Every now and again I take the subway from my apartment in Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Museum which was the museum of my childhood. It was my first museum. Even though I hate what they did to the classical front of the building, removing the great grand staircase and replacing it with that ugly awning like entrance by Isozaki and Polshek that for me was like a rape or murder, I still love this big old place of a museum. The first show I looked at today was Kiki Smith’s latest work “Sojourn” at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. The exhibit is comprised of large drawings and a few sculptures and I guess one could call it an installation piece. Smith it seems has gotten her inspiration for this piece from a small Victorian needlework, Prudence Punderson’s “First, Second and Last Scenes of Mortality” which hangs on a wall at the entrance to the show, and is there to clue us in on the inspiration for all of this stuff that Smith has made. The needlepoint pictures the three stages of a woman‘s life ending of course with death, and this seemed to me to be the main motif of the show. Most of the exhibit is made up of large nicely done delicate uninteresting drawings on crinkly expensive looking Nepalese paper of different? women. The drawings are done in ink and pencil with some delicate touches of collage and other light additions and fussy embellishments. There are also some really strange looking large figurative sculptures with big heads including one made from aluminum and several that look like they’re made from papier-mâché, that Smith has placed in two of the 18th-century period rooms that might bring a chuckle or a jolt to a viewer, or maybe just a yawn. There are lots of painted flowers, light bulbs with glitter on them hanging here and there, some drawings of birdcages with birds flying out of them (rebirth?) and an actual plywood coffin (when ever I see an artist using this heavy handed and overloaded image I’m out the door) along with more drawings of a woman on her deathbed. It didn’t help matters that the show is smack up against and right next door to the permanent installation of Judy Chicago’s (Dorothy Pearlstein once quipped that she changed her name from Chicagowitz) “The Dinner Party” which is rich, colorful, delicious, complex and gorgeous. You had better come up with something strong and spectacular to compete with this seminal piece of feminist art, and sadly Smith has not done this. There was still lots to see, and I next went to American Art galleries which the museum calls American Identities and might be a little too didactic for some, but I always enjoy this place because of the mixing and matching up of the art works. The galleries are divided into different periods in the history of our country, From Colony to Nation, A Nation Divided: The Civil War Era, The Centennial Era, 1876–1900: Tradition and Innovation, Everyday Life, Expanding Horizons, Inventing American Landscape, Making Art and Modern Life. There are old masterworks exhibited along side more contemporary pieces so in the Inventing American Landscape gallery you’ll have Pat Steir’s large abstract looking “Everlasting Waterfall next to Louis Remy Mignot’s realistic 19th century painting of Niagara Falls. O.k. I know this might seem hokey to some but I really enjoy the odd juxtapositions and much of the work exhibited is splendid. And right next door to these galleries through large glass doors are the visible storage galleries in which hundreds and hundreds of objects including ceramics, furniture, paintings, art deco and more are exhibited in large storage bins behind glass along with large filing cabinets that you can open to reveal (under protective glass of course) trays of American and Hopi ceramic tiles; Mexican pottery, stamps; jewelry and other ornaments from Native and South American cultures; Modernist jewelry; silver plated flatware and serving pieces, Spanish Colonial devotional objects, American portrait and mourning miniatures; commemorative medals; and embroidery. I’ve also seen this storage bin idea up at the New York Historical Society and it’s like the most wonderful and expensive garage or flea market sale that you can imagine except that you can only look but you can’t touch or buy. Think I had enough of looking for one day. Thank you very much and good bye.