The return trip home started well enough. We stayed in a hotel the day before our very-early morning flight. The flight took off and landed at Baltimore/Washington airport. We changed gates and. . . then things went wrong. The air traffic control system went down in D.C. and several other East Coast cities. People piled up at gates, waiting for flights. Few flights landed, and only short-distance flights could take off.
After several stalls and announcements over four hours, our flight was cancelled. Because it was an air traffic control problem, Southwest Air didn’t have a responsibility to any of the passengers. They told us to “go to any gate and get re-booked” The lines snaked through the airport. Not every gate was staffed. At the ticket counter one employee was responsible for a line of 500 people. No one else was called in to help. The website would not allow me to re-book as I was not booked on an existing flight. Bad design, but no help there. Phone calls took hours to get a call back, then lost you on hold. Phones drained, but surprisingly, everyone stayed calm.
We’d been up since 4 a.m. and at 6 p.m. we finally collapsed in an over-priced hotel room, 45 minutes from the airport. I was angry and exhausted, never a good combination. The bottom line was that we would be in a hotel two days before we could get a flight out. The fact that Southwest would not rebook us on another airline was part of the problem, the other part was that in order to get home to Phoenix, we had to fly through Chicago to Tucson, rent a car, and drive almost three hours north to get home. I had to pay for the re-routing. Remember, not Southwest’s fault that I wanted to get home after they cancelled the flight. Shoot me if I ever fly them again. (Tip: now is not a great time to leave a comment about how much you love Southwest. Maybe later.)
Once the flight back was settled and paid for, I decided to step out of the mess and into enjoying the forced vacation. Time to explore Baltimore, a city I lived in 20 years ago. Off we went to the American Visionary Art Museum. Visionary Art is another name for Outsider Art–art made by people who are passionate about expressing themselves, but not always professionally trained in art. Some of the artists are mentally ill. All of them want to express their opinions of the world as they know it. I love Outsider Art. It has a distinct vision, a clarity of purpose, and a deep passion for meaning making.
One exhibit was called “Obsessive Compulsive Delight,” a collection of series or repetitions of art. Another gallery was on mysticism, and I was delighted to find art by Judy Tallwing, an Apache artist from The Valley (greater Phoenix).
The museum also has a restaurant, the perfect spot for an incredible lunch of heirloom tomatoes, green pea powder (what a flavor!) and black garlic cream. Inventive food goes well with inventive art.
Hard as this trip was, and as difficult as the travel, I was happy to take a day off from work and enjoy a museum. I’m also proud that I could put my anger down. I didn’t pick it up again, and that is what art will help you do.
—Quinn McDonald loves the passion in outsider art.