A Highlight of Visiting Corning, New York

The time spent driving from Tucson to Cape Cod and back (after a couple of months) is quite enjoyable for me. And I look forward to it every year. That surprises many, mainly because each trip takes several days and can be tiring. But not for me! Perhaps because I am not the one who sits in the driver’s seat, but in the passenger’s one. True, the space is limited, but I am able to feel pretty comfortable in any small space. Maybe it is in my nature, or maybe I acquired such ability through years of travels by planes, trains, and buses. Sitting long hours in the privacy of my own car is not a problem, especially since I can sit in a variety of positions (most often with my feet curled under) and read, listen to the radio or favorite CD music, think for hours while watching the passing cars and trucks, and even take some photos.

Stopping in hotels is enjoyable too. I like their comfortable beds that I do not have to make the next morning. I enjoy their clean bathrooms with piles of towels that I do not have to wash the next day, and I love long baths while trying new soaps, shampoos and skin lotions. In spite of free access to the Internet I use my lap top sporadically in those places. This allows me to postpone my dealing with any professional and personal plans, schedules or deadlines. Because of that break in time from worries and responsibilities, I am having fun! A similar feeling to what a young girl might feel when presented with an unexpected snow day – a short, fun break from school.

Usually each trip has also some highlight. This time it was a trip to Corning, New York. We went quite a bit out of our logical course to get there, and I was the one pushing for the arrival in Corning on a particular day and time. No, it was not because I wanted to visit the famous museum of glass there. It was because on the afternoon of July 22nd I wanted to be at the West End Gallery in the center of Corning. Why? Between 5 and 7:30 pm that day the gallery held an opening reception for GC Myers to honor his new, solo exhibit titled “New Days.”

GC Myers is the artist who allowed me to use one of his paintings for the design of the cover of my book Looking at the World Twice. That painting which I purchased a few years ago in the Principle Gallery of Alexandria, Virginia, always seemed a perfect fit for my essay collection, that I finally published last year. The book recently won a prestigious Glyph award for the cover design and I wanted to share this news with the artist whom, in fact, I had never met in person. We knew each other from our correspondence, blogs and art, but living so far away did not present any possibility for meeting. Departing from Tucson unusually late this year (July 19th) offered such an opportunity — if I only could make it to Corning on time! Since the visit was planned as a surprise, kissing the closed door of the West End Gallery just after the reception wouldn’t be fun at all! I also had other concerns — how would he perceive such an unexpected visit? Would I like him as much as I like his art? I have to admit, the whole thing was a bit scary.

We arrived in Corning that warm afternoon in time to check into the hotel, refresh, change clothes, and go to the Gallery without any rush. The minute I walked into that gallery, I felt at ‘home.’ The familiar images of GC Myers’ art were all around — his iconic red tree, red chairs, and clusters of small houses in red and white seemed to be telling their stories in whispers. Meanwhile the real people in the gallery were making their buzz with conversations, walking around, enjoying nicely displayed finger food, and wine. Peaceful life music poured down from upstairs.

I had no idea how to recognize GC Myers, but it was not hard to spot him in a group of people greeting him and asking questions. I waited for my chance to introduce myself and… he was definitely surprised. We both felt genuine joy immediately. That feeling dominated the entire time spent at the gallery and later at the local restaurant where four of us — Gary, his wife Cheri, my husband David and I — spent the evening dining and talking like old, good friends. The owners had to remind us about closing their place and we had to part. Oh well, the next dinner is on us in Tucson!

Lin Gardner, Director of the West End Gallery

Lin Gardner, Director of the West End Gallery

GC Myers' art at the West End Gallery

Some of Gary’s art at the Gallery

Alicja Mann and GC Myers at West End Gallery

Gary and Alicja at the Gallery

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Copyright © 2010 by Alicja Mann

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6 Comments on “A Highlight of Visiting Corning, New York”

  1. Pam Says:

    What a happy outcome of your surprise visit to the gallery opening! Thanks for sharing the story.

  2. George Says:

    A nicely told tale! And lovely photos. Thanks, Alicja

  3. Jennifer Richardson Says:

    So glad to hear you arrived safely and are having a wonderful time. Looking forward to your return.

  4. Monica Tervoort Says:

    Hello Alicija, It’s so good to hear from you! I’m enjoying your travels, thank you so much for sharing.
    What a wonderful way to go traveling with a friend. I look forward to your blogging…U Go Girl! It’s nice to meet the artist of your book and to see his art. Thank you for posting it. We miss you in Tucson. I’ll stay tuned, and look forward to seeing you when you return. –MeMO

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