Sunday, December 22, 2013

Think Kit Day 22: Art

Think Kit topic day 22:  Plan, outline, or mind-map a project you want to tackle in 2014. 

I tried to use an online mindmapping tool to do this Think Kit topic, got really ticked off and said "screw it! I'm using a life line." And I am soooooo glad I did!

Smallbox LIFELINE: Was there an art experience that stood out this year? What did it look/feel/sound like? What other reactions did you notice?

For this to make sense, I need to give some background. I have no artistic ability whatsoever. I can't draw or paint or anything that most people consider "art"- no throwing pottery or sketching.

I love art, though. I think the thing I remember most of about junior high was the entire 9 weeks we spend on art history in our art class. I got an A; it was the only A I earned in art on my own or that wasn't given in pity 9or because of cheating- but that's a whole other blog post!) The rest of the class was bored out of their collective minds and I think my teacher was too because I distinctly remember his monotone. Every day we would come to class and he would dim the lights and show a slide after another after another. We had to write down the artist's name, time period he was alive, type of art style and medium used, influences, country of origin and the name of a famous piece of art she created. We also had to draw or in some way describe the art. I was mesmerized. I copied every bit of information eagerly and I could describe each painting in WORDS. I still remember tons of that information today.

My teen girl bedroom walls were dotted with several Degas ballerina posters after that.

Fast forward to the year I was able to work in my Master's degree (that I still do not have). It was taking liberal arts courses and one class was about folk art, which I had no idea was an art form. And part of that was the class, too- is folk art actually 'art'? I became completely enamored in the idea  of folk art, which is often considered women's art so it's not really art, especially that of quilting. I wrote an entire thesis on this topic, complete with a 30 minute presentation of my paper.

When I moved into my first post-divorce/ post CanadaSam house, I hung Impressionist prints on my walls and a huge Georgia O'Keeffe because I liked the colors. I had Impressionist after Impressionist calendars on office walls, or printed Monet on a mousepad or van Gogh post-it notes or Renoir note cards.

If I had just had scads of loose money laying about, I'd go back to college to get a BA in art history because I love the knowledge of art.

Obviously, I have a thing about art. And I swear if you keep meandering along with me here, I'll get to how this relates to 2013... but hey, this whole think kit thing is about introspection and self -reflection so... *ahem* but I digress.

In 2006 I went to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. It was the first time I've gone to an art museum as an adult. (the summer I spend in NYC after high school graduation didn't count at me going as an 'adult' even though I was 18. I didn't appreciate the experience at the time; I was just having a great time In the Big Apple- what did I know?) It was in February but unseasonably warm that time of year. I went alone. Long story as to why I was even in the city but I was. I had a day to myself and thought I's visit some museums- gee, such a novel approach when visiting the capital of our country, right?

I wandered around. I was awestruck the moment I walked in the door. I just sort of roamed room to room, my mouth agape. I would see a painting and think, "Is that real?" or "That's FAMOUS!" which seems really silly.  Then I came to the Impressionist wing.

I was breathless. I was speechless. I was numb and practically immobile. Because there, just mere inches from my fingertips were famous paintings I'd been fascinated with my whole life.RIGHT THERE! Actually PAINTED and TOUCHED and CREATED by van Gogh and Rembrandt and Degas and Renoir and Monet and all the rest. IN THE SAME ROOM. WITH ME! I couldn't help it. I cried. And not touching little, quaint tears, but sobbed and snotted. I had 2 guards ask me if I was okay and I'm trying to explain the overwhelming beauty to them, right there, in front of me. Me, just a small town girl from the Midwest in the same room with famous paintings that has survived wars and centuries and... well, at least they didn't kick me out of the museum but I think they were more worried about me than your average tourist. I was shaking and crying in awe over the beauty of it all, right there, for anyone to look at. I didn't have to be rich or famous or special. All I had to have was the curiosity to look. That was all. I was as equal as the millionaire or the homeless man and we could all look at the exact same painting of Monet's The Japanese Footbridge no matter who we were. I just can't seem to describe it to this day. It seems silly, I'm sure, but I was so overcome with the beauty of what I was seeing and all the reality and realness and who I was, the place and time... not many years after our nation mourned, and I was there. I still don't have words.

Now go to this year, to 2013. I discovered the IMA, or the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It's free to visit (except for the traveling special exhibits) and I'm broke so it started as a once rainy afternoon activity. Then it became a habit and a favorite haunt in the city.

First time I went, I roamed around, much like I did when I was at the NGA in DC. Then I came to the impressionist room and again, I was overcome with emotion. Again, Renior and Degas and van Gogh. This time in Indianapolis. In the Midwest. Again these artists who shaped my love of art, of the classics. I walked quietly through the gallery, tears rolling (this time no snot or scared guards) as I was overcome again with such beauty offered to one and all, equality for the curious, for the seeker.

IMA because my haunt this year since I spent a great deal of time in Indy. I found I would go several times a month, walk around and then save the Impressionists and European artists for last. I'd walk through, practically holding my breath, find a bench in front of of my favorite painting, Monet's Charring Cross Bridge, right beside a Degas sculpture. I'd sit there and stare at the works in front of me and daydream or think. Sometimes I'd write letters to friends. Once in awhile I'd read. I just wanted to "be" with the art. Make sure it was still there. Let it know I cared.


(and I did have my own encounter with canvas and wine in 2013... but that's a post for later, too!)

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