Saturday, February 8, 2020

Painters of Sky, Painters of Walls

One advantage to being awake in the pre-sunrise hours is the view of the moon I often get.  Just now, I looked out my west facing kitchen window to see the full moon, mostly cloaked (but not concealed) by shreds of clouds, which makes the clouds interesting shades of purples, eggplants, lavenders, and grays. It's like a Turner painting, if Turner had included palm trees in the foreground.

Once I wrote that, I had to go remind myself of the details of Turner's life.  The Wikipedia entry includes this interesting nugget:  "He opened his own gallery in 1804 and became professor of perspective at the academy in 1807, where he lectured until 1828, although he was viewed as profoundly inarticulate."

He taught for almost 20 years.  Did everyone view him as "profoundly inarticulate"?  Was he only inarticulate in his speech?  Did his students learn in other ways, non-lecture ways?

I've spent some time this morning with a different painter--the character Lee, on Thirtysomething.  I've fallen down a bit of a rabbit hole, the way one can in internet rambling.  Last night I was trying to stay awake until my spouse got home from his Friday evening class, but how did I decide to watch the episode of Thirtysomething where Gary died?  I cannot remember.

The YouTube capture of the episode that I saw was of varying quality, but that didn't mar the beauty of the episode.  Truth be told, I remember much of that episode as if I just saw it last week.  What a staggering episode.

Then I decided I wanted to see something lighter, so I went searching for the show where Melissa meets the housepainter.  At first, I got to the episode that's become famous for the gay couple in bed.  But I really wanted the earlier episode, which I finally found.  I didn't watch all of it.  I zipped right to the end to make sure I had the episode.  And then I watched other bits and pieces.

This morning, I watched much of that episode again.  And then I discovered an older Thirtysomething podcast--I've listened to the interview with Corey Parker, the actor who played Lee, and then with Melanie Mayron.  Fascinating!

I have always thought of Thirtysomething as one of the earliest shows that demonstrated that television could be more like film than traditional TV had been, but even as I type that, I think of shows from the 70's that did similar things with characters and storylines.  As I've been watching these episodes of Thirtysomething, I'm struck by the cinematography aspects:  the lighting, the camera angles--and I'm seeing those, even as I'm watching the show on less-than-stellar ways (on a Youtube video on my computer); even at that remove, those qualities are amazing.

I think of that show as one of my cultural touchstones.  I remember being influenced by the ideas about being true to one's art at the same time one needs to pay the bills.  Melissa was the one who was living out her artistic ideals, but I remember that Michael had creative cravings too.  And there was the storyline about Nancy who is writing a book.  In my grad school years when I watched the show on network TV, I saw it as full of portents and warnings.  In my later midlife years, I wonder if I would see the same lessons.

This is not the first morning I have spent in internet ramblings exploring Thirtysomething.  A few weeks ago when the reboot was announced, I spent some time reminiscing and clicking.  I'm interested to see where the reboot goes, as well as being a bit afraid.

On a usual Saturday morning, I'd be catching up with the Friday political episodes of NPR shows.  This Thirtysomething meandering has been much more nourishing in many ways.

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