11 July 2012
I. de Young Museum
II. Japanese Tea Garden
Regardless of the destination my travels are not complete without a visit to two places: a garden and an art museum. Each adds substantial enrichment to my spirit and soul. Each opens my personal sensibilities to absorb other dimensions, other worlds. San Francisco makes it easy to fulfill these desires.
The city is stacked with layers of intrigue, because each turn brings more unknown than known. But that seemed to be the modus operandi of the entire journey with my grandchildren. We planned and the city gave more than we plotted.
On the first full day we spent three-quarters of it meandering through exhibitions and permanent collections at the de Young Museum. Then we strolled through outside displays at the Japanese Tea Garden. Each situated side-by-side at the Golden Gate Park where the visible is sheer bliss.
The Golden Gate Park is a gift to all who explore its wonders. Not only is it one of the world’s largest parks, but it holds in its palm some of the most distinguished museums, gardens, historic buildings, and recreational areas. And it even has a buffalo paddock.
When you plan a trip to such a four-star city, opinions of family, friends and notables are considered. With so many recommendations we made a list of our individual choices. One of my must-see destinations was the de Young Museum, which rises on high to greet your senses as you enter Golden Gate Park. While I was captivated by its unusual lines and stardom on the outside, it is its interior design elements that won my attention and heart. Words cannot express the effect of the art upon us.
In the Lens section I have TRIED to record some of the features that were apparent and not so. Still, someday I must return, because we experienced just a slice of its offerings. Every turn gave an ah-ha moment—even my teenage grandchildren were awed and intrigued (mostly) by the modern art and the museum’s outright charm.
The de Young combines masterful art with breathtaking views and at various turns the ability to peek at the Museum’s gardens. The Observation Floor gives a panorama of 360 degrees around the Tower, which literally transports you across the city to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands.
The Fern Court and Eucalyptus Court are cast behind glass, and blaze with greenery and light. These are rich examples of the building’s design, and how it brings nature into the artistic story.
Other areas create pockets of small and larger galleries that build quiet moments, which is just what art needs–a serene environment for appreciation, interpretation and meditation. Numerous site-specific works are interspersed, including Andy Goldsworthy’s “Drawn Stone,” which runs from the entrance through the courtyard (more about this work in my next post).
On our way to the Observation Tower we were introduced to fifteen of Ruth Asawa’s spiritually mesmerizing wire sculptures. These works are part of the Museum’s permanent collection; they hang with dignity, ethereal wispy creations that showcase her accomplishments. Shadows played on the cement walls, giving the lithe works an even airier feeling.
After a sumptuous gourmet meal in the Museum’s cafe, we headed next door to the Japanese Tea Garden. The weather was more than cooperative, the sky shed all clouds and beamed light throughout the manicured landscape.
With brilliance stretching across the Garden shadows flew here and there. Each plant and tree seems to play with the sun’s radiance. And we basked in each discovery: stone paths, bridges, water, tree shapes, Buddhas, fish, Japanese architecture, wildlife, understory, steep stairs, giant pines, and winding walkways. My grandchildren climbed the Moon Bridge, which creates a circular reflection in the water surrounding it.
The Bay area is a destination for scores of travelers who come from every nook and cranny of the globe. If they just visited the Golden Gate Park and its treasure trove, their memories would be secured of a West Coast city in love with aesthetics, culture, history, horticulture, science, technology and recreation.
How easy it is to overly romanticize one’s travels, giving them more meaning, more substance. But as I trace this journey’s storyline from East to West and back again, our pilgrimage had cup-runneth-over-the-edges memories, memories that still reverberate inside.
Note: I welcome any comment about this post or any part of my blog. For more on the de Young Museum visit here. We did not opt to see the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition, but it is there through August 19. Later we learned that it was spectacular. For additional details on the Japanese Tea Garden, click here or the Golden Gate Park, click here. For Part One of our San Francisco excursion, click here.