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By Paul Anel December 16, 2011
On this December 29, one of the greatest adventures of the last decade in New York City will come to an end. The "gem of Chelsea," as it was rightfully nicknamed, will no longer shine on the corner of 22nd Street and 11th Avenue. The Chelsea Art Museum is closing its doors.
The Chelsea Art Museum, at the corner of 11th Avenue and 23rd Street. © edenpictures
The very opening of this museum in 2002, and everything that followed, is a story of faith: the faith of one woman, Dorothea Keeser. The kind of faith that moves mountains, and, even more difficult, New York urban policy. To open a museum in the gallery district, Mrs. Keeser had to convince the city of New York to change the legislation for the whole area of Chelsea. Which she did. She was moved, not by ambition, but by her faith in beauty, and her love for painting.
And particularly for one man's painting. A man whose painting has sown visible and invisible bonds between cultures and continents. In 1961, he was the first European to ever receive a grant from the Ford Foundation to come and work in the USA. In 1980, soon after Mao's death, he was the first-ever western artist to exhibit in China. His name is Jean Miotte. Born in 1926, he was only 13 when World War II tore the old continent apart. Jean entered the Resistance. During these dark years, he fell in love with jazz, a music whose freedom he felt was a rampart against ideology, and a shelter for the heart. Soon after the war, he discovered within himself a similar passion for dance and movement. Dance as the pouring forth of a life that springs from inside…
Jean starts to paint, dreaming of a communion between colors, sounds, and movements… Whoever has ever wandered in the Miotte rooms of the Chelsea Art Museum will find it hard to deny it: this dream has come true. Blues, blacks and reds compose together mesmerizing ballets of light. No wonder the museum was the scene of so many weddings and fashion shows.
Dancer Renée Kurz in front of a painting by Jean Miotte. © Paul Anel
"even in his most tragic paintings, there always remains the discreet glittering of a blue…"
Don't take me wrong. There is suffering in Jean Miotte's paintings. There are wars and exiles, sickness and abandonment. But even in his most tragic paintings, there always remains the discreet glittering of a blue, or the lively brush of a curve. Like a fire that no water can quench. The fire of hope. From one canvas to the next, colors fly and embrace in a way that echoes the passion and drama of the Song of Songs. The Chelsea Art Museum—it's the place you would go to take a deep breath, and to experience a joy that resists and balances the can-be hard-heartedness of the city. During its nine years of activity, the "Home of the Miotte Foundation" was also home to more than 60 exhibitions, showcasing artists from China to the Middle East, and from Russia to the US, bringing to the heart of New York City a fresh and audacious gaze on contemporary art.
We'll miss you, CAM! We'll miss your joyful grasp on art! Thanks for the beauty you seeded throughout the city. It's priceless—and endless too! Thank you Jean. Thank you Dorothea. Wherever you go, may you keep bringing the grace of dance, the freedom of music, and the joy of painting. There's nothing our world needs more than this.
Now a last note for you, reader. If you live in New York City, go say goodbye to the museum in the coming days, and fill your eyes with some of these Chelsea gems. Join the farewell party on Thursday, December 29. For more information, go to www.chelseaartmuseum.org or contact the museum.
Jean Miotte and Dorothea Keeser. © Paul Anel
"Thank you Jean. Thank you Dorothea. Wherever you go, may you keep bringing the grace of dance,
the freedom of music, and the joy of painting."
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