Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Artsy Fartsy Weekend

I said I was going to have an artsy weekend, and by golly, I did. Usually my weekend plans are in tatters by the time Friday afternoon rolls around, and I never, ever spend Sunday afternoons writing letters and reading, though this is my intention every single weekend. But this weekend, I made plans and I kept them.

Friday morning I went to see the El Greco/Velazquez exhibit at my local neighborhood museum (it is convenient in more ways than one to live near a major university). Much to my surprise--and dismay--it cost fifteen bucks to get in. Fifteen bucks! I guess that's to keep those pesky poor people out, I don't know.

The problem with major exhibits that cost fifteen bucks is that you feel like you better have a profound viewing experience, because a) you paid for it; and b) at those prices, you won't be going back a second time. The other problem is they're crowded with people who are also after profound viewing experiences. Many of them have rented the $3 headsets, so their viewing experience gets in the way of yours as they cluster in front of paintings and listen to the voices in their heads.

Me, I like to live with a painting. I personally think that the best sort of art exhibit would be the kind where they let you check out the paintings one at a time to take home (along with a security guard) so you could ponder them at different times of day, in different lights.

The next best thing is to be able to go back to a gallery or museum over a period of a few weeks (or a lifetime) and visit the paintings and think about them and revise your thoughts about them and just exist with them. Since I live only five minutes away from this museum, and most of its exhibits are free, I've been able to do that.

But not with El Greco. Instead, I got bandied about by crowds and pushed aside by senior citizens on tour, but by walking back and forth and around and about, I got to spend a little time with the paintings and appreciate them. At the very least, I got a good feel for what the fuss was all bout.

On Saturday, I went to see "The Secret Life of Bees" with my friend Bridgette. I am one of five people alive who hated the book, and guess what? I didn't like the movie either, though the acting is great. What I liked was grabbing a bite to eat with Bridgette afterwards and tearing the movie apart and then going to buy hand lotion. It was a very girly sort of thing to do, and I hardly ever do girly, so I enjoyed myself immensely.

Sunday--The Quilters' Guild Show. Fabulous. Genius. No headsets. Many of the quilts were true works of art and made me think of all those jerk boys in college who asked jerk questions like, "If women are equal to men, why are there no great women artists?" I would have liked to march all those boys--who hopefully have wised up on their own by now--in front of those quilts and said, "Here are your great women artists, you big jerks. Women make art everyday; you're just too stupid to see it."

But I would have said it in a kind, gentle voice, as to not bruise their egos and thus blind them to the beauty in front of their very eyes.

Oh, but there's beauty before our eyes all over the place, that's the good news. Children, flowers, the light playing its little games in the trees. I suppose life could be artsy fartsy all the time if we'd just let it.


Tracy said...

I'm not so much into art gallery type arsty. But give me a good quilt show and I'm as happy as a pig in mud.

The same gals I went away with for the weekend are those who go to movies with me. We have exactly the same taste and diligently organise ourselves to go and see our hearts desire together. We believe we are saving our husbands from their idea of sheer torture!

Heather said...

Hooray for sticking with your plans. Not as easy as the uninitiated think.

I used to sit in front of the same painting at the (free) STL Art Museum every day I could get off work. A very handsome man sat next to me one day and handed me a sketchpad of charcoal drawings... of me sitting and looking at this painting. Tons of them. I had never noticed him. But, that day, we both noticed the shiny new engagement ring on my finger. I always think of him when I see crisp white cardstock.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Tracy, I hardly ever get to the movies in the theater, and it seems a shame to use my movie time on a movie I knew I'd dislike--but going with a friend of similar sensibilities made the whole thing worth while.

Heather, I've been pondering your comment for a couple of days now. Did it disturb you that he'd been drawing all those pictures of you? Did it have a metafictional feeling to it--the viewer of art being viewed and turned into art? Did you ever see him again? Just how handsome was he?

Heather said...

Yes, I was freaked out by the whole thing for about two seconds. His sketches were such that initially I was a small part of the larger room of people he was drawing, but they progressed like a zoom lens until I looked like I was in the painting. I liked the idea since I was always thinking it would be nice to walk right into that painting.

Never saw him again although I can't say if he never saw me again. He was most likely a student from Washington University.

Hmmm, boyishly handsome, like Lee Pace. Think angelic grin, mischevious eyes. He was soft spoken, akward, and genuine. We sat and talked for awhile about the painting (Cornoyer's Plaza in the Rain) and shook hands goodbye.

Oddly, it was much less creepy than you'd think. Maybe because I understood it was a compliment to be thought singular by someone who was more comfortable expressing themselves through art.