Sunday, March 30, 2014

Running into my past

Some of Nina's friends were visiting from out of town this weekend. The four of us spent much of the afternoon today at the Asheville Art Museum, where I had never been before.

In one gallery, I came across a framed collage dating from the 1940s (I think). It was untitled, but the central item was a photograph of a white church, cut out of a magazine. The adjacent sign about the piece said that they had not been able to identify the structure, but thought it was a Catholic mission-style church from the American southwest.

Well, I was pretty sure I recognized it quite specifically. I Googled a bit on my phone to call up other photographs of the building I had in mind, and sure enough, they were the same.

It's the building in which I got married in 1984, at the tender age of 23, in St. George, Utah.

This was one of those odd, unsettling moments in which one is involuntarily picked up by a tornado of nostalgia from out of the blue. As I was explaining the strange sensation to my friends, one of the museum's docents wandered by. I asked if she had the means to pass information on to the curator. She did, so I told her what the building was, and showed her other photos of it on my phone as confirmation. I also pointed out how some other parts of the collage were thematically related to it in ways that had nothing to do with Catholicism (and, frankly, in ways that would have tipped off anybody who had looked closely at the piece). She dutifully wrote a note about it.

Maybe in a few months I'll go back and see if they have changed the sign. My guess is that they won't bother, but perhaps they'll surprise me.