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An Autobiography: Chapter 43, Cleveland Art Museum

Nashville, Tennessee, is fortunate to have fine museums, and through my graphics corporation, Thurston Moore Country, Ltd., I have produced postcards for several of these: Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art; Belle Meade Plantation; The Parthenon; Upper Room and Chapel Museum; and the Adventure Science Center. When Georgianna and I traveled to other cities, we always tried to visit at least one museum. To name a few we visited: The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts; the Henry Ford Museum; the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California; the Field Museum of Natural History and the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Since 2001, I have represented two Japanese artists who reside in Tokyo: Masaaki Tanaka and his wife, Chikako. In 1979, the Art Institute of Chicago purchased five limited edition/numbered serigraphs by Masaaki, and they are in the permanent collection of their department of Asian art.

Writing about Chicago reminds me of the time Georgianna and I spent the day walking in and out of museums, and in the afternoon walked a long distance to the Adler Planetarium. We were so tried that we sat down to rest a few minutes, and we both fell sound asleep with people walking by!

New York City has more than 100 museums covering every subject imaginable. We loved the Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, with its spiral staircase and unique museum space. And, of course, the Metropolitan Museum of Art ranks with the great museums of the world. On one of our visits there, we discovered a work by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1912). We sat there for a long time, looking at that masterpiece of the Rocky Mountains, which was our home for many years. From then on, Bierstadt was one of our favorite artists.

We haunted The Frick Collection several times while we lived in New York, studying the magnificent paintings they have of James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), trying to reconcile the fact that “our Whistler,” which is a magnificent oil painting of his model and mistress, Maud Franklin, is genuine. We have had appraisals both pro and con.

Words of Albert Schweitzer and the Music of Bach was presented in the Baldwin-Wallace College Chapel, Berea, Ohio, on Sunday, January 25, 1998, sponsored by the Riemenschneider Bach Institute. We were excited about seeing this production, partly because it gave us the opportunity of visiting The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Dr. Schweitzer had corresponded with Walter Holtkamp, who had built the organ for the museum auditorium, and he invited Dr. Schweitzer to Cleveland on his only trip to America in 1949, to hear the organ. On our visit in 1998, we met the organist, Karel Paukert, who gave a short concert featuring French composers for attendees in the museum, and before the concert he told about Dr. Schweitzer’s visit.

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The Cleveland Museum of Art 

From 1993 to 2002, I wrote monthly reports which were mailed to our children. Only one time did Georgianna add anything to these reports, and following is her copy.

 The Out of Towners II 

Assuming you’ve seen Neil Simon’s movie, with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis, I shall now relate a bit of subsequent adventure in Cleveland, on January 22-27. Our schedule was to arrive in Cleveland and be housed at the Raddison Hotel in time for a leisurely dinner. Thurston had contracted a rental car, but after 45 minutes shivering in the unaccustomed cold, we realized that no shuttle was going to arrive. So Thurston called the hotel, and their shuttle picked us up and we cancelled the rental car. The shuttle would take us everywhere we wanted to go. GOODY! 

That was Thursday. On Friday, we spent a wonderful day with Elinore Barber, an extraordinary lady who runs the Bach Archive at the Baldwin-Wallace College. She would read the Woman’s part in our program. Elinore visits the Schweitzer House in Gunsbach many summers and knew Schweitzer very well. He treated her as his granddaughter. We were privileged to see original letters from Schweitzer, original manuscripts of Bach and Brahms, and so much more. We visited for over six hours. 

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Elinore Barber (right) with Miranda Scoggins at Hastings College. 

We were treated to a fabulous lunch at the college and became friends with Jeremy. He is a senior at B-W and studies piano and pre-med. He assists Elinore, and he became our buddy, stage manager and chauffer. We appreciated his happy, clunky car very much. He has a friend, Vitos, from Cyprus, who is studying modern music. Jeremy wants to teach and give concerts, get married and have a family. Being in the company of these bright young men during work and meals was a revelation of hope for the future. Elinore is their “Queen Mum.” This little lady in her seventies is a dynamo of brains, heart and dedication, the likes of which I haven’t seen for quite a while. 

Saturday we had a rehearsal scheduled in the evening, so we took a little time to return to the Cleveland Museum. We only had a short time to zip through part of it, and we had lunch in the museum café. We vowed to return the next day and stay all day until time to return to the hotel.  

Now the Sunday saga! The day began calm enough. Breakfast in our room, the Sunday paper, a ride in the hotel shuttle to the airport to get the rapid transit train to the museum shuttle stop. I had decided just to wear my short red coat and forget a hat, gloves, scarf, etc., so as not to be encumbered with them at the museum. After all, we would only be outside for a few minutes – I thought! It was really very cold outside with snow flurries blowing. On our train ride, we were impressed by a lot of really great creative graffiti - an art form all its own. 

We arrived at the museum shuttle stop. We waited 15 minutes, and no bus. We waited 30 minutes, and no bus. We waited, frozen, for 45 minutes in the middle of nowhere, no phone. Thurston had read the shuttle sign wrong; it didn’t run on Sunday until noon. Well, it was noon by then so we made it to the museum, ran for the restroom, and then ate a hasty hot dog at the café.  

At 1:30 we enjoyed an organ concert and then we walked and sat and walked and sat until we were saturated with great paintings. The museum closes at 5 pm, so a little after 4 we decided to head back to the hotel for dinner and a change of clothes before the show at the college. OH YEAH! 

We waited outside the museum for the shuttle, and no one could tell us why it didn’t come. And there was no bench for people to sit on while waiting! Time was passing. It was cold and getting dark, and we were tired and getting hungry. Finally a guard came and told us to walk around to the front of the museum and catch a No. 6 bus to the downtown terminal and take the train back to the airport from there. The front of the building was a long way around a lake and a park. We were frozen, and my left foot was getting sore. At last we arrived at a sheltered bus stop. We waited and waited. All at once, we saw the museum shuttle headed for the museum. We ran across the boulevard to see if it was returning, and just as we gave up on the idea, we missed ole No. 6! We plopped down on a bench at the bus stop, and a little old lady told us her life story - she was very jolly. 

Another 25 minutes froze past, and at last we got the bus and rode for miles and miles to the center of the city. We were desperate and looked for a restroom. They had just closed 15 minutes before. A clerk at the food stand said to go to the adjacent hotel. And we did! A rest room at last, no time to eat, run for the train! We were sitting on the train when I remembered I had a pack of M&Ms in my purse. We shared them, and laughed and laughed, remembering the movie and the Cracker Jack scene. People probably thought we were crazy. 

         At the airport we called the hotel shuttle. The young driver was used to us by then. He kept his motor running while we ran to our room and changed into more presentable clothes. We arrived at the auditorium 30 minutes before show time. It went well, thanks to Jeremy and his crew. We were called on stage as visiting celebrities, and Thurston even signed an autograph! What about that? 

Dinner that night was at midnight with Jeremy, Vitos and Elinore. By 1 am, we were driven to our hotel, and after many hugs and thank-yous, we collapsed. I think we will miss these new friends. 

Me, warmer now, 


Postscript: If you don’t have this film, order it! Then you will really appreciate our Cleveland saga! One of the best comedies ever. Sandy Dennis should have gotten an academy award. Be sure to get the film with Lemmon and Dennis.

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Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis. 

Oh yes. I wrote the museum later and suggested a bench be placed at the shuttle stop. This they did, and sent me a letter thanking me!

Don’t miss the next chapter: Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle