Friday, September 2, 2016

AT THE HERMITAGE

I've always been interested in how we come to do the things we do in later life. For many, as for myself who spent a great number of my working years in academia, we drift into careers or professions. The lucky few recognize early on what they are given to do in life and pursue their mission from the start. I knew, but lacked the conviction or the confidence to follow what I intuitively knew to be my path. Like Edward Goldman, whose story follows, my mother reminded me often that I announced at age twelve my intention to be a poet. Then, after university, I got swept up in the need to make a living, start a family, be an upstanding citizen, and fell into education as the means to make that possible. It was not what I was supposed to be doing with my life, but I did it--not without recognition and reward, for which I'm duly grateful--until I had been slapped in the face enough times (metaphorically, that is) to rediscover my intended calling. 

If there are readers out there who have similarly followed a false path, I'd love to hear from them.

In the meantime, here's Edward Goldman, the noted West Coast art critic, broadcaster, and educator, remembering that moment in his boyhood when his true vocation was made known to him. 


AT THE HERMITAGE
by Edward Goldman

So, here's the story about Edward as a baby boy, about 4 years old—the story that my mom liked to retell. On Sundays my parents would take me for a walk and one day, as it happens, it started to rain cats and dogs. We escaped to the nearest building, which happened to be the Winter Palace, the main building of the Hermitage Museum in what was then Leningrad, and is now once again St. Petersburg.

My parents were not necessarily the kind of people who would take their kids to see a collection of classical European Art. But, here we are, trapped in a museum for a few hours while the rainstorm continues…

A few weeks later, another Sunday morning, my mom looked at me and said, “Hey, where would you like to go for a walk today?” And according to her, little Edward said, “Oh Mommy, let’s go to the place where the naked men and women are standing!”

How else do you expect a child to refer to a collection of Greek and Roman sculptures of naked Gods and Goddesses?

So that’s how my life was screwed up, and instead of becoming a doctor or lawyer I chose to study Greek and Roman History and Art at the Leningrad University. And subsequently I ended up working at the Education Department at the Hermitage Museum; immigrating to Los Angeles; becoming an art critic.

That’s how it was.




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