Saturday, April 24, 2010

count down to lift off

The launch sequence was initiated some time ago and since then we have been locked into a steady march toward an inevitable next chapter. I can't tell if this is more like walking off a cliff or activating our jet packs and waving goodbye, but yesterday I crossed a threshold. It was my last day working at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as an art preparator. Yes, that's an odd word and most people outside of art museums have never heard of such a thing. It just means that I was part of the group of people who move the art from here to there (and often back again) and put it on the walls. These folks are too often asked to do the impossible in too little time under absurd conditions, and yet things almost always work out and the exhibition opens on time.

I was at LACMA for just shy of six and a half years and I was supervisor of one of the installation groups for about four of those years. In that time I was witness to some truly crazy things. Large institutions tend to turn reality upside-down and backwards and LACMA is no exception. Oh, the many moments I was left shaking my head in bewilderment at some bizarre conflagration of head butting egos and I can't count the times that I was asked (in less specific terms) to levitate an artwork that had to be hung on a wall or mounted in a case but couldn't be touched due to its extraordinary fragility. As an encyclopedic museum, LACMA asked me to participate in installing everything from very heavy things made of rock (yes, marble is just rock no mater how you slice it) to strings of brightly colored plastic bowls and cups (for Happy, Happy pictured above) and then move on to arrange stacks of decorative plates that used to be someone's dinnerware. The job was often frustrating and stressful but looking back from the threshold where we stand it was often amusing and occasionally fun as well.

And now I get to the thing that made me get up at 2am to write this... Yesterday was my last day, and while most of the folks that I worked closely with at LACMA knew for more than a month that I was soon leaving, in my last week the swell of appreciation for my efforts was a little overwhelming. I guess I tend to be self-deprecating and usually figure that I'm just a big clod, but everyone's kindness and appreciation made me think I did alright. While working at LACMA I had lots of mornings when I just didn't want to get out of bed to face another finicky textile that had to hang just so or to figure out how to pack a really old piece of glassware that is just flaking away with every breath.

In particular, the last day of well-wishing and slaps on the back nearly drove me to get all misty eyed. Most folks had some knowledge of the trip that mrs. a go-go and I have planned and as a parting gift they passed the hat (actually a cookie tin that I will have to make into a cookie tin dulcimer or banjo when we're done roaming) and made a whopping contribution to the gas fund. The gift should carry us through at least 2,500 miles of our long drive. I can not thank every one enough for their kind words and a swell send off, and I hope most of these folks have a chance to read this.

It's time to cross the threshold, and we're going come hell or high water. Thank you to everyone who has made us feel a little less crazy for wanting to do this.


  1. Life is a great adventure, and meant to be enjoyed. So, go enjoy. It will all be waiting for you when you return or when you land.

  2. Ditto what dkzody said! No matter where you go, there you are! I am so glad you have this blog going so we can all ride along on the big adventure! Hope to see you soon, (wink!!)



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