Philadelphia International

IMG_7627 Matt Pruden
Matt Pruden, Blizzard at Camp, watercolor

I always check out the art in Philadelphia’s airport. This time Murray and I were in Terminal F, on our way to Lexington, Kentucky, for a wedding shower for our daughter Minna.

Matt Pruden, installation shot detail of End of the Earth, as series of tiny, pale watercolors of arctic exploration
Matt Pruden, installation shot detail of End of the Earth, as series of tiny, pale watercolors of arctic exploration

Waiting for our plane, I looked around and found a wall of tiny, pale watercolors of arctic exploration by Matt Pruden. Pruden has gotten a lot of mileage out of this subject, but sited at the airport, Pruden’s small exhibit, End of the Earth, takes on a new resonance from a place filled with travelers going off to someplace else, perhaps facing adventure, certainly facing change and chance and the challenges of travel.

IMG_7633 Matt Pruden
Matt Pruden, Men With Dogs, watercolor

And as uncomfortable as air travel may seem, the images of these men in the harsh arctic wilderness struggling to keep going serve to put our modern travel travails in perspective. See. Perfectly sited. I loved thinking about those crazy guys going off into the frozen landscape. Were they crazy? Did they hate their lives at home? Were they heroes or fools, patriots or selfish? Did they have to travel? Do we have to travel, or could we just as well have skipped the trip?


IMG_7631 Matt Pruden
Matt Pruden, Specimens, watercolor

Matt’s post-card-size images made me laugh. Of course the arctic explorers didn’t have picture postcards. Their adventure wasn’t packaged by Apple Tours.

These days, we have to look to space for our wilderness. I still catch my breath every time my plane takes off and every time it lands. Matt, thanks for the adventure story!


Louisville International

Ten minutes after we checked in at the airport to come home Sunday, the Louisville airport shut down.

We should not have been surprised. We had just driven west from Lexington, and had some trouble sticking to the road. Besides the high winds–very high winds–we were buffeted by flying branches and saw power lines draping across the road, too close to the tops of cars for comfort. It was pretty wild–by time the cyclone was done, 2/3 of Louisville was without power, and the mayor declared a state of emergency.

The reason we were at the Louisville airport–Minna’s bridal shower. Here she is unwrapping some eggplant colored towels!

Until our plane was officially cancelled and then the airport was officially shut, it took us a while to take in our predicament (that’s what it really was, as compared to what those arctic explorers faced). We had to switch our plane reservations to Monday; and we had to find a hotel for the night that still had power and room at the inn. The Louisville volunteers at the airport helped us graciously with the hotel. So while so many people in Louisville were without power, some without water, we enjoyed air conditioning, a cooked dinner, and a hysterically incompetent game of foosball in the hotel game room.

I am always amazed by how disaster strikes so arbitrarily. Either you’re struck, or you’re fine. There’s no in between, and it defies logic. We were lucky.

Another highlight of what Philadelphia International Airport’s walls had to offer–Mayor Michael Nutter’s smiling face.