Together At Last

She is in the Philadelphia Art Museum.  He in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

When I went to the Philadelphia Museum, I told her that I had located him.  She was so happy. 

The guard told me to step back because I was too close to her. 


Portrait, 1912, painted oil on canvas by Alexei von Jawlensky, 1864- 1941, Russian Expressionist active in Germany.  Philadelphia Museum of Art.

 When I saw him at the Metropolitan Museum of Art I leaned forward and showed him this photo of her and asked him if he had been looking for her.  “Yes,” he said.  Where is she?  Can you take me to her?”

The guard told me to step back because I was too close to him.  


A portrait of Andre Derain, 1906, oil on cardboard, by Maurice de Vlaminck, French, 1876-1958.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The first he ever saw her was in a park in Berlin on a hot, hot day.  She was camouflaged in the flora.

Frantisek Kupka, Mme. Kupka Among Verticals, 1910-11. MOMA-1

Frantisek Kupka, Mme. Kupka Among Verticals, 1910-11. MOMA-2

Mme. Kupka among The Verticals, 1910-11.   And details. Oil on canvas.   A painting of Frantisek Kupka, 1871-1957, Czech. MOMA, New York. 2016.

He watched and followed as she emerges onto a path.  He approached.  It was love at first sight.

August Macke, Lady in a Park, 1914. MOMA-1

Lady in a Park, 1914, oil on canvas.  August Macke, 1887-1914. MOMA, New York. 2016

The creators of these paintings, along with Andre Derain himself and others in France and Germany including, of course,  Henri Matisse participated in the uses of color as expression in the first half of the 20th century.   

 No sooner had their affair begun when the park lovers had to flee Germany.  The Nazis had come to power.  They both separately reached the United States.  They were separated until now.

The two, who are close in age, spend much time now on the bus between the two cities because they are still on display in their separate cities during open hours at each museum.

 So glad.  They will be steaming up the museum corridors dancing a fiery tango.  When the guards start work in the morning, they will be puzzled by dried flecks of paint up and down the corridors.  Slivers of wood also.

2016 being a leap year, she is thinking about what next. She has a couple of weeks to decide. 

She does not want to pastel out, however, like the shades of this card (1920’s, United States).

She thinks Mabel would have had better luck with John if she had worn livelier colours and avoided the unsubtle hint of the white of a bride not yet a bride.  As it is, John is squirming in his seat and is saying that he wants to go home.

Valentine cards Bethken-02

Cupid (Eros) has come to me in a dream.  He is not amused.  You can see that.


A detail of Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus would freeze (love needs food and wine to thrive); 1600-1603; a drawing of unparalleled skill by Hendrik Goltzius, 1558-1617, German-born Dutch.  Ink made with a burin.  Philadelphia Art Musuem.

Cupid is one of the primordial gods.  He was created when time and eternity and chaos came into being. 

Cupid heard the sweet sound of tango of the lovers in the corridors of the Philadelphia Museum and flew over the great staircase to the modern galleries to witness the commotion.  

 He wants to remind me that it is not I who effected the match I describe above but he, as always, moving secretly in the hearts of those open to him.

Second, he wants to know if it is he who is being portrayed in the pastel postcard:  a half human baby, half cat with blue wings and a tail sitting in front of the fireplace casting aspersions about what Mabel is doing because it is Leap Day.

 I try to explain:  this is an American postcard. We enjoy irreverence when it comes to gods not our own. Gods change with every civilization, I say.

Cupid is even less amused.  I am a Primordial Immortal, he shouts.

That’s it for Mabel and John, Cupid says, still shouting.  All over.  And he flies back to Ceres and Bacchus.


The featured painting is a detail of a composition by Frank Bramblett, 1947-2015,  American.  Razzle-Dazzle, 1999, made of mixed media, pigments, marble dust, diatomaceous earth and encaustic on panel.

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