A Date with da Vinci

Vitruvian Man

Hello, my friends!

Want to go on a Renaissance adventure? We did on Saturday, when we went to the Arizona Science Center to experience “Da Vinci – The Genius” for an afternoon.

{piles you all into the car with us}

First, a pit stop to Starbucks, as a proper odyssey requires the beverage of the masses.

Next, we crank the music up for a bit of audio caffeine. Mr. Bastion was in charge of the tunage, and it was 80’s rock in full force and effect. Granted we did start with a love ballad, Journey’s “Send Her My Love”, but then it was AC/DC and “Back in Black”. Before long, we hit a trilogy of Def Leppard songs, “Rock of Ages”, “Photograph”, and “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, in that order. Hope you aren’t shy with your singing. Every word to the songs was belted out at the top of our lungs.

At some point, mass laughter erupted in the car, as I commented about how our trip to see a Master of Renaissance art had turned into Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. And…when you go on a Bastion outing, truly, we’d have it no other way.

Ummmmm… Have you ever been to a science museum?


Neither had we.

Culture shock ensued, with rapid eye-blinking and deep breaths. Before we’d even gained entrance, I felt like our Bill & Ted’s phone-booth time machine had transported us directly into Sky Harbor International Airport. At Thanksgiving. Lines to ticket counters snaked around poles in a maze format, and children and families were everywhere.

Did da Vinci approve this? {whispers} I’m quite certain he would’ve approved of every minute in the caffeinated car ride. #JustSayin 😉

After we acquired tickets, we went up to the 3rd floor and down several corridors to the exhibit entrance where an elderly female volunteer, and gatekeeper to the exhibit, spoke at her leisure to two other older female guests. The moment their conversation ended, she closed the stretchy rope barrier, and looked down her nose at us, saying “This is a ticketed event.”

I glanced at Mr. Bastion, wondering if somehow she’d heard word of our rock party on the way over, because my khaki linen shorts and v-neck black t-shirt seemed nondescript enough. Mr. Bastion pulled the tickets from his pocket and she opened the gate, making a final comment in a firm tone, “No pictures.”

Do you get riled on a primal level when someone tells you not to do something? Mmmmhmmmm…

You’ll all be so proud of me. My inner-rebel wanted to take pictures so badly, but my inner-angel won out. Partly, because I have a respect for rules, even though I do sometimes break them, but mostly because I was there as a guest to enjoy myself, and did not want to disturb the enjoyment of others.

We stepped into the exhibit. Clearly, I’d been star-struck by the name Leonardo da Vinci, and had forgotten where we were: a science center. “Da Vinci – The Genius” was billed as the most comprehensive exhibit to tour the world on Leonardo da Vinci, and upon seeing the massive room with an equally impressive number of people rivalling an amusement park, I’d be inclined to agree.

Mr. Bastion and I waited patiently in a long line for all of forty-five seconds, before our inner-unruliness had us break rank. We meandered from exhibit to exhibit that talked about his various codices and who currently held them. Many of his inventions were brought to life in replicas from tiny journals, to massive flying contraptions. He developed a diving suit and had a fascination with clocks. An emergency bridge, a tank, and many other wartime inventions were created by him.

I was drawn to the paintings. Beautiful works of art captivated me, and I found myself staring at them, lost in every stroke, the use of light, the way transparent fabric looked so real, I felt as if I could touch the gossamer fabric.

Of course, the geek in me was amazed that the world, just a few years ago, stumbled across an unknown painting by da Vinci. La Bella Principessa, was sold at auction in New York in 2009 for around $20,000 as a purported German work from the early 19th century. An analysis of the da Vinci-esque painting revealed a finger print on the work that matched a finger print found on one of da Vinci’s unfinished paintings, St. Jerome in the Wilderness. The lost da Vinci, La Bella Principessa’s value? An estimated $160 million.

The discovery of a lost da Vinci painting wasn’t what left me speechless, though. I stood before one of the many giant placards on the wall that described two mural paintings that were commissioned to two different artists…and never finished. Da Vinci…and Michelangelo. Fabulous sketches of horses and soldiers were hung beside the story, but I got stuck on the name-dropping as my mind transported back to their time, imagining da Vinci painting on one wall of the Council Hall in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and Michelangelo painting on the other. {makes a note to bring them coffee and cake pops from Starbucks on the next phone-booth time machine trip}

That’s right, my friends. I have a date with da Vinci. It matters not to me that the paintings were never completed (da Vinci’s never dried properly and Michelangelo’s never made it past sketch stage and onto the wall.), and eventually da Vinci’s partial mural was painted over. {takes a hit on my oxygen tank and passes it to you} I can still be there in my imagination, cheering da Vinci on. Granted, I’m an impartial supporter—and a fan of Michelangelo—so sorry Leo, you’re going to have to put up with me cheering on the prodigy, too.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Bastion has been telling me all about a book that he’s been reading, Da Vinci’s Ghost by Toby Lester. It talks about not only the life of da Vinci, but also the great inspiration of many of his works, the ancient Roman engineer Vitruvius and his writings. Mr. Bastion highly recommends this book to anyone interested in Leonardo da Vinci.

And…I also have a date with Mr. Bastion at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. Our interest in the Uffizi was sparked by Sylvain Reynard in his wonderful fictional novels Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture.

My date calendar is filling up!

It’s been a blast traveling with you, my friends.

In September, the first novel in the Highland Legends series, Forged in Dreams and Magick, will be released. I can’t wait to take you on an incredible adventure into the Highlands of Scotland during a time when…on another content in Italy…Dante Alighieri was about to pen his imaginary journey to the netherworld, arguably starting the Renaissance period.

If you had a chance to go back in time to spend the day with anyone and do anything, what would it be? What would you bring as refreshments?

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion