I developed meaningful relationships with the people standing in queue with me. The two men standing ahead of me were travel agents from Berkeley, California. They bought two very expensive tickets from a scalper on Friday but they turned out to be fake tickets! The elegantly dressed lady on the other side of me was from Greenwich, Connecticut. There was a bedraggled, very sad-looking homeless man with dull eyes who shuffled up and down the line asking for spare change. A few people gave some token change, but then one of the Berkeley men had an inspired moment. He gave the homeless man a five-dollar bill and said: “You see that coffee cart down the block? Buy me a cup of coffee (this is before the Starbucks latte days) and I’ll give you another five when you return.”
Then of course I said: “Here’s another five, but make sure mine has cream and sugar.” The next thing you know, he had more orders than he could carry in one trip. Note: suddenly everyone had spare change :-(
When this man returned with our coffees he had a lilt in his voice and a sparkle in his eyes. “Now who had the cream and sugar?” People truly want to be productive.
My sister-in-law still talks about the fact that I decided to take the 6 a.m. train the following morning. “You’re not really going out in that weather again are you?”
“But it’s Matisse! And it’s the biggest show ever!” I never considered not going. The Berkeley travel agents told me they were going to go a third day. Getting up that extra hour earlier made all the difference in the world. It was super-duper cold during the first hour but I got in within an hour or so from the museum’s opening. The show was worth every minute of standing in line. As for the homeless man, he paraded up and down the line all morning taking coffee orders and I didn’t see those dull eyes again.
The exhibit was spectacular. There were 400 works of Henri Matisses's works, displayed on three floors of MOMA, beginning with his early works as an art student, through his “fauvism” period,
I didn't know much about Matisse when I walked into the exhibit, but I felt privileged for the glimpse into his wondrous and rich mind. I would do these two days all over again if I had another opportunity.
Copies of the book published for this exhibit are still available on the used market.