OF COURSE," said the information authority at the Hirshhorn Gallery, "just downstairs and to the left past the escalator, then turn right."

Or words to that effect.

So Kate Kennedy, a South Carolina grandmother who is ever alert to the possibility of self-growth and the general expansion of consciousness and awareness (for we are none of us born magnificent, but must stretch and suffer and rejoice until at last we are radiant) did as she was told and went down there.

She did not find the Jasper Johns, however, but that is life for you. Those who are supposed to know do not always know, and those hired to guide us are so often fallible.

Mrs. Kennedy, who rattles around in a big Georgian house in South Carolina which has a window cut through the middle of the chimney (is not relevant, except you should know this woman is not hidebound by the nippy little sermons of the purists) is up here visiting family and thought it would be well to view the paintings of Jasper Johns, a fellow Carolinian who sort of prefigured the Pop Art movement and who is well known for his paintings of numerals, flags, coat hangers and other current equivalents of St. Jerome in Ecstasy.

When she did not find them in the Hirshhorn basement, despite clear instructions, she came on back up and resolved to explore the higher reaches, as you might say, in the upper gallery levels.

"Dear." said the informational wizard, "did you find it?" and the visitor said no, but that's all right, and the authority said, "Come with me," and down they went again to the basement.

Well there is no point being rude to someone trying to help you.

After a decent interval at the john, the visitor ascended for the second time to find the great works of Jasper Johns, kindly saying thank-you-very-much to the information official who beamed - happy, indeed, to have been of service.

The johns of the gallery, Mrs. Kennedy assures me, are not of jasper at all. Learn something every day.