[Toledo Museum Wing]
Two women approached. They looked like friends in their mid-fifties. I asked what they thought of the painting.
"I view it as nostalgia," one said. "I look at that and just think, 'I hate strip-mall theaters!'"
"If that was my husband," interjected the other, "he would be looking for all the other corporate execs. And I'd be thinking, 'Oh no, I thought these were good seats, and now we're going to be staring at the rail all night.'"
"Are you two from Toledo?"
"No, we're from Cleveland."
"Oh. I go there in a couple of days."
"Same reason I'm here. I'm touring the country asking people what they think of Hopper and his paintings."
The second woman looked at me. "I work at the museum, at the front desk. When you get there, look me up."
"Thanks," I said, "I will," and they wandered into the next gallery.
The next two women I asked to interview turned out to be from Muskegon. Despite assurances that locals love the museum, I didn't find any here. Everyone instead was from nearby towns that also had Hoppers.
"I wouldn't say his people are isolated really," he pursed his lips. "Not in this painting. He's taking his coat off, and looking around, getting a feel for the place. She's putting her coat on the chair. It could be dirty. They're probably not leaving because she's still reading the program. Is she thinking, 'My God, we're the first one's here. You told me to be here at seven. It's now like ten 'til nine.'? No, I don't see isolation there myself. I see the woman in the box seat maybe feeling isolated. If that's what it's supposed to be called, then it is isolation or something of that nature.
"He definitely frames his paintings so that you're in them. Although all three of these works work in that way." He pointed to the O'Keeffe and Wyeth, and I noticed that each was painted so that you are in the painting: in the boat for O'Keeffe and in the tree for Wyeth.
"As far as the people in Toledo being isolated:" he summed up, "no more than any other towns. I've been in a lot of towns. I grew up here, but I traveled abroad, went to college. And I did travel quite a bit, too, within the United States. I think that people are very friendly. I found very helpful people, for the most part. People want to help you if they can."
[Toledo Museum Wing]I approached a man walking authoritatively through the galleries. A natty tie dangled down his dapper pastel shirt draped in a crisp blue sport coat. He had a thin mustache, and his hair swept to one side in several undulations.