33 DC Government Employee

After him, a plump fortyish woman entered the gallery and closely studied the Hoppers then stepped back and sighed. When she turned to answer my question whether these paintings related to the town, I saw that one eye bulged out and the other was closed.

"I don't think Hopper's paintings have anything to do with what goes on here. Everything here is political; it's groups. It's striving for power. To the extent that they exist here, people like this are forgotten. It reminds me of people you would see in New York.

"I was going to another exhibit, but I just can't pass one of his paintings. In Hotel by a Railroad, there's so much mystery. What is going on between these two? And in Eleven A.M., what is she looking at? What does she care about? Is she expecting something or did she just leave something?

"I have a poster of Hopper's paintings of storefronts, Early Sunday Morning, up on my wall at work. Everybody sees something different in it. One fellow said, 'From an engineer's perspective, that drawing is completely off. The point of stress on the building would go right through the window.'

"I find his paintings very appealing because of the light. I think that's what appeals to people: it takes a moment from a day they remember as being extremely striking. The moment, the moment, is crystallized.

"I traveled to New York to see the big retrospective. It turns out that the curator of that exhibit graduated the year before me and was someone I knew."

"Gail?" I asked.

"Yes," she exclaimed. "Gail Levin. She has the life I wish I had. I don't study these things; I just enjoy them. I'm just a government employee. This is where I would rather be, but I only come here on my lunch hour. Actually, I haven't been here in a while. I meant to write a letter to the director. They had a number of exhibits recently that have really disgusted me. They had one here that was an entire room filled with what was basically a dress. It was kind of like, 'OK, that's pretty.' Whereas you can, and we have, spent hours in front of these paintings talking about narrative and color and everything."

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