107 Newark, NJ: Waning

[Newark Today]

My flight home was late night, so we were in the museum right before it closed. Somehow, a fall dusk seemed the appropriate time to view a town so associated with urban decline. However, being closing time, my only interview options were the security guard and Sean.

The guard was sprawled in a chair when we got upstairs to where the Hopper hung, but he obsequiously snapped to attention and spouted information about the galleries and museum that seemed from a required script. He said he had moved to nearby Bergenfield form Nigeria and was surprised to hear of the painting's Manhattan connection. "It's supposed to depict somewhere in New York? I don't know where. So maybe that's why it's not my favorite. But there's quite a number of people have stopped by it for long time. People recognize it." That was all that he was willing to offer, so I turned to Sean.

"There's no end to what's above her. It seems to go up to heaven. There seems to be a lot more light up there. We're in the dark. It seems like a lull in things. Not a lot of activity. And really, I'm surprised there's not more people. The lights are on so it's not during a performance."

When I pointed to what I thought was an exit sign, Sean noted, "I'm not sure that isn't a painting on the wall over the stairs. 1937, it wouldn't be a lit sign I don't think. '37: they're still sort of in the throes of the Depression; that could explain the low turnout; why she's alone. She still has shape to her. She looks put together: black high heels, red dress."

I thought she was wearing a dark gray stole or scarf, but Sean felt otherwise. "You think that's a stole? I thought that was her hair and she's wearing a hat. It's a much more appealing idea if that's a blond in a fur collar. I was thinking she was rather dowdy."

After that, we went to the airport, and I went home to try to make sense of the New England trip's notes and experiences.

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