woman and tall, cold, gray NYC buildings replaced tall, alive, green MN trees.  It was a time that challenged me–but also expanded my world in ways I could never imagine. NYC is an exciting city; it is alive, inspiring and for me, it was a place of exploration; it was full of art in its many museums! Working in mid-town Manhattan, I had its fabulous art museums at my fingertips! I could just pop in for a taste of art after work–or spend hours exploring their vast treasures for a 7 course meal on my day off. I’d always loved to study great art, but having been raised in rural Minnesota, the opportunities were few and far between. I got hooked on exploring museums as a college art student at the University of Minnesota, but again, opportunities were limited. I drank in all that New York City had to offer. It was the impetus that eventually led me to teach art history classes. My goal was to inspire other young people to explore and enjoy great art as I did.

New York City is…Dark

The dark buildings of O’Keeffe’s painting also remind me of the darkness that has enveloped NYC during this pandemic. Not only are the museums closed, but the city that never sleeps has literally been closed, shut down. Like in this painting, the windows are dark; everyone is gone.  I know that is not what the artist envisioned in 1889, but it resonates true today.

Mia – a “hidden jewel”

The Mia is a great museum, a “hidden jewel” in the middle of the country between the great museums of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Every time I travel abroad to world class museums and come home to the Mia, I appreciate it more and more. And, admission is FREE!

If you want a sample of what the Minneapolis Institute of Art has to offer, I’ve dedicated a blog post to my favorites. The Mia website has great visual tours http://artsmia.org  It is not quite the same as in person, but worth a visit! And, once the world opens up again, I encourage you to pay Mia a visit!

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