At the Palm Springs Art Museum, there is a witty juxtaposition in the permanent collection gallery of Enrique Martin Celaya's 1996 painting Bird which consists of a blank canvas and a tiny bird in the center being flanked by one of sculptor Louise Bourgeois' spider sculptures.
At SFMOMA, on the fifth floor, there is currently an exhibit of close to a dozen of these simultaneously alluring and repelling objects.
The spider was not a figure of fear for the sculptor, but meant to represent her beloved French mother who sheltered her from an autocratic monster of a father.
Still, if you have any trace of arachnophobia, this is not the exhibit for you.
Like virtually every other woman artist in history, Bourgeois had a career that was mostly ignored, except for the fact that she outlived her relative obscurity by surviving so long. She died in 2010 in New York City at the age of 98, a few decades after she had become officially celebrated worldwide.
Part of that fame came from her instantly recognizable series of spider sculptures which she began creating in the 1990s, copies of which seem to exist in every modern art museum in the country if not the world.
While roaming the large gallery of arachnids, I marveled once again at how many people these days go to a museum and spend most of their time looking at their mobile phones. Why bother going to a museum in the first place if all you can focus on is a glowing little screen?
This was most painfully displayed by a young couple with a daughter in a princess costume on Saturday who plopped themselves on the floor in front of the large screen above at The Visitors, and proceeded to whip out their mobiles, making it impossible for people behind them to ignore. After about 10 minutes, I became irritated enough to tell them to shut off their damned devices, and the husband became very belligerent, shoving his face into mine and saying, "This exhibit is not just for YOU!" After telling him to fuck off, I went for a guard and the trio soon stomped out of the dark room noisily, allowing the rest of us to bliss out in peace.