It's like when you spend months or years listening to your favorite musician and then see him/her live at a concert. I was an Art History major, so I was very much exposed to Monet, Picasso, Cezanne and other amazing artists. So, when years after graduation I saw the canvases that these big names had actually touched their paintbrushes to, I was amazed.
In fact, it was very unreal -- surreal is actually the perfect word to describe it. I even felt the urge to touch the paintings in the exhibit, but thankfully I restrained myself. When I at one point was admiring the Monet piece (first and second pictures below, from left), I kept having to repeat to myself (mentally of course) that Claude Monet was actually standing/sitting where I was standing today when he painted it. I had to try to absorb that fact. What was even more mind blowing about all this was seeing Monet's signature at the bottom right corner of the painting. I imagined him doing the hand gestures that made those beautiful cursive letters come to life on the canvas.
It's a rarity, at least for me, to have such experiences where you find yourself in the presence of masters of the field you're truly passionate about. Art is one of my passions, especially Impressionist art, so I was pretty much a fanatic about this SAM exhibit.
When was the last time you had such an experience? Even if your answer is "One time I was at a cafe and I ate a cookie that tasted so amazing it was almost unreal," I want to hear about it.