Winnipeg was going to be a cultural haven after the Qu'Appelle and small towns of Manitoba, a sort of New York on the prairie. I was going to get out and experience those high arts, an emotional rush of giddy heights which would leave only the base emotions at the end of the day.
I was up at sunrise, and walked out into the wide world of Winnipeg, wandering its streets and footpaths until I found myself at The Forks of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. A man jogged with a dog. A bike was abandoned up on the path and following a foot trail down to the river I found a girl, staring out at the sunrise across the river, alone.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery was everything I wanted in an art museum. I walked into a huge exhibit of canvases stretched and warped over the third dimension, gradients of color producing a sensual feel to the minimalist works. This was the early work of Bruce Head, who graduated to explorations of work derived from strips of torn paintings, experiments in ink and color, and fields of lines that defy all description.
By the time I had gotten through the Bruce Head exhibit I was already incapable of taking in the work in the next few galleries, which were full of paintings by other Manitoban geniuses. My hasty notes suggest names like Aba and Charlotte, and I recall in particular an enormous painting of Jonah being tossed to the whale. Here the whale was round and cartoonish, cute except for the blood red eyes and bleeding mouth.
If that wasn't enough, the next gallery had a display meant to showcase all the best work in the WAG's collections. Every worker in the gallery from the cleaning staff to the head curator chose one or two works that particularly struck them. The disparate styles were not jarring but spoke to multiple kinds of genius that go unseen in galleries which emphasize particular historical narratives.
Then it was off to the used bookstores, where I sifted throuh piles of unsorted books, coming out with a couple Steinbecks, Aeschylus, and a couple books recommend by my friends: the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Moving Mars.
The sun set and I found my way to the local indie theatre which was showing the film "Red". This is about a man seeking revenge for the killing of his dog. The killer was a son of privilege and his tenacious fight against the powers that be leads to cruel disaster by the end of the film.
I was tired.
I arrived back at the hostel and played two games of chess against Alex. Alex was a high school grad who anchored a local television station, and won a short film competition which gave him a free year's pass to the movies. In his spare time he fixes up bikes, and in summers he runs a butterfly house for state and provincial fairs.
I was pleased to win both games handily.
I was exhausted. I don't think there really are "higher emotions", just complex combinations of the base ones. The loneliness of the bike girl, the sensuality of Head's abstracts, the catharsis of death in the movie theater and the thrill of victory in chess.
I really could feel nothing any more, a kind of emotional emptiness that could only be refreshed by sleep.
Day 98 ended: HI-Downtown Winnipeg