My wife and I took a trip up to New York City to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We wanted to see the exhibit of Winslow Homer paintings.

     I honestly didn’t know much about Winslow Homer, except for his famous painting called “The Gulf Stream” which depicts a black man stranded in a boat surrounded by sharks.

     Homer, born in Boston in 1836, began his artistic career as a magazine illustrator, then went on to paint powerful scenes from the Civil War. He was able to capture the emotional struggle of both the enslaved people . . . 

“Near Andersonville” (1865-66) — Black woman in a door
with Confederate soldiers in the background

     . . . as well as common soldiers on both sides of the battlefield.

“Prisoners from the Front” (1866) — Union Army officer with four captured Confederates

     After the war he turned his artistic eye to the struggles found at sea. He moved to the Maine coast in 1883 and spent most of the rest of his life (he died in 1910) chronicling the energy, the wrath and the threat of the ocean.

“The Life Line” (1884) — Inspired by a rescue Homer witnessed in Atlantic City, NJ

     He also voyaged down to southern climes, painting scenes in Bermuda, the Bahamas and Key West, Florida.

“Flower Garden and Bungalow” (1899) — Watercolor of picturesque landscape in Bermuda

     But he always returned to the sea for his most inspired works.

“The Gulf Stream” (1899) — Black man faces sharks in turbulent waters

     We ourselves were inspired by Manhattan — first from the roof of the museum . . . 

View from Metropolitan Museum, looking south down Central Park and the East Side

     … and then by the view from our hotel in Jersey City, NJ, just an eight-minute ferry ride across the Hudson River from downtown Manhattan.

Looking at Manhattan from our hotel restaurant where we had brunch

     Note to fellow travelers. The Winslow Homer exhibit is open until the end of July, alongside all the other artistic and historical offerings at the Metropolitan Museum. (Masks are required.)

     Yes, prices have gone up. We were shocked by how much we had to pay for our hotel room (over $300) . . . which is why we stayed only one night, in Jersey City, because prices are higher still if you stay in Manhattan. (We saw a report while we were there:  median rent for an apartment in Manhattan is now $4,000 per month.)

     We’ve already booked a trip to Wisconsin, to see my daughter. Fortunately, we made reservations a while ago, when prices were still semi-reasonable. But (gulp!) we’re still going to have to pay over $5 a gallon for the gasoline to get there.

     It seems if you’re going to travel these days, you really, really have to want to go there. We’re glad we were able to visit New York City. But we’re probably not going back anytime soon. We’ve got credit card bills to pay!

Tom Lashnits Writer, Blogger
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