Monday, May 19, 2014

Two Inches from a $76.7 Million Rubens

When in Kansas City, Missouri, it's possible to spend days -- a week? -- in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art because the facility is simply jammed packed with good stuff, one of which happens to be a Rubens' painting of Salome with the head of John the Baptist.

I'm fond of John, the denial, the passion, the thumb in the eye of authority, and I'm fond enough of him that I chose him as my baptismal when I joined the church after marrying. 

We happened to drop into the gallery room holding the Rubens shortly after we entered the museum, and I handed my iPhone to my wife, and said, "Here snap a shot of me in front of ol' John."

She did, and I began maneuvering around for a second snap when a docent came running, saying, "Stop! Don't move! You're about the hit the painting with the spike on the back of your chair!"

"Spike?" It seems in getting the new wheelchair adjusted to my old body, I forgot have the shop trim the headrest extension rod. On my last w/chair, the rod was cut down flush with the vertical mount. This one sticks out six inches.

I've done little to distinguish myself in this world, but I'd not like to be known as the man who damaged a multi-million dollar classical painting with a spike of metal.

What would happen? Would the museum have lopped off my head like poor old John? Would I have been arrested? Would I have been banned from the museum for the remained of my life? While I doubt this Rubens would equal the $76+ million plus selling price of a Rubens, I am certain its value is far, far beyond what I could raise in an emergency? Could I have played The Cripple Card? 

It was something of a mind-boggling experience. The emotional toll would have been sufficient, and I'm sorry for raising the docent's blood pressure. 

We later want to show the kid who lives with us a few impressionist paintings, and I asked the same docent for directions to the appropriate gallery, and he told us Monet's "Water Lilies" was on display. I told him that he didn't need to follow us. My iPhone's battery had depleted, and I would be taking no more pictures.

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