When I was in school I used to scour art magazines for paintings to cut out and stick on the walls of my apartment. After a few months there were dozens of pictures. Rembrandt next to De Kooning next to Bacon next to Breughel next to Bomberg and so on and so on. This was 1990 and not much contemporary stuff interested me. One of the few exceptions was the work of Ignacio Iturria. He’s sort of a South American Philip Guston, though maybe that’s selling him short. But like Guston he has the rare knack for making cartoonish figures feel real. He was regularly in Art in America in the early 90s so both my first two Chicago apartments were decorated with reproductions of his paintings.
I had a flashback to those school years when I read an article about an Iturria retrospective a couple weeks ago. It was taking place at SUNY Purchase just north of New York City and would run through February. I was about to visit my folks in Boston for a few days and on a whim I looked up how much it would cost to rent a car to drive down to New York, then fly back to Chicago out of LaGuardia so I could catch the show. A phone call and a few clicks of the keyboard later it was all set.
Wednesday morning my father drove me to pick up my rental and I drove west. Three and a half hours later, after a couple minor wrong turns, I was paying at an automated kiosk in the sparsely filled parking lot on the edge of the university grounds in Purchase. I followed the signs to the Neuberger Museum without passing another soul along the way. The door to the museum had a holiday hours sign saying the offices were open on the 2nd but the galleries wouldn’t reopen till the 23rd.
I went inside and the man at the desk confirmed the bad news. There’d be no trip down memory lane for me this afternoon. I went back the car and started for LaGuardia five hours early. The museum’s site said nothing about holiday hours; it simply said they were open 12-5pm Wednesdays. But seeing as it’s part of a university, I should probably have called to make sure they weren’t on break. I was annoyed at myself but strangely resigned to just going home. One of the dangers of revisiting something you liked when you were young is being disappointed by it years later. Maybe it’s better I didn’t get to become disenchanted by Iturria. Maybe that’s just a way of consoling myself for poor planning.