Letter to ARC

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Letter to ARC

From Drew Hamre

Published before 2005


They shuffled Bouguereau's Bohémienne from gallery to gallery, and then they finally hid her. She was secreted in minor rooms, and hung above ottomans like a garage sale landscape.

No matter. Bohémienne was the center of any room in which she appeared, and she always had her admirers. You were rarely alone when you found her, the reflective, intelligent gypsy girl immortalized by the aging, masterful artist with the unpronounceable name.

I wonder if the trustees at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts talked to their floor staff before they decided to place Bohémienne at auction. How many wayward visitors asked the guards where she was after she was removed from display? How many phoned the information desk and wondered when she’d return to the gallery floor?

Bohémienne’s admirers are more ardent and more numerous than any of us suspected. Each of us believed that we alone discovered her, so we loved her all the more. Finding that she is widely loved is affirmation, but bittersweet because she may disappear -- and forever if sold into a private collection.

Surely there’s a way Bohémienne can remain in Minnesota?