This past November, I began volunteering at the Museum of Modern Art. It took a while to get on board there. I filled out their 10-page application and sent it in–more than a year ago. They pretty much told me that they’d get in touch if someone died, and so I forgot all about it. So I was a bit surprised when they got in touch with me in October for the first of two interviews to see if I was good enough to give up two Saturdays a month for free. After I told them I worked as a real museum employee for six years, they deemed me worthy to hand out stickers for their free gallery talks and now I have unlimited access to one of the world’s finest museums. Since then, I’ve spent about seven hours each month wandering the galleries (and indulging in some world-class people-watching), and I discover something new each time. Right now, there’s a new exhibition up of a recent bequest of a significant collection of American art made between the late 1960s and the present, a period about which I know very little. The two most “name-brand” artists in the show are Philip Guston and Mark Di Suvero, but some of the lesser-known ones struck me more strongly. The first was a simplified, iconic painting of a horse by Susan Rothenberg (I’ve posted a similar work of hers here); the second was an abstract painting titled “Room,” by Jake Berthot (again, a similar image here). The best part is that these galleries are largely bypassed by the tourists bent on photographing each other in front of the Van Goghs and Picassos–nothing against them, but visitors stand ten deep at those paintings, which quickly becomes maddening. By contrast, the contemporary galleries are nearly deserted. I guess, being so crowd-averse, I’m in the wrong line of volunteer work, but the free admission is too good to give up.

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