Monday, March 14, 2011

Well, Made It!

As you may be able to tell from the "Location" blip below, I'm in Moscow. Actually, I just got back, but since I don't like to post when I'm away, I just wrote these notes using the Blogger App on my phone and am posting them now. Why, you ask, would someone go to Moscow in the end of winter, knowing no Russian, or even how to decipher Cyrillic? Because a once-in-a-lifetime show of the work of Isaac Levitan is up until the 20th of March at the Tretyakov Gallery. I just adore Levitan's work, even though I've only known of him in any depth for about a year. There's only one hard to find but soon-to-be-reprinted book on him in English, but I have two in Russian with great plates.

Levitan's best known work is the "Vladimirka Road". If you Google it, there's a decent reproduction on the page. It's in the show, and I can't wait to see it.

I haven't seen the show yet, though. An all night flight and an all night allergy attack, whether from airplane air or something in my meal saw to that. I did manage to navigate the scrum at passport control and the municipal bus from the airport to the metro just fine, and the metro in Moscow is very similar to the New York subway, only cleaner, with prettier and far more ornate stations. It smells like home, though--damp, diesel fumes, and people, aahhhhhh....I didn't quite have the nerve yet to go full tourist and haul out the camera, but I guess I will. By the way, the rumor of the Moscow metro having international multi-language signage is overblown. The signs are sometimes there, mostly near the entrance, but not at all apparent from the platform, so listen for your stop. They seem to announce well and clearly. "Paveletskaya" isn't too far off from how it's really pronounced .

First impression of Moscow and it's surroundings is really great. The highway in from the airport is lined with birch trees, many of them bent nearly double (snow?). The city so far reminds me of Boston, same mix of old and new, same casual regard of parking rules, same endless construction. It's also impossible to give street directions non- verbally without a lot of hand waving and even shoulder and hip swinging--nothing is rectilinear for very long.

Tomorrow, I walk to the Tretyakov, see a bit of the city and finally see some Levitan originals.


  1. Can't wait to get further reports!

  2. Thanks! I need to scan some stuff from the catalog to illustrate the next few for people who don't know his work, but I'll get them up ASAP.