Every summer my son Elijah and I head down to St. Louis, Missouri to visit our family. The goal for the trip is to spend time with family while relaxing and taking a load off. We cook, watch cheesy rom-com's, sustain the "treat yo self" mentality by shopping at Maurice's and explore St. Louis.
With the world being in such a bizarre state with the overexposed (yes, I said it) continuous headline news story of Covid making it's dominance for what feels like the billionth day in a row, the heartbreaking lingering uncertainty of ever having peace with riots and protesters chanting for equality and the visual weirdness and surrealism of just about everyone wearing masks anywhere and everywhere you go, a trip to visit family that was waiting to welcome me with open arms (with a very strong glass of summer sangria) was and has been very much needed at this point.
The family and I do at least one outing that we haven't experienced before. We've gone zip lining, we've been up close and personal with wolves at the Endangered Wolf Sanctuary and of course we've visited the St. Louis Zoo and Science Center, and we've made our way up the Arch (one excruciating slow click and claustrophobic journey upward at a time).
Our focus this trip was about art. We visited the exhibition “Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí,” at the St. Louis Art Museum. This exhibition focuses on the legacy of the 19th-century French painter, Jean-François Millet; a groundbreaking artist that inspired and influenced international artists Vincent van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, Claude Monet, Giovanni Segantini, Winslow Homer, Paula Modersohn-Becke, Edvard Munch and Salvador Dalí.
After studying art at The Art Institute of Chicago, the closest I have ever gotten to a van Gogh painting was through an overpriced Art History textbook, experiencing the real deal in person was beyond fascinating.
I appreciate the details in life and in art, so naturally I got a little too up close and personal with one of the paintings at the exhibition. My finger was inches away as I mimicked the brush strokes as I explained to Elijah how incredible yet tedious the technique is. One of the many security guards sternly said "Ma'am!" as his voice echoed and vibrated off the otherwise quiet gallery walls. He vigorously shook his head 'no' at me as a I slouched my shoulders downward as if I just got caught being way too close to a van Gogh painting.
Wait I did just get caught way too close to a van Gogh painting!
Elijah shook his head embarrassed and whispered "See, I told you mom!," as I stepped the heck back before being football tackled by the security guards.
We learned that due to Covid the exhibition had extended its stay in St. Louis because travel was prohibited and eventually limited therefore the owners of the pieces were not able to collect the art. A win for us visitors.
The exhibition is truly exquisite. The dim spotlight on the pieces present an intimate feel the second you enter. The first painting I encountered was Jean-François Millet's Self-Portrait (Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 47 cm (25 x 18 1/2 in.).
From there we explored a collection of his works along with van Gogh, Monet, Homer and Dalí, among others.
The next art inspiring adventure I took was visiting the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum. I had no idea about this gem and was so excited to check out the works on display.
Inductees include Berenice Abbot, Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Joel Bernstein, Robert Capa, Ernest Haas, Dorothea Lange, Annie Leibovitz, Gordon Parks, Kenny Rogers, among many other talents.
I was the only visitor at the time so I was able to explore at my own pace without feeling rushed and enjoy the works on display.
One of my favorite photos was of Walter Iooss Jr.'s "The Blue Dunk, Michael Jordan, 1987."
Iooss is my photography hero. His work is incredible and I only pray that I can someday capture sports the way he has over the years. He has shot the greats: Jordan, Bryant, LeBron, Griffey Jr., Sanders, Ripken, Rodriguez, Montana, Namath, Rice, Williams, Graf, McEnroe, Nicklaus, Palmer, Woods, Phelps, Louganis, Lewis and so many more (if you don't know those names we can't be friends). I am so thankful I was able to see his work.
After my visit at the photography museum, I took a stroll through St. Louis to capture some street photography.
The Fox Theater will always hold a special place in my heart. It was there that I was able to see one of my favorite bands, The White Stripes, on their "Get Behind Me Satan" Tour on August 24, 2005.
As always my trip flew by and it's never easy saying goodbye. I am grateful for my family and my experiences with them.
I hope you all have been able to escape reality at least once this summer.
To see more images from my St. Louis trip, including my day at the St. Louis Zoo, go here.
Until we meet again! ✌🏽
*Images shot with my Sony A7iii using my Metabones EF - E mount adapter for my nifty fifty Canon 50mm lens as well as my iPhone 11 Pro Max.