Coping with Cancer Through Art

Randy head shot

Randy Bostic

Los Angeles-based Randy Bostic voted The Phillips Collection “Best Museum off the Mall” in Washington City Paper’s Best of DC 2015. She explains why in this guest blog post. 

I live in Los Angeles. I started coming to DC regularly in 2011 because of chemotherapy treatments at the NIH for a rare cancer. To pass the time during the weeklong treatment periods, I was always visiting different places in and around DC. On my third trip, I first went to the Phillips. I was amazed at the depth and variety of the art, especially Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series, The Rothko Room, and the setting of the two buildings. I soon stopped going to other museums, and every trip I would make my pilgrimage to the Phillips. I realized that I got more out of coming to the Phillips repeatedly than I did going to different places each trip. Sometimes friends and family would accompany me on my bimonthly “chemo vacations,” and I found myself taking them to the Phillips as well. Knowing that I had the Phillips to look forward to on my trips really helped me get through a very difficult time.

Now I am 4 years into remission. Whenever I go to the NIH for check ups, I stop at the Phillips. The gallery feels like an old friend, a support, an inspiration to me. Whenever I walk in, I feel like I am surrounded by such a powerful life force. The Phillips is more than a museum to me. Lawrence, Rothko, Klee, the Laib Wax Room, and the rest got me through so much. It was a healing place to me.

Randy Bostic

Let’s Dance: More Phillips Pop Culture Moments

See other Phillips Pop Culture Moments

How could it be that we’ve never noticed this before? Museum Assistant and blog super-tipster, Ianthe Gergel, sent me a link to David Bowie’s Let’s Dance video, telling me to pause it at the 2 minute, 40 second mark, and of course, clear as a bell, there is our Paul Klee Printed Sheet with Picture (1937). And she also identified the painting on the right as Picasso’s The Three Dancers (1925).

Jean Meisel in Klee’s Room

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Once informally known as the Klee Room for the Paul Klee paintings that hung there in years past, a second-floor alcove in the Phillips house is now home to Washington artist Jean Meisel’s Intersections project, titled 50–65 Horizon Line. Meisel, who well recalls the space’s Klee period, has been visiting The Phillips Collection since the 1950s. The jewel-like alcove offers the perfect setting for more than 50 of the painter’s intimate, small-scale works, ranging from 1 1/2 inches to 6 inches. The landscape paintings are hung side by side so that their shared horizon line wraps around the room. The artist has produced hundreds of these serene watercolors since the 1970s.

Vivian Djen, Marketing Communications Editor